Antique Mold Charm Bracelet by Annie Kilborn

The “Antique Mold Charm Bracelet” is a great project for beginners. The simple techniques make a wonderful bracelet, which looks very complex due to all the wonderful elements made from our Antique Molds. We have a huge selection of Antique Molds, with over 800 offered. You can choose to use all of the mold, or just a fragment of it. One of the great things about a charm bracelet is that you get to pick and choose the elements that appeal to you. The individualized compilation of the charms tells a unique story.

After you have chosen the Antique Molds and clay(s), you are ready to begin the project. I chose to work with Hadar’s Clay One-fire High-fire Clays.  Any clay(s) would work well for this project. It would look amazing in FS999 or EZ960 with our new Nano Gems embedded in the charms or set as charms on their own.

I began with Hadar’s Clay One-Fire Copper Clay. I hadn’t had experience with firing copper wire into base metal clays, so I made the seahorse and rose charm with the copper jump  ring embedded into the clay as test samples. After I molded, dehydrated and finished the edges of the forms, I carved out a groove in the back where I wanted the jump ring to nestle. It is important that the jump ring rests below the surface of the backside. After a good fit is found for the jump ring, secure it into place with some paste and clay. Dry out the clay, do any final clean up and fire. I used the recommend firing schedule for Hadar’s Clay One-Fire Copper Clay. The jump rings fired into the clay well. I continued this process for the remainder twelve molds using the other six Hadar’s Clay One-Fire High-Fire Clays. I fired all of these clays together using Hadar’s recommend firing schedule for combined firing.

Once all the charms were fired, I attached them to the “Patterned Wire Chain Bracelet” created for a previous blog. The bracelet was patinated with Patina Gel, buffed with a brass brush and tumbled. After tumbling I did a final polishing with the Ultra Polishing Pads.

I did have some issues with the jump rings dislodging from the two copper pieces during tumbling. I did not have this issue with the other clays. I believe that I thinned out the clay a little too much, which I used to embed the jump ring. This left the clay vulnerable to breaking. To fix this issue, the jump rings were soldered on to the copper pieces with paste solder and a butane torch. I am planning to remake and fire the copper charms to test whether my first clay connections were faulty, or if copper wire does not like to fuse to copper clay. Also, I did tumble the Steel XT and the Pearl Grey. These are steel clays, and they did rust a bit from the water in the tumbler. I would not recommend tumbling these clays. They will look better from just using dry polishing methods. I hope that my “Antique Mold Charm Bracelet” inspires your own custom charm bracelet. Listed below are all of the materials, tools and antique molds I used for this project.

 

 

 

Materials Used:

 

 

 

 

Tools Used:

Bowl for mixing clays

Distilled water

Mini Palette Knife

CoolSlip Anti-Stick Solution

Cool Tools Slik Metal Clay Conditioner and Release

Non-Stick Big Roller 

Tuff Cards – 2.5″ x 3.5″

Cool Tools Clayboard Non-Stick Work Surface 9″ x 9″

Texture Tile – Kazakh Vertical 

Ultra Clay Pick

Tidy Tray – Sanding Tray Small 6″ x 8″

Needle File Set – 6 Pieces – Cut 4

Tropical Shine Sanding Sticks

Foam Healing Tool

Carving Set

Bronze & Copper Clay Firing Kits

Patina Gel 

Scratch Brush – Brass – 4 Row Soft

Lortone® Tumbler

Ultra Polishing Pads

Silver Solder Paste – Medium 1/2oz

Torch – Firefox – Butane Mini Torch

Antique Molds (In order according to the picture):

Horse of the Sea

Star Rose

Xysticus

Halloween Gravestone

Dreamy Dragonfly

Out of the Brush

LOVE

Master Key

Roped Anchor

Give a Hoot

Young Peacock

Comedy/Tragedy

Pretty Purse

Two by Two

Artist Project Series: Little Red School House Ring by Jeannette Froese LeBlanc

Our tenth artist for the Artist Project Series with Creative Fire using EZ960® Sterling Silver Metal Clay is Jeannette Froese LeBlanc, the promotor, write and editor for Creative Fire. Jeannette is also a teacher who holds a Master’s degree in education as well as several Bachelor’s degree’s in history and arts.

Jeannette was inspired to create this ring by a red schoolhouse in rural Ontario.  The school house was built in 1876 and captured her heart as a child.

Follow along and learn Jeannette’s process step by step for making this beautiful piece as well as more about Jeannette Froese LeBlanc and the history around this cherished school house here.

 

Patterned Wire Chain Bracelet by Annie Kilborn

This a fun and simple project for making a chain bracelet or necklace using decorative patterned wire. I chose the “Copper Triple” 16 gauge patterned wire for this project. However, we carry many different wires in various patterns and metals that will be great for this project. There are some options listed below. You can also alternate multiple decorative wires to offer more variation.

Materials used. These are listed below with corresponding links.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After you have chosen the decorative pattern, decide how long or what part of the pattern you would like to use for the segments of the chain. It is best if the segments do not exceed one inch in length. Longer segments will hinder the kinetics of the bracelet or necklace. Use a marker or scribe to mark where you would like to divide the patterned wire. Plan out where you want to drill your holes. You will need one hole on each end of the segment. Use a center punch to mark where your holes will be, and drill them out. It is easier to drill your holes in the long pattern wire before you cut it into segments. This gives you more surface area to hold onto while drilling. I used a #60 drill bit to accommodate the18 gauge round copper wire jump rings. After the holes are drilled, you can use a jewelers saw or wire cutters to divide up the patterned wire. Use a file to clean up the ends of the wire were you cut, and then polish to give a smooth edge.

I used a Fretz raising hammer to give a light hammer texture to the wire. This gives the refined wire a unique look. After hammering the wire, I gave each segment a slight bend to help work with the curvature of the wrist. If you are making a necklace leave the pieces flat. I also gave the clasp a hammer texture in some of the areas to help it pair with the patterned wire on the chain. This also helps the look vary from its manufactured aesthetic. I chose the “Copper Plate Toggle Clasp- Plain Leaf” for the clasp, but we carry many different clasps to choose from for this project.

I made copper wire jump rings with the “Jump Ring Maker” 4mm mandrel. You can use a saw or wire cutters to cut the jump rings. After they are cut clean up the ends with a file. Use a round needle file to clean up the drilled holes in the segments of the patterned wire. You want the jump rings to move freely in the holes. Connect all the segments and the clasp with the jump rings to finish your bracelet or necklace.  You can patina and polish the final piece to help the pattern in the wire pop. Now you have a unique chain bracelet or necklace made from a beautiful decorative patterned wire.

 

 

 

MATERIALS:

TOOLS: 

 

There are also other wires we carry that can be used for this project. I have included a picture of them and their corresponding name & product code below.

 

PMC Sterling: Single Firing Method

Since the inception of PMC Sterling, it has had a 2 stage firing process as stated below:

Kiln Fire – 2 Stage:

  • 1000°F / 538°C – 30 minutes (open shelf)
  • 1500°F / 815°C – 30 minutes (activated carbon)

As confirmed by Tim McCreight, a Single Firing is also possible using the Water Method. This method fires at 1525˚F / 830°C for 30 minutes.
Click here for instructions.

 

Wings ‘n Things Class with Carol Douglas

A big, hearty thank you to our visiting artist, Carol Douglas, for traveling across the pond (from the UK) to be with us this past weekend, November 11 and 12, 2017. Wings and Things was the focus of the class. Carol is a warm, generous and fun person with an extensive knowledge of metal clay as it pertains to jewelry and sculpture.

Carol Douglas working her magic!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bill Struve, the creator of FS999

Lacey-Ann Struve

 

 

 

Additionally, we were thrilled to have Bill and Lacey-Ann Struve attend the class. The class used FS999™ Fine Silver Clay as the medium which is the latest wonderful product from Metal Adventures Inc.

To get our creative juices flowing, Carol led us all on a meditation, taking us on a journey intended to bring images into our minds of what we might want to create, whether it was a butterfly or moth or creature from our own imaginations. The class was not “project oriented,” but rather each of us were encouraged to create our own story and wing project with the inspirations that had come to us during the meditation.

She talked extensively about her creative process, how she makes wings for her creatures, and showed us lots of tips and tricks for working with metal clay. She helped us think in a 3D perspective regarding the visual aspect of creatures with wings.

From then on, we each worked independently with plenty of encouragement and help from Carol. Each student’s work showed their individuality and the spark that had come to them during the meditation. There were beginners as well as seasoned metal clay artists in the class and Carol was graciously attentive to each student based on their experience. Questions were welcomed, problems were solved, much fun and laughter ensued, and all of us worked diligently.

 

 

I’m having fun making!

DD, Cool Tools’ purchaser – she has recently developed a passion for metal clay!

Artist Project Series: Penannular Brooch by Julia Rai

 

Our ninth artist for the Artist Project Series with Creative Fire using EZ960® Sterling Silver Metal Clay is Julia Rai, an award winning artist, teacher and writer. She is well known in the international metal clay community.

Julia explains, “Penannular style brooches have been used to fasten clothing since the late Iron Age. This style of brooch has a loop of metal with terminals or flattened ends and a moveable pin. The pin is pushed through the fabric and the end of the ring goes under the sharp end of the pin. The ring is then turned locking the pin in place. There are a wide variety of designs for the terminals of historical penannular brooches and this is where the fun comes in on this modern take on an ancient design. I have used a natural theme for the hoop, texturing it to resemble bark. The terminals use pod, fungi and lichen forms and this is echoed on the curve of the pin.”

 

Follow along and learn Julia’s process step by step for making this beautiful piece as well as more about Julia Rai here.

Skulls Earrings by Annie Kilborn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Friday the 13th! The perfect day to learn from Annie Kilborn on how to create these unique Skulls Earrings! These earrings are Annie’s FIRST metal clay project she has done.

 

Materials:

FS999™ Fine Silver Clay 

Cubic Zirconia – Jet Black – Cabochon Round – Checkerboard – 6mm (2 Packs)

Fine Silver Bezel Cup – Plain Round 6mm 

Cool Tools Patina Gel – Live of Sulfur in Gel Form 

 

Tools:

Antique Mold – Toxic

Makin’s Professional Ultimate Clay Extruder 

Bezel Roller 

Curved Burnisher – Slim

Tuff Cards Teflon Project Cards

Cool Tools Clayboard Non-stick Work Surface 9″ x 9″

Cool Slip Anti-Stick Solution

Cool Tools Clay Thickness Rolling Frames

Ultimate Non-Stick Roller – 11″ Length

 

Making the Skulls:

Roll out a slab of FS999™ Fine Silver clay 4 cards thick. Lightly cover the Antique Mold “Toxic,” a skull and crossbones image with the Cool Slip. Gently press the slab into the Antique Mold. You will just use the skull area of the mold, so the excess clay can be cut away and used for the next skull pressing. Before removing the skull from the mold, let the clay set dry slightly so it will keep its shape and not distort when removing from the mold.  Once removed from the mold, take the extra clay off from around the skull area.  Allow it to dry. You will need to make six skulls. Once they are dry refine by sanding the edges and sanding flat spots on the back.

Making Earring Wires:

This pair of earrings was created for a stretched ear. Use the Makin’s Professional Ultimate Clay Extruder with a round template to get a long coil for the earring wires.  Make a template on a piece of paper of the shape that you want the earring wire to take. Include the area in which the skulls and stones will be placed. The backside of these pieces will attach to the wire. Next, take the coil and form it to the shape created on the paper. Then repeat, so you have the same shape wire for both earrings. Let them dry. Once they are dry, taper one of the ends of both wires. This will be the end that feeds through the ear.  Sand down a flat spot on the wire where the skulls and stones will attach.

Making the Settings for the Stones:

Get four 6mm Fine Silver Bezels Cups and four 6mm Jet Black Cubic Zirconia Round Cabochons with the Checkerboard pattern. Sand down the tops of the bezel cups to fit the stones. Once you have a good fit, set the stones in the cups using a bezel roller to rock over the walls of the cup to hold the stone. Then use a curved burnisher to smooth out the sides of the bezel once the stone is set. Rough up the back of the bezel cups so that you will get a good bond to the clay when firing.

Assembling the Elements:

Create a clay slip by adding water to a small amount of the FS999 fine silver clay.  Lightly, brush on some water to the dried skulls and wire where you want them to join.  Add slip to both parts where they will connect. Then connect with gentle pressure. Add the stones by adding slip to the back of the bezels and join to the slipped area of the wire. Repeat until all the skulls and gems are attached to the wire.  Allow to dry. Once it is dry, do all final sanding and refining. Once refined fire following the firing directions for FS999 fine silver clay.

Surface Finishing Techniques:

Once the earrings are fired and have cooled, clean with a brass brush, soap and water. Once they are clean, tumble them.  After tumbling, patina with Cool Tools Patina Gel to a dark black patina.  Then buff back the patina to reveal the wonderful detail in the earrings.

 

 

 

Artist Project Series: Liz Sabol

Wow! The possibilities really are endless when working with EZ960®. Our ninth artist for the Artist Project Series with Creative Fire using EZ960 Sterling Silver Metal Clay is Liz Sabol, a relative newcomer to the jewelry world, who is also a veteran in design and graphic arts. This EZ960® piece is a Champlevé design that utilizes colored depressions in a solid piece. Follow along and learn her Saul Bell Design Award winning work step by step as well as more about Liz Sabol here.

 

Artist Project Series: Cynthia Thornton

Our eighth artist for the Artist Project Series with Creative Fire using EZ960® Sterling Silver Metal Clay is Cynthia Thornton, a maker of small things from Asheville, NC. This is a multi-media project that combines EZ960® Sterling Silver Clay, resin, polymer clay and beads and finishes of your choice! Follow along and learn her process step by step for making this beautiful piece as well as more about Cynthia Thornton here.

 

Deb DeWolff: Torched Enamel Flower Earrings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is one of my first forays into the technique of torch firing enamels on my own after taking a class. I made these two pairs of enameled earrings in a day.

 

The copper shapes I used are 24 gauge flower copper shapes. The copper headpins I chose were an ordinary balled end headpin for the blue flowers and a fancy flower shaped one for the pink flowers. You can make your own balled headpins out of copper wire. Our video shows you how. I drilled holes in the center of each flower shape with a Foredom Flex-Shaft machine. I then domed the shapes using a dapping set. The larger of the two shapes I domed only slightly, and the inner flower was domed a bit more to help it stand out.

All of the copper was thoroughly cleaned with Penny Brite prior to enameling. This photo is my plan for colors that I used. All of the enamels I used are Thompson Enamels and all are opaques with the exception of the rose pink for the headpins on the pink flowers. This one is a transparent enamel.

This shows all of the materials I used, except for the torch. I used a propane torch but you could also use a MAP gas torch or even a smaller butane torch. Butane torches often do not get hot enough and run out of fuel faster. I would advise using a larger torch. You’ll have better results and experience less frustration.

I set up two firing bricks on the end so that I could get under the pieces more easily and used two trivets so that I could fire both pieces together, one right after the other. I brushed a very thin coat of the Klyr-Fire (diluted 50/50 with water) on the copper before sifting enamel on the piece to help the enamel powder stick. I used a small 40 mesh sifter.

You need to let the Klyr-Fire dry before you apply the torch to the pieces. This photo shows how to set them in the trivet and how the torch is applied from underneath. Hold the torch just until the surface of the enamel has gone to the glassy stage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First it will look wet, then it will look like sugar, then like an orange peel, and finally glass (which is really what enamel is). I put two coats of the lighter pink on these pieces because the first coat didn’t cover enough.

Headpins are harder to do and I need some more practice! Hold the tip of the headpin in the “sweet spot” of the torch flame (just beyond the inner blue flame) until the metal is orange. Then immediately dip the headpin in the enamel. Put the enamel in a metal container for this and keep the enamel close to your flame but not close enough to burn it or yourself. The metal has to go into the enamel powder before it cools off – very, very quickly. If your enamel is too far from the torch the headpin will cool off too much for the enamel to stick. After dipping the headpin in the enamel, bring it back to the flame and heat the tip again to fully melt the enamel. As shown in this picture of the yellow headpins, I left a “sugar” coat for the last layer, which is when the enamel is fused but doesn’t have enough heat applied to fully melt it to a glossy surface.

I was going to dip these flower shaped headpins in white opaque enamel before dipping them in the transparent rose color, but they looked much better with just the transparent over the copper.

The earrings were finished with simple wire forming techniques. I twisted the headpin wire just behind the flowers to make them stand up vertically.

Sterling earwires were used on the blue earrings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note: Please make sure you take all the safety precautions necessary for working with an open flame, but do consider trying torch fire enameling. It’s easy and really, really fun!