After trying Five Star brand light bronze clay, I decided to try Five Star red bronze clay. I will describe my short and simple project (since I had never used this clay before, I didn’t want to put a lot of effort into something that might not work) below.
In short, red bronze clay has many of the same good properties as light bronze clay — it isn’t grainy, and it has a really long working time. Like the light bronze, the red bronze requires two firings, a short one at a low temperature and a longer one at a higher temperature. Like all two-fire clays, the work becomes very fragile after the first firing. This is not an issue if you are cautious in how you handle the work — because it can crumble if handled too roughly and shatter if dropped.
I started out with a pair of simple earrings, textured with a commercial texture sheet. I chose a pair of hands, based on an extant Native American petroglyph. The picture below shows the greenware, resting on the steel mesh on which it will receive its first firing.
After firing (five minutes at 1000 degrees F) the pieces are very dark.
Then the pieces are fired in charcoal. The temperature required is higher than for light bronze. The red bronze is supposed to be fired for an hour at 1600 degrees F; of course your kiln might fire a bit hotter or cooler, so you will need to experiment a bit.
After coming out of the kiln, the pieces looked like this:
I was a bit concerned that they would not be distinguishable from copper. After all, if it is going to look like copper, you might as well use copper. However, those fears were allayed after tumbling the pieces. The color somewhat resembles that of copper, but it is easy to tell the difference.
Finally, before attaching findings, I added just the lightest trace of a patina. I was concerned that the hands would not be visible from a few feet away with out. The final produce, with a coin for scale, appears below.
The bottom line is that both light bronze and red bronze are easy to use, and give a bit more range in colors for those of us who like to work in bronze. The only drawback is the two stage firing, which isn’t nearly a scary as it sounds.