Silver Metal Clay Types Comparison
Hi everyone, Lisel Crowley here at cool tool studio. I recently did a comparison of all the silver metal clays that cool tools sells. I think this comparison would be really helpful to both new metal clay users and even established users who may not have had a chance to try every metal clay on the market.
So I want to talk to you about the different metal clays and in order to do that I created a project with this template with each of the metal clays and I made each piece exactly the same way using the same textures, using the same template. I set the same stone, same size stone in each one of them and I thought that this would be a good way to show the different finished results you get from the clays and also what the strengths and potential challenges of each clay might be.
So as you may know, may or may not know, if you’re new to metal clay you may not know this, that most silver clays are fine silver clays, which means they’re 99.9% silver and those clays would include ‘art clay silver’, ‘PMC3’, ‘PMC+’, ‘PMC flex’ and metal magic. There is also a sterling silver clay which is made by PMC called ‘PMC Sterling’ that’s 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper clay. This clay has to be fired in carbon and there’s also a new ‘easy 960 sterling’ clay which is 96% silver and 4% copper and that can be fired open shelf. So let’s get into the individual clays.
Let me talk about metal magic first. It’s a fine silver and it probably has the highest, it does have the highest shrinkage rate of all the fine silver clays. If you look at my little chart here you can see that it’s much smaller than all the other pieces and this was made exactly the same size in its raw state.
Why would you want such a high shrinkage clay? Well, if you’re making a design that is a little maybe rough to start out with, as it shrinks it will tighten up and some designs can look a lot better after it has shrunk a little bit, so that might be a good use for this clay. Also if you’re making a pendant and earring set you may want to make the pendant with a lower shrinkage rate clay and then you can make the earrings exactly the same way in the highest shrinkage and you’ll have a nice matching set.
The other advantage of ‘metal magic’ is that it’s lower cost, so some people like it for that. You have a lower cost in your initial product. Other than that in my personal work I don’t really like a high shrinkage clay so I would use that clay that much but it would be very good for someone who enjoys a high shrinkage and wants to save some money.
‘Art clay silver’ is a fine silver clay that has the lowest shrinkage rate, it also is nice and flexible in its working state and I like the lower shrinkage for setting things like fused glass or fire and play stones because you don’t have to worry so much about pressure as the clay is shrinking around the stone or the glass. I also like the flexibility of it in its working state, it seems to have the lowest shrinkage rate of all the fine silver clays as well.
Really I didn’t find much difference between ‘PMC3’ or ‘PMC+’, they both have the same working consistency and they both seem to have just about the same shrinkage rate. They are great metal clays, they’re a little stiffer than art clay silver and they just shrink slightly more than art clay silver. I think ‘art clay silver’ shrinks about 10%, the PMC’s shrink around 15%, so there’s a little more shrinkage there which again if you like a higher shrinkage is a benefit and if you don’t like a higher shrinkage it would be a challenge.
‘PMC Flex’ does shrink a little bit more than PMC+ and PMC3 but it remains flexible even when it’s dry so if you want to do some weaving or some braiding or anything that would involve a lot of manipulation of the clay, even after it’s dry, this is the clay for you.
Now let’s talk about the sterling clays, as I’ve already stated, a sterling clay is going to have a lot of strength compared to a fine silver clay. I would say these clays are equally strong in the finished state. In addition to these pieces I also made rings with both of them and cuffs with both of them and the finished strength is equal.
Where I would see the advantage with ‘PMC Sterling’ is if you are setting a stone that needs to be fired in carbon, because the clay itself needs to be fired in carbon. Then you would want to use the ‘PMC Sterling’ for that kind of stone. Also the ‘PMC Sterling’ does shrink a little bit more so it’s possible that you might find that to be a benefit in your designs but you do need to take into account the shrinkage rate. Because, say you’re making a ring you want to make sure you allow enough for shrinkage when you’re sizing the ring.
‘Easy 960 Sterling’ is probably my favourite clay because it has all of the strength, it has the workability that I like of ‘Art clay silver’. It’s nice and flexible and smooth. It has a strength of ‘PMC Sterling’ and it’s open shelf fired and also if you look at it, it shrinks about the same amount as ‘Art clay silver’, which is roughly around 10%.
So in short, they’re all wonderful clays, they’re all great products, you get beautiful silver jewellery with all of them. It’s a matter of what you’re trying to create and what works well with your personal aesthetic. I encourage you to try the different clays and find out which your personal favourite is, and to enjoy the process. Thank you.