"Techniques in Silver Metal Clay: Building a Complex Panel Bracelet" by Jonna Faulkner

October 10-11th, 2009 - Tucson Arizona

Written by Gail and Carl Pitts

On the weekend of October 10-11 Jonna Faulkner visited Tucson to teach her metal clay workshop. The workshop was held at the Every Voice in Action Foundation facility located at 2851 N. Country Club Road in Tucson.  The Foundation provides their meeting space, free of charge, to non-profit organizations such as ADC.  Our thanks to the Foundation for letting us use the facility.

Jonna earned her BA in English and American Literature from Hunter College in New York City and spent several years working as a writer or, in her words,  “a wordsmith”. In 1994 her career path changed when a friend dragged her (kicking and screaming all the way) to a bead working class at The Shepherdess in San Diego, CA.  She discovered a love for working with her hands and began taking other classes in beading on fabric, bead stringing, off-loom bead weaving, micro-macramé and wire working.  In 1999 she took her first class in metal clay and she was hooked.  She became a Certified Senior Teacher with Art Clay Silver and earned a certificate in PMC through the Rio Rewards Program.  She began teaching metal clay classes at The Shepherdess in 2000.  She has taught classes at retreats in Santa Fe, NM and at Gwen Gibson's studio in Durfort, France.  The past three summers she has taught metal clay classes at the Idyllwild Summer Arts Program for Adults in California.  She also teaches out of her home studio in San Diego where she lives with her husband Steve Rossman (a talented photographer and visual artist) and her dog Leo.

She was a contributor to Volume 1 of Exceptional Works Metal Clay Showcase Books and two of her pieces are featured projects in Jackie Truty’s book “Art Clay Silver and Gold”. In December 2006, she was the featured artist of the online publication Art Clay World USA.  Her work was included in Holly Gage’s calendar “The Art and Design of Metal Clay Jewelry and More 2009” and her work will again be included in Holly’s 2010 callender. She is an active member of the Bead Society of San Diego County and the Metal Clay Alchemists Society of San Diego County.  She is also a member of our own Southern Chapter of Arizona Designer Craftsmen.  Visit Jonna’s website to see more of her work and a list of her classes.

Jonna began the class by discussing how the panel bracelet can be created either as a running theme where each panel is a continuation of the preceding panel or as a collage where each panel is created independent of the others. She discussed the techniques of working with metal clay for those who needed a brush-up.

She presented two of her bracelets that are shown in these photos to illustrate the many techniques that the students would use to create panels and join them together to create their own bracelets.

Jonna had the students try on her bracelets to check for fit and estimate the size and number of the panels they would need for their bracelets.

She demonstrated applying textures to the metal clay.  In this photo we see her showing how to use a plastic deodorant dispenser to layout and curve the panels for the bracelet.

Jonna talked about the methods for setting stones that can be fired with the art clay.  She cautioned that very few natural stones can be set using this method.  These photos show Jonna’s demonstration pieces and a student’s panels that used this method for setting their stones.  She also cautioned that, because pearls are delicate, prone to breaking or scratching and cannot be subjected to heat, they should be added to a piece as the last step.



This piece shows how silver bezel cups were added to the panels 2,3,7 and 10 so that natural stones could be set after the panels had been fired.  This piece also illustrates a bracelet that was created with a continuing theme.


She demonstrated using small molds to create shapes such as flowers, leaves and geometric designs and using a syringe to create vines, barnacles and filigree.  The photo above shows examples of panels created using these techniques.  It also shows how the clay can be textured to create a pleasing background.

Jonna showed the class how to apply Keum Boo, an ancient Korean method used to bond thin sheets of gold to silver.  This picture shows several panels of a bracelet that have been gilded using this technique.

Jonna told us that students often find that panels that have been fired don’t have the right curvature.  One of the nice features of metal clay is that it can still be gently shaped after firing.  In this photo she is using the head of a Delrin hammer and a swage block to reshape a bracelet panel.

In this photo Jonna is showing us how to lay out the finished panels and measure them for drilling so that the bracelet can be assembled.  Once the bracelet is assembled a patina can be added using liver of sulphur or highlighted with a burnisher or in a tumbler.


Time ran out before most of the students finished their bracelets so there was some homework to be done. Here is one example of a finished bracelet. I hope other class participants will provide photos of their  bracelets to be added to the ADC Photo Gallery. Thank you Jonna for a great weekend and for sharing you tchniques with us.

The photographs presented here are by Jorga Riggenbach and Jeanne Jerousek-McAninch.  Check out the ADC web site for more photos of this and other ADC workshops.
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