There is not a lot of information out there on bronze clay. When I decided to dive in, I got this book, and as far as I can find, I think it’s the only book on bronze clay. It’s a great guide, yet even this book has a lot left to figure out on your own. I also highly recommend CoolTools, not only do they have the best prices on metal clay, but they have wonderful instructions, videos, and great customer service. Mardel Rein is wonderful to assist in any way she can. She is always adding new tools and tips to the sight.
Bronze Clay is relatively still a new medium, and we are all pioneers in this journey. So I encourage you to play, find out what this can do, let explore together.
I prefer bronze clay (the fast fire version) to copper clay, because it shrinks significantly less. Since I make chunky large beads and focals, this works for me.
I started out using PMC- so in comparison, bronze clay is not as sticky, and doesn’t like to stick to itself. You need to make and use slip. The clay also cracks easily and if those cracks are not fixed prior to firing, they WILL split or break in the kiln as it shrinks. Also- make sure to do as much finishing as possible before firing, since bronze is a hard metal, it’s easier to sand edges before firing them filing them after.
I use a firing vessel made from heavy duty no flake firing foil.
That way I was able to make it the size I wanted. It took me awhile to figure out how much bronze clay I could fire at once and have it all fire evenly. Of course I was trying to fire as much as possible. I have found that 200 grams of fast fire bronze clay fires nicely in my kiln at one time in one vessel. I tried stacking them so I could fire two at once, and just had too many pieces that needed to be redone. So I do one vessel at a time. You can tell if your pieces are fired correctly by banging them with a hammer or trying to bend them after they are fired. They should not crack or crumble. They should react like pure metal.
I also learned to place thicker or larger pieces towards the outside of the firing container, where it is hottest. I leave space empty at the front of my container- the part closest to the door, because that is the coolest part of the kiln.
And last but not least, I LOVE magic carbon for my firing media. I tried all the others, and this is my favorite. The rainbow does not give any sort of consistent effects, so that’s just not for me. Magic carbon gives a nice antique finish. I bronze brush or tumble the pieces to clean them up post firing, and its perfect. Since liver of sulphur won’t antique bronze, this is perfect for the look I wish to achieve.
Please feel free to ask if you have any other questions. This is just an overview with tips. There is a lot of wonderful information here on the Cool Tools learning center.
Anyone else have tips they would like to share?