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Monday, June 11, 2012

The Joy of Metal Clay: Domed Earings

Today I am going to go through a relatively simple domed earring project (obviously you could just make one and and create as a pendant or create numerous as beads).

To make  these earrings (beads or pendants) you will need:
  • 20 grams of silver clay (or other types, more clay if you want to make them larger)
  • Tools for metal clay (roller, texture, oil for texture and hands, cards or slats for rolling even thickness, craft knife or pin tool, stencil for circle shapes or cookie cutter, a doming form - today I am using contact lens packaging, mug warmer or something for drying and kiln)
  • You will need either two fine silver eyes to insert into the clay  and earring hooks or you may choose to use a balled piece of wire  run it through the finished piece and shape this into your ear hook.

1.First you are going to roll out your clay.  For this project I usually roll my clay approximately 1 mm thick or four playing cards thick.  I love to use texture.  Today I am using one of Helen Breil's textures that can be purchased from Shades of Clay ( I used the Tango Texture for this piece).  (Don't forget to use olive oil or something similar on you texture and hands to prevent sticking).

2.Once rolled , lay the clay  on your cutting surface and cut the shape.  I am using old contact lens packaging to dome my shape. Therefore I have picked a circle that is slightly larger than the circle from the packaging as the piece will sink into the shape. I use a fine pin tool to cut when I use stencils; as a alternative you can use an craft knife.

3. Once I cut my shape I place it into the shape.  I will let the piece dry for a while, until they hold their shape.  Once they can hold their shape I will remove the clay and lay on top of a  mug warmed to dry more quickly.   (You will be making two domed shapes for each earring or bead and attaching them.)

4. Once completely dry, sand the bottom of the dome.  In the picture below the piece on the right has been sanded and the one on the left has.  You want to smooth the surface as you will get a better join.

5. The earrings, I am making will be strung through an ear wire so I want a hole running through. Therefore, I took a file and filed a marking on opposite sides the piece to mark where I will place the hole.
6. One the pieces are smooth and clean and you have your markings for your holes, apply paste along the edge of both half and then stick them together.  Hold firmly.  Once secure you can clean up the edges and piece and drill holes bigger if need be.

Another option for hanging these pieces are to just place one hole and add fine silver  eyes as pictured below.

These pieces are in the kiln as I write this. I  am firing them at 1575F  for two hours.   Once fired they should be polished and finished. I will share pictures next week.

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