Braided Ring with Art Clay® and Gemstone Cabochons

You'll find step-by-step instructions for this Braided Ring with Art Clay® and Gemstone Cabochons project and more Art Clay projects and tutorials in Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' exclusive ''Secrets to Art Clay Success'' instructional video.

Tammy Honaman, Fire Mountain Gems and Beads online "Ask the Experts" host, author and noted jewelry-making expert, guides you through seven jewelry-designing projects where you'll learn the secrets of working with Art Clay precious metal materials.

Have all supplies ready--the clay air dries so it's best to be prepared before you open the package.
STEP 1
Size the finger you are making a ring for. Add 1-1/2 sizes to your determined ring size and adjust the gauge to this size. NOTE: The additional size will allow for shrinkage of the clay during firing, bringing it to the size that fits your finger.

Slide the gauge onto the mandrel and, using a pen, mark where the gauge sits on the wood.
STEP 2
Using the scissors, trim a 1-inch width strip off of the non-stick sheet. Wrap the strip around the mandrel and trim the length so the ends just overlap. Place a piece of tape over the overlapping ends and burnish the tape to the non-stick sheet. Set the mandrel aside.
STEP 3
Pinch off about 1/2 of the package of clay and condition between your fingers. Roll the piece of clay into a cylindrical shape that can fit into the tube of the empty syringe. Remove the plunger from the syringe then place the clay into the empty syringe tube; reinsert the plunger. Depress the plunger until it meets the clay, then work the air out from around the clay helping to eliminate air bubbles in the extruded clay later.
STEP 4
Begin extruding the clay from the syringe tube, onto the work surface, working in nice even lines.

Tip: If the clay is difficult to extrude, place the end of the plunger on the work surface (with the tip of the syringe pointing up) and, by pulling down on the syringe, depress the plunger with the work surface's support.

If necessary, readjust the extruded rope to three equal lengths and cut the ends so the three lengths are separate.
STEP 5
Starting approximately one-inch down from one end of the ropes, begin to braid the ropes of clay, working until you have two to three inches of rope unbraided at the other end.

Tip: If the clay begins to stiffen up, dry or crack, spritz with water and allow the water to absorb before continuing.
STEP 6
Pick the clay up from the work surface, and wrap the braid around the mandrel, onto the non-stick sheet and over the lines you drew.
STEP 7
Use the leftover, unbraided ends to secure the braid together as well as create a decorative design on the front of your ring. Use the blade to trim any excess clay.
STEP 8
Using the paintbrush, apply water to all areas where the clay overlaps, ensuring these areas will stay attached. Let the clay dry. Drying time will vary based on conditions in the room and your environment.
STEP 9
Pinch off a small amount of clay from the package and condition between your fingers. Roll the piece of clay into a cylindrical shape that can fit into the tube of the empty syringe. Remove the plunger from the syringe then place the clay into the empty syringe tube; reinsert the plunger. Depress the plunger until it meets the clay, then work the air out from around the clay helping to eliminate air bubbles.
STEP 10
Begin extruding the clay from the syringe tube, onto the work surface, working in a nice even line.

NOTE: You only need enough clay to go around the band of the ring.
STEP 11
Using the paintbrush, wet one side of the braided band with water then apply the extruded rope of clay, so it goes from one side of the design on the front, around the band and up to the other side of the design on the front. Wet the area again using the paintbrush, applying pressure to help the extruded rope adhere to the braided band, yet not so much pressure you alter the roundness of the rope.
STEP 12
Repeat Steps 9 - 11 to add a second rope to the other side of the braided band. Let the ring dry.
STEP 13
Check the ring for any gaps or areas that need to be filled in. Use the syringe-type clay (not the clay you extrude through the empty syringe) to fill in any gaps; use the paintbrush to smooth the clay and get it into the areas that need filling. Let the ring dry.
STEP 14
Using the salon nail boards, sandpapers and polishing papers, working from the lowest to the highest grit, as well as using the needle files, refine the surface of the ring. As you work around the band, be careful not to remove too much of the ''roundness'' of the band. Refine the design on the front until you are pleased with the overall appearance of the ring.
STEP 15
Using the syringe-type clay, apply a large, controlled, amount of clay on one side of the design on the front of the ring.
STEP 16
Using the tweezers, pick up the peridot cabochon, domed side up, and place it into the clay, flat side down. The wet clay will move out and surround the cabochon, creating a rim or ''bezel'' around the perimeter of the cabochon. Use the paintbrush to neaten up the bezel of clay so, when fired, the clay works to hold the gemstone in place. Let the clay dry.
STEP 17
Repeat Step 16 on the other side of the ring.
STEP 18
Examine the bezels and fill in any gaps, or even up the edges of the bezel by applying more syringe-type clay--ensuring the bezel will hold the stones in place once fired. Allow the clay to dry.
STEP 19
Refine the areas around the stones so the bezels are neat and clean. Clean off the surface of the stones using the paintbrush and a small amount of water. NOTE: You want the exposed surface of the stones to be free of any clay before they are put into the kiln.

While wearing a mask and working outdoors, tear a small lump from the fiber blanket. The fiber blanket will be used inside the ring shank, to help maintain the shape and dimension during firing.

Firing the Ring in a Kiln
The ring must be fired in a kiln as it has gemstones included in the design. The gemstones can withstand the lowest firing temperature of Art Clay 650 and need to be cooled at a controlled rate; firing with a torch cannot achieve the same success rate.
STEP 20
Place the lump of fiber blanket into the ring shank, then place the ring on top of the fiber blanket. Place the fiber blanket onto the kiln shelf, inside the kiln. Fire the kiln following the manufacturer's lowest recommended temperature and time; let the ring cool in the kiln to room temperature.
STEP 21
Remove the cooled ring from the kiln and place onto the rubber block. Use the steel wire brush to burnish the surface of the ring to achieve a satin finish. You can further enhance the shine of the silver by going over the surface with a burnisher. Complete the polishing by applying a dab of metal polish to a soft, lint-free cloth and rub onto the surface of the ring. Follow this with the Moonshine® polishing cloth.

The pieces featured in the Gallery of Designs are copyrighted designs and are provided for inspiration only. We encourage you to substitute different colors, products and techniques to make the design your own.

Have a question regarding this design idea? Email Customer Service.

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