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Metal Clay and Jewelry Making Articles and Tutorials by Margaret Schindel

Updated on July 27, 2017
Margaret Schindel profile image

Margaret Schindel is a jewelry artist and internationally-known expert on metal clay techniques. PMC certified in 2006 by Celie Fago.

Let Me Share My Knowledge of Metal Clay, Polymer Clay and Beaded Jewelry Making Techniques With You!

I am an experienced and passionate professional jewelry artist, metal clay artist and author, and the former "Bangles, Baubles and Beads" Contributor on Squidoo. I love to share my favorite jewelry making techniques, tips, tutorials, suppliers, and other resources for making handcrafted metal clay, polymer clay and beaded jewelry with others who love making jewelry or want to learn how.

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Metal Clay Articles on Techniques, Choice of Materials, Storage Methods and Step-by-Step Tutorials

A Growing Library of Resources for Metal Clay Artists

I wrote my very first metal clay article, Metal Clay - Precious Metal Clay / PMC and Art Clay Silver and Gold in 2006 as a way of giving back to the many experienced metal clay artists on the Metal Clay Gallery Yahoo! Group who had been so generous with their knowledge and advice.

Since then my metal clay article series has grown significantly to include articles on how to choose which metal clay brands and formulas are best for specific applications, the individual characteristics, best uses and firing schedules for the different metal clay types (lump clay, paste, syringe and paper), my recommendations for basic and advanced metal clay tools and supplies, specific metal clay techniques including dozens of ways to texture metal clay, a tutorial for weaving silver clay paper into fine silver metal "fabric", and a wide variety of techniques for setting gemstones in metal clay both before and after firing, my reviews of specific metal clay products that I recommend highly, BRONZclay bronze clay, how to make silver PMC oil paste, and the best methods for drying, storing, and reconstituting metal clay.

I am honored and extremely grateful that my metal clay articles have helped me to achieve international recognition as an expert on metal clay techniques and to have been the senior editor and technical editor of Metal Clay Artist Magazine and its successor, Cre8tiveFire.com.

I love sharing my knowledge and passion for metal clay with others, and I hope you find my jewelry making articles interesting, informative, and helpful.

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Top International Metal Clay Artists and Instructors Use and Recommend my Metal Clay Guides and Articles!

Many of the top metal clay artists and instructors around the world routinely use my metal clay articles for their own reference and recommend them to their students as valuable resources. That's a huge compliment and the best possible endorsement of the value of my metal clay articles, guides and tutorials.

Kudos From Metal Clay Master Gordon Uyehara

"Metal Clay Fusion: Diverse Clays, Detailed Techniques, Artful Projects" by internationally renowned metal clay master Gordon Uyehara is one of the best books on metal clay I've ever read...and I've read nearly every book ever written on the subject! His writing and teaching style are a blend of clear instruction, expert advice, friendly encouragement, and personal discipline. His Zen-like approach to working with metal clay permeates every page. Gordon's projects and photos are inspirational, and his techniques for working with both precious and base metal clay are invaluable.

Imagine my excitement when I saw that Gordon mentioned me in the Acknowledgments section of this book: "For such a young craft, there is a massive amount of data. Thank you to those who tirelessly spread good information. Again, just a few are Mary Ellin D'Agostino, Tonya Davidson, Julia Rai, and Margaret Schindel."

Recommended Resources in "Metal Clay: Beyond the Basics"

Carol A. Babineau is a wonderfully talented fiber and jewelry artist. Although these days she focuses mainly on her fiber art, she also is a fantastic metal clay artist and a talented teacher. Her excellent book, "Metal Clay: Beyond the Basics" features projects focused on one or more intermediate-to-advanced techniques to expand the repertoire of artists with intermediate metal clay skills. Although this excellent book is now out of print, I'm honored that the recommended resources include my metal clay articles.

Beaded Jewelry Project Tutorials and Tips

Learn to Make a Beautiful - and Practical - Beaded Eyeglass Chain that Converts to a Necklace

Eyeglass leashes are very practical, especially for those of us who don't wear our eyeglasses all the time. I love having my sunglasses on a beaded eyeglass chain, too, so I can wear them all the time when I am outdoors (as recommended by my ophthalmologist), take them off easily and quickly while I pop into a store to do my errands, and then slide them back on again when I leave the store without having to fuss with opening and closing my purse, my glasses case, etc.

Most of us go to some effort to pick out eyeglass frames that are attractive and flattering to our faces, so why not give the same thought to your eyeglasses holders? I've actually made a wardrobe of different beaded eyeglasses leashes for myself that I change out like any other fashion accessory or piece of jewelry, depending on my outfit.

Making a beaded eyeglass chain is very similar to making a single strand beaded necklace, so why not finish the ends in a way that allows you to wear it both ways?

My Beaded Convertible Eyeglasses Leash / Necklace Tutorial provides step-by-step instructions with lots of close-up photos so you can make one or more of these versatile pieces of jewelry yourself using any beads you wish.

Convertible beaded eyeglass chain step-by-step jewelry making tutorial
Convertible beaded eyeglass chain step-by-step jewelry making tutorial | Source

My Romantic Queen of Hearts Earrings Project

In honor of Valentine's Day I designed a pair of dazzling drop earrings that look sophisticated yet are surprisingly quick and easy to create: Just make two beaded dangles with basic wire wrapped loops (one pair with head pins and another with eye pins), attach the head pin dangles to the eye pin dangles, and add them to a pair of ear wires, ear posts, ear clips or other earring findings.

I wrote a detailed project tutorial for making these Queen of Hearts Earrings with clear step-by-step instructions, close-up photos to show every aspect of the project, and helpful tips so that even beginners can achieve professional looking results. These earrings also make a wonderful gift for a special friend or loved one.

Romantic Queen of Hearts Earrings by Margaret Schindel
Romantic Queen of Hearts Earrings by Margaret Schindel

Vintage Jewelry Supplies and Jewelry Making Techniques

Learn to create vintage or vintage-inspired jewelry with beads, cabochons, filigree, stampings, crystals, pearls and fine wire!

I begin designing and making one-of-a-kind beaded jewelry long before I discovered metal clay. Over the years I have amassed a huge stash of rare vintage beads, cabochons, Swarovski crystal stones, filigree stampings and findings, as well as some high quality vintage reproduction jewelry supplies. Not all the jewelry I design with vintage beads and components is vintage inspired, nor are all the vintage-inspired designs I create made exclusively with vintage beads. I love collecting and working with art glass beads, focals and cabochons from contemporary glass artists, especially those made with dichroic glass.

In my article Jewelry Making with Vintage Beads and Jewelry Supplies I share some of my best resources for vintage beads and supplies as well as extensive educational resources for learning to make jewelry.

One-of-a-kind three-strand pearl necklace with brass filigree medallion, hand-embroidered with natural and Swarovski crystal pearls using 32 gauge brass wire, with matching pearl drop earrings. A custom commission for a beautiful bride in Scotland.
One-of-a-kind three-strand pearl necklace with brass filigree medallion, hand-embroidered with natural and Swarovski crystal pearls using 32 gauge brass wire, with matching pearl drop earrings. A custom commission for a beautiful bride in Scotland. | Source

Bead Storage Tips

My very extensive collection of jewelry making supplies was starting to take over our house, and over the years I've tried many different types of containers and systems for organizing and storing them.

Figuring out how to manage all the little beads, findings, chains, gemstones, rhinestones and other bits and bobs involved in making jewelry is a challenge even for people whose supply stashes are much smaller than mine, so I've shared the best bead organizers and jewelry supplies storage solutions I've found from my years of trial and error.

Share My First Foray Into Making Lampwork Glass Beads in Italy with World-Famous Glass Bead Artist Kristina Logan

I have loved glass beads since I was six years old, when my parents returned from a trip to Italy with many strands of beautiful Venetian glass beads from Murano that my mother had purchased. My husband also has been fascinated by hot glass for many years, and during our honeymoon in Florence and Tuscany we were lucky enough to study lampwork glass bead making with Kristina Logan, a renowned glass artist and a fantastic teacher. I also collected "inhabited planets" by world-famous glass artist Josh Simpson, and discovered the incredible blown glass chandeliers and huge yet delicate glass sculpture installations of Dale Chihuly.

My article on Lampwork Glass Beads, Sculptures and Blown Glass Art Installations shares the first lampwork glass beads my husband and I made with Kristina Logan during that workshop in Italy and includes an in-depth video of one of Kristina's Master Class glass bead making presentations at the Corning Museum of Glass. I've also provided several other lampwork glass bead making tutorials (video and written), recommended books and DVDs, both instructional and inspirational, and wonderful online resources for hot glass, as well as a link to a virtual tour of the fabulous Museo del Vetro (Glass Museum) in Murano, Italy. To cap it off, there is a tribute to a master of another type of hot glass art, Dale Chihuly. Enjoy!

Polymer Clay Jewelry Project Tutorials

My Polymer Clay Mokume Gane Tutorial

When I first started experimenting with polymer clay many years ago, a lot of the work being created with polymer clay was whimsical at best and poor quality at worst. Neither of those was my style at all. But I also saw some magnificent work being done by a handful of extraordinarily talented polymer clay artists like Celie Fago, Lindly Haunani, Donna Kato, Tory Hughes, Nan Roche, and other polymer clay artists who pioneered the use of this inexpensive medium in fine works of art and jewelry, and their gorgeous pieces were truly inspirational!

I knew I wanted to try to learn these more sophisticated polymer clay techniques, so I started reading everything I could by these authors. Mokume gane was the polymer clay technique that "sang to me" the most, and I was delighted to discover that its elegant appearance belied the simplicity of the technique, which was easy enough for even a self-taught beginner like me to use successfully!

Most of my jewelry designs are one-of-a-kind and I prefer to use unique, handcrafted, and/or rare components in my work. When I started creating jewelry with precious metal clay in 2005-2006, I discovered that I could make custom settings for any type of stone or other item I desired. Eventually it occurred to me that I could create polymer clay cabochons covered with my own polymer clay mokume gane veneer patterns to use in my jewelry designs. I even could make them in standard sizes to use with commercial stone settings for calibrated gemstone cabochons, or I could create my own custom settings with soldered bezel wire or metal clay bezels, create beaded bezels for my polymer clay mokume cabs, and many other options.

I wrote a detailed, step-by-step polymer clay mokume gane cabochon tutorial with lots of photos so that you, too, can create your own unique cabs to use in your jewelry designs.

Step-by-step polymer clay mokume gane tutorial for making cabochons for jewelry
Step-by-step polymer clay mokume gane tutorial for making cabochons for jewelry | Source

My Polymer Clay Fantasy Flower Jewelry Tutorial

My Polymer Clay Fantasy Flower Jewelry Tutorial provides step-by-step instructions with lots of large, clear photos. Learn to make a colorful flower brooch / pin, pendant, ring or earrings with brightly striped petals in colors and bold patterns you won't find in nature! Create these inexpensive, unusual and fun jewelry pieces for yourself or as a gift to brighten someone's day. The directions are clear, easy to follow and filled with professional tips so that even a polymer clay beginner can make them successfully.

An example of my fun, colorful, inexpensive and easy to make polymer clay fantasy flower pin from my step-by-step jewelry making tutorial.
An example of my fun, colorful, inexpensive and easy to make polymer clay fantasy flower pin from my step-by-step jewelry making tutorial. | Source

© 2012 Margaret Schindel

Which of These Jewelry Making Articles Interest You the Most?

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    • Margaret Schindel profile image
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      Margaret Schindel 2 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Maria, metal clay is absolutely magical. My only caveat is that it's seriously addictive! :) If you decide you want to get started with this medium, please let me know and I'll be happy to give you some pointers and answer any questions you may have. :)

    • MariaMontgomery profile image

      MariaMontgomery 2 years ago from Central Florida, USA

      Hi Margaret. I've never worked with this medium before. You just may have convinced me to try it. Thanks!

    • Margaret Schindel profile image
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      Margaret Schindel 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      @anonymous: Hi Daniela, thanks for your interest. I have emailed you directly about your inquiry. :)

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hi Margaret, is it possible to buy polymer clay cabs from you and if yes, how much are they? I look for a size of 7 -12 mm. Could you please email me at ballacaraballa@yahoo.com

      Colors that interest me are reds, oranges and yellows. Cheers, Daniela

    • Margaret Schindel profile image
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      Margaret Schindel 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      @anonymous: Wow, Susie, you just made my day with your lovely compliment and your blessing! Thanks so much.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I can certainly see why metal clay artist all over the world would be taking lessons from your work...absolutely gorgeous and a beautifully presented lensography!

    • Margaret Schindel profile image
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      Margaret Schindel 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      @TransplantedSoul: It definitely is possible to dabble in metal clay as a hobby, and many silver clay artists started off as metal clay "dabblers." Base metal clay, such as copper clay or bronze clay, is significantly less expensive than fine silver clay, but nearly all formulas need to be kiln-fired in carbon (and a kiln costs hundreds of dollars), and carbon-fired clays are much more difficult to fire successfully. Fine silver clay, while more expensive than base metal clay, is by far the most forgiving easiest to fire successfully, and small pieces (up to a bit larger than a US quarter (coin)) can be fired with a butane torch, such as a creme brulee torch/kitchen torch. For larger and/or thicker pieces, you would need a kiln, but you can make quite a lot of different items using just a butane torch.

      If you just want to "get your feet wet" to see how you like working with metal clay without committing to a large financial investment up front, I suggest buying some fine silver clay, a butane kitchen torch, and an appropriate firing surface (such as a fire brick or kiln shelf on a fireproof surface) and making a couple of small pieces, such as earring dangles or charms. Another way to reduce the cost of using metal clay is to use it to make small components that you can use with other, less expensive materials, such as making a textured metal clay bezel or frame and filling it with polymer clay, resin, etc., or making a few metal clay charms to add a unique element to a beaded bracelet, etc.

      Please feel free to contact me through my profile page if you have any other questions. I'll be glad to answer them!

    • TransplantedSoul profile image

      TransplantedSoul 5 years ago

      Awesome stuff! It is clear that you are a professional. How hard is this to start as a hobby? Does it take a long tome to get going, and is it expensive to dabble? Looks very creative.

    • Margaret Schindel profile image
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      Margaret Schindel 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      @KimGiancaterino: Thank you SO MUCH for that awesome comment, Kim! You just made my day! :)

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 5 years ago

      All I can say is WOW.

    • Margaret Schindel profile image
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      Margaret Schindel 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      @grannysage: Thanks so much for your kind words! I am extremely grateful to you.

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      grannysage 5 years ago

      You are so talented and it is wonderful to learn how Squidoo helped you achieve recognition in your field. I come from an artistic family but my art skills are mediocre at best.

    • Margaret Schindel profile image
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      Margaret Schindel 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      @wecomparebooks: Wow, thanks for that fabulous compliment!

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      wecomparebooks 5 years ago

      Awesome stuff! Just awesome!

    • Margaret Schindel profile image
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      Margaret Schindel 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      @anonymous: Thanks so much for the wonderful comment, Jill! It makes me really happy to know that you find my lenses valuable on an ongoing basis. :)

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Love all these lenses! Margaret has put so much time and effort in these lenses and they are my go to reference when I need help with a technique.