Tips and Tricks for Working With Silver Clay

By Christine I Gierer | Submitted On October 21, 2010

Silver clay, precious metal clay, art metal clay, and art clay silver are all different terms and brands of "clay" that may be magically turned into silver and gold. These innovative metal clays have been around since the nineties.

Jewelry designers and artists can now form and shape expensive metal as simply as play dough.

Jewellery making naturally goes back to man's earliest days. The difference today is that you no longer have to bang or cast your metal to make jewelry if you do not need to. Silver clay now makes it possible to make real metal forms without these traditional methods.

Here is how metal clay functions.

Gold and silver metal clays are made from fine metal particles suspended in an organic binder. This binder enables you to mould and shape the clay as you would potter's clay. Once you are pleased with the form, you let your project dry for at least twenty-four hours ( or even more ).

You then fire it in a kiln or by utilizing a hand torch. The binder burns away, leaving the fused metal behind in the form you formed it.

Before you grab a pile of silver clay and go at it though, you will want to keep 1 or 2 tenets under consideration. Silver clay is not cheap, so you do not need to waste it.

Metal Clay Tips

Here are a considerable number of tips for working with silver clay:

*Metal clays shrink 10-30% when fired. Be sure to test your package for shrinkage levels especially if you're making rings or other objects that must be actual fits.

*Not all metal clays can be hand torch fired. If you will not be employing a kiln be certain to check that your kind of silver clay is "low fire".

*Only little pieces should be torch fired. Pieces bigger than 25g should be kiln fired.

*Silver clay is expensive. The gold version particularly is terribly high-priced. Be certain to shop rigorously and follow instructions carefully so you don't burn your money fruitlessly.

*Metal Clay simply takes on impressions of other objects ( and fingerprints too ). Experiment with different textures and objects to make imprints onto the wet clay.

*Gemstones that will stand up to the heat of firing can be set into the wet clay. *Be certain to let your metal clay dry completely before firing. Firing damp clay won't work and you will not be a happy camper.

*Metal clays are sticky to the touch so be sure to coat everything with a thin film of olive oil or other release agent. This means coat your hands, your tools, and work surface. Just a hint of oil will do, so don't overdo it.

*You can speed up drying time by placing your piece in a low heat stove. (150-200 degrees Fahrenheit ). Pieces small than your palm generally take approximately twenty-four hours to entirely dry and toughen without the stove treatment.

*Sand your dried and hardened piece before firing. If you do not like fingerprints, you will not be in a position to remove them after firing.

*Metal clay is water soluble and can be fell with water. Keep a small bowl of water or a spritzer at hand while you work. If it begins to dry out while working, you can add a bit of water to moisten it.

*Buying smaller packages beats bigger because you will not have to worry about the entire block drying out. The price difference is negligible, and you'll waste more money by having to through out old dried out clay.

*You can extend the working time of your metal clay by adding a drop or 2 of glycerin ( available at pharmacies ) to your newly opened package of silver clay. To use: make a depression with your thumb in the clay, and add a drop or two of glycerin. Fold the clay a few times to mix in the glycerin, then spritz with water. Wrap in plastic wrap and let sit so that the clay can soak up the glycerin. When you're employed with the clay the next day, use as always. This trick will extend the working time, but also extends the drying time necessary before firing.

*If you see a blackish mold, do not be concerned. This will burn away when firing. This mould takes place when you use regular tap water to dampen the clay.

*Playing cards make great "spacers" when rolling out clay to an even thickness. Just stack cards on both sides of the clay, then use your roller to roll out the clay between the cards. *To store metal clay between uses, be sure to spritz with water and wrap it well with plastic wrap.

*Different clays have different firing temperatures so be certain to match your firing temperature to your clay type.

*Once fired, you need to brush and burnish it to get a great shine. First brush well with a stiff brush to loosen any ash or remains, then rinse with water. Then you'll be wanting to burnish the metal to compress it, make it smoother, and shinier. Utilise a burnishing tool made from agate or metal for this. The tool has a smooth face and pointy tip for burnishing the more detailed areas.

*You can dunk the piece in water after firing to chill it quickly.

*Firing you clay too shortly, at too low a temperature, or for too short a time may cause your project to break. Firing for too much time may melt some of the detail.

Now that you have some silver clay tenets, I bet you are psyched. You need to work with this innovative material now! What will you make first?

Want to find out more about silver clay? Stop by my website to discover more about finding metal clay suppliers, get free projects, and learn other precious metal clay techniques.

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