Donna Penoyer – Master Muse Challenge #46

MasterMusesDesignChallenge46 - Donna Penoyer

Donna Penoyer Hero 5

Donna shares with us a quick synopsis of the steps she takes to create her magnificent pierced lantern in metal clay.

We hope the tutorial will serve to inspire you to create! No matter if you just get out your sketch book and draw a similar project based on these challenges. It's a place to start. It's a way to start off your day in the right frame of mind with a creative exercise!

Donna says "The word 'piercing' in metal work, though most often referring to what one does to sheet metal with a jeweler’s saw, instead reminds me of pushing a nail or skewer through something, such as in the making of those punched tin lanterns that cast patterns of light on the walls. When I got this assignment, my imagination immediately went toward a lantern shape, in the round, which I thought would make a lovely pendant and a challenging piercing experiment.

I also thought of the paper lanterns with cutouts, which turn around a lightbulb or candle and cast a moving picture. Instead of radiating light, this pendant’s inner source is a moving screen of color in the form of a polymer clay insert that turns and shifts seamlessly from blue to green and back to blue again.

For those of you hesitant to try piercing the 40 holes in this cylindrical design, I have good news for you: I was hesitant, too, at first. But it was infinitely easier than I thought it could be, and really, really rewarding. Give it a try!"

If you are interested in the full step-by-step tutorial please stay tuned. It will be available at Whole Lotta Whimsy. They will be in a handy bench format too! This tutorial looks like it will be over 80 pictures with tons of detail in this #46 Tutorial!

In this tutorial you will learn:

  • How to create a hollow lantern shaped-pendant from metal clay
  • How to pierce bone dry metal clay piece using the negative space for the design
  • How to refine and perfect greenware metal clay through filing and sanding
  • How to tube rivet
  • How to work with polymer clay: creating a Skinner Blend, sanding and curing
  • How to create a wire bail and cold connect elements together

01 Roll out silver metal clay and wrap around a PVC pipe armature. Make sure the seam is secure. Let it dry. Once it seems mostly dry, remove it from the pipe.  Then let it dry completely.

Perfect the seam. Fill in gaps with clay or thick paste/slip.

Sand the ends of the cylinder flat.

In the full tutorial, Donna takes you through every single detail in creating the size, armature, seams, in 15+ fully detailed steps. Donna doesn’t recommend cutting out the negative space in a piece that is not flat. This is because as you mold it into that shape (by draping, wrapping, etc), those negative spaces will get distorted. Her method results in uniformity and much less frustration!


02 Wrap a piece of paper around your finished bone dry cylinder and mark the length. Measure the strip length. Draw out the length on graph paper. Designate a strip for the top and bottom, for strength, without design. Decide on your pattern and draw it onto the graph paper. Donna includes all the math in the full tutorial so you can make the same or similar pattern.

Trim the design carefully and cut away the extra graph paper.

03 Tape this to the cylinder and copy the lines onto the cylinder. Donna shows you how to make your own transfer paper or you can purchase transfer paper such as Saral.

Remove graph paper and retrace the lines. Make sure there are ample bridges or positive space where elements connect.

04 Using a drill bit and hand-held pin vise, make the holes in each "negative” area, or space that material will be removed.

05 Using a special drill bit, in a rotary flexshaft with a foot pedal, using low speed, cut a swath through the dry clay. Don’t forget to catch your metal clay for reconstituting.

Again Donna shares many helpful techniques, her findings and strategies in the full tutorial available soon at Whole Lotta Whimsy. She also shares what to watch out for, how to fix cracks and more! Too many steps and tips for this blog!

06 Using Diamond Toothpick Files file the lines straight and clean. Using a folded Superfine 3M Sanding Sponge gently sand the outside of the cylinder. Remove any imperfections from the inside.

07 Roll out the silver metal clay and cut out the circle with a needle tool. Make a second disk. Set aside to dry.

Roll out additional silver metal clay and cut out two smaller disks with a smaller pattern cutter for added ornamentation.

Dry and sand the edges. Add the smaller discs to the larger discs using silver metal clay paste (or slip).

Drill a hole through the center of the discs.

08 Roll out a silver metal clay snake. Make 2 u-shaped loops. Let them dry. Sand the ends flat and then attach them to the discs with paste.

09Attach the top disc to the cylinder with paste. Dry completely and sand to perfect using 280, 400 and 600 grit.

10 Make a decorative dangle piece out of metal clay. Shown is a 1/2" small hollow disc form. Donna shows how to use fine silver wire to add a u-shaped eye on which to attach the dangle.

Fire all the pieces in a kiln at 1650F for 45 minutes. Be sure to place the cylinder on potters sand or alternatively alumina hydrate. Be sure to wear a particulate mask when using and handling these products.

11 After firing, drill out the holes, so they are just smaller than the tubing which will serve as the tube rivet. Slowly file the hole to make it the size of the tubing.

12 Wrap a piece of paper around the fired cylinder. Measure length and then width. Remove some of the length so the cylinder is smaller than the measurement of the metal clay fired cylinder. Make a template out of graph paper.

Condition the polymer clay, roll it out and cut it into the desired size. Mend the seam and perfect.

Cure in a pre-heated, dedicated non-food toaster to the mfg instructions. It is wise to also use an oven thermometer.

13 Make a skinner blend to cover the polymer cylinder made in step 12. In the full tutorial Donna takes you through all the steps.

Apply a few drops of Liquid Sculpey to the surface to ensure a bond between the inner polymer cylinder and the skinner blend layer.

Cure again in the toaster oven.

Wet sand to perfect the polymer surface. Make sure you check the fit inside the fired pierced metal clay cylinder.

14 Using both a tumbler for 60-90 minutes and the 3M Radial Disks to polish the fired silver components.

15 Fill the cylinder with scrap polymer clay. Again use Liquid Sculpey inside the walls.

Press the bottom cap into the polymer. Attach the bottom cap using Liquid Sculpey.

16 Carefully thread the silver tubing through the end caps and through the polymer clay.

Cure in the toaster oven again.

17 Now it’s time to rivet the tubing, add a bail and the dangle!

Donna’s design is engineered expertly, not to mention absolutely beautiful! Everything an art piece should be!

This is an amazing tutorial filled with so many techniques and valuable tips! Her actual tutorial has over 120 actual steps and photos. Truly a class with no detail left out or kept from the student.

I know, I know, hurry and up and make it available. Slowly but surely we are catching up here at Whole Lotta Whimsy and will have it available as soon as we can!

Each of these Master Muse class tutorials exposes new techniques to even the most seasoned of instructors and makers. I'm always surprised at how differently each artist approaches a challenge and how their skills allow them to execute a creative result. I learn at least one valuable shortcut or new technique in each tutorial.

These are affordable classes that you can take in your studio, at your pace, with all the details and more that you would get in a live class. Not to mention that they are scrupulously edited and if the details aren't there, I ask for more info and pictures.

We'd love to see you take the challenge and make this or a similar piece as well. Can't wait to see your pieces. Send them and we'll post pictures in a future Challenge Gallery. Challenge yourself!

Don't forget to leave a comment. Our artists would really like to hear from you. They’ve put a lot of work into sharing their artistry and gifts with the readers. Share with us your thoughts and whether it will inspire you to make a piece as well.

Our next FREE give-away will be a mystery grab bag of goodies, to be revealed in future tutorials. Your odds are pretty darn good at winning so don’t be shy and participate in the discussion (and in our tribe).

How to win? Leave a comment on every blog (even older posts) or get two entries for tweeting, putting it on Facebook, the Metal Clay Yahoo Gallery forum, your blog etc. Just send us a copy of the link to! Let your friends know how to make their Wednesday's rock…. with of course, the Master Muse Tutorial launch!

Donna Penoyer started out her artistic endeavors learning to be a poet. Instead she became a stilt walker, married a professional fool, and today is known as "The Whistle Lady" for her sculptural, wearable metal clay whistles. Donna has been working in PMC since 2005, is a founding member of the Western PA Chapter of the PMC Guild. She teaches nationally at The Bead & Button Show, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Touchstone Center for Crafts, and Society for Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh. She has written articles for PolymerCAFÉ and Art Jewelry magazines, and her work may be seen in Robert Dancik's book Amulets and Talismans and other upcoming publications. Donna's whistle ring "Journey Companion" is on the cover of the 2009 edition of the PMC Guild Annual 3.

Check out Donna's work at She teaches at many venues across the country. Make sure you find the location nearest you and sign up for one of her fabulous classes!

Photo credit: final piece Drew Davidson; step-by-step Donna Penoyer

22 Responses to Donna Penoyer – Master Muse Challenge #46

  1. I look forward to Wednesdays because of Master Muses! (really!) :) As always, Donna's project did not disappoint… what a fun and beautifully-crafted little pendant!

  2. Love this! I've been thinking of various "lantern" ideas for a while, and this inspires me to try my own as well as this one. I am also thinking of other possibilities for the interior of the lantern. Thank you!!!

  3. Okay, my relative newness comes the the forefront here. How do I find the full tutorial for any of these MM projects?

  4. Hi Kath,
    At the top of the tutorial where Whole Lotta Whimsy is highlighted is the link to the Master Muse Tutorial page on the website. There are currently 3 tutorials available for sale.
    We anticipate having 3 more available soon. We are planning on also releasing 5 as downloadable tutorials as well in the coming months.
    If you are not a subscriber to Whole Lotta Whimsy's ezine, please do sign up. We will be sending out a survey to all subscribers, where you can vote on the tutorials you would like to see be made available first. Your vote counts!!
    Thank you for your interest and support!

  5. I love beautiful colors and silver together. This piece beautifully combines two mediums, using the color of the polymer clay to highlight the silver.

  6. Donna, this is a wonderful design and you've incorporated lots of interesting techniques in combination here. Your tips for making the openwork look great, and I'm sure there are many more wonderful tips in the tutorial. Thanks!

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