Oct 12, 2013

Tree of Life Pendant - Goldie Copper Metal Clay

Tree of Life by York Avenue Studio
Goldie Copper comes as a powder, with pulverized pure copper mixed with other ingredients.  Adding water to the powder will make a soft, clay-like dough.  The clay can be formed into shapes which allows the copper particles to be molded and manipulated into designs.  Once the clay dries, the hard clay can be further carved and shaped.  When the design is finished, and the copper is the desired shape, the piece is kiln-fired.  The high heat burns off everything that isn't copper, and at the same time, the copper particles sinter and connect to each other.  Just hot enough to connect them, not melt them.  Cooled, the piece is now pure copper in the shape designed, just a little smaller.

I usually start with a sketch.  This Boulder Opal was my inspiration and I wanted to create a pendant that resembled an owl in a tree.  The original design idea changes a bit along the process, and the sketch is a good reference to begin with.
The above photo shows the copper clay that was shaped and now air drying.  For my Tree of Life, I used actual plant pieces for texture.  The fresh-made clay is very pliable and can be re-worked if changes are needed.  Just gather up the clay, press it all together, and start again.  It does take practice to know the "feel" of the clay and whether it is too dry or wet for the intended design.

Once the clay is structurally firm enough to move, the pieces can be further dried on a warming plate.  The above photo shows an old coffee maker and the pieces are drying on the low heat.  I usually turn the warmer on until it is about 260F, then shut it off.  The heat shouldn't go too high at this stage.

The above photo shows the copper pieces after they were kiln fired.  They are smaller in size, but retained their designed shape. The copper has a colorful patina from the heat and the carbon used during firing.  The pieces can be burnished, polished and finished up.

Boulder Opal Owl Tree Pendant by York Avenue Studio

Tree of Life Boulder Opal Pendant by York Avenue Studio
Do you see the little owl on the branch?  Up close, his little eyes glow pink!  This is natural Australian Opal and has pastel glowing colors.  I think the owl looks very regal, with his wings tucked proudly and his posture at ease, as if he has stopped to survey the forest for any changes then looked over and saw you looking back at him!

The Boulder Opal is bezel set in fine silver, which I soldered to the pendant.  The necklace shown has garnet beads and twisted cotton cord.  The pendant coordinates will leather cord, also.

I hope you have enjoyed this behind the scenes story.  I have many more Boulder Opals, each one unique and each deserving a one-of-a-kind setting.


  1. gorgeous pendant & I can totally see the owl :)

  2. Kathy, you have always been so creative. This piece is gorgeous and once again demonstrates your unique eye for beauty and your passion to share it with everyone. Liz DeBacker Ackerman