Learn the Expert Secrets of Metal Clay Jewelry Making with Hadar Jacobson and More

Thinking about moving up from beading and wirework to another phase of jewelry making? If you’re fascinated by the look of metalwork but you aren’t quite comfortable with picking up a torch and soldering, metal clay jewelry making may be just the thing you’re looking for. But it’s much more than just an “intermediate” step up the jewelry making ladder. Moldable and malleable, metal clay gives a delightful sculptural look to your jewelry designs and allows you to express your creativity in your own unique style.

Hadar Jacobson is an expert in working with metal clay, and her work has appeared many times in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist. She also regularly teaches metal clay jewelry making classes and is a font of wisdom on the subject. We asked her to give us some insights into her metal clay work and the joys of working with it . . .

JMD: How did you get started using metal clay in your designs?
: My designs incorporated a lot of textured sheets that had to be soldered to a backing sheet one by one, like a collage of textures. Metal clay not only expanded my textures range but also allowed me to join them all before firing.

Hadar Jacobson's Lock and Key metal clay clasp

Hadar Jacobson’s Lock and Key metal clay clasp

JMD: What is your favorite thing about working with metal clay?
HJ: With metal clay I feel that any design is possible. It is very liberating to be able to experiment without fear, since before a piece is fired the process is totally reversible: no precious metal sheet is cut irreversibly, no precious scraps. If I don’t like my piece, I just reconstitute and start over. Planning is not so crucial, and it gives room for serendipity.

JMD: What is your biggest challenge?
HJ: Making people understand that metal clay as sintered matter is unlike fabricated or cast metal, and that there is no reason that it should be. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

JMD: Where do you draw inspiration for your designs?
HJ: Like most artists, nature and architecture. Sometimes I can be mystified by a crack in the wall. But also, a new technique can be an inspiration; an idea for a new way for making something can lead to many new designs.

Hadar Jacobson's bronze and silver metal clay earrings

Hadar Jacobson’s bronze and silver metal clay earrings

JMD: Do you have a favorite piece that you’ve done? If so, what makes it your favorite?
HJ: I do. It is one of 5 “dresses” that I have made over a year’s period — maybe because it projects pain and beauty at the same time.

JMD: What tips would you give jewelry makers who are considering working with metal clay for the first time?
HJ: What I always tell my beginner students: Don’t make your masterpiece at the first class; leave it for the next. Seriously, try to put aside everything you may have experienced with other crafts. The best way to learn what can be done and what to expect is to just keep on making stuff. Keep your hands busy and your mind open.

Four of Hadar’s metal clay jewelry making projects are included in our downloadable eBook, 10 Metal Clay Jewelry Projects: Best of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist Volume 3, along with more from other metal clay artists. You’ll find this an inspirational and informative resource, whether you’re experienced in metal clay jewelry making or if you’re just beginning!

Do you work with metal clay? What kind do you prefer and why? Share your metal clay jewelry making tips and ideas in the comments below. We look forward to seeing your suggestions!

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