Of course there is a million reasons why metal clay is so wonderful (and another million why it's not - just like with any other medium :-) ), but what I mean in this case is, that the smallest addition of metal clay can turn boring and very generic piece into something visually exciting. Less than 1 gram of hand sculpted metal clay can raise value of a piece twice, trice or even more.
So, is metal clay such an "expensive" technique (yes, I also hear this all the time)? I guess it simply depends on what you do with it. Of course you can make an "organic" (my favourite word :-P) silver ball, out of 50 grams of clay... It's just about using the medium for what it is the best.
And - by the way - is really "expensive" that important when we are talking about one-of-a-kind, where price of the final piece doesn't really have a lot to do with the price of metal (I am talking about silver or base metals)? Some people say that using a kiln is so pricey - I wonder if they ever made any calculations. I did and what can I say - this just doesn't bother my mind anymore.
Anyway - I guess that what I really wanted to say is, that we, metal clay people, are not a bunch of naive idiots who just can't learn anything else, so we stick to that ridiculously expensive plasticine ;-). It's usually a deliberate choice, which many times leads to very successful businesses.
Well, actually, a few minutes ago, when I started writing this post I had something totally different in mind, but...things happen ;-).
Ok, so just to show a few pictures :-). First I made this tiny element with flowers using silver metal clay and fired it with a few other pieces (because, guess what, metal clay kilns can fire a lot of pieces at once ;-), so the firing becomes even less expensive). Meanwhile I prepared a bezel for the stone and soldered it onto a piece of sterling sheet. I cut out some sheet from the inside of the bezel cup (to save on silver, show beautiful back of the stone, and because I wanted to use that piece of silver later).
I sweat soldered my sculpted piece onto that piece of silver that I cut out from the center of my bezel cup. I soldered a jump ring to the bezel cup, and joined two parts of my pendant.
Wait, soldering, sterling sheet, what? I remember, when I was discussing terms of teaching my Herbarium class in one of the countries I taught in this year, someone said "Why do you want to solder those bezels? The whole point of metal clay is not to solder.". Well, I don't agree with that. The point is to create jewellery using techniques that are the best for what I want to achieve.
This sounds almost smart and serious ;-).
That's why I think that the second most important thing is to keep your mind open and learn new things - whoever you are. The first one is to have fun with what you're doing :-).
Ok, and here you can see the back of the piece before setting the stone, and how both parts are connected. I just cut a strip of silver sheet and formed a bail that also caught the jump ring soldered to the bezel cup. I soldered the bail to the back of the upper part of my pendant, and that was it. Then just oxidizing, some finishing and setting the stone.
From technical point of view this is a super simple piece (and the traditional part took me a half of the day, because I still totally suck at it :-D - practice, practice, practice), but I really learned a lot by making it.
As for other things ;-)- I set up a Pinterest account recently. I am still not sure what's the point of the whole site, but, if you're into Pinterest, here you can find a board with some of my jewellery.