Precious metal clay (PMC) is a really interesting medium. For my non jewellery blogger friends it is a clay-like medium used to make jewellery, beads and small sculpture. It consists of very small particles of metals (such as silver, gold, platinum, or copper) mixed with an organic binder and water. Once an item has been made it is fired either with a blow torch or in a kiln and the binder burns away leaving fine silver behind. The silver is actually purer than sterling silver and can even be hallmarked as such. Because it can be rolled out,shaped etc the design limitations are infinite. It really is a very interesting material but as it is silver it is quite expensive.
Our learning outcome for the day was to design and make a pendant. There were cutters, textile mats and all sort of other objects to give us inspiration. Once we had thought of our design we were told to first construct it using Fimo (a type of polymer clay). This is very inexpensive and does not dry until baked so gave us time to play with the design.
I decided to try an oval pendant with hearts added on as an extra layer. The brown piece of clay is the Fimo on the left. By using Fimo you could also practice rolling out using playing cards as spacers to get an even thickness.
I also decided to emboss the base of the pendant using the embossing mat shown here. I then cut out the oval shape with a cutter.
I then cut out some hearts and made up the dummy pendant in Fimo. A cocktail stick is used to make the hole for a jump ring to hang the pendant by.
After this it was time to work with the real thing...the PMC is quite tricky to work with. It needs to be kept covered as much as possible because as soon as it is exposed to the air it dries and is non mould able and becomes solid and brittle. We had to keep our work covered with cling film and handle it as little as possible. I repeated the process of texturing ,cutting etc using the PMC.
I assembled a PMC version of my design. This then got put onto a hot plate to dry. Normally pieces get left to air dry for 24 hours but this heating just speeds up the process as we were only there for 5 hours. After drying I carefully filed down any rough edges. At this stage the PMC is very fragile so care was necessary doing this.
Here is my piece all assemble and dry. At this stage it looks nothing like silver - does it!!
I then had to bring it up to a glow using a blow torch and carefully keep it at this temperature for 3 minutes. This burns off all the binder and allows the silver particle to fuse together to form solid fine silver.
Post firing we were told to brush off the white residue using a brass wire brush - you can see how the silver was now visible. It was very exciting.
To finish off the piece it was put into the tumble polisher and I added a jump ring.
So here is my final piece. It really was a great day and I now have another dimension I can add to my jewellery making.
Bye for now,
(PS don't forget to read my **days til Christmas posts, my countdown to Christmas ...a new one is coming up at the weekend and the first was posted last Saturday !)