Sunday, October 5, 2008

fire up your imagination!

I have taken the plunge into a new medium- silver metal clay! I have been playing with polymer clay for over a decade and love that it can be shaped and painted to look like so many different things, and it's cheap!
I have admired silver clay pieces I have seen on etsy and how some incorporated leaves into their work similar to what I do with polymer clay.
The idea of making a finished item that would be so durable really appealed to me as well.
What held me back was the thought of needing the use of a kiln and the cost of the stuff itself. For the smallest package (10 grams) it averages 15.00 and 60.00 for 50 grams. OUCH! This was going to take awhile.
I started searching silver clay demo videos online and began to feel like it was something I could do. I bought 50 grams of the low fire clay. It has the least shrinkage and is the most durable when fired and some basic tools- an acrylic roller, some small flexible molds, and a brass brush.
Finally, I decided to rip open the small package of silver clay. I was surprised to see how tiny 50 grams looks. I rolled it out thin, thinner than you are supposed to.
My frugal nature was forcing me to get the most out of this I could. I pressed 3 leaves in to the clay, pressed 4 pieces into molds and used a rubber stamp on the last of it. I made holes in 6 of the pieces and left them to dry for 24 hours. The next morning I looked at them and saw some small cracks in the leaves where the clay was very thin. I went to my local bead shop and bought some low fire silver clay paste. It's just watered down clay in a jar. I painted the cracks with the paste and dried the pieces in the oven at 330 degrees. I was getting impatient at this point. I set a metal screen over the burner of my gas stove in the kitchen. After a minute, the hot spots on the screen turned orange and that's where I placed the dried clay pieces. First they seemed to burn all over then they glowed orange all the way through(very cool.) I let them glow for 10 minutes and then I quenched in them in water and they made a loud "squint!" sound and became instantly cool to touch. I dried them and brushed them with the brass brush and was thrilled to see shiny silver metal! I used liver of sulphur (stinks real bad) to oxidize and make the details stand out.
Overall, I'm happy with the results.The finished pendants are very strong and shined up like a new dime. I still think the material is way expensive for my liking but I may have made a trade deal on some of my other work with a shop that carries it so it won't hurt that much.
If you are thinking about trying something new- my advice is to jump right in! Life is for learning new things and making new things! Have fun!
I would love to have a silver clay party with my Pittsburgh etsy street team friends and get all the burners on my stove fired up!

1 comment:

BarkerBell Herbs and Heirlooms said...

Great post! Your items turned out amazingly well. Thanks for sharing this with us!!

Definitely count me in for the silver clay party!