After receiving an order for a custom designed Mother’s ring, I called the customer to chat, and get a feel for what she had in mind. After chatting awhile, I asked if there was anything that might symbolize something unique to her and her daughters. She told me they all three had infinity tattoos. Perfect. She loved the idea of using this symbol in her ring.
After several sketches emailed back and forth, we came up with our design.
I like to ‘step out there,’ as they say, and challenge myself, but whew… this was a major learning experience for me.
The Infinity symbol had to be drawn by hand. So I created the base/background piece and let it dry to hardness. I thinned the metal clay to slip consistency so it could be applied with a syringe with a tiny tip. Keeping the base wet so the clays would bond, I pushed (and pushed and pushed!) the thinned clay through the syringe, laying the design on to the base. The slip doesn’t come out of the syringe so easy. I shaped and moved the design around with a wet paintbrush, letting some layers dry so I could work on top and continue to finesse the design. When satisfied with the Infinity symbol, I again let the entire piece dry.
After drying, I added tiny hand sculpted leaves .
Dry to hardness again.
Next, I determined where each stone would be set, and hand drilled holes through the base so light would be able to come through the stones. Now I was ready to set the stones … After chasing those tiny Swiss blue topaz all over my studio! Every time I picked one up, I dropped it… and had to search, and search! As each stones was dropped into position, the slip clay was used to form tiny clay bezels to hold the stones in after firing.
After drying again, it’s time to shape, sand and finish the piece.
Then… I pray!
The piece is ready to be fired. This burns away the organic binders in the clay and fuses the tiny particles of fine silver together, leaving nothing but fine silver. I held my breath, watching the stones glow red, really, red, and literally praying I didn’t get it too hot and completely melt the design away. I continued to hold my breath as the glowing red piece slowly cooled, and the beautiful blue color came back into the stones, and the design was still intact.
Whew… happy dance!
Sorry, if this sounds a little dramatic, but it’s both intimidating and magical to see the process of cold, grey clay turn to a beautiful silver design.
After brushing and cleaning the piece (yes, stones are still secure!), I cut sterling silver sheet and formed the ring shank and soldered it to the design.
File, polish, shine … and do another happy dance!
Then, I pray…. Now it’s time to show the piece to the customer. Will she like it? Is it anything like what she envisioned? What if she doesn’t like it?? There’s not much I could do to change it if she doesn’t.
I send her photos through email and wait…..
Yay! She loves it! Marga-riiiita time!
Seriously, there is something that touches the soul of an artist when you create something so personal for a customer, and they truly cherish it. There’s no feeling like it!
Let me know about some of your experiences with metal clay or custom orders. (Good or bad!)
Or contact me if you’d like to create your own custom piece of jewelry!
Previous orders for Mother’s Rings
This process can also be used to create custom wedding bands, meditation rings, pendants, cuff links, medallions and more.
Thanks for joining me!