You'll find step-by-step instructions for this Bracelet with Art Clay Links 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.
Place the clay onto the oiled area of the work surface between two stacks of cards, three cards high. Roll across the clay using the roller. Flip the clay and roll again. Continue flipping and rolling until the clay is rolled to a three-card thickness.
Place the clay on top of one texture plate. Place a stack of two cards on each side of the clay, positioned so they are also on top of the texture plate. Using the roller, firmly roll over the clay. Once you think you have achieved your desired impression, slightly lift the clay to see if the impression is as you intended.
If so, remove the clay and position on the non-stick sheet (textured side down). If not, lay the clay back down and roll across the surface again, then move the textured clay to the non-stick sheet (textured side down).
Using the small rubber stamps and textures of your choice, decorate the smooth surface of the clay.
Tip: If the clay is starting to dry out and it isn't taking a good impression, spritz the surface of the clay using the spray bottle. Let the clay absorb the water and re-impress the clay with the stamp.
Lightly oil the square cutter of your choice, and impress it into the clay. Repeat to make five squares.
Using the stirrer straw, press into the clay at one corner then remove it, creating a hole in the square for linking the jumprings through later. If the cut-out hole doesn't come out in the straw, use a toothpick to remove it.
Tip: Make sure you don't make the holes too close to the edges. As the clay shrinks in the firing process, the distance between the hole and the edge will get smaller, and you want this area to be strong.
Repeat in each corner of the square. Repeat this again until all five squares have four holes.
Leave the squares on the non-stick sheet and let them dry thoroughly. Drying time will vary based on conditions in the room and your environment.
Tip: This is a good time to move the sheet safely to the side and clean up your work area. To speed up the drying process, you can place the squares, still on the non-stick sheet, inside a dehydrator.
Once the squares are dry, it's time to refine them so they are perfect before firing.
Tip: The clay is most fragile at the dry stage so be very careful when handling and refining the tiles.
Using the salon nail boards, go around the edges of the square, removing as little material as possible. You don't want to remove so much that the holes you made become too close to the edge, yet you need to take off any rough edges, as well as smooth the sharp corners.
Tip: Refine your squares over a clean work surface. This will help ensure that your ''dust'' is Art Clay only and can then be collected and added to a container for later use.
Once you have sanded the edges and are happy with their overall appearance, check the holes. This is where the files come in handy. Using a square or round file, refine the inside of the holes; however, do not remove so much material that you thin out the edges.
Using the sandpapers, polishing papers and the salon nail boards, working from the lowest to the highest grit, go over the front and back surfaces of each square so they are nice and smooth. Don't remove so much material that you diminish your design work.
Firing the Squares with a Butane Torch
While working in a well ventilated area and on a heat-proof surface; place the fire block onto the heat-proof surface. Fill the chamber of the butane torch with butane fuel. Set your timer for 2-1/2 minutes. For safety purposes, have a pair of long handled tweezers and a bowl of cold water near where you are working; put on your safety glasses.
Place a square onto the fire block. Press the safety on the torch, ignite the torch then press the switch to keep the flame lit (so you don't have to hold the trigger while working). Begin to heat the square, moving the torch in a circular pattern around the square ensuring even heat. Soon the square will begin to smoke, then a small flame will appear; that is the binder burning off. Continue to heat the piece until it reaches a peachy-salmon color.
Tip: Dim the lights in the work area, if possible, so you can see the color of the squares while firing.
Once the square reaches the peachy-salmon color, start the timer and begin the countdown. Continue to heat the square, working the flame over the entire surface, in a circular pattern. This will help ensure the piece is heated properly.
Tip:If the square begins to appear shiny (it is getting too hot), pull the torch away slightly, so the flame isn't so close to the square. Continue to heat the square and maintain the peachy-salmon color.
Once you have fired the piece for 2-1/2 minutes, you can turn off the torch and set it aside. Let the square cool to room temperature. You can fire the next square on the fire block, working in another section of the block while the first square is cooling.
Firing the Squares in a Kiln
While working in a well ventilated area, place the fiber blanket onto the kiln shelf. Place the squares on top of the fiber blanket. Once all the squares are in position, fire the kiln to the manufacturer's recommended temperature and time.
Tip: The fiber blanket will lift the tiles off the kiln shelf, helping maintain the texture you created.
Once the kiln cycle has ended, let the kiln cool to room temperature.
The pieces will appear white once cooled; this is quickly remedied by changing the topography of the silver. Place a square onto the rubber block and, using the steel brush, go across the surface until you achieve a silvery-satin finish. You can further enhance the shine of the silver by going over the surface again with a burnisher. Complete the polishing by applying a dab of metal polish with a soft, lint-free cloth and rubbing onto the surface of the tiles. Follow this with the Moonshine® polishing cloth.
Assembling the Bracelet
On your work surface, lay out the squares, closed jumprings (or loops), jumprings, clasp, and pliers. Using the pliers, open all of the 6.8mm jumprings.
Link an open jumpring into one hole of one square, then add the closed jumpring; close the open jumpring. Repeat, adding an open jumpring through the adjacent hole in the square and through the closed jumprings. Repeat, attaching the next square to the closed jumprings.
Repeat Step 14 until you have all the squares connected.
Add a jumpring to each hole on the end of the first square; close the jumprings. Link an open jumpring through the two jumprings just added, then add the lobster clasp; close the jumpring.
Repeat Step 16, adding extra jumprings instead of a clasp, making the bracelet the length you need.
If you'd like to add an antique effect to your bracelet, follow manufacturer's recommendations for using the liver of sulfur. After patinating, use the Moonshine polishing cloth to burnish the surface and return it to bright silver, leaving the patina in all the recesses you created with the textures.
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.