Once a precious metal clay pack has been opened, the clay can be stored for some time in a sealed storage bag, wrapped in a piece of plastic foil. I usually put a humid cotton swab or a piece of tissue in the same bag to keep the environment inside the bag moist. In this way the clay can be kept for weeks without losing its plasticity.
However, there is always a risk: if the tissue dries up, the clay can dry up too. On the other hand, if the tissue is too moist, the binder in the precious metal clay begins to form green mold. This green mold is not dangerous or unhealthy, but it affects the quality of the clay.
Actually, the best way is to utilize an open pack of precious metal clay within a couple of weeks and not store it for a longer time than that. But what about situations when you are going on a holiday or simply lack time and/or inspiration for making silver clay jewelry?
I had a remaining pea-sized clump of clay, too small for a complete jewelry piece. As I will be leaving for a holiday shortly, I don’t have the time for finishing a jewelry piece either. So the first thing which came into my mind was to make parts for a future jewelry piece. For instance, silver clay bezels.
Silver clay bezels have a couple of advantages compared with ‘hard’ bezels made from silver sheet or wire. They wrap around the stone, making the stone and bezel one whole. Especially stones of ‘fancy’ shapes such as hearts, but also very small stones are best set in silver clay. Of course, to be co-fired with the metal clay, the stones must be heat-resistant – up to 800 degrees Celsius. This point is critical since 800° C is the firing temperature of the Art Silver Oil Paste used for repairing cracks. Bezel cracks are almost inevitable when co-firing larger stones: the stone pressure is too high for the bezel to resist it.
So I took the red garnet cubic zirconia stones and furnished them with bezels made of the remaining silver clay. After the first firing some cracks had to be filled. After the second firing these jewelry parts looked nice and quite inspiring for the piece I’m going to make when I am back from the holiday. Something to look forward to and also to beat the ‘back-to-office’ blues, which always hits me when the summer is over.