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Gold metal clay overlay pendant

Gold overlay paste forms a veneer that can flake off; follow this simple process to make a stronger bond
Gold metal clay overlay pendant
Pam East created photopolymer plates from her original sumi-e ink paintings to texturize these 1 x 1 1⁄2-in. (25.5 x 38 mm) silver metal clay pendants.

Could there be anything more luscious and rich-looking than gold? Of course, with a price tag that’s rising every day, creating jewelry out of this costly material has moved out of reach for many of us. Fortunately, there are ways to enhance your work with small amounts of gold, which can help cut your costs significantly. 

An excellent way to add gold accents to dimensional surfaces is by using gold metal clay overlay paste. You paint gold paste onto your completed piece of jewelry, and then use a torch to sinter the gold to the underlying metal. Because you apply the paste with a brush, you can achieve very controlled and precise results. And prior to sintering, you can easily clean up mistakes with water. Don’t let the cost of a jar of gold paste put you off; you use such a tiny amount that a little bit goes quite a long way.

Gold paste has a reputation for being tricky to use; it’s known for only partially bonding to silver, often peeling or chipping off. But by using my technique, you can achieve successful, consistent results. The secret is simple — use Art Clay Silver Overlay paste to improve the bond! 

SUPPLIES

  • Silver metal clay jewelry piece (any formula)
  • Art Clay Silver Overlay paste 
  • Art Clay Gold Paste or PMC Aura 22 paste
  • Metal clay toolbox
  • Finishing toolbox
  • Soldering surface (soldering pad, firebrick, or charcoal block)
  • Butane torch
  • Bentnose tweezers
  • Agate burnisher: ball tip
  • Denatured alcohol (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

Gold metal clay overlay paste pendant 1
Photo 1
Gold metal clay overlay paste pendant 2
Photo 2
Gold metal clay overlay paste pendant 3
Photo 3
Gold metal clay overlay paste pendant 4
Photo 4

Apply silver overlay paste. Using a fine-tip paintbrush, apply a very thin coat of Art Clay Silver Overlay paste to the portions of your jewelry piece that will be gold [PHOTO 1]. Allow the paste to dry completely.

Apply gold paste. Using a clean fine-tip paintbrush, apply a thin coat of Art Clay Gold Paste or PMC Aura 22 paste over the dried silver overlay paste [PHOTO 2]. Allow the gold paste to dry completely. Apply a second thin coat of the gold paste, and allow it to dry completely.

NOTE: Don’t apply the gold paste too thickly or it could chip or peel off.

Sinter the paste. Place the painted piece gold-side up on a soldering surface. Using a butane torch in a sweeping motion, heat the entire jewelry piece, directing the heat mostly toward the gold portions. 

You’ll know that the paste is approaching sintering temperature when the silver turns a light salmon-pink and the gold turns a brighter orange [PHOTO 3]. As soon as the gold is glowing, remove the heat; there is no need to hold this temperature. 

NOTE: The gold may look uneven, thin, discolored, or even appear “peeled back” in spots at this point [PHOTO 4]. Don’t worry; it will look great after it’s burnished. 

Burnish the gold. While the piece is still warm, use a pair of bentnose tweezers to steady it. Using a ball-tip agate burnisher, carefully and firmly rub the gold [PHOTO 5], adhering it securely to the silver.

NOTE: While you can use other types of burnishers, I find the ball-tip shape lets me get into detailed areas more effectively.

Brush the gold with a brass brush. Once the piece has completely cooled, use a soft brass brush and soapy water to brush the whole piece, including the gold areas [PHOTO 6]. This will complete the process of burnishing the gold. If your gold is sintered with the silver overlay paste completely, you will not remove the gold with the brush.

 
Tip!

Which silver paste do I use? Find out in our silver and gold paste tutorial

How do I deal with dried-out paste? Learn how to rehydrate gold metal clay paste

 

Gold metal clay overlay paste pendant 5
Photo 5
Gold metal clay overlay paste pendant 6
Photo 6

 

Gold metal clay overlay paste pendant 7
Photo 7
Tumble the piece. At this stage, the gold may appear to have a matte finish. Tumble the piece in a tumbler with steel shot and burnishing compound from 30 minutes to 2 hours. This will strengthen and polish the piece, making the gold bright and shiny.

Patinate the piece (optional). You can finish the piece with a liver of sulfur patina. 

TIP: While silver is affected by liver of sulfur, gold is not. So, you can incorporate this increased contrast into your designs. 

Prepare a liver of sulfur solution according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Apply the solution to the piece and rinse it well. I like to apply light layers of patina to achieve a rainbow effect [PHOTO 7]. 
 
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