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What is Metal Clay?

Metal clay is a jewelry making material that can be used by just about anyone to create jewelry and small decorative objects. Metal clay is made from powdered metal mixed with water and a substance called "methyl cellulose." Methyl cellulose may sound like a nasty chemical, but it's actually made from the cell walls of green plants. It's an organic ingredient used in food additives and is non-allergic, non-toxic and perfectly safe to work with.

Metal clay handles similar to traditional modeling clays, and, when dried, it is transformed into a solid object through a firing process. During firing, the methyl cellulose, typically called "binder", is burned away and the metal particles "sinter" into a solid form. Sintering is the process of making a powdered material (in this case, metal clay) coalesce into a solid mass by heating it to a very high temperature, just below the point of liquefaction.

There are several types of metal clay available: fine silver, sterling silver, gold, copper, bronze and steel. Each type of metal clay has unique firing requirements because each metal has a different melting point.

For the beginner, fine silver clay is the easiest and quickest way to experience metal clay because there are so many options for firing, including low cost hand held butane torches. All metal clays are optimally fired in a jewelry kiln and some require special firing methods. The overview below will give you the basics on the different types of metal clay and their firing requirements to help you decide which clay to begin your adventures with.

Types of Metal Clay & Firing Requirements

Fine Silver Clay

Cool Tools carries almost every brand of fine silver clay that is available. FS999 , Aussie Metal Clay, PMC and Art Clay Silver. All of these fine silver clays are made from powdered fine silver that is .999 in purity and considered pure silver or "fine" silver.

Fine silver clay is the easiest and fastest of all metal clays to fire. In as little as 2 minutes you can transform dry clay into a pure fine silver object.

Minimum Firing Time: 2 minutes

Firing Options: Torch, enameling kiln, jewelry kiln

Sterling Silver Clay

EZ960® Sterling, PMC One Fire Sterling and PMC Sterling are silver metal clays that are made of fine silver, copper and other metals. This type of mixture is called an "alloy" and results in a metal that is far stronger than pure fine silver. Metals are alloyed to enhance or impart characteristics that are lacking in the main metal. Fine silver is a metal that is easily dented and scratched. By adding other metals, an alloy with greater strength is created. Sterling Silver allows jewelry artists the ability to make thinner, more delicate jewelry that meets any jewelers standard for durability.

Minimum Firing Time: 1 hour

Firing Options: Kiln Fire - Open Shelf, Carbon Firing

Gold Clay

PMC and Art Clay both offer gold clay products. Gold clays are either pure 24K gold or 22K alloy of fine silver and gold. 22K means there is 22 parts pure gold and 2 parts some other metal. Can be fired with a hand held torch in as little as 2 minutes.

Minimum Firing Time: 2 minutes

Firing Options: Torch, enameling kiln, jewelry kiln

Bronze Clay

Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin. Bronze is a very hard metal and is the strongest of all the metal clays available. We offer many types of Bronze Clay. BRONZclay and FASTfire BRONZclay by Metal Adventures, Inc, Hadar Jacobson, Goldie and Aussie. The difference between BRONZclay and FASTfire BRONZclay is the firing time required, the shrinkage, and the color of the finished metal. Hadar Jacobson and Goldie Clay are powdered clays. Aussie Metal Clay is available in powder form or lump form. Powdered clays are distinctive in that the artist adds water to create the amount of clay wanted or necessary, with the powdered remainder having an extended shelf life.

BRONZclay is fired according to the thickness of the finished piece. The thicker the clay, the slower the firing. The thinner the piece, the faster the firing. This version shrinks about 25% during firing and is a warm bronze color.

Minimum Firing Time: 3 hours, 4 hours is average

Firing Options: Carbon Firing (kiln required)

FASTfire BRONZclay usually fires at full speed, but in some larger kiln models, the heating is slowed to 1000F/hour. This version shrinks about 20% during firing and is a golden bronze color.

Minimum Firing Time: 2 hours, 3 for extra strength

Firing Options: Carbon Firing (kiln required)

Shop Five Star Bronze Clay
Shop Goldie Bronze Clay
Shop Hadar’s Bronze Clay

Copper Clay

Copper clay is made of pure copper. Brands available at Cool Tools include Cyprus™ Copper Clay, Metal Adventures, Aussie Metal Clay, Goldie Clay and Hadar Jacobson.

Minimum Firing Time: 5 minutes

Firing Options: Torch or Carbon Firing (kiln required)

Shop ArtClay Copper

Discover all of our Cool Tools products and our great line of cool stuff for working with metal clay! Clay Hydrator, Cool Slip, Jewelry Shape Templates, Patina Gel, ClayMate, Ultra Clay Pick, Texture Tiles, Slik, Cool Rollers, Clay Thickness Rolling Frames, Tuff Cards, Jewel Stamps, AlphaDisc Lettering Systems and more!

What is Polymer Clay?

Polymer clay is a type of hard-enable modeling clay that is versatile and pliable. This medium can be used to create jewelry, sculptures, vessels or anything you can imagine. It typically contains no clay minerals, but like mineral clay a liquid is added to dry particles until it achieves gel-like working properties, and similarly, the piece is put into an oven to harden, hence its designation as clay. Cool Tools carries Kato, Sculpey brands of Polymer Clay, including Primo! Sculpey and Primo! Accents, and Souffle.
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