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Xeque

Choosing clay bodies for jewelry

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Hi! I used to make very detailed sculpted animal jewelry with polymer clay, and have been researching to try out natural firing clays. I can’t find a straight answer that I am happy with.

I am aware that natural clays will not be quite as versatile or durable as polymer. But my new designs would likely be small, and have round borders like a cabochon that I can wrap in macrame. So I have plans to make the fires pieces as protected and practical for wearing as I can.

That being said, I can’t find a simple answer to what sorts of clay bodies I should try. I’ve checked out Laguna clays and their chart for their clays, but not every clay they lost as being good for jewelry is for sale on their website, and not every type of clay that they have for sale is included in their chart.

in the end I’ll probably get a few types and play around, but I want to hear if anyone has suggestions. I won’t be doing simple flat pieces of stamped jewelry, I like to make mini 3D wearable sculptures of animals, usually animal faces. 

Thanks if advance if anyone has any tips!

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What kind of properties do you like for making jewelry? Nothing will be even close to polymer.  I suggest getting a few ungrogged clays to work with in a cone range your kiln can fire to.  So maybe a porcelain body, a fine white stoneware, and see which one you enjoy.  You'll be pretty safe with laguna b-mix, they have a mid-fire and a high fire version.  It's very easy to work with.

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You did not list a cone fire: which makes a difference.

as Liam suggested : large particle clay bodies will not work. This alone would knock out most (if not all) stoneware bodies. A high plasticity porcelain is smooth; but that comes with shrinkage rates at 13-14%. At low fire temps: you should find several smooth earthenware bodies. Low fire produces a softer fired body, but should be okay for jewelry. For jewelry, working properties would be as important as fired density. Low fire bodies have higher COE values than cone 6-10: so glazes need to correspond with cone rating.

i do not buy commercial blends, so others will have to chime in on that.  Where is Pugaboo when I need her.

Tom

 

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Yeah-where is Pugaboo? Haven't heard from her in a while!

I am not well-versed in making ceramic jewelry re: volume or length of time, but I have been making some for about 2 years. I prefer porcelain for brooches and pendants-cone 5, and Bella's Blend (a fairly true multi-range body/stoneware) for earrings and rings.  Do you have a sample photo you can show? You may have to resize it--450 pix H & W is good for posting.  For me, the way to find out what works and what I like to work with only comes about by testing and trying different bodies..there are many attributes to consider in terms of what is "good" for making adornments, not the least of which is personal aesthetic and fitting into or developing a market for a particular style. 

Just for fun, here is a brooch of a cat face, "warm" porcelain (not the whitest), with gold in the incising and inset "diamond" eyes.  About 1.5 "

20190201_235858-.jpg

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17 hours ago, liambesaw said:

What kind of properties do you like for making jewelry? Nothing will be even close to polymer.  I suggest getting a few ungrogged clays to work with in a cone range your kiln can fire to.  So maybe a porcelain body, a fine white stoneware, and see which one you enjoy.  You'll be pretty safe with laguna b-mix, they have a mid-fire and a high fire version.  It's very easy to work with.

Yeah, I’m not expecting to get even close to what I could do with polymer. But I’m ok with my designs being more simple or coming out a little more rustic looking. I have some sculpting tools, I essentially just want to work with something that allows fairly decent detail for sculpture. I have read that porcelains are one of the best starts for jewelry. 

I admit I know pretty much nothing at this point, it’s a very new art medium for me. My dad owns the kiln and makes slip cast ceramics, he’ll be helping me learn along the way as well.

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