About This Web Site
This site was originally designed to recognize the many talented artists working in metal clay. In 2012, the site’s mission expanded to include a wide range of topics of interest to the metal clay community, written by a diverse team of metal clay artists. We share the mission of exploring and celebrating the metal clay community and our medium.
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About Metal Clay
From the introduction to Magical Metal Clay Jewelry by Sue Heaser
Metal clay is a relatively recent invention in the world of arts and crafts. Its description often produces disbelief from the listener – people find it astonishing that firing a little gray piece of clay with a blowtorch will turn it into pure silver or gold. But yes, it is true, even though it appears to be a modern form of alchemy.
Metal clay is made from powdered precious metal combined with an organic binder and water. It can be modeled, molded, or sculpted in a way similar to ceramic clay or polymer clay. When heated to a high temperature, the binder burns away, and the precious metal particles sinter (or fuse) into solid silver or gold.
The history of metal clay as an arts and crafts materials is surprisingly short. It was invented in Japan in the early 1990’s, and has since then taken the jewelry and craft worlds by storm. It is available all over the world, and a rapidly growing body of artists is embracing its extraordinary capabilities.
Two main brands are available: Precious Metal Clay (PMC) made by Mitsubishi Materials Corporation, and Art Clay manufactured by Aida Chemical Industries Co. Ltd. Each company produces a variety of different kinds of metal clay. New and improved versions have appeared regularly over the past ten years. While each brand has a different patent, the techniques used for them are virtually identical.
In the past few years, both manufacturers have introdued types of silver metal clay that can be fired at a lower temperature than the earlier versions, using a small blowtorch or a gas stove in the kitchen. This exciting development has made the clays accessible to the home hobbyist or casual user – there is no need for expensive tools or a kiln.
And just since the book referenced above was published in 2008, the metal clay world has seen the introduction of a whole host of base metal clays including several formulations of copper and bronze. These base metal clays are less expensive than the silver or gold clays, but they do require the use of a kiln. I believe we will continue to see exciting developments in this relatively young art medium in the future.
If you want to learn more about metal clay, there are many excellent books on the market, and the “Metal Clay Links” section to the right can lead you to a whole world of information, talented teachers and inspiration for your metal clay journey.