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  • PMC / Art Clay Tools & TIPS

    Hi All,
    I've been asked a few questions on PMC so I thought I'd start a thread then if myself (or anyone else)
    has useful advice it's it one place

    PMC Suggested TOOLS - minimum needs, in order of use
    A roller - used for rolling out the clay
    A rolling surface - Non-stick as possible e.g. a glass board or polished tile
    Spacers or playing cards - for getting the depth of the clay even
    Cutting blade, scalpel - For getting straight edges and making your shapes.
    A small lidded pot - to put filings & tiny offcuts into so you can save them for making silver clay paste or slip
    Various grades of sanding pads - or get a 4 way nail filing block and strip the sides off.
    FIRING METHOD - For Hob firing, stainless steel mesh with protection net.
    Torch firing - Handheld torch and a firing brick (asbestos substitute not a household brick )
    Kiln - If you can get access to a kiln then use it, the metal is normally denser and the results more consistant.
    Stainless steel or brass brush - for brushing off the white post firing and leaving you lovely silver.
    Silver polish & Cloth - for getting the final buffed up shine.

    Some Optional Extras:
    For ring making - A sliding ring guage, A wooden ring mandrel, and ring papers (to stop clay sticking to the mandrel).
    For Better finishes - A small set of metal files for neatening edges quicker than sanding them down.
    Long Tweezers - For holding / moving the pieces when firing
    Liver of Sulpher - For antiquing or bringing out fine detail
    Burnishers & ultra fine sanding pads - Post firing for a REAL shine!
    Cutters & Shapers - Using pre-shaped cutters e.g. hearts will same time and give you more consistant shapes
    Tiny drill bits - you can twist them in your fingers to drill through the unfired clay & make jump ring holes & hanging points.
    Texture Mats/plates - Roll the clay out on these and you'll have fabulous patterns straight away!
    Letter Stamp Set - For stamping words into unfired (rubber stamps) or fired clay (metal stamps).
    Last edited by MuranoSilver; 07-12-2008, 10:16 AM.
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  • #2
    Adding Handwritten Text into Silver Clay pieces
    The easiest way is using a sharp solid point (like the end of a burnishing tool).
    You need to wait until the clay is dry (or it kicks up messy edges).
    Sand & prep the area where the name will go then lightly scrape the name onto the clay.
    Support the work well as you do this (so you don't break it).
    Repeatedly scrape over the same lines building up depth.
    You'll find a kiddies paintbrush helps remove the dust, which you can keep for making slip

    Apply the liver of sulpher after all the polishing and you'll get a better result.
    If you apply it with a paintbrush into the fingerprint there's less polishing back of the rest of the piece.
    (Then don't use your liver of sulpher brush for anything else)

    Hope that helps
    Nic x
    **FREE to enter monthly draw on my BLOGS**
    Different prize every month
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    • #3
      Torch Firing Process
      (With thanks to Tim McCreight & his article in Studio PMC)

      1. Allow the work to dry overnight or drive off moisture with a hairdryer, or in a slow oven. Make sure it's completely dry or the work can explode! . Torch firing is not recommended for large items.
      2. Place the work on a soldering block or fire brick, which is in turn set on either a fireproof surface or something you don’t mind being singed (like a piece of plywood). If you are working on the kitchen counter and the piece rolls off the block you don’t want to scar the countertop.
      3. Light the torch and hold it so the flame is nearly vertical with the tip of the cone about 3/4" away from the work. Within a minute, the piece will be enveloped in a soft flame as the binder burns away. The flame will soon go out by itself. Within another minute, the piece will start to glow red. Continue heating until this becomes a bright and luminous color. At this point, glance at a clock.
      4. Hold this color as uniformly as possible for about 5-7minutes. When the time is up, turn off the torch and allow the piece to cool. If you're not sure it's fully cooled use tongs or tweezers to pick it up and (providing it's not stone set) quench it in water.

      A suggestion - Melt some Silverclay on Purpose
      Most standard handheld torches are rated at 2000F so they can melt silver clay, in an effort to avoid this it's worth doing this experiment so you know what to look for.

      Pull off a pea-sized bit of your chosen silver clay (PMC or ACS), split it in half, and roll out two small rods. Follow the instructions above with one added step. Concentrate the flame on one of the rods in an effort to melt it. You’ll see a bright mercury-like skin form on the piece and the red color will become even brighter. The edges will start to curl and the metal will be drawn up into a ball.
      Make a mental note of what you saw. This way you’ll know the signs of melting, and you can withdraw the torch in time before damaging a piece you care about. To complete the experiment, allow the other rod to cool and test it by bending, filing, burnishing, and polishing.
      This will confirm that, sure enough, torch firing really works!


      Nic xx
      **FREE to enter monthly draw on my BLOGS**
      Different prize every month
      Jewellery Creations & Shop Blog
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      • #4
        FIRING on a GAS HOB
        Ideally, SilverClay needs firing for a set time at a set temperature. However, with practice, you can fire small pieces on a kitchen gas hob.
        This is best for pieces no bigger than a 50p piece and if you dont have a gas hob you could try a portable camping stove

        Lay the mesh on the hob and light the gas. As it heats up you'll notice cherry red areas these will be heating between 650-800 degrees (suitable for silver clay).
        Turn the gas off and, after the mesh has cooled, lay your dried clay on one of the red spots. Relight the gas and fire your piece for 6-10 minutes, making sure that it's still in a red spot. Let it cool before you touch it, or the mesh.

        N.B If you don't get any red spots then your hobs flame may be too far from the mesh & the metal wont be strong enough if you try to fire this way... If you have a camping stove try that
        Last edited by MuranoSilver; 09-12-2008, 06:06 PM.
        **FREE to enter monthly draw on my BLOGS**
        Different prize every month
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        • #5
          Today I've been asked about drying the pieces you've made before firing.
          So here are some things you can do to dry your silverclay

          Drying Methods for Art Clay Silver & PMC
          The easiest way to dry pieces is leave them in a warm room for 24 hours and voila all finished! (Slow air drying is also best for Bronze & Gold clays and repairs filled with paste)
          However for those of us in a rush, or teaching a class, then a mug warmer or other form of hotplate is great too (AGA users will be grinning now). With these you'll need to keep an eye on the pieces and turn them over every now and again so they dry evenly (or the piece can warp/curl).
          Haven't got a hotplate? Then a hairdryer will speed up the drying process (just be carefull not to blow your freshly made piece accross the room)
          If you've cash to splash a food dehydrator will dry lots of pieces quickly,
          probably best that you then don't use it for preparing your home made muesli in!

          Hope that helps
          Nic x
          **FREE to enter monthly draw on my BLOGS**
          Different prize every month
          Jewellery Creations & Shop Blog
          PMC & Silver Clay Hints and Tips Blog

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          • #6
            Previously posted but I thought useful here too
            Repairing Unfired PMC & Art Clay Pieces

            The easiest way to fill a small crack is using a syringe version of the same Art Clay as the one your created the pendant in. (i.e If Art Clay 650, then you'd use art clay 650 syringe). The fine tip (blue) is perfect for piping the clay straight into the crack.
            Another alternative is to use home made slip (created from waste clay when you made the pendant) a toothpick is a good way to apply it.

            You should try to do all repairs in the greenware (unfired) state & you need to slightly overfill the crack so that as it dries (& shrinks) it still fills the crack.

            It's much easier to sand in the unfired state than fired as it's softer, you could also fill it and then very carefully blend in the "fill" while its still moist (you'd use a rubber tipped blending tool for this). If you fill & blend be prepared to do the filling procedure more than once as each time it dries it will shrink into the crack.
            **FREE to enter monthly draw on my BLOGS**
            Different prize every month
            Jewellery Creations & Shop Blog
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            • #7
              thanks for starting this post as its something Im interested in doing in the future Id love to do a course but I dont seem to be able to find anything near were I live dont suppose you know of a good website that lists all courses nationwide

              Comment


              • #8
                Brilliant thread. I'm self taught and this has corrected a few wrong doings of mine, do you mind if I print this off to keep in my folder?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Hi Redberryrose
                  Here's one place http://www.pmc.vpam.co.uk/teacher_listings.asp that's for PMC teachers,
                  or alternatively you could wait until the others have come to the course I'm running on the 14th January.
                  If they enjoy it I'll probably offer another in February. Details are here for the Jan course .

                  Shiner - print away & feel free to share any info with others
                  If anyone has any PMC or Artclay questions I'll do my best to answer them for you

                  Nic xx
                  Last edited by MuranoSilver; 09-12-2008, 06:08 PM.
                  **FREE to enter monthly draw on my BLOGS**
                  Different prize every month
                  Jewellery Creations & Shop Blog
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                  • #10
                    Storing Unused Clay
                    I know that in the early days it seems almost impossible that you'll have any left over clay from those "tiny little packets", biut just in case you do here's a few suggestions for keeping your clay from drying out....
                    NB - If you use different types of clay with different shrinkage or drying rates e.g. Original PMC / PMC+ or ACS650 / ACS650 slow dry it's best to have a seperate labelled container for each

                    For short term storage -
                    Use the outer foilpack that your clay came in..
                    Make sure your clay is moist (if not dampen it) then wrap in clingfilm
                    before putting back into the ziplock packet. Wet a piece of kitchen towel
                    & put into packet with the clingfilm wrapped clay. Ziplock the top shut.
                    (This has kept clay good for days for me & if you keep check the moisture level daily there's no reason it couldn't be longer).

                    For regular storage -
                    A home made option is to get a small airtight container (little lidded pots)
                    and put a piece of wet sponge in the bottom (dense make up sponge type). The moist wrapped clay then goes into the pot and you keep the sponge moist. This way you can have multiple pieces.

                    Longer Term Storage -
                    If you want a good pre-made solution or have larger quantities of clay to store regularly then an American site www.pmcsupply.com has something called Clay Vaults and Clay Keepers. They are "zip lock" plastic containers with hydrated water crystals inside & they're very good.

                    Nic x
                    **FREE to enter monthly draw on my BLOGS**
                    Different prize every month
                    Jewellery Creations & Shop Blog
                    PMC & Silver Clay Hints and Tips Blog

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by MuranoSilver View Post
                      Hi Redberryrose
                      Here's one place http://www.pmc.vpam.co.uk/teacher_listings.asp that's for PMC teachers,
                      or alternatively you could wait until the others have come to the course I'm running on the 14th January.
                      If they enjoy it I'll probably offer another in February. Details are here for the Jan course .

                      Shiner - print away & feel free to share any info with others
                      If anyone has any PMC or Artclay questions I'll do my best to answer them for you

                      Nic xx
                      Thanks for that there are a couple of teachers in my area. Your course looks good Im sure they will enjoy it, its just a shame your so far from me

                      Kerry

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                      • #12
                        Applying Gold Overlay Paste
                        The best method I've used was to fire the silver then carefully remove the cool silver without touching the area you are adding gold to (finger oils will affect gold adhesion). Add the gold while the silver is still in it's white stage and then torch fire it on.
                        Dry naturally, ***do not use a griddle or hotplate to dry
                        apply 3 coats of gold
                        ***must be thin coats
                        ***2 coats will yield a very subtle gold application
                        ***must dry in between coats as directed above
                        When Torch firing
                        Torch evenly until the orange glow is present then time the firing for 3-7 minutes (do not overheat or the gold will be absorbed into the surface of the silver...just a light orange glow...not red)

                        I then Finish & Polish the whole pendant by hand, burnishing the gold areas particularly gently.

                        Nic x

                        Tip- If it flakes you can re-apply paste to build up the area again
                        **FREE to enter monthly draw on my BLOGS**
                        Different prize every month
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                        • #13
                          Thank you so much for all these tips Muranosilver. I have not long completed my art clay level 1. It is wonderful stuff! Just need to save for a kiln!
                          I store my unused silver in clingfilm then in the sealed packet it comes in. I use a small cup for my water and all my "dust" or shavings from finishing go into it at the end. I leave it for a day and all the silver settles to the bottom. Gently drain off the water and put into an airtight container (I use old pill boxes) and you have "slip" or paste. Don't have to buy so much paste now by doing this

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                          • #14
                            Well done on getting your level 1
                            If you put a little moist sponge or kitchen towel in the packet with your cling filmed silver then it will last even longer between moistenings!
                            To save the draining process etc, once you have a working slip pot you can put your filings and shavings straight in, add a few drops of water, stir with a toothpick and leave to absorb into the clay. Your paste pot should ideally have a double cream consistency.

                            Nic x
                            **FREE to enter monthly draw on my BLOGS**
                            Different prize every month
                            Jewellery Creations & Shop Blog
                            PMC & Silver Clay Hints and Tips Blog

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                            • #15
                              Just bumping this up so that i can find it again when i need it.
                              Snowf1975

                              https://www.etsy.com/listing/1039948...polished-beads

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