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.