© 2014

I tried and tried and tried again

My bird feeder bead was the third bead that I made (I will feature the second shortly ;)). But it was, by far, the hardest.

I wanted to replicate the hexagonal shape of my bird feeder, so I was excited when I found a hex key in our toolbox that was the perfect diameter to help me! The problem: I couldn’t leave the metal clay on the key to dry thoroughly or I wouldn’t have been able to get it off. But, the undried metal clay started to collapse as soon as I took it off the key. After redoing it a number of times, I finally settled on creating it in two pieces so that they could dry on the key. I already knew that I’d have to use a metal clay paste to “glue” the top and bottom to the middle after everything had dried. This just created two more seams to do. Easy peasy. What I forgot in all of my reconstruction was make the holes for the chain to pass through! I remembered when the pieces were about half dry, but since it was quite easy to drill the holes in the dried clay for my hawk pendant, I wasn’t too concerned.


I really, really should have been.

For some reason, the drill bit just didn’t want to bite, so I had to apply extra pressure. I broke one side. Then the other. I used my metal clay paste to glue the pieces back together, crossing my fingers that when I fired it, the places where I patched it would be strong enough. When the paste dried, I checked the holes one more time and decided that one needed to be just a little bit bigger. I didn’t want to risk it not fitting on the chain after all this work! I got out my sanding tool and gently sanded it. And broke the side into even smaller bits.

And then I put my tools down and walked away for a little while.

After some time, I came back and re-evaluated my options. The base and roof were fine, but the main part was beyond repair. And I wasn’t sure if I had enough metal clay left to start over on that part. After looking at the broken pieces, I had an idea. If I sanded them down, I could still reuse them. It would just require a small change in my design. Rather than having holes in the middle of each piece to pass the chain through, I created a gap between the front and back so that the chain could pass through there. Thankfully, my plan worked! And I was even able to add a little bird onto the side.

In hindsight, if the side crumbled under my gentle sanding, I’m not sure it would have been strong enough after firing. So, it was probably a blessing in disguise, even if it didn’t feel like it at the time.

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    1. December 14, 2014 | #

      Fascinating getting an insight into the how it came to be! I’d never even heard of metal clay until you wrote about it. I didn’t realise initially you’d made it in your last post, was wondering where it had come from! :)

      Impressed by the fact you kept going after the holes were thwarting you, I’m not sure I’d have the same patience.

      Mars xx
      p.s. can’t wait to see bead no.2!

      • Tracy
        December 14, 2014 | #

        I wondered if people would be bored with the details, but then I figured that there might be other people out there who want to take a crack at making beads themselves with metal clay and maybe it would be helpful to know some of what I’ve gone through! Most of the information that I find is for making flat pendants, so there are still things I’m not sure about until I try it. And, the fact that I’m using a torch and not a kiln changes what I can do. But, it’s still so addictive to see my ideas turn into beads :)

        The second bead will be soon I think :) I still have my two Christmas bracelets to post, but it will be sometime soon.

        • December 16, 2014 | #

          Oh I totally love the details, it’s really interesting! Mind you I am the woman who literally blogged the entire how to make a silver ring in minute detail… I figure that people who aren’t interested will either just skip or look at the pics, but the details are there for those who are interested and a lot of blogs don’t always do the background and detail so it’s nice to be able to get that from somewhere! So keep going as you’ll definitely have 1 reader who’s interested in that side of things but I’m sure I’m not the only one who loves this kind of stuff!

          Mars xx

          • Tracy
            December 16, 2014 | #

            I remember your posts about the ring workshop, and I loved reading the details! It was so neat to see what they started with, and then the finished rings. And the interesting ways that people added texture. I remember thinking that I should try using household items to add texture to clay too :D I think that was still when I was still playing with the basic modelling clay, trying to figure out what I could make.

            I guess I’m just a detail person, whether I’m reading it or writing it. :D

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