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Swarovski Elements

Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

What is Art Clay Silver?
What makes Art Clay Silver great?
How is Art Clay manufactured?
What are the basic steps in working with Art Clay?
What is the secret to success in working with Art Clay Silver?
What are the different products Art Clay World carries?
What is the difference between Low Fire Clay and Regular Art Clay Silver?
Where can I buy Art Clay?
Are the MSDS sheets available online?
Glossary of Terms

Working with Art Clay

Getting Started
How can I get started with Art Clay before I am able to attend a class?

Keeping Silver Pliable
How do I keep Silver Art Clay moist and malleable?
How should I store opened Art Clay?

Rock Hard Art Clay Silver
I have rock hard pieces of Art Clay, what can I do?

Thickness
How thin can I make my Art Clay Silver pendant?

How to Dry Art Clay Silver
How do I dry Art Clay?
How can I check to see if my work is dry?

Firing

How do I Fire Art Clay Silver?
What are the limitations firing with the torch or gas stove?

Firing Art Clay Silver and Gold Clay Together
How do I fire Art Clay Silver and Gold together?

Support During Firing
How do I support a delicate object during firing?
What other materials can I fire?
What should I not fire?

Kilns

Type of Kiln
What type of kiln is best for firing Art Clay?
What is the difference between the Paragon SC and Caldera Kilns?
How do I fire Art Clay Silver in a cone sitter kiln?

Other Kilns
What about other types of kilns?

Fired Art Clay Silver

Strength
How strong is Art Clay Silver?

Fine Silver
What is the difference between fine and sterling silver?

Tarnish
Does fine silver tarnish?

Additions
Can I add more to a piece once it is fired?

Repairs
I've broken my piece, how can I fix it?

Solder Findings
Can I solder findings onto my piece after I have fired it?

Working with Other Metals and Materials

Incorporating Different Materials
What types of metals work best with Art Clay Silver?
What's the deal with sterling silver and copper turning black?
How do I use Liver of Sulfur?

Gemstones
What gemstones are best to use in Art Clay Silver?
Can I use natural gemstones?
What gemstones should I avoid using with Art Clay Silver?

Set Natural Stones
How can I set natural stones in Art Clay that can't be fired?

Firing with Ceramics
Can I fire Art Clay Silver onto ceramics?

Firing with Glass
Can I incorporate glass with Art Clay Silver?

Classes

Classes and Certification
Why should I attend a certification class?
Where can I find classes?
Can PMC certified instructors become certified with Art Clay?

General Questions

Q. What is Art Clay Silver?
Art Clay Silver is pure silver powder combined with non-toxic binders and water. When kiln, torch or gas stovetop fired, the binders burn away, leaving pure, 99.9% silver. Art Clay Silver can be added to a variety of media: glass, ceramics, porcelain and polymer clay to name a few. It can be rolled, sculpted, stamped, sanded, filed, engraved, drilled and pre-polished, all prior to firing. Once fired, it is pure silver and can be treated like any other pure silver. More information about the different products can be found here.

Q. What makes Art Clay Silver great?
Silver Art Clay shrinks only 8-10%, with Low Fire shrinking only 8-9%, the lowest in the industry. Art Clay includes a broad range of products, like Oil Paste and Overlay Paste , Slow Dry and Low Fire Slow Dry, and 22k Gold Clay products that fit particular needs, and offer a more complete range of materials to create with. Using Art Clay Silver consistently results in beautiful pieces.

Q. How is Art Clay manufactured?
Art Clay is a recycled product manufactured by Aida Chemical Industries in Japan. Aida recycles and reclaims a variety of different metals, and the silver comes from many different sources, like film stock and negatives.

Q. What are the basic steps in working with Art Clay?
Read the instructions which are included in the package. Form the malleable clay to the desired shape. Dry the clay following one of the recommended processes. Detail the greenware with files, sandpaper, or other tools. Make sure the clay is completely dry, to ensure it is ready to fire. Fire the dried piece using a kiln, torch, or gas stove. Once the piece is cool, then finish.

Q. What is the secret to success in working with Art Clay Silver?
The secret is to follow the 10-80-10 rule. Spend no more than 10% of your time working on the roughing out the shape while the clay is malleable. Allow 80% of your time to focus on working the dry clay into the exact state you want. This is when you file, sand, cut, and engrave your work. After completing this process, the piece should be mostly finished. The remaining 10% should come after the firing, and spent finishing the piece, sanding and polishing.

Q. What are the different products Art Clay World carries?
You can find out about the different products on our product information page. You can browse our online catalog or the public shopping cart.

Q. What is the difference between Low Fire Clay and Regular Art Clay Silver?
Low Fire Clay can do everything regular clay can do, and much more. The Low Fire Clay fires as low as 1200°F which allows for greater compatibility with more materials and gemstones like moonstone. It only shrinks 8-9%, the lowest in the industry. Regular clay works great, but should never be fired below 1472°F, and shrinks a little bit more, around 8-10%. More details can be found on this comparison chart.

Q. Where Can I buy Art Clay?
You can buy Art Clay directly through us, on our website or by phone, toll free. You can also purchase Art Clay through one of our many distributors.

Q. Are the MSDS sheets available online?
Yes, the MSDS sheets are available on the product information page of the website. All MSDS sheets are in PDF format.

Working with Art Clay

Q. How can I get started with Art Clay before I am able to attend a class?
We carry several wonderful books, and a great video that demonstrates the process. You can start with the Basics Book, which is now available in English, and then move on to the Advanced Book. These books feature step-by-step projects, which will take you through the basic techniques of using Art Clay, including firing, and are well photographed. The video is almost an hour long, and provides an excellent overview of the process, and the best demonstration of torch firing.

Keeping Art Clay Silver Pliable

Q. How do you keep Art Clay Silver moist and malleable?
Once you open the mylar package, the clay begins to dry, much like porcelain. You can use water and a moist brush to lightly hydrate the Art Clay while you shape your work. Keeping the clay covered with something moist will let you put it down momentarily.
Q. How should I store opened Art Clay?
Keep all unused portions of Art Clay pliable in an airtight package, like a clay keeper. You can also use plastic wrap, then double seal it in a small plastic bag, with a moist sponge at the bottom. This will also keep the clay pliable. Store in a cool dark place, but do not refrigerate or freeze.

Rock Hard Art Clay Silver

Q. I have rock hard pieces of Art Clay, what can I do?
There are two options. You can collect all of your unfired crumbs, hardened pieces and even Art Clay Silver dust into a sealable container, add water, and stir. This simple method will create Art Clay Silver paste, which can be used again. The other method is to collect all the pieces of unfired clay into a sealable plastic bag, and add a couple of drops of water. After the clay softens a little, and with patience, you can work it back into pliable clay. Remember to add small amounts of water at a time, and allow it to soak in. (Please note: If you combine any Low Fire Clay with any regular Art Clay Silver, you must fire at the temperature of the clay with the highest minimum firing temperature.)

Thickness

Q. How thin can I make my Silver Art Clay pendant?
1mm thick will make a strong, durable pendant, and our plastic slats are the perfect guides. To assure even thickness, you can roll out the clay between the plastic slats. Mat board may also be used as it is about 1 mm thick.

How to Dry Art Clay Silver

Q. How do you ensure Art Clay is dry before firing?
The suggest drying times of regular Art Clay is:
  • Hair dryer: At least 10-15 minute 4 inches (10cm) from the piece.
  • Food Dehydrator: 10 minutes at 145ºF
  • Cooking plate, kiln or oven: At least 7-10 minutes at 300ºF
  • Natural dry: At least 24 hours at room temperature.
These times are approximates, as different conditions like humidity will affect drying time. Drying times for Art Clay can found on the product description and definition page.

Q. How can you check to see if your work is dry?
You can check to see if a piece is dry by setting it on top of a piece of clean glass, let it sit for a moment, and then slide the piece away from it's original position. Any condensation on the glass indicates a piece that isn't completely dry. If there is any visible moisture, extend the drying time to ensure the piece is completely dry before firing. *Please note: in order to use this method a heated drying source such as a hair dryer or food dehydrator must be used; this method will not work for air-drying. Art Clay must be dry before firing; any water in the piece, during firing, may cause it to break.

Firing

Q. How do you Fire Art Clay Silver?
You can use a kiln, torch or gas stove to fire most Art Clay Silver. This chart shows the different firing times, which a kiln can easily follow. Torch and gas stove methods are similar in bringing the silver up to a glowing orange, (the sintering temperature), and holding for a short period of time. Temperature is critical because over-firing can cause the silver to melt. Art Clay Silver matures at 1600ºF/870ºC, a sintering temperature. This heat causes the silver particles to fuse together. This is only slightly lower than the melting temperature for fine silver (1696ºF). Fluctuations in firing temperature can result in reaching melting temperature.

Q. What are the limitations firing with the torch or gas stove?
You should not fire glass, ceramics or other materials sensitive to rapid temperature changes. You should not fire pieces larger than 25g, or work larger than a half dollar.

Firing Art Clay Silver and Gold Clay Together

Q. How do you fire Art Clay Silver and Gold clay together?
The best way to make a combination piece is first to make the gold element, then fire it at 1860ºF for 60 minutes (a kiln is required for firing gold clay). This will completely sinter the gold. Then build the Art Clay Silver around the gold element, using any of the forms of Art Clay Silver. Then fire again at 1600ºF for 10 minutes. The gold and silver piece shown in the picture gallery was made in this manner. There are several other methods available for incorporating gold into your work, such as vermeil and keum-boo methods.

Support During Firing

Q. How do you support a delicate object during firing?
We recommend using a soft ceramic fiber cloth/blanket. We do not recommend alumina hydrate. Art Clay Silver fires so quickly and has so little shrinkage that sagging of the piece is not usually a problem.

Q. What other materials can I fire?
Cork clay is excellent and has consistent results. You can shape it, and use it as a base to create hollow forms. Paper and pulp products like paper clay are also an option. Always check before firing anything, high temperatures can produce unexpected chemical reactions.

Q. What should I not fire?
Never fire plastic, Styrofoam, or similar materials, as toxic fumes may be produced. Aluminum foil must also be avoided. The best rule is, if you are uncertain, do not fire it.

Type of Kiln

Q. What type of kiln is best for firing Art Clay?
We recommend and sell the SC series kilns from Paragon Industries. The SC-2 is the most popular kiln for firing Art Clay, while the SC-3 is essentially a larger version. The SC kilns are programmable for time, temperature and ramp up (speed at which the kiln heats up) using the Sentry Express electric controller. The other kiln we recommend and sell is the Caldera, a multi purpose kiln, with similar controls and different features.

Q. What is the difference between the SC and Caldera Kilns?
The SC series are easy to use, fast, portable and cheap to operate. They feature a simple 3 key controller, and an easy to use front loading design. The Caldera has a higher temperature range, is top loading and easy to repair. The Caldera has different attachments, like a bead collar, that add versatility to the kiln. The Caldera excels as a multi purpose kiln, allowing you to fire up to 2350ºF, and is best when speed and moving are not issues. The SC is ideal for classroom and teaching environments, the front door makes it very easy to load, and it is much faster than the Caldera. Both models run on regular voltage and can be plugged into any household socket.

Q. How do you fire Art Clay Silver in a cone sitter kiln?
Cone sitting directions can be found here. (PDF file)

Other Kilns

Q. What about other types of kilns?
Any kiln that can accurately hold the necessary temperatures for firing will be adequate. You should test your kiln, as your kiln may have slight variations in temperature inside the chamber, especially if it is a larger kiln. Depending upon where within the kiln you place the Art Clay, a hot spot could cause the piece to be over-fired, or under-fired. Please double check, or use the lower temperature for longer. Glass fusing kilns, enameling and other computer controlled kilns are ideal, and you can make a cone sitter do the job as well. Cone sitting directions can be found here.

Fired Art Clay Silver

Q. How strong is Art Clay Silver?
Art Clay Silver properly fired will be strong enough for making pendants, earring, rings and most common jewelry items. It will withstand normal wear and tear. Art Clay is quite durable, but requires additional support, such as 12 gauge silver wire, to make bangle style bracelets.

Fine Silver

Q. What is the difference between fine and sterling silver?
Fine silver is pure silver (0.999 or 99.9% pure). Sterling silver is 92.5% silver to which is added other metals, primarily copper, creating an alloy. The addition of particular metals to silver makes sterling harder than fine silver.

Tarnish

Q. Does fine silver tarnish?
Fine silver will tarnish, but not as fast as sterling. The other metals added to create sterling cause it to tarnish more rapidly.

Additions

Q. Can you add more to something once it is fired?
Even if you fire a piece and are not satisfied with the result, you can add more clay and re-fire it. It's amazing to see the new clay bond to the previously fired piece and become one solid piece. During this process you can repair, add, and change your piece. (Please note: Ensure the silver is clean before adding additional Art Clay.)

Repairs

Q. I've broken my piece, how can I fix it?
Repairs can be made with Oil Paste, which allows you to join fired pieces back together. Art Clay Oil Paste is a great substitute for flux and solder.

Solder Findings

Q. Can I solder findings onto my piece after I have fired it?
Yes, it is very easy to solder onto Silver Art Clay. It is dense enough to accept solder because the silver particles in the unfired clay are 1 to 20 microns in size. During firing, the particles sinter closely together.

Incorporating Different Metals and Materials

Q. What types of metals work best with the Art Clay Silver?
Fine silver, sterling silver, brass and copper all can work well with Art Clay Silver. Fine silver wire can be placed directly into the Art Clay and then fired together. The heat of the firing fuses them together, and there is no need to solder them. Brass and copper can also be used, but require special attention in design, so that the metals are captured in the Art Clay. Sterling silver works best with Low Fire Art Clay, and must be fired at lower temperatures to work successfully.

Q. What's the deal with sterling silver and copper turning black?
That is firescale and it's copper to blame. That black coating is basically a result of heating copper in the presence of oxygen, and can be removed in a "pickle" solution, or manually by filing and sanding. The lower firing temperatures possible with Low Fire Art Clay Silver reduces firescale and allow for a better joint between the sterling and Art Clay. We do not recommend firing sterling at higher temperatures, like 1472°F, or torch firing, because the firescale may prevent a good bond with sterling, which may cause problems. Depending on handling, sterling may become significantly weaker when fired.

Q. How do I use Liver of Sulfur?
Liver of sulfur requires heat to work well. You can add a small piece (dime sized) to a glass of hot water, which will produce excellent effects, and a rotten egg odor. The longer the piece stays in the liver of sulfur, the darker it becomes. You can remove liver of sulfur with metal polish, or by reheating the piece. It is best to store liver of sulfur in a dry, dark place. Please see this page for more info.

Gemstones

Q. What gemstones are best to use in Silver Art Clay?
We recommend and sell laboratory grown stones, and cubic zirconium (CZs). You can easily set these into the Art Clay and fire them with a kiln, torch (PDF), or gas stove (PDF). Remember to let pieces with stones air cool, quenching a hot stone may crack or shatter the stone. Please see this PDF for more info.

Q. Can I use natural gemstones?

Some natural stones may be used, but there is always the possibility they will break, or shift colors. Stones with a hardness greater than 7.5 on the Mohs hardness scale should be strong enough to survive firing. However, inclusions in the stone can cause the stone to break, and the heat may also cause the stone to shift colors, often in unattractive ways. Please see this PDF for more information (PDF), or for more details regarding a particular stones.

Q. What gemstones should I avoid using with Art Clay Silver?
Diamonds should not be fired, as well as most members of the quartz family. Doublets are not recommended because the clear top layer, on this type of stone, may melt. (Please Note: Many green stones are often doublets.) Please see this page for more info regarding gemstones. (PDF)

Setting Natural Stones

Q. How can I set natural stones in Art Clay that can't be fired?
You can set natural stones and other materials too delicate to survive the firing process by creating a bezel using fine silver bezel wire, much like regular bezel settings. Measure and form the bezel wire, as you would traditionally. Seal the seam using Oil Paste, and fire. Then press it into the Art Clay. Use Art Clay paste or syringe at the joint to reinforce the work and compensate for shrinkage. Fire the Art Clay with the bezel. After you polish the piece, you can place the stone into the bezel and close using traditional methods.

Firing with Ceramics

Q. Can you fire Silver Art Clay onto ceramics?
Yes, you have several options for working with ceramics. You can work with glazes that "open" at the temperatures Art Clay is sintered at, or you can apply Art Clay to bisque. You can also use Overlay Paste which is specially formulated to bond to glazed surfaces like porcelain.

Firing with Glass

Q. Can you use glass with Art Clay Silver?
Low Fire Art Clay works great with glass. At lower temperatures of 1275-1300°F there is little glass movement, and no yellowing. The glass will stick directly to the silver, allowing for very creative designs. Care should be taken to properly handle and fire the glass, as glass should be annealed slowly in a kiln. Fiber paper should be used under the glass to give it a smooth backside. If you wish to draw or paint a silver design on a glass surface, Overlay Silver Paste can be used for that purpose, as it can be fired from 1200°F, and is formulated to adhere to smooth surfaces.

Classes

Q. Why should I attend a certification class?
The certification classes are carefully planned to guide the student through the techniques for designing and constructing quality work. The certified student is then able to purchase Art Clay supplies at a discount and joins Art Clay World, our education source.

Q. Where can I find classes?
You can find classes by looking at our class calendar. You can also find classes by contacting an instructor in your area. It is best to begin with the Senior Instructor list and if you do not find anyone in your area, please contact the main office.

Q. Can PMC certified instructors become certified with Art Clay?
Our crossover course recognizes PMC Instructors' previous experience with the metal clay, while highlighting some of our unique products. Please contact one of our Senior Instructors to arrange for this one day class.

We hope that this information has been helpful to you. If you still have any unanswered Art Clay questions which you would like to ask, please feel free to contact us. We will gladly answer all your questions and, if we think it is something others might want to know, add it to our list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's).

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Direct: (708) 857–8800 ~ Fax: (708) 636–5408 ~ US Toll Free: (866) 381–0100
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