Saturday, April 19, 2014

Saturday Share - Playing with Precious Metal Clay

If someone asked me to choose one new jewelry medium to learn, no matter what the expense, it would be a toss up, I think between lampworking and precious metal clay...both require extensive tools, kilns, materials.  Since I torch-fire enamel,  I happen to have some of the supplies needed for lampwork...torch, mandrels, glass rods, but no kiln.  I took a class ages ago and pick a glass rod up occasionally when I am sitting at my enameling station and make the odd bead here and there.  But since I have no kiln, it really isn't feasible for me to invest much time in that.

I figured precious metal clay would be out of the question as well, but, lo and behold I discovered PMC3, which can be cured with a kiln!

I wanted to try it, but it took some gumption!  This stuff is not cheap.  I finally dove in after getting a newsletter from a site that was offering a free texture sheet with any purchase.  I splurged on a 16g package..not the smallest, but definitely not a huge amount!

The meager contents - 16g
After receiving it and before playing, I watched a few You Tube videos to make sure I had the rules down...keep your clay well covered so that it doesn't dry out, make sure to keep all your tiny scraps. So, I got all my stuff together, made do with what I didn't have and held my breath!

I chose a small mold I had made for my polymer clay and made 2 small pieces.  Boy, this stuff is sticky...I know there is a special cream to keep it from sticking to your hands....if I keep at it, I will have to get some.  I used just a tad of olive oil like the videos suggested.  I went ahead and put small holes in the pieces, them left them to dry.

Here they are all dried is the time to sand them or clean them up in any way.

Since these pieces were small, they didn't take very long to sinter at all.  The binder burns off really quickly, then you need to hold the piece at a glowing pink, but not glassy, for about 2 minutes.  After that, quench in cold water.  The pieces will be a matte, white color at this point, but after buffing/polishing with a brass brush, this is what you will get:

 Bright and Shiny!

I thought they turned out great, so I decided to make some more!  Using some more molds I bought for polymer clay, and did small layered pieces.  

After drying and about to be torched!

All cleaned up and patina'ed!
After the patina, I put them in the tumbler for about an hour, which really softened the edges a bit and and enhanced the design.

These 4 pieces took about 2/3 of that chunk of clay shown earlier, so that amount is just enough for someone to decide it really isn't the medium for them, or really open new doors for a designer.  In my case, I was really happy with how these turned out and want to buy more clay so I can play some more, at least until something new catches my fancy!

Go play!

Melissa Meman


  1. I have some of the Copper precious metal clay that you can fire with a torch, but haven't gotten up the nerve to try it yet. The Silver looks fun, too.

  2. Been wanting to try with a torch, too! I have some silver clay - somewhere. . . Yours turned out sweet!

  3. PMC is fantastic and brutally expensive

  4. This is probably the only new medium that is calling to me right now, Melissa... though I am put off by the fire part (wimp!) Thank you for sharing your process and beautiful results :)

  5. Hate to be the bearer of bad news but the safest way to fire any metal clay is in a kiln. For PMC it's 2 hours at 1650 degrees. Torch firing does not achieve optimum sintering and annealing if you want to make structurally sound work. Work can break easily if poorly sintered and annealed - I've seen it happen. Also it's important to not breathe the fumes whether torch firing or kiln firing without proper ventilation. The burning off of the binder renders the most dangerous fumes. I experienced being in a classroom with a fired kiln and at that moment understood what another teacher had taught about metal clay safety. Same care must taken when filing clay - don't want any dust in your lungs. I know we all have to make our decisions, hopefully based on sound information. Melissa, your pieces turned out lovely and thanks for sharing!!

  6. Since I am a hazard around my kitchen stove, a torch would have to come with a "caution - crime scene" tape around it. :D
    You did an incredible job with your PMC and because this was your first time I cannot imagine how amazing your future pieces will be. Your creations are fantastic.

  7. Oh Melissa I love love love when you play!!!

  8. I took a class several years ago, but it is expensive. However, you make me want to dive back in!! Thank you for sharing.

  9. Those turned out beautiful! It is a medium I would love to play in, but I don't have any of the tools necessary, so I'll just admire everyone's creations for now. Thanks for showing your playtime!

  10. Amazing what you can do with just a torch! Your charms are great! Can't wait to see what else you make!


We would love to hear what you have to say, please leave a comment.