Bronze Swing Earrings by Cindy Silas

MCAM 4.3_Page_56_Image_0001Combining metal clay and polymer clay in a piece of jewelry is a great way to add color and contrast. To connect the two mediums, it helps to build some sort of connection into the metal clay that will allow the polymer to wrap around it or otherwise grab a foothold. In this pair of earrings metal clay ovals are connected with small blocks of metal clay and once the polymer clay is added the connection is hidden. I’ve used bronze clay but you can use any type of metal clay.

Project Materials and Supplies

  • 25 g bronze clay or other metal clay
  • Bronze clay paste or matching metal clay paste
  • 3 oz (75 g) translucent polymer clay
  • small amounts of cyan and magenta polymer clay
  • Blue and green alcohol ink
  • Polymer clay softener
  • liquid polymer clay
  • 1 pair of earwires
  • 1” (25 mm) oval cutter
  • 1/8” (3 mm) circle cutter
  • U-shaped gouge or round file (optional)
  • oval drafting template
  • 1-3/4” (45 mm) circle cutter
  • Also: Basic Metal Clay Set-Up and Basic Polymer Clay Set-Upbasic kit_Page_1 (Click imagbasic set up page 2e for full page version of list. Please note that this is an extensive list to give all of our international artists lots of options. Many items can be found in your home studio already!)

 

 

 

 

Project Step-By-Step

Step 1

STEP 1: Make the bronze clay ovals and connectors. Roll out the bronze clay to 6 cards (1.5 mm) thick. Place the clay on a texture plate, then roll it to 4 cards (1 mm) thick. Turn the clay over so that the textured side is facing up and place it on a nonstick surface. Cut out four 1” (25 mm) ovals. Punch out three over- lapping 1/8” (3 mm) circles from the middle of each oval to create a starter hole. Roll out more bronze clay to 8 cards (2 mm) thick and cut two long, straight 1/8” (3 mm) wide strips with a tissue blade. Set all the pieces aside to dry naturally [1].

Step 2

STEP 2: Refine the bronze clay pieces. Hold two of the dried oval pieces together with the plain sides touching and file the outside edges of both ovals at the same time so that the shapes match. Carve the edges with a U- gouge or round file for additional texture, if desired [2]. Position an oval template over the non-textured side of one of the pieces and use a needle tool to score the outline of a smaller oval in the center of the clay oval. Cut out the center oval with a craft knife. Put the two matching pieces back together again and use the inner oval cutout as a guideline to score on the plain side of the second oval [3]. Cut and file the second oval so that the inner edges of both pieces match. repeat step 2 with the remaining two ovals.

Step 3

STEP 3: Join the ovals with the connecting blocks and fire. Slice several small blocks from the strips you made earlier.

Moisten the non-textured side of one oval, then attach the blocks with paste, spacing them evenly [4]. The blocks should not be too close to the edges of the oval, so that when polymer is added later it can wrap around the blocks and conceal them. attach the matching oval to the top of the blocks in the same manner [5]. Repeat steps 2 and 3 with the second set of ovals. Dry both assemblies completely, then fire according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Finish the ovals as desired.

 

Step 4

STEP 4: Prepare the polymer clay. Choose two coordinating colors of alcohol ink, such as blue and green. divide 2 oz (50 g) of the translucent polymer into four or five equal amounts. roll out each piece and add varying amounts of one or both inks [6] to create a range of tints. allow the ink to dry, then blend it into each piece of translucent clay. Grate a small pile of each color [7] with a clay-dedicated grater, then bake the shavings for 20 minutes at the manufacturer’s recommended temperature.

Mix a small amount of magenta polymer clay with cyan polymer to match the darkest blue baked shavings. This opaque clay will fill around the connecting blocks between the ovals. (If the tinted translucent polymer were used, the blocks might be visible after baking.)

 

 

Step 5

STEP 5: Add the polymer clay to the fired bronze ovals. Use a wooden toothpick to add the opaque polymer clay to the gap between the bronze ovals, filling in all visible areas on both the inside and outside of the ovals [8]. Leave a textured edge to the clay for added interest.

Step 6

STEP 6: Make and attach the translucent polymer clay shapes. Once the baked shavings have cooled, add a few drops of clay softener to them and mix them all together. roll out 1 oz (25 g) of translucent clay, then blend in a handful of the mixed shavings [9]. Roll this clay out to 8 cards (2 mm) thick and cut out two 1-3/4” (45 mm) circles. if any baked polymer shavings are in the cutting path, use a craft knife to slice through them. With a tissue blade, slice off a little less than half of each circle and remove it. Position a bronze oval in the center of the remaining clay as shown in the photo [10]. With a craft knife, trim the straight edge of the polymer directly along the edge of the bronze oval and remove the excess clay [11]. Repeat for the second earring. add a drop of liquid polymer clay to the newly trimmed edges of the polymer, then leave it a minute to absorb. Place the oval in the polymer cutout, making sure the opaque and translucent polymer areas join securely so that they will bond while baking. texture the polymer clay with sandpaper, if desired. set the earrings on a bed of cornstarch, then bake for 30 minutes at the polymer clay manufacturer’s recommended temperature.

Add the earwires. I made my own with 20-gauge (.8 mm) gold-filled wire, formed around a mandrel and lightly textured with a hammer on a bench block.

Now your beautiful Bronze Swing earrings are complete.

About the Author

Cindy silas is a mixed-media artist, teacher, and author who’s been passionately working with metal clay since 2005, often combining it with other media such as polymer clay and resin. She was a finalist in the metal clay category of the 2013 Saul Bell Design Award Competition. Her work has been published in several magazines and books. To see more of her work visit www.cindysilas.com.

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