Silver metal clay is an excellent material that is easy to use from home, take a look at our step-by-step project for making a lovely silver shell charm below…
You will need:
Small pot of 2-part moulding compound
5 grams of Art Clay
A small shell
A small drinking straw
Small firing torch and heat proof brick
Brash brush and polishing papers
Selection of citrine beads
Small section of silver chain
Silver clasp and jumpring
Step 1: Choose a small shell that has plenty of texture on for making your charm. We are now going to make a mould of the shell using and two-part moulding compound. Take a small amount of both the blue and the white moulding compound and roll them each into a ball to check they are the same size.
Step 2: Next mix the two balls together quickly and thoroughly until there is no marbling effect and the compound is a uniform light blue colour. You need to do this fairly quickly as the compound with shortly start to set.
Step 3: Roll the combined compound into a ball and place it on a non-stick surface. Then gently press your shell into the compound to make a mould. Make sure that you don’t push down too far as to make a hole in the bottom of the mould.
Step 4: Leave the compound to set for a few minutes then pop the shell out and you will have a rubbery-feel permanent mould that can be used again and again. At this stage you can check that there is plenty of detail in the mould, if not remake it until you are happy with the effect.
Step 5: Place a very (very!) small amount of olive oil into the mould to prevent sticking and get your 5 grams of Art Clay out of the packet, roll it into a ball and gently push it into the mould.
Step 6: Make sure you have pushed it right in so that the clay can absorb all of the detail, then turn the mould upside down and carefully pop the clay out. This all has to be done fairly quickly as the clay dries at room temperature.
Step 7: Now take your scalpel and very carefully cut away any excess clay. Make sure as you do this you don’t accidentally push fingerprints or the scalpel into the shell shape as this will show up on your finished charm. Don’t worry about getting the edges perfect at this stage as you will be able to sand them with a sanding pad later.
Step 8: To make a hole in your piece to hang the charm from you simply take a thin drinking straw (or you can use a cotton bud stick cut in half) push the straw into the shell where you want the hole, then gently turn the straw round a few times until the clay comes out. You should be left with a nice neat hole.
Step 9: Next you need to leave your shell to dry. You can either leave it to dry naturally over 24 hours or you can speed the process up by using a hairdryer or hotplate on a low temperature for approx 15-20mins. Once your piece is dry you can sand the edges and the back of the charm using sanding paper or a sanding pad until it is all lovely and smooth.
Step 10: Now comes the fun bit… firing your piece! Before you fire the art clay shell you need to make sure that it is 100% dry, or else it may blister during firing. To do this I would recommend leaving it for 24-48 hours as it is quite a thick piece of clay. When you are ready to fire, place your charm onto a fire-proof brick, turn on your small gas torch and point the flame at the piece. Heat the piece until it reaches a peachy glow colour and hold it at this temperature with the torch for 3 minutes. Always make sure you are safe and have a bowl of water nearby.
Step 11: Once you have finished firing either wait for your piece to cool down, or place it with a pair of tweezers into a bowl of water and it will instantly cool. Now you can start polishing your piece first using a brass brush followed by a set of polishing papers. As you brush the piece vigorously with the brass brush you will see the silver colour of the metal come shining through. Once you have done as mush as you can with the brush, work your way through the polishing papers rubbing them all over the charm as hard and fast as you can for 1-2 minutes each. By the end you should have a lovely shiny charm.
Step 12: Now your charm is compete and you can do what you like with it, we have attached ours onto a necklace by putting a silver jumpring into the hole in the shell and threading it on to a piece of tigertail wire. Then thread the beads on to the tigertail, either side of the charm until you have made a full necklace. To finish, attach a clasp and piece of silver chain to allow length variations. For full details on how to thread a necklace see our simple project Make a Beaded Tassel Necklace – http://www.londonjewelleryschool.co.uk/projects/make-a-beaded-tassel-necklace/
If you like this project and would like to learn more metal clay techniques take a look at our Metal Clay Classes.