Bronze clay pieces before going into the kiln:
Below, the ones that didn’t work. They looked okay except the sides shrank more than the top and bottom. I used the powdered clay for the tops and the Rio Grande clay for the sides. Why was I surprised ?
On closer inspection, the tops and sides and bottoms did not bond at all. Sides sintered properly, (hard to break apart) but other pieces were brittle. Frustrating, but not yet discouraging. I will not try mixing the two types of clay again.
The little “stone” bead made from the powdered bronze clay worked out as I had hoped it would. So did the flat beads made from the Rio “Bronzclay.” The experiment to fire them with wax wire in place worked out well. The wax melted away when the clay was firing, but the holes stayed open. Most of the beads were fired in an upright position so the wax could drain straight down. But a few were fired laying flat in the charcoal and the wax still drained and burned away.
Everything polished really nicely with a buffing wheel and Fabulustre compound. Even the pieces that I didn’t think fired properly.
I am firing the second batch of bronze clay beads that I made yesterday. When I get frustrated at how long the firing process is, (1 hour 20 minutes, cool down, then 3 hours more) I think about the first incarnation of Precious Metal Clay that I tried in 1997. That took about 3 hours to fire, too. Now when I use PMC +, I can fire in less than an hour. It has spoiled me for the bronze.
With this batch of beads, I used up the rest of my 200 gram package of Bronzclay from Rio Grande. I was not impressed with the texture of the clay and what a mess it was, but was determined to find a way to make bronze clay work for me. Then I tried Hadar Jacobson’s Bronze Clay powder. I followed the directions on her blog (see link at right) and the clay was a dream to work with! What a difference. Now I just have to wait to see how the pieces come out. I will definitely buy the powdered clay again before I buy the package. I can’t wait to try the copper clay powder tomorrow to see if it has the same feel. If you are a metal clay person, and you have not yet seen Hadar’s blog or web site, do it now. I guarantee you will be inspired by her creativity and her generosity in sharing her experience with these new forms of metal clay. You can also buy bronze and copper clay powder from her site.