Kiln Formed Glass Art by Connie Gates--Handmade in the Pacific Northwest

Sterling Silver Clay Pendant with Dichroic Glass Cabochon

I spend days and weeks working in my studio scheming and figuring out complicated large pieces of glass art, but at times I just need to rest my little pea brain and go for something that flows and doesn’t cause me too much angst. While some yard work such as carving my lawn and flower beds into beautiful flowing edges offer some contentment, at this point in my “older” life, I find it less than exciting! I prefer curved and flowing lines, as opposed to sharp lines–but that isn’t always reflected in my art work.

Sometimes making glass jewelry fills the gap, but I long to find that unique and different jewelry niche. Being the inquisitive type, I Googled sterling silver findings to see what was going on in the big world. Yes indeedy— I found a new sterling silver clay that can be fired on an open kiln shelf! Now, what if I could create a dazzling sterling silver pendant and incorporate a beautiful dichroic glass cabochon into the design–and what if I could actually sell a few pieces!

I am not a sculptor but I love playing with modeling clay, so I began to roll out pieces of old fashioned school modeling clay and put a design together. It seemed really easy, hence, the following information using sterling silver clay is the result of that play time. Using very small pieces of sterling silver clay, the pieces are rolled out in various thicknesses and manipulated into shape using a wet paintbrush. The clay can dry out quickly, so I gingerly rolled several pieces into thin ropes and began to form the squiggly shapes that I knew I could work with. Any small crumb of clay that is cut away can be rolled into a small ball–because they can always be incorporated into designs. The next step is to dehydrate the pieces so that there is not one single speck of dampness anywhere on the pieces. Most jewelers would use a dehydrator specific to their work, but I used my kitchen oven which has a dehydrator setting that worked just fine.

Now, I am ready to take the pieces and put them together. I use a wet paintbrush to bond the pieces together with water and makes the design easy to manipulate, once damp again. When I am happy with the design, I can fire it on my kiln shelf using shelf paper to keep it from sticking. The glass cabochon cannot be fired with the clay–this is just to show what it will look like. Here is the pre-fire picture:
pre-fired sterling pendant

The next step after firing, will be to apply a patina to give it a slightly antique effect. Since I am waiting for a product to arrive to accomplish this next step, I will end this post and show a final post of the final piece. Here is the piece after the design was finished, fired and a slight satin polish applied:
post fired sterling silver pendant

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