Elven Moonstone Pendants

April 02, 2018

I love working in silver, but I have to admit that sometimes the process of sawing little strips of metal, sanding every edge, soldering (and failing to get a clean solder, and soldering again), and the rest of the process is not as intuitive to me as I would like.

On a whim, I spent some of my graduation money on a product called PMC3, or silver clay. This is silver particulate (mostly recycled from the electronics industry!) suspended in polymers, and it truly acts like clay! It's fast drying, but you can reconstitute it with water, and you can create a slip paste using leftover clay and essential oils.

I love working in 3D with clay; I can touch and feel each surface, smoothing and shaping and adding and cutting until every little curve is just right. (I've used clay sculpture for two of my favorite recent illustrations: Slam Poetry Shakespeare and Mary Anning). Honestly I didn't think this sort of process was possible for jewelry!

Silver clay is now my new favorite thing-- and I am finally, finally able to make the style of jewelry I've always wanted to experiment with more. Tendrils of vines, miniature flowers, tinier leaves, and little gemstones set deep in the silver... All heavily inspired by the Elves in Lord of the Rings, of course, and by art nouveau jewelry!

Enchanting Moonstone Elven Leaf Necklace
These are the first three necklaces I've made (well, successful ones that didn't burn up in the kiln-- my dad found an old one on ebay and fixed it up for me, but we're having difficulties holding an accurate temperature for more than an hour).

Blue Moonstone Vine Teardrop Necklace
The gemstones in these necklaces are all true moonstone-- it's a beautiful quartz-like white, but when the light hits it, it shimmers with flashes of blue, purple, and sometimes even green and gold.

Elven Moonstone Necklace
I have to work under a magnifying glass to see all the detail, and many of the pieces were made with the tip of an Xacto knife and sewing needles!

I recently purchased some silver clay to combine three things I love: sculpting, jewelry, and tiny miniature things. It hasn’t been a disappointment! I spent every hour of my spare time fiddling with bits of clay under a magnifying glass, making flower garden rings, Elven pendants, and silver leaves. The clay gets fired for two hours at 1650 degrees and turns out solid fine silver. ❤️ I just used up the last of the clay today and really want to buy more to keep playing—but it’s really expensive and I don’t know how well these pieces will do yet. Self control… self control… 😩 (I’ve been sharing my progress with with this technique on my Instagram stories, so give those a follow if you want to see more! Especially if you like to see things on FIRE 🙃) #silverclay #pmc3 #behindthescenes #wip #ontheworkbench
A post shared by Shaylynn Ann (@shealynnsfaerie) on

Once the design is finished, I fire the pendants at 1650 degrees Farenheit for 2 hours. This drives out the polymers and the final piece is fine (99.9%) silver!

This video is from my Instagram stories; give me a follow @shealynnsfaerie because I post this sort of thing a lot!

All that remains is polishing with my dremel tool, files, and micro-sandpapers. I also gave all three of these pendants a rich patina, darkening the crevices to make the designs stand out.

As I was adding the final polish to these necklaces, I couldn't help thinking of the old rhyme "Lavender's Blue." The shimmer of the moonstone is so serene and calm-- like the rhyme, which is my special lullaby to my littlest sister.

Lavender's blue, dilly dilly, lavender's green,
When I am king, dilly dilly, you shall be queen:
Who told you so, dilly dilly, who told you so?
'Twas mine own heart, dilly dilly, that told me so.

(The new Cinderella movie has a lovely version of this in the credits-- here's a link to the song!).

Moonstone is one of the few true gemstones that you can set into the silver clay and fire in the kiln. The clay shrinks around 20% and I misjudged the shrinkage, so I had some cracking in a couple of the stones as they were put under both high temperature and high stress. I've learned my lesson now, and when I make more necklace I'll be able to give the stones more breathing space. I may also be able to create bezels to set other stones which can't stand high temperatures. I have some beautiful lapis lazuli and an Ethiopian opal in my gem box.... 

Additional moonstone beads and pearlescent Swavroski beads on a slender, delicate, and STURDY fine silver chain

I took a ridiculous amount of photos for my Etsy listings, so I'm just going to share them all!

The backs of all these pendants have holes to allow more light to scatter throughout the gemstone

I've used up all the silver clay I had. My final projects were a series of three rose rings. I can't wait to purchase some more, but it will have to wait a bit. Fine silver is expensive, and each piece took several hours, and I don't know yet if these necklaces will sell since they are above the price point for many things in my shop. I hope that I can justify purchasing more clay and making more pieces like this-- that, or I'll just spend my personal money on it again because I LOVE this technique SO MUCH.

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