Make your own metal clay
If you’re someone who likes to do it yourself, this is the page for you. Here you’ll find information about making your own metal clay. Please get in touch with us if you have anything to add to the information on this page.
Content checked June 2020.
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Article about making your own metal clay – Jean Megahan
This downloadable PDF article has an alternative binder type and includes firing details. Comprehensive and includes suppliers. Check out Jean Megahan’s Etsy shop here.
Article about making your own metal clay – Del Feast
This article includes a recipe for bronze clay that can be torch fired.
Del has written an update following his experimentation with rice starch as a binder.
Binders for DIY Metal Clay
Chemist Kevin has been in touch to say that ordinary wallpaper paste, the dry powder type, works well as a binder.
Sharon Morrison from the Seattle area posted some useful information about binders on the Metal Clay Yahoo! Group. She has kindly given us permission to repost her information here.
“I use various gums for gluten-free baking – xanthan gum, guar gum, methylcellulose (MC) (I am not sure if this is the same as CMC – carboxy methyl cellulose- which is used to thicken glaze mixtures and is also used for DIY glass clay).
I’ve tried them all for DIY bronze clay: The ‘sticky’ ones work best for metal clay – methylcellulose and xanthan gum. Guar gum adds body, but doesn’t hold things together. I tried Wilton ‘gum-tex’ (labeled karaya gum), which also adds body, but not much adhesion.
My first attempt used ‘pre-hydrated’ methylcellulose, inspired by a glass clay recipe from Barry Kaiser’s website. I substituted MC for CMC, soak MC in water for a day or so and use the resulting clear gel to form a clay-like mixture with fine particles of your choice.
I tend to mix by eye, and use leftovers from previous recipes, so my bronze clay has variable shrinkage and properties: it doesn’t matter for just playing around. For rings and nice jewelry, commercial clay is MUCH better: finer finish and less shrinkage. I think a good mixture should mostly use a ‘sticky’ binder with a little bit of ‘body’ binder and then a drop or two of glycerine for added flexibility. I read somewhere than you can add a little sugar/corn syrup and oil to modifiy the clay: try home made playdough recipes?
I suppose you could mix DIY metal clay and commercial clay to get an intermediate quality clay, but you’d have to check for binder incompatibility.”
This video has the instructions on how to mix your own copper or bronze metal clay from ingredients that are available online. The cost per 100 grams is about 1/4th the cost of commercial pre-mixed metal clay.
This video shows the process of mixing and reconstituting the homemade metal clay from the previous video. It also shows the clay’s ability to hold a texture.
Suppliers of Raw Materials
Suppliers of silver powder
Makin Metal Powders (UK) Ltd manufactures Copper Powder, Bronze Powder, Tin Powder, Infiltrants and Press-Ready Pre-Mix Powders along with other related alloys from its purpose built 10,000m2 production facility in Rochdale, United Kingdom.
Metal Clay Powder is supplied in two parts: a Silver pack and a Binder pack. Some artist desire a binderless pure silver medium for designated projects while others want a versatile clay with almost indefinite shelf life. MCP is a value alternative enabling you to create larger artistic sculpture and maximize profit margin. The main ingredient is pure silver metal, along with organic binder and water. When the product is fully air-dried, and fired at the appropriate temperature and time, the finished product will have great strength, and will take a polish just as any other silver metal object.
See a blog post testing this product here.
OzoMetal is the Registered agent for Materials shipped and warehoused in the United States. Metal Powders sold are manufactured in India, from the largest producer of non-ferrous metals in Asia. Their manufacturer is well known supplier of material in Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa.
A different way to buy silver clay, this powder has a longer shelf life than PMC or Art Clay. It does require mixing and there are some issues with it. The supplier website gives plenty of information about how to use it and they have a YouTube video how to mix and use it.
Supplier of copper powder
SCAN GROUP AFRICA LTD
HELSINKI FINLAND (Head Office)
Tel: +220-7107863 (ROAMING)
Supplier of bronze powder
Supplier of a range of metal powders
Search for atomized metal powder for a full list of the powders they supply. Sharon Morrison recommended these two suppliers for DIY metal clayers but she adds this caveat, “Also, you might want to mention that the atomized metal powders from TAP and D & S are only -325 mesh, nowhere near as fine as particles in commercial clays. I think you need very fine particle size to have the best results, but I haven’t found much that you can buy in small quantities.”