Earrings with Accent Gold for Silver and Art Clay®

You'll find step-by-step instructions for this Earrings with Accent Gold for Silver and Art Clay® 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.

Reference for the acrylic slats:
  • Yellow is for a 2-card stack
  • Green is for a 3-card stack
  • Light blue is for 4-card stack
  • Red is for a 6-card stack
Creating the Earring Components:
Lightly oil your roller, the texture plates you'll be working with, your work surface and hands.

Unwrap your clay and condition it by pressing the clay between your fingers for a few seconds.
Place the conditioned clay onto the oiled area of your work surface, between two stacks of cards, three cards high. Using the acrylic roller, roll across the surface of the clay. Flip the clay and repeat rolling it out. Repeat rolling out the clay and flipping it until it is rolled out to three cards high.
Place one stack of two cards along each edge of a textured sheet. Place the clay onto the textured sheet between the stacks of cards. Using the acrylic roller, roll across the surface of the clay.
Carefully remove the clay from the textured sheet and flip upside down (revealing the texture), and place onto the non-stick sheet, texture side up.
Using the larger circle cutter, cut out two circles from the textured sheet of clay. Using the smaller circle cutter, cut a half-circle out of the top of the larger cut-out circle, to create a pleasing shape for your earring component.

Tip: If you can only cut out one earring from the textured sheet of clay, repeat Steps 1-4 to create a second component, making sure to match the first (or not!).
Using the needle tool, place one hole on each side of the cut-out area, near where you will attach the chain to the component later when creating the finished earrings.

Tip: The hole doesn't have to be large, just big enough so you can insert the tip of a needle file after the component dries.
Roll out a piece of clay to a 2-card thickness. Using the blade, trim the clay to a shape that works with the design of your earring components; repeat to make two. Place one cut-out shape onto the surface of one earring component. Using the paintbrush, flood the surface of the component with water to help the two sheets of clay adhere together. Apply gentle pressure to secure the connection. This is the area where the gold highlight will be painted on later.

Tip: This design addition is smooth in the finished earring example, but can be textured if you'd prefer.
Place the earring components onto the lightly-oiled light bulb to dry. Drying time will vary based on conditions in the room and your environment.

Tip: The light bulb will help dome the surface of the earring components. You can lay them onto a non-stick sheet if you'd prefer the earrings to be flat.

Once the components are dry, double check that the two layers adhered together in Step 6 are sealed together and no gaps are present. If there are gaps, fill in with paste-type clay. Let the components dry.
Once the components are finished and dry, refine the holes using the needle files.

Tip: Be careful not to make the holes too large--you need enough clay around the holes so the structure of the earring is sound.

Continue to refine the components using the salon nail boards, sandpapers and polishing papers, working from the lowest to highest grit. Once refined, be sure to clean the surface so there are no loose particles remaining or they will fire into place leaving a rough textured surface.

While wearing a mask and working outdoors, tear two small lumps from the fiber blanket. The fiber blanket will be used under the domed earring components to maintain the domed shape during firing, so make the lumps a size that fits the domed area.
Firing the Earrings with a Kiln
While working in a well ventilated area, place the lumps of fiber blanket onto the kiln shelf, then place the earring components on top of the lumps of fiber blanket. Fire the kiln following the manufacturer's recommended temperature and time; let the components cool to room temperature.

Firing the Earrings with a Butane Torch
While working in a well ventilated area on a heat-proof surface: place the fire block onto the heat-proof surface. Place one lump of fiber blanket onto the fire block, then place one component on top of the lump of fiber blanket. Fill the butane torch with butane fuel and set the 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.
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 component, working the flame in a circular pattern. As the component begins to heat up, the binder will burn off and you will see a small flame. Continue to heat the component until it reaches a peachy-salmon glow. Once the glow is achieved, begin the timer. Maintain the glow for the full time.

Tip: If you see the component begin to look silvery, or it if begins to shine, it is getting too hot. Pull the flame away a bit but continue to heat the component; the component should return to the glowing stage. Continue to heat the component until the timer indicates the 2-1/2 minutes have elapsed.

Allow the component to cool to room temperature.
Repeat Step 10 for the second component.
Prepare the Accent Gold for Silver (AGS™) according to the manufacturer's directions. Apply the AGS to the design element added in Step 6. Fire the gold using the kiln or the butane torch per the manufacturer's directions. Cool to room temperature.

Place the cooled component onto the rubber block. Brush the surface of the silver area using the steel wire brush to bring up the shine. Go over the gold surface using the agate burnisher, working in small circular strokes. Complete the polishing by applying a dab of metal polish with a soft, lint-free cloth and rubbing onto the surface of the earring components. Follow this with the Moonshine® polishing cloth.
Assembling the Earrings
Using the wire cutters, cut two equal lengths of chain 11-links long (or any length with an uneven number); set them aside.
Using the flush-cutters, blunt cut the end of the sterling silver 20-gauge round wire.

Tip: To blunt cut the end, place the flat side of the flush-cutters closest to the wire; trim off a small piece so the end is flat and not pointed.

Position the end of the wire between the barrels of the round-nose pliers, about half-way down the barrels. Rotate your wrist away from you, forming a simple loop. While holding the wire so the loop is coming up toward you, reposition the round-nose pliers, working in the same area on the barrel and right below the loop you just created. Rotate your wrist away from you, forming a second simple loop and what should look like a figure eight.
Place the flat side of the flush-cutters toward the figure eight and cut it off of the wire.
Repeat Steps 14 - 15 to make four figure eights.
Open one loop on one figure eight and pass the end through one hole on the earring component; close the loop. Open the other loop and pass the open end through the last link of one length of chain; close the loop.

Repeat Step 16 for the other side of the earring component.

Open one jumpring. Link the open jumpring through the center link in the length of chain attached to the earring as well as through the loop on the earring finding; close the jumpring.

Repeat Steps 16 - 17 to finish the second earring.

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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.

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