Metal Clay Jewelry Making Tips and Trends

Testing: Silver Clay Bodies, Glycerin & Delicate Element Textures

We have recently come out with a new Cool Tools brand product, called Delicate Element Textures. These silicone textures are specially designed to create beautiful, delicate designs using very small amounts of clay.

The Delicate Element Textures have been advertised to work only with FS999™ Fine Silver Clay and EZ960® Sterling Silver Clay, as we have found no other clay body will perform as well in the silicone texture. We understand every artist has a favorite clay, and may be eager to try other clays with these textures. Because of this, we are sharing Cool Tools Resident Artist, Karen Trexler’s comprehensive testing and the results from every silver clay body we carry, in combination with the Delicate Element Textures. Each clay body was also tested with Glycerin, as Glycerin is known to give an added flexibility to metal clay. In this testing, we were hopeful that adding Glycerin would make other clay bodies on the market possible to use.

Below are Karen’s results: 


All of the tests below were conducted by heating the tiles with clay in them, in a dehydrator set to 165°F / 74°C:

  • PMC Sterling: Sticky, does not scrape off well and cleanly. Was able to get in but not as cleanly, and broke while trying to remove. Did not work.
    • With Glycerin: Extra sticky with the glycerin – difficult to get in; did come out though. Difficult to do, but did successfully come out.
  • One Fire PMC Sterling: The stickiness of PMC made it difficult to get in. I was able to successfully get it in, but not as cleanly as I would have liked. Difficult to do, but did successfully come out.
    • With Glycerin: Still difficult to get in but also did come out successfully. Successfully came out.
  • PMC +: While it behaved better than PMC Sterling, it was still difficult to get in, and broke coming out. Did not work.
    • With Glycerin: Still difficult to do, but did come out. Successfully came out.
  • PMC3: Difficult to do, broke coming out. Did not work.
    • With Glycerin: The addition of glycerin made it even more difficult to get in. I was not able to successfully get the clay to remain in the recesses without peeling away. Did not work.
  • PMC Flex: Did successfully come out of the delicate elements without breaking; however, the PMC Flex is more tacky and sticky. As a result, it was difficult to get it to remain in the low areas – it kept sticking to itself and pulling out, and was difficult to get crisp edges without pulling the material out of the mold. Successfully came out.
    • With Glycerin: Adding Glycerin made it more difficult to get in than the PMC Flex without. Very sticky and often peeled out. It did successfully work  but I would recommend PMC Flex straight from the package over adding glycerin.
  • Art Clay Silver: Went in more easily than PMC. Broke Coming out. Did not work.
    • With Glycerin: Extremely difficult to get in. With the addition of the glycerin it was crumbly and peeled away – I was eventually able to get it in, but it still broke upon removal. Did not work.
  • Metal Magic Silver: Was very, very difficult, I was not able to get it to stay in the low areas evenly without peeling away. Did not work.
    • With Glycerin: Was even more difficult to get it to go in. I could not make it work. Did not work.
  • Metal Magic Sterling: Behaved better than PMC and Art Clay, but not as well as FS999 or EZ960. It was still sort of sticky but I was able to get the clay in the low areas easily. Did not pop out as easy, but I was able to carefully remove.
    • With Glycerin: Still went in fairly easily. Did not pop out as easy, but I was able to carefully remove.
  • Aussie Fine: Also behaved better than PMC and Art Clay. Went in fairly well. Successfully came out.
    • With Glycerin: Also went in fairly well. Successfully came out.
  • Aussie .960: Went in fairly easily; however, it broke coming out.
    • With Glycerin: Went in fairly easily, did come out without breaking. Successfully came out.

In summary, FS999 Fine Silver Clay and EZ960 Sterling Silver Clay both perform beautifully in the Delicate Elements. The clay goes into the low areas very easily without peeling back out, and the flexibility from being heated to 165°F / 74°C allows them to easily release from the textures. While with the addition of glycerin does make using other clay bodies possible, FS999 and EZ960 are much easier to use and yield more clean, even results.

Overall, the slightly more sticky nature of the PMC clays led them to be difficult to use. The clay would stick to itself and peel back out of the texture instead of laying down in the low areas easily. It required more fussing than needed FS999 and EZ960. However, the addition of glycerin did allow PMC Sterling, One Fire PMC Sterling, and PMC + to come out of the tiles without breaking. PMC Flex straight from the package, without the addition of glycerin, did successfully come out from the Delicate Elements without breaking; however, since PMC Flex is more tacky than FS999 and EZ960, it was difficult to get it to remain in the low areas. The addition of glycerin made the PMC Flex even more sticky and difficult to work with. I was able to get it to successfully work, but if using PMC Flex I would recommend using it straight from the package without adding Glycerin. Unfortunately, I was not able to get PMC3 to work. While I was able to get PMC3 into the low areas with some fussing, I was not able to remove the element from the tile without it breaking. The addition of glycerin to PMC3 made the clay extremely difficult to get into the low areas of the tile. I was not able to get the clay to remain in the recesses without peeling out.

Unfortunately I was not able to get Art Clay Silver to work with the Delicate Elements. Even with the addition of glycerin, the element broke while I was trying to remove it from the tile.

Metal Magic Silver, did not work. I was not able to get it to stay in the low areas evenly without peeling away. The addition of Glycerin made it even more difficult to go in. I unfortunately could not make Metal Magic Silver work. However, Metal Magic Sterling, did work. I was able to easily get it to stay in the low areas. While it did not pop out like FS999 or EZ960, I was able to carefully remove the element from the tile. With the addition of Glycerin it still went in fairly easily and again, while it did not pop out as easy, I was able to carefully remove it.

Aussie Fine Silver went in fairly easily as well, and I was able to carefully remove the delicate element from the tile. The addition of glycerin to Aussie Fine silver clay allowed for a more easy removal of the delicate element from the tile.

Aussie .960 straight from the package did not work successfully, and the element broke coming out of the tile.  The addition of glycerin did allow the Aussie .960 to successfully come out.


To be clear, Cool Tools, in no way, is disparaging other clays. There is something very special and unique in the binders that EZ960 and FS999 offer: the clay, when heated while still in the mold, becomes flexible and resilient like no other clay body on the market, and allows for these lovely, delicate elements and assemblies to hold together using the smallest amounts of clay.

If the artist wishes to create these Delicate Elements for themselves, they must/should choose the proper companion clay. While we recommend EZ960 and FS999, testing with glycerin has shown that other clays are possible, as shown above.

 

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