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Polymer and metal clay earrings

An uncommon duo combine to create colorful earrings
Polymerandmetalhero
Polymer clay is a colorful backdrop for fine-silver metal clay components.

SUPPLIES

  • 4–5g metal clay
  • polymer clay, 1⁄4 oz. in each of 2 colors plus translucent
  • TLS or Liquid Polyclay
  • 2 ball-end 26-gauge sterling silver head pinsacrylic roller
  • aluminum foil
  • Armor All
  • brass brush
  • 2 smooth 6-in. (15cm) ceramic tiles
  • chainnose pliers
  • craft knife
  • cyanoacrylate glue
  • index card
  • kiln
  • liver of sulfur (optional)
  • muslin buffing wheel (optional)
  • nail file
  • paintbrush
  • parchment paper
  • pasta machine
  • pin
  • 2 4 x 6-in. (10 x 15cm) pieces of heavy-weight plastic sheet protector
  • plastic wrap
  • 4 playing cards
  • wet/dry sandpaper, 320-, 400-, and 600-grit (and finer if desired)
  • small shape cutters (optional)
  • texture sheets
  • toaster oven
  • 2 earring posts with flat 6–8mm pad
  • 2 ear nuts

INSTRUCTIONS

Metal clay components

1. Place 4–5g of metal clay between two sheet protectors and roll it out to two playing cards thick. Texture the metal clay and cut two shapes as desired.
PolymerandmetalA
PHOTO A

2. Use a pin to make a hole in the middle of each metal clay shape (PHOTO A). A head pin will go through this hole to attach the metal clay to a polymer form. Dry the clay, and file the edges with a nail file. If you want the components to have a domed shape, let them dry on a rounded object such as a small ball, a button, or a lightbulb.

3. Fire the clay at 1650° for 2 hours. Allow the pieces to cool, and then polish them carefully with a brass brush. Patinate them if desired, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Post earrings

1. Determine the shape of your earring. The shape you choose should be a little larger than the metal clay so the polymer shows. Draw the shape on an index card and use a craft knife to cut it out.

PolymerandmetalB
PHOTO B
2. Condition the polymer clay. Once my clay is conditioned, I like to mix a couple of similar colors and then add translucent clay to one or two of them. Roll each color into a snake and twist them together, folding them in half a few times (PHOTO B). Roll the clay through a pasta machine to about 1⁄16-in. (2mm) thick, and place it on a piece of parchment paper.
PolymerandmetalC
PHOTO C

3. Hold the index-card template over the clay and find the areas you like best for your earrings. Place the index card down on the clay and cut out your shape with a craft knife (PHOTO C). Don’t cut through the parchment paper. Cut out a second piece in the same shape. Remove the excess clay, and set it aside. You’ll use it later to make the backs of the earrings.

4. Put a small piece of plastic wrap over one shape. Lightly press and smooth the edges with your finger, being careful not to distort the shape. Remove the plastic wrap, inspect the piece for imperfections, and smooth them out. Repeat with the other polymer shape.

PolymerandmetalD
PHOTO D
PolymerandmetalE
PHOTO E

5. Determine where you will position the metal clay component. Gently nudge it into place, being careful not to mar the polymer (PHOTO D). Press the metal clay component into the polymer just hard enough to make an impression. Insert a head pin through the hole in the metal clay component and make a hole in the polymer (PHOTO E). Remove the head pin. Repeat with the other polymer shape.

6. Put the parchment and your shapes on a ceramic tile and cover them with a piece of foil folded into the shape of a tent. Bake the clay in a toaster oven at 275° for 20 minutes. Remove the clay, cover it with another piece of parchment, and place another tile on top. This will keep the polymer flat as it cools. If you want a highly polished piece, remove the metal clay component, and – always using water – sand the polymer. Start with 400-grit and progress to 600-grit or higher sandpaper.

PolymerandmetalF
PHOTO F

7. With the metal clay component in place, push a head pin through the hole in the metal clay and polymer. Bend the head pin so the wire lies flat against the back of the polymer (PHOTO F). Trim the end, leaving an 1⁄8-in. (3mm) tail.

8. To hold a post finding in place until you put the clay backing on, glue it – flat side down – to the back of a baked polymer piece using cyanoacrylate glue.

9. The leftover clay you set aside will now be used for the back and can be textured. Texturing makes fingerprints less obvious, but it’s not necessary. To texture the clay, spray it with Armor All and press your texture into the clay. Place the clay on parchment and cut two pieces that are slightly larger than the baked polymer pieces.

PolymerandmetalG
PHOTO G

10. With a paintbrush, apply a thin layer of TLS or Liquid Polyclay to the back of a baked polymer piece, coating the head pin and post pad. Push a piece of textured clay over the post, press it onto the baked polymer (PHOTO G), and seal it around the post with the back of your fingernail. Repeat with the other piece of textured clay and baked polymer.

11. Work the air bubbles out of both pieces gently. To refine the shapes for a more delicate look, compress the edges so the pieces are slightly thinner at the sides. You will trim the excess polymer after it’s baked.

12. Put the earrings face down on parchment, cover them with a foil tent, and bake on the tile at 275° for 20 minutes.

13. Let the pieces cool slightly. Hold each earring face up, and being careful not to cut into the body of the earrings, trim the excess clay with a craft knife. The clay is fragile while it’s still warm, so be gentle.

14. Starting with 320-grit sandpaper, sand the edges of your earrings until you can’t tell the front from the back. Work your way up to 600-grit and then polish the pieces on your jeans or buff them with a muslin buffing wheel.

PolymerandmetalDanglepost

Embellish your post earrings!

In this variation, insert a wrapped loop at the bottom of the post earrings to add the dangle.

PolymerandmetalDangleear

Click here to download supply list and instructions for dangle earrings.

Check out these design options and colors!

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