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Show and Tell – Jewelry 2

One of my favorite pieces of jewelry, and the only brooch I've ever made, is a gem-encrusted sterling silver brooch featuring a Native American Thunderbird design. To create it, I first drew the Thunderbird on a piece of paper and used it as a pattern.


Using silver metal clay (explained below), I rolled out the clay to the desired thickness over a texture plate, applying a little oil to it for smoothness. Then, I cut out the body of the bird as one piece and the tail as another to give the brooch movement, planning to connect them with jump rings. I rolled three small balls of clay, and after embedding a Swarovski Zirconia Gemstone in each one, I attached them to the bottom of the tail pieces using water and silver clay paste to join them.


Next, I created cavities for the brooch findings, marking their placement carefully to ensure proper weight distribution. After attaching them to the brooch, I drilled holes of the correct depth for the findings and inserted them with silver metal clay via syringe, ensuring they were correctly aligned. The piece was dried, prefinished with sanding sponges and a baby wipe, and then fired at 750° for 60 minutes. Finally, I finished it to a mirror shine using a brush, sanding sponge, burnisher, and a tumbling process.


I loved making this beautiful piece. The course I took enabled me to create many beloved jewelry pieces.  The teachers fostered a high level of creativity by readily helping everyone figure out how to achieve any design they conceptualized for the projects. Coupled with the abundance of tools and materials in the studio, it made for an immensely liberating and enjoyable learning journey.


Note: In this class, we worked with silver metal clay, a super cool material composed of microscopic silver particles suspended in an organic binder. When heated, the binder burns away, and the metal particles fuse to form solid metal that can be sanded, soldered, and polished like conventional material.

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1 Comment

Mar 27

Wow that training course was epic! What a lovely piece you created! Now you need to set up your own workshop!

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