Rings Overview 2017 - Part 2


Here is the first flow diagram and the sub-topics that I talked about in Rings Overview 2017 - Part 1.

Rings Flow Chart

Here is the second flow diagram. Sub-topics are explained in this part, Rings Overview 2017 - Part 2.

Sized Ring

I divided Sized Rings into these two topics: Need Something on Which to Build the Ring and The Hardest Aspect of Rings.

- Need Something on Which to Build the Ring

- - Mandrels

The first thing about any mandrel is that you need to set it up so that you can work on your ring, most likely horizontally .

Ring Mandrel on Stand

- - - Made By You If you know how to make a tube of paper you can make your own mandrel. Make a tube either out of waterproof material or other material then cover that with waterproof material. Strapping or shipping tape works well. Here is a brief overview.

- - - Ring Mandrel Tapered If you make your own mandrel you can place it on a tapered ring mandrel intended for soldering, sizing, or construction. Mandrels can be stepped or smooth. Typically, a wood mandrel is for construction and a metal mandrel is for hammering and sizing.

Ring Mandrel on Stand
Ring Mandrel

- - - Ring Mandrel Flat or Not Tapered You can purchase a complete set (all sizes) of Ring-Making Mandrels with a Stand. These are consistent in diameter (not tapered), and each is marked with its size. When using a mandrel to form PMC rings, place a layer of plastic wrap or freezer paper between the mandrel and your PMC. This plastic layer offers protection and prevents the PMC from sticking to the mandrel.

Ring Mandrel Set

- - - Ring Liner

I talked about ring liners in Part I. I didn’t want to leave out a mention here because in using a ring liner you are constructing a sized ring in metal clay.

- The Hardest Aspect of Rings

- - Shrinkage Factor

- - - Default on the Smaller Size After you fire your ring, you can make it larger using a metal ring mandrel and rawhide hammer. Thinner rings adjust easier (beware) than thick, wide rings on the mandrel . You cannot make a ring smaller on a mandrel. The only way I know to make rings smaller is to saw the ring’s band, remove a section, and rejoin (“Joining Fired Pieces of PMC3.”).

Ring Madrel 2 PMCC

- - - Build 3 to 4 X’s the Desired Size This means make your ring out of clay in the size that is three sizes larger than your desired size. For example, if I want a finished size 7 ring, I would begin building on a mandrel ring size 10.

When I made rings out of PMC3, I made them 3 times larger than the desired size.
I have made three rings out of “960” clay that I have mixed myself, as opposed to commercially manufactured “Sterling” such as EZ960 Sterling and OneFire Sterling PMC. The “960” shrank 4 ring sizes. So, for my size 8 desired size, I need to build a ring in size 12!

Finger gauge

A Finger Gauge or Ring Sizing Set

This rule-of-thumb is applicable for an average ring and depends somewhat on the depth and width of your ring. If you have non-shrinking elements in your ring, they will prevent shrinking in their proximity, which is more relevent with narrower bands. The width determines how easily a ring slips over a knuckle, so the size then is dependent on the knuckle. Recently I had a novice clayer in my studio. She made this beefy ring, for herself. It was way too small when she finished it. It was made of PMC3, and she allowed for 3-sizes shrinkage. The fit could have been a knuckle issue and less of a size issue—but it definitely was too small. She spent as much time enlarging it on the ring mandrel as she did making it.

Connies' Ring

RioGrande recommends that when you use a flat or non-tapered ring mandrel to choose a mandrel 2 to 2 1/2 sizes larger than your target ring size to compensate for shrinkage when firing. They also recommended adding the plastic wrap or freezer paper, which adds a little in size. (Had the novice student done this with her ring, she’d be wearing it on her pinky instead of her ring finger.)

Ring Mandrel Set

Investment Plug? Investment is an amazing compound that in dry, hard form becomes a placeholder in metal clay work. There are round plugs or pellets that you can insert into your ring just before you fire it. This plug prevents your ring from shrinking smaller than the size of the investment pellet. If it prevents shrinking, then is it preventing the metal molecules to sinter as close and tight as possible thereby challenging the integrity of the metal? I really don’t know. I don’t use investment plugs for this little bit of unknown information and also because the one time I did, the ring shrunk around the investment plug and took on some of its texture. It was not a pretty site.

You can purchase pre-made ring Investment plugs . . . 

These are investment pellets or plugs called Hatties Patties among finished rings.

or make your own, using investment and molds.

Ring Pellet Mold

And if there is a need, there is a product. You can purchase metal-clay, ring-construction kits, too. Notice the smooth-progressive (upright ones) versus stepped (horizontal) mandrels .

Ring Construction Kit

By now you may have formed your own opinion about making metal-clay rings. Does any particular design appeal to you? Does it seem an easy process? 

My other questions are these. Would you like to see an online course with videos and photos on making rings? And which style(s) of ring? Please let me know.

For online courses in metal clay on other topics, go to I Love Silver, where you learn how to design and create your own silver creations.

© Kris A Kramer 2017