Convergent Series

learning, using & teaching metal clay, and other aspects of life

Simple Domes

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/01/07

I like making domed shapes. Here’s a pair of earrings I recently made.

Spinner Disk Earrings

The process for making them from sheet metal was described in the July 2009 issue of Art Jewelry magazine, but of course I couldn’t simply make them that way. Not even the first time out…

Instead of using four regular metal disks, as in the magazine project, I used two of those (the copper ones), plus two made from metal clay (the silver ones). In the article, there was a small seed bead in front, but I had a bit of sterling silver wire that I’d messed up earlier, so I shaped that into two little spirals and hammered those flat to use in front. I then made the earwires from sterling silver wire, also tweaking them a bit from the way the magazine described it..

But the part that’s relevant to the “subject” of this post is that, furthermore, instead of just using flat disks (as the article had), I domed them. The copper ones were hammered first, to add a bit of texture, then “dapped” into a dome shape. The silver ones were textured early on: they’re made from metal clay, so their design was added when they were still in the clay state. I’d actually made them earlier, before thinking to use them here, and were fired flat. That converted the “clay” so what remained was just fine silver and when I decided to dome the copper disks, I was able to “dap” the silver ones too, so they’d curve the same way. When I made the earwires, then, I also formed them to match that shape as well, so they could still spin but wouldn’t wobble too much.

I like domes! Here’s the front and back of another pair of earrings I made a couple years ago. (Sorry the images aren’t too great: I’m getting a bit better with photos, but I don’t have any other domes on hand right now (they’re popular, and sell well!), so I dug this pair of shots out of my archives.)

Dome Earrings: Concave Side with LOS Dome Earrings: Convex Side (no LOS)

For those earrings, I shaped them into domes when they were still in the clay state. Moist clay. Rolled out flat, impressed with textured designs on both sides, cut into circles, and draped over a circular frame to dry into that curved shape. Then fired, polished, patina applied, and polished some more. In the grand scheme of things: easy!

I’ve used all sorts of things as the frame over which I’ve domed metal clay while it dried, including lightbulbs, ping pong balls, measuring spoons (dedicated to art, not reused for food), marbles, and more. The only trick is to find a shape that gives the desired curvature for a piece of the desired size. Oh, and to remember to make the piece a little bigger than you really want, because metal clay shrinks in the drying-firing-sintering process.

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