|copper clay metal clay||or small kilns at electrickilns.co.uk or larger kilns at paragonkilns.co.uk|
Copper Clay is a clay-like material made of fine copper powder and water-soluble organic binders. During firing, the binders vaporise, the powder sinters, and the soft clay turns into real solid copper: ready to wear, give, or sell.
You can design and make your own unique anklets, beads, bracelets, brooches, charms, earrings, keepsakes, necklaces, ornaments, rings, and seasonal decorations.
You can add copper clasps to clothes, overlays to gift cards, motifs to handbags, highlights to wood, ceramics, glass, and shells, and make complex pieces using cutters, moulds, shaping tools, stamps, and texture sheets.
|COPPER CLAY: PHOTOS|
To look at the pop-up photos, hold your mouse over the zoom buttons below: you don't need to click.
Copper Earring By Zina Kuscynska Richterova.
Bronze-Copper Lobster Bangle By Gordon Uyehara.
Copper was one of the first metals used by humans: easy to find and easy to shape. Since its discovery about 11000 years ago, we've used copper to make ceremonial symbols, clasps, coins, containers, decorations, electrical connectors and wiring, jewellery, pins, pipes, roofing, statues, tools, and weapons.
Copper Clay is a clay-like material, made of fine copper powder and water-soluble organic binders. As it's fired, the binders vapourise, releasing very small amounts of non-toxic carbon dioxide and water vapour, and the metal powder sinters, leaving solid copper. Real metal, not something that just looks like metal.
CopperClay is an attractive material and ideal for Celtic or Roman designs, primitive styles, bangles, bowls, and figures. And, as it costs about 12 times less than SilverClay, it's better for larger pieces and trying out your ideas before you use up your silver.
There are four makes of copper clay: Art Clay Copper made by Aida, Prometheus Copper Clay made by Odak, Copper Clay made by ClayMania, and CopprClay made by Metal Adventures.
ArtClay Copper and Prometheus CopperClay are fired in a similar way to Art Clay Silver and PMC: put your dry pieces in a kiln and programme the temperature and hold-time.
The others have to be embedded in activated charcoal granules in a stainless steel container, and covered with a lid. Firing in charcoal is described in the next section.
The firing temperature and time are important: metal clay has to sinter, not melt. There's a difference between sintering and melting: during sintering, the binder in the clay vapourises and the metal powder particles bond to produce solid metal whereas, during melting, the metal powder particles liquify and lose their original clay-shape.
They can be fired with many other materials, such as bronze clay, cubic zirconias and most lab-created gemstones, glass beads and glass clay, ceramics and porcelain, and some natural stones, chemically treated to produce patinas, and used as a base for enamelling. Just do a few tests before you try out your best ideas.
I can't recommend one clay as being the best. There are differences in the feel, the firing, the shrinkage, the strength, and the surface patinas, so try them and experiment: they're not expensive.
However, as Prometheus Copper Clay is easy to fire and costs less than the others, try it first? It comes as 100gm of soft clay in a packet, or 10gm of creamy clay in a syringe with three tips that you can cut or shape.
There's also Creative Copper, which is almost certainly Prometheus Copper Clay renamed. I'll leave it you to work out why ProCopper is £19.75 for 100gm with no delivery charge and Creative Copper is £24.95 plus £4.95 shipping.
Comprehensive instructions are included with the product although, as with many materials, make time to experiment rather than accept general recommendations as definitive.
|FIRING IN CHARCOAL|
During normal exposed firing, the surface of the clay oxidises to form metal oxide. To minimize this, the clay is embedded in activated charcoal granules in a stainless steel container, and covered with a lid. Charcoal made from coconut shells produces a natural copper colour
The Kitiki MiniKiln isn't large enough to hold a container. The Paragon SC2, Caldera, Xpress E9A, and Xpress E10A can all hold a one litre container. The Paragon Xpress E12A can hold a three litre container.
The 1230°C firebrick E12A costs more than the 1095°C ceramic-fibre SC2. However, it's two and a half times larger than the SC-2 and is a versatile mixed-media kiln suited to continual high temperatures.
To learn more about kilns, use the main menu link below the menu bar near the top of the page, then choose from the new menu.
|THE STAINLESS STEEL CONTAINERS|
The container for the Kitiki MiniKin and SpeedFire Pro measures 75mm x 75mm x 50mm, and holds 0.28 litre of charcoal. The container for the Paragon SC-2, SC3, and Xpress E10A measures 162mm x 176mm x 100mm, and holds one litre. The container for the Paragon E-12A, E14A, and J14A measures 162mm x 265mm x 152mm, and holds three litres.
A container of hot charcoal takes a long time to cool off, so a second container with fresh charcoal allows you to prepare your next batch of work.
If you want to use both types of charcoal, two containers make cleaning and storing easier, especially as both types of charcoal look similar.
|COPPER CLAY: NOTES|
I haven't worked with all the copper clays. However, Prometheus Copper clay can be made into a paste by adding a little water and mixing it thoroughly. You can use the paste to paint onto a mould; to add shape to existing unfired clay; or to stick two pieces of unfired clay together.
All metal clays shrink slightly during firing, so it's important to do some tests before starting on your best ideas. However, it does mean that details and textures become more focused.
All particulates represent a health risk if they're breathed in, so it's very important to wear a HEPA mask when mixing powders, handling charcoal, sanding dried clays, and cleaning out your kiln. Ideally, use protective glasses.
Clays, charcoals, dust masks, electric kilns, hot gloves, magnetic polishers, protective glasses, rotary tumblers, shelf paper, and other tools and materials, are in the on-line shop: use the shop link below the menu bar near the top of the page.