How to determine which metal clay is right for your projects might be a dilemma – but we are here to help.
The easiest way to break down the type of precious metal clay is between brands. Currently, there are two companies that dominate the arena of precious metal clay – PMC (by Mitsubishi Materials Corporation) and Art clay (by Aida Chemical Industries Ltd.).
These two companies are industry standards and are trusted by many crafters all over the globe. They are also most commonly found in the art supply stores, which will help your artistic buying endeavours. To help decide, both have benefits — for instance, PMC has formulas that offer higher shrinkage, while Art Clay has products that are limited only to the Art Clay brand- an exclusivity that also has its benefits.
Nature of the Clay
While PMC and Art Clay products are similar, there are also significant differences between the brands. For starters, PMC has is a type of metal clay for which the standard, original PMC clay has a shrinkage level between 25-30% after drying and firing.
Depending on which type of PMC clay you are using, it shrinks more than Art Clay, which has its advantages. Shrinkage is ideal in a scenario in the event that you want to create a curved surface, in which the nature of shrinkage will help with. Another advantage to shrinkage is able to work on a larger piece of clay, since once in the fire the piece will shrink and develop finer details.
Different strengths within the clays hold as well. PMC standard is not known for being a strong clay that holds together densely, while low fire Art Clay formulas are known to be denser. However, beyond the standard of PMC clay, other types of MPC are available such as PMC3 and PMC+, both significantly stronger than the standard formula.
In addition to the density and shrinkage levels, the firing time and temperature is varied amongst the brands as well. There are Low-Fire clays, Medium-Fire clays, High-Fire clays, and Gold clays. Amongst each category, each respective brand of PMC and Art Clay has its own firing times and temperatures- there is no consistency across the board so be sure to reference the instructions before firing, depending which clay you are using. Also, don’t forget safe conduct when dealing with fire.
Working with the Clay
Each type of clay has its own set of attributes, as discussed in the section above. It is important to note that the clay has a sense of versatility as well. It is possible to mix clays for a desired result. If you are mixing clays, be sure to fire at the longest and highest temperature of both of the clays. The options are limitless once you realise you can mix your own clays.
To add to versatility, Art Clay has lines of products that have no equivalent in PMC- oil pastes and overlay pastes. Oil pastes make it possible to add on already fired items to your piece. Overlay paste is used when you want to add on external silver detail. Amongst all of this information, the room for exploration is unlimited, and should provide a good basis for your future workings with silver clays.
Louisa Jenkins is a keen hobbyist and blogger. Here she discusses buying the right art clay silver from Cookson Gold or your preferred craft item provider.