Metal Clay 101


Tools

Metal Clay Tools 1While experienced metal clay artists have developed a wide variety of tools for working with metal clays, a new artist can get started in metal clay with a relatively small set of tools.


Arranging wet base metal clays.

Arranging wet base metal clays.

The Basics

  • A non-stick work surface, such as a non-stick work sheet like Teflon.
  • Rolling tools and spacers to measure depth (playing cards work just fine).
  • Textures (commercially made or found).
  • Balms or oils to keep clay from sticking to textures, tools, and hands.
  • Tools for cutting, carving, and manipulating wet clay.
  • Basic templates and molds of your choosing.
  • Sand paper and tools for sanding and refining dry clay.
  • A butane torch and firing pad.
  • Access to a kiln.
  • Tools for polishing, burnishing, and finishing fired clays, such as a wire brush and polishing cloths.
  • Air-tight storage container for unused clay.

These tools do not have to be expensive to work well. As with many clays, items that you have around your house or studio can often be re-purposed to make great metal clay tools.

Pendant by Nellann Roberts. Copper and bronze.

Pendant by Nellann Roberts. Copper and bronze.

More Advanced

As you continue your metal clay journey, you may want to invest in:

  • Patinas, inks, stains, and other finishes to alter the surface of fired metal clays.
  • A tumbler to create high shine.
  • Tools for making custom textures and molds.
  • Specialized items for making rings and hollow forms.
  • Rotary tools for advanced polishing and finishing techniques.
  • Torches and metalsmithing tools for creating custom findings and chains.
  • Resins, enamels, and other media that combine well with metal clay.

Ring by Ruth Greening. Fine silver and cubic zirconia.

Ring by Ruth Greening. Fine silver and cubic zirconia.

Metal clay can take you in many directions and your creative choices will dictate the contents of your toolbox. If you have ever worked with other art clays, such as polymer or ceramics, you may find that you already have many of the tools you need to work with metal clay. Basic sanding tools, such as sand paper and nail files are also used in many crafts and are important parts of your first metal clay kit.