What is this silver clay, bronze clay, copper clay, or metal clay I've heard of?
Let me introduce you to metal clay. Metal clay is the common generic term for a fantastic material. Sometimes also called precious metal clay, it comes in several different forms. Though silver clay is the product most people are aware of, there are also gold clay, bronze clay, and copper clay products.
It is a fascinating material which gives you amazing artistic freedom.
Have you ever wanted to create your own silver jewellery, but not been able to spend the time and money learning traditional silver smithing techniques? Or do you just want a quick way to get started to see if jewellery making is for you?
Do you already work with ceramics or porcelain, make glass beads or fuse glass, or maybe you're a polymer clay artist - who is interested in exploring new creative materials to combine with your clay or glass?
Maybe you are a traditional jewellery maker, silver or metalsmith artist, who are interested in new ways to express yourself?
With metal clay you can, in a few easy steps, create fine silver, bronze, copper, or gold, hand made pieces, using tools you probably already have at home.
Where does silver clay come from?
Art Clay Silver Clay (ACS), Art Clay Copper, and Gold Clay, made by Aida Corporation, Precious Metal Clay (PMC), made by Mitsubishi Materials are the two original brands from Japan. BronzClay and CopprClay are made by Bill Struve's Metal Adventures in the USA. These are the different brands of metal clays on the market. They are often referred to as metal clay, precious clay, or silver clay.
They're all products made from extremely fine particles of metal, mixed with organic binders and water.
Art Clay and PMC are two different brands of silver and gold clay. There are minor differences between the two products, and some people have their own preferences - a bit like the two well-known brands of cola drinks! After firing, they both give you exactly the same result: fine silver.
How do I work with metal clay?
The silver clay is the easiest of the products to get started with. It is a very beginner friendly material.
You can shape it, mould it, press it, roll it, coil it, sculpt it, throw it, pull it, cut it - just as you would with any other clay.
You can use slip, or paste, to "glue" pieces together. You can extrude the clay from a syringe to create filigree like designs. You can add fine silver wire, dichroic glass and other materials before firing.
And - the most amazing thing of all - when fired (in a kiln, on a gas hob, or even with a small kitchen torch!) you end up with real pure fine silver. 99.9% silver.
Is it actually real silver, gold, bronze, or copper?
Yes. The silver and gold clay can be hallmarked at any UK assay office. The silver clay is classed as fine silver, which has the stamp 999 (99.9% pure silver). In the case of the gold clay it is hallmarked 916 (which shows the article consists of 91.6% pure gold) which equals 22 carats, the traditional way of describing gold purity. The bronze clay is made from 89% copper and 11% tin so gives you a pure bronze when fired, this is usually not hallmarked.
Some people call this magic, or alchemy, but it is actually silver, gold, or bronze, to start with - it just doesn't come in the form we're used to.
After firing you can drill it, file it, polish it, burnish it, tumble it, hammer it, enamel it, patina it, solder it - just as you would with any other precious metal.
Decorate your piece with gold foil, Accent Gold for Silver™ (AGS), or Art Clay Gold Paste to give you sparkling gold accents.
Combine the clay with other metals or materials like UV resin, copper, beads, dichroic glass, felt, leather, semi-precious gemstones, pearls, polymer clay, porcelain, wood - your fantasy is the limit.
Doesn't it sound fascinating? Take a look at the How it works page where I tell you more about the technical side of Art Clay.
Would you like to have a look at some finished pieces? Open the Gallery.
If you want to have a go yourself, we're an official UK distributor of Art Clay and BronzClay, and also provide all the basic tools and findings to get you started on your projects. You'll find all of this on the shopping pages.
And if you would like to learn more about Art Clay Silver or Copper, BRONZclay, or COPPRclay, from a certified instructor, or maybe just try it out while enjoying a lovely weekend break, or create your own personalised jewellery piece for a special occasion, we run regular silver jewellery making courses and workshops. See the Courses page.
We hope you find this site helpful and interesting. If you have any questions or comments, please email us.
SilverClay is the trading name for Metal Clay Ltd. SilverClay runs jewellery making classes, workshops, and certification courses. We're an official Art Clay UK Distributor, and official UK Distributor of BronzClay and CopprClay. Supplier of Art Clay and PMC jewellery making tools, Art Clay Starter Kits, rotary and magnetic tumblers, cubic zirconia and lab created gems, fine silver findings. Paragon and UltraLite kilns. Large range of metal clay instructions books. European distributor of Accent Gold for Silver™ and Metal Clay Veneer. If you have a craft shop, pottery cafe, or run jewellery making classes - contact us for wholesale information.