It may be too early to tell, since there is a lot of experimentation to be done yet, but it seems that my first try at steel clay was a success.
Here is what I did: I prepared it more or less the same way I make my copper and bronze clay powder. The clay is shiny black, smooth and creamy. I pressed it against a polymer clay mold that I had made. (You can click on the photo to enlarge).
Then I cut a circle out of the steel clay and dried. Like bronze clay, it shrank about 10% while drying, and I had to flip it over from side to side to keep it from warping.
To keep it simple I drilled a hole at the top.
It was fired in carbon. I am still testing the firing schedule, so I will post my results later. It came out black from the kiln, as if I’d already oxidized it with liver of sulfur. I buffed it with a coarse mini-fiber wheel. The shrinkage was like that of bronze – about 25% for flat pieces.
It is very strong, and surprisingly light.
To test joints I made another piece with a bail on the back. The dry bail easily attached to the dry circle and the joint was very strong after firing.
I also made a steel rock, and fired it half full of carbon.
As you can see in the photo, this time the shrinkage rate was much smaller.
After sanding and matting it to a satin finish (which was harder than sanding silver), I took a photo of the steel rock next to a silver rock. The steel rock is somewhat darker.