Last week I showed how to use inlay technique with the Empty Spaces mold. This time I will show how to empty the spaces out and add an embellishment, such as a gemstone. For the demonstration I will use the Empty Circles mold.
This used to be another “project from Hell.” I first made it with tubes made around multiple straws, bundled together into a cane, then by cutting out slices. The problem was that you could never tell what was going on in the invisible part of the cane, tubes were not well connected, and a lot of repair was required. It’s much simpler with the mold.
1. Press clay into the mold.
2. Release the clay. As you can see in the photo, the result has a backing layer.
3. Trim the excess clay from around the shape.
You have two options now: empty out the holes when the earrings are wet, or wait until they are dry.
4a. Before drying: Use different sized straws to cut out the holes.
4b. After drying: Drill a hole in each empty circle. Then use diamond burrs mounted on a rotary tool or a battery operated bead reamer to enlarge the holes.
5. Pick a natural gemstone and a matching bezel cup, or just a fireable stone.
6. Take a thick patty of clay and flatten it with your fingers.
7. Press the bezel cup halfway into the patty. If you use a fireable stone – a cabochon should be pressed halfway into the patty; a faceted stone should be pressed all the way down until it is flush with the clay.
8. Pick a tube or a straw slightly larger than the bezel or the stone. Center the tube around the bezel and cut. Centering the tube may take some trial and error. My advice: use a short tube or cut the straw shorter. Dry the setting.
9. Attach the setting to the inside of the biggest hole with wet clay. Dry, and reinforce with more clay on the back of the earring.
10. After firing and finishing, set the natural stone.
Inlay in Mirror Image
All seven mirror image molds are earrings size. You can use then with or without the frame around them. They are all suitable for inlay. However, if you use copper and bronze, it’s best to inlay bronze in copper and not the other way around!
1. Press copper clay into the mold. Dry thoroughly.
2. Press bronze (Quick-fire or Brilliant) into the indentation, covering the whole surface. If after drying you still see the traces of the lines, add more bronze.
3. Sand off the surface until the pattern reappears. Do not over sand!
4. Insert a bronze eyelet at the top of the earring.
5. Fire at mid-fire schedule. Follow the finishing instructions in the document entitled “Finishing Fired Metal Clay.”
Inlay in Mokume-Gane
Last week I did say that the mokume-gane molds are not suitable for inlay. Because of the fine lines, some of the inlay may be lost. However, some of them have bigger gaps, that could be used for inlay, for enameling, or for setting stones. These are mokume gane 1, 2, and 8
1. Press the clay into the mold.
2. Cut the clay into the desired shape. (I placed the template on the clay so there is a hole on top for a jump ring.) Dry.
3. Fill some of the holes with another type of clay. You can fill up the hole, or trace a line around the inlay with a pin.
4. Fill as many empty spaces as you like. After drying, sand the inlay only as far as can be done without wiping off the fine line of the mokume-gane pattern.
5. Drill the top hole and fire.