Basic Tools & Equipment
I'm always asked "what tools do I need to start working with metal clay?" - well here you go!
* Clay! If you need to join pieces you will also need a paste but you can make some out of the clay by adding a small amount to tap water in an airtight pot and making into a paste the consistency of double cream. Not all brands of clay can be torch or gas hob fired and require kiln firing so make sure you buy the clay that you are able to fire. Art Clay Silver and Art Clay Copper can be fired using all methods so a good brand to use (and my favourite for silver and copper).
* Non stick surfaces to work on. Small squares of teflon are good because you can carry pieces around and they don't stick. Untextured glass placemats or coasters are also good but would need to be lubricated as they're not non-stick.
* A balm to stop things sticking - you can buy something called "Badger Balm" that lasts a very long time (so a good investment) or in the short term you can use tiny amounts of oilve oil. Alternatively you can buy Coolslip that comes in a spray bottle for around £6.95 and again, lasts for ages.
* Roller - plastic or perspex (not wood)
* Needle tool / metal clay pick - to cut out work. You can use a normal needle in emergencies or a scalpel or craft knife (although this is more challenging to go around corners).
* Metal clay spacers are fantastic and around £4.95 for a set. If you haven't got those, you can use playing cards (don't sellotape or staple together).
* Small paintbrush that doesn't shed bristles
* Sanding papers (various grits - I use 800, 1000 and 1500) or you could use nail emery board files.
* Small airtight container to store unused clay
* Small water spritzer bottle OR water in a small pot.
* An area for drying ie top of a radiator, airing cupboard, electric oven (no hotter than 110 degrees), cup warmer, warm room etc.
* Baby wipes for cleaning tools, your hands, surfaces etc. They can also be used for smoothing edges. These are optional.
For gas hob firing:
* A wire mesh
* Heat proof tweezers (or leave to cool before touching)
For torch firing:
* A torch
* A firing brick
* Heat proof tweezers (or leave to cool before touching
* A wire brush
* Polishing papers (optional)
* Pro polishing pad
There are of course additional items that you can use such as texture mats, moulds etc but the above gives a list of items you need to start with. Over time, your set will grow as you become proficient but in the short term, the above is all you need!
If you are working with, for example, silver and copper, you MUST clean all tools thoroughly before switching between the two. If you don't, you run the risk of contamination and pieces may not sinter (turn to metal) correctly.
Everything can be purchased at www.metalclay.co.uk
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