Working with silver clay for the first time can be overwhelming. From knowing how to correctly shape your piece, to firing and dealing with any beginner mistakes, as with all areas of jewellery making, having the right know how is essential. As part of our new How to Make Jewellery hub, we’re here to help you get started on different areas of jewellery making including silver clay. To start off your silver clay journey, we’ve collated just a few of our top tips that we think may help…
Clay Jewellery Making – Top Tips
- Practice Makes Perfect – Silver clay is easy to work with but if you’re feeling unsure why not start with copper or bronze clay? These are a cheaper alternative and it’s a great way to build up your skill.
- Get your workspace ready – A good thing to do before you start making clay jewellery is to prepare your workspace. Get your mat out and ensure you’ve used a good metal clay balm on your tools and your mat to ensure that the clay does not stick
- Get the right Surface – Use a soldering block or a fibre blanket pillow when firing, this will ensure that your surface is protected when using a torch
- Preparation is key – Before starting, get your work surface ready, all of your tools out and an idea of your piece. The more prepared you are, the less chance you have of over handling the clay which can lead to the appearance of cracks.
- Use the right Gemstone – Adding gemstones into clay before firing is a fantastic way to create jewellery but you have to be careful of your choice in stone. A natural stone will expand and potentially break when heated so ensure you go for fireable gemstones, these are manmade stones that are designed to be fired in a kiln.
- Neaten before Firing – Use sandpaper or sponge pads to neaten your piece before firing. This will give your piece a clean and professional look. This must always be done before firing.
- Make sure it’s dry! – Before you fire your clay with a torch or in a kiln, make sure your clay is fully dry otherwise you risk bubbles in your design
- Don’t get too Close – When you begin firing, keep your frame at a 45 degree angle and ensure the flame is not too close to the piece (distance will depend on the size).
- Fire all Over… – When using a torch to fire your piece, make sure you cover your entire piece with piece to ensure that the whole are is at the optimum firing temperature. Once heated evenly, the organic binder will burn away leaving behind a white coating.
- Don’t get it too hot – Your piece will glow a peachy colour, once this happens you need this going for a certain amount of time which can vary depending on the piece. If you overheat your piece of metal clay it will begin to melt. Practice your firing technique to ensure you know when to stop.
- Timing is essential – Once you have the peachy glow, you need to fire your piece to an exact time. Larger pieces that are between 16-25 grams need approximately 2-4 minutes, below this anything between 6-15 grams needs approximately 1.5 – 2 minutes and anything that is up to 5 grams needs 1-1.5 mins.
- Don’t Forget about Shrinkage – Are you aware that when firing silver clay it can shrink by approximately 8-9%? This will need to be considered when creating certain pieces including rings.
- Mistakes Happen – If this is your first time working with silver clay, don’t be disheartened by any mistakes that may happen. It takes time to learn so give yourself just that! We have a whole series of YouTube videos on hand so why not take a look and pick up as many tips as possible before you get started.
- Don’t throw it out! – Did you know that every bit of silver clay can be used up? Even if you have a small amount left that you haven’t yet used up, which may have dried out, add water and it will be easy to work with again. Even if you have made a piece that you don’t like, just break it back down, add water and it will be ready to use again!
- Store your clay securely – Once you’ve taken the amount of clay you need for your project, ensure you put the remaining amount of clay in a sealed tub to ensure that it does not dry out.
Ready to start your silver clay journey? Discover our silver clay jewellery making resources and our range of silver clay products. At Cooksongold we have everything you need to start your jewellery making journey.