How to make your own coins & medallions

Written by lauren vork
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You don't have to be a precious metalsmith or work in a mint to create your own custom coins and medallions with real silver or gold. Using metal clay, a home crafting product designed for making small metal sculptures, you can create a coin or medallion using clay sculpting techniques. Customise coins in any design you like for jewellery, keepsakes or special play and film props.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Hard, smooth and flat work surface
  • Paper and pencil or computer with image editor and printer
  • Scissors
  • Air-dry earthenware clay
  • Nut pick
  • Cooking oil
  • Toothpick or thick, blunt needle
  • Gold or silver metal clay
  • Small dish of water
  • Fine-toothed comb
  • Low-fire kiln (for gold or silver clay) or small butane torch (for silver clay only)

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Create a life-sized paper drawing of your desired coin design. Hand draw or design on a computer and print a coin design exactly as you wish it to look with any images, lettering and numbers. Be sure to include the circular outline (you can trace an existing coin to get this just right, or use a circle tool in an image editor). Judge the size based on how much metal clay you have; this will vary according to how thick you want your coin to be.

  2. 2

    Cut out your coin design with scissors. Leave a little space outside the circular outline.

  3. 3

    Make a mould for your coin in earthenware clay. Pull a lump of clay about the size of a ping-pong ball and soften it in your hands. Flatten one edge against a smooth work surface, then place your coin drawing on this flat area. Use the nut pick to create a shallow impression of the image in the clay by pressing and tracing through the paper. Include the circular outline. Use the toothpick or needle to make impressions of letters, numbers and any fine lines.

  4. 4

    Let the earthenware clay dry fully. This will take a couple hours and be complete when the clay is hard and dry to the touch.

  5. 5

    Cut the new mould with a fine layer of cooking oil by coating your finger in oil and rubbing it on. This will keep your coin from sticking to the mould.

  6. 6

    Hand-condition a piece of metal clay. Work it in your hands to soften it, and add a few drops of water if the clay is dry or crumbly (do this as needed if the clay dries out while you're working with it).

  7. 7

    Make a disc shape from the metal clay. Roll the clay into a ball, then press it against your work surface. Flatten one side, then flip it over and flatten the other.

  8. 8

    Push one side of the disc shape against your earthenware mould. Gently press over the entire back of the disc with your thumb to ensure that every part of the clay gets an impression.

  9. 9

    Peel the coin away from the mould.

  10. 10

    Trim any excess metal clay away from the edges of the circular outline using your scissors.

  11. 11

    Create ridges on the edge of the coin, if desired. Roll the edge of the coin against the side of the bristles of your fine-toothed comb.

  12. 12

    Make a hole for a hanging, if desired, using the toothpick or needle.

  13. 13

    Let the coin dry fully. This will take as much time as the earthenware clay.

  14. 14

    Fire and brush the metal clay according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Tips and warnings

  • Keep your metal clay working tools wet in order to help them shape the clay while leaving its surface smooth.
  • To make a double-sided coin, make two clay moulds, mould the top side, then let the metal clay dry face-up before forming the second side. This way, the first side will harden enough to keep its shape when you press the coin to form the tail side.

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