Frequently Asked Questions
Most frequent questions and answers
- TEST PIECES: you need to make test pieces of each colour you will be using to determine the correct temperature of that colour for your kiln (strips 3 cards thick are a good example) to be able to set your kiln with the correct temperatures. The test strips need only be 1cm wide x 5cm long for base metals, and for silver a smaller strip about 0.5cm wide by 2cm long. Never kiln fire a piece that you have spent a lot of time working on without already having the right schedule for your kiln by having done TEST STRIPS and know that the pieces sinter. (Read “how do I know if my piece is sintered” in our FAQ section), please also check out the chart of Do’s and dont’s file for more information.
- The temperatures that I have given you, in the instructions, are suggested temperatures only. Each Kiln, while it may be made in the same factory, can produce different temperatures. Your altitude, whether sea level or high altitude, will play a part as well as where you store and use your kiln (inside, outside, in a closed room). All these factors can alter your temperature by between 1 & 5 degrees.
- Fully read the instruction I have included with your clay. If there is something you don’t understand, please ask. You can either email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or join our facebook group and post your question/s there.
- Read all of our frequently asked questions.
- Storage – store your unused clay in an airtight container.
- Whatever you do, don’t give up. Take the emotions out of the equation, and keep testing. Knowing your kiln and your environment will lead you to success.
Metal clay is an innovative clay that consists of very small particles of metal such as silver, gold, bronze, copper and brass mixed with organic, non-toxic binders and liquid. Metal clay can be shaped just like any soft clay, by hand or using molds. After drying, the clay can be fired in a variety of ways including a kiln, torch or stove top fired, depending on the type of clay and metal in it. The binder burns away, the metal sinters and the clay is transformed in to a solid piece of metal. Metal clay enables you to create metal pieces in a fraction of the time, with minimal tools, and cost of traditional methods.
With over 10 years in the metal clay world, Aussie Metal Clay is one of the leading innovators in the industry.
Our accolades include:
- 1st Company in the world to introduce 960 sterling silver metal clay & powder.
- 1st Company in the world to introduce Origami clay in lump form and is rehydrateable.
- 1st Company in the world to introduce a hydrating solution for a smooth clay rehydrate.
- 1st Company in the world to introduce a clay “glue” that does not need to be made in to paste and works on wet clay, dry clay and fired.
- 1st Company in the world to introduce Brass Clay to the market.
- Only metal clay company to have all the silvers, bronzes, copper and brass metal clays under one roof.
- Aussie Metal Clays are the only metal clay made in Australia.
- Each pack is handmade ensuring that you get the same results each time you use a new pack.
- Aussie metal clays are derived from the finest metals available.
- Freshly made clay, to order.
- Very easy to Rehydrate.
- One of Longest working times of any clay on the market.
- Gives you a Smooth and clean texture.
- Our metal clays are derived from recycled metal.
You will need a number of basic supplies to get started with metal clay. Some of this depends on the type of clay you choose to work with. You can purchase the majority of your tools from Aussie Metal Clay. However, many of these items can be found around the house!
- Roller – you will need a roller to roll out your clay.
- Rolling surface – you can use a piece of plastic with graph paper underneath to use as a guide.You can also use baking silicone mats or a ceramic tile.
- Clay thickness rolling cards – you can use regular playing cards for your card thickness. Example – 2 cards thick is 2 playing cards – each card measures 0.25mm.
- Cutting tool – You need a sharp edged object for cutting your clay. This could be a thicker sewing needle, dental instruments that you can sometimes find at flea markets, a pizza cutter, etc.
- Non Stick – you can use olive oil, its very thick oil so use it very sparingly. Over time Olive oil will leave a residue on your molds and slowly destroy them. There are alternatives but Olive oil is a good starting point as most people have it in their kitchen.
- Air tight container – To store your unused clay. This can be a storage container, a jar with a lid or any thing you may have that is airtight. Put a small piece of damp sponge in the container (not touching the clay).
- File for your clay – You can purchase sanding pads or use emery boards to smooth the edges of your clay.
- Distilled Water – When you need to use water with your clay, use distilled water. The chemicals in your tap water can adversely affect your clay.
- Drying – You can air dry or use a food dehydrator to dry your wet clay. Alternatively you may have an old frypan or skillet which you can use if you dry on a low setting.
- Cleaning the fired piece – We recommend a brass brush for cleaning your piece after firing. There are many products available for the final polish.
This is a partial list of household items to get you started. There are many more products that I have in my shop that will give you a better outcome.
With our Torch & Kiln .999 Fine Silver Metal Clay, there are options for firing if you don’t have a kiln. This includes a simple hand-held torch. You can also check with bead stores or ceramic/pottery shops to see if they have a “fire” station available. Safety precautions are needed for any option you choose to fire your clay. take advantage of the demonstration videos which have been created especially for you!
We could give you the scientific explanation but simply stated, sinter means metal particles fusing/bonding together just before the point of the metal melting.
A base metal (bronzes, coppers, brass) is a common and inexpensive metal as opposed precious metal (silver, gold, etc). Base metals may be distinguished by oxidizing relatively easily. A precious metal is a rare naturally occurring metal of high economic value. Chemically, precious metals tend to be less reactive than base metals.
Base metal clays need to fired in the absence of oxygen to eliminate the oxidation of the metal by atmospheric oxygen. This can be accomplished by firing in premium activated coconut carbon.
In the section of “TEST STRIPS” in “VERY IMPORTANT” at the top of this FAQ tells you we can not stress enough how important it is to do test strips before you fire your creative pieces. Doing test strips will enable you to know at what temperature your piece should be fully sintered.
All of the silver .999’s/.960’s, and base metals, with the exception of the silver coloured bronzes, bend the end of the strip using round nose pliers. If the strip breaks rather than bends, it is not sintered. Return to the kiln, raise your temperature between 3 and 5 degrees and refire your test strip from the 2nd stage. Repeat this process until you have a successful sinter.
For silver/white bronzes & White Coppers, you can gently drop on a steel bench block, mirror, piece of glass or ceramic tile. If correctly sintered, you will hear a metallic ring/ting.
Aussie Metal Clay is constantly striving for better clays and variety of colours and specialised applications through clay development. Our Aussie clays are made with the teacher in mind, but the great thing is, you don’t have to be a teacher to use these amazing clays.
Through the years, our clay ranges and products are constantly developing. We currently have a premium clay, a flex clay, a sculpting clay and an origami clay. All of these clays suit a different purpose. Please click the document below to understand what each clays properties are. CLAY PERFORMANCE CHART
There are a couple of reasons for bubbles to occur in your designs. In stage one your ramp speed is too fast not giving enough time for the binder to be completely burnt out of your design. Alternatively if you are torch firing you needed to take more time heating your clay with your torch traveling around the perimeter of your design before placing your torch flame on the design.
If your clay melted, it is because your firing temperature was too hot for your clay. In this case I would reduce the temperature and go back and do another test strip to ensure the correct temperature for your kiln and the clay you are using.
Typically, sterling silver will turn black and get very brittle and break easily.
You can fire with fine silver wire/components. You can also embed stainless steel components as well. Depending on the quality of the stainless steel, it could also get very brittle. We suggest you do a test run on the stainless steel in your kiln before embedding in to your design.
Yes, you can fire the PREMIUM base metal colours together. You can also fire the sculpting Gold Bronze with the Sculpting Silver Bronze. And you can fire the Sculpting Ruby Bronze with the Sculpting Desert Sun.
There are many things we could say about safety, but I would hope that we would all agree that safety is paramount! It is very important to take every safety precaution available when working with any Metal Clay so we will touch on a few safety issues here for you. One of the safety issues that crops up when using metal clay is dust particles and as such, a mask is imperative to alleviate this safety concern.
There are various types of safety masks available on the market these days, Personally I would suggest either a P2 or N95 mask, though having said that any mask would be better than none. You should also wear a mask when sanding and polishing your designs. The other area when using a mask is very important is when using the premium activated coconut carbon. One of the ways to clean the carbon between firings is to pour the carbon from one container to another this will release the very fine ash particles in the air – take your containers outside in a light breeze and stay upwind. From time to time you could also encounter some small metal particles when doing this so it’s best to be vigilant and maintain your safety precautions of wearing not only your mask but also safety glasses.
Safety glasses are also great for when you are loading or unloading the kiln and when you are sanding and polishing your pieces, either in green ware or in a metal state.
Heat protective gloves:
When loading and unloading items to a hot kiln, wear heat protective gloves to ensure you protect your hands.
There are many other things you can do to protect yourself for example – wearing enclosed shoes while unloading a warm to hot kiln, having your hair tied back when working around a hot kiln or polishing etc… Every person and every situation is different.
All of the silver .960’s/.999’s, and base metals, with the exception of the white/silver colored bronzes & coppers, can be bent and hammered.
Because your piece did not sinter or it is a white/silver colored bronze or copper. As mentioned in our important message at the very top of this FAQ, we can not stress enough how important it is to do test strips before you fire your creative pieces. Doing test strips will enable you to know at what temperature your piece should be fully sintered.
All of the silver .999’s/.960’s, and base metals, with the exception of the white/silver colored bronzes and Snow White Copper, to check for sinter, bend the end of the strip. If the strip breaks rather than bends, it is not sintered. Return to the kiln, raise your temperature between 3 and 5 degrees and refire your test strip. Repeat this process until you have a successful sinter.