How to Make a Hinge
Hinges are super easy to make. For each hinge you'll need a cylinder of clay that is as long as the wing joint, and a length of heavy gauge wire or a head pin.
The wire is used for the hinge pin. You can use a head pin or you can ball the end of a wire if you want that look. For silver clays, 16 or 18 gauge wire is perfect. For copper, bronze and brass clays, anything from 16 to 20 gauge is good.
Start by making a cylinder that is long enough for both wings. Make the cylinder as small in diameter as possible so it doesn't take over the whole look of the thing. Allow the cylinder to dry completely. Use the template to mark the sections needed for each set of hinges. I use a needle tool for this so I get a precise marking. Then use a fine point marker to mark the center of one section, then mark the center of the 2 new sections so you end up with 4 equal pieces. Then repeat for the other hinge.
Next cut the pieces. The easy way to cut these is with a scalpel. I put the cylinder against a bench block and use the side of the bench block to guide my blade. Once you cut the little tube sections, the pieces are called knuckles.
Next drill each of the knuckles using a drill that is the same size in diameter as your hinge pin wire or head pin.
Next paste the knuckles in place. Paste the first knuckle on the body side at the very top, then line up the next knuckle below the first and paste that to the wing side. Continue going back and forth until all the knuckles are pasted in place. Let these parts dry thoroughly, then add a little paste to reinforce the connections on both sides. Allow to dry thoroughly.
Moisten each of the joints with water and then use a clay shaper to press lump clay into the joint to smooth it out and strengthen it. Add lump clay to any other areas you want to smooth out using the same method, then dry completely. Sand and refine all the parts so they are smooth and ready for firing.
Fire the wing and body apart. (Not in a separate firing, but separated from each other). After firing, fit the hinge pieces together. If the hinge is too tight, use a needle file or Smoothie to remove just enough material so it doesn't bind. The fit should be nice and tight so the wings aren't floppy.
Then drill out each of the knuckles with the same drill that matches the diameter of your hinge pin or head pin.
Insert the pin wire through the top of the hinge so the ball is on top. To finish, there are several options: You can simply curl the wire into a tiny loop, you can ball up the other end (this will take a propane oxygen torch because all the parts will end up being a big heat sink), or you can hog out a divot on the bottom knuckle using a 2mm stone setting bur and hammer the wire end into the divot to create a rivet. I like the rivet method best because it's clean and easy to do. To be sure you don't over-tighen the rivet, place a piece of card stock between the balled wire and the first knuckle. Once you are done, the paper can be soaked in water for a few seconds and then torn out. This leaves enough room for the wings to flap without binding.
Tips for Cutting out the Parts
To use the template with soft clays, place a plain or textured slab on a Tuff Card or other worksurface. You can safely rest your fingers on the template to hold it in place. Cut out the shape with our razor sharp Ultra Clay Pick or a very fine needle tool. Start at the outside corners and cut to the inside corners for the cleanest cuts. Remove the template and lift away the excess clay.
Another method for cutting out the shapes is to use the embossing technique shown in the YouTube video below. This method is so quick and easy!
For use on sheet metal, use a Scotchbrite pad to give the surface a soft satin finish, then use a scribe to scratch the shape onto metal. China white can also be used to paint on a white surface, or another method is to cover the metal surface with a label, then trace the shape with a sharpie. It's easier to see it this way and helps with more accurate cutting.