- Arts and Design
Setting Fused Dichroic Glass into Metal Clay, Pmc, Art Clay Silver
Silver Clay and Dichroic Fused Glass, A Match Made in Heaven
I love the shimmer & sparkle of fused dichroic glass. I also love the cool sheen of pure silver. When the two are combined, it's truly a match made in heaven. The color and sparkle of the glass adds dramatic impact to the silver. The silver provides a beautiful background for the vibrant glass. With metal clay, it is super easy to create fabulous, one of a kind pieces that are eye-catching and beautiful. My intention in writing this guide is to provide guidance for those of you who might want to delve into the world of metal clay and glass.
Make something beautiful, it will bring you Joy!
There are two types of Silver Clay, Art Clay Silver, which is the brand I use, and Precious Metal Clay, or PMC.
Basically, microscopic particles of silver are embedded in an organic binder which forms a putty like clay that can be rolled, stamped, molded, sculpted, carved, brushed, etc. After drying, the clay is fired with a torch, in a kiln, or on a gas stove. The organic binders burn away, and you are left with pure silver. After firing the piece needs to be wire brushed, burnished or polished in a tumbler to bring out the true beauty of the silver.
I work exclusively with Art Clay Silver 650/1200 lowfire slowdry clay. I like it the best because, in my opinion, the slower drying time allows for more creative freedom, and the low firing temperature is best for combining the clay with glass or stones. It also has the lowest shrinkage rate which is helpful when setting glass or stones. I sell art clay silver products and more here Check my shop out at feedthefires.etsy.com
What You Need
A list of Materials
Silver Clay of Choice (I personally recommend Art Clay Silver slow dry lowfire)Fused Glass Cabochon of Choice - If you do not fuse glass yourself, you can purchase cabochons from me. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can let you know what I have available and how much they would be. I also sell a fused glass kit for making your own here feedthefires.etsy.com If you live in the CT area, I teach classes in fused glass. You can view my class schedule at artandsoulct.com
Lubrication I like a product called Slik, but you can use olive oil, badger balm, etc. Slik is manufactured by cooltools.I sell slik and other metal clay tools here feedthefires.etsy.com
Rolling pin Clear Acrylic or PVC pipe
Work Surface I love flexible cutting boards for this purpose. They can be cut into different sizes and are great to work on.
Rubber Stamp texture plate or other means of applying texture to the clay
Spray Lubricant for spraying molds or stamps prior to impressing the clay. I like and sell Cool Slip.
Cutting tool exacto, needle tool, or other tool to cut the clay
Slip or Syringe of Silver Clay, Slip is a paste of silver clay and water. Syringes filled with slip are very handy to have and are also available for sale at my store, feedthefires.etsy.com, but you can easily mix slip by putting clay scraps in a film canister or small jar with a little bit of water (distilled is best, but you can use tap) and mixing them together.
Brushes Carving tools, & whatever else you would like to use to impress, shape or carve the clay
Create your Design
Begin by having a design in mind. You can do pendants, rings, pins, bracelets, anything you want.
Once you have an idea, oil your hands and the roller and pre lubricate any textures you will be using. Begin by cutting off a suitable size piece of clay. You want to have a strong enough base for the glass to be supported, without wasting clay. Using cards as guides, roll out your clay to an even thickness. If you will be texturing your clay, roll it first with one or two thicknesses higher than your finished thickness will be. To texture, place the rolled out piece of clay on the lubricated texture with guides on either side on top of the texture and then roll firmly and smoothly in one direction. This will give you an even depth and great overall impression. If the texture is too small for the clay and guides, build the guides up on either side of the texture to get the required depth. For small rubber stamps, you can press it into the clay.
Decide where you want to place your glass piece on the object before you cut out your design to make sure there is enough room to support it and for the piece to have good proportions. Then use your exacto, blade or other cutting tool to cut out the shape of the piece. Roll up your scraps, wrap in plastic wrap, and put them back in the original packaging with a wet piece of paper towel to keep the clay moist.
Next, press lightly on your glass piece to make an impression of its shape. Remove it and use a cutting tool to cut out some clay from behind where the glass will be going. I usually cut a decorative pattern with stars or circles. This saves on clay, provides visual interest on the back of the piece, and gives the clay room to shrink and move as it is firing. Put the clay you cut out in with your scraps, or use it to make a bail or decorative elements for your piece.
Make Your Bezel
A Bezel is visually striking and holds the glass in place
Place the glass back on the piece. Now you want to create a bezel. I have tried making a bezel with syringe, but find the thickness of the coil too small for glass. You can roll a coil of clay and use that to make our bezel. You can also flatten the coil or roll out the clay and cut a long strip for the bezel. I also enjoy creating textured cab sourrounds or creating free from textured pieces which I lay on the piece so part of it is overlapping the glass. It is important to adhere the bezel to the clay around the glass, not the glass itself. Also, don't make it tight as the clay will shrink during firing and the glass won't. I paint some paste on the clay surrounding the glass, and then adhere my clay bezel. You can keep the bezel simple, or make it very decorative.
Complete your project
Once your glass is adhered, you can decorate your piece by adding balls, coils, or pieces of clay, carving into the clay, squeezing syringe clay, whatever your heart desires.
If you are making a pendant, you need to consider how you will hang it. The creation of a unique and decorative bail can add a lot to your piece. Alternatively, you can just poke and drill holes.
Once your design is complete, let it dry thoroughly, do any sanding or smoothing you feel necessary, clean off the glass cab with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol, and then fire it.
I fire to 1250 degrees fahrenheit, hold for 30-45 minutes, then turn off the kiln and let it cool slowly to allow the glass to anneal. I usually let the kiln cool overnight and open it in the morning.
To finish the piece, I wire brush it, being careful around the glass, and then tumble or burnish the silver. The tumbler does not harm the glass. It is also save to dip the glass in liver of sulfur if you prefer to patina your pieces.
I hope this guide helps you to explore the creative and wonderful worlds of both metal clay and dichroic glass. Remember to have fun and enjoy the process.
If you have any questions, you can feel free to contact me at email@example.com. I sell all the tools and materials you need to get started. There is also a lot of information on the artclayworld.com website.
An overview of the best kilns for fused glass and metal clay
I am a distributor for Paragon Kilns in Texas. They have been manufacturing small kilns for many years and have what I consider to be the best options for both fused glass and metal clay. You can work with metal clay without investing in a kiln, but a kiln is an absolute necessity for fusing glass or for setting fused glass into metal clay.
I have heard it said that you should look at your long term needs and get the kiln that will meet all of those needs when you first start out. I agree with that to some degree. However, sometimes you don't really know what you will be doing down the road. Some aspects of your creative endeavors may evolve and your needs will change accordingly. Also, budget is a strong consideration, especially if you are just starting out.
By far the best starter kiln is the Paragon Firefly with digital pyrometer . It retails for $465 plus shipping. I sell it for $350 plus shipping. This is a small kiln and is not programmable, but is the most affordable. There are other kilns like the hotpot, speedfire and microwave kilns that are less expensive, but I don't feel they are worth using for many reasons.
The portable and convenient Paragon FireFly will give you unbridled freedom. It plugs in almost anywhere on a household 120 volt outlet.
You will never outgrow a small kiln. If you later buy a larger kiln, continue to use the small one for testing or small projects. It also has a high resale value, so you could sell it and use that money to upgrade.
The Paragon FireFly is an excellent choice for beginners. It fires rapidly. Yet you can slow it down with the infinite control switch. The pilot light glows brightly during firing. The pyrometer tells you exactly what temperature the interior of the kiln is at. You do have to manually turn the controller up and down and watch the kiln during the hold firing times, but that is a minor inconvenience.
The Firefly is also available in a fully programmable version for a bit more money. It retails for $690 plus shipping and I sell it for $530 plus shipping. The advantage to a programmable kiln is that you can "set it and forget it".
I have sold literally hundreds of Fireflies and everyone loves them. I have also have people I have sold the fireflies to sell their firefly and upgrade to the Caldera after a year or so and been very happy about that as well.
This is the kiln I have owned and loved for 5 years
I love the Caldera. I own the programmable version which I purchased 5 years ago. It has served me beautifully for my own work and student work. Some times I fire it twice a day. I have never had to do a thing to it in all these years.
The benefit of the Caldera above the firefly is that it is taller inside, so if you want to do fused glass bowls or drop ring vases, you can. Otherwise it is very similar to the Firefly. It also has the options of adding a bead collar so you can anneal beads in it. These are not pertinent to the subject of this lens, but if you are an artist that likes to do a lot of different things, this is a very versatile kiln. It can also fire to cone 10 for small ceramic items. I sell it here feedthefires.etsy.com. It retails for $760 plus shipping and I sell it for $560 plus shipping.
Dichroic Cabs and Glass Fusing Kits
I sell pre-fused glass cabs, metal clay, and kits for fusing, as well as kilns & tools to help you get started.
I have a wonderful glass fusing kit that is perfect for creating glass cabs. It contains 1/2 pound of precut glass in a variety of colors and shapes, including a great selection of dichroic. I also include easy instructions. All you need is a kiln. The fusing kit is only $38 plus shipping. I have lots of items for sale for both fusing glass and working with metal clay. Check my shop out at feedthefires.etsy.com
I also teach a variety of classes and workshops in metalsmithing, fused glass, metal clay, mosaics and more. I teach in CT and other locations. To view my current schedule, just check out my main website at artandsoulct.com
I also sell Art Clay Silver, syringes, tools, kilns and more at excellent prices. If you are interested in more information, feel free to contact me directly. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wonderful books on the subjects of metal clay and fused glass - You can learn so much from books. They are a worthwhile investment and great reference to keep a
These are some of my favorite books on the subjects.
Great Stuff on Amazon
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My website is artandsoulct.com
You can see some of my work at heartofthefire.etsy.com
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