Earrings with Art Clay® Sand Dollars and Swarovski Crystal Components

You'll find step-by-step instructions for this Earrings with Art Clay® Sand Dollars and Swarovski Crystal Components 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.

Squeeze a bead of E-6000 adhesive along the top edge (not the sharp edge) of the blade. Place a popsicle stick along the bead of adhesive. Repeat on the other side of the blade, creating a "handle" and a safer edge to work with when using the blade. Set aside to dry completely.

Creating a Clay Coil

Pinch off a bean-sized piece of clay. Roll between your fingers to form a cylindrical shape.
Set the cylinder shape on a clean work surface. Place the snake roller over the cylinder and, with gentle downward pressure, begin moving the rectangle side to side, rolling out the cylinder into a thin rope.
Place a small amount of olive oil onto the stirrer straw. Place one end of the clay rope onto the straw and hold with your non-dominant hand. Hold the other end of the clay rope with your dominant hand. Spin the straw with your non-dominant hand while guiding the rope around the straw as it spins, forming a coil of clay.
Balance the straw on supports so the coil isn't resting on a flat work surface creating flat spots on the coil (two small cups work well for this). Let the clay coil dry. Drying time will vary based on conditions in the room and your environment.

Creating the Mold

Gather equal portions of each part of the two-part molding compound, so when combined it equals an amount larger than the object being molded. Blend until the compound is one uniform color. Work the compound into a ball shape. Place the ball onto the work surface and flatten slightly. Press the item to be molded into the molding compound so the entire shape is captured and the item is level. Let the item and compound rest in place until the compound is cured, approximately five minutes.

Tip: You'll know when the compound is cured when you can press your fingernail into the side of the compound and your nail doesn't leave a mark.
Once cured, remove the item from the mold.
Pinch off enough clay to fill the mold. Condition it by compressing between your fingers for a few seconds, then form into a small ball shape.
Press the ball of clay into the mold so it fills the space created by your object as well as sits level.

Optional: Press the back side of the sand dollar into the clay so both the front and the back will hold details of the sand dollar or object you have chosen. Set aside until the clay is dry. Drying time will vary based on conditions in the room and your environment.

Tip: You can wait 30 minutes, carefully release the clay from the mold and set on a candle warmer or in a food dehydrator to expedite the drying.
Once fully dried, refine the charm. Go along the edges of the sand dollar using the salon nail boards, sandpapers and polishing papers, working from the lowest to highest grit, on both the front and back of the charm.

Adding the Bail to the Charm

Once dry, slide the coil of clay off of the straw. Using the protected blade, cut the coils apart to form rings. Use the blade to cut two rings in half. I suggest cutting two rings in half so you have a few options to work with when choosing which ''half-ring'' works best with the edge of your sand dollar.
Choose a half-ring that fits nicely along the edge of the charm. Using the tweezers to hold the half-ring, move it along the surface of the salon nail boards to refine the ends so they fit neatly against the charm.
Apply syringe-type clay to the ends of the half-ring and place against the edge of the charm. Set aside to dry.
Once the clay has dried, refine the joint using progressive grits of sandpaper and polishing papers.

Tip: The clay is most fragile at the dry stage so be very careful when handling and refining the charms.
Look over the charm to make sure it is to your liking, removing any dust created from refining.

Firing the Charm with a Kiln

While working in a well ventilated area, place the charm onto a kiln shelf and place the shelf into the kiln. Fire the kiln to the manufacturer's recommended temperature for the recommended length of time.

Once the kiln cycle is finished, let the kiln and charm cool to room temperature.

Firing the Charm 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 the charm 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 charm, working the flame around the charm in a circular pattern. Soon, the charm 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 charm while firing.
Once the charm reaches the peachy-salmon color, hit the timer and begin the 2-1/2 minute countdown. Continue to heat the charm, working the flame over the entire surface in a circular pattern. This will help ensure the piece is heated properly.

Tip: If the charm begins to appear shiny (it is getting too hot), pull the torch away slightly, so the flame isn't so close to the charm. Continue to heat the charm 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 charm cool to room temperature.
Place the cooled charm onto the rubber block. Using the steel wire brush, brush against the surface of the charm to bring out the shine. 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 charm. Follow this with the Moonshine® polishing cloth.

Use the charm in any finished design of your choice. To make the ''Sand Dollar Charm Earrings'' as seen in the DVD follow the instructions below.
Using the flush-cut pliers, cut the following lengths of chain: three 1-inch lengths, two 2-1/4 inch lengths and one 2-3/4 inch length.
Using the chain- and flat-nose pliers, open eight jumprings. Link one jumpring through the hole on one starfish and through the last link of one 1-inch length of chain. Close the jumpring. Link one jumpring through the loop on one sand dollar charm and through the last link on one 1-inch length of chain. Close the jumpring. Link one jumpring through the hole on the top of one top-drilled drop and through the last link of the 2-1/4 inch length of chain. Close the jumpring. Link one jumpring through the hole on one rivoli drop and add it to a link above the top-drilled drop. Close the jumpring. Repeat this step, adding three more rivoli drops and working your way up the length of chain.
Link one jumpring through the top link of each length of chain (layering the chains in a pleasing arrangement) and through the loop on the bottom of the earwire. Close the jumpring.

Repeat Steps 20 - 22 to create the second earring.

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.