Are you looking for something more to add to your work and your repertoire of skills? You may want to give Precious Metal Clay (PMC) a whirl! Precious Metal Clay, most often shortened to PMC is a powdered metal that has been mixed with an organic binder to form a clay-like material.
PMC can be molded, shaped, and formed, the same way that you would handle clay. Once you have formed the clay to its final state, and all the moisture has evaporated from it (or been removed with a gentle heat gun), you can fire the piece in a kiln or with a torch. Firing the piece will burn off the organic clay binder, and leave only metal in the exact form you created!
PMC is very exciting since it is now available in copper, brass, fine silver, sterling silver, and even in gold! Creating a piece with married metals couldn’t be easier than with using PMC. Although, not all PMC’s have been created equal and therefore do not all have the same shrinkage rate. PMC3 Fine Silver currently has the smallest shrinkage rate of all PMC’s at a minimal 8%.
In addition to shrinkage, moisture is another factor which is important to consider when working with PMC. Any PMC that isn’t being used immediately for a project should be kept wrapped in plastic with a few drops of water or even wrapped in a damp paper towel and then wrapped in plastic and stored in a sealed container. The reason to keep the clay moist is to keep the clay in a ready-to-use state. PMC seems to dry out slightly more quickly than plain organic clays.
HINT: try coating your fingers and any tools you may be using in a bit of olive oil before you start handling the PMC. The olive oil helps to limit the moisture being removed from the PMC so quickly and help prevent loss of excess clay on tools, molds, and stamps. The best surface to work on with your PMC is a plastic one that can be easily cleaned. Our Magic Mat is the perfect size to move your PMC work surface anywhere! When you aren’t working on PMC, just wipe off and roll up to store.
PMC is the perfect alternative for creating elegant and complex textures. Since PMC has the softness of clay, you can use stamps, carving tools, fabric, and more to press into the surface to create a quick and unique surface. PMC also makes hollow construction a breeze! Simply roll out sheets and cut them to the size you need as if you were going to solder a piece out of sheet metal. Instead of adding flux and solder, simply score the edges you would like to join together and coat with slip (watered down metal clay, should be a mushy paste consistency). Once the scored (textured/grooved) edges have slip on them, you can place them together and smooth the joint and smear the edges of both pieces you are connecting into one piece.
PMC has limitless possibilities, if you are looking for ideas and great info getting started with projects, check out a few of our PMC books! Metal Clay Beads by Barbara Becker Simon, Metal Clay Fusion by Gordon Uyehara, & Metal Clay Origami Jewelry by Sara Jayne Cole. Stone setting, texture, hollow constructions, married metals & so much more is easier with PMC!
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*Three pieces pictured above were created by Susan Shahinian Designs!