The Joy of Metal Clay – Silver Leaves

This week I want to discuss creating metal clay leaves. Sorry for the delay in this post.

Selecting a leaf:
Before you start this technique you need to select an appropriate leaf. Not all leaves will be appropriate for this technique. Leaves that may not be appropriate include leaves with very feint lines (such as some sedums) leaves with lots of jagged edges (such as a Japanese Maple) may either be impossible or very difficult to get the result you are looking for.
Art Clay World has a listing on how to find the appropriate leaf.

Which side to paint? Remember that you will get a reverse of the side you are painting. The surface that gets covered is going to be the surface you will get the texture on, you need to apply so much clay that usually the back side is relatively smooth.

What to do it?

1. Select a leave. Ideally your leaf should be fresh. If it is dry it will likely crack and break before you are done.
2. Place your leaf on either a sheet of Teflon (or wax paper). In the past I have also used a piece of “Press and Seal” wrap (this is a sticky type of cling wrap made by Glad and found in the grocery store). This will allow you to stick the leaf down so that it lays flat.

3. Apply a thin layer of paste. The first layer should be slightly thinned paste (texture of cream).

4. Allow the layer to dry.
5. Repeat with a second layer. Allow this to dry.
6. Continue repeating until your layer are approximately 1mm thick (approximately 8-10 layers).
7. Once your leaf is the desired thickness. Gently remove any clay from the front “non clay” side of the leaf (see below). This is important as otherwise you may get a void in your texture.

8. Allow the piece to dry completely and fire. The leaf can stay on and will burn out naturally. Beware that generally it is not recommended to torch fire organic material as there is a large flame up when firing.

The result is a silver leaf:


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