This year, one of my resolutions is to make something with metal clay. I’ve been trying to do it ever since it arrived in the country. I remember paying £10 (a huge amount as a poor student) for something like 10 grams of silver clay. Yes, it was a long time ago! It was PMC and all the instructions were in Japanese. I spent a long time creating a beautiful pendant, but couldn’t properly understand the picture instructions and it exploded right in front of me pretty much as soon as I put the torch on it. I should have just given up then… it’s never got much better!
I am determined that this year, I will master it and produce something wonderful, perfectly formed, fully sintered, an unexploded masterpiece… or at least something that doesn’t crumble to dust!
I’ve tried most brands of clay so far, all equally unsuccessful, so for this round, I am trying Goldie bronze. I bought a test kit last year with 5 colours/types of bronze and 1 of copper. It’s different to others that I’ve tried as it’s not premixed. The majority of packs I’ve had before went off after I’d opened them, so I like the idea of mixing small amounts to test with.
The bronze comes in powder form and is mixed with water. I am using the hard version of Goldie Bronze.
Never one to start small, I took one of my many drawings of things I’d like to make in metal clay, a hollow lentil bead.
I rolled the clay 3 cards thick, and cut circles. They were formed into a half lentil shape over a painting palette
This circle was formed over the palette and the design cut out with a scalpel.
They were then left to dry. I had some clay left, so rather than let it dry out, I made a hare pendant with cubic zirconia for eyes. No idea if this will work, but it’s worth a try!
The hard bronze was really easy to use, similar to working with ceramic clay. It held it’s shape well and took lots of fine detail.
The lentil halves still weren’t dry, so I mixed up some of the Roman Bronze and made another. This clay is completely different. It’s fluffy in comparison to the hard version. It didn’t hold it’s shape very well and the grain was much larger, so it wouldn’t take much detail. What I did get on there was difficult to do. I think this would be better suited to simpler designs, where the rough texture of the design is the main focus. This hare got CZ eyes too… in for a penny!
Finally, the halves dried out, so I made up some clay paste and stuck them together. After drying again, they were sanded and cleaned up. And here they are ready for firing. You can just about make out the carved design inside… I’m hoping that with a patina and polish the design will be a bit more prominent!
Although I had tried the bronze before, I took the advice to do a test firing (thanks Lesley!) and I’m glad I did. The test strips didn’t fully sinter, so I don’t have finished pics to show you. Glad I didn’t put the proper pieces in, hopefully they’ll be done for my next post!