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Articles in Beginners
Can I use Art Clay and PMC in the same design?
As long as you use appropriate firing times and temperatures and take into account the differences in shrinkage, you can use products from both brands in a design, just as you can use different types of clay from the same brand in a design.
Can I learn how to work with metal clay from a book?
Yes of course. There are lots of wonderful books that are ideal for beginners. Check out our Books page to find some great resources. We have some recommended books especially for beginners. It's also useful to browse books in your local bookshop to see if the style of the book suits your way of learning.
How do I roll out a consistently thick slab of clay?
There are several ways of doing this. The simplest and most inexpensive way is to buy some playing cards and use these in equal piles on each side of the lump of clay as you roll it out. For instance, if you want a fairly thin piece of clay for a simple pendant or earrings, you could put a pile of three cards on each side of the clay and use these as a guide for your roller.
How thick should my clay be?
This depends on what you are making, how deep the texture you're using is, if you're putting texture on the back and the front and also to some extent personal taste. If you're making a pair of small plain earrings, you can roll the clay out to three cards thick. This should make a light pair of earrings that are strong enough to withstand the wear. If you're using deep texture you should go up to five or six cards thick. Deep texture on the back and front of a piece may require your initial rolling to be even thicker. If your piece is going to get lots of wear, like a pendant with a wrap over bail, the bail part should be a little thicker so it can withstand the wear. You will probably know if you've gone too thin when you try to pick the piece up.
Why is newly fired silver metal clay white?
This is the surface of the silver before burnishing. If you could look at it under a microscope you'd see lots of peaks and valleys. This uneven surface doesn't allow the light to reflect so it appears dull white.
How can I get a good brass brush effect on very small pieces?
You can buy very small brushes which get into small spaces. Very small burnishing tools also work well to close the pores of the surface of the silver.
What can I do with my already fired mistakes?
Sometimes the mistakes can become a wonderful piece of work!
What is slip?
Slip is a watered down version of metal clay. You can buy slip or paste directly from the suppliers or make your own by adding water to a small lump of clay, filings or dried out clay. Slip can be used to attach two pieces of metal clay together, fill in small cracks or painted onto leaves, flowers, pods etc to make unique designs.
What are the working stages of metal clay?
There are three working stages; lump clay, leather hard or green stage and fired.
What are the problems associated with quenching hot metal clay?
If you want to refire, enamel or solder on a piece of metal clay that has been quenched, you may find that moisture has got trapped in the metal. When you heat it again, especially if you heat it fast, the moisture turns to steam and may cause a blister on the surface. You need to dry the piece thoroughly if you have quenched the metal following the initial firing.It is also important to remember that you should not quench a piece which has glass or stones as part of the design. The sudden change in temperature from the firing to the cold water may cause shock and the stone or glass could be damaged or break entirely. Leave your piece to air cool, it should only take a few minutes.

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