SATURN BEADS
BY GINNY NEWMAN





The Saturn bead is a cool bead that can spin inside a ring. Use these for focus beads or earrings. Make a bunch of smaller ones for a necklace! Lots of ideas!







You will need:

  • Clay of your choice
  • Round Cutters in 1 inch, 1 1/8 inch and 1 inch sizes
  • Roller or brayer (NOT a pasta machine)
  • Paper, pencil and scissors
  • Long pin for hole making
  • Sand paper
  • Buffer
  • Oven
STEP ONE:

Start by making a template of the 1 inch cutter. Place the cutter on the paper and draw around it. Cut out the circle and fold in half to find the center. Mark the center on each side of the circle. You'll need this to make sure your holes are perfectly centered. VERY IMPORTANT! Preheat your oven to 250 degrees now.

STEP TWO:

Condition your clay and roll it into a ball. Press it flat with your fingers. You want to keep the clay thick -- about 3/8 of an inch -- so you can get a nice large hole in it. Roll it flat with the roller or brayer. A pasta machine gets the clay too thin.





STEP THREE:

Using the 1 inch cutter (I usually dip mine in water so the clay doesn't stick inside the cutter), cut out your clay. Lift the clay from work surface and smooth out the edges with your fingers. The more smoothing you do before baking, the less sanding you do after baking!





STEP FOUR:

Lay the paper template on the cut-out clay. Be sure the clay is centered on the paper. Use the long pin to make your hole (do one side halfway, then turn to the other side and poke halfway till you meet in the center).





STEP FIVE:

Place the clay on your baking surface and place in preheated oven for one minute and no longer than one minute! Take it from me, longer is not better. Count out the 60 seconds. This helps the clay set up a bit for the rest of the project.

If you are using gold clay, do not do this step. Gold sets much faster than other colors and cracks during the next step. Voice of experience here.



STEP SIX:

After removing it from oven, allow the clay to cool a bit. Place the clay on your work surface, and, using the 1 1/8 inch cutter, cut out the middle of the circle. Do whatever you need to be sure the cutter is placed in the center before you cut. Centering is very important!





STEP SEVEN: Remove the center bead. Use the 1-inch cutter to cut the second bead smaller. This will allow it to spin inside the ring. Again, centering is very important! If it's not centered, the bead will not spin and will hit on one side of the ring.








STEP EIGHT:

Find the hole again on the smaller inside bead. Cutting twice makes the hole close. You should be able to tell where the hole is by looking at the top of the bead. There will be a small ridge across the top where the pin went though. Re-drill the hole and smooth all edges of the clay with your fingers. See step three.





STEP NINE:

Bake the beads together on the pin. Arrange the outer ring so it is round. The inner bead should be the same width away from the ring all the way around. If not, tug a bit on the outer ring until it is. Mine, shown in the photograph, is wet because I use a drop of water and my finger to smooth out the fingerprints before baking.





STEP TEN:

Bake using the manufacturer's instructions. I bake for 20 minutes at 275. If using translucent clay, have a dish of ice water ready. Be sure the dish is large enough to hold the beads AND the pin. You don't want to take the beads off the pin until they are cold, cold, cold!





STEP ELEVEN:

Sand, sand, sand. Buff, buff, buff until you like it! I would not recommend using any glaze on these beads. Glaze will add thickness to both the bead and ring and you may find that the bead won't fit inside the ring after glazing!

Experiment with this bead. Make smaller versions for earrings. Marble the clay; do Mokume Gane. Millefiore canes would look cool. Cut an extra circle out of the middle bead and add a round crystal or glass bead inside that! Make the inside bead a sphere instead of a disc bead. Use contrasting colors for the front and back so when the middle bead twists, a whole new set of colors is revealed! Instead of the outside being round, make it any shape you have a cutter for! Make the outside a heart shape with a round bead inside it. So many ideas, so little time in the day!

 

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