I’m coming into this discussion a bit late, but feel I must say
something, because unfortunately, the on Metal Clay
(there are two brands, not just PMC but also Art Clay) is incorrect
and I hate to see that happen.
My first venture into jewelry fabrication was traditional
"silversmithing". However, the cost of the equipment and the room
necessary to house it was daunting. Silversmithing, or more
correctly goldsmithing was not my first career and is more of an
avocation, due to my already having a successful business with which
I earn my living.
At any rate, I discovered metal clay a couple of years ago and was
just overjoyed. I was like many people and thought that metal clay
was some type of clay, polymer, I guess that looked like metal but
that was not really metal. When I learned that metal clay is real
metal, fine silver and at the time 24K gold in powder dispersed in a
binder to create a clay-like substance, I was very excited to think
that I could create things I wanted to create, but didn’t have the
equipment to create in my home studio.
One forms the object they want to create, which is NOT easy, btw,
and then fires it at a high temperature which burns off the binder
leaving the pure metal behind.
If the clay is fired at a sufficiently high temperature, the binder
totally burns away and the metal sinters. At this point the metal is
not porous or weak. I have created tons of rings, including 22K gold
rings, with metal clay and they are VERY strong. I wear at least one
of them everyday and they have stood up admirably. Once the fine
silver is fired you can use any technique with it you want that you
would use in traditional silversmithing. You may apply 24K gold for
Keum Boo, you can bend it, you can hammer it, drill it, solder it,
etc. All you need to keep in mind is that you need to anneal the
metal, just like regular silver or gold.
I see that someone called it “goop”. Nothing could be further from
the truth. It is a material that is delicate and interesting to work
with. It has absolutely nothing to do with pottery.
It is in fact a new way to create metal objects of fine silver and
(now) 22K gold objects.
I agree that there are folks who use metal clay in a craft like way,
but I have seen plenty of “crafts” made with traditional
metalsmithing as well.
There are truly great artists creating wonderful pieces of wearable
art using metal clay.
I continue to increase my supply of metal working tools and my
skills in the traditional metalsmithing arts, but I use metal clay
often and enjoy it and have created some pieces that I think are
quite beautiful. I like to combine both traditional goldsmithing and
metal clay elements.
I really think you should look into the work created by out modern
metal clay artists before you decide to throw over this new
You can do some fantastic things with metal clay and there are new
innovations and techniques being discovered all the time for its
use. I think as jewelry artists, one should keep their minds open to
new materials and this is a fantastic one you ought to look in to.
Laura H. Hastings
ACS Level I Instructor