There are many ways to add color to metal clay; enameling (at least on silver and copper, alcohol inks, and colored pencil (on silver) are among the best known. I’m going to describe making a bronze pendant (titled ‘Deep Guardian’) and how to add color to it: Pebeo brand Moon Fantasy colors.
Pebeo Moon Fantasy is type of oil paint that is particularly well suited for painting on metal. Its colors are deep and lustrous, but not at all harsh, and therefore well suited for jewelry work. As with any oil paint, one should work in a well-ventilated area. I encourage you to use odorless paint thinner for cleaning your brushes. Traditional paint thinners smell terrible ;-), and odorless paint thinners do the job just as well.
For ‘Deep Guardian’, I started with a mental image of an orca (killer whale if you prefer, although ‘sea panda’ would also work 😉 ) swimming over a large stone. I worked with bronze clay, both because I like the look of bronze and, being the first piece I ever painted, I did not want to cover up silver. I started with a background piece, with a bezel cup that would eventually carry the stone. The texture was created using a texture sheet intended for polymer clay. I realized that not too much of the background texture would show, so I wanted to choose something that, when I finished, would have a pattern without the pattern being obvious.
Next, I found an image of an orca and carefully copied it in textured clay. Of course there were details to add, but that could be done later.
When both pieces were dry, I joined them. I added a few details to the orca, and refined the piece. Obviously, refining is not complete in this picture. However, it is far enough along for you to get the idea.
At this point, it is pretty much a standard pendant. I did more refining of the greenware and added a hidden bale. The bale is triangular in shape — this allows asymmetrical pieces like this one to hang straight.
I fired according to the package directions for the clay. Then I tumbled it.
At this point, you’re probably thinking ‘it doesn’t look that much like an orca’. Well, it didn’t, even though the shape was copied from a photo of a real animal. However, the Pebeo paints fixed that. It took several coats to get the color I wanted. When applying these paints, be patient. Allow each layer of paint to dry before applying the next.
All that was lacking was the stone and a chain. I chose a diorite, because I thought the green would look nice against the bronze. Since I did not patina the bronze, I chose a shiny chain. The completed piece, with a coin for scale, appears below.
Just as I had envisioned it — an orca swimming above a stone, with a background that more suggests than makes obvious a pattern.
Pebeo Moon Fantasy paints open a new world of color for metal clay jewelry. I hope you are encouraged to try it.