Thursday, March 20, 2014

Working with Metal Clay

Working with metal clay

When I was first introduced to Precious Metal Clay and began working with it, I fell in love with it.  It was the answer to my design dreams.  The clay is so malleable and easy to shape into unlimited designs.

 Beginning with metal clay is very challenging but very simple rules apply.  A few tools are needed, some very simple.  Clay, I use PMC+ or PMC3 for most projects.  Occasionally, for finer detail, I use Original PMC.  A piece of tempered glass or ceramic tiles, deck of cards for measuring thickness, pvc roller or similar to roll the clay into a small sheet, thin cutting blade, small textures; (look around your kitchen for lightly engraved textures, plastic textures are available), and olive oil or Badger Balm is what I use.To make a pair of earrings, charm or small pendant:
     When working with metal clay, plan ahead and decide your project and have all you will need to use ready at your work space. Open one 7.5 pkg. of PMC, remember the clay dries out very quickly.  Use a very small amount Badger balm or olive oil on hands,work surface,roller,texture and blade. on your work surface, with 3-4 playing cards stacked on each side of clay, with the roller ends are on top of the two stacks of cards, roller clay into sheet, cut out two textured earrings, OR two small textured charms with texture OR a small textured pendant. Use toothpick, needle,small straw or needle tool and make holes for attachments later.  Make holes larger then you think you will need as the clay will shrink as least 12%. Dry on cup warmer, hot plate or over night.  I use brass texture sheets and dry on hot plate.  After drying, smooth, sand and make smooth all edges of the pieces and holes. When you are satisfied with your pieces, place on fiber board, place in kiln, which is preprogrammed for these clays.  IF you want to torch fire the pieces and they are not more than 1/8" thick, which they will not be, Place on firing brick, have long copper thongs, timer, potholder and filled torch ready.  Turn on torch and move in small circle over the pieces until piece becomes orange in color, start timer and torch for three minutes, still moving the short flame in small circles over the pieces.  After the timer sounds, do not touch the fired pieces except with tongs or wait until cool.  Brass brush and/or tumble in steel shot to clean to a shiny silver finish.  IF you want to patina the pieces, use liquid Liver of Sulfur (what I use) or a patina of your choice.  Your pieces are ready to attach the findings and wear.

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