Opening the Pack

The sealed zip-lock envelope of MCP contains 52.4 grams of silver clay in powder form in a smaller zip-lock bag and the instructions. 

Remove the clay powder packet from the inner zip-lock and pinch the sides of the packet and cut / tear off a corner at the top. Measure out an amount you want to use.

Mixing with Water  

 

Measure out a quantity of MCP from the package. Here the powder is on some thin plastic and will be wetted with distilled water from this eye-dropper bottle. You may need about 2 drops from this dropper to hydrate one gram of powder. 

Continue mixing until the dry particles can clump together. Then knead in the palm of hand with the fingers.

Add in more drops of water just until it become sticky again. Continue kneading until claylike and no longer sticks to the skin.  You should be able to sop up nearly all the particles of clay that adhere to your skin. At that point you will need to let the clay mature for about 30 minutes wrapped tightly in a thin piece of plastic like cling film.


Achieving the Clay Consistency

Your clay is not ready for molding / shaping if it looks like a speckled granite surface.

After maturation, you should knead and roll a few times and the clay will be smooth with a uniform color and minimal feathered edges.

MCP's Two Part Binders. The binder is made of plant based cellulose and modified starch.  When moistened part of the binder reacts quickly; when the particles lump together the clay will be crumbly, break apart easily and seems like it is too dry.  In about 15 minutes the second part of the binder begin to chain link the first part of the binder.  This is when maturating the clay is necessary. While kneading the clay will become more softer almost like chewing gum, it will feel as if it became more wet and sticky, but sticky onto itself.  Particles of clay which might have cling to your hand and fingers should become absorbed back into the lump and ready to use. Adding a few more drips of water will make your clay softer. The warmth of the hands will make the clay softer and make the binders work slightly quicker. NOTE: if you add in more dry clay to your already hydrated made-up clay, you will have to allow 20-30 minutes for those added dry particles to become fully hydrated.

Note: You should only hydrate the clay you intend to use. i.e. don't hydrate a full pack of clay and store it in its moist state for weeks or months.  MCP doesn't contain preservatives, so mold can potentially grow on the wet clay if not properly protected. generally left over moistened clay is rolled out flat and dried. You can find lots of uses for thin sheets or strips of clay to be used in the future.

 
 
 
 
Rolling Clay to Thickness

To make even thickness slabs of clay, place a slug (ball) of clay between two sheets of backing paper (the waxy coated paper from stickers) or cling film. Two long strips of thin cardstock paper is placed in parallel on either side of the clay. Using a rolling pin roll out the clay starting from the center of the slug and repeatedly roll back and forth over the clay.

Thicker card strips can be made by taping the strips in stacks.

   

Using paper template molds

This accompanying video at left was created at the time of MCP version 3.2.  The latest version of MCP can simply be made up, rolled into a sheet, and forcefully pressed or rolled into the template. Another sheet would be rolled atop the first layer using force and a spacer to achieve thickness.

For more info on Burn Aways template molds click here

Managing Porosity

Metal clay with large porous surfaces looks unsightly when polished or burnished and is only magnified if it is contrasted with patina.  The three images are clay impressions made from the same mold.  The rightmost image has had most of the air pockets removed from the surface of the clay.

The rolling out of the clay on a non porous surface can create the porous surface on the rolled out clay. The better way to remedy the porosity is to roll the clay on a porous surface.  Lightly oil a sheet of plain print paper and use that surface to roll the clay on. 

Impressions from Low-Relief Rigid Molds

Sort of like minting coins, if you have a hard rigid mold or die the die should have a dusting of release agent or lightly oiled with petroleum jelly. A slug of clay flattened with no visible folds should adhere the surface of the die.

Using an arbor press or your bare hands press the die down onto clay until it flows out from under all the way around the die. You may also push back the clay that flows from around the die to form a raised rim and edge.

 

 

Scratch Impression for Bas-Relief

With a slab rolled flat wet clay, layer on top a piece of cling film that will cover the top surface with excess.  Using a blunt nib make impressions on the film surface thus leaving impressions on the clay.  You can also print out an image on trace paper and line trace the image on to the film covering the clay.

   

Dry on the Porous Surface

Metal clays should dry evenly

Uneven drying especially broad thin pieces will curl and distort if allowed to dry on a non-porous surface like a sheet of plastic wrap or wax paper.  Surfaces best to dry clay on is on a mesh surface like window screen, fish net, cinder brick, hair brush, natural sponge, coral, or nylon scrub pad. Just make sure the surface is not made of reactive metals like aluminum and iron.

 
     
Drying MCP

Metal Clay Powder's version 3.5 and subsequent versions do not fully dry 100% as like previous versions.

Your MCP will not dry beyond the ambient humidity thats in the atmosphere.  Silver conducts thermal energies very well and for that reason the clay will feel much colder to the touch as it is drying.  When water changes from a liquid to vapor, it absorbs heat from the clay making it cooler, however if you're in a humid environment then the cooling of the clay can cause condensation on the clay. This equilibrium temperature means the clay will not become air dried unless you increase the temperature of the clay.

MCP can be quick dried using a dehydrator, cup warmer or hair dryer. You should not use an appliance that till exceed the boiling point of water such as a hot plate, heat gun or microwave oven. 

Pre-BurnOff

A technique which may be implemented to speed up some firing processes is to open-air torch fire the clay for the main purpose of burning away the organic binder.

In the kiln, the intense infrared rays generally vaporizes any moisture (that includes the carbohydrates of the binders) before oxygen can oxidize it away. So pressures may build up inside the clay and cause it to blister. 

A pre burn off will allow the binder to burn at temperature less than the binder's flash points which can range from 450F to over 900F

If you pre-burn off your binder once the clay begin to glow a dull red-orange the you must stop. Do not quench or wet the clay... it is still in greenform and is very fragile. However at this point it can be placed in the kiln at full ramp for a required firing.

 
     
 

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