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Basketweave Metal Clay Ring

Modify the tip of your metal clay syringe to re-create a fundamental cake-decorating design
Basketweave Metal Clay Ring
A customized metal clay syringe tip is key to creating this distinctive basketweave pattern. The finished ring band is 5/16 in. (8 mm) wide.

Recently, I was asked to decorate a chocolate cake with a basketweave pattern on the sides. As I piped the icing, I noticed how similar the process was to working with syringe-type metal clay. After a few experiments and a simple modification of the standard metal clay syringe tip, this ring was born. This project invites experimentation — try altering your syringe tip in different ways to create a variety of effects. You’ll find that you can bring any number of cake-decorating techniques to metal clay, and vice versa! 

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Metal clay: 10 g, slow-dry
  • Metal clay syringe: 10 g
  • Metal clay toolbox
  • Finishing toolbox
  • Wooden ring mandrel with stand
  • Ring sizers
  • Large tip for syringe
  • Needlenose pliers
  • Damp sponge

SUPPLIES

Prepare the ring mandrel. Tape a flexible Teflon sheet around the ring mandrel. Use a ring sizer to determine the size of the appropriate finger.

NOTE:  All brands and types of metal clay shrink when fired, but at different percentages. Use the ring-sizing guide provided by your clay’s manufacturer to determine what size to make the un-fired ring band. It’s better for the ring to be a little too snug than too big. You can enlarge the ring a small amount by stretching it on a ring mandrel, or by filing and sanding the inside of the band; it is more difficult to make the band smaller.
Basketweave Metal Clay Ring 1
Photo 1

Slide the appropriate ring sizer on the mandrel until it fits snugly. Use an extra-fine permanent marker to mark the mandrel on both sides of the sizer.

NOTE: For Art Clay Silver, the band must be made two whole sizes larger than the finger size. I wear a size 6.5 ring, therefore, I prepared the mandrel for a size 8.5.

Shape the syringe tip. Squeeze a plastic syringe tip with needlenose pliers [PHOTO 1]. Don’t squeeze too hard: You don’t want to completely flatten the tip.

Basketweave Metal Clay Ring 2
Photo 2
Cut the syringe tip. Use a craft knife to make three or four small, evenly spaced vertical cuts down from the flattened tip [PHOTO 2]. Each cut should be approximately 5/64–1/8 in. (2–3 mm.) long. These small cuts create the distinctive ribbon-tip texture found in cake decorating.
Basketweave Metal Clay Ring 3
Photo 3
Roll out the metal clay. Lightly coat your hands, acrylic roller, flexible Teflon sheet, and tissue blade with olive oil or natural hand balm. Roll 10 g of slow-drying metal clay to four playing cards thick [PHOTO 3].
Basketweave Metal Clay Ring 4
Photo 4
Roll out the metal clay. Lightly coat your hands, acrylic roller, flexible Teflon sheet, and tissue blade with olive oil or natural hand balm. Roll 10 g of slow-drying metal clay to four playing cards thick [PHOTO 3].
Basketweave Metal Clay Ring 5
Photo 5
Basketweave Metal Clay Ring figure 1
Figure 1
Basketweave Metal Clay Ring 6
Photo 6
Basketweave Metal Clay Ring 7
Photo 7
Basketweave Metal Clay Ring 8
Photo 8
Basketweave Metal Clay Ring 9
Photo 9

Cut the metal clay strip. Cut a long, 3/8-in. (9.5-mm) wide strip with a tissue blade [PHOTO 4]. 

Form the ring band. Wrap the metal clay strip around the mandrel, making sure to center it over the size marks. Use a craft knife to cut the strip where the ends over-lap. Apply syringe-type metal clay to one edge and gently press the two ends together to form a butt-joint [PHOTO 5]. Use a damp, fine-tipped paintbrush to gently smooth the seam. 

Apply the basketweave pattern. Place the ribbon-style tip you prepared earlier onto your syringe of metal clay. Using steady pressure, depress the plunger of the syringe and squeeze one vertical stripe along the seam of the band.

Next, squeeze two shorter horizontal stripes across the vertical stripe (see FIGURE 1). Position one horizontal stripe along the top edge of the band; position the second one three-quarters of the way down the band [PHOTO 6].

Squeeze a second vertical stripe crossing the ends of the two short horizontal stripes. 

Next, squeeze two more short horizontal stripes across the second vertical stripe, beginning at the edge of the first vertical stripe. Place the first horizontal stripe between the two added in the previous step, and the other along the bottom edge of the ring band [PHOTO 7]. 

Repeat this process, and alternate spacing for each row, until the entire ring band is covered [PHOTO 8]. 

Allow the ring to dry completely (See the “Metal Clay Dryness” chart) overnight or in a food dehydrator.

Refine the ring. Place a sheet of 600-grit wet/dry sandpaper on your work surface and gently sand the edges of the ring in a figure-8 or circular motion until they are smooth. Move through progressively finer grits of sandpaper and finish sanding with 2000-grit sandpaper. 

Use a folded piece of 2000-grit sand-paper to gently sand the basketweave texture and remove any sharp points.

NOTE: Don’t sand too much or you will remove some of the basketweave pattern. 

Use half-round sanding sticks to sand the inside of the ring [PHOTO 9]. Begin with a 600-grit sanding stick and move through progressively finer-grit sanding sticks. 

Fire the ring. Set the ring on a kiln shelf and place it inside the kiln. Fire according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Allow the ring to cool completely.

Polish the ring.
Once the ring is fired, scrub it with a brass brush and soapy water. For a higher polish, tumble-polish  the ring with stainless steel shot and burnishing compound for two or three hours. Rinse well and dry thoroughly.

Patinate the ring. Use liver of sulfur or an oxidizing solution to patinate the ring. Rinse well and dry. Use a polishing cloth to remove as much oxidation as desired from the raised areas of texture. 

 
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