Metal Clay Firing Methods
Precious metal clay makes it simple for anyone to construct their very own handmade jewelry bits from honest to goodness real precious metals like real gold and 99.97% silver. Firing PMC is pretty simple, even for those new to jewelry making.
Precious metal clay (also known as PMC and ACS or Art Clay Silver) is very simple to use, and is similar to working with plasticine or pottery clay. It’s pliable, moldable and in the case of newer clays like BronzeClay and CopperClay, increasingly affordable even for those on a budget.
Here’s how you use this material to make your creations.
First you form the pieces, let them dry, then use a firing method to burn away the binder. Fine metal particles are suspended in an organic binder that can be burnt away leaving the metal fused into the form you shape it.
You can use umpteen different methods to shape, texture, and mold the clay into delightful and complicated designs, but you’ll have to read one of my other articles for those! This article shares various methods to fire your creations once they are formed and dried.
Recommended Ways to Fire Your Metal Clay
You’ll find there are 3 different methods for firing precious metal clay. These are using a torch, a kiln, or with a Hot Pot (or similar gas/metal screen setup).
1. Using a Hand Torch
Torch firing isn’t difficult. Do not forget touse a a fire proof and heat retardant like a soldering pad or a fire brick with a piece of aluminum sheet underneath. You’ll want a well ventilated area.
Using your butane torch (I use a Blazer torch), start aiming your flame on the dry precious metal clay
piece. At first you’ll see a small amount of smoke as the binder burns off. After, you need to get the piece to glow a nice pinky orange colour (you can see it quite clearly as long as you aren’t working in too bright a light) Move the torch away slightly and then back if the glow fades. Just don’t go really close with the torch once you have got up to temperature or you will melt the detail on your work.
2. Make Use of a Kiln
A small kiln is ideal for firing metal clay. Even heat and higher temperatures will usually produce stronger pieces, and some types of PMC like bronze clay, original PMC, most copper and gold clay will only really fire properly in a kiln.
What type of kiln is best? Any kiln will work, but if you are shopping now, Precious Metal Clay kilns are available. Kinds of are table top kilns. They are very small as kilns go. They run on regular household electricity, but they do need a three prong outlet.
To use, just follow the instructions from the kiln manufacturer.
There is a great little product available called the “Hot Pot” that you can find at precious metal clay retailers. The Hot Pot makes it easy to fire pmc without a kiln and is ideal for people who don’t like using a torch. The Hot Pot uses a sterno-like fuel to fire your jewelry projects. When the fuel burns out, your jewelry is done. It’s a very simple, low tech and affordable option to create y
our own jewelry.
To use the Hot Pot, you fill the provided terra cotta pot with fuel, then place your dried metal clay project onto the wire grid. Finally, you light the fuel with a long match. Once your fuel burns out, your creation is fired and ready for polishing.
Looking for more Precious Metal Clay firing tools and supplies? I have a firing supply resource page you can look at for more supplies, recommendations, and options.
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