- Lubricate your tools and hands prior to opening the clay with olive oil, Badger Balm, Gloves in a Bottle or other proprietary product. Our skin soaks up the moisture in the clay and will dry it out too fast. Also, using a lubricant will keep the clay from sticking to the tool.
Your skin is the largest organ, so it’s good to create a barrier between your skin and the product….any art product.
If you work with the base metal clays which can discolor your nails, by rubbing Glove in a Bottle under your nails before beginning your work, you can prevent this from happening. It’s a great product!
- Think about how your piece will hang prior to engineering the piece. Will you put a hole in piece, use a tube bail attached to the piece, put a bail on the back of the piece, etc.
Where will the hole go? Will it hang funny?
If you decide to put a hole in the piece, I recommend making the hole after the piece is dry using either an craft knife (conical hole perfect for stone settings) or a drill bit. By placing some water on the clay, allowing it to be absorbed and then one more drop of water on the drill bit or knife blade, the clay will drill very easily. Let the tool do the work by turning the tool clockwise while holding it perpendicular to the clay. You’ll get a beautiful and perfect hole!
When trying to make the hole with a straw in wet clay you often get warping or buckling of the clay and often it’s too close to the edge.
- You can draw on metal clay with pencils or sharpie. The marks will all burn out when you fire the clay. If you need to transfer a design to the clay, red Saral paper works nicely for this purpose.
- Carving can be done with many tools. Try using a carbide scribe, dental-type carving tools, dockyard carving tools, traditional linoleum carving tools, or even a micro engraving tool.
Before you carve into the clay, take your size #0 taklon brush and wet the area or line where you want to carve. Let the water absorb and then reapply a little more water. Next carve your lines. The water soften the clay just enough to make it easy to remove the material with little resistance. Also do not hold the carver like a pencil but like a graphite stick or pastel (across the palm of your hand) with your index finger on the carver guiding it.
- Using a Lil Bella, Clay Keeper, Syringe Keepers and Linda’s Lid Syringe Holder will help keep the clay from drying out while not in use. If you are not rolling out the clay or using it, it should be wrapped up or stored to keep it from drying out.
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