Friday, July 27, 2012

Artist’s Journal: Stackable Pinky Rings Made with Re-hydrated Clay

by Yvonne Yao

With my first East coast wholesale show coming up, I have had rings on the brain day and night. For a while now I have wanted to add ring designs to my collection, so I decided to do some sketching and test out the first design, along with a new tip on re-hydrating clay. 
A week before starting work on the rings, I decided to get to work on re-hydrating some of my leftover clay that had turned rock hard. Being a person who only dabbles in PMC every now and then, I have accrued many pea-sized nuggets of hardened clay over time.  Previously, I tried filing each nugget down patiently and slowly re-hydrating the dust back into moist clay. This was a tedious job that took more time than I had to offer. Instead, I had recently read that a sandwich bag could just as easily do the hard work for me. I put the hardened clay into a sandwich bag, added a few drops of water, zipped the bag up and let it sit for several days until the clay was just soft enough to work with. Then I took the clay out, placed it on a piece of plastic wrap, spritzed it with water, and folded the clay on itself (all the time breaking up the tiny bits of hard lumps) until it was the proper consistency. Worked like a charm!

I was ready to start on my rings and my goal was to make stackable rings of varying size and curvature. I started by rolling the clay four cards thick to cut out the individual ring bands. I covered the ring mandrel with a one-inch strip of plastic wrap and draped each band of clay gently around it, making sure to size up two ring sizes to allow for shrinkage during firing. 


I then rolled out more clay at four cards thick in order to cut out various size and curvatures of triangles that I wet-mounted to the ring bands. Once the triangles were attached to the bands, I used a palette knife to apply thick slip to the sides of the triangles (almost like frosting a cupcake) in order to build a 3-dimensional form that I could sculpt. I let each ring dry before repeating the steps until I had six rings completed and ready for sanding. 

Using 400 grit sandpaper, I hand sanded each piece to the exact curvature and form that I desired so that they stacked to form a single curved ridge. I then made sure to round off the inner edges of the ring bands for comfort of wear and patched and smoothed uneven surfaces.  The rings were fired at 1600 degrees for 30 minutes, and tumbled with an electric tumbler for 15 minutes. 

Here are the results in a couple of possible configurations. . .


Mary Hicks said...

These are great! Totally wearable, stackable, funable!

Marie-Ann Coyle said...

Loved the article and idea.
Marie-Ann from downunder

Bridget Rossi said...

Nice choice of material! I think metal clay is a dramatic medium, with its very distinct look. I love the design, by the way, though it’s a bit complicated. I’m sure it would have taken hours of careful craftsmanship if you used metal sheets.

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Pinky rings