This is a advertorial. At the bottom of this How to, I will tell you more about where I bought my kit – i.e. all about my lovely sponsors of this post! I just wanted to say first, that I chose to buy my Art Clay from this company before we even spoke about advertising!
Most of my posts are inexpensive recycled crafts, but every so often I feel it’s ok to blow a little budget and create something truly lovely that you can keep & cherish. Here, I chose to make a little heart charm for my daughter’s charm bracelet! I think that the “kit” makes an excellent Christmas present for someone crafty or, you could buy the set yourself and give away any charms you make as gifts!
A few years back I made two sets of silver cufflinks, using “Silver Clay” that I had bought at a pottery shop. They then fired it for me. (See the “Ace” card cufflinks. I don’t have a photo of the other ones, but they were “happy & sad theatre masks”).
Recently, I came across Silver Clay that you can FIRE AT HOME! How exciting is that? So, I embarked on my new silver clay adventure. There is really only one product “out there”, and it is called Art Clay, all the way from Japan.
I was “quite nervous” giving it a go, as I didn’t want to waste my money and get it wrong. But it was all fine!
(Sorry there are not more detailed photos, but I was busy crafting!!).
For home firing and as a novice, you will need just two things:
a) a gas stove
b) an Art Clay starter kit
You could just get some Art Clay, but I wouldn’t recommend it, as you do need the firing instructions & firing mesh, and it is handy to have some of the extra tools for shaping and polishing. The starter kit comes with 7gs of Silver Clay. Which is enough for two small charms or one set of cufflinks. Depending on what you are making, you will need extra jump rings or some cufflink backs.
1) Personally, I find it helpful to have a good idea of what you would like to make before hand. Maybe even try it out with some Play-Doh first, you don’t want the Art Clay drying out. I decided on two finger print charms – note: I found that my baby’s fingers were too small to leave an imprint. My toddler’s fingers worked, *just*. If you are dong fingerprinting at home, I would do it with older children, whose prints are more defined! As I only found this out as I was crafting, I shaped my baby’s charm into a heart for her charm bracelet.
2) Divide your clay into two equal portions… and get crafting. It does dry out so work as quickly as you can. Keep your shape simple. After a short while maybe dab the clay with the tiniest amount of water to help get a smooth surface. I was able to use one of the tools in the kit to engrave the children’s names on the back reasonably neatly.
3) Let dry for at least 2 days (you can do a spot test on a piece of paper to see if it is dry enough, it will leave a damp mark if not).
4) Draw an outline of your piece, you will need this as a reference. I skipped it and then regretted it as I had no idea if I had fired the silver correctly! I was lucky and all was well!
5) Prepare for firing: get a pot of water ready for cooling and your wire mesh & mini cage. Test the mesh for the hot spot ring and then fire your piece on it. It will only take 1-3 minutes depending on the size. Mine took 1.5 minutes.
6) Leave to cool for 20minutes – don’t be tempted to pick it up sooner! You may burn yourself.
7) Place in water for final cooling.
8] Check your fired piece against your outline – if it looks like it has shrunk 10% you are done.
9) Polish with a steel brush. Then with polishing pads, and finally with silver polish!
It is a little “scary” at first, but I can’t wait to have another go!
So, where do you get this marvellous stuff from? Believe me, I searched the web extensively to find out what is out there, how it works and where you can buy it from.
It didn’t take me long to find Metal Clay Ltd.
Why did I go for them?
- The pricing of Art Clay is very similar across all the Art Clay providers. Metal Clay Ltd were marginally cheaper, as they offer free postage and packaging on orders over £20.
- That wasn’t why I went with them though, I bought from them, as they had responsive, friendly and good customer service. I had emailed a couple of the Art Clay providers with some “How to” queries and they were not only the ONLY ones to get back to me, but they did it within the same day and answered several of my questions. To me that makes a huge difference, especially when you are exploring a new product.
- Delivery was also quick and efficient.
- You can visit their website www.metalclay.co.uk or contact them on 01929 481541 or firstname.lastname@example.org!