I was asked to write a tool review for working with metal clay for the London Jewellery School blog. One of the great things about metal clay is that you don’t tend to need expensive tools to get started so for this tool review I decided I wanted to choose something people might not have thought to use. UK metal clay artist Joy Funnell was the one that first got me into the idea of using baby wipes for working with metal clay. Baby wipes are inexpensive and easy to get hold of in shops and supermarkets (for environmental reasons, I do recommend you buy biodegradable wipes).
You might be surprised at how versatile they are!
Keeping your clay moist
When you’re working with clay and have some lump clay out of the packet it is always best to wrap that lump clay up before continuing in order to keep it nice and fresh. However, you don’t always want to be wrapping it up and opening it, wrapping it up and opening it etc. So, put the clay onto a plastic mat and drape a baby wipe on top. This keeps it nice and moist.
When I’ve finished working with the clay and have some left I’ll wrap it up tightly in clingfilm and put a moist baby wipe around the clingfilm and then put this into a tupperware box.
Filing your dry clay
Once your clay is completely dry you will want to file and smooth out the edges. Often we do this with sanding pads but a baby wipe is perfect for this as it helps to round off edges neatly. You can do this just by wrapping the wipe around your finger to smooth the clay or, alternatively, wrap a tool in the baby wipe. I often use a cocktail stick to get a fine point.
Manipulating dry clay
If you have dry clay but want to change the shape, wrap it in a baby wipe for 15 minutes. When you unwrap it you should find that the clay is malleable. I use this technique for manipulating bails to ensure they are the correct size (with thanks to Tracey Spurgin for this tip).