Hot Pot Metal Clay Firing Method

This ceramic hot-pot kit, pictured in Figure 3.10, is designed with PMC3 in mind. It is a possible alternative to a torch if you aren't ready to pick one of those up or if you have three-dimensional items, like beads, that might be a little tricky to fire using a torch. The pot consists of a small pot filled with fuel that burns inside of the bottom of the pot. It takes about 15 minutes to fire a piece of metal clay that is 20 grams or less, no larger than a silver dollar or fifty cent piece. If you fire more than one metal clay item at a time, their combined weight should also not be more than 20 grams.

Pmc Hot Pot Fuel

Figure 3.10

Hot-pot kit. ©Speedy Peacock Photograph

Figure 3.10

Hot-pot kit. ©Speedy Peacock Photograph

Metal Clay Jewelry

Figure 3.9

Producing a little smoke.

Figure 3.9

Producing a little smoke.

One thing to be aware of if you decide to use this is that you'll need a very well-ventilated area to place the pot while the fuel burns. While the label on the fuel I purchased with my hot-pot says that it is non-toxic, I think it's better to be safe than sorry. You can never be overly cautious when it comes to ignitable liquids. The fuel is primarily made up of methyl alcohol and a little over an ounce is needed each time you fire with the pot. The hot-pot kit comes with a tiny clay flower pot that is placed in the bottom of the pot, fuel, firing grate, heat-resistant tile, and metal arrestor that is placed on top. It sells for about $40 and is available from vendors who sell PMC and related supplies. This pot was designed just for PMC3, by the way, not any other type of PMC or any Art Clay products, even the low-fire variety. So, it is not recommended that you try to use it with metal clays other than PMC3.

After several uses, some metal clay artists have reported that their hot-pots have gotten cracks in them. According to the manufacturer's directions (from Sierra Thermal Industries, Inc.) a few small cracks are fine; however, if they become larger and make the pot actually split open, then the pot is no longer usable. An additional safety note is to remember that once you heat up the hot-pot, you cannot touch it with your bare hands. Honestly, there should be no reason you should need to touch it, but if you do, make sure you have heat-proof gloves on to protect your hands because you will burn them if you touch the pot while it is heated.

Steps for Firing with a Hot-Pot

You'll need the following supplies:

► Fireplace lighter or match

► Heat-resistant gloves

1. First, find a well-ventilated area to assemble and set up your hot-pot such as a porch or garage with the door open.

2. Next, start to assemble the hot-pot and other items in the kit. Place the bottom of the pot on top of the tile, which should be placed on a stable table top (as shown in Figure 3.11).

Metal Clay Firing

Figure 3.11

Bottom of hot-pot.

Figure 3.11

Bottom of hot-pot.

Then set the tiny flower pot inside the bottom of the pot as demonstrated in Figure 3.12. You'll notice inside the pot there is some soft insulating material. Make sure to leave this in the pot. Do not remove it.

Not Want Touch

Figure 3.12

Add tiny flower pot to bottom.

Figure 3.12

Add tiny flower pot to bottom.

4. Add the fuel to the flower pot until it reaches the rim, and then add the round fire grate on the opening of the bottom section of the pot. You'll notice they fit just about perfectly together.

5. Now take the metal clay item(s) you have ready (which should be completely dry of course), and set it on top of the grate you just placed in the previous step. See Figure 3.13 for an example.

Examples Clay Metal Jewelry

Figure 3.13

First hot-pot grate.

Figure 3.13

First hot-pot grate.

When you are sure you have all your metal clay piece or pieces set on top of the round metal grate, take the top section of the hotpot you assembled in step 2, and place it on top of the bottom part assembled in steps 3 to 5. They stack one on top of the other.

Firing Metal Clay

Figure 3.14

Hot-pot pieces stacked.

Figure 3.14

Hot-pot pieces stacked.

7. Now you are ready to install the wire mesh flame arrestor on the top part of the pot. This comes in the kit as two rectangular pieces of mesh. Hold them so that you are making a large plus sign with them, the middle areas of the two pieces up against each other as illustrated in Figure 3.15, and fold the two sides of one piece over the middle pieces so that they overlap each other.

Figure 3.15

Start assembling flame arrestor.

Figure 3.15

Start assembling flame arrestor.

8. Then fold the other two sides in the same direction, bending them so they are at about a 45-degree angle, and insert them onto the top of the hot-pot as demonstrated in Figure 3.16.

9. Once the hot-pot is assembled, locate one of the larger holes on the side of the pot (there are a number of them like the one you can see in Figure 3.17). Then, take a long match, light it, and insert it into one of the large holes in the bottom of the pot so that you can ignite the fuel in the flower pot. From here on, you do not want to touch any of the hot-pot parts with your bare hands due to the heat. Wear heat-resistant gloves or use tweezers if you need to touch any of it.

Figure 3.16

Add flame arrestor to top of pot.

Figure 3.16

Add flame arrestor to top of pot.

Figure 3.17

Locate hole on hot-pot.

Figure 3.17

Locate hole on hot-pot.

10. About a minute after lighting the fuel, the organic binding elements in the metal clay will burn away. You'll see some smoke when this happens. Even though you are doing this in a well-ventilated area, I suggest moving away from the pot so that you can keep an eye on it but will be farther away from any fumes while the fuel burns.

11. Wait 15 minutes, which is enough time to allow the fuel to completely burn away as it fires the metal clay piece(s).

12. Making sure to wear heat-resistant gloves, take the top part of the hot-pot off, and use tweezers to pick up the metal clay items and place them in the jar of water.

13. Once the metal clay pieces have cooled in the water, they are safe to touch and dry off.

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