Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Metal Clay Info

Thank you for the kind words about my Metal Clay jewellery. I’m rather pleased with these myself but need a lot of practice to make these more professional.

The process really is very easy. Here is a step-by-step guide, although please remember I’ve only done one course on this so this really is the basics.

There are 2 brands of metal clay - Precious Metal Clay (PMC) and Art Clay Silver (ACS), I understand these are essentially the same, but I’m sure that aficionados will have a preference. Silver, Gold and Bronze is available.

The material is made from the precious metal, an organic binder (a secret recipe I understand) and water. It is these last 2 materials which are removed to leave you with a shiny piece of lovely silver, gold or bronze depending on the metal you are working with.

Stage 1 – shaping
When you open the packet the clay is really just that – clay. It is a grey squidgy material which can be moulded into any shape and size. I advise you have a design practiced in bluetac or another playdough type material as once you start to handle the metal clay it starts to dry out and you need to be quick.
Remember to put any pieces of clay you aren’t using into a air tight container to retain the moisture…this is a precious metal after all and you don’t want to waste a speck.

Stage 2 – drying
The first of the clay materials to be removed is water. Drying your shaped piece on a radiator over night or on a VERY low oven heat will achieve this. The piece will be firm at the end of this and look a little like fired pottery

Stage 3 – firing
The firing process burns off the second of the clay materials – the organic binder. You can fire in a kiln or use a blow torch (the sort you toast the top of crème brulees with is fine).
The piece will go through a number of stages during firing, including bursting into flames which can be a little alarming….but ultimately it will glow a delicate orange and you must keep it at this point for 2.5minutes (critical if you are using a torch, not so critical if you using a kiln as will pop in there for an hour or so).

Due to the removal of the binder pieces shrink approximately 10% during this stage, obviously important to consider if you are making a ring!

Stage 4 – polishing
Once the piece has cooled you will be left with a solid piece of metal which will look white. Now the hard work starts…..get out your wire brush and start to scrub….it is quite amazing as the sparkly silver is revealed…you can then polish with various papers and creams to reach the level of shine you want.

Hope this helps a little. It really is quite quick to have a go at, but the materials aren’t exactly cheap…you are buying silver afterall.
Let me know if you have a go at this and please share the results you achieve.

1 comment:

  1. How fascinating! I didn't know about any of that. I really think this sounds so interesting. I'm bookmarking this. I do hope I'll have some downtime to try this out soon.


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