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Appliqué bronze clay earrings

Layered bronze metal clay creates the delicate design

Appliqué work has always fascinated me, whether it’s ceramics, fabric, or needlework. It amazes me how adding small details can change a design from “Ho-hum” to “Wow!” Using an appliqué technique with metal clay allows you to make a detailed piece without a lot of weight. This process works well with bronze, copper, and silver metal clay.

Read the instructions below for the appliqué technique used in this project. For the complete instructions on making these earrings, click here for the free project PDF.

Materials

  • Bronze metal clay: 92 g
  • Bronze ear wires: 2
  • Bronze head pins: 2
  • Brass or bronze chain: 4 in. (10.2 cm)
  • Accent beads: 3 per earring
  • Jump rings, 20-gauge (0.8 mm), 4 mm Inside Diameter (ID): 6

Tools & supplies

  • Circle template
  • Needle tool
  • V-grooved carving tool
  • Pin vise
  • Ball bur: 1 mm (1⁄32 in.)
  • #53 drill bit (1.5 mm/.059 in.)
  • Gilders paste: black, green, patina, and red coral
  • Wire cutters
  • Sealant: Permalac (spray) or Midas Finish Seal lacquer
  • Pliers: chainnose, roundnose

Toolboxes

Instructions

Appliqu bronze clay earrings a
Photo a
Appliqu bronze clay earrings b
Photo b
Appliqués

(These instructions come after making the earring base. To read the complete project instructions, click here for the free PDF.) 

Cut out the circle appliqués. Roll approximately 10 g of clay to 3 cards (0.75 mm) thick. Use a drinking straw to cut out six circles. Use a 1.5 mm (1⁄16 in.) circle cutter to cut out the center of two of the circles to make donuts [a].

Use a cocktail straw to cut out 12 circles from the rolled-out clay. Use a smaller cocktail straw or circle cutter to cut out 16 more circles. Cover the circles with plastic wrap to keep them moist.

Attach the center donut to an earring base. Using a fine-tip paintbrush and a small amount of water, wet the center of one earring base. Add a dollop of paste to the wet area, and place a donut-shaped cutout on top of the paste. Pat the donut with a damp paintbrush to ensure that it has adhered to the earring base. Repeat to add a donut to the second earring base.

Cut out the flower petals. Roll out about 12 g of clay to 3 cards (0.75 mm) thick. Use a 12.5 mm (1⁄2-in.) teardrop-shaped cutter, cut out 12 teardrops [b]. Cover the cutouts with plastic wrap.

Attach the teardrops to the earring base. Wet an earring base above the donut where a teardrop will be placed. Add a dollop of paste to the wet clay. Gently lift a teardrop and place it on the paste, with its rounded side closest to the donut. Use a damp paintbrush to tap the teardrop into place so it makes full contact with the earring base. Add five more tear-drops around the circumference of the donut to create a flower motif.

Appliqu bronze clay earrings c
Photo c
Appliqu bronze clay earrings d
Photo d

Smooth the appliqué. Use a wet paintbrush to apply water around the edges and tops of the teardrops and the donut. This will smooth out any rough edges and will ensure the appliqué pieces are making full contact with the earring base [c].

Add circle appliqués. Add more circles to the earring base in the same way. Place a large circle on each side of the flower pattern near the upper corners of the earring base. Place a medium circle between each petal. Place a small circle above each of the large corner circles. Place the remaining small circles along the lower edge of the earring base. Place the earring base into the dehydrator or set it aside until the clay is completely dry.

Repeat to add appliqués to the second earring base. Dry the second earring base completely. Each earring should have one donut, two large circles, six medium circles, eight small circles, and six teardrops.

Refine the earrings. Use a fiber sanding sponge to sand both earring bases smooth, including the appliqués [d].

Appliqu bronze clay earrings e
Photo e
Appliqu bronze clay earrings f
Photo f
Add details to the appliqués. Use a V-grooved carving tool to carve details into the teardrops and the earring bases [e]. Fit a pin vise with a 1 mm (1⁄32-in.) ball bur, and use it to create a dimple in the surface of each circle appliqué [f].
Appliqu bronze clay earrings g
Photo g
Appliqu bronze clay earrings h
Photo h

Drill the holes for the earring chain. Fit the pin vise with a #53 (1.5 mm/1⁄16-in.) drill bit, and use it to drill a hole in each upper corner of both earring bases [g].

Fire the earrings. Fill a firing container about one-third full with activated carbon, and place the earrings on the carbon [h]. Cover with more carbon, and fire according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Let the kiln come to room temperature before removing the earrings from the carbon.

SAFETY NOTE: Wear a mask when working with carbon.

For the remaining finishing and assembly instructions, click here for the free project PDF.

FIND MORE: metal clay , patinas , earrings

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