The alchemist art of metal clay–why is it a crafters must have?

What is Metal Clay?

Metal Clay is an art/craft medium that was first developed and commercialized by Mitsubishi Materials Corporation  (MMC) in 1990 Japan.

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The medium was created to enable crafts jewellery makers to create elegant and sophisticated jewellery without the years of training and study.

Making a ring with Metal Clay

Metal clay comes in many varieties of metal including gold, bronze, silver, or copper (there is even alloys available). The medium is made up of small particles of metal with an organic binder and water. The organic binder and water content makes the medium easy to handle, it is easily manipulated by hand and resembles a soft clay when being worked.

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Once the artist is happy with the ‘clay’ piece, it is ready to be fired. During the firing process the organic binder is burnt away and water evaporated leaving the metal behind (Silver clay results in 99.9% pure silver). There is a margin of shrinkage dependant on which metal product is used (between 8%-30%).

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The firing can be done by a number of methods for example traditional Kiln firing, gas torch, or even a gas stove (if it is capable of a high heat output). The clay is curable at 600 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes or 700 degrees for 10 minutes. During this process a number of natural solutions can be used to add final touches like coloured patina or alternatively the metal can be enamelled. It’s a little bit of back yard alchemy and can look incredible!!!

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Torch Firing Metal Clay

There are a few suppliers on the market of this product the most popular are Precious Metal Clay (PMC) and Art Clay Silver (ACS). The clay itself is available in clay blocks packaged to keep moist and pliable, pre rolled sheets and some suppliers even stock syringes filled with paste for those trickier details.

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How to make earrings from metal clay

There is a lot of books on amazon or and reference material out there on this subject:

My Favourites are:

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5 thoughts on “The alchemist art of metal clay–why is it a crafters must have?

  1. I don’t recall ever seeing such a thing here in Chicago’s art supply shops, pepper…but as I’m shopping for frames later this week, I’ll check. it sounds like a very exciting medium to work in, as long as one has access to a kiln!

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    • I know right, I definately agree – It is expensive clay. But I suppose it has to be – being precious metals.

      The only plus is that you can buy it in small quantities, that’s what I’m going to do – let the pile accumulate until I have enough.

      Thanks for the comment!!

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