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Soap-carved metal clay pendant

With little more than a bar of soap and a few carving tools, you can make a bas-relief mold for your next metal clay project.
Soap Carved Metal Clay pendant back

If you are new to working with metal clay, you may enjoy exploring this easy technique for adding dimension to the surface of a piece. You’ll also learn how to attach a pendant and decorative fobs to a chain without using a bail. Complete the pendant with an understated satin finish or add a bit of color with enamels, paints, or gemstones.

You can reuse a carved soap mold to make a series of identical metal clay pieces!

SUPPLIES

Pendant, 1 1⁄4 x 2 1⁄4 in. (32 x 57mm)

  • Metal clay: 25–35g
  • Metal clay slip
  • Sterling silver snake chain: 30 in. (76.2cm)


TOOLS

  • Kitchen knife, non-serrated
  • 2 bars of soap
  • Paper: drawing, tracing
  • Felt-tip pen
  • Mechanical pencil
  • Carving tools: fine-tip, blunt-tip (choose from):
    • Wood-, linoleum-, or clay-carving tools
    • Metal salon file
    • Toothpick
    • Carpentry nails
    • Dental tools
    • Nut pick
  • Paintbrushes: round-tip, fine-tip
  • Olive oil
  • Acrylic roller
  • Flexible Teflon sheet
  • Playing cards
  • Craft knife
  • Small light bulb (optional)
  • Heavy-duty wire cutters
  • Emery board
  • Tabletop kiln
  • Brass brush
  • Silver polish
  • Liver of sulfur (optional)
  • Gesso (optional)
  • Acrylic paints (optional)
  • Polyurethane (optional)
  • Enamels (optional)
  • Heat-resistant gemstones (optional)
  • Cocktail straw (optional)
  • Clear, hard plastic (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

Soap Carved Metal Clay pendant_P01
PHOTO A
Prepare two bars of soap. Select a bar of unscented bath soap that does not contain added moisturizers. To achieve crisp edges and easier carving, unwrap and air-dry the soap bar. Use a sharp kitchen knife to scrape the logos off two bars of soap. (PHOTO A). 
Soap Carved Metal Clay pendant_P02
PHOTO B
Draw and transfer the design. Make a sketch approximately 1 x 1 1/2 in. (25.5 x 38mm) on drawing paper. Keep in mind that the final impression in the clay will be a mirror image of your sketch. Trace the sketch onto tracing paper. (PHOTO B)

 

Soap Carved Metal Clay pendant_P03
PHOTO C

Securely hold the tracing paper on the bar of soap, and use a mechanical pencil to trace an impression of the design into the soap. Use enough pressure to inscribe the soap, but do not tear the tracing paper (PHOTO C). 

Soap Carved Metal Clay pendant_P04
PHOTO D

After tracing the complete design, remove the paper and use a felt-tip pen to highlight the scribed design. (PHOTO D). 

 
Soap Carved Metal Clay pendant_P05
PHOTO E
Carve the soap. Use a fine-tip tool to carve the outline of your design. (PHOTO E)
Soap Carved Metal Clay pendant_P06
PHOTO F
With a round-tip paintbrush, sweep away any soap shavings from the crevices. (PHOTO F)
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