Sterling Silver Clay, Copper Clay, and Mokume-Gane

After my blog postings about Sterling Silver using Quick-fire Copper and about Copper and Silver Mokume-gane, the next step for me was to play with making mokume-gane from sterling silver clay and Quick-fire copper. (See instructions for making sterling silver clay in my posting: Sterling Silver with Hadar’s Clay™ Quick-fire Copper. Here are some of my results. The first attempt is a pair of mirror-image earrings.

Before

Before

After

After

Before

Before

After (one side)

After (one side)

Other side

Other side

To my surprise, the lentil sintered without repeating the second phase of firing.

Here is an experiment with a gradient surface:

And Cabochons:

These are double-sided spinning earrings. They are small, but pretty thick. They also sintered without repeating the second phase.

One side

One side

Other side

Other side

This time I fired in both my kilns, front-loader muffle and top-loader fire brick. I used a ceramic cloth, which is the same as fiber blanket as far as temperatures are concerned. The firing schedule is exactly the same as for copper and White Bronze (how convenient – and weird!). In some cases I skipped the first phase by firing the pieces with a torch on top of the carbon. (I don’t recommend doing this with thin, flat pieces, since they tend to break, and I am not sure it can be done with White Bronze). When I didn’t skip the first phase, I fired in carbon for 30 minutes.

The temperatures for the second phase:

Top-loader brick: 1250°F/677°C;
Front-loader muffle: 1325°F/718°C.

I am going to repeat this schedule several times before updating my instruction manual (again?).

I did not find any difference between firing Quick-fire Copper with fine silver or with sterling silver. The metals seemed to fuse at the same temperatures.

I did find shrinkage issues with both fine and sterling silver. In some pieces that had a silver backing layer, the backing layer curved backwards because of greater shrinkage. This could be due to the brand of silver I was using. You can try silver clays with lower shrinkage rate. With the price of silver today, I am not sure I can afford it.

Advice: if you try, test first. Start at a low temperature, sand to check sintering, and if the piece has not fully sintered, repeat the second phase. If it still hasn’t sintered, gradually raise the temperature.

Warning: Do not fire silver and White Bronze in the same box. If you want to test them both in one firing, use two separate boxes.


3 Responses to “Sterling Silver Clay, Copper Clay, and Mokume-Gane”

  • Wanaree Says:

    Hadar, I don’t normally comment but I always read and follow your posts and I just have to say: Thank-you for doing all the leg work and being so generous with your discoveries!

  • Marty Says:

    Thank you Hadar for your many words of wisdom!! Can’t wait for your workshop on Monday in Illinois!

  • ann schneider Says:

    Thank you so much! Now, after this 11 days straight of watching a granddaughter perhaps I can get to work!

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