PMC3 Silver Clay
Sterling Silver Diamond Cut Chain (optional)
8mm Hematite Rondelle, Faceted (optional)
4 – 3mm Sterling Silver Daisy Spacers (optional)
22g Sterling Silver Wire (optional)
6mm Spring Ring Clasp, Sterling Silver (optional)
Petal Shaped Cutter
Round Cutter (mine has a spring release but you don’t need the spring for this project)
Cellphone (to use as a timer)
The rest are in My Toolbox
I purchased this class when I was living in an apartment where I was not allowed to use anything other than a “Creme Brulee” torch. Unfortunately, the job I had sucked up all my time or left me so exhausted that I didn’t have the energy to make jewelry. Good things come to those who wait, right? This class is one of those. It is jam packed with lessons and projects. Jenny does a fantastic job of giving you options and lots of inspiration to make each piece your own.
This is the first project in the course. It teaches you how to texture wet clay by handcrafting buttons! I love the idea of making buttons instead of the usual pendant or earrings. What’s not to like about buttons? At one point during the lesson, Jenny said, “A button’s not really like jewelry in that you’re not trying to make one button the whole effect. You’re trying to create a series of textures that add to the garment…not every button has to be the star, they’re an ensemble….”
With this in mind, I decided to make two. The class provided lots of options to create textures in wet clay using texture sheets and household items. I used a texture sheet I had on hand. After texturing, you cut out your shape.
I went with the round cutter above. I used a coffee stirrer to create buttonholes but was not happy with the size or shape it made. They came out more oval than round (maybe the coffee stirrer was crushed at some point?) and the proportion was off. They seemed too big for the size of the button. I continued working on these pieces hoping that I’d grow to like them.
Jenny gave a fantastic demo of the firing process, including showing and explaining the changes the clay goes through. The first button torch-fired perfectly.
The second took a different path. The space between the two buttonholes cracked during firing. And it went all the way through.
I suspect that when I textured the clay, I pushed the texture sheet in too deep. Luckily, there is a lengthy lesson on fixing mistakes included in this class. I followed the process to fill the crack and refired.
After this second torch-firing, the crack was healed but still a little visible. The back filled in well but the front still sported a shallow line bisecting the diamond shape outline. I had not overfilled the crack enough to compensate for the shrinkage that occurs during firing. I decided that this tiny scar on my button gave it character.
I applied a patina and buffed the buttons. In hindsight, I would cut bigger buttons or create smaller holes. But these are still attractive and eye catching. This is a project worth repeating. Buttons don’t take a lot of clay, they are quick to produce and fun to experiment with. There are so many ways to design and use them. If you have a friend or family member who sews, wouldn’t these make a unique gift?
I was not ready to stop so I textured some more clay and cut out a petal shaped pendant. This time, I made a small divot in the wet clay where I wanted to place a hole. I waited for the clay to dry completely so it was in a greenware stage.
I planned to hang the pendant from a wire-wrapped bead. Since the clay shrinks during firing, the hole for the wire had to be cut approximately 8-10% larger than needed. I slowly turned a small drill bit in the divot to make a starter hole. Once that was in place, I moved to the next size drill bit to open the hole wider. Working this way allows you to create any size hole you need as long as you have a comparable drill bit. When the size was right, I torch-fired the pendant.
The hole is even and I felt I had more control over the placement, size and shape. For me, hand drilling is an easier and more reliable way to create holes in the clay.
A liver of sulfur patina helped highlight the pendant’s texture. I added a wire wrapped hematite bead and silver chain. This project is a rewarding way to try working with metal clay, especially if you’re just dipping your foot in to see if it’s a medium you’d like to pursue.