About 2 years ago I bought some metal clay and after procrastinating for some time, this week I finally used it. Not guna lie, I was nervous. Not only is the clay is very expensive, but the blow torch my husband bought me was way bigger than the ones used in all the youtube videos. I was worried about catching my face on fire.
Spoiler alert: I didn’t 🙂
New to metal clay? Wikipedia can explain it much better than I can:
Metal clay is a crafting medium consisting of very small particles of metal such as silver, gold, bronze, or copper mixed with an organic binder and water for use in making jewelry, beads and small sculptures. Originating in Japan in 1990, metal clay can be shaped just like any soft clay, by hand or using molds. After drying, the clay can be fired in a variety of ways such as in a kiln, with a handheld gas torch, or on a gas stove, depending on the type of clay and the metal in it. The binder burns away, leaving the pure sintered metal. Shrinkage of between 8% and 30% occurs (depending on the product used). Alloys such as bronze, sterling silver, and steel also are available. – Wikipedia
I actually used ‘Art Clay Silver’ which is pretty much the same thing, different brand. You can find it here.
I had 22g to play with and it was hella fun! I watched a few online videos (I recommend this one) to get started. Then I played around with stamps, leaf textures, a dragonfly wing (fail, do not try this) and some teeny gemstones. The gemstones are risky because they can crack, so be sure to look which gemstones can be fired if you’re going to try this. Once the clay is dry I was even able to sand it! This stuff is genius..
Now to fire them there are 3 options. One is to use a home kiln which I do not have. The second is to use a hand held butane torch which I also do not have, and the third is to use wire mesh over a gas stove. Which I kinda don’t have. So I went for option four – which does not exist – use the massive blow torch thing my husband bought me.
I needed a flame proof surface to work on, so my partner suggested a tile. I was a bit hesitant.. and rightly so, because the tile popped and snapped apart with a bang! At this point I decided to remove the gemstones to avoid further loud noises. (Upon further research I discovered that amethyst and aventurine do not like to be fired. I’ll glue them in place later)
Plan B was this interesting contraption Dustin put together. A stainless steel seive in a clampy thing, held in a squeezy thing, in a vice. It seemed to work quite well firing from underneath. The first attempt resulted in a fail, with the pendant getting too hot and the silver melting into a blob. This may be due to user error.
Round 2 was much better. I found the right temperature, distance, movement and timing. Also, I was the one holding the torch this time 🙂 I think Dustin got a little fire happy when I left because I noticed a melty hole in the mesh when I returned. (See pic below left) Hmm..
It didn’t take too long to get the hang of it, and in a shortish while I had a bunch of silver pendants! They’re a little rough, but I’m pretty pleased with them. Next step was to give them a bit of a polish with the dremel. Followed by a little tappity tap with the tiny hammer to straighten some pieces out and a massive file to smooth out the edges.
My conclusion: this stuff is the BEES KNEES! It’s easy to use and I love that you can fire it at home without any super expensive equipment.
Now that I’m comfortable using the torch I am pretty keen to make more. First, I need to finish these off with some sterling silver chains and some neat packaging!
Interested in giving it a try? Here’s a few links to help you get started:
Check out the video tutorial, making a leaf print pendant here.
Purchase Art Clay Silver online here. 20grams with a bonus 10% free! (22g which is what I used to make all the pendants above.)
You can use a torch like mine, but instead I would suggest this one.