Happy accidents

When I (Anna Siivonen) started blogging I wrote a couple of blogs about the thought process behind some of my items it made me realized that accidents and serendipity had played a big part in many of my designs. Many of my happy accidents are my favorite pieces since they in my opinion lead to much more unique and interesting things than what I had planned. And some of the accidents spawned a whole new lines of designs. Here are some examples of mine and my team members happy accidents:

Things that melted:

Anna Mazon (Drakonaria) writes that her things usually ends up like she planned because she is rather controlled when she designs. But once she had a surprising problem with bronze clay earrings that basically melted in the firing. The earrings had a real moss texture but ended up with an interesting half melted surface pattern that would be difficult to reproduced. To her surprise they sold straight away.

”I spent a lot of time sculpting these hands lifelike with lines in the palms and nails on the fingers, I made them for a contest and they were supposed to cradle a smaller set of hands. When they melted I missed the deadline and was quite sad. The hands turned to these slightly molten, dimpled and twisted zombie hands. So if life hand you lemons you make zombie hands, right? I listed them on etsy and wrote this description. To my surprize they sold for a decent price to a very happy customer.”

Thinking outside the box:

Meenu Devrani (Vaasavara designs) love textures and she sometimes finds them in the most unexpected places. She made these beautiful earrings with a mold from a texture that she found in the bottom of her cooking pan after having made condensed milk.

Anna Siivonen:
”I originally intended to make a pendant with a sweet little bunny on its hind legs, but just when I was putting it in the kiln I realized the little paws looked like boobs. When I was thinking of a way to make them less boob like it popped in to my head that why not go with the flow and put a bra on her, something extravagant and sexy. But the voluptuous rabbit turned out quite off putting - who would had guessed. Actually something happened when I fired it and it came out all cracked, so I chopped her head of and made these instead. They were the first of a whole line of animal head earrings.”

Bits and pieces

Beverly Gallerani (MangoTango):
”A few years back I took a class in which we were to make a setting for a pre-made woodland creature.  The first photo is of the creature I was given to place in a setting with the suggestion from the instructor that it be peeking out from between leaves, flowers, woods, etc. Once my setting was fired and polished, I felt it looked too delicate and feminine for such a masculine, rustic-looking focal.  So I went through my stash of cabochons and retrofitted the piece with this square blue druzy which I felt had just the right amount of delicacy and femininity for the piece.”

Glenda Skarie (AdoriL'Argento):
”After making a ring that turn out too geometrical and too boring, I decided to cover it up with sheet clay and syringe. I was able to try a technique with different types of clay. The result was much better and I was able to save the ring.”

Anna Siivonen:
”This, the first of many bat-cats I have made, it is a combination of discarded pieces that I had in my scrap box for over a year until one day that I decided to force my self to empty it by using every item in there for something”


What’s on Your Bookshelf?

These days, there are so many terrific resources available to help you through your metal clay learning journey.  Many of us start with a basic class, but before too long we are ready for more information, guidance and inspiration.   Books are one of my favorite ways to satisfy this desire to know more about metal clay and its possibilities.  In this Etsy Metal Clay Team post, I write about a few of the gems on my bookshelf. 

The Art of Metal Clay, Techniques for Creating Jewelry and Decorative Objects.  Sherri Haab (Watson-Guptill Publications, 2003). This was my first metal clay book.  It is a great beginning book because it addresses PMC® silver and Art Clay® silver products.  Although some of the product lines have changed since this book was printed, the general firing charts still apply. Sherri first covers basic steps in working with silver metal clay, then devotes chapters to specific techniques including carving, working with molds, creating hollow forms, setting stones and combining silver metal clay with other media. The example projects range from whimsical to elegant. What I appreciated most about this book when I was first starting out was that the projects were inspiring and well-presented without being intimidating. 

PMC Technic, A collection of techniques for Precious Metal Clay, edited by Tim McCreight ( Brynmorgen Press, 2007).  “Wow” is the word to describe this book. Tim McCreight brings together 10 artists, each offering a chapter on a technical approach to metal clay.  Every jewelry piece presented in this book is elegant and amazing.  This is not intended to be a step-by-step project book, but rather “a record of what can happen when curiosity, passion and talent spill together”. The chapters address using PMC syringe; making hinges (authored by Etsy MetalClay Team member and senior instructor for the Rio Grande Rewards Program, Celie Fago) fusing sterling and metal clay; developing form with slip; using metal clay on ceramic; using stencils, lampworking and silver metal clay;, water etching; coreless beads; and my favorite chapter by Etsy Metal Clay Team member, Jennifer Kahn, PMC Bezels. This is an advanced book that will truly inspire you.

Ah, the topic that just about every jewelry maker wants to master – stone setting.  Setting Stones in Metal Clay by Jeanette Landenwitch (Brynmorgen Press, 2008) is about comprehensive as it gets. This book takes traditional types of stone setting techniques and adapts them to metal clay.  Jeanette covers a variety of approaches for making bezels and prongs; she covers specialty settings such as tabs, inlay and channel. The book includes a two-page gem test firing chart which reports results from firing (torch and kiln) specific stones in place.  It includes a great couple of pages on dealing with shrinkage and how to account for that in your stone settings.  The Appendix in this book is also terrific. It includes an introduction to gemology terms, discusses the Mohs scale of hardness and addresses health and safety. The other little thing I love about this book – the pages inside are spiral bound.

Think beads are only simple accent pieces for jewelry?  Think again!  Metal Clay Beads by Barbara Becker Simon (Lark Books, 2009) shows you how to make fabulous, stand-alone, bead masterpieces. This wonderful book combines beautiful photography with step-by-step instructions for making unique metal clay beads. The projects cover fancy lentil beads, box beads, pillow beads, draped beads, and even combining metal clay with lampworked glass beads. In addition to the bead projects, Barbara describes how to reconstitute dry, unfired clay; how to make flexible clay sheet; how to properly join fired and unfired clay elements; colored-pencil application; and, an exciting section about creating texture plates.  I also love flipping through this book because it includes photographs from the very talented Etsy MetalClay Team members, past and present:   Lora Hart, Lorena Angulo Lynn Cobb , and Catherine Witherell

I love the sturdy, industrial organic textured look of Kate McKinnon’s work.  Her first metal clay book, Structural Metal Clay (2008, printed by Jostens) introduced me to so many innovative concepts such as using a butane torch to fuse-close jump rings, making fine silver components for embeds in silver metal clay, and making heavy gauge metal clay chain. Some of Kate’s most popular work presented in this book is using hammers to forge fine silver ring shanks and embedding them into metal clay ring tops to make amazingly sturdy rings. Thanks to this book, I acquired my first collection of hammers and anvils.  If you are looking to begin combining some traditional metal smith techniques with metal clay, this is a great book to get you started.  It is also spiral bound! 

One of the most recent exciting explorations of metal clay is Metal Clay Fusion by Gordon K. Uyehara (2012, Lark Crafts).  Rising costs of silver metal clay has encouraged many of us to experiment with copper and bronze clay and this book may have you falling in love the artistic possibilities of these two metal clay options.  Silver metal clay projects are presented, as well, in this book.  Metal Clay Fusion provides you with step-by-step instructions for twenty-two projects (!!), from simple to intermediate.  Gordon devotes 10 pages to the topic of firing which can be especially tricky for base-metal clays. This book also includes the author’s own “artist declaration” which will get you thinking about being authentic in your work, and, a rare section on competition tips.  And a bonus in this beautifully photographed book, you will recognize the distinctive work of Etsy MetalClay Team member, Liz Hall.

The last book I want to mention isn't about metal clay, but about color. Margie Deeb’s, The Beader’s Guide to Color (2004, Watson-Guptill Publications) is a great resource if you regularly add color to your work.  Many of us are familiar with the concept of complementary colors, but what about pairing dominant colors with sub-dominant and accent colors?  Do you understand analogous colors?  Do you know what color is easiest for the human eye to take in?   This book is geared towards seed-bead artists, but I find myself going back to it again and again when I am looking for just the right bead to accent my ocean blue apatite or lime green peridot.  If you have no or little background in color theory, this is a good book to have on your shelf.

A final note, if you aren't looking to expand your jewelry-making library, be sure to pull your old books out every once in a awhile; you never know what you will re-discover.  Books really are the gifts that keep on giving!      

 ~ Karen West


Team Interview.... Meet Liad Wischnia – Nemeth

 Liad Wischnia-Nemeth of "By Liad"

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I have been working with metal clay since 2006 when I took weekend class in Pierce College , CA. I immediately fell in love with the craft. Back then, silver was much less expensive. I used to make "gifts" for everyone, and then started to sell my pieces in some stores in the Los Angeles area, Rodeo Drive etc….
I then wanted to expand and opened my website byLiad.com which opened a window for personalization and custom orders all around the world.
I'm Rio Grande certified & have experience with PMC, Hadar's clays, Goldie and Noble brands clays.

My other half, is a programmer and before I knew it he got himself a "tool" to make me tools.
We developed textures and molds which brought us to the idea of making engraved photo jewelry. This was a big hit and we specializing in 3D photo jewelry.
In 2010 we made a big change in our life. We moved from California to Israel (where I was born & raised). At the same year we opened our wholesale store www.MetalClays.com We ship worldwide from KY .
Besides metal clay supply & tools we are developing our own signature products such as Seamless Ring Mold, Bezel Builder, USB / Flash drive kits, custom stamps and more………

 Have any special hobbies?
I love to go for nature hikes, riding bikes, cooking, and photography.

What is your business name and website address?

How did you find out about metalclay and then start working with it?

I used to make beaded jewelry and wanted to go forward and experience other media.  So I found a PMC class in 2006 in a local college magazine.

What drives you to make jewelry?

Sitting and creating is my therapy. I can sit hours, make, roll, cut and create.

Are you disciplined or do you go with the flow and work when you feel like it?

When emails are piling up and orders are coming through, which have to be completed by birthday, anniversary, holiday or other events there is no time to go with the flow. I wish there was some more time in the day. So the answer is yes, I'm very disciplined. 

Do you do any other type of art?


What is your art sensibility - precise or organic?

As for myself I prefer the organic, uneven look. But when custom order come I try to be as precise as I can.

When did you feel you had more confidence in your abilities?

I still don't have confidence.  I have SO much to learn!!!!!

What is your favorite tool for working with metalclay?

Needle tool

Where do you work?
In my home studio.

What is your favorite thing to make?


Do you ever add commercial components?

No, besides jump rings.

How do you work, and when? (for ex. assembly line or one at a time)

One piece at a time / Custom orders

Do you have any kind of creative ritual?

I look at the mess on my table. I try to arrange my tools and then I make more mess.  

How do you hold onto ideas that you don't have time to pursue NOW!

I usually sketch them on a piece of paper or write a memo on my IPhone.

Do you ever use a sketchbook?


Do you ever teach classes and where?


Do you make a living at it?

Yes, on good months.

Do you do custom orders?

Yes, Most of my work is custom.

What are you working on currently?

New tool prototype testing using magnets.

What's next on your agenda to make?

I'm working on creating magnetic findings and jewelry / accessories for Men.

How do you make time for everything you want to do?

There is not enough time in the day for me. 

Anything else you'd like to tell us about yourself?

I'm a mother of 2 lovely kids (13, 9) and also a mother for 2 dogs and a cat named Sushi.

I would love to have the time to actually teach some metal clay. I think I'm shy and therefore I never pushed myself doing it.

Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us, Liad! 
written by Christine Street of Chocolate and Steel


What's New

Hello everyone, welcome to another edition of 'What's New' check out the awesome new
work below that is currently in our members Etsy shops.

Click on the shop name to view on Etsy.

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