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Fall 2012

Metal Clay for Jewelry

The Complete Technique Guide
by sue heaser

Explore a beautifully illustrated encyclopedic musthave with Metal Clay for Jewelry Makers. Internationally
renowned artist Sue Heaser explores all of the basic
and advanced metal clay techniques, such as forming
hinges and hollow forms; working with paper clay; adding
gemstones, metals, glass, ceramic, resin, and enamel; and
forging, annealing, texturing, and adding patinas.
Beautifully showcased are gold, silver, copper, and bronze
in an array of forms. Other techniques showcased include
resin; mounting stones, pearls, fused glass, or metals;
enameling; combining PMC with polymer clay; and
creating patinas.
With more than 500 photographs and finished projects
and techniques throughout, Metal Clay for Jewelry Makers
provides readers the inspiration needed to design unique
metal clay jewelry.

Sue Heaser is an internationally renowned artist, author, and

teacher with twenty-five years of experience. Sue has published thirteen craft books, including the best-selling Magical
Metal Clay Jewelry. She teaches world-wide metal clay and
polymer clay workshops, and was founding director of Art
Clay World UK Guild. Sue lives in England.

ISBN: 978-1-59668-713-4

Page Count: 192

Format: Hardcover

Trim Size: 8 10

US Price: $29.95

Release Date: October

Canada: $29.95

Season: Fall 2012

Metal Clay for Jewelry Makers

Interweave books are sold and distributed to the book trade by Perseus distribution in the U.S. and Canada.
(800) 343-4499 |

Reclaiming and
reconstituting clay

These dried out

pieces are perfect
for reconstituting

Applying texture
oft metal clay takes impressions

orking in any material will always produce waste. With

Step 1 Put the lumps of clay in a mortar

Step 2 Use a tea strainer to sieve the

metal clay this may be soft clay scraps, failed projects,

and crush hard with the pestle. Pound

hard to break up the lumps, then grind
with a circular motion. You need to make
a fine powder.

powder. This is not essential if you grind

it really fine, but will help to remove any
foreign bodies that have got into the clay
by accident. Any lumps in the strainer can
be ground furtherif they will not grind up,
discard them. You can now store the powder
for later reconstitution if you wish.

or simply a piece that you dislike. This section details the many
ways you can make best use of your metal clay with economical
practices, recycling, reconstituting, and reclaiming.

the price of precious metal has risen

a great deal in recent years, and this
has inevitably impacted on the price
of metal clay, in particular the precious
metal clays. the following tips can
substantially cut down on your use
of clay.

Work smaller. Large, chunky jewelry

is great, but so are small and more

delicate pieces.
Use mixed media. pieces do not have to

be made entirely of silver, instead try

combining it with base metal clays, glass,
textiles, wood, and other materials.
Use polymer clay. Choose polymer clay to

back or infill pieces after firing so that

the precious metal content is reduced.
See page 168.
Use hollow core or formers. to avoid

working in solid metal, which uses

up far more clay, use hollow core
techniques or formers. See page 00.
cuff, Mary ann nelSon
Silver clay textured with ammonites
embellishes a faux bone cuff.

Concave molding. When molding clay,

press it into the mold to give a concave

back. See page 73.

Any type of metal clay that has been

allowed to dry out completely can be
ground into a powder and reconstituted
remarkably easily. This may apply to
a piece that you forgot, that has dried
out in its wrapper, a piece that broke
too badly for repair in the plaster-dry
stage, or that you decided you did not
like. You can also use this technique
for clay you have collected from filing
or carving.
textured bead, Tracey Spurgin
Making pieces with a hollow core uses less
clay and makes jewelry lighter to wear.

be piped in thin lines from a syringe

to create a form of filigree. While this

does not fully simulate traditional wire
filigree, it is a superb art form in its own
right, with beautiful flowing lines forming
delicate openwork of all kinds.

You Will need

Dried out clay
A small pestle and mortar

Save and reconstitute. Save all your

unfired clay scraps for reconstituting.
this also applies to dried clay waste
from filing or carving, but do not use
dust from sanding, which may be
contaminated by the grit.
See page 34.
Save and recycle. Save any unwanted

fired silver for recycling into new pieces.

See page 33.

A fine enamel or tea strainer

(useful but not essential)

clay to make your jewelry unique.

Step 3 Put most of the powder onto a large

Step 4 Only add sufficient water to just

ceramic tile, but save some for adding if the

mix becomes too wet. Use the eyedropper
to add a few drops of water (or spray the
powder with water) and mix with a palette
knife or spatula, scraping the edges into the
center as you work.

moisten the clay, until all the dry powder

has gone and the mix is like breadcrumbs.
If you add too much water, mix in some of
the reserved powder.

Eyedropper or small spray bottle

Spatula or palette knife
Large ceramic tile to work on


Step 5 Keep mixing and the clay will begin

Step 6 Lightly oil your hands with

to clump together. You can also add a few

drops of glycerin to aid the water retention
of the clay, about two or three drops for
7g of clay powder or a small marble-sized
lump of clay.

vegetable oil and gather up the clay. Press

it together in your fingers. If it will not hold
together, add a little more water.


Syringe (1)


Holding the syringe

This method of holding a syringe

gives far more control than most
other methods. Practice using
a syringe on a ceramic tile so that
the paste can be recycled into a paste pot.
Alternatively, fill an empty syringe with toothpaste
to give yourself practice without wasting any clay.

nozzles (2)
fine nozzle0.5 mm: This gives the
most delicate filigree and is usually
used for random syringing because it is
more difficult to control. With practice,
however, you will find that you can create
controlled lines with the fine nozzle.
See the trees on page 133.
Medium nozzle1 mm: This is the
easiest to use for controlled shapes. It
is best to work from side to side across
a drawing, or toward you. Turn the piece
as you work to avoid pushing the syringe
away from you.
thick nozzle1.5 mm: This is used for
structural elements in a larger design
and for framing finer work.
acetate and tiles (3) Used as work

From the top:

Zigzag line made with a medium nozzle.
Looped line made with a medium nozzle.
Figure-of-eight line made with a fine nozzle.
Dots made with a medium nozzle.
See page 132.

Step 1 Fix a medium nozzle onto the

Step 2 Hold the syringe in your working

syringethis nozzle is the easiest to control

while you are learning the techniques.

hand as you would a pen or pencil.


Repeating patterns
on a clay sheet backing

Syringe caps (4)shown on the syringe,

capping the blue nozzle: This prevents
the paste in the nozzle drying out.
fine paintbrush (5) for minor

Drawn with a fine nozzle on a clay sheet
backing. See page 133.

Openwork filigree

Filigree with hollow forms

Filigree infill

Linked openwork elements and trapped

gemstones. See page 164.

Left: controlled lines made with a medium

Right: random lines made with a fine nozzle.
See page 102.

Fish pin using a cut-out sheet of clay with

medium nozzle filigree openwork decoration.
See page 134.

Fern leaves


Fern leaves

Rubber stamp impression


Step 1 Roll out the clay to the desired

Step 2 Lay the material that will make the

Step 3 Peel away the leaves to reveal

Handmade lace rolled into clay.

See page 83.

Leaves were laid onto the oiled

surface of a clay sheet and rolled
in. See page 83.

Small, commercially available

rubber stamps were used
here. See page 85.

Small (budgerigar) feathers

were rolled into the surface of
the oiled clay sheet. See page 83.

thickness for the project using rolling

guides and a nonstick surface. Smooth a
thin sheen of oil over the clay surface with
your finger.

impression in position on the clay and roll

again between the rolling guides so that
the leaves are pressed firmly into the clay
surface. It is best to roll from the center
outward in each direction.

the texturing. Any small pieces that

remain in the clay can be left to burn
away during firing.

Step 1 Roll out the clay to the desired

thickness for the project using rolling
guides. Oil the surface of the clay lightly to
create a faint sheen.

Step 2 Press the oiled side of the clay

Impressing with thicker


Step 3 Use your other hand to grip the

Step 4 When you need to pause in

syringe and depress the plunger. This

means that the hand that is drawing does
not have to apply pressure, and therefore
has far more control.

your work, set the tip of the syringe

in a water pot to prevent it drying
out. If the nozzle becomes
blocked, push a very fine needle
into the end of the syringe to
clear the nozzle.

Candle wax impression

Cuttlefish impression

Text impressions

Commercial texture sheet

the ship design was drawn onto

a smooth candle surface with
an engraving tool. the oiled
clay was then pressed onto the

the oiled clay sheet was pressed

on to a cuttlefish bone to create
this effect. See page 83.

From top to bottom:

polymer clay reversed stamp
made from a candle wax
engraving; commercially

the oiled clay sheet was pressed

onto a commercial rubber
texture sheet. See page 84.

drawing to make a relief image

that is ideal for embellishing
with enameling or resin. See
page 85.

extrudinG toolS

Openwork filigree with resin


From the top:

Random lines made with a fine nozzle.
Random lines made with a medium nozzle.
Flattened random lines made with a medium
nozzle. See page 132.

Fine materials such as fresh or dried leaves, feathers, and grasses give lovely subtle
textures when rolled into metal clay. The aim is to keep any untextured area between
the impressions as smooth as possible, and using rolling guides is the best way to do
this. This method is best used for items that are less than a millimeter thick.


File pocket or plastic wrap

these swatches are made using either a fine nozzle of 0.5mm thickness or a medium nozzle of about 1mm thickness.

Random line samples

on a clay sheet backing

cuttlefish bone

Impressing with fine materials


A few drops of glycerine (optional)

points in mind, design your jewelry

carefully, avoiding unnecessary
thickness and using other materials for
hidden parts such as the back of a piece.

the technique is more challenging than many other metal clay techniques and
requires a steady hand, as well as the ability to draw while pressing the plunger
of the syringe to extrude the paste line at a regulated speed. You will need to
coordinate the movement of your hand with the pressure on the plunger. Once
the basic technique is mastered, the varieties of filigree that can be created are
richly decorative and well worth the effort of learning the technique.
Filigree can be applied to a clay background as a decoration, or created
as openwork on a separate surfacesuch as a ceramic tilefrom which it is
removed after drying. It can also be applied to a combustible core.

Texturing materials
An assortment of items can be used to
create texturesome are shown here.

texturinG effectS uSinG different MaterialS

filiGree on a claY backinG Sheet and openWork filiGree


materials that can be pressed into the

Design for economy. With the above

Filigree work
etal clay in a paste or slip form can

and you will soon discover all kinds of

Reconstituting dried-out clay

Roll clay sheets thinly. For most jewelry

projects, sheets of clay 0.5 mm thick

will be as successful as thicker sheets.
However, it is wise to work at about
1 mm thick when you are a beginner
to reduce the chances of breaking your
work in the plaster-dry stage.

opens up a wonderful world of creativity,


further. Here polymer clay images

framed in silver clay are combined
with polymer clay beads to make a
luscious whole.

than in conventional silversmithing. This

Small feathers

to begin, there are natural materials in abundance to try. Fresh and dried leaves
and flowers, textured pebbles, seashells and coral, and grasses and bark all
create fascinating textures and patterns. Commercial texture sheets and rubber
stamps, often intended for other crafts, can be adapted for metal clay. You
can also make your own texture sheets and stamps to give your pieces more
originality. Finally, you could try one of several exciting techniques for using
metal clay paste to texture and embellish the clay surface.

available letter stamps; candle

wax engraving written in
reverse. See page 67.

If the material to be used for texturing

is more substantial and cannot be
rolled into the clay, then the clay needs
be pressed onto the material. This
applies to chunks of stone, pieces of
wood and bark, coral, granite, and
cuttlefish bone, as shown here. This
technique does not give such a smooth
back to the clay sheet as with thinner
materials, but a piece of fabric or
leather pressed onto the back will give
it a more professional finish.

sheet firmly against the most interesting

part of the texturing material. Work over the
back of the sheet, pressing firmly with the
flat pad of your finger to ensure that all the
clay is textured.


Mixed Material necklace,

BarBara Sperling
Combining silver clay with other
materials will make your clay go

extremely well and with far less effort