Friday, November 11, 2011

Bronze Clay

Bronze Clay:  BRONZclay™ consists of 11% tin, 89% copper, water and non-toxic binding materials. The binding materials vaporize completely during the kiln-firing process, leaving a solid bronze piece with a density 90% that of cast bronze. could it have taken so long for me to discover this stuff.  And if you prefer other metals, there's also copper and silver clay. Genius.
Of course silver is very expensive right now, but I still want to try it at some point. 

And as defined on the BRONZclay website, "BRONZclay can be pinched, rolled, sculpted and manipulated. In its dried state, it's still highly flexible and easy to carve—an ideal canvas for applying details and finishing touches prior to firing. When fired in a kiln (as outlined on this website), the binder vaporizes, leaving a solid, pure bronze object that can be sawn, shaped, drilled, sanded, patinaed or soldered using traditional jewelry tools and techniques. This exciting medium offers a new world of possibilities for jewelry makers, artists and sculptors."

Evenheat Kingpin 88 Kiln
After reading about these metal clays and kilns for far too long, I ordered both. The kiln I finally settled on was the Evenheat Kingpin 88.  You'll have to do your own research,  of course, but after 10 firings, I'm very pleased with my choice.  The Kingpin is easy to program and has fired as programmed with no glitches.

Bronze charm, Original Shell & Mold

I also ordered a two part molding material called MegaMold so I could make my own original molds for the BRONZclay.  You can get an idea how much shrinkage there is with the clay, by comparing the shell charm to the original shell & mold.
Trust me, making your own molds is addictive.

Bronze Pieces Ready to Fire

This will give you an idea about what some of the bronze clay looks like before it's fired.  During firing, it takes on a life of its own. And after firing,  the colors can still be changed by adding heat with a torch. Or if it's that shiny, golden color you like, just toss the pieces into a tumbler. I don't care for shiny gold, but some people do & they really shine if tumbled.  I've also used Liver of Sulfur on them and it actually does make a difference on my pieces...even though some say it won't work on bronze clay. It does for me. ;)

Bronze Pieces After Firing
And after firing, the results are always surprising. Where the pieces are in the kiln seems to have an effect on how they turn out. Also whether you let the kiln cool on it's own or open it at 500-600 degrees. Here are the results after one such firing. 

 Here's an example of a bronze sand dollar made from a mold of a real sand dollar. It was then oxidized in Liver of Sulfur.
Bronze Sand Dollar

I've also been experimenting with using metal stamping on the bronze clay pieces...and soon I want to try doing some torch fired enameling on them. I've never tried it, but look forward to the challenge!

Have any of you tried enameling on your own bronze clay pieces?
Please share how that worked, because I just hate talking to myself here. ;)


My Life Under the Bus said...

Oh I am dying to try this too! *JEALOUS*

Lela Bouse-McCracken said...

Patty, it's so much fun! I'm dying to try PMC silver, but ugh! crazy prices. So I'll wait until I feel a little more confident in my processes.