Project Materials and Supplies
Silver Metal Clay, aprox. 16g.
Teflon Sheet or another non-stick work surface such as a plastic page proctector.
Doming plate (optional)
Graduated Slat set. Playing cards work if you have figured out the thicknesses.
Olive Oil to apply to tools and hands to keep the metal clay from sticking.
Small liner brush
Fine sand papers in various grits
- programmable electric kiln
Oil your tools and work surfaces and roll out the clay:
Lightly oil your hands with olive oil, and then smooth your oiled palms over the top of the non-stick sheet, and the clay roller to coat them with a very thin film of oil. Open the package of clay, and roll the clay firmly between your palms for a few seconds to create a compact, crease-free ball. Flatten the ball slightly and place it in the center of a non-stick sheet. Position the 4 playing cards on the sheet to either side of the clay. Roll out the clay, lifting and turning it ¼ turn before each subsequent pass with the roller, until it is flush with the tops of the spacers.
Fingerprint the clay:
Lay a rolled out piece of clay on a doming plate or non-stick sheet. Very lightly oil your child’s finger tip and guide their hand to make a clear impression in the clay. If you do not like the imprint, ball up the clay and roll out again. Be sure that your clay does not start to dry out. Please note: I choose to use a doming plate when taking a child’s fingerprint impression. I find that children have a tendency to push down and away, which will make the clay thin in places and the fingerprint will not be clear. The doming plate helps keep the shape of the fingerprint.
Cut out the charm shape:
After your child has made their fingerprint impression, gently roll your clay roller over the clay that is still on the doming plate. (Wrap up the excess clay, as it can be re-hydrated by spraying water on the clay and used in another project.) To make the hole for the jumpring, use a small metal tube. You will notice in the photo that I cut the hole out in the domed part of the charm and not on the edge. Don’t cut the hole too close to the edge or you will have a weak spot that could crack while you make the hole. Allow the clay to harden without lifting it from the doming plate to avoid distorting the shape.
Fire the charms:
Fire the charms in a small electric kiln with a digital control panel according to the manufacturer’s instructions for the clay you are using. Allow the kiln to cool to 100°F before removing the fired charms. I don’t recommend torch firing as I have seen too many students heat the fingerprint area just a bit too much and loose the prints.
Finish the metal:
The charms fresh from the kiln will have a white appearance because the tiny metal particles on the surface of the fired clay need to be pushed down to create a shine. With some polishing your charms will sparkle. To polish your charm, fill a cup or small bowl with water and stir in a drop or two of liquid dish soap. Dip a piece of 1200-grit wet/dry sandpaper into the soapy water and wet-sand the silver, keeping your sanding strokes in the same direction. *Do not sand the fingerprint!* Sand the top edge and back of the charm. Dip both the silver and the sandpaper in the soapy water frequently until you no longer feel any “pull” or resistance.
Attach a jump ring:
Hold half of the jump ring between the jaws of the chain nose pliers with the cut at the top, use a second pair of pliers to bend half of the loop away from you, opening it just enough to let you slide on the charm. Reverse the motion with the chain nose pliers to close the jump ring around the charm. Tip: Do not pull loop open horizontally, which would permanently distort the round shape.