Convergent Series

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

Finding the “Right” Use for Various Components

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/03/13

A third pair of earrings for the Month of Earrings challenge:

Silver Meets Polymer #1

A good number of years ago, the daughter of a friend received a collection of packages of polymer clay as a gift from one of her aunts (in another state, over 1000 miles away). None of me, my friend, nor her daughter had ever worked with the stuff before (though I’d at least seen pieces made with it). As a subsequent gift from me to this friend (who said she wanted “time” more than anything else), I said I’d figure out what to do with the clay and, the next time the kids had a day off school on a workday for the parents, I’d take the day off to stay with them and hold a little “polymer party” to keep them busy for several hours. (She was delighted with the offer!)

Between seeing the daughter’s clay and making the offer, I did spend one evening experimenting with polymer, just to see what I might be getting myself into. I gave some of my results to the children, and kept a few others that I’ve used here and there over the years. The blue and white beads, above, are the only ones remaining from that episode. Little leftovers, different from each other in size and shape, they have been sitting in one of my bead-stash boxes biding their time.

The little round silver ball has been sitting in a silver-stash box as well. (You laugh at all this talk of stashes? Please leave a comment describing yours, dear reader!) The base was made as I was showing a friend how to work with cork clay: I make small, simple demo pieces and wait for some other opportunity to use them. Mine sat there, unfired, for months. One day when I was trying to show a student some things about manipulating a syringe full of clay, I pulled out the little ball, and illustrated my comments by decorating it.

So along comes this earring challenge. I looked at those three pieces and said, the silver ball is a little smaller than the polymer one, but the three pieces do sort of go together. Make a fourth variation. Thus, the brand-new silver cylinder.

When I went to put them all together, I decided I didn’t want to do the “usual” thing of putting a pair of beads on some wire, topping that with a wrapped loop, and dangling that from an earwire. (I do have some like that in the works. It’s just not what I wanted for these.) I wanted a one-piece construction: for each earring I made a headpin (by cutting two pieces of Argentium sterling silver wire and using a torch to ball up one end of each), put the silver and polymer beads on those (in opposite orders), topped each pair with a tiny white seed bead, and bent the rest of that metal into its own earwire.

One main reason for the usual (two-part) process is to hold it all together. The wrapped loop at the top helps prevent the components from just sliding off the wire and getting lost. Here, instead, I added the tiny seed bead on top: its hole is far smaller than those of the other two components of each piece. After bending the earwire into shape, and rounding off the far end, I flattened the curved part some with a hammer. That serves two purposes:

  • It work-hardens the wire a bit, which should help it last longer, and
  • The flattening makes the wire too big for the little seed bead to pass, thus forcing all the beads to stay on the wire!

I sure hope someone will like them enough to buy them and give them a good home.

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