Metallic clay makes it easy to create home-made jewellery designs in stunning silver and gold, without the need for specialist equipment. There are different types of metallic clay, which allow jewellery-makers to design and create their own rings, necklaces, bracelets or brooches.
The clays contain tiny grains of real gold or silver embedded in synthetic clay. The formula makes the metal malleable, and the ‘clay’ simply burns away when fired, leaving solid silver or gold behind. Most silver varieties of metallic clay result in 99.9% purity, with one gold version producing 22K (carats).
Traditional silversmithing and gold-working required specialist equipment to cut, heat and mould silver and gold before it could be moulded. However, are easily shaped, syringed or spread – just like normal clay – and some varieties can even be torch-fired, without needing a kiln.
Those new to jewellery-making, or who haven’t used clay before, will immediately be faced with a choice between the two main brands: the original Precious Metal Clay (PMC) and the newer Art Clay. PMC was invented in Japan by the Mitsubishi Materials Corporation. It proved to be a huge breakthrough for jewellery-makers and designers.
A rival followed soon after, as Aida Chemical Industries, another Japanese company, developed its own range of silver and bronze clays. There are key differences between the brands, which may make one more suitable than the other for creating small jewellery like rings, large jewellery like bracelets or bangles, robust creations like a brooch, or for delicate items like necklaces.
One of the main differences between the products is firing temperatures – both in the heat required and the time it takes to fire. There are differences in shrinkage too, which happens when the ‘clay’ material burns off.You will find shrinkage of between 8% and 30% across the range of both brands’ metallic clays, which can have design benefits.
Using clay with a higher shrinkage percentage means jewellery-makers can work with a large piece of clay to add intricate details, which become even more delicate as the clay shrinks in the kiln. However, metallic clays which require lower firing temperatures can be combined with accessories or embellishments, like gems, providing more versatile options for jewellery designs.
The two different brands can even be used together to create different textures and colours in one piece of jewellery. The first generation of clays were relatively experimental, and in some cases, prone to dulling or even snapping. Art Clay gained an early advantage with more robust range of metallic clay products, which required lower firing temperatures.
As both products have developed, metallic clays have become more solid and strong, allowing for more elaborate or delicate jewellery designs.
Precious Metal Clay made one of the biggest recent advances, with a clay alloy of copper and silver, which creates a stronger finished product than its predecessors, and can even be used in a flat, paper-like form for origami-style creations. As the range of metallic clays has grown, jewellery-makers have come to appreciate the individual qualities of each type of clay, and many have stopped preferring one brand of metallic clay over the other.
Instead they look to use each brand to provide variety between individual designs, or combine them to create their own truly unique and original jewellery.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com