Oval Contemporary Earrings by Janet Alexander

Project sponsored by

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These beauties are made using the Perfect-Match™ templates that Janet designed. You can of course complete the project with other templates but Janet’s make the job easier.

Project Materials and Supplies

PMC3 Clay 16g Net
Sterling Silver Wire – 20 ga-6 ft
Perfect-Match™ Doming Kit – Oval
Soft Touch Pad Variety Pack
Rubber Block
Rubber Stamp Mat – Tablecloth
Texture mats with three repeating designs.
Clay Roller
Buffing Stick With Four Grits
Steel Scraper
Steel Round-Nose Pliers
Perfect-Match™ Pin Tool
10-piece Diamond Needle File Set

Project Step-By-Step

Step 1

Make 4 oval earring sides:
Grease the oval dome that matches template 2B. The inside of the template should come just outside of the end of the dome. Grease the texture. We will roll the clay twice. The first thickness is 4 cards. Place the clay between two stacks of cards, 4 cards tall and roll the clay out flat. Pick up the flat clay and place on top of the texture mat between cards stacked 2 cards tall. To get a crisp texture, roll the clay from the center outward. Place the roller at the center of the clay move it away from you, pick it up and replace it in the center of the clay again. Pull the roller towards you now pressing the clay into the texture. Place the textured clay on top of the greased dome patting it down against the brass plate. Place the PerfectMatch™ Oval 2B template on top of the clay. Holding the PerfectMatch™ needle tool perpendicular, drag the tip around inside the template cutting the clay. Remove the template and then lift the excess clay off the brass dome and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Press the cut sides down lightly against the brass dome making sure there are no gaps. Place both the brass dome and clay onto the hotplate or inside a dehydrator. After 5 minutes remove the clay from the dome and dry completely on the hotplate or in the dehydrator. Repeat these steps three more times making a total of four domes.

Step 2

Prepare each dome for attaching to another dome:
Smooth any rough spots off the edges using a fine nail file. Sand the bottom flat. Place some 320 grit wet/dry sandpaper on a flat surface. Drag the dome across the sandpaper until the bottom has a level edge. Repeat these steps on the remaining three domes.

Step 3

Create the earring wires for the two earrings:
The wire expands across the inside of the earrings and is embedded into the clay. Each wire is 20 gauge round sterling silver, 5” long. Any excess wire can be cut off after firing.

Starting at 1/8” from the end of the wire, bend it at a 90˚ angle using needle nosed pliers. Make a “U” shape in the wire using round nosed pliers or Wubbers™ wire looping pliers. Follow the photos in completing the “U” shape. Just after the “U,” the wire bends downward for ¼”. Using needle nosed pliers grab the wire just after the “U” and pull the wire downward. Follow pictures and to bend it again going horizontal to the “U” shape. This area of the wire spans across the earring. Hold the wire up to the clay half earring to find out where it should bend upward. It should come out near the widest part of the earring. Now bend it upward and make a loop where it would go through the ear. Decide how far the earring hangs down and bend a curve into the wire at that spot. We will adjust this curve better after the earrings are fired. Repeat the process making the other earring wire.

Note: While creating the next earring wire, use the first one as a template so that they both hang the same length.

 

Step 4

Attach the earring wire to the clay:
Note: Make sure the texture is facing the direction you want it to face. In these earrings, I wanted the texture curling upwards on both sides. It may be best to mark which side is the top on the back sides of the domed clay.

Wet the base area edges where the earring wire comes out of the dome with a wet brush. This softens the clay so that when we push the two clay halves together later it won’t crack, due to the wire. Apply slip to the same area and on the wire as well. Using the flat clay shaper, scoop up some lump clay. Apply the lump clay around the wire where it lays against the dome. Do the same to the other side.

Warning: never pick the earrings up by the wire! It will pull out! It’s very fragile until it’s fired.

Step 5

Attach the two sides together:
With a wet brush, apply water to the area along the edge on the dome piece with the wire attached to it. Apply slip to the back edge of the other dome half. Make sure the texture is facing the correct way! Press the two halves together applying pressure for 30 seconds. Dry completely.

Step 6

Repeat steps 4 and 5 for the other earring.

Step 7

Drill a hole or two into the sides using a tiny drill:
The hole allows trapped air to escape while the clay is heated. Otherwise, there is a risk of the air expanding and blowing a hole in the earring. I drilled three on each side making them decorative.

Step 8

After the clay is completely dry refine the earrings outside edges:
Clean excess dried clay off the seam and around the wire. File and sand the edges removing the seam. Taper the bottom of the earring using a fine nail file. Sand the file scratches away using sanding sponges from course grit to fine grit.

Step 9

Sinter the clay by firing it in a kiln or using a torch:

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the clay type you are using.

Step 10

Finish the fired metal by tumbling in steel shot or hand polishing:
The earring wires have become softened so you can bend them out of the way while polishing. It’s easy to polish the earring wires by putting them into a tumbler with stainless steel shot and a little soap.

Step 11

Work-harden the earring wires:
After firing in the kiln, the earring wires have become annealed (soften). They can be hardened by compressing the wires. This can be done in several ways.

a. Compress the wire by squeezing pliers on the wire in all different angles.

b. Compress the wire by lightly hammering it against an anvil. (This risks denting the wire.)

Or

c. Compress the wire by placing it on an anvil and placing another anvil over the wire and then rolling the top anvil back and forth. The earring will spin off to the side of the anvil while rolling the top anvil. Then compress the wire that wouldn’t fit on the anvil with pliers.

Step 12

Bend the wires into shape as done in Step 3 making sure they stay even in height. Then cut off any excess wire. They should be springy and able to hook into the “U” shaped bend.

About the Author

"I am inspired by nature and try to capture a unique part of nature into my pieces, be that texture, color, or a feeling. Nature gives me energy and calmness."

Please visit Janet's website: www.janetalexander.net.

Thank you to Janet Alexander and PMC Connection for this project.

Check out the other beginner projects on the PMC Connection website.

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