My dear friend Yvonne recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of the release of her first book Bronze Metal Clay. We celebrated with cupcakes.

Yummy but too-pretty-to-eat cupcakes created by another talented Rio associate, Mary Gallegos of our Inventory Management Team.

Cupcakes donning yummy icing, cleverly molded by a fellow Rio friend, into bronze-color replicas of several of the projects in Yvonne’s book. Pretty cool, huh?

Bronze Metal Clay hit the market just over a year ago, packed with 35 unique projects for metal clay enthusiasts to try out. Everything from beautifully bronzed jewelry to funky little sculptures to decorative accessories for the abode. Yvonne was already a hot commodity on Rio’s Tech Team and a favorite instructor among jewelry students. Now, her metal clay expertise, innovative ideas and tangible style are brandishing 128 pages for artists to enjoy. My friend Yvonne is now famous.

To mark the book’s anniversary, I thought it would be fun to take on one of the projects myself. And why not share the love and have our blog readers do the same? Why not make it interesting and have readers submit a photo of their finished pieces and have Yvonne choose a winner? A winner of a 200-gram package of BRONZclay™, a Dynasty Stamp sheet and a signed copy of Bronze Metal Clay(to try out the other 34 projects)? Sure, why not!

So, in the name of synergistic art, in the name of competition, in the name of awesome loot, join me in the BRONZclay™ Challenge!

I’ve included the chosen project below for you to follow, although I have to say, choosing one wasn’t easy. I considered the bold “Olympian Cuff” (that’s great on days when channeling Wonder Woman is a good idea). Or the “Coasters del Sol” (because the water marks on my coffee table are starting to resemble really bad Pop Art). Or, the “Lava Bead Necklace” (a sentimental favorite because Yvonne made the mold for the beads from some lava beads I brought back for her from New York).

bathroom cabinet, sans “Designer Knobs”

In the end, practicality won. I have a handmade bathroom cabinet that desperately needs drawer pulls, and an antique-looking metal pull would be grand in my vintage-style bathroom. So, I chose the “Designer Knobs” project.

BRONZclay™ Challenge Rules:

  • Make a knob or drawer pull out of BRONZclay™ using the steps from the “Designer Knobs” project below as a guideline. The only requirement? You must use BRONZclay™. Otherwise, incorporate any additional materials you like. Hint: Yvonne’s been into color, resins and hand-carvings lately.
  • Submit a photograph and description of your finished designer knobs no later than October 6 using the Comments field of this post. Tell us about your piece, what you used, the inspiration behind it, even submit photos along the way if you like.

That’s it! On October 12, we’ll announce the winner!

The following excerpt from Bronze Metal Clay will help you get started:


©2010 “Designer Knobs” by Yvonne M. Padilla

It seems like whenever I’m looking for a new cabinet door pull, I can’t find one that I truly love. In fact, my kitchen cabinets still don’t have door pulls because I haven’t found a design that I like. Well, now I can have custom door pulls on each cabinet, bringing personality into the room!


  • Basic metal clay tools and supplies (roller, olive oil, blending tools, playing cards or risers, spray bottle with water, needle tool, sanding tools, craft knife)
  • Interestingly patterned button, 1 to 1-1/2 inches (2.5 to 3.8cm in diameter) [for the CHALLENGE, use whatever decorative elements you like!]
  • Two-part molding compound
  • Steel screw, ½ inch (1.3cm) long (see tip below)
  • Steel screw, 1-1/4 inches (3.2cm) long
  • Drying tray (optional)
  • Finishing and patina supplies of your choice

TIP: A steel or stainless-steel screw won’t fuse to the bronze clay when fired. Avoid using any screw that is galvanized. This type of screw reacts with the clay during firing and will fuse to it.


Making the Face of the Cabinet Pull

  1. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to mix the two-part molding compound. Press the entire face of a button into the molding compound. It should be pressed in until the compound comes up to the same level as the back side of the button. Allow the mold to cure completely, and then remove the button.
  2. Place a lump of bronze clay on your work surface. Use the rolling pin to roll a clay slab that is six cards thick. Place the clay slab onto the mold. Use your fingers to press the clay into the mold, transferring the texture onto the clay.
  3. Gently remove the textured clay from the mold, and place it on your work surface. Use a needle tool to cut away any excess clay around the molded surface. Let the clay dry completely.
  4. Use an emery file to smooth the edges of the dry, molded clay. Use 400-grit sandpaper to sand the back of the clay completely flat. This element is the face of the pull.


Making the Cabinet Pull Stem

  1. Roll a lump of bronze clay into a log that is approximately ¼ inch (6mm) in diameter. Trim the log so it is ¾ inch (1.9cm) long.
  2. Using a needle tool, pierce a centered pilot hole into one end of the log. The hole should be approximately ¼ inch (6mm) deep.
  3. Gently twist the end of the ½-inch-long (1.3cm) steel screw into the pilot hole until the head of the screw meets the end of the log. As you rotate the screw into the log, take care not to distort the shape of the clay. Set the log aside to dry naturally.
  4. Remove the screw from the dry clay. File both ends of the log completely flat with an emery file.
  5. Apply a small amount of olive oil or lubricant to the threads of the ½-inch-long (1.3cm) screw. (This allows the screw to be more easily removed from the clay after firing.) Gently twist the small screw back into the hole, carefully following its interior thread pattern.


Assembling the Cabinet Pull

  1. Place the molded clay facedown on your work surface. Find and lightly mark the center of the clay with a pencil. This is where the stem will be placed.
  2. Apply a large dollop of thick slip to the pencil mark. Position the end of the stem without the screw perpendicular to the back of the face, and press the stem into the slip. Allow the slip to dry completely.
  3. Roll a piece of bronze clay into a thin snake. Wrap the snake around the base of the stem where it’s attached to the face. Use a paintbrush to apply a small amount of water to the surface of the snake.
  4. Use a blending tool to join the snake and the seam until completely smooth. Place the assembled cabinet pull on a drying tray and let the joint dry completely. Gently sand the dry joint with 400-grit sandpaper.Accept the BRONZclay Challenge!

Firing & Finishing the Pull

  1. Place the cabinet pull, with the screw in place, into either activated coconut or coal carbon. Fire the clay in the kiln according to firing instructions.
  2. Use a screwdriver to remove the screw from the stem of the fired cabinet pull. (It may seem tough to remove the screw, but all it will take is a bit of force and some patience.) Once the screw is removed, replace it with a new, unfired screw that is 1-1/4 inches (3.2 cm) long.
  3. Finish the door pull as desired. This project features pulls that have been oxidized, polished, and sealed with lacquer to protect the patina.

©2010 Yvonne M. Padilla

Happy creating!