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How to Get Started With Metal Clay

by:Unionrise     2020-07-20
Working with precious metal clay can be a rewarding and lucrative hobby, craft and business. However one of the biggest questions for someone new to the craft is how and where to start. The craft offers a wide array of metal options including silver, gold, bronze, copper and steel. Each material has it's own personality for lack of a better term and shrinkage rate. Even the same type of clay from different manufactures requires different considerations. Then there is the tools you will need. This is the easier part as all the precious metal clays share common basic tool set. Any exceptions will be mentioned below in each clay type descriptions. It is suggested that you maintain a separate tool set for each different clay you work with in order to prevent cross contamination of metals. Tools -Common to all clays (about $35.00) Non-stick work surface - Teflon Sheets are the standard Clay roller Tissue blade Needle tool Deck of playing cards Sand paper in assorted grits Brass brush Craft knife Non-stick oil for your hands and tools- Olive oil works great And anything thing else you can find around the house. Think Play-Doh as for the most part that's what it is like to work with **The options of tools are endless but this will get you started Firing method( $25.00 to $800) This can be propane torch from local hardware store or kiln depending on metal you are working with Metal Clays Silver and Gold Both Art Clay and PMC both offer silver and gold clay. Both of these metals while expensive are the easiest and most forgiving to work with. They can all be torch fired which helps tremendously in terms of equipment costs. Which should be around $65 including propane torch + material. Both manufactures offer several versions for different needs such as slower drying, shrinkage, rates and strengths. Gold and silver clays are arguably the most documented on the Internet as well. This makes it in my opinion much easier for the novice to find answers to common questions. Bronze and Copper There are two current manufacturers that I am fond of. One is Metal Adventures and the other Hadar's clay. We will start with the common traits they share. Both are very inexpensive to purchase in comparison to gold and silver. Both require a specialized setup such as kiln, activated carbon and firing container. They cannot be fired with a torch. Having said that with a little trial and error amazing jewelry and artwork can be create with them. Metal Adventures clay comes pre-mixed and has shelf life of about 7 months or longer depending on storage environment. Keeping in the refrigerator is suggested. This clay is a solid product and once you learn how to work with it very rewarding Hadar's Clay's is not premixed and therefore has a distinct advantage of an indefinite shelf life. It also has a very nice feel to work with. Hadar is constantly refining her formula so when working with it I advise as an artist to keep update with her latest instructions. She also offers bronze currently in 3 different colors. Steel Hadar also has Steel metal clay. This is a new edition to her product line. It also needs to be mixed so shelf life is not a problem. It is relatively a new product so I will not comment too much on its working characteristics other then she readily answers all questions and is diligent about updating working instructions.
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