Sunday, August 5, 2012

Metal Clay Class with Wanaree Tanner

This weekend I was lucky enough to take a class given by Wanaree Tanner, who does AMAZING things with metal clay! Check out her website:

And here's her blog:

Wanaree is a full-time artist, super-nice, funny and down-to-earth lovely young woman. And best of all, it was located only minutes away from my home in Springfield, VA at La Ruche Davis Studio!  What's better than to spend the weekend chatting, creating, and eating snacks with a group of like-minded creative women artists? Here's the link if you ever want to take classes there (host Ann Davis is awesome!):

Wanaree has perfected the use of using a cutting machine, in this case the Silhouette Cameo, to cut metal clay bezels and more. In this class we learned how to do this by constructing a stone pendant with a bezel she custom cut for us made from COPPRClay.  Can't wait to try more of it on my own!  Here is the machine below:

 In addition, she uses a great technique utilizing Scratchfoam, which is a very thin styrofoam. We used a small ball burnisher to create designs in the foam, and pressed the wet clay into it, creating a texture to the back of our pendants.

Here is a picture of the Silhouette Cameo cutting my bezel:

She rolls out a sheet of COPPRclay to one more than the lowest setting on a pasta machine (she rolls it within a heavy plastic bag lined with Cool Slip or olive oil to prevent sticking). Then she lets it dry and runs it through the machine dry (but not too dry- keep it in a baggy when it's initially dried or it'll get too brittle). You can see below my piece of bezel removed from the Press n' Seal wrap that it was stuck on to prevent it moving on the cutting mat. I also cut out some circles with a piece of brass tubing to use on my bail:

I chose a thick lapis stone and we enlarged it on the copier because the COPPRclay shrinks when fired. We then used this copy to create a polymer clay 'stone' to use to measure and form the bezel at the enlarged size.

We used PasteMaker solution to create a paste with the clay in order to join and attach the bezel to the backplate. We also made the bail and connecting u-shaped pieces. Everything was dried in order to connect using PasteMaker. Moisture Mist may also be used on the bezel to increase flexibility around the stone.

Above is an example of one of Wanaree's stacked bezels, fired and stone set.

Here are my pieces before being joined. I created a dangle using the pieces cut out from the bezel wire, too.

Here are the 3 pieces all connected with u-shaped pieces of dried clay and paste. It needs to totally dry before firing. A dehydrator was used to speed up drying.

 And here are pics of the finished piece:
No major failures during firing. Some cracking appeared in which we used another copper clay product, with a faster firing time, to correct. Some distortion and uneven shrinking occured, but nothing too major. Some students in the class had more problems after firing than others- it seemed pretty random! Wanaree didn't think my dangle would work, but we were both happy to see it fired well and stayed put!

And here is a pic of the back of my piece (still needs some clean-up!!) with my Scratchfoam design:

 I still have some clean-up to do on the piece, but I think it turned out pretty well. Can't wait to try out my very own Silhouette Cameo for etching glass with vinyl stick-ons, fun with paper, rolling mill experiments, and maybe cutting keum-boo pieces too! Stay tuned!


  1. Fascinating! Thanks for sharing. Your piece turned out really well.

  2. It's really heavy, too! Thanks a bunch!

  3. Hi Dana, wonderful job and thank you for sharing :-) Love the pendant too.
    May I ask, what is PasteMaker? Something like thin clay?

    xx Dian

  4. Hi Dian,

    Thank you! PasteMaker is a liquid solution whereby you can stick dried (but not fired) pieces of metal clay (ANY metal clay) together. It's WAY more effective than water or slip and was Wanaree's suggestion that we bought some- glad I did! You can find it at and it was developed by metal clay artist Sherri Haab. Here's a link:

    :) Dana