Rings Overview 2017 - Part 1


The year 2017 is important here in my title, because as metal clay continues to evolve what might be true in 2017 will likely not be applicable in a few years. I will update these with new info.

The two organizational flow diagrams in Rings Overview 2017 - Parts 1 & 2 are my way of thinking. I came up with these as I pondered creating an online course on rings. The topic of metal-clay rings was overwhelming. With regards to rings, there are so many options that I go into option shock and become stymied as to what I want to make and where I might begin. Compound this with the fact that if you make goods to sell, then you would make each ring in a variety of sizes. 

The most common ring size in America is different for men and women and most likely from demographic to demographic. Men’s average ring size is from 10 to 11 while women’s average size is from 6 to 7. Where I live, the average woman’s size is 8. Why is this? Because I live in Montana, where my typical client is not the refined, city-block jogging, have-your-nails done, size 2 woman. My client skis, rides mountain bikes or horses, runs marathon fundraisers, and hikes to mountain tops. So, ring style and size truly depend on the profile of your customer.

Here is the first flow diagram and the sub-topics that are explained below.

Rings Flow Chart

The first decision you come to is this. Do you want to make a ring with a specific size or do you want to make it adjustable?

- Adjustable

Adjustable typically translates into the ring not being closed, so that one can gently bend the metal to make a smaller or larger ring. I would not try to make an adjustable ring that fits sizes 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. It would safe to adjust a size 7 to a 6 or 8 at the most.

Since 2016, manufacturers make sterling silver metal clay that is strong while easy to use, making possible more designs and features for rings made of metal clay. One can safely make a ring on the flat, fire it, then shape and size it around a ring mandrel. Cools Tools has a video with Lisel Crowley, "EZ960™ Sterling Adjustable Bezel Ring,” that you can view. Two styles of adjustable rings include a ring with many wraps as in Lisel’s ring and a simpler ring in the shape of a C that is almost closed.

You can also make adjustable rings using a form, such as a mandrel. Here is an example of a ring made by wrapping the fresh sterling silver clay around a mandrel. This ring was sized after it was finished, to a size 8.

Adjustable rings can have an added decorative element, as long as the element does not interfere with adjusting the ring. 

- Sized

- - Purchased Ring Liner The most precise way to make a metal clay ring that is the exact size you want is to purchase a premade ring shank or liner. The ones below are from Metal Clay Findings online.

You build fresh metal clay on top of the shank or liner. When you fire the ring, the liner stays the same in size and your clay shrinks around it. You can imagine if you did not compensate for your clay's shrinkage, then you might find lines where liner meets clay. To not have a seam you can either apply your wet clay over and around the liner’s edge or polish away (remove) the seam when finishing the ring.

16-1161 4 copy

This bronze ring shows the line, as well as the difference, between the ring liner and the added metal clay.

You can add decorative elements on this type of ring. While I have a Tidbits & Tricks on “Adhering PMC3 to PMC3,” “Joining PMC3 Pieces Dry to Dry,” and “Joining Fired Pieces of PMC3” I do not have one on joining wet metal clay to manufactured silver or fired metal clay. My recommendation for working with manufactured ring liners is to follow the guidelines and principles in “Joining Fired Pieces of PMC3.”

- - Made from Clay

I divided Made-from-Clay rings into three groups: Single Band(s), With Top Element, and Spinner. Knowing that there are two steps in the process in which metal clay will shrink, take a moment to consider wrapping your clay around a mandrel to build it. The first shrinkage occurs when wet clay dries. Because of this shrinkage, I slide my ring off the mandrel before it is fully dry or before it separates at the seam. A constant baby-sitting (ring-sitting) is required. The second shrinkage occurs during the firing process. I talk about this in Part 2.

- - - Single Band(s)

When you wrap your fresh clay around a mandrel there will obviously be a seam where the ends meet (or overlap). You have some choices: you can try to work the seam to make it disappear, the seam can remain as a visible seam, or the seam can be hidden by any additional element with which you adorn your ring.

- - - With Top Element

You can add any kind of decorative element to any ring. Try to avoid adding elements to the sides of the ring, making your ring uncomfortable to wear. If you use CZs or other items that can fire at 1650, you can fire those in place. 

Four rings smaller

If you use a gemstone or any other item of material that would burn up, you will need to set that stone or item after firing.

15-1025 onhand sm

 - - - Spinner

Spinner rings consist of a single band with the sides of the band wide, large, or deep enough to hold a top smaller band in place. One can make spinners using a thin layer of Fire or Fiber Paper. Fiber paper can be used between metal clay pieces that are layered or in another way touching, to make sure the layers or would-be touching components remain separate during and after the firing process.                                                                               

I do not have a photo of a spinner ring, but I wear this spinner charm on a necklace a lot. The little flower spins in its groove.

12-678 1

This ends Part 1 of Rings Overview 2017.

Here is the second flow diagram and the sub-topics that will be explainedin Rings Overview 2017 - Part 2.

Sized Ring

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