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These silver bottles were created using “cold polychrome” techniques with burnished clay and a .950 sterling silver armor plate. The process is as follows:
The Sterling Silver Clay bottle is painted and decorated with 23 karat gold paint, weighs eight pounds filled and takes about one month to craft.” –Carlos Bustos
Preparing the clay.
Placing the clay in the mold.
The clay is placed in 3 molds, necessary to make a 3-piece clay bottle. Plaster molds are used for pressure casting, and the molds must be opened at precisely the right moment, otherwise the pieces will shatter if left in the molds too long. Weather also plays a role, as rain or humidity will slow the process. After molding, each piece is immediately moved to a space suitable for drying.
Firing the pieces.
Attaching the glass bottle and armor plate.
Burnishing the clay.
Then, the clay is burnished. Burnishing is rubbing the clay with a flat, hard, smooth piece of quartz, which seals the pores and sets the colors. The technique of burnishing clay has been used since before the Spanish arrived in Mexico. Burnishing evens out the exterior surface, not only giving it a beautiful luster, but also making it somewhat waterproof.
Mounting the .950 sterling silver armor plate on the bottle.
Finally, the silver armor plate is mounted on the clay bottle. The silver armor plate is made with a “lost wax” casting technique. It is 2.5mm to 3mm thick. The center of each bottle boasts a silver sculpture created by Carlos Bustos. The silver bottle weighs 8.00 lbs.
Per international standards on precious metals, silver is graded based on the parts per 1000 of pure silver in an alloy. The technical term for purity is “millesimal fineness,” expressed as a 3-digit number. The grades of purity accepted in international silver markets are 999, 950, 925 and 800.