After finishing the piece below, the client decided she wanted a smaller version, and with a moonstone instead of an opal.
I could have just started over. However, there is a better solution. (I sold the piece above, sized as is, to someone else.) The solution to the original client wanting a smaller version of the same pendant was simple. And now, I share the information with you, in case you ever need to do the same thing.
I made the original piece of PMC 3, my usual silver clay. Fortunately, I let the client see the piece before it was patinaed or had the the opal put in place. I knew the client wanted a smaller pendant. And so, before applying patina or the opal, I made a mold of the piece using a two part molding compound. The picture below depicts the mold and the original silver pendant, fresh out of the tumbler.
FYI Silver Clay is not a brand that I use very often — nothing against it, other than I am used to working with PMC and Art Clay. However, FYI silver shrinks by about 25% when firing. I bought some FYI clay and used it with the mold above. The molded version, in greenware and with a bezel cup attached to hold the stone, appears below.
It was fired according to package directions (FYI requires a higher firing temperature than PMC 3 or Art Clay silver). It was then tumbled, in the usual manner. The fired and tumbled piece appears below.
I decided to make the new piece different from the original in ways other than just size. I made a liver of sulfur solution and added clear ammonia and table salt. This combination can produce lovely colored patinas. However, the color that you wind up with is somewhat unpredictable. At best, one can influence, and not control, the color. This time, the color came out nicely — a brilliant blue with some purple highlights. As the client’s request, I used a moonstone — Raven Steals the Moon, an equally important myth of the native people of south-eastern Alaska.
As you can see, the resulting piece was about 25% smaller than the original (both the original and the piece made with the mold are photographed with a coin, so you can see the size.) The client was happy. I was happy, because I had sold two piece from what was originally supposed to be one.
So, if you find yourself in the position of needing to make a smaller copy of a completed piece, I recommend the following steps: using two-part molding compound, make a mold; use a clay that shrinks considerably with the mold, and make a copy; finish, fire, polish, and patina the resulting piece as you would any work in metal clay. Who knows? Maybe you, too, will be able to sell two pieces when you intended one 😉