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Metal clay is a jewelry making material thatcan be used by just about anyone to createjewelry and small decorative objects. Metalclay is made from powdered metal mixed withwater and a substance called \"methylcellulose.\" Methyl cellulose may sound like a nasty chemical,but it's actually made from the cell wallsof green plants. It's an organic ingredient used infood additives and is non-allergic, non-toxicand perfectly safe to work with.Metal clay handles similar to traditional modeling clays, and, when dried, it is transformed into a solid object through a firing process. During firing, the methylcellulose, typically called \"binder\",is burned away and the metal particles \"sinter\"into a solid form. Sintering is the process of making a powdered material (in this case, metal clay) coalesce into a solid mass by heating it to a very high temperature, just below the point of liquefaction. There are several types of metal clay available:fine silver, sterling silver, gold, copper, bronze and steel. Each type of metal clay has uniquefiring requirements because each metal hasa different melting point. For the beginner, fine silver clay is theeasiest and quickest way to experience metalclay because there are so many options for firing, including low cost hand held butane torches. All metal clays are optimally fired in a jewelry kiln and some require special firing methods. The overview below will give you the basics on the different types of metal clay and their firing requirements to help you decide which clay to begin your adventures with.
PMC and Art Clay both offer gold clay products. Gold clays are either pure 24K gold or 22K alloy of fine silver and gold. 22K means there is 22 parts pure gold and 2 parts some other metal. Can be fired with a hand held torch in as little as 2 minutes.
Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin. Bronze is a very hard metal and is the strongest of all the metal clays available. We offer many types of Bronze Clay. BRONZclay and FASTfire BRONZclay by Metal Adventures, Inc, Hadar Jacobson, Goldie and Aussie. The difference between BRONZclay and FASTfire BRONZclay is the firing time required, the shrinkage, and the color of the finished metal. Hadar Jacobson and Goldie Clay are powdered clays. Aussie Metal Clay is available in powder form or lump form. Powdered clays are distinctive in that the artist adds water to create the amount of clay wanted or necessary, with the powdered remainder having an extended shelf life.BRONZclay is fired according to the thickness of the finished piece. The thicker the clay, the slower the firing. The thinner the piece, the faster the firing. This version shrinks about 25% during firing and is a warm bronze color.
FASTfire BRONZclay usually fires at full speed, but in some larger kiln models, the heating is slowed to 1000F/hour. This version shrinks about 20% during firing and is a golden bronze color.
Polymer clay is a type of hard-enable modeling clay that is versatile and pliable. This medium can be used to create jewelry, sculptures, vessels or anything you can imagine. It typically contains no clay minerals, but like mineral clay a liquid is added to dry particles until it achieves gel-like working properties, and similarly, the piece is put into an oven to harden, hence its designation as clay. Cool Tools carries Kato, Sculpey brands of Polymer Clay, including Primo! Sculpey and Primo! Accents, and Souffle.Click Here to Learn More.
Silver metal clay is a greyish white color and comes in packets of various sizes, the largest being around 50 grams. There are two companies who have manufactured silver metal clay since the beginning; Mitsubishi who make Precious Metal Clay or PMC and Aida Chemicals who make Art Clay Silver or ACS. There are now more companies manufacturing silver metal clay but the original two are the most popular.
You can buy the metal clay in a syringe. This is specially formulated to be squeezed out of the syringe in thin lines and make lovely patterns on the surface of the metal clay although metal clay beginners may find it a bit challenging.
Once the metal clay is dry, you can file it with emery boards or fine sandpaper, drill it with a simple hand drill and generally refine and clean your design. You then fire it using a domestic gas ring, butane torch or in a kiln. The binder burns off and the fine silver particles fuse together to create a solid fine silver item. This item will be 99.9% solid silver.
Most people start by rolling out the metal clay and making small flat items. To roll out the metal clay, you need a smooth, rigid, non-porous cylinder about 6 inches long. Look around your home, you may have something suitable to start you off. A smooth pen would do. Or what about a straight sided glass Or maybe you have a glass bottle of oil, vinegar or some other kitchen item that is a smooth cylinder shape. Bubble bath or bath oil Or perhaps you have a glass or acrylic rolling pin. Look around your home and see what might fit the bill.
To make sure that the rolled out clay has an even thickness, metal clay artists use guides on each side of the metal clay as they roll. The simplest guide used commonly is playing cards. A stack of playing cards each side of the metal clay allows you to roll consistent thickness of clay. In tutorials you often see instructions to roll a piece 3, 4 or 5 cards thick; they mean playing cards.
You can make your own textures very cheaply. Pencil erasers are a great tool for texture. They are easy to cut and carve using very basic tools. With a craft knife, cut shapes into the eraser, or use carving tools to carve out lines and designs. The small erasers that fit on the tops of pencils can make great little stamps for a simple design in metal clay. Wine bottle corks can also be carved to make interesting texture tools.
Polymer clay is a great material to create your own texture plates. Flat, baked sheets of polymer clay are very easy to carve or you can push textures like shells into unbaked polymer clay, bake it and use this with your metal clay.
Wooden toothpicks are very cheap to buy and they are an invaluable tool for the metal clay artist. The simplest way to cut a shape is freehand using a toothpick. Maybe your texture will suggest a good shape or you can just cut an organic swirly pattern.
Small cookie cutters are great if you have them around the house and are very useful if you want to make several things the same shape and size, like earrings. The stencil cutters with a whole sheet of different sized circles or squares for instance, are also useful. To use these, choose the size of shape you want to use. Using your playing cards or cardboard to support the stencil lay it gently over your metal clay and using a toothpick or cocktail stick, cut the shape using the stencil as a guide.
To use a drinking straw, lightly oil the end and punch a hole in the metal clay using a slightly twisting motion. Lift it straight up and use a cocktail stick to poke out the plug of clay from the end of the straw.
Another way to make a bail is to cut a small rectangle of metal clay and stick this to the back of the pendant forming a loop. Once again, an oiled drinking straw helps to form the loop and can be left in place until the piece is dry.
To stick two pieces of clay together, paint paste onto the metal clay piece you want to stick on using a small paintbrush and gently press them together. If you find some paste squishes out the sides, use a clean, slightly damp paintbrush to lift this off.
Once the metal clay piece is dry, you can refine the edges with sand paper, emery boards, nail files or salon boards. These are great cheap tools and are very effective on dry metal clay. Be very careful when handling dry metal clay. It is very fragile and will break if you are rough with it.
Smooth the edges of the piece with an emery board. You can smooth the inside of a hole in the dry metal clay or the inside of a bail using a wooden toothpick. The wooden toothpick is a tiny natural file and works really well on dry metal clay.
You can also drill holes in your pieces when they are dry. Use a small drill bit in your fingers to drill a hole, the dry clay is soft enough to do this. Alternatively, a sharp pointed craft knife makes a great drill.
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Metal clays made from the same metal (such as silver) can usually be used together to make one piece.The piece should be fired at the highest temperature required for any of the mixed clays.If the clays have different shrinkage rates, the piece may warp when it is fired.
Some types of metal clay contain different ingredients than others, and while mostof these can still be used together in one piece (so they are touching), some should not be mixed together to make a single lump of clay or clay paste.
To create paste, add a small amount of water to the metal clay.You can also add a bit of vinegar to prevent mold.Note that bronze paste can eventually separate with the tin rising to the top, creating a dark surface layer; this should be stirred in.
It is difficult to make your own paste syringe.The paste can be mixed as usual, though it will require some experimentation to findthe best consistency.The paste should be mixed as thoroughly as possible, so it is all of the same consistency.One difficulty lies in filling the syringe with the metal clay paste, without creating air bubbles.Note that the syringe should not have any metal parts that touch the clay, unlessyou know that the metal will not react with the clay. 59ce067264