This project has been designed for metal clay beginners using minimal tools and equipment. You can create this eye-catching copper daisy or create your own unique design using different shape cutters and textures.
- 50g Art Clay copper
- Fireable gemstone
- Non-stick Teflon sheets
- Badger Balm
- Snake roller
- Acrylic roller
- Spacers (or playing cards)
- Texture mats (or wallpaper)
- Large and small cutters
- Drinking straw
- Needle tool
- 3M green sanding/polishing paper
- 2 x small airtight containers
- 2 x small paintbrushes
- Fibre brick
- Fibre blanket
- Brass brush
- Swellegant darkening patina
- To change the look of the flowers, experiment with different textures, perhaps combining smooth and textured layers.
- To create an aged copper look, paint on Swellegant Tiffany Rust to all or some of the petals and leave to cure overnight.
- You could add colour using a Swellegant Dye-Oxide, adjusting the depth of colour by adding more layers.
To make the pendant bale, open the clay packet and remove a small piece of clay. Place the remaining clay in an airtight container. Roll in the palm of the hand to form a snake shape. Place on a non-stick surface and roll backwards and forwards to elongate the snake using a snake roller or Perspex sheet, ensuring it’s even in width.
Flood the clay with water using a spritzer bottle and leave for a minute. This ensures the clay can be shaped without cracking. Cut 2–3cm lengths and gently ease into horseshoe shapes around a straw. You will have to manipulate it as it will want to spring open. Leave to dry in a warm place (a radiator or electric oven at 110°C for 30 minutes).
With the remaining clay, roll into a tight ball in the palms of your hands and then place on a non-stick surface. Using 2mm spacers (or eight playing cards either side), roll the clay flat. Lubricate two texture mats (or wallpaper) with Badger Balm and sandwich the clay and 1.5mm spacers (six playing cards) between the textures. Roll firmly. Remove textures and place clay back on non-stick surface.
Using cutters of your choice, cut out a large and a small shape. Practise with polymer clay to make sure that the two size cutters work well when the smaller shape is placed on the larger one. You may need to repeat Step 3 if you can’t cut out both shapes at the same time. Put aside to dry as before.
Place a gemstone face down on a non-stick surface with spacers either side until they are 1mm higher than the stone. Remove the stone and roll out clay between the spacers. Push the gemstone into the clay, ensuring the top of the stone is just below the surface of the clay. With a straw or cutter, cut around the stone (ensuring there’s at least 1–2mm of clay on all sides).
Once the flowers are fully dry, remove the excess clay between the petals by using a sharp object or metal clay pick. Make sure the flower is supported on a level surface and chip away gently and slowly removing a little at a time. Be careful as the petals are very delicate at this stage and can easily break off if too much pressure is applied.
After the excess has been removed, pick up the flower and support carefully. Sand petal sides using the green sanding/polishing paper. Very gently, round off the ends of each petal. Repeat the process for the gemstone clay bezel and the horseshoe bale. Lay the bale on the sanding paper, sanding the rounded side until flat. Sand the feet of the horseshoe until it is flat and stands up by itself.
Take a pinch of clay and make a paste by adding water until it becomes the consistency of thick cream. Attach the large and small flower by dampening the area of the large flower with water where the small flower will attach. With a paintbrush, add paste to the back of the small flower. Press the two gently together, holding for at least one minute. Set aside to dry.
Repeat the process to attach the gemstone bezel. Dry again. Now attach the bale by dampening the rear of a petal with water. Add a small amount of paste to the non-stick surface and with tweezers, pick up the bale and generously wipe the feet in the paste. Place on the petal and wiggle until it grips. Hold steady for at least a minute or two. Dry again.
Check the bale has attached to the petal. If there are gaps, carefully add paste using a paintbrush and dry. Repeat as required. When fully dry, place the pendant on a firing brick, supported by a fibre blanket, face down. With a bushy flame, heat the pendant watching for smoke and a small flame as the binders burn away. Keep the pendant glowing an orange/red and fire for 15 minutes.
After firing, allow the pendant to cool naturally. Do not quench in water or the gemstone may crack. When cool, add the pendant to a pickle mixture made with hot water to remove the black oxidized layer. When the oxidization is removed, take out of the pickle using plastic tweezers or a spoon and rinse in clean water. Brush with a brass brush and soapy water to reveal the copper.
To give the flower depth and highlights, paint on the darkening patina, leave until the colour has developed for a minute or two and then wipe off the excess. This product produces a similar look to Liver of Sulphur but is easier to apply and control. Lastly, bring the pendant to a high shine by rubbing very hard with a polishing pad.
Make an alternative pendant and earrings
To create a curved flower, shape polymer clay to form a dome. Cut out clay and carefully place the wet flowers, face down over the polymer clay dome to dry. Repeat from Step 5. Be extra careful when attaching pieces as the curve makes the flowers a little more fragile.
For earrings, roll a leaf over the clay and cut out a leaf shape piercing a hole in the top with a small straw. Dry. Make embellishments by pressing clay into a mould, remove and sand edges when dry. Using paste adhere the dry shapes together. Follow Step 10 onwards.
All products available from: www.metalclay.co.uk
Laurel Guilfoyle, Michele Trapiche
- Date 4th April 2017
- Tags Project
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