A. silverclay jellyfish

This is reposted from an earlier art blog in 2013 so apologies for the poor photos.

After hearing other students talk about silver clay on a recent small metals class, I took a look was delighted to discover a medium that seemed to combine ceramic and metal techniques.

I hastily bought some to try out and made some jellyfish earrings – part of my ocean inspired collection. (Or trying to give some sort of theme to my various artistic enterprises!)

It was amazing to think that this clay, once heated on a normal gas stove in my kitchen, was fine silver. I think I have finally found true love!

This is the finished piece and below is a step-by-step guide on how I made it. I also read Magical Metal Clay Jewellery by Sue Heaser which is great for techniques, equipment and some project ideas.

STEP 1. I had bought a starter kit on ebay so I rolled out the clay using the edgers to get the right thickness of clay.

STEP 2. Using the roller I textured the silver clay. (Note: vegetable oil is used on fingers and roller and the pattern so it doesn’t stick to the clay.)

2 texture

STEP 3. I cut a circle out of cardboard so gently put this on top of the clay and drew around it and cut off the excess clay with a ceramics shaping tool. You can get fimo ones which may be a better size. (I didn’t have a proper circle cutter to hand!). I also smoothed around the edges with a blunt wool needle

3 circle

STEP 4. The final part of this wet clay stage was to cut the circle in half and then using the wool needle again, press in where the holes will be needed.

4 halves

STEP 5. Then I put it under a clear glass on a windowsill and left it to dry for a couple of days. 

STEP 6. While they were drying I had a play with the jellyfish tendrils using eye pins – thought about length, how tight the twist should be and if it needed a bead. I settled on what I thought would work best and made six.

6. tendrils

STEP 7. Then came the fun part. I put the wire mesh onto the gas hob of my cooker and lit it briefly. This showed me where the flame would go. Then I carefully placed the earrings on it and let it heat for three minutes. Once they were done I quenched them in water.

7 heat

STEP 8. They were now cool and also looking white, so I cleaned them up using a wire brush.

8 brush

STEP 9. Using a 1mm drill bit I made the holes then did a lot of finishing which included wet/dry paper, a burnisher and a fibreglass brush.

9 drill

STEP 10. Then all that was left was to attached the jump rings, tendrils and the ear wire.

10. hooks

Now it’s on to my next project! I hope you have as much fun with silver clay as I did.

The book I bought is no longer in print and only available secondhand so here are some alternative suggestions:

Metal Clay for Jewelry Makers – Amazon UK or Amazon US
Silver Clay Workshop – Amazon UK or Amazon US
Silver Clay Beginner’s Kit – Amazon UK 
You can view jewellery findings here.

© Gillian Adams 2013