Monday, April 6, 2015

Experiments in Restoring Metal Clay Binder

In my last blog I discussed the problem of metal clay binder failing. If you don’t know what this is then please read my last blog.

Now, I want to experiment with some ideas passed to me on rejuvenating metal clay binder.

Adding Cornstarch
Someone mentioned that they ad cornstarch to metal clay when the binder starts to fail. I tried this by adding a small amount to my clay. No go. It didn't work. It dried the clay out. I added water to the clay and let it sit overnight. The clay didn’t improve. I added more cornstarch and it dried the clay out even more. 

Adding Glycerin
I added a drop or two of glycerin to the failing metal clay, working it into the clay until it was well mixed. No luck. I added water and let it sit overnight. The binder still failed to reactivate. Adding more glycerin didn’t help, either. 

Adding Petroleum Jelly
I added a small amount of petroleum jelly to the metal clay. It instantly became smoother but when pulling it apart, I could see the fibers. I added more petroleum jelly to the same piece. The fibers became smooth again. I decided to let it sit for 24 hours and it was back to being fibrous when pulled apart.

Adding Lavender Oil
I added one drop of lavender oil to a ball of metal clay the size of a pea. It instantly became smoother just as the clay with the petroleum jelly. It too, returned to fibrous after 24 hours.

Lavender Oil + Glycerin
I took the clay with the lavender oil in it and added a very small amount of glycerin. I let it sit for an hour, and it still has the fibrous condition.

So, all of the "fixes" that I have heard about didn't work. Some improved the feel of the clay, but it still pulls apart showing fibers and is not smooth and bendable like new clay.

Until next time, have fun claying around!

by Janet Alexander 
                                                                                                                                                                                              Technical Advise


Annie desantis said...

Thank you so much for your testing. I have only been working with PMC for a couple of years and have tried to reconstitute it at times but it is never as successful as fresh PMC. Most interesting to hear what you try.

Caroline said...

This is very interesting and leaves me with a question (and a comment):
The question first: if the binder is not restored after 24h but seems very good right away as it's the case in a few of your examples... is the clay good workable right away? (which would mean: use the reconstituted clay right away after reconstituting it, don't keep it for the next day!). What is your experience?
And about the comment: I find that it's not the same to reconstitute Fine Silver clay as base metals. It's more difficult to do it with FS. I find that for instance, Zab's bronze Sol is improving every time I reconstitute it with a few drops of glycerin. Did you also notice something different depending on the metal particles?

Brooke Durham said...

I'm a little out of the metal clay practice right now, but it's my understanding that the binder in the clay is actually methyl cellulose. I picked some up at an art store (Dick Blick) but I haven't really tried it I would love to know where it would fall in your trial spectrum. I do worry about how it would affect shrinkage though, during the firing - it stands to reason that if you add more binder the shrinkage would be greater.....

Delia MT - Phoenix Magyk said...

I've just used water for a couple of days...for the amount of water I've added, I've also added a drop of lav oil to inhibit mold. Thanks for this Janet . . . all this testing. I actually cannot recal a time I've had 'binder break down, I use what I have pretty quickly. Is this a time thing? Binder breaks down over time? I also use lav oil if I am later going to join fired to fired material . . .maybe since the binder has not broken down it did not get fibrous. Interesting thoughts :)

Seavbeach Designs said...

I've had the break down as you mention. It seems to occur in clay that I've had used, stored and maybe over worked. Its frustrating and I'm interested in what Brooke Durham said about adding binder, to clay that's broken down. If the binder is broken down, maybe adding new binder will make it behave better. Janet thank you for your experiments.

Janet Alexander said...

Good idea Brooke. I will order some and check it out! I will be a few weeks before I can write about my findings.

PitaHitam Prahastha said...

so what are you have solution for making silver clay back moist. (sorry i am a little english)

Janet Alexander said...

Hi Pita Hitam,
It depends on what you are putting it on. I will write about this for my blog at the end of May.

Anonymous said...

Hi Janet,
I didn't catch what formula of metal clay you used for your testing. I'm assuming a PMC product (I could be wrong). Have you tested using all of the PMC products and/or any other brands of metal clay?

It is curious to me that the material does not return to an acceptable clay body. Although my clay has shown a little of the symptoms you describe, I have always been able to rehydrate to useable clay body, and I have used only distilled water. Perhaps that's because I tend to use the clay immediately, or because I mix it in with fresh clay (as you've suggested).

It does sound like a great research and development project for the wizards of our mc community, doesn't it.

Linda Kaye-Moses