Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Further adventures with silver metal clay

Last week I took some time off work to attend the 3 day Silver Metal Clay course which I booked many months ago. I have been on 2 metal clay courses in the last year and used my skills to make my daughter's engagement keepsake pendant.
 11 ladies arrived on the Monday morning keen to further (or begin) their creativity.

 I really do find this medium so fascinating to work with. Once you master how to handle the clay (it does take some getting used to) there is so much freedom in working with it. My traditional silver smithing skills further help me. As a refresher, to those of you who are not familiar with metal clay, there are 2 main makers, both Japanese, who produce the brands "PMC" and "Art Clay". I have worked with both but I do prefer the slow dry version of Art Clay although both brands are very similar. Metal clay is almost pure silver, 999 parts as opposed to 925 found in sterling silver. It is held in a binder and once fired to burn off the binder, using a kiln or hand torch, it becomes solid 999 silver. It really is almost magical the way it changes its form during the firing process.

Each day we worked on a different project, 2 were set projects and the last day it was possible to work on something different if we did not want to work on the one suggested. The projects were; pendant making, bead making and ring making. As I have already attended a 1 day ring making course I decided that I would try my hand at making my own toggle clasps to use in my jewellery making.

Day 1
We had a demo from Liz our tutor after which we were given a piece of Fimo clay to roll out some design ideas. Metal clay is very expensive and you need to make your errors using Fimo.Once we were happy with our Fimo designs it was time to cut out the real thing. I decided that I wanted to use my heart cutters again which I used for my daughter's engagement cake and pendant.

After embossing the clay with a pattern and cutting them out they were left to dry. Once dry  I had to file smooth all the edges of the components. Once smooth I assembled them using metal clay paste (similar to the slip you use in pottery) and got them  ready for drying on the hot plate.This is the stage when the clay is very fragile and easy to break if too much pressure is applied.

Here they are assembled and ready to be dried again. I set a tiny cubic zirconia in the centre of the small heart of the pendant on the left.

I had a small piece of clay spare so I also cut out a tiny daisy design and set a cubic zirconia  in the centre.I then fixed the small daisy on to the larger one to give a "3 D" effect.

Day 2
The set project for this day was to make 2 styles of bead; a lentil and a rolled bead. The lentil bead was quite difficult to make.

I conditioned and rolled out the clay

Next I chose an embossing pad, I used a seashell design and I rolled this design into the clay...

which left this pretty pattern.

Next I used 2 round cutters to cut out the 2 sides of the beads which I then left to dry on a former (or in this case the backs of 2 same sized measuring spoons).

Once dry I carefully filed the 2 halves smooth and after checking the fit I made a hole in each end and sandwiched them together.

This is the other style of  bead.
They were fun to make, a triangle of clay was rolled out and textured and then I wound it carefully around a cocktail stick. The edges were sealed and and left to dry.

Day 3
Rather than the set project of ring making I chose to have a "play" at making some toggle clasps. I first came up with 2 designs which again I practiced making using Fimo clay. Once I was happy I made them up in metal clay.

Here are the front components prior to filing and assembling.

The toggle part was very fiddly as first I had to cut out the shape and before the clay hardened (it hardens in a matter of minutes)...................

.....I had to fix in 1/2 jump rings to the back. You can see this in the toggle on the far side of the photo.Eveything was again sanded when dry and the clasp and toggle assembled by adding the little daisies.

I am sure you are now asking....so what did they all look like finished........

..........well here they all are having been fired, brass filed, tumble polished and burnished.

It's incredible the way the finished pieces turn out and yes they really are solid almost pure silver! I am particularly pleased with the toggles as I hope to develop these and use them in the bridal jewellery for my daughter's wedding next July.

I hope you enjoyed this post and if you are interested I have decided for the very 1st time to sell one of my PMC pieces. You will find the heart pendant in the centre of the photo above for sale here in my Etsy shop. Enjoy!

I am off to Paris on Friday,  I will be back the following Wednesday (27th July).

DON'T FORGET...I am launching my giveaway post for my 1st Bloggerversary whilst I am away. All being well if the "scheduler" works! Put the date in your diaries, Wednesday 26th July. You could win my alabaster earrings.

 I will be back that same week with some photos from the city of  L*O*V*E where my dear Hb and I will be celebrating our 30th Wedding Anniversary. I will raise a glass to you all - cheers to all, my blogging friends :0)

Back soon,

Bye for now,

Jane x


  1. Hello Jane! What a fun it was to view the progression of your latest silver clay pieces. I'm always fascinated by this process. Each of your designs is equally gorgeous, but in particular, the special one made with "love." Have a beautiful time in Paris! :o)

  2. Absolutely gorgeous pieces Jane!
    Really interesting too to see the whole process. I think it's a lovely idea to make some pieces for your daughters wedding next year.
    I hope you have the most wonderful time in Paris! Happy Pearl Wedding Anniversary to you both!!!
    Vivienne x

  3. HI Michele, I think love is the theme for the moment here! Thanks for your good wishes,
    Jane x

  4. Thanks Vivienne, we are SO looking forward to our trip.
    Jane x

  5. Dear Jane, I am so super pleased that you showed the silver clay "workshop" as I bought a kit with all the tools and torch and clay and have not worked up the bravado to try it - so this made me feel more comfortable about delving into it. Happy Anniversary and have a FABOO trip to Paris - you lucky girl!!
    ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  6. It's tricky learning to handle the clay Teresa to start with but once mastered it opens up a whole new world of creativity..enjoy :0)Thanks for your anniversary wishes!
    Jane x

  7. Oh how wonderful pieces again, Jane! You're so talented, and your pieces keep getting prettier and prettier! I am especially amazed by the toggles, how clever of you!

    I am wishing you the greatest time in Paris, we're off to a log-cabin for the weekend, not QUITE the same ;) but...I cannot wait to see your beautiful images from the city of love!

    Happy Wednesday and kisses to B!


  8. Thanks Mia, I am beginning to get the hang of using metal clay; like anything new it takes time but I'm loving using it in my work.
    You too have a wonderful break...a log cabin no less...how lovely.
    See you soon,
    Jane x

  9. Hello Jane! Those are just amazing pieces! Wow - so exiting how they turned out!
    I want to wish you perfect time and celebration in Paris! Congratulations to your Wedding Anniversary and Blogversary!
    xxx Teje

  10. Thanks Teje, nearly time to pack now!
    Jane x

  11. Beautiful work Jane....It is true to say that I learn something new everyday in blog land!...
    Best wishes for a wonderful time in Paris and I will look forward to taking part in your pretty Giveaway!....
    Susan x

  12. It's great to see one another's crafts isn't it Susan; I love your dear knitted animals.Thanks for your good wishes,
    Jane x

  13. Congratulations...30yrs!! Hope you have a fab time in Paris. *sigh* I am still determined to visit the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe and all those places frequented by the great artists of yesteryear, hubby and son drove through Paris last week on their way to the Alps for kayaking, not quite the same as walking along the Seine though!

    I am loving your silver pieces especially that 'wrapped' bead. There are no end to your talents. Laney x

  14. Thanks Laney, I can't believe where 30 years have gone! I am in the middle of packing, weather looks OK ish there, a bit like here at the moment, showers and sunshine so we will will pack a brolly.You're very sweet about my PMC pieces, thank you :0)
    Have a great weekend,
    Jane x

  15. It was really interesting to see the way you made the pieces in this post, Jane. I really liked the toggles. It's lovely that you can make special things for special occasions too. I hope you have a wonderfully romantic trip to Paris. Happy Anniversary!
    Helen x

  16. I'm looking forward to using the toggles Helen. Thanks for your kind anniversary wishes, one more sleep now!
    Jane x


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Jane x