As an instructor I demonstrate how to create different jewelry with metal clay. Sometimes I choose not to sinter the clay because it’s not something I want to keep. I place my dry clay into a container keeping it from dirt and dust until I want to hydrate the clay.
I have found that this helps me keep my costs down while teaching, but I have also found that rehydrating clay over and over causes the binder to stop working. The clay becomes crumbly and won’t hold its shape. If there are any bends in the clay, it cracks and falls apart. It eventually won't even hold to itself and is nothing but a crumbled mess.
Many new metal clay artists have had this problem due to rehydrating clay over and over. They are learning how to use the clay and it dries out during the learning process.
I have discovered mixing ½ rehydrated clay to ½ new clay fixes this problem. If the binder is really failing, you will need change the mixture, using less old clay and more new clay. Adding too much old clay to new clay will cause the whole mixture to fail.
Sometimes when I see the binder start failing, I use the clay up on small flat pieces with lots of texture. I have also dried the clay and then cut it into small bits for use as texture on a creation. Of course, you can also make it into paste.
In my next blog, I'll experiment with different processes that I have been told work for rejuvenating failed binder in metal clay.
Until next time, have fun claying around!
by Janet AlexanderTechnical Advise