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Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Joy of Metal Clay - Fast Fire Bronzclay - Part 1

I finally managed to get my hands on some of the Metal Adventures Fast Fire BronzClay! I have heard mixed reviews about this new product. So I created a variety of test pieces and will let you know how it works for me. Today will be Part 1 - How it handles.

What is Fast Fire BronzClay? To update everyone, Metal Adventures is one of the original makers of premixed bronze clay. Their original BronzClay took a long time to fire (5-9 hours, total firing time due to the need to ramp your kiln slowly). This new version, reportedly, takes much less time to fire as you can ramp your kiln at full speed. You can read about the clay directly from the manufacturer's site ( Fast Fire BronzClay) and the following are my thoughts.

First, let's talk about the texture of the clay. The clay has a soft consistency and will dry quickly (but, in my opinion, not as fast as silver clay). One big frustration I found is that it is easy to distort the shape of your piece when you move it. I found that I had to re-roll many of my pieces several times due to this reason. A great solution to this is to place Teflon (or wax paper) under your rolled piece, to cut and dry your piece on. This minimizes the risk of bumping and distorting the piece in transit. Another solution is to use a metal scraper to lift your piece rather than your fingers.
Here is a picture of some pieces being rolled and shaped:

I dryed the pieces I made on a mug warmer. I found that they dried faster than the orignal BronzClay. After they were dried I was able to smooth out any rough edges or imperfections. I found that I could sand or smooth then with a sponge quite easily.

Below are the pieces I made waiting to be fired. I have experimented with a variety of pieces including setting a garnet coloured cz. You will have to wait until next week to see the fired pieces. I will have them fired next week and will report back to you about the firing process.

Finally, one of my other frustrations is with the packaging as does not indicate how much the clay will shrink. (I am not sure if I missed this but I couldn't find it anywhere). I guess I will find out after I fire them all!

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