It’s a great time to make! If you love metal clay jewelry making—or even if it’s new to you—this free project is a stylish way to enjoy your craft. Plus, it has nearly endless variations if you change the shape and/or stencil pattern.
Watch and learn how to texture metal clay. Then read on for the tutorial!
20-25 grams fine-silver metal clay
olive oil or similar release agent, like Cool Silk
fine-mist spray bottle filled with water
Teflon non-stick worksheets
thickness guides (3 cards and 2 cards)
tube or straw for cutting out holes
cutter or fine-tipped awl and template
Cool Tools texture plates
stencil (TIP: should be a simple design for the right effect)
fine-pointed paint brush
polishing papers in 400-8000 grit
sanding pads from medium to ultra-fine (80-1000 grit)
kiln and kiln shelf or butane torch and firing brick
1: Set up your work area and gather all supplies so they are close at hand. (Once you open the clay, it begins to dry, so you want to optimize the working time.) To prevent the clay from sticking to your tools and hands, lightly oil your work surface, the acrylic rod, a texture plate, a stencil, the plastic template, and your hands.
2: Remove one lump of clay from packaging. Place the lump of clay onto the treated area of your work surface. Place a stack of 5 cards on either side of the clay (the cards will maintain an even thickness in the clay as you roll it out). Using a roller, roll across the surface of the clay.
Carefully remove the clay from the work surface and place the clay onto a nonstick square.
3: Place a 3-card stack on either side of the clay. Place a stencil over the clay, then place a texture on top of the stencil, face down. Press firmly and roll across the surface. TIP: If you’re using a metal texture like I did here, you may find burnishing the surface versus rolling across with a roller will yield better results.
4: Remove the texture and the stencil. Using a cutter or a template and sharp-pointed tool, cut out your desired shape.
5: Place a hole near the top (or sides) of the cut-out shape to be used for suspending your metal clay jewelry design later.
Do not put this hole too close to the edge; when the clay is fired, it will shrink and make the hole even closer to the edge, which will lead to a weak connection in your metal clay jewelry. Carefully set the nonstick surface aside, with the clay still in place, so the clay can dry thoroughly.
6: Repeat Steps 2-5 to create more metal clay designs.
7: Once all of the metal clay jewelry components have dried thoroughly, they need to be refined.
Gently rub a salon board along the outside edges until they are smooth, and no rough edges remain. Gently rub across all surfaces of the charms using the polishing cloths, working from lowest to highest grits. Use the needle files to refine the holes and openings. Dust off all loose particles using a soft paintbrush – if you leave any particles, they may fire in place.
Step 8: Fire the charms.
Firing with a kiln: Place the dried, refined pieces onto a kiln shelf. Place the kiln shelf into the kiln; fire at 1650°F for 2 hours. Let the kiln return to room temperature.
Firing with a torch: Clear your work area of any combustible material. Place a dried, refined charm onto a fire brick. Dim the lights if possible. Ignite the torch, hold at a 45° angle, about 2 inches above the piece, and begin to heat the charm, working in a circular motion so you heat it evenly.
As the charm heats up, the binder will begin to burn off; you will see a small flame and smoke, which will fade quickly. Continue to heat the piece until it changes to a salmon color. Hold the entire charm at this color for at least two minutes; if you start to see the piece turn shiny (indicating the metal is melting), pull the torch back but continue to heat the piece, holding it at the salmon color. Let charm cool to room temperature.
For more on torch firing, read: Lucky Charms: How to Torch-Fire Metal Clay Jewelry and Ideas for Making Metal Clay Charms.
9: Place a cooled charm onto a rubber block (used to lift the piece off of your work surface) and begin to brush across the surface with a brass wire brush.
Continue brushing until you’ve burnished the entire surface, revealing a bright and shiny silver. You can use an agate burnisher to burnish the surface further or tumble with stainless steel shot–the final finish is up to you.
Add your components to any finished piece of jewelry. Here is an example of adding a length of chain to a component using jump rings and a lobster clasp.
Here, a length of leather is finished with cord ends and jump rings used to connect a component to each end.
Enjoy using your textures and stencils to create unique components for your next metal clay jewelry design. For more inspiration, read 6 Project Downloads to Inspire Your Next Metal Clay Jewelry Design.
Director of Content, Interweave
For more on metal clay, read:
Originally published March 2020.