Metal Clay: Information and Tutorials

by lakeerieartists

Are you new to metal clay? Metal clay is a clay form of precious metal that you can use to create jewelry. Metal clay is available in gold, silver, copper, and brass.

If you like to make jewelry from metal, but have not yet tried working with metal clay, I highly recommend that you give it a try. Working with metal clay is a lot of fun, and it makes working with metal much easier than traditional metalsmithing.

I became fascinated by metal clay when I started making jewelry as a hobby close to 20 years ago. At that time, metal clay was an extremely new substance, and not that many people knew about it.

Creating Jewelry with Metal Clay

Paula Atwell:  Mother and Child Necklace Fine Silver

I have been working with metal clay as a hobby, and now as a profession since that time, and I just love it.  I tend to use an organic style in my jewelry, but you can use it for many other types of jewelry styles, including highly polished, mirror like shine, to intricate filigree, even to origami with silver.

The piece pictured here is Mother and Child Necklace which can be ordered from Lake Erie Artists Gallery.

The Best Source for Metal Clay and Metal Clay Tools and Accessories

Delphi Glass
Delphi Glass has a large selection of metal clay, tools, accessories, and glass to work with metal clay.

Buying Supplies and Materials

Metal clay can be expensive, especially if you work with silver or gold, so finding a good vendor for metal clay is important.  Luckily, most of the tools and supplies other than the clay are quite affordable.

Metal Clay is Much Faster to Work with than Metalsmithing

Blowing in the Wind Earrings:  Paula AtwellWorking with metal clay is much different than traditional metalsmithing. When it is in its green state, metal clay is worked like ceramic or polymer clay.  You can mold it, stamp it, cut it with a butter knife.

When it dries before firing, you can use tools like emery boards and sandpaper to finish it, and smooth it. 

However, once you fire metal clay, you have a piece of metal to work with.  It is at this point that you can use metalsmithing techniques like soldering, sawing, and drilling.

The original versions of metal clay were made by mistake, as a by product of another manufacturing process.  The clay is made up of particles of the precious metal, combined with a non-toxic, organic binder.  This binder burns away when the metal clay is fired, leaving only the metal behind that becomes fused together in the firing process.

Firing can be done in a household, even if you use a metal clay kiln.  The kilns are tabletop kilns that can plug into a standard outlet.  Other methods of firing are available for smaller pieces if you use the low temperature versions of the metal clay.  Not all metal clays are available in low temperature versions.

Although originally metal clay was only available in silver and gold, in the last couple of years, a new copper and bronze clay has been manufactured.  So now the clay itself is much less costly.

Have you ever worked with metal clay?

Even a Beginner Can Make a Lovely Pendant or Pair of Earrings

When I teach metal clay in my studio, I teach many absolute beginners.  In just about 4 hours of work, they always come out with some interesting pieces of jewelry that they are proud to wear or give as a gift.  It is really that easy to use.

Rio Grande Has Excellent Videos on Metal Clay

Updated: 10/06/2014, lakeerieartists
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KarenTBTEN on 09/03/2011

I haven't worked with it, but it looks like it has possibilities. (Too bad I don't have an oven.)

ImagineMDD on 06/11/2011

Thanks for this article, your jewelry is lovely. I'm a big Katie Hacker/Beads, Baubles & Jewels fan. Someday I'll have a kiln and get to try PMC.

theraggededge on 06/10/2011

This looks great. It's the requirement for the kiln that might prevent me giving it a go. I shall check out the low temp versions. Oh now look what you've done - like I haven't already got enough 'stuff' to do!

Ralpapajan on 06/07/2011

This is "just what the doctor ordered" for my proposed Community development program. I will be putting it in to the plans. Thank You Very Much!

PeggyHazelwood on 06/05/2011

I have made a few pieces with metal clay and need to get back at it. I even have a kiln, so I have no excuse!

Christene on 06/04/2011

Your jewelry is gorgeous!

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