May 23 2011

Magnetic Clasp – Part 2

As promised, here’s the follow-up to my earlier Magnetic Clasp posting.

A magnetic clasp does not have to be steel colored. Here is another type of magnetic clasp, lentil shaped, in copper and bronze.

1. As molds, use two concave shapes such as contact lenses holders. The magnet should be 5-6 mm in diameter.

2. Find a rod or wooden dowel with the same diameter as the magnet, or slightly larger.

3. Fill the mold with Pearl Grey Steel. Press the dowel into the clay to create an indentation for the magnet. Do not use the magnet itself to create he indentation! It will be hard or impossible to separate it from the clay.

4. Repeat step 3 for the other part of the clasp.

5. Dry the clay.

The other side

The other side

6. Insert the magnet in one of the parts and test how they fit.

7. If the indentations are too small or not deep enough, grind them with a cylinder grinder or a diamond-plated burr until you get a perfect fit.

8. Roll a layer of bronze clay, 3 cards thick. Wet one of the domes and lay the bronze layer on it until it assumes its shape. Trim away the excess clay from around the dome, and dry.

9. Repeat step 8 with the other dome, this time using a copper clay layer.

10. Rub the open side of the domes over 150-grit sandpaper, using a figure-8 motion.

11. Prepare 2 wire eyelets form 22-gauge bronze wire. Drill a hole at the side of each dome.

12. Insert the wire eyelets in the holes and reinforce them with clay. Dry.

13. Fire the 2 parts following the schedule for mixed copper/bronze pieces (see my Instruction Manual, p. 30). I suggest connecting the chain first. If you do it after inserting the magnet, the chain and jump ring will stick to your pliers.

14. Connect each part to a chain and insert the magnet in one of them.

May 15 2011

Magnetic Clasp from Metal Clay, Part 1 – Free Project

There are two projects that did not make it into my upcoming book – two types of magnetic clasp (the third is in the book, which is going to press next week). The clasps are made from steel clay, taking advantage of its magnetism, and require no glue or any other kind of “magic adhesive”. Here is the first one. All it is is two tubes, capped on one side.

1. Make 2 tubes over a fat straw, from 1/2″ strips of steel clay (regular or Pearl Grey Steel), 3 cards thick. Dry them.

2. Roll a layer of steel clay, 3 cards thick. Wet it, and place the tubes on top of it, with one opening facing down.

3. Trim the excess clay from the layer around the tubes. Without picking them up off the card, carry them to the warming pan to dry.

4. Once they dry, drill two holes in each tube, close to the open side.


5. Fire the tubes. For the firing schedule, refer to the Instruction Manual (also linked on the right-hand pane of this blog).

6. Pick magnets with a diameter that fits inside the tubes. You can fill the tubes with a few magnets, as long as they don’t block the holes. The more magnets you fit, the stronger the clasp will be. Strong magnets are available from hardware stores, as well as from Amazon (look up “rare earth magnets“).

Once you fit the magnets in the tubes, it will be very hard to take them out. Make sure that the magnets at the bottom of the respective tubes are “opposite poles” that attract each other, not “identical poles” that repel each other!

7. For each tube you need a jump ring, and a piece of wire. The wire can be copper, bronze, or silver (steel or nickel-chromium wire will not ball up). Pick a gauge that fits through the holes. Ball up one end of the wire. This ball can be done with a micro-torch, unless it is 18 gauge or thicker.

8. Insert the non-balled end of the wire through one hole of the tube. Then insert it through the jump ring, and through the second hole.

9. Ball up the other end of the wire. Now use an oxygen/propane torch. The balling up will be so fast that the heat won’t affect the magnets. For instructions on balling up wire on both end see my book: The Handbook of Metal Clay: Textures and Forms, 2nd edition, pp. 30-31, or watch my video Balling-up a Wire at Both Ends on YouTube (also embedded in the Videos section of this blog, which can be accessed from the top bar or from the right-hand pane).

10. Connect a chain to the jump rings.


Insert a wire through both holes. This wire has to be thin enough so that two pieces of it can fit in the same hole.

Pick one end of the wire, bend it above the tube, insert it through the opposite hole from the outside, and then again through the hole it came out of, from the inside.

Now you can ball up both ends of the wire, using a propane/oxygen torch.

Or: if you have no such torch, coil the end of the wire.


There are quite a few things you can do with this clasp, and my 14-year-old daughter, Naomi, volunteered to model.

No child was hurt during the shooting of these photos. In fact, Naomi says that she has the best parents ever! Are we lucky or what?

May 3 2011

NY Workshop and New Video Clip

First, a note about the workshop scheduled for October 7-10, 2011 at Studio 34 Creative Arts Center and Gallery, Rochester, NY. The structure of the workshop has changed. Instead of two, 2-day back-to-back workshops, it is now a single consecutive 4-day workshop. Since this is the second time I will be teaching at Studio 34, there are returning students who would like to learn new techniques and go into depth with familiar ones. The structure of this 4-day workshop will accommodate both experienced users of metal clay and users with little background. We will cover technical issues such as troubleshooting the firing process, and also play with the very latest techniques developed for metal clay (such as mokume-gane), as well as with the new clays – Pearl Grey Steel and White Bronze. Participants will be able to finish some pieces and to return home with the confidence to try things on their own.

Contact:,, (585) 737 5858.

One important piece of equipment that is used in all my classes is Baldwin’s Patina. I am often asked what it is for. This patina is not for adding color. It is to highlight the contrast between different metals in mixed metal jewelry. It was originally invented for mokume-gane designs with silver and copper, since it reacts with copper and not with silver. I thought that since bronze is 90% copper, it would react with the patina as well. As it turns out, if the surface of the metal is well sanded and smooth, the patina reacts with copper and steel, but not with bronze and White Bronze. This makes the colors stand out in beautiful contrast.

Here is a video clip demonstrating the process:

© 2011 Hadar Jacobson – All Rights Reserved.
Still/video photography: Hadar Jacobson
Music selection and sound/video editing: Avi Jacobson