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.


  1. 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!

    1. 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.

      1. 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

        1. 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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