We are working on, and adding to, the FAQ page regularly. As it is growing, we are looking at ways to make it easier to navigate.
What is Art Clay Silver?
What is the difference between Art Clay and PMC?
How is Art Clay manufactured?
What are the basic steps in working with Art Clay?
What is the difference between fine silver and sterling silver?
How can I get started with Art Clay?
How do I fire Art Clay Silver?
What type of kiln is best for firing Art Clay?
What about other type of kilns?
Can I add more to a piece once it has been fired?
Can I solder Art Clay?
Where's Art Clay from?
Q. What is Art Clay Silver?
A. Art Clay Silver is a pure metal powder (1-20 micron sized silver particles) mixed with non-toxic organic binders and water. When kiln or torch fired, the binders burn away, leaving pure, 99.9% fine silver.
Art Clay Silver can be combined with a variety of media, like glass, ceramics, stones, porcelain and polymer clay. It can be rolled, sculpted, stamped, sanded, filed, engraved, drilled and pre-polished, all prior to firing. Once fired it is pure silver and can treated like any other pure silver.
Art Clay Silver shrinks 8-10%, with the 650 Low Fire Clay shrinking only 8-9%, the lowest in the industry. Art Clay Silver includes a broad range of products, like Oil Paste and Overlay Paste, Slow Dry, Art Clay Silver Paper and 22k Gold Clay. There is also the Accent Gold for Silver, and Art Clay Gold Paste, which easily lets you add pure 24k gold accents to your silver.
Q. What is the difference between Art Clay and PMC?
A. These are the two metal clay brands on the market. Both will give you a fine silver piece when fired. There are differences in the product range, Art Clay has a few products which PMC doesn't, like Slow Dry, Oil Paste and Overlay Paste. Depending on who you ask, there are also some differences in consistency and feel of the clay.
Q. How is Art Clay manufactured?
A. Art Clay is a recycled product manufactured by Aida Industries in Japan. Aida recycles and reclaims a variety of different metals, and the silver comes from many different sources, like film stock and negatives.
Q. What are the basic steps in working with Art Clay?
A. Shape the clay. Leave to dry. Finish and smooth the plaster hard piece with files or sandpaper. Fire. Polish, and you are ready! The piece is now pure fine silver, and can be soldered, drilled, enamelled, and so on.
Q. What is the difference between fine and sterling silver?
A. Fine silver is pure silver (0.999 or 99.9% pure). Sterling silver is 92.5% silver, to which is added other metals, primarily copper, as alloys. These other metals make the sterling harder than fine silver. Fine silver tarnishes a lot slower than sterling silver.
Q. How can I get started with Art Clay?
A. You can start yourself with the help of any of the great books with step-by-step projects. These take you through the basic techniques of using and firing Art Clay. With clear photos they are easy to follow and are very inspirational.
Or, even better, take an Introductory Class, where you will learn the correct techniques for how to work, handle, shape and fire the clay. SilverClay offers classes ranging from a few hours to several days.
Q. How do I fire Art Clay Silver?
A. With a kiln, a torch, or even a gas stove. Temperature is critical as over-firing can cause the silver to melt. The firing burns out the binder, lets the water evaporate, and causes the silver particles to fuse together.
Q. What type of kiln is best for firing Art Clay?
A. We recommend and sell the SC series kilns from Paragon Industries. The SC-2 is the most popular kiln for firing Art Clay, while the SC-3 is essentially a larger version. The SC kilns are digital and very easy to program. You can also use these kilns for enamelling, china paint, and glass fusing and slumping.
Q. What about other types of kilns?
A. Any kiln that can accurately hold the necessary temperatures for firing will be adequate. You should test your kiln, as your kiln may have slight variations in temperature in the chamber, especially if it is a larger kiln. Depending upon where you place the Art Clay in the kiln, a hot spot could cause the piece to be over fired, or a cold spot would make it under fired. Glass fusing kilns, enamelling and other computer-controlled kilns are ideal, and you can make a cone sitter do the job as well.
Q. Can you add more to a piece once it is fired?
A. Yes, you can add more clay and re-fire it. It's amazing to see the new clay parts bond to the previously fired piece and become one solid piece. All along the way in the process you can repair, add and change your piece. Ensure the metal is clean before adding additional materials. If you want to repair a crack in a fired piece, or ‘glue’ two fired pieces together, use Art Clay Oil Paste for a much stronger bond.
Q. Can I solder findings onto my piece after I have fired it?
A. Yes, no problems at all. Just burnish the area carefully with a metal burnisher before soldering.
Q. Where's Art Clay from?
A. Art Clay is manufactured in Japan by Aida Chemical Industries. Aida Chemical Industries is a family owned company that recycles and reclaims metals, including the precious metals gold and silver. In 1991 Aida Research and Development obtained a patent for the manufacturing process for a metal clay, which became Art Clay. The clay, paste and syringe types were introduced to Japan in late 1992. The Aida Planning Department began to develop the books and other accompanying materials and, in April, 1994, Art Clay Silver and Gold were officially introduced into the general public in Japan.
Aida Chemical Industries is a "green" company. It collects metals which already have been used and reclaims these metals. Such items as computer circuit boards and silver from photographic supplies are processed in tremendous quantities every year. A portion of this harvest becomes Art Clay Silver and Art Clay Gold.
Aida combines these reclaimed metals with non-toxic, organic binders. The result is a product which can be handled safely. Every effort has been made to assure the safety of artists using Art Clay. Even the production processes used to create Art Clay are designed to have minimal effects on the environment.