Artist Project Series: Ann Davis “Columns” Pendant

[Cool Tools and Creative Fire are pleased to present another project in our ongoing “Artist Project Series”. This time master artist Ann Davis took up our challenge to design a unique tutorial using FS999.  Thank you Ann for your creative and fun project!]

The mystery and mystique of columns seems to infuse all parts of human history. Sumerians had them, Minoans had them, just about everyone did. There are even some Stone Age columns, admittedly more lithic, rectangular, or kind of ax shaped at Gobekli Tepe.  So they kind of started out stone and then were wood or whole trees turned upside down and planted in holes. Premium stone eventually replaced wood ones, fluted columns are said to simulate tree bark. The representations of columns on early Minoan seal rings, have people dancing around them, makes you think of Maypoles:) The Greeks and Romans took it to the next level, erecting victory columns, highly decorated with statues of heroes on the top. Columns are said to represent the bridge between heaven and earth, important buildings, shrines, and the Egyptian Djed pillar, stability and the spinal column. To me the column represents knowledge, written records, ancient alphabets.

There are so many  archeological sites with columns, standing, fallen, broken. I really like the broken ones, they speak to me of past civilizations. Something epic enough happened to break a column. Makes you wonder. I love a good mystery!

I have 4 fluted and twisted columns holding  glass shelves in my living room.  There are two columns on an antique linen cabinet complete with brass finals, along with 2 brass Nikes in my dining room. I also chose a Doric column to replace the old wrought Iron trellis on my front porch, it supports a Trumpet Vine that spirals up to the roof, the August humming bird’s delight!  Did I do all that on purpose…no not really it just happened, apparently I love a good column.

Columns are one of the first things I printed with my  first and then second 3D printer. That was great, but what then?  I wanted a necklace, but not plastic columns.  Like all things you want to do just because you want to do it, it never happened because life is so busy, over-committed, and then the plumbing breaks, always something, so I just kept it as a resin 3D column,  always on my desk.  I leave myself notes like that, visual clues to remember things I want to do.

When I was asked to write this article, I had no idea what I would make. I thought about it for a while.

I was really dying to get to the FS999 Cool Tools had so generously sent, I had never tried it. But  I wanted to do something  fun and different.

Turns out that I love the FS999, it’s easy to work with, doesn’t seem to stick as much as some clays, went together like a dream, even the tiny thin pieces I used for the chain came out perfect. Sometimes fate steps in and hands you a lollypop or in my case a column.  As I sat with the package of clay in one hand, my eyes fell on the  resin column. Yes!

Ionic columns have volutes as their capitals.  I’ve seen the spirals called rams horns, women’s curls, but it mostly reminds me of a scroll that has been laid opened and turned upside down, I bet the Library of Alexandria had columns.  It turns out that volutes are super easy to do if you think of them in a scroll-ish way.  because, well, that is the best way to make one.  I made many columns, bigger, smaller, different, before realizing this was the easiest technique for sure!  It’s so simple. So here is some Column Love coming your way!

Column ingredients list:
20g FS999
A small mandrel, skewer or  toothpick to make flutes, I used a 1/16″ glass bead mandrel
Working surface (I use blue stencil film so that I can see the measurement lines on the mat) goes right in the dehydrator
Something  round about the size of a magic marker to dry the column on and give it shape.
Olive oil or bee balm. I seem to have better control of the Bee Balm so that’s what I use.
Sharp tissue blade for easy cutting
Baby Wipes
Water brush

I made the column with 20g of FS999, that included the bail. The pieces I used on the necklace matched the bail but required a little more clay, of course the necklace is optional. I think it would be beautiful hung on black Buna cord or something else simple.

Step 1: Roll out the clay
Roll out the clay onto oiled or bee balm surface,  to 8 cards thick. I know, seems thick but there is a reason in the next step. Cut a rectangle 1 inch wide and 1.5 inches long. I cut a slanted bottom  out of the piece but  that is optional. I think it gives it a little personality.

(photo: roll out)

Step 2: Making flutes
Place 3 card slats at the top and bottom of the slab you have rolled out, not on, just next to.  (Photo: placing 3cards)

Use the mandrel to make closely spaced flutes in your column.  Just push gently down, keeping them straight and even.  The 3card slats give you an even surface to push down on and they prevent you from pushing all the way through the slab. (Photo:making flutes)

Now you should have the perfect column.
(Photo: flutes finished
You will notice that it grows sideways and becomes fatter and thinner as you push the mandrels in. Place on your oiled or balmed marker, I used a 10W40 spray bottle, and shape, let dry completely. (Photo:fluted column wrapped)

Step3: Make the top volute.
Cut out a long rectangle 3cards thick,  3 1/2 inches by 1/2 inch. I cut one out of paper for a template so you could see how it rolls up. (Photo: cutting top volute)

Let it dry for a minute or two, it still needs to be moist to roll without cracking but easy to pick up. Start gently at each end, you may need to use your blade to get the ends started but no worries because they will be on the inside and just roll gently  towards the middle. Use your dried column to measure where to stop.

(Photo: rolling top volute)

Step 4: Finishing
With your volute still on your work surface, attach the column to the top with slip.  Finish the volute by rolling the volute ends closer to touch the column and attach with slip. Let it dry just where it is. When you think it is dry, turn right side up and gently peel the work surface off if necessary. Press gently from the top into the column to make sure it is stuck fast. If needed you can add more slip to the backside where the volute and column meet. After it’s completely dry, finish up with a baby wipe or a water brush,  gently smoothing the sides and cleaning off any errant slip.

Step 5: Bail

Make a bail, it could be anything. (Photo: Bail view)I made a squiggly shape, cut out, dry and attach to the top with slip. Let it dry and clean up with the water brush if necessary. When completely dry, fire. There are many choices for firing temps with this clay, I choose 1650’F for 30min. It came out perfect!  I put it in the tumbler overnight and darkened it the next day.  I finished up by cutting out 6 more bail shapes to be part of the chain because I couldn’t find my Buna cord! I think it works. How about you?


Ann Davis Art is life, life is art.  I’m a creator, as all artists are. Art is a powerful mistress. She’s the demiurge that through our hands, minds, and hearts manifests new ideas and objects into existence. Our thoughts become things. Resistance is futile. Find Ann online:

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