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About Silver Clay

About Silver Clay
 
As well as being highly desirable to look at, silver is a wonderful precious metal. It is a mineral that is said to mirror the soul and enhance intuitive and psychic energies.

Silver clay looks and feels very much like ordinary sculpting or porcelain clay. The difference is that once it's fired, you have a beautiful piece of precious metal.

There are so many things you can create with silver clay. From earrings to pendants, rings to brooches, charms to cufflinks. You can use it to embellish glass and ceramics. You can create hollow forms, mould it and even paint it onto living materials such as leaves and twigs.

Silver clay enables anyone with no prior silversmithing experience to produce fantastic designs in pure, 99.9% silver. The only limits are your time and imagination!

Where does silver clay come from?

Art silver clay first came onto the Japanese market in 1992 so it is a relatively new product.

It is manufactured in Japan by Aida Chemical Industries, a family owned company that
recycles and reclaims precious metals including gold and silver.

Aida Industries is a green company that collects metals that have already been used and reclaims these. Silver can be reclaimed from computer circuit boards, photographic and x-ray supplies. These reclaimed metals are combined with non-toxic, organic binders so it is an extremely safe product to work with. What we love even more about silver clay is the
processes to produce it are designed to have minimal effect on the environment.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is silver clay really a precious metal?
Yes it is! Silver Clay is a combination of water, binders, and very fine particles of silver. It can be moulded by hand into a desired shape then fired by kiln, torch or stove-top. The firing process makes the binders and water evaporate and fuses the metal particles into a solid piece of metal that is 99.9% pure silver.

How do I keep the clay moist?
Once you open the package the clay begins to dry. You can use water and a moist brush to lightly hydrate the Art Clay while you shape your work. Keeping the clay covered with something moist will enable you to put it down momentarily.

What is the shelf-life of unopened silver clay?
In it's mylar packaging, Clay Silver should be fine for up to five years. Store in a cool dark place, but don't refrigerate or freeze.

How should I store opened silver clay?
You can keep all unused portions of silver clay pliable by storing them in an airtight package add a spritz of water before you seal the packaging up. You can also use cling film wrap, then double seal it in a small plastic bag will also keep the clay pliable. Store in a cool dark place, but don't refrigerate or freeze.

Where can I buy silver clay?
We sell 20gm packets of slow dry silver clay in our on-line shop, click here to visit the shop and see our other tools and silver clay essentials.

Is it possible to rehydrate rock hard pieces of silver clay that haven't been fired yet?
You can re-constitute all of your unfired crumbs, hardened pieces and even silver clay dust into silver clay or paste. You'll achieve the best results by grinding the pieces up using a pestle and mortar and then adding water drop by drop. With patience you can get it back into a pliable clay or paste, depending upon the amount of water you add and the time you let it soak in.

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What temperature/times should I fire my silver clay?
The times vary according to the method of firing and the weight of the silver clay pieces. Click here to download a chart of timings and temperatures according to the different firing methods.

Can I get the pieces I create hallmarked?
Yes, you can have PMC hallmarked by the Assay office, where it will be stamped 999. This refers to the proportion of silver in parts per thousand. Sterling silver is stamped 925 because there are nine hundred and twenty five parts of silver per thousand parts. The remaining seventy-five parts are usually copper.

To have items Hallmarked you must register with the Assay Office. There are offices in London, Birmingham, Sheffield, and Edinburgh and they each have a different symbol as their mark. You will find more information at www.thegoldsmiths.co.uk
In the UK, you are not legally required to hallmark silver items weighing less than 7.5 grams but most galleries will only take your work if it is hallmarked. This shows a level of commitment to your work and also means the Gallery can sell the item with confidence. If you are selling items at craft shows as silver and they weigh over 7.5 grams you are required by law to have them hallmarked.

Can I treat silver clay pieces just like sterling after they are fired?
Mostly. You can polish, file, bend, drill and solder silver clay. You need to remember that silver clay is fine silver, while sterling is an alloy of silver and copper. Fine silver is a little softer and doesn't work harden in the same way as Sterling. Your silver clay pieces are strongest if fired in a kiln, so if you intend to bend the piece after firing (like forming into a ring shape) it is best to use a kiln. Torch or stove-top firing is perfectly adequate for most items.

Why is silver clay more expensive?
Because is it a high tech material, silver clay costs more than conventional silver wire and sheet. The cost is balanced by the amazing speed with which pieces can be made, and the very low investment in tools. Also, all versions of silver clay can be rehydrated before firing, so there is no waste.

Which stones can I fire with silver clay?
There are quite a few stones that can withstand the lower firing temperatures for silver clay but you should use caution because most stones don't like to be heated or cooled down quickly. You can download a gemstone test list here.

How can I repair a piece of fired silver that has broken or cracked?

You can use Art Clay Oil Paste to repair broken or cracked items. You simply brush this on to repair the crack or use it to paste more clay to the previously fired piece. You then need to re-fire it.

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How long should I leave pieces of silver clay to dry before firing?
It's essential that pieces are thoroughly dried before they are fired, as any moisture within the clay will escape as soon as it experiences the extreme heat from the torch, kiln or stove-top. This can result in cracks or blisters. In one case, I had a piece of silver clay explode quite violently and burn a hole in my kitchen worktop! For small or thin pieces, you can use a hairdryer or hot plate for 10 to 15 minutes to speed up the drying process, otherwise allow 24 hours if you're drying at room temperature.

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