Clay Fun

So, a couple of weeks ago I had decided I was going to try making some of my jewelry pieces with porcelain clay instead of the precious metal silver clay.  I kind of knew a little about porcelain, but really not much.  After some research about firing it and looking at info on my glass kiln, I realized my kiln does not safely fire to a hot enough temperature for porcelain (over 2200 degrees).  Bummer.

So I bought another packet of silver clay.  It is very expensive.  I have not opened it yet. 

Today Mark and I were at Michael's and I decided to see what they offered in the way of clay I might be able to use.  I settled on an extremely inexpensive packet of white Sculpey III clay.  Some of you may be familiar with this clay.  It is used for everything from jewelry to buttons, sculpture and a lot more.  

I did not know much about it and found a couple of interesting articles and videos, but nothing that really told me exactly how to do what I wanted to do.  Most of the online info is about making millifiore canes or beads.  So I just went for it.

It's properties make this such a wonderfully workable medium.  And the best part - it only has to cook at 275 degrees and DOES NOT SHRINK!!  I can insert my glass with absolutely no worries.  I am very excited and thrilled to present my first piece of polymer clay and glass jewelry. 


Like I said, this was made from white clay.  I layered a base sheet, stamped it with this attractive tree shape, then centered my glass on the front of that, wrapped a "snake" of clay around the glass, then layered strips across the top all the way around the glass.  With my fingers I smoothed it all around, poked the holes, trimmed it up a little bit, then cooked it in my oven.

Then the work began.  I used a tiny carving tool to carve all of the grooves in to the face of the frame.  I also used an exacto blade to trim all the way around, round the corners and clean up the inside edge of the frame.  I sanded it all over with a very fine sanding pad.  

As I was carving I accidentally carved a hair too deep on one of the corners and the glass poked through.  I thought "UhOh" but did a tiny little patch and refired it and it came out perfect. 

I then put some black acrylic paint on a rag and just basically painted the entire piece black.  Then I took a clean rag and rubbed it all over so that the black stayed in the texture and crevices.  After the paint dried I brushed on a coat of clear satin acrylic finish to protect it.

In some lights it actually looks like silver, but it is very lightweight and not as shiny as silver is.  I attached silver filled chain with beads and a lobster clasp to finish it off.

I am bubbling with excitment and looking forward to making a whole series!!


Glass and Wood

I have been thinking about making some more metal and glass jewelry.  I started making some drawings with silver PMC in mind.   I am so in love with the pieces Vickie Hallmark is doing and wish I could go take her workshop on making painted glass and silver pendants.  Alas, it is just too far away for me to attend.

So, I thought I could work on it and figure it out on my own.   Like I said, I did some drawings, but then thought that the cost of the silver might outweigh what I could charge for the pendants.  I am not in the jewelry business and right now I know my clientele is not in that market when they are looking at my work.

However, I couldn't let the idea go.  Then, I thought - why not continue with what I already do and know - glass and wood!

I started with a new sketch and a bunch of notes to myself.  I tried to think of all angles - shape, size, thickness, materials, etc.

Wood and Glass pendant 2


   Wood and Glass pendant 3

I had such a busy schedule that I had to put off actually attempting to make this piece for several days.  It was killing me.  When I finally got into the studio, it didn't actually take me long to get this done.  I cut the basice shape from a block of mahogany.  Then I shaped it on the band saw, trimming the thickness on the back edge to create a domed back.    I drilled a circle into the face about 1/2 way through the thickness.  Thoroughly sanding, shaping and varnishing finished the wood piece.

Then I cut the piece of amber stained glass, painted it and fired it.  I created the copper bail with copper wire that I bent and soldered together, hammered into shape and drilled.  I drilled a hole through the wood and used a piece of copper wire with soldered ends to pin the bail to the wood. 

The coppere wire was coiled and hammered and I drilled holes in the wood, poking the wire ends from the front to the back and coiled it on the back to be decorative, but also to hold the wire in place.  When the glass cooled, it was glued into place. 

Wood and Glass pendant

Wood and Glass pendant 4

Pile 'O Pendants

I am trying to get ready for the upcoming holiday season shows.  I have several in October, lining up some for November and at least one in December also.  I will be updating my website Shows section as the locations, dates and times are confirmed.

In anticipation of some great shows, I have been making jewelry and tile pieces like crazy.  I have to get working on more ornaments as well.

Photo 1

Up til now I had only been painting my little driftwood pendants with an off white painted tree design.  I decided to try the black paint on the light wood colors and I think I love them!  I have also begun using stone beads above the pendant instead of the metal beads.  I found some beautiful agate and jasper on my vacation in Oregon this summer that I think simply accentuate the wood tones.  I am pretty particular about which beads I use for each necklace.

Photo 2

I've got 15 tile pieces in the kiln that will be mounted on wood.  Some of them I am pretty excited to see finished.  I tried a close up of a giant tortoise and a close up on a hare as well as some leaves, trees, an owl and other birds.  Oh yeah, and another little mouse.  Fun Stuff!

Bird A Week #9 - Owl Pendant

I was so excited to receive my bronze clay last week.  I got right to it and made up several mounting pieces for my painted glass.  I have learned a lot about the clay and have come out with some very appealing pieces.  Some of the construction didn't go as planned and the shrinkage was a hair more than I expected, but I am very happy with the results.

My bird this week is my Owl Totem Pendant.  He is done in a folk-artsy style and has an olive greenish background.  He is intended to bring knowledge and wisdom to you as you wear him close to your heart.

March 2, 2011 013 

As well, I have finished an additional 10 other pieces with the bronze and glass.  I have them all listed on my Etsy site now available for sale.   Each one is made from an original reverse glass painting mounted on my handmade bronze clay.  Here are some preview pictures.

March 2, 2011 019 

March 2, 2011 042 

March 2, 2011 035 
I actually have a dozen more glass pieces that need mountings, so more bronze work to come.  I love the warm tone that the bronze brings to the glass, it seems to work well with my images and themes. 

Hope you also enjoy them!

Bird-A-Week #7 - Raven

I have been saying for a very long time that while I occasionally make jewelry pieces, I do not want to be in the jewelry making business.  Well, sometimes I just get on the kick of making small pieces and can't help it.

I did some experimenting of reverse painting on small cut pieces of framing glass.  I have lots of that laying around from the frames that I bastardize to mount my tiles on.  The glass is hard so does not distort in firing, the paint adheres well and fires well on it and it is very thin so is perfect for jewelry pieces - not alot of bulk or weight.  The hardest part is manipulating the paint in such a small format.

February 5, 2011 002 Raven Pendant - approx 3/4" x 1-1/2"

So, my bird this week is about 3/4" x 1-1/2".  It is actually not finished.  The painting and glass is all done and ready, but I have ordered some bronze and copper clay to make settings for it and several other pieces I have painted.  I simply can not wait til the clay arrives some time next week.  I already have lots of sketches of designs to work up the clay.

Clay Pendant design 1 

Clay pendant design 2 

Clay pendant design 3 

Clay pendant design 4 

It works well to draw up actual size sketches of what I am thinking in order to translate that into an actual piece.  In my mind I have all of the ideas for thickness, techniques, etc, but the actual design is best kept on paper.  You can also see some of my notes about possible design additions.

I just can't wait for the clay!!!
Check back for some finished pictures hopefully next week!