Copycats: how to mirror duplicate silver clay cat earrings

Making earrings has always been my biggest challenge. I don’t like duplicating anything, let alone mirror-duplicate. Sometimes I envy the ‘hot of the press’ serial jewelry production: 1000 copies and all perfect. But I love artistic freedom and there’s a price to pay: slight differences between copies are inevitable.
The question is: how critical are these differences. The wearer won’t probably notice them at all while wearing. Unless the weight and weight distribution differ a lot so that it feels. But trying to sell such ‘imperfect’ earrings on the Internet it is a different piece of cake. The close-ups are merciless, as is the competition on

OK, let’s get down to techniques. The easiest way to reproduce is to use molds. Preferably nice commercial perfect molds with absolutely symmetrical pattern, requiring no mirror-imaging. Another possibility would be to make a mold from a ‘dummy’. Just press this cat shape into two-component silicone putty and you can make so many copycats as you like. Unfortunately, for mirror-imaging two molds are needed, and if you want to use the same dummy by just flipping it over, the two sides of it must be identical. And, last but not least, this dummy, made of cork clay, is a great basis for a hollow form. I described the advantages of the hollow forms in my previous blog. They allow to make king-size jewelry with less material.

I shaped two cat sculptures of cork-clay, and the biggest challenge was to make them – more or less – identical in mirror image.
To achieve that I filed them in parallel, squeezing them together to provide close adjoining. And as you see on the right picture, this technique works. The cats are not 100% identical, but these differences can be corrected during silver clay shaping. The tail of the right cat will just receive a little bit extra clay to make it thicker and longer. The cat faces will need some shaping too. But by and large the cats will form a nice pair of silver clay cat earrings.
Nice doesn’t always have to be perfect anyway…

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