Openwork metal clay panel necklace

Follow these blueprints, or draft your own, to create openwork metal clay panels.
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Alternating openwork patterns create a visual rhythm to the linked panels in this 17 1⁄2-in. (44.5 cm) necklace.

Like many Arts and Crafts designs, this necklace relies on stylized architectural and organic motifs and repetition to provide visual interest. To make this necklace, you’ll create 26 metal clay panels from four templates, then pair the panels back to back. Three of them have patterns, and one of them is blank, which you can use to sketch your own patterns. You’ll learn how to insert fine-silver findings into the panels so you can assemble the necklace with jump rings.

SUPPLIES

  • Metal clay: low-shrink formula, 75 g
  • Metal clay slip
  • 26 fine-silver embeddable jump ring findings
  • 14 sterling silver jump rings: 20-gauge (0.8 mm), 4 mm outside diameter
  • Sterling silver clasp
  • toolbox: Metal clay
  • Cardstock
  • Cutting mat
  • Chainnose pliers: 2 pairs
  • Fine pick or dental tool
  • Cosmetic wedge
  • Tweezers
  • Waxed paper (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

Preparation

Cut out templates. You can find them on the downloadable PDF; only print page 3 to save printer ink!


NOTE: You can use template D as a blank to create your own pattern. Or, choose a different shape for your templates. For tips on how to create a metal clay openwork design that is also structurally sound, scroll down to the bottom to the "Tip!" box on “Metal Clay Openwork.”


Support the cardstock on a cutting mat and use a craft knife to cut out the negative areas of each template and its outside edge [STEP 1].

Prepare the embeddable fine-silver jump ring findings. With your nondominant hand, hold the loop end of a fine-silver jump ring finding. Use chainnose pliers to grasp the other end of the finding about 2 mm from its tip, and make a 45° bend in the tail of the finding [STEP 2]. Repeat to bend the tips of the remaining findings.


TIP: Bending the tip of an embeddable finding creates a clawlike grabber will anchor securely in the clay.


Prepare your tools. Lightly apply olive oil or natural hand balm to a flexible Teflon sheet, an acrylic roller, the back of each template, and your hands.

Arts and crafts_step 1
STEP 1
Arts and crafts_step 2
STEP 2
A and C panels

Make panels from templates A and C. Roll out approximately 10–15 g of metal clay to 3 playing cards thick.

Place template A and template C oiled-side down on the clay. Use a needle tool to trace around the templates and along the interior cutouts [STEP 3]. Use your needle tool to carefully remove the clay from the cutouts. 

Repeat until you’ve made a total of seven A panels and six C panels. Allow all the panels to dry completely. See our “Metal Clay Dryness” chart.

Refine the cutouts in the A and C panels. Using a fine pick or dental tool, remove excess clay from the cutouts of each panel. Smooth these interior edges with needle files [STEP 4]

Arts and crafts_step 3
STEP 3
Arts and crafts_step 4
STEP 4

Smooth the surfaces of the A and C panels. Place a panel flat on a rubber block. Moisten a cosmetic wedge with water, and wipe it gently over the panel’s surface until the surface is smooth [STEP 5]. Turn the panel over and repeat. 

Smooth each side of the remaining panels in the same way. Allow all the panels to dry completely.

Refine the edges of the C panels. Usean emery board to lightly file the outside edges of all the C panels until they are smooth [STEP 6]. Do not file the outside edges of the A panels.

Arts and crafts_step 5
STEP 5
Arts and crafts_step 6
STEP 6
Tip!

Metal clay openwork

To ensure that the openwork in your paired metal clay panels will be strong as well as beautiful, follow these construction tips:

  • Select a basic shape for your panel that’s large enough to impress jump ring findings into.
  • Roll the clay out to a minimum of 3 cards (1 mm) thick.
  • Leave at least a 2 mm border of clay all the way around your cutout design.
  • The cutout (negative) spaces of your pattern should not exceed 50 percent of the total area of your entire shape.
  • When you combine two panels, the openwork of the panels should complement one another, with the negative spaces of one panel supporting the positive areas of the other panel.
  • Unsupported spans of either positive or negative areas of the design should not exceed 5 mm.

For the remainder of the instructions, including making the D and B panels, joining the panels, and final assembly, view our free, downloadable PDF!
FIND MORE: metal clay , necklaces

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