Metal Clay Books & Classes

handmade clay tile book frank giorginiMy silver charm designs for Hint Jewelry have been directly inspired by one of my favorite ceramic artists Frank Giorgini. His book Handmade Tiles has been my sculptural bible for at last 10 years.

Previously, while residing in Detroit, Michigan, I became an avid fan of Pewabic Pottery, truly a living treasure of the Arts and Crafts movement. Like other Michigan artists such as Gretchen Kramp and Melanie of Earthenwood Studio, I found inspiration in the Pewabic tile that surrounded me and looked for a way to put my own spin on it.

elk ceramic glazed tile beth hemmilaWinter Elk, Beth Hemmila: ceramic

For several years, I delved into creating architectural tiles with gusto, focusing mainly on animal themes. Winter Elk is one of my first hand pressed tiles. I loved the immediacy of being able to sculpt clay, create plaster relief molds, and play with the spontaneous nature of glaze.

metal clay book sherri haabNevertheless, I came to a point where I needed to downsize my life by making the most out of a small studio space and minimizing the amount of time it took to create art. These life constraints prompted me to look for a way to shrink my sculptural work into something more portable and efficient.

While waiting for a breakfast table at a local diner, I wandered into Dava Bead & Trade and found myself face to face with something I had been overlooking for a long time -- seeing jewelry as small, intimate, wearable art. I immediately started taking classes, working my way up to translating my ceramic relief tiles into metal clay charms.

If you are interested in learning more about metal clay, I recommend taking some books out of the library or treating yourself to Sherri Haab's The Art of Metal Clay. I spent countless hours perusing many different metal clay books, but Sherri Haab's clear instructions, simple projects, and concise technical information has been the only metal clay book I have kept on my shelf. Sherri Haab is a great teacher, so be sure to visit her Web site that explores metal clay, fiber, polymer, resin, and mixed media or check out her video on YouTube to get a taste for working with metal clay.

silver gazelle antelope charm hint jewelryJana, Beth Hemmila (Hint Jewelry): fine silver

I came to metal clay after years of exploring sculpture in paper, fiber, mixed media, metal, and ceramic. Every technique I learned in these other mediums informs the work that I do in metal clay. If you are ready to embark on a journey into metal clay, I invite you to look at your current style and techniques and see how you might apply your previous knowledge to this new medium.

I recommend taking at least one class, so that you can benefit from a teacher's tips and experience as well as drawing on the camaraderie and inspiration of your creative classmates. Check out your local bead shop or art center for classes in metal clay or if you want to put a girls night out party together search for a Lilly Ollo near you and create fun heirloom charms with your friends.

If you prefer staying in the comfort of your own home, check out these online metal clay tutorials at Metal Clay Supply, featuring jewelry giants such as Hattie Sanderson and Tim McCreight.


  1. Your Winter Elk ceramic tile is just beautiful! as is the Jana bead. I just love your work.
    If you are interested in playing, I have an award for you over at my blog :)

  2. Interesting that you went from large to small. I find myself tending that way as well. But now the small starts to inform the larger. I love Frank Giorgini's book. And like you, it something of a bible of techniques for me.

  3. I too have that fabulous handmade tile book. It's filled with so many beautiful inspirations!

    What an amazing artist journey you have taken. Thanks for sharing it with us. It's always fascinating to learn how other artists arrived at their craft.

  4. Thank you for this valuable information. I am drawn to the primitive nature of your Winter Elk tile...I can see why you chose to transform your work into PMC. I love ceramics because of the earthiness, luscious glazes and textures, but PMC is also earthy, but in a more sophisticated vibe.

  5. Muchas gracias for the award Sandra! Glad you love the Elk and appreciate knowing my charms have that same beauty.

    LeAnn and Debbie, how cool to find other lovers of Frank Giorgini's book. I love coming out of the art closet!! I'll have to pay attention now to when I work big and see if I experience something new from working small. What fun to look forward to this :)

    Thanks Sharon for seeing the earthy connection in my metalwork. I hadn't thought of it in that way before, but now you've brought a whole new layer of meaning to light for me!


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