UPDATE: I've done a new tutorial here using a thicker gauge metal as well as adding a handle to the clay cutter. I would still read this post, and then read the new one to learn more!
Yesterday, Staci Louise-Smith did a wonderful and heart-felt post about finding your creative voice and the importance of having cohesiveness in your work. She also lists some very talented jewelry and bead artists who consistently nail the cohesive look. If you haven't read it yet, be sure to check it out here, its a very positive and uplifting read!
As for my creative cohesiveness, well, it's a work in progress! I love to learn different techniques and while learning that technique I try and put my 'spin' on it. It's been so much fun playing with all the different mediums, and along the way I've discovered what I like and what isn't for me.
Right now, my latest love is with ceramic clay. Although, it was by chance how a kiln came into our home. Here's what happened.
ME: What, wait, WHAT?!
HUSBAND: Yeah, I never told you but I made a few things in high school.
ME: Like what???
HUSBAND: An ashtray and a vase, but the vase broke. Yeah, let's get a kiln. I'd like to help you make beads and other things.
ME: Ummm. ok. (an hour later) Here's a nice new one on Craig's list, let's check it tomorrow.
And, we bought the kiln.
I kid you not, that is how it went down in my house. My manly, truck driving, couch potato, adorable husband wants to play with clay. I'm really excited about this turn of events. I've been trying to get him more involved in the studio so we can do things together, so this is perfect! I will be sure to keep you posted on my husbands creative journey! Unless there is a John Wayne marathon or some zombie movie on, I think he wants to start this weekend.
Ok, when making my very first pendants, I felt limited in what shapes I could create. I know there are places where you can buy cookie and clay cutters, but what's the fun in that?? I wanted the creative freedom to cut out whatever shapes I wanted, so I set to work on making my own cutters. These are the first three, and I'm sure tons more will follow. It's easy to get the hang of, and fun to do. Try it out for yourself!
Cookie Cutter Tutorial
(updated tutorial found here)
(updated tutorial found here)
Copper sheet, I used 28g. I like the way copper work hardens and holds it shape. Plus over time it will develop that lovely patina.
Metal scoring tool
Needle nose pliers
Round nose pliers
Glue, I used Epoxy 330
Measure with string the length of copper that you will need, with at least 1/2" extra to be able to wrap around and glue.
Score the length of the copper. The depth is up to you, depending on your designs and how deep you will need to cut out your clay. I made mine a little over 1/4" deep.
Now cut our your metal. Try not to stop too many times when you cut, because you will create burs that you will have to file later. I used my throatless sheer for this step, but you can also use metal shears.
Oops, I forgot to take a pic of me filing the edges. You want to file the edges so there are no burs or sharp edges. Now run your fingers over the metal really fast back and forth. This helps straighten it and makes the metal soft and ready to be formed.
Now start forming the metal using the shape as a guide. I used my round nose pliers for the round corners and for the sharp corners, my needle nose pliers. Most of the time though, I just used my fingers to form the metal.
I made plenty of mistakes, especially on this more detailed cutter. I just straightened with the needle nose pliers and started over.
At some point you want to sand the ends where the metal will be glued together. This is so there is some bite for the glue to hold.
Mark with sharpie and then cut the end of the metal.
Press both ends tightly together with needle nose pliers to make sure there will be a good bond.
Now glue cutter together and clamp tight. I couldn't wait for mine to dry so I left it in a food dehydrator for about 15 minutes.
Voila! Your very own, unique one of a kind cutters.
I am very happy with how these turned out, and look forward to creating more. I may even make some very special ones for holiday cookies!
Thank you for reading, and I hope this tutorial helps you on your creative journey!
This is a fabulous way to make the design truly "yours"! Love your selection of shapes (and textures) - especially the bracelet bar! I am in the process of selecting a kiln right now - though I am headed towards silver and copper clay (ceramic may be down the road).
love this. I used bezel wire once and it was too flimsy (should have seen that coming). anyhow, I threw in the towel, but maybe its time to revisit it. I love when artists make their own tools and stamps. So freeing!!!
also, awesome that the hubs is getting involved. my manly sports and hunting hubs wants nothing to do with it. I have tried to tempt him with tools and fire and he is like, no way. so enjoy it!
I have tried this in the past, but had a difficult time getting my oval to hold the shape I wanted it to have. I wanted a skinny oval, but it kept bowing out. Any tips for how to make that work?
what a great tutorial! maybe you guys will end up like mary ann and bill - the power clay couple.
i want a kiln!
Thanks Patti! I've always wanted to work with fine silver and copper clay. I can't wait to see what you come up with!
Staci, the 28g soft copper seemed to work pretty well. 26g should work too, harder to bend but a bit more sturdy. After a few years of prodding, he has finally agreed! Keep at it;)
Hi Jenny! Thanks for your comment. Do you remember what type of metal you used? That's a big factor. Was it soft, semi-soft or hard. The metal I used 28g soft copper, made it easy to form but still kept its shape from being work hardened. I love copper! If you give it a go again and have questions, feel free to contact me!
Maire, they are amazing!!!! I love the wood fired process and just sit and admire Maryann's beads sometimes. lol I mentioned to my husband about sitting and stoking a fire for days...he just laughed.
Love it!!! My husband made my first beads in a little tiny kiln in his art room. Ha! It wasn't long after that I took over and the kiln grew!!
This looks great and I want to try it. I've tried some of the aluminum strips from the hardware store - but the copper would be much more rigid and hold those shapes better!
Love the story about the kiln and your husband! So cool!!!
These are wonderful! Thanks so much for sharing! Your beads look fantastic. Can't wait to see them with some glaze. And how great to have your husband involved! I have tried to do that for years-- and finally decided- I work alone! Haa!
Good luck and have fun! Cindy
So jealous! !! I would love to have a kiln!
I have a scrap of copper kicking around an think it might even be 28 Guage so will give your method a try. I have tried another method that uses folded aluminum disposable cookie sheets. I found them too flimsy. Thanks for inspiring me!
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