How to Make Your Own Silver Jewellery
Art clay silver (aka silver clay) is taking the jewellery world by storm and lets everyone have some fun making their own jewellery. But before you start giving expression to the jewellery designer in you, here’s a ready reckoner about the basics of this wonderful material:
What is Silver Clay?
Silver clay is a mixture of fine powdered silver and other metals (in pure form), organic binders, and water. When the mixture is heated to about 850 °C, the binders are incinerated and they leave behind a white-gray residue that is actually 99.9% pure silver!
How to Work with Art Clay Silver?
After you obtain lumps of silver clay, roll it out so you can use a variety of moulds, shapes and textures to create the designs you want. Let your imagination and creativity run wild. Then, let the clay dry naturally for at least 24 hours. Once it’s dry, use sandpaper to file it and/or a small drill to clean and refine your jewellery. Finally, use a butane torch to fire your design. The organic binders will burn away and the metal will combine chemically to give you pure silver jewellery in designs created by you!
What Equipment Do I Need to Work with Silver Clay?
Silver clay needs to be handled carefully. Make sure you have the following materials and equipment ready before you begin working:
- Plastic mat for a clean working surface
- Wet and dry sandpaper and/or polishing paper
- A clean wet cloth, a bowl of water and a small soft paintbrush to prevent the clay from drying prematurely and keeping it moist while you work.
- Cling-wrap to wrap and store unused clay.
- Baking paper to cover the clay before rolling it, and also to lay your designs out to dry.
- Olive oil to protect your hands and to stop clay from sticking to your skin
- Roller for rolling the clay for moulding
- Guide strips. Place them next to the clay when rolling so you don’t roll it too thin. You can also use tongue depressors if you want.
- Craft knife to cut clay and/or add texture.
- Butane torch to fire the clay.
- Stainless steel mesh wire for drying and firing your designs.
- Heat-proof tweezers/tongs to handle fired items
- Heat resistant firing brick on which to fire the items
- Polishing equipment – copper or stainless steel brush or burnisher.
- Jeweller’s file (or metal nail file) for finishing designs after firing.
- Clay shapers like the ones used by potters.
- Liver of sulphur for creating an antique patina.
Once you get the hang of working with art clay silver you won’t be able to stop! Go ahead, give it a shot – don’t forget safety equipment – and dazzle your friends and family with stunning, handcrafted, silver jewellery.