Monday, 7 February 2011

Precious Metal Clay....a ring in a day!

If you remember reading  this post last November  I was lucky enough to attend a class at our local college as an introduction to this marvellous medium. For those of you who are not aware, Precious Metal Clay (or PMC as it is known) is a made of particles of fine silver held in a pliable binder. This can be worked in a similar way to clay or fimo or sugar craft icing. When completed it is either blow torched or placed in a kiln where the binder burns off to leave solid fine silver which is actually purer than sterling silver.

Well this Sunday I was delighted to return for another PMC course called "A ring in a day". Just as it says on the tin, this is exactly what we did! It was a very intensive day and we only got a 30 minute lunch break, every one was so absorbed in their work. Please excuse the quality of my photos, silver is SO hard to photograph, flash on wipes it out, flash off it seems a little gloomy.

This is my completed ring, not fully polished but in a near finished state.

It has a cubic zirconia stone set in the middle as a feature. This ring was more a ring for me to learn some new PMC skills rather than to actually make a ring I would wear but in the end I did rather like it! My ring started its life in a very different state to the above.....


 
..........it is in this piece of foil wrapping as a blob of clay on the right side of the photo. This is my workbench as we got started. We had to condition and roll the clay out, on this piece of Teflon in the centre, into a ring shank shape.
 
 
 
 
 
 
We then had to texture the clay and carefully wrap it around the ring mandrel which had been marked up to our ring size. It is quite fiddly to work with and needs to be kept moist and not dry out until the shape is final. You also need to use plenty of olive oil to stop the clay sticking to everything.
 
Next we had to carefully remove the ring and put it on a hot plate to dry thoroughly. The clay is SO fragile at this stage if dropped it shatters and sadly the girl's sitting next to me did just that :0(

Once fully dried it was filed smooth at the edges.

 
 
The seam was also filled with clay "paste" which acts in a similar way to the use of "slip" in pottery making. I then decided that I would like to find out how to set stones in PMC so I bought a 4mm cubic zirconia stone from the tutor. These stones are heat proof and will not crack when being fired.
 
 
 
 
 
I had to use a drill bit and then a burring bit to make the hole for the stone to sit in.
 
I then put in the stone and used PMC paste in the form of a "piping" syringe to make a bezel setting and a pattern on the ring shank.


 
This was all carefully dried off again and then fired in the kiln. At this point the fragile clay becomes solid silver. It really is incredible to see.
 
Once it had cooled I used a brass brush to burnish the surface and then tumbled my ring to polish it. Here it  is balanced on top of the lid of my bottle of water.

When I got home I tried to get some better shots;

 I also found it actually went rather well with a heart ring my Hb had made for me 2 Christmas' ago. I may well wear them as a "set".

 

 
I really enjoyed playing again with "Marvellous Precious Metal Clay". I may even attend a 3 day summer school in July to further enhance my skills in using this wonderful silver medium. Oh the thoughts of summer.......... :0)

Bye for now,

Jane x

28 comments:

  1. Jane, I love your ring! I am very tempted to take a class with it too. I took jewelry classes for several terms and made many pieces of jewelry with gold and silver, it was fab!

    Thanks for the inspiration!!

    Teresa :-)

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  2. Teresa you really should take a PMC class, it's a very forgiving medium compared to traditional silver smithing and the results are almost instant in comparison!
    Jane x

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  3. Hello Jane!! Loving your PMC ring. This is definitely something I would like to have a go at but I have so any other things on the go I can't see how I would ever fit it in. I first saw it on my friend Heidi's blog (http://duckfacealtermyworld.blogspot.com/). She hasn't posted any new work for a while but there is some gorgeous stuff there. Thanks for dropping in from Surrey to say 'hi' via OWOH. Cindy #487

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  4. What a fun ring!!
    I took a clase once and I want to try it again!

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  5. Beautiful and as always fabulous pictures and writing. Glad you had a fab day too. Laney x

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  6. Hi Cindy, thanks and great to see you here - the OWOH is a great idea,shame I stumbled on it rather late in the day and the last year too!
    Jane x

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  7. Hi there Shanti, nice to meet you. Yes it was a fun class! :0)
    Jane x

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  8. Thanks Laney, it was a great day - shame it clashed with your show but I'm so pleased you had a very successful day too!
    Jane x

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  9. What a gorgeous ring Jane, really gorgeous. I do love rings, in fact I think they're my favourite jewellery. Yours is really pretty, especially with the little stone. In fact it has a celtic look to it. Must be very satisfying coming home from a class with something so lovely. :)
    Vivienne x

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  10. Wow. You did this in one day? Very nice!

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  11. Hi Vivenne, thank you, and yes it was very satisfying indeed...my Hb was quite impressed too! I am off to my silver smithing class this afternoon and will give it a final polish. The sun is out here and it looks to be a fab day. Hope it is with you.
    Jane x

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  12. Thanks Michaele ...yes PMC is such a great medium to work with..just imagine what is achievable if I am able to attend the 3 day summer school.....mmmmmmm!
    Nice to meet you,
    Jane x

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  13. I found this post VERY interesting, Jane! You are very good at explaining the process of creating a PMC ring to someone who has never made any jewellery. I love the ring you made too. Enjoy your week. Helen x

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  14. Thanks Helen, that is a very kind comment. The clay itself is quite fiddly to get used to as it needs to be handled as little as possible but the results are just so instant! I would like to have a play with copper clay one day but I understand that it is even trickier to handle!
    I hope this glorious sunshine is with you today? Enjoy your week too.
    Jane x

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  15. Looks like a fantastic day, and what a great thing you produced out of it!

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  16. Indeed it was, thank you again!
    jane x

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  17. Dear Jane, thank you for a lovely post! It's so interesting and exiting to see how it happens! I love your ring, it's adorable and goes so well with that beautiful heart ring!
    Have a lovely time! xxx Teje
    Ps. You have so sweet cup!

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  18. Hi Teje, I am glad you enjoyed my post and you spotted my tea cup- my daughter bought it for me a few years ago and it features bags...how appropriate for me ;0)
    Enjoy your evening,
    Jane x

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  19. Hi Jane,

    I love your ring, nothing is more special than a handmade ring! And it really goes greatly with that heart-shaped ring, beautiful!

    A summer-course sounds wonderful (well summer itself sounds divine) - go for it! And as Teje, I spotted the so-you cup, maybe only one with little pigs on it would have been more "Jane" :)

    Happy week!

    Yours,
    Mia

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  20. Good morning my dear Mia, I really hope the summer course runs;the dates are being finalised in the next few weeks, I just hope it is not when we are on holiday.
    I smiled at your comment about the cup....now I do have piggy mugs but not a cup and saucer...LOL!
    It's not such a sunny day here today but I have a day off work - I am using up my last few days of annual leave before the end of March so I have a crafy day ahead..bliss!
    Happy Wednesday,
    Jane x

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  21. Beautiful! I love the ring and really enjoyed seeing/reading the process -- though sad for your classmate's broken project :( You should teach some classes yourself!

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  22. LOL re teaching Linda, I have to teach medical students every Monday at work, not sure there is much of a gap there for my crafty work...;0)
    The girl who dropped her ring was quite upset but it was patched up (you can do this to a degree with pmc)and she ended up with an open band, it was quite neat!
    Jane x

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  23. Lovely ring Jane, I love PMC not tried it yet, to busy concentrating on my beadmaking to diversify again!! ha ha

    Thanks for stopping by on your way round the OWOH world hop!! I may pop in on you again after the event has finished.

    Elaine
    #730

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  24. Wow Jane, what a fantastic project! I remember your other PMC post, and being fascinated with your explanation of this medium. Love the results of this latest effort! :o)

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  25. Hi Elaine,
    Good to see you here from OWOH, that is such a great idea.I am sure you have seen lots of new bloggers.
    Hope to see you again,
    Jane x

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  26. Thanks Michele, I could spend my days working with PMC, if only I didn't have to go to work, cook, do laundry, shop......LOL.
    Have a great week,
    Jane x

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  27. Looks like you had lots of fun at your class and made a great ring :o)

    Thanks for visiting my blog its lovely to "meet" someone local.

    Becky

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  28. Hi Becky, great to see you here. It was a really good class.
    Jane x

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Thanks so much for leaving a comment; I really enjoy reading every single one of them.
Jane x