9 surprisingly easy ways to stop your silver clay from drying out (and what to do if it does!)
Silver clay is a fantastic material made up of recycled silver particles, an organic binder and water. It’s a really flexible and forgiving way of working with silver but one thing that people worry about is that the clay will dry out quickly. While the clay will get dry, and it is meant to, there are lots of things that will help slow this down so here are some tips
1. Do your designing and preparation before you start
The clay is best fresh from the packet so make sure you are ready before you even open it up. Decide on your design and have all your materials and equipment ready to hand so you can get started straight away
2. Be careful how you handle it
Some people have hot hands! Even if you don’t you should avoid handling the clay in the palms of your hand as much as possible as you’ll just be taking the moisture out of it. Handle it in your fingertips
3. Buy packs of clay in smaller quantities
I know the 50g pack can be cheaper gram for gram but inside it has two 25g packets which is quite a lot, depending on what you are making. I tend to buy the 10g packets of the clay and then open up more when I need.
4. Keep your working clay in a moist environment
While you’re working on a piece wrap up your excess clay tightly. You can either do that in some cling film or in the wrapper it comes in. Then wrap a damp piece of kitchen roll or a baby wipe around the plastic. This will keep it moist for use later (thanks to Joy Funnell for this tip).
5. Storage for your unused opened clay
If you have some clay left and don’t want to use it you can store it. Metal Clay Ltd sell a moisturising storage pot which has great reviews. I have a small Tupperware pot that has a damp sponge in the bottom. I put my wrapped clay in and find it keeps it ready to use for a few weeks, just make sure the sponge hasn’t dried out.
6. Incorporate the last bits of clay into a fresh packet
When I have a little bit of clay left over I will usually add it into a fresh packet of clay. I suggest you don’t add more than 10% the size of the fresh clay or you can lose the benefit of the freshly opened packet. So if you have a 10g pack of fresh clay don't add more than 1g of drier clay to it.
When you are adding the drier clay ensure you’ve mixed it in well by repeatedly rolling and folding the clay.
7. Try PMC Aqua
PMC have come up with a product called PMC Aqua. I tend to use Art Clay more than PMC but I have experimented with using PMC Aqua with it and it works just as well as with PMC silver in my experience. If your clay is starting to dry out and crack at the edges when you roll it out you can use this. Use 5 drops of the Aqua for every 5g of clay. Fold and roll the clay a few times and then let it ‘rest’ for 10 minutes. I have personally found it is better than water alone for getting the clay back into a good working condition.
8. Try PMC Flex
If you do really struggle with clay drying out on you then consider giving PMC Flex a try. It remains flexible even when dry so is a good choice if are designing a piece that will benefit from that flexibility.
9. Make it into paste
If you do have dried clay you can make it into paste by grinding it up and adding water or paste maker
If all else fails then grind it up and start again!
One of the great things about silver clay is that if you don’t like what you’ve made you can grind it up and make it back into clay! Here is a 2 minute video on how to do just that. Instead of water (as shown in the video) you can also use PMC Aqua.
Silver clay is an excellent material to work with and if you are careful with it you can use up every last bit!
To learn more about working with silver clay take a look at these: