Thursday, July 24, 2008

Wikibeadia - Silver Metal Clay

Wikibeadia - Silver Metal Clay - Unique Silver Art Beads and Findings

Silver metal clay is created from fine particles of silver suspended in an organic binder. When it's fired in a kiln, the binder burns away and the silver bonds together, creating a shape in fine silver. The technology of the material was developed in Japan in the early 1990's, based on an idea that came from the japanese tradition of using ceramic clay to form and fire shapes, and a desire to translate the ability to form shapes and have finished silver jewelry pieces that were shaped in the same way as ceramic clay is shaped and fired.

Silver metal clay is plastic and versatile, and in its wet state it can be folded, molded, extruded and rolled just like clay. When dry, it can be carved, textured and assembled into three-dimensional objects like boxes and lockets.

What is silver metal clay? The silver particles are microscopic and slide freely in the binder, but fuse together into a solid piece of silver in the kiln.

For the adventurous, there is also gold precious metal clay that fuses to nearly pure gold, and it's so beautiful but, just like the real gold it's made from, it is expensive.

Boxes, headpins, clasps and links for chain made with silver or gold metal clay have gorgeous texture and, if they are strengthened properly by hammering or work hardening, create functional and beautiful accessories to use in your beading designs.

What should you watch for when buying silver metal clay art beads and components? Look for sturdy, dense pieces of silver, and if they are structural components like clasps or chain links, look for signs that they have been hammered to harden them. If you can easily bend them with your fingers, or if there are cracks around the edges of the silver, they may not have been fired long enough or work hardened after firing. You need for them to hold up in your jewelry designs to heavy wear and to last without stress fractures or soft spots forming.

I love the idea of creating jewelry findings and accents out of fine silver to combine with other art beads, that silver bling adds that special bit of zing!

Written by Lynn Davis who fires anything that will fit in the kiln and take the heat

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