2/16/13

Custom Cookie Cutters for Making Uniform Cutout Bead Caps



Here's a tip to make your life easier while making multiples in metal clay. Why multiples you ask? Multiples are the kind of piece you want to make more than one of, for earrings, for uniform pendants on one necklace, or if you're in a production cycle for a show. Bead caps can come in handy often. Here are a few shapes that look good on earrings, bracelets or pendants.   


The easiest shape would be a circle. I also like the 4 pointed star. 


This is a four-lobed piece that looks good bent over a bead.

I got myself a sheet of 28-gauge copper and just cut uniform strips about 1/4 inch wide with metal shears or tin snips. The copper is inexpensive and resilient and easy to form with pliers.  



I spent some time making drawings and then I shaped the cutters to their outlines. I don't worry about soldering the seams. The copper is springy enough to hold it's shape if you're not too rough with it. I made my 4 pointer 1/2 inch wide and the four lobed piece almost 3/4 inch wide. You can adjust your size and style to the beads you're using. 

I roll out my silver metal clay about 3 playing cards thick, then texture it. After the surface has set up a little but the clay isn't hard yet, I use my greased cookie cutter and cut out as many pieces as the rolled out sheet will hold. I'm all about having more than you need for your project, just in case you have another brilliant idea. Repeat as necessary. Remember to flip the cutter if you're making something that needs to be symmetrical or a mirror image of the other.  

When completely dry, I finish the pieces and and then fire them for the maximum firing time and temperature to make sure the silver is sintered enough and will bend easily without breaking. I've never done this with any of the base metal clays so if you want to, you need to blaze your own trail. 

Here's where my dapping block comes into service.  


I place a piece face down in a depression that holds the entire piece inside the rim. I place the dap in the center of the metal and hit it with a hammer, firmly but not too hard.  


In fact I hit it rather gently but surely about 4 or 5 times to get the piece to slowly form to the bowl of the block but careful not to punch out the texture on the other side. I move the piece to the next smaller sized depression and I do the same thing as the piece gets rounder and gets closer to the size of the bead I'm going to use. 

Your cookie cutters can be as simple or as complicated as your imagination lets them be. 


Rose bloom pendant.

Fire and Water rings

All made with custom cookie cutters!

~ Catherine Witherell

13 comments:

kim said...

awesome tutorial, thanks catherine!

Evelyn Pelati Dombkowski said...

It is a great tutorial, Catherine. I'm going to have to try this sometime!

Julie Panusis said...

Fantastic ideas, Catherine. Thank you for the article. It helped my creative juices to start flowing.
Julie

Chocolate and Steel said...

I'm going to try this. I tried it once with aluminum..... doesn't mix well with clay.

Marilyn Davenport said...

Great article and tips. I will incorporate these ideas into my work.

HappyDayArt! said...

Go for it! I'm happy I could give something that works for me to you and your bag of tricks.

Catherine

Deborah Lee Taylor said...

Catherine-this is a brilliant idea! Would of never thought of using my copper bezel wire in this way. Thanks! ; D
Are you sure it needs to be rolled 3 'cars' thick? : D (hehe) I know what you mean.
I love your rose bloom pendant!!

HappyDayArt! said...

Deb, that's hilarious! Thanks for bringing that to my attention. Three playing cards is the right thickness of course. Geez, and here I thought I could see.

Radiant Jasmin said...

I LOVE YOUR DAPPING SETUP!

jbonas said...

I really believe that your idea is great. I love it and thanks for your great ides. I would like to try your idea.

Bead Caps

kitoengineering said...

Amazing how simple it can be to communicate with people and have them understand a certain topic, you made my day.

Sheet metal cutters

Amy Cappelli said...

Very informative and interesting post.It is really a big help. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.
Custom Beading
Bead andTrim

mark smith said...

Amazing blog. I would like to try your idea.
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