We’re All Ears February Earring Design Challenge

copper flowers earring flat

Faux copper earrings from polymer clay.

The inspiration for the February “We’re All Ears” earring design challenge was a photo of a statue on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  The statue is an 18th century standing Buddha.

The Buddha statue is copper alloy with gilding. It has a rich assortment of textures, shapes, and symbolism to inspire earring designs.

As copper is my favorite metal, I immediately knew I wanted my earrings to be copper.  However, as my metal smithing skills are still in their infancy, and I haven’t yet accumulated much in the way of tools, I decided to fake it with polymer clay.

For my first pair of earrings, I textured a sheet of copper-colored polymer clay with a wave pattern similar to that on the Buddha’s robe. I cut out smallish circles and cured them with a domed shape. After curing, I added a real copper metal coating using Swellegant, and then gave them an aged look with a chemical patina. They make a nice simple pair of earrings hanging on natural copper ear wires.

Copper Waves Earrings

Wavy textured copper discs with a rustic green patina on natural copper ear wires.

The next pair of earrings also began with some textured copper-colored polymer clay.  Since I planned to metal coat them, I could have used any color of clay. But why not use copper when I have it? This time the texture was inspired by the flower at the base of the Buddha statue. After curing the domed discs I applied the same Swellegant copper metal coating and patina. I wanted this pair to be longer so connected them to the dark oxidized copper ear wires with some wire-wrapped Czech glass and copper beads.

copper flower disc earrings

The discs on this pair of earrings have a stamped flower design. The patina on the copper metal coating is accented by the blue-green Czech glass beads.

There were many inspiring textures and shapes in the Buddha statue but I kept coming back to the wave pattern in the robe. So my final pair of earrings for this design challenge are similar to the first.  They have the same wave texture but this time I coated the polymer clay with bronze metal.  Using the same chemical patina on bronze gave a darker richer green than on the copper. I added bronzy purple Czech glass beads to connect the discs to the dark oxidized bronze ear wires.

Bronze Waves Earrings

These earrings feature bronze metal coated polymer clay discs with a rich patina. They dangle on darkened bronze ear wires.

Thanks to our hostess, Erin Prais-Hintz, for another fun inspiration.  I always look forward to seeing what she finds for these monthly earring design challenges. Be sure to hop over to the Earrings Every Day blog to see what Erin created for this month’s theme.

20 thoughts on “We’re All Ears February Earring Design Challenge

  1. Kathy Lindemer

    Well done! I was amazed when I read that you made these earrings the first pair of earrings from polymer clay. I was sure they were copper. All are perfect for the inspiration and very cool looking.

    1. Tammy Adams Post author

      Thank you, Kathy. The Swellegant system is pretty awesome for faking metal on a surface. I could have done a faux patina on the polymer clay with acrylic paints, but the metal coating makes it possible to get a real patina.

  2. Fiona Robertson

    Amazing, these really do look like copper! Love the patina effects you have achieved, perfectly ‘aged’ for this very ancient inspiration. Good Luck with your metalsmithing explorations xx

    1. Tammy Adams Post author

      Thank you, Fiona. I admit it’s taken me longer to get set up and underway with the metalsmithing because it is possible to “fake” metal with polymer clay. But I’ll get there.

  3. JerylS

    You did a GREAT job! I especially love the flower inspired pair and the bronze too! The use of Swellegant metal coating is brilliant! We’ll done!

    1. Tammy Adams Post author

      Thanks so much, Jeryl. Normally copper is my favorite, but in this case, I really do love the patina I got on the bronze.

  4. Erin Prais-Hintz

    They really do look like metal! I am always amazed at how polymer clay can be a chameleon. Love the textures. Perfect for the challenge! Thanks for playing along with me on the Earrings Everyday challenge. I wonder what the next challenge will be? You will have to come back on March 4th to find out! Enjoy the day! Erin

    1. Tammy Adams Post author

      Thank you, Erin. I think the only limit to what polymer clay can mimic is imagination. I’ve seen fabulous convincing faux versions of so many substances. And I will definitely stay tuned for the next challenge.

    1. Tammy Adams Post author

      Thank you, Divya. I was very pleased that the patina cooperated. It isn’t always the case that you get what you’re after with chemical patinas.

  5. Sarajo Wentling

    All three pairs are great! I love what you achieved with color and texture with the polymer clay. That second pair is my fave… the color in the Czech glass you added is perfect with the patina!

    1. Tammy Adams Post author

      Thank you, Sarajo. I happened to find those Czech glass beads when I was tearing up my workspace in search of the little copper beads. I didn’t even remember ordering them and there were still in their mailing envelope (with a bunch of other forgotten strands).

    1. Tammy Adams Post author

      Thank you, Beth. And oh, I can barely begin to imagine what fabulousness would result if you got ahold of some Swellegant.

  6. Nan Smith

    Great earrings,Tammy! I love the look you achieved by using polymer clay and Swellegant. Now you’ve given me something else to buy! Love you patterns and textures but the wavy ones are my favourites. Wonderful response to the challenge.

    1. Tammy Adams Post author

      Thanks so much, Nan. And yes, you should definitely try Swellegant. I didn’t use them for this challenge, but there also dye oxides to take the patina colors to the next level.

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