Just started working with precious metal clay and unsure of the best way to finish your design? When it comes to firing metal clay there are various routes you can take. Here we’ll outline how to fire precious metal clay using simple techniques for beginners.
Not ready to fire your precious metal clay just yet? Get to know PMC in more detail with our Guide To Precious Metal Clay For Beginners, and explore the properties of metal clay, how it was developed and which type of PMC to use for your latest projects.
You can also learn more about making jewellery with precious metal clay by watching our introductory YouTube video below.
How to fire metal clay at home
Happy with your precious metal clay design? Now you can prepare it for firing. Simply let it air dry so that it can be fired in one of the three ways below.
Tip: Make sure that the clay is completely dry before firing. If it’s not dry, it can be prone to cracking and breaking during the firing process.
Choose the firing technique that works with your tools and surroundings. The beauty of working with PMC is that it can be fired using a hand torch, a kiln, or even on your hob. So whatever level you’re at and whatever tools you have or haven’t yet invested in, firing metal clay is simple to do at home.
How to fire PMC with a hand torch
- Prepare your design and workspace for heating by removing any unnecessary objects from the area, and placing your PMC design on a specialist soldering block.
- Light your butane hand torch and set to a blue flame.
- Hold the torch about 2cm away from your design moving the flame in a circular motion around the piece. Gradually move the flame closer to the PMC as you make that circular motion.
- As you heat the PMC you’ll notice that it will start to smoke and then catch fire. This is normal. It means that any organic binder is being burnt away to leave the precious metal behind.
- Continue heating the PMC until it starts to glow a cherry red colour. Once it starts to glow set your timer for the appropriate time depending on the type of PMC you’re using (PMC+ requires 5 minutes, PMC 3 requires 2 minutes).
- Once the time is up you can turn off your hand torch and leave to cool.
How to fire PMC with a kiln
- Firing metal clay in a kiln is a really simple process as it’s all pre-programmed for you. Depending on the kiln that you choose to invest in, be sure that you read the manufacturer’s manual for the best results.
- Set up your kiln ready to heat your design. You can do this by placing the relevant kiln accessories inside. This may include a kiln shelf, ceramic posts, and/or a mesh support depending on the setup you prefer, and the size and shape of your PMC design.
- Once it’s all in place and your design is in the kiln, you can set your digital programmer to the correct temperature for the size of your piece and the type of PMC that you’re working with. Make sure you check PMC guidelines for temperature and timings. And don’t forget that heating certain kinds of gemstone, needs to be done with caution to avoid cracks or breakages.
How to fire PMC with a gas hob
Tip: Firing metal clay with your own gas hob at home is a simple process too! Test out a few pieces first and learn how to fire clay without a kiln before you go and invest in some of the more specialist tools.
- When firing metal clay using a gas hob all you’ll need to pick up is a mesh sheet. This will help you keep the heat to a minimum and reduce the risk of contaminating your kitchen with PMC.
- Make sure the mesh sheet is stable over the hob. Fold it into place if required.
- Dim the lights and turn the hob on. This will help you to identify the hottest part of the flame (where it glows brightest).
- Switch the hob off.
- Using tweezers, carefully place your PMC design onto the mesh sheet directly in the spot where the flame was glowing at its brightest.
- Turn the hob back on.
- In the same way that the organic binder burns away from the PMC using the hand torch method above you’ll see that it will smoke and set alight before it starts to glow.
- Set your timer so that the piece continues to glow for the correct amount of time, depending on which type of PMC you’re working with (see hand torch method for timings).
- After firing, switch off the hob and leave to cool on the mesh for at least 15-20 minutes. Once cooled it should easily detach from the mesh sheet and can be dropped in some water ready for finishing.
Firing metal clay with pro tools from Cooksongold
Now that you’re clued up on how to fire precious metal clay, you can invest in the professional tools you’ll need to turn your passion for crafting into a successful jewellery making business. Take a look at our range of precious metal clay as well as our professional firing kilns and accessories to get started.