Monday, September 15, 2008

We interrupt this blog’s usual fiber-related content…

… for a detour into another of my hobbies, jewelry-making.

I love browsing on Etsy, and I’ve noticed a number of interesting pieces of jewelry incorporating a twig motif. So I decided to create one of my own.

The twig is made from precious metal clay. If you’re not familiar with it, PMC is an amazing product. Fine silver particles are bound together with a clay-like substance. While it’s soft, you can work with it just like any other type of clay. Roll it, shape it, texture it. But then when you fire it in a kiln, or with a torch, the binder burns away, the silver particles fuse together, and you’re left with a slightly smaller piece of pure silver that retains all of the shape and texture it had in its clay form. The pure silver isn’t as strong as sterling, but because it’s not alloyed with copper, it has a beautiful whiteness in color as compared with sterling.

Back to the twig – for this piece, I used PMC in paste form, thinned with water to a consistency that can be painted onto things. I painted ten thin coats of PMC onto a dry twig that I found in the woods, allowing the paste to dry thoroughly after each coat. Then I fired it in a kiln at 1650 degrees for two hours. When it had cooled, I soldered a jump ring onto each end and then gave it a slightly matte finish with a stainless steel brush. I prepared some silver chain, jump rings, and a handmade clasp, by oxidizing them with liver of sulphur. I attached the pieces of chain to either side of the twig, and added the hook and eye closure. Then, as a finishing touch I suspended a faceted tourmaline briolette from one end of the chain.

I haven’t done much jewelry-making lately, although I’d been thinking about it for the last couple of weeks. My new twig necklace has definitely inspired me to try to design some more pieces!


*karen said...

I never heard of metal clay before...I never would have guessed that's how you made it.

Sarah said...

I'm not much of a jewelry person, but I love that.