BronzClay in a Box

BronzClay items ready to go into the kiln

I have waited months for this day. Tonight, I fire my first batch of BronzClay pieces. This is huge.

I’ve been wanting to play with the base metal clays for quite some time now. The problem is that most base metal clays have to be fired embedded in carbon (to prevent fire scale), and that can seriously mess up your kiln.

Literally. It’s messy. The process leaves a bed of tiny black flakes that have to be vaccuumed out; a tricky task with a kiln, like my SC-2, that’s made of fiber rather than brick. And on top of that, repeated firings with carbon can end up in a buildup of the nasty that causes damage to your kiln’s internal components. No bueno.

But then came a revelation, thanks to the wise and wonderful Sherry Viktora (my level 2 certification instructor): the mess isn’t actually from the carbon; it’s from the stainless steel container it’s fired in! If one can find another vessel that can easily withstand repeated firings to above 1500 degrees one can avoid the mess entirely.

That’s where Hadar comes in. Hadar is one of the artists on the forefront of the metal clay industry, and produces her own brand of metal clays (including some, like her steel clays, not available from any other producer). She came up with a super easy DIY method for creating a box from fiber kiln shelves.

And now we’re in business. The firing process is still rather tricky – a difference of only a few degrees can determine whether your item cracks and breaks due to incomplete sintering, or blisters from too much heat. Each kiln is a little different, each brand of clay is a little different, each batch of carbon is a little different, and each firing container will hold heat a little differently. I’ll be doing my first test firing tonight at the lowest possible temperature and working up from there so it may take quite a while before I have any finished pieces to show, but I’m positive they’ll be worth the wait! Stay tuned!

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