Metal Clay - How to get started

We are frequently asked “where do I start?” and “what do I need?”.

The great part of this craft is you need very little to make your first treasure in metal clay. For the purpose of keeping it simple this guide will cover metal clay silver only. The “in use video” links will demonstrate a particular tool in use.

While silver is more expensive as a material it is the least expensive to get started with in terms of tools. It is also by far the most documented and simplest to work with. The real question is which silver clay to use PMC or Art Clay. In our opinion they are comparable in features. Art Clay is considered by some though to be superior for molds while PMC is better for organic shaping. Once again we think they both do a wonderful job at both.

What is silver metal clay?

What do I need to get started?

1.Okay first you need a table top space at least 2 x 2 ½ feet to work at.
2. A non stick surface to work( in use video)
3. Non-stick lubricant for your hands and tools( in use video)
4. A craft knife and tissue blade cutter(in use video)
5. A roller for clay( in use video)
6. A deck of playing cards for rolling out clay evenly(in use video)
7. A needle tool for cutting and working with clay (in use video)
8. A quality brass brush for cleaning and polishing pieces( in use video)
9. Sandpaper(in assorted grits) or other sanding tools.

**Please note this Starter kit includes most of the items above.

Other things that you might consider from the start but not essential.
1. Liver of sulfur for antiquing and oxidizing silver
2. Clay keeper and Syringe Saver for extended storage of unused clay
3. Tumbler for work hardening and easy polishing
4. 2 Part mold silicone for making your own textures and molds
5. Hot plate for quick drying wet clay before firing
6. Content stamp and/or custom stamp for marking and signing your work.

For firing you have the following options

1.Stove top firing
2.Hand held torch (in use video)

What material to choose?

Once again to keep things simple this guide is center on silver clay. Even with that there is plenty to choose from

1.PMC + Great for pendants, charms medallions 3.PMC
2. PMC 3 for rings or where extra strength needed. Also lower firing temp

Art Clay
1.Art Clay Silver. This New! formula combines all the adnvantages of previous formulas into one.

The second thing to consider is shrinkage. All metal clay shrinks after firing. So when making your piece in clay you must make it bigger then its intended size based on the shrinkage rate of the material. We have taken the math out of this by providing thisfree shrinkage calculator.

Last but not least. “Gluing” metal clay together. Quite often you will need to join items together before firing. This is accomplished by using “slip” or a “syringe”. Both provide a slurry form of silver metal clay that can be used like glue. It is also great for filling in cracks. The syringes give you the ability to decorate as well as filling and bonding but is more expensive. The slip can actually be made at home if you have scrap otherwise you can purchase ready made that is perfectly mixed. You should use the same brand as your clay.

For Art Clay Slip and Syringes click here

Slip and Syringes click here

If you have any question along the way we would be happy to answer them just click here to contact us


Leave your comment
Created on: 1/5/2012 12:19 AM
I would like to use PMC Sterling,there is any slip or paste and syringe for sterling? How to firing PMC Sterling?and what do I need?
Created on: 1/5/2012 12:41 AM
You will need to make your own paste from Sterling Clay. You will find a downloadable link on Sterling Silver product page that will have all the information you asked for .
Created on: 6/8/2013 12:25 PM
Will you ever consider carrying the new copper clay that does not require firing in a closed coconut shell container? I am using it now and really like it.