Earrings with PMC3™ Precious Metal Clay

Design by Janet Alexander

Keum Boo

: : : Materials : : :

  • PMC3 Precious Metal Clay, paste, silver
  • Liver of sulfur
  • Sanding needles
  • Jump ring, SNAPEEZ® II ULTRAPLATE®, fine silver, 6mm
  • PMC3 Clay
  • Foil, 23.5K yellow gold
  • Teflon sheet, 15x18-inches
  • Brush, #3 round
  • Brush, brass, European
  • Scalpel
  • Blade, tissue-slicing
  • ''Snake''/coil roller, plexiglass
  • Scraper, steel
  • Slats, graduated
  • Taper point, double-ended shaper
  • Chisel, flat, double-ended shaper
  • Tongs, copper
  • Needle file, diamond
  • Clay roller, jumbo
  • Tumbler finishing kit
  • BTSTONE3 agate burnisher, wide tip
Make the rectangle bottom earrings. Lubricate the texture stamp and with Badger Balm or olive oil, brushing it into all indentions. Lubricate the Perfect Match™ Rectangle large brass dome with oil. Place the clay on top of the texture between two stacks of two cards high. Roll from the center out slowly pressing the clay into the texture.

Note: Rolling the clay from the center out makes a sharper impression and allows for less ghosting.

Place the textured clay on top of the medium Perfect Match™ dome. Press the clay down with your finger against the dome removing any trapped air. Place template 3B over the clay and dome. Cut out the shape using the Perfect Match™ pin tool. Remove the excess clay and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Dry the clay on the dome by placing it on a hot plate or in a dehydrator. After a few minutes remove the clay and continue drying the clay piece.

Note: Moisture becomes trapped between the brass and clay. Removing the clay from the dome allows this moisture to escape and dry the clay.

Repeat steps for the other earring bottom.

Create the earring top pieces. Lubricate texture. (Always lubricate each time before texturing clay.) Roll lump clay three cards thick on the same texture. Lay the clay over the medium Perfect Match™ Star dome. Again, remove any trapped air between the dome and clay. Cut the shape out using the pin tool and template 5C. Dry the clay on the dome by placing it on a hot plate or in a dehydrator. After a few minutes remove the clay and continue drying the clay piece.

Create accent pieces. There is a narrow ribbon-like accent down the center of the earrings. Using a snake roller, make a snake as long as the rectangle shape. Roll the snake flat, three cards thick, without texture. Cut the clay approximately 3mm wide and slightly longer than the rectangle shape using a tissue cutting blade. Wet one of the rectangle pieces, painting distilled water from the top to the bottom down the center. Attach the cut lump clay piece to the rectangle base. Allow it to air dry for a few minutes.

Create a ripple texture on the center piece by pressing a flat clay shaper into the partially dry clay using the flat edge.

Tip: Wetting the flat end of the clay shaper keeps it from sticking to the clay. Dry the piece completely.

Repeat the same process creating the same texture on the other pieces.
Refine all earring pieces. File the sides smooth with a fine nail file. Then file the edges, removing any unwanted lines left from cutting the shapes. In the curved areas use a plastic sanding needle.

Embed wire hanger and hoop. The lower earring hangs from the top set of earrings. Create the hangers by embedding the wires into the metal clay. We will use 22 gauge sterling silver round wire.

Bend four U-shaped rings using the 22 gauge wire making two approximately 7mm wide x 10mm long and the other two approximately 5mm wide x 6mm long. The smaller hooks will attach to the earring tops and the larger ones to the bottom earrings. Make indentions in the wire ends using wire cutters. Take care not to cut the wire. These indentions help hold the wire in the metal clay. As the metal clay shrinks while sintering, it grabs the wire tightening around it. Bend the U-shaped wire outward at the very ends. This keeps the wire from being pulled out.

Mix a couple of drops of lavender oil in PMC3 paste. This makes the paste hold to the wire more strongly. This is called oil paste and can be used on any metal clay without harm. You know the mixture is correct when the paste pulls away from the container sides. On the top earrings, paint the paste on the bottom of the earring back where the hooks attach. Paint the oil paste on the small hook ends. Place the small earring hooks into the paste on the small earring tops and then apply lump clay over the wires, burying them in the metal clay. Make sure they are hanging out just a little bit from the earrings' outside edges. Additionally, make sure they are pointed the correct way. Smooth out the lump clay where it ends half way across the back using the clay shaper.

Warning: Make sure to leave room on the bottom half for the earring post pad!

Repeat these steps for the other earring top and bottom pieces. Dry completely.

Embed the earring posts into the back of the top earrings. First the back of the top earring must be leveled so that the post sits flat and then the earring pad is covered with lump clay. If the lump clay from embedding the hook extends too far, you will need to remove some so that the post fits onto the back.

Apply paste on the top area of the top earring back. Place post into paste and then paint oil paste on top of the post pad. Apply a layer of lump clay over the earring post base. Smooth with a clay shaper. Dry clay completely.

Repeat for the other earring. Sand the back of all earrings smooth with nail file and sanding sponges.

Fire the earrings. These earrings have sterling silver embedded in them, so they have to be sintered at a low temperature and for less than 30 minutes. Otherwise, the sterling silver becomes brittle and breaks easily. Fire the earrings in a kiln at 1200°F (650°C) for 20 minutes. Cool the kiln before removing. If you wear heat resistant gloves and use copper tongs, they can be removed earlier. If they are still hot, quench in a bowl of water.
Pre-finish the earrings. In order to keep from harming the gold on the earrings, pre-finish the area not receiving the gold including the back and the front on both sides of the center texture. The gold is very thin and wears off if it's polished or sanded. If you plan to polish in a tumbler, do so now. If you want to blacken the indentions on the texture area where the gold will not be placed, do so now. In other words, the metal should be completely finished before adding the gold. The metal where the gold attaches must be clean with no Liver of Sulfur on it.
Add Keum Boo Gold to the earrings. Avoid burns, put on leather gloves for this process! Keum Boo is process that attaches 22k gold or 24k gold to fine silver. As the silver heats up to a specific temperature (650-950F or 350-510C) and the gold is pressed against the silver, the two metals share oxygen atoms. Heat the metal too hot and the gold absorbs into the silver!

Tip: Drill a small hole in a piece of copper and lay the copper over the burner. Feed the earring post through the hole holding the earring in place and against the copper while applying the gold foil.

Fold paper around a sheet of 22k foil. This makes cutting easier. Cut the foil and paper with scissors to the width of the center textured area. Pre-heat the electric burner. Place one earring part onto the burner. Allow it to warm up on the burner.

Tip: Putting a piece of copper across the burner coils creates a larger flat area for working. Test the earring's temperature with a toothpick. It is up to temperature when the toothpick burns while touching the earring.

Hold the earring with copper tongs and use tweezers to pick up and place the gold onto the center textured area. Burnish the gold to the earring using a burnisher. The gold doesn't stick if the earring is not up to the correct temperature.

Tip: An agate burnisher is better to use as it doesn't transfer heat like a steel burnisher. Assemble the earrings by attaching the top and bottom parts together with a jump ring.

Not listed in the products at right: Any of our textures, two each sterling silver earring posts with pad and backs, 3'' 22 gauge round sterling silver wire, dehydrator or cup warmer, pencil, distilled water, 1.5mm drill bit, water bowl, 24 gauge copper sheet 2'' x 3'', baking soda, scissors, electric burner, wire cutter, round nose pliers, vermiculite.

Have a question regarding this project? Email Customer Service.

Copyright Permissions

Permission to copy this instruction sheet is granted for non-commercial educational purposes only. All other reproduction requires written permission. Please email copyrightpermission@firemtn.com for more information.