Jewelry Design: Squeeze the Most Out of Any Jewelry-Making Idea with Molds

You know how some people just have a knack for getting a lot of mileage out of anything? Jewelry artist Noël Yovovich is one of them. Naturally, when she told me she had another jewelry design idea for Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, it was music to my ears.

ABOVE: Noël Yovovich’s Take the Long View pendant features pierced silver overlay, anodized titanium, and a faceted moonstone; photo: Noël Yovovich

Whenever Noël shows you how to make something, it’s always about more than just do this, do that. She’s really good at explaining why. This method might be simpler, less expensive, quicker, or more fun. Or it might be because the first way she tried didn’t work. You get the benefit of a lesson and a better approach without having to invest in the trial, error, or cleanup yourself.

Noël Yovovich’s leafy silver bracelet jewelry design was featured in the May/June 2018 Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist; photo: Jim Lawson

Noël Yovovich’s leafy silver bracelet was featured in the May/June 2018 Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist; photo: Jim Lawson

So What If It’s Springy Silver?

This pretty linked bracelet of overlapping silver leaves is the result of Noël’s curiosity about a sterling silver clay that had recently come onto the market. “I was particularly interested in the notion that sterling silver clay might actually be springy! So I bought two packages and jumped right in.”

jewelry design: Silver leaf bracelet with clasp open; photo: Jim Lawson

Silver leaf bracelet with clasp open; photo: Jim Lawson

When she confirmed that the sterling was springy, she developed this jewelry design for a bracelet that opens and closes without a hinge, relying instead on the sterling’s resiliency. Then she created a closure for the bracelet that “is really just a standard safety mechanism that becomes a clasp by virtue of going through an opening before fastening,” she explains.

jewelry design: Silver leaf bracelet with closed clasp; photo: Noël Yovovich

Silver leaf bracelet with closed clasp; photo: Noël Yovovich

And there’s more! “As long as there is enough spring in a bracelet to allow it to open enough to slide over a hand without bending, this clasp is also great for forged or fabricated bracelets. It also works well on a hinged bracelet whose design allows for overlap.”

Jewelry Design: Now What Can I Do?

“Now what else can I do with this?” seems to be Noël’s motto. Back in the May/June 2011 Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, she investigated making molds with polymer clay and wound up demonstrating several ways to take advantage of them.

polymer clay molds for metal clay jewelry design

1: Make a Mold for Metal Clay

“Polymer is an easy, convenient, and effective material for making molds and texture stamps for metal clay. It picks up a lot of detail and doesn’t stick to most materials. I’ve made hundreds over the years.”

polymer clay molds from metal sheet jewelry designs

2: Make a Mold for Pierced Metal Sheet

“Whenever I do a pierced design using metal sheet, the first thing I do after finishing the piercing is take a polymer clay imprint. In fact, I make lots of them, since the materials are so inexpensive.”

make mirror-image molds for mirror-image jewelry design like earrings

3: Make Mirror Images for Metal Clay Earrings

“Here’s a great pierced metal trick. Turn the piece over and then repeat the process to make an impression. Now you have mirror-image stamps for making earrings!”

4: Make Graduated Elements with Metal Clay

Another jewelry design trick she’s come up with is to combine the mold-making properties of polymer clay with the shrinking property of metal clay upon firing. “The new element [above, left] is much smaller than the original, as you can see when it is next to the stamp used to create it. This process can be repeated with each new metal clay piece you make, creating smaller and smaller versions and variations of your original.”

polymer clay and silver tile jewelry design

Turquoise and Pierced Silver Bead Bracelet – PLUS! project by Noël Yovovich, from the April 2011 Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist; photo: Jim Lawson

5: Make Polymer Clay Elements, Too

But that’s not all. “Polymer clay is a beautiful medium in its own right,” she points out. You may want to combine it with your metal elements, as she has to create the turquoise-colored leaf jewelry design above, or “make jewelry directly from your imprints!”

Easier Ways for Ambitious Jewelry Design

jewelry design: This pendant, titled Going Home, is a vivid example of Noël’s signature scenics using anodized titanium and pierced silver overlays; photo by Larry Sanders, Sanders Visual Images

This pendant, titled Going Home, is a vivid example of Noël’s signature scenics using anodized titanium and pierced silver overlays; photo by Larry Sanders, Sanders Visual Images

I was super excited when I learned about her latest venture. Besides making jewelry with polymer and metal clay, Noël is known for her metalsmithing work, which can be quite complex. For one signature look, she saw-pierces scenic designs, overlays them onto titanium she’s colored into lush backdrops from dreamy to brilliant, and adds a stone or two.

jewelry design: I’ll Be Waiting: sterling, copper, anodized titanium, and moonstone pin/pendant; photo by Larry Sanders, Sanders Visual Images.

I’ll Be Waiting: sterling, copper, anodized titanium, and moonstone pin/pendant; photo by Larry Sanders, Sanders Visual Images.

If you come up with a complex jewelry design and then find that you’d like to bring it back down to earth a bit, you’ll love Noël’s next great idea. “I just did the third in a series of similar necklaces that everyone seems to love,” she described. “Here’s the first one and the one I just finished. I’d like to make another, as a project.”

jewelry design: The first and most recent version of Noël’s Take the Long View jewelry design. She calls the series that because there is a foreground and a background but no middle ground; photos: Noël Yovovich

The first and most recent version of Noël’s Take the Long View jewelry design. She calls the series that because there is a foreground and a background but no middle ground; photos: Noël Yovovich

Ambitious and Alternative Jewelry Design

“This is an ambitious design,” she told me, “with many parts. The main body has a pierced back, a tiny hinge on the bottom to hold a bezel-set stone, and an anodized-titanium landscape with a pierced overlay. A spacer creates a bit of a shadow box held together with skinny little prongs sometimes called pickets. The bail is a piece of curved tubing that can move but can’t come out of its loop.” Certainly does sound ambitious, I thought.

jewelry design in reverse: Reverse of Take the Long View; photo: Noël Yovovich

Reverse of Take the Long View; photo: Noël Yovovich

“If that’s not enough,” she went on, “I have simpler alternatives for almost every aspect.” We agreed it would be two projects, one complex and another much more modest but with most of the same basic jewelry design elements.

That pair of projects is still in the figuring-out stage, but watch for them to appear in an upcoming issue. I can’t wait!

-Merle White
Editor-in-Chief of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist

You Can Color Titanium, Too

The strikingly anodized titanium backgrounds that bring such drama to Noël’s designs are exotic but within reach. Watch her How to Color Titanium for Jewelry video and see for yourself.


Learn more about making molds and multiples and pierced designs with Noël.