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Metal clay whistle

Precise construction is instrumental to making this charm-sized project sing
whistle anatomy

I’ve always been fascinated with jewelry that carries a playful secret; my husband and I, both professional performers, even exchanged whistle rings out of a gumball machine as part of our wedding! My fascination naturally led me to making whistles myself.

Making a metal clay whistle may seem like an engineering challenge, but once you learn the basic rules of what makes a successful note, it’s not as hard as it looks. This project builds upon the familiar lentil form to create a sweet charm that’s tiny in size but big and cheerful in voice.

SUPPLIES

  • Metal clay: 10–15 g
  • Metal clay paste
  • Metal clay syringe (optional)
  • Narrow chain or cord, or charm bracelet and jump ring
  • Circle template or circle cutter: 25 mm
  • Round, plastic 1⁄4 tsp. measuring spoon or other small domed form
  • Dehydrator, hair dryer, mug warmer, or other mild heat source
  • Old credit card
  • Graph paper; wide, clear packing tape (optional)
  • Tubes: 9 mm inside diameter, 5 mm outside diameter
  • Jeweler’s file: 1⁄8 in. (3 mm) flat
  • Pipe cleaner

TOOLBOXES

INSTRUCTIONS

Part 1: Hollow lentil body

Metal Clay Whistle 1
Photo 1
Metal clay whistle 2
Photo 2

Lentil halves

Roll a sheet of metal clay. Lightly oil an acrylic or PVC roller, your hands, and a flexible Teflon sheet. Roll about 5 g of metal clay to 4 playing cards thick.

Texture the clay sheet.
Lightly oil one side of the clay sheet, then place it oil-side down on a texture sheet. Roll the clay again to 3 cards thick to imprint the texture [PHOTO 1]. 

NOTE: Pre-rolling the clay to 4 cards thick and then dropping down to 3 cards when texturing ensures that the impression won’t end up too deep, which could weaken the piece along the thinner lines of the texture. 

Cut a circle. Transfer the clay sheet to the Teflon sheet, texture-side up. Use either a needle tool and a template or a circle cutter to cut out a 25 mm circle [PHOTO 2].

Metal clay whistle 3
Photo 3
Metal clay whistle 4
Photo 4

Dome the circle. Lightly oil the back of a round, plastic 1⁄4-tsp. measuring spoon or other small, rounded form. Transfer the clay circle texture-side up onto the spoon. 

Gently roll one finger over the clay, working outward from the middle, to remove air bubbles and get the clay to conform to the dome [PHOTO 3]. 

Make another clay dome. Repeat the above steps to make another textured dome. I chose a different texture pattern for my second dome.

Dry the domes. Leave the clay on the measuring spoons to dry in a dehydrator for 5–10 minutes. (You could also use a hair dryer, a mug warmer, or another form of mild heat.) When the domes are semi-dry (See Metal Clay Dryness chart), remove them from the spoons, and put them back under the heat source upside-down to let the concave sides dry.

Sand the edges flat. When the domes are completely dry, sand their edges on 280-grit sandpaper [PHOTO 4]. Sand the two domes evenly to the same size.

Metal clay whistle 5
Photo 5
Metal clay whistle 6
Photo 6

NOTE: Continue sanding the domes until the edges are flat rims that fit together and come to a fine point [PHOTO 5]. Make sure each rim has enough surface area to hold plenty of metal clay paste. 

Assembly

Paste the lentil halves together. Using a fine-tip round paintbrush, apply metal clay paste to the entire rim of one dome [PHOTO 6]. By the time you return to the spot where you started, some of the paste may have started to dry; rinse the brush and apply water to the paste to remoisten it. Immediately join the two domes. 

Use a dry brush or your fingertip to quickly lift off any paste that oozes out of the seam, cleaning the brush or your finger after each stroke. When you’ve removed all the excess paste, wet your fingertip and rub lightly around the seam to smooth the join.

Refine the seam. Sand the seam with an emery board, if necessary, and then with 400-grit sandpaper. Fill any gouges or scratches with metal clay paste, and do any needed cosmetic repairs. Dry the lentil completely. Then sand it a final time, ending with 600-grit sandpaper.

 

For complete project instructions, click here to download & print this PDF

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