Using a rainbow of metals, Australian Kim Morris uses Aussie Metal Clay created by Roslyn Bailey to create pendants with multi-coloured leaves.
Project Materials and Supplies
Packs of SuperFlex Clay in colours of your choice – in this project I used the 7 Medium Fire Aussie Metal Clay Colours
There are a selection of tools you will need to complete this project. I’m sure you will have most of them but if not these specific tools you may have some that will do the same job.
water brush/ water pen – I use one for each colour so that the colours are not contaminated one from another
thickness slats or similar
pair small sharp scissors
rubber or silicon pointed tool
sanding pads of various grits, or sandpaper
sanding tools such as files
water spray bottle
You will need to roll out 1 sheet of each colour in Aussie Metal Clay SuperFlex you would like in your final piece. Roll
the sheet 4 cards thick. In this tutorial I used 7 colours. Roll out an additional sheet of Ruby Bronze for the backing for the
Pendant. When you roll out the sheets the best tip I can give you is make sure you label the sheets as you go, as it can be
difficult to tell them apart later if you forget this important step. Check the size of the sheets with a pair of callipers this will
give you an indication that you have each sheet the same thickness – 4 cards thick should be approx 1mm thick. Each sheet
should at minimum measure approx 1″ x 2″ (approx 2.5cm x 5cm) for the curve pieces and the backing should be 2″x 4″ (Approx 5cm x 10cm)
Set out the colours as you would like them to sit in the final piece. In this tutorial I used the colours in the following order – Left to right for the curves: Ruby Bronze – Antarctic Moonlight – Desert Sun – Antarctic Sand – Ironbark – Gold Bronze – Gumnut.
I chose this order of colours so that I could have a good differentiation of colours. Choose the order of colours you will like to use for the balls beside the curves. You will need up to 10 small balls in each colour 2 to each size. The order I chose for the ball from left to right is: Antarctic Sand – Ironbark – Gold Bronze – Gumnut – Ruby Bronze – Antarctic Moonlight – Desert Sun – Antarctic Sand
Draw up the design from the template on the coloured sheets you made. One on each colour and label the colour on
the piece. Once all drawn up and labelled you can cut them out using your small sharp scissors or a craft knife. Cut from the
middle to the outside then turn around and cut from the middle towards the other outside edge, do this on both sides this
will help to avoid the piece from fracturing.
Take the sheet you made for the backing of the pendant/brooch. Space out the curves in order of placement above as
shown in the picture so that you are happy with the colour arrangement. You will notice in the picture that I have sat the
backing piece inside my 4 card thickness this is to stop the balls from rolling off onto the floor when I start putting the balls
Now we are ready to start placing the balls and curves together. To do this I simply use water on my water brush/water pen
other people will use paste. You can do it either way. I moisten down the area on the backing where the first colour will go –
if you are following my colour arrangement then this will be the ruby curve piece. This piece can start close to the left hand
side of the backing sheet, just leaving enough room to place the first ball before it. I wet down the backing where the piece
will go and then I wet the underside of the ruby curve. allow the water a couple of seconds to penetrate into the dry clay
then place the Ruby curve in place on the backing. I manoeuvre the piece back and forth a little to remove any air that may
become trapped underneath the curve and you will feel the curve piece attach to the backing sheet. You will need to hold
the Ruby curve in place for a few second to allow it a chance to attach well.
It is time to begin to place the balls in position. Antarctic Sand is the first colour of the balls I will need and this first ball gets
placed on the left hand side of the Ruby Curve as shown on the picture below. To place the balls you will need to wet down
the backing like you did for the curve piece and wet down the section of the ball that you want to attach, let sit for a second
or two to allow absorption on the dry clay, them place the ball down into position giving it a little bit of manoeuvring to
ensure attachment and then hold in place for a few seconds until it is attached.
The main aim is to keep the area wet while you attach the balls and this will make it easier when you attach the multiple
balls on the right side of the Ruby Curve. The ball colour I use on the right side of the ruby curve is the Ironbark balls.
Place as many balls as you need to cover the area in my design I needed 7 balls. The larger balls start from the outside and
work towards the middle with the middle ball being the smallest – see picture. I found that using tweezers made it easier for
me to place and hold the individual balls in place. Ensure that the area is wet and start placing your balls down in order of
size, once down manoeuvre slightly to ensure attachment. If you think the backing is drying add more water.
Repeat step 5 until you have all of the curves and balls placed on your backing. The order of colours I used is as follows:
Antarctic Sand Ball – Ruby Bronze Curve – Ironbark Balls – Antarctic Moonlight Curve – Gold Bronze Balls – Desert Sun Curve –
Gumnut Balls – Antarctic Sand Curve – Ruby Bronze Balls – Ironbark Curve – Antarctic Moonlight Balls – Gold Bronze Curve –
Desert Sun Balls – Gumnut Curve – and finish with an Antarctic Sand Ball.
Dry the Pendant/Brooch in a low heat. Just warm enough for the pieces to attach to each other well and then take out of
the heating pan and sit back on the bench for the Metal Clay to cool down again.
Once cooled cut the backing carefully with the scissors to give your Pendant/Brooch its desired shape. I used the nail sander
to sand down into the smaller harder to get to areas. Wet down the edges with your finger to smooth the edge.
Now is the time to decide if you are making a Pendant or Brooch. If creating a pendant it is time to make your bail so that
the Pendant can be held by a chain. For the bail I rolled out a strip of clay about 6 cards thick and I then gave the strip a
texture. Once textured I laid the strip over a straw to get the desired shape to cater for a necklace. Having the desired shape
I then placed the bail into my heating pan to dry on a low heat.
Now that the bail is dry, make yourself some paste from a water and clay mixture. Wet down the back of the Pendant where the bail is being placed and the back of the bail. Place some paste onto the bail and press firmly onto the Pendants back. Put into low heat to dry, then sand and clean your piece. When you are happy with your piece its time to place it into the Kiln.
Kiln the piece in a 2 stage firing schedule as per the Clays Manufacturers Instructions. As I used Aussie Metal Clay SuperFlex
in this piece I had a burn off temperature on a bed of Activated Coconut Carbon at a temperature of 400C/750F for a time
of 30 minutes. I use Kiln Blanket under my piece but this is optional. When burn off is complete cover with activated
coconut carbon and set your 2nd Stage Firing at 770C for a time of 2 hours.
Just remember that every kiln will be slightly different. I always suggest making test pieces to find out the precise
temperature that your kiln will work at its most effective.
Photo 1: Laying on the Kiln blanket
on top of a bed of activated Coconut Carbon ready for burn off.
Photo 2: Out of the Kiln just after firing.
Photo 3: After about 10 minutes in the magnetic Tumbler after a short polish to a matte finish