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How to Make Quilted Silver Beads

After making the leaf bead, I was impressed with the detail made possible by the metal clay. Therefore, I decided to use the same technique but create a different look. When I finished making these beads, I thought they looked as though they had been "quilted." Before firing, each bead weighed about 5.43 grams. After firing, they are about 3.8 grams each. The size and weight of your beads may depend on how large you make them and the size of the straw that you use for creating the holes in the beads.

To make these beads, you'll need:

6 playing cards
a small ball of PMC (about 6 grams)
olive oil
paint brush
fine sand paper or emery board
*a small piece of mesh cloth
a clean surface to work on
Exacto ® knife
2 inch piece of plastic straw
jeweler's file or emery board

*This mesh material should be easy to find at most fabric stores because they usually carry a variety of trims and laces. If you've ever sewn, you might even have a bag of scraps around that some interesting textures to try.

1. Divide your playing cards into two stacks with three cards in each stack and set them on your work surface with a few inches between each stack.

2. Place your ball of clay in between the stacks.

3. Rub some olive oil on your roller.

4. You should have some oil on your hands now, so take the piece of cloth in between your hands and get it a little oily. It doesn't need much oil, but this will help keep it from sticking to your clay.

5. Roll out the clay.

6. Now place your mesh cloth over the flat clay.

7. Roll out the clay again so that the mesh cloth is pressed into the clay, and pull off the cloth.

8. Now use the knife to cut out a square of clay that measures approximately 1 inch wide and 1 ¼ inch long. Make sure to cut the piece so that all the little squares created by the mesh are even.

9. Take the clay piece and warp it around your straw. I had a little extra clay in my length, so after wrapping it around the straw, I cut off the excess.

10. You want to seal both ends of the clay that are wrapped around the straw together. I used the end of a small paint brush to push the clay together. Be very careful when you do this so that you don't mess up the design on your clay.

11. To ensure that one side of the bead isn't flat, either set the straw up right in a bowl of vermiculite so that the clay is able to dry, or you can position the straw over a small jar.

12. Once the clay is dry, you may need to use fine sand paper or an emery board to file the ends of the bead so that they are even.

13. Fire your beads in a kiln at 1650 degrees F or 900 degrees C for two hours. During the firing process, be careful of the fumes from the plastic straw that will burn out. These are toxic! Do not breath in these toxic fumes!

14. Finish your beads by polishing them.

These quilted beads just show one way to use this technique. So, look around your house for some interesting textures you can roll into your metal clay.

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