The Joy of Metal Clay: Base Metal Clays

This past week I was fortunate enough to play around with some of Hadar’s base metal clays. The last time I had used Hadar’s clay she only had Copper and Bronze clay, now when I look at her site I feel like a kind in a candy store.

This week I experiemented with combining some pearl grey steel with copper clay (THANKS Liz). Sadly, I have not fired them as they got damaged in transit and I haven’t had time to repair them. (I may just fire them as is as I can’t wait to see what they look like!).

All this to say I thought I would introduce you to the world of base metal clays. There are many companies developing and selling base metal clays. Unlike silver clay where there are similarities between brands, base metal clays vary significantly on firing and handling.

Generally, most base metal clays require the use of a kiln to fire (there are a few exceptions). In addition most of the base metal clays require that you fire them in an oxygen free enviroment. This is primarily acheived by using a heatproof container filled with carbon.

I know all this can be confusing so let me start by introducing you to the main types of base metal clays. Then in the weeks to come I will comment on specifics.

Here are some of the brands of base metal clay:

Hadar Jacobson (her site is http://www.artinsilver.com/)

In my opinion she has been on e of the pioneers in the whole base metal clay business. Her current types of clays available are:

  • Copper (both quick fire and original)
  • Bronze (both quick fire and original)
  • Quick Fire White Bronze
  • Quick Fire Steel
  • Pearl Grey Steel

All of her clays come dry and require that the purchaser mix their own clay by adding distilled water and they all require kiln firing in carbon.

Ms. Jacobson’s website is a wealth of information about mixing and creating with her clays. It is a FABULOUS resource no matter what type of metal clay you choose to use. She also has a series of fabulous books.

Metal Adventures (formerly Metal Clay Adventures)

This is another North American source of base metal clays. The types of metal clays they create are:

These clays come already mixed and require kiln firing in carbon. There is a great source of information about BRONZclay by M. Schindlel published on Squidoo BronzClay it is a great resource and it appears she is working on one for the Copprclay too.

Art Clay

Art Clay, the makers of Art Clay Silver released in December 2009 their version of copper clay. It is called Art Clay Copper and is different than the other types of copper. This clay can be torch fired (but it takes over 5 minutes) and can be kiln fired without any carbon or medium to facilitate sintering. I have worked quite a bit with this copper and will post a detailed post about it in the weeks to come. (Art Clay Copper Information)

Prometheus (http://hobbymaxistore.com/)

This company is from Turkey and make the only bronze clay that I am aware of that does not require the use of a activated carbon for firing. Instead you are to wrap it in paper towel then in a fiber blanket. They now have two types of clay available:

  • Prometheus Bronze
  • Prometheus Copper

On their website there is a forum discussing firing experiments.

I have some of this clay, but have not finished my experiments with it. I have tried torch firing it and was successful. The piece is much rosier that the other bronzes I have used.

Make Your Own!!!

Apparently you could make your own. There are tutorials on the web on how to do this. Metal Clay Academy has a whole page of links on how to do this – Make your own MC. I doubt I will ever get around to trying this. If you have let us know what you think.

Base metal clays can all be unique. In the next few weeks I hope to elaborate on the base clays I have tried.

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