An important aspect: shrinking
When working with metal clay, we need to know the percentage of reduction after burning. Some types of metal clay shrink with 8%, and others with up to 25% or even 30%. Even if it seems complicated, this aspect can be used to our advantage. If we have in the version of raw metal clay some details that may seem a bit rough, by shrinking, after burning, they will become delicate. Thus, due to the reduction effect, you can create an elaborate piece without using a magnifying glass.
Installation of stones
Mounting stones that can be burned in the oven, as they are cubic zirconia, sapphires, rubies, it is made very easily precisely due to the reduction of the metal clay. By reducing the clay around the stone, it will be very well caught in the mount. When mounting the stone, make sure that the top side of the stone (sheet - gemological term) is positioned at or below the edge of the mount. If the stone is mounted higher, it will come out of the mount, due to the pressure of the clay on the stone, during the firing.
Both metal clay and a metal clay syringe, silver paper or paste can be used to mount the burning stones.
Jewelry with volume
Metal clay is excellent for creating bulky shapes, such as spheres or hemispheres. Thus we can make metal beads, hollow on the inside, bottles or pendants with volume.
Volume shapes can be created in several ways.
- We can use the product mokunen san, a 100% organic wood clay, which burns completely. We can shape it as we want, and after drying it can be piled and processed. It will be covered with metal clay in whole or in part, by coating with clay or paste or by decorating with a syringe. It will only have the role of supporting our creation, then burning completely in the oven (500ºC) and thus our piece will remain empty inside. Be sure to place the volume pieces in the oven wrapped in ceramic fiber cotton wool, so as not to deform!
- Another method is to use convex shape which we dry two halves of metal clay pieces, which we glue with paste before burning them.
Careful! For both methods it is very important to leave a space (a small hole) not covered by clay. During combustion, pressure will accumulate inside the part, which will have to be evacuated somehow, otherwise the part will crack or even explode in the oven.
The parts of a volume piece can also be joined by creating movable joints (hinges). We use this technique when we want to create a medallion type pendant.
For filigree patterns use the syringe, and for covering the entire surface use metal clay or paste.
After shaping the part, it is allowed to dry and, if necessary, hardened with paste. For example, in the case of spheres made with a syringe, the connections between the silver "wires" must be well strengthened with paste (more liquid), so that the shape withstands changes during combustion, but also later, brushing and polishing. All parts are finished both before and after firing, with abrasive sponges, batteries, emery etc.
After burn shape, you will find that you have made a unique and durable object.
Do we work metal clay in the wet or dry state?
Metal clay is worked both wet and dry, depending on the interventions we make.
If we want to sculpt or join parts to form a box or beads, it is best to work the clay in dry form.
However, other situations require that the clay be moist: if we make stone mounts (which burn), form a ring, apply a texture or use any other technique, which requires the clay to be flexible, moldable.
However, there is also the option to form, rather by bending or bending, dry clay. Here we refer to clay flexible (Flex), specially designed to be flexible after drying. With this type of clay we can create pieces woven or engraved and cut using car Silhouette Curio.
How we make the joints
Many parts consist of different elements that must be joined together. Non-dry metal clay can be combined with other elements of metal clay both wet and dry, using a little water and lightly pressing the place where the two parts join. The elements of dry metal clay are glued with water and paste. The water is applied with a brush in a very small amount, just to prepare the dry surface to adhere to the applied paste. This avoids cracks during combustion, which can occur due to air bubbles that can form and remain trapped under the paste. Our recommendation is to combine the elements, as much as possible, in the dry stage, so they do not deform and can be finished individually much easier, guaranteeing impeccable finishes.
How can we intervene on metal clay after burning
Because metal clay has the extraordinary ability to be shaped and textured to your heart's content, we will strive to design the piece before burning it. But there are many techniques that can be used after burning. At this stage, our piece is metal and so most of the techniques used in traditional jewelry can be applied (piercing, gluing, filing, melting, mounting stones with rail, riveting, etc.) or in mixed media. Because many stones cannot be burned in the oven together with the respective piece, we will use the technique of classical jewelry, to assemble the stones by boxing.
Cold connections, which include a well-known technique, that of riveting, we will use, when we want to overlap several types of metal clay or combinations between metal and other materials such as plastic, wood, resin; materials we can't burn together. In addition, this technique is also very decorative.
The technique of joining several materials, the so-called mixed media technique, is also effective. The metal can be combined (cold) with leather, wood, wool, plastic, ceramics, polymer clay, jewelry cement and many other materials.
Metal clay can also be colored with colored pencils before being brushed. After that it is sealed with resin.
Another popular technique is to paint silver clay with alcohol-based inks.
Metal clay offers both established and emerging artists endless possibilities to create. All you have to do is use your imagination!