This bracelet was inspired by the work of renowned Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí. I’ll show you how to create this lovely bracelet from Goldie Bronze™ clay using small, individually-shaped elements in layers to build the very sculptural design. The stones in this bracelet are set after firing, giving you a much greater choice of what you can use.
Project and Photos by: Waldo Ilowiecki
Editing by: Margaret Schindel, Joy Funnell and Jeannette Froese LeBlanc
Project Materials and Supplies
- 100g Goldie Bronze™ Hard (You can find it here.)
- 10 mm bronze embeddable prong setting
- 10 mm simulated ruby
- Four 5 mm simulated rubies
(In addition to basic metal clay tools you will need the following.)
- Bracelet mandrel – steel or wood
- Sheet of flexible sponge foam approximately 1mm thickness
- Vice or something to support the mandrel
- Ceramic bowl
- Metal mixing spatula
- Spray container of water (tap water is fine)
- Small plastic bag
- 5 mm cone-shaped dental drill bit or stone setting burr
- 15 cm of thin steel wire
- Stainless steel firing container
- Coconut shell activated carbon
- Pair of smooth jaw flat nose piers
- Cyanoacrylate glue
STEP 1: Prepare the bracelet mandrel. Draw a rectangle on the thin flexible foam sheet 19 cm x 3 cm and cut out with scissors or a scalpel. After firing, the bracelet will have an interior circumference of 18 cm when us- ing Hard Goldie Bronze, which shrinks 8–11%.
(Shrinkage rates for other clays will vary.) If you want a larger size bracelet, for example, 20 cm after firing, cut a strip 21 cm long. Join the ends using adhesive tape to make a circle . Slide the foam onto a bracelet mandrel or other suit- able round former . Prop the mandrel up at one end so it is at a comfortable working angle (about 25 degrees) . I used a vice as a support but anything that will hold the mandrel nice and stable will work.
STEP 2: Mix the Goldie Bronze Clay. Mix the bronze clay powder very well to ensure the binder is evenly combined. Pour 85 grams of powder into a ceramic bowl and mix according to the manufacturer’s instructions to make a nice smooth clay. Add enough water using the spray bottle so the powder starts to stick together but is not too wet . Remove the clay from the bowl. Knead the clay and repeatedly roll it for about 4 mins, until it feels and looks smooth. Put the clay into a plastic bag and allow it to rest for 30 minutes before using .
STEP 3: Make the balls for the decoration. Take about one fifth of the mixed clay and make into small balls. Roll small amounts of clays between the fingertips . Repeat to create dozens of balls ranging from 1 mm to 8 mm in diameter . Dry the balls before starting to make the rest of the bracelet.
STEP 4: Form the bracelet base. Roll out a small amount of clay to form a short snake which is thick in the centre and tapers at each end . Use a paint brush and water to wet the surface of the foam on the mandrel. Lay the snake onto the foam and wet the sides and end of it. Make a second snake and lay it next to the first one so the tapered end is beside the thick centre of the first snake. Paint water onto the touching areas and ensure they are nicely in contact to create a good join . Add another snake, making sure each tail overlaps the previous one, and all the sides are touching each other. Repeat this process, working around the mandrel to make a bracelet that is three snakes wide [10, 11, 12, 13].
STEP 5: Add the decoration. While the clay is still wet attach the embeddable bronze prong setting in your chosen place by wetting the surface and pushing the setting into the clay. Make four larger balls of clay about 10 mm in diameter and attach with water around the bracelet. Press the 5 mm dental drill bit or stone setting burr into each ball of wet clay to create a recess that will hold the synthetic rubies after firing . Add the dry balls for decoration. Use a brush and water to wet the surface of the bracelet, and place a ball on the tapered end of each snake. Attach all the other balls in an artistic arrangement around the bracelet . Leave to dry completely.
STEP 6: Refine the bracelet. Remove the bracelet from the mandrel, still attached to the foam. If the foam is stuck carefully thread a fine steel wire under the foam and use it to loosen it from the mandrel , then peel the foam away from the inside of the bracelet . Mix the remaining Goldie Bronze powder into a thick paste. Coat the inside of the bracelet with paste . Build up several layers of paste to fill the gaps. I used a metal tin lid as a support for the bracelet while doing this. Dry thoroughly. Use sandpaper and a file to refine and smooth the surfaces.
STEP 7: Fire the bracelet. Put the bracelet on a 1 cm layer of carbon inside a firing container . Place the box into the kiln, then fire at full ramp to 350°C (662°F) and hold for 1 hour. Carefully remove the container from the kiln and place it onto a heat proof mat. Cover the bracelet with a 2 cm layer of carbon. Fire at full ramp to 820°C (1508°F) and hold for 1h 30min.
STEP 8: Polish the bracelet and set the stones. Remove the cooled bracelet from the carbon. Remove the kiln patina with sandpaper and a steel brush, then polish with an abrasive sponge . Place the 10 mm ruby into the prong setting and carefully close the prongs with a pair of pliers to hold the stone in place . Burnish the prongs smooth. Use the cone shape dental drill bit or stone setting burr to re-drill the holes for the 5 mm stones. Set the stones into the holes using a drop of cyanoacrylate glue.
Leave the glue to set. Your bracelet is now ready to wear.