Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ

Most frequent questions and answers

Before proceeding, it is imperative to conduct test pieces for each color intended for use. These test pieces are essential for determining the precise temperature settings required for your kiln. Utilize strips, preferably three cards thick, as a suitable example. The dimensions for base metals should be approximately 1cm wide by 5cm long. For silver, a smaller strip measuring about 0.5cm wide by 2cm long is sufficient. Never proceed to kiln-fire a meticulously crafted piece without establishing the correct temperature schedule through test strips and ensuring the pieces sinter adequately. Refer to our FAQ section for guidance on identifying sintered pieces. Additionally, review the chart of Do’s and Don’ts for further insights.

It’s crucial to note that the temperatures provided in the instructions serve as suggestions only. Variations in kiln performance, influenced by factors such as altitude and storage conditions, can result in temperature discrepancies ranging from 1 to 5 degrees Celsius. Carefully review the accompanying clay instructions. Should any aspect be unclear, do not hesitate to reach out. Questions can be directed via email to info@aussiemetalclay.com or by joining our Facebook group and posting queries there.

Familiarize yourself with our frequently asked questions for comprehensive understanding. Proper storage is vital; ensure unused clay is stored in an airtight container.

Persistence is key; refrain from letting emotions interfere. Embrace the process of experimentation and testing. Mastery of your kiln and understanding your environment are pivotal to achieving success.

Metal clay is a groundbreaking material composed of finely ground metal particles, such as silver, gold, bronze, copper, and brass, combined with organic, non-toxic binders and liquid. This versatile clay allows for easy shaping by hand or with molds, akin to traditional clay. After shaping, it can be fired using various methods, including kiln, torch, or stove-top firing, depending on the specific type of clay and metal involved. During firing, the binder burns away, leaving the metal particles to sinter and transform into a solid metal piece. Metal clay offers a swift and cost-effective alternative to traditional metalworking, requiring minimal tools and time to produce stunning metal creations.

With over 15 years of experience in the metal clay industry, Aussie Metal Clay stands out as a premier innovator. Our accomplishments include:

  • Pioneering the introduction of 960 sterling silver metal clay and powder globally.
  • Introducing Origami clay in lump form, a first in the world, which can be rehydrated.
  • Innovating a hydrating solution for seamless clay rehydration, Kim’sClaySpray™, another industry first.
  • Developing a unique clay “glue” Kim’sClayStay™ that eliminates the need for paste-making and works effectively on wet, dry, and fired clay.
  • Introducing Brass Clay to the market ahead of anyone else.
  • Offering a comprehensive range of silvers, bronzes, copper, and brass metal clays all under one roof, a distinction no other metal clay company holds.
  • Proudly crafting our metal clays in Australia, making us the sole manufacturer in the country.
  • Handmaking each pack to ensure consistent results with every use.
  • Sourcing our materials from the finest metals available for superior quality.
  • Providing freshly made clay tailored to order.
  • Offering easy rehydration for convenience.
  • Boasting one of the longest working times among all clays on the market.
  • Delivering a smooth and clean texture for exceptional craftsmanship.
  • Utilizing recycled metal in the production of our metal clays, contributing to sustainability efforts in the industry.

To embark on your metal clay journey, you’ll want to gather some essential supplies. The specific items you’ll need can vary depending on the type of clay you’re working with. While you can find most tools at Aussie Metal Clay, many essentials can be sourced from around your home!

  1. Roller: Essential for flattening your clay to the desired thickness.
  2. Rolling Surface: Opt for a piece of plastic with graph paper beneath for guidance. Alternatively, baking silicone mats or a ceramic tile can serve as suitable surfaces.
  3. Clay Thickness Rolling Cards: Regular playing cards work well for achieving the desired thickness. For example, 2 cards thick equals 0.25mm each.
  4. Cutting Tool: Use a sharp object like a thick sewing needle, dental instruments from flea markets, or even a pizza cutter for precise cutting.
  5. Non-Stick Solution: Aussie Lube is your best option.
  6. Airtight Container: Store unused clay in a container with a tight lid. Add a small damp sponge (not touching the clay) to maintain moisture.
  7. File: Sanding pads or emery boards can help smooth the edges of your clay creations.
  8. Distilled Water: Use distilled water instead of tap water to prevent adverse effects on your clay due to chemicals.
  9. Drying Method: Air drying or using a food dehydrator are effective. Alternatively, a low setting on an old frypan or skillet can also work.
  10. Cleaning Tool: After firing, a brass brush is recommended for cleaning your piece. Explore various products available for achieving the final polish.

While this list mostly covers basic household items to kickstart your metal clay endeavors, consider exploring additional products available for enhanced outcomes, which you can find at my shop.

Explore various firing options for our Torch & Kiln .999 Fine Silver Metal Clay. If a kiln isn’t available, consider utilizing a handheld torch or inquire at local bead stores or ceramic/pottery shops for access to a firing station. Remember to adhere to safety precautions regardless of your chosen method. Additionally, don’t miss out on our tailored demonstration videos designed to assist you in the process!

“Sintering” refers to the process of heating the clay to a specific temperature in order to fuse its particles together. Metal clay is composed of very fine metal particles mixed with an organic binder and water. During the firing process, the binder burns away, leaving behind pure metal. Sintering causes the metal particles to bond together, resulting in a solid metal object. The temperature and duration of the sintering process vary depending on the type of metal clay being used and the desired final properties of the metal object.

Base metals, including bronzes, coppers, and brass, are commonly found and are generally more affordable compared to precious metals like silver and gold. One distinguishing characteristic of base metals is their tendency to oxidize relatively easily. In contrast, precious metals are rare, naturally occurring metals with high economic value and typically exhibit lower reactivity compared to base metals.

To prevent oxidation during firing, base metal clays require an oxygen-free environment. This can be achieved by utilizing premium activated coconut carbon as the firing medium.

In the “TEST STRIPS” section under “VERY IMPORTANT” in this FAQ, we emphasize the criticality of conducting test strips before firing your creative pieces. Performing these test strips will provide invaluable insight into the ideal sintering temperature for your work.

For all silver .999’s/.960’s and base metals, excluding silver-colored bronzes, utilize round nose pliers to bend the end of the strip. If the strip breaks instead of bending, it indicates insufficient sintering. In such cases, return the piece to the kiln, increase the temperature by 3 to 5 degrees, and re-fire the test strip from the second stage. Continue this process until achieving successful sintering.

For silver/white bronzes & White Coppers, gently drop the strip onto a steel bench block, mirror, piece of glass, or ceramic tile. Properly sintered strips will produce a distinct metallic ring or ting upon impact.

At Aussie Metal Clay, our commitment to excellence drives our continuous innovation in clay development, expanding our range of colors and specialized applications. Crafted with educators in mind, our Aussie clays offer versatility that extends beyond the classroom, welcoming enthusiasts of all levels.

Over the years, we’ve refined our clay offerings to include a flex clay and an origami clay, each tailored to specific needs and preferences. 

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.

Safety First!

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.

Masks:

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:

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.

Shopping Cart
Select your currency