I took a metal clay class this past weekend. Despite demonstrating
a lack of talent in the medium, I'm in the mood to experiment a bit
with it. It is no secret that I adore Argentium, and am now
curious if I can 'easily' combine the two for certain pieces? I've
read a few posts on depletion gilding sterling in order to get it
to fuse to metal clay, a nd wonder if the same could be true for
In my opinion, as a metalsmith and teacher in both metal clay and
traditional silver, the only way to combine sterling (of any sort)
with metal clay is after firing. I know this is not a universally
accepted notion, but I am in the camp that believes that all silver
clay should be fired to 1650 for 2 hours. Any less than that leaves
the metal clay less dense and strong than its maximum possible.
Pieces fired lower/shorter, even PMC3 fired according to the
manufacturer’s instructions, will be brittle and weak.
The fact is that sterling cannot tolerate these temperatures,
whether depletion gilded or not.
Fine silver combines fine with metal clay, though metal clay shrinks
and traditional sheet and wire do not.
If you decide to try the lower/shorter firing schedules in order to
be able to combine with sterling and/or stones, be prepared for a lot
of wasted effort and material, and for creating pieces that are much
thicker than otherwise, to compensate for the greater fragility.
If you think I may be wrong, I urge you to make some quick, simple
test pieces (with sterling, if you like) and fire them as you wish,
then experiment with them-- bend them, hammer them, test their
strength as you see fit. Then decide for yourself. ’