Metal Clay 101-Syringe Extrusion by Teva Jane Chaffin

Chaffin RingsThe syringe is my go-to form of metal clay for many techniques and applications. Not only is it great for setting cubic zirconia (smaller than 3mm) but also for creating texture and pattern.

unnamedOne of my favorite uses is creating a filigree-type tree of life. I also use as a fill in for seams or gaps that may appear when creating dry construction pieces. Using steady pressure and a moist brush for smoothing will make a smooth join.

Holding syringe(1)Holding the syringe – Avoid a death grip!
It is important to hold the syringe in a way that is comfortable for you. My recommendation: grasp the syringe barrel using four fingers of your dominant hand and place your thumb on top of the plunger. The “wings” of the syringe will rest on top of your index finger. Use wrist movements to guide the direction of the syringe.

Cutting the tipTo trim or not to trim the tip:
The amount of the tip you cut off will determine the size of the line to be extruded. The more you cut, the large the line. It can be useful to have multiple length tips available for a variety of uses. Be sure tips are on a syringe and kept moist in a cup of distilled water or a syringe saver in between uses.

When setting a cubic zirconia, I use the syringe with no tip at all. This creates the largest possible line and allows me to perfectly form a mound for the stone to be set in. I push the stone in until the syringe clay is nearly level with the crown (the top, flat part of the stone.) When the clay is fired and shrinks, it grasps the girdle (widest rim of the stone) and secures it. Note:

Applying SyringeApplying syringe:
To achieve a complete and unbroken line of syringe clay, always hold the syringe tip approximately one-half inch above your intended design and use consistent pressure of the plunger. Control the placement of the syringe with your wrist movement. A moist brush is great for adjusting the placement of the line after it has been extruded. To stop the flow of syringe, lightly touch the tip to the surface you are applying it to. Tip: I recommend checking to be sure the syringe line is securely attached to the surface you are embellishing. If applying to a clay shape, a little moisture may be helpful to ensure the contact is secure.

Chaffin braceletDrawing with the syringe:
For filigree use of the syringe, draw your design on paper and tape to a piece of transparency film. This will allow you to use the syringe to trace your design. Allow it to dry completely, turn over and apply another layer. Once this double-layered filigree is dry, you can then use the syringe to fill in the seam/gap on the sides using the syringe. For drawing on a clay slab, simply draw your design on the dry shape and apply syringe as you trace your design.

Pic of TevaAbout Teva
Teva is a PMC Senior Instructor, as well as the creative force behind TevaJane®, Timeless Earth Collections. Her work has been featured in publications such as “Nashville Arts Magazine” and “Metal Clay Artists” and on loan as an exhibition to locations such as Purdue University, Franklins’ Gallery 202 and most recently Brentwood City Library.  In 2012 Teva began teaching at the prestigious William Holland School of Art. While her skills as a designer and jewelry maker have been practiced and developed through the years to create her art, the vision and creative imagination for her art and nature is the same today as that little girl collecting stones in rural Tennessee at the age of seven.

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