Precious Metals Clay(PMC) - Silver Jewelry
Designed By Judi Kauffman
Precious Metals Clay and deep etched Red Castle rubber stamps go together
like bread and butter. I had a wonderful time pressing Tactile Impressions,
Textures, Rango Zoo, Leaves, Flying Seed and Essentail Words stamps into the
clay -- playing and learning at the same time. I pretended that I was
working with inexpensive modeling clay, not expensive sterling clay, but if I
get a chance to make jewelry again in the future I think I'd plan more, work
with thinner pieces (more jewelry per ounce of clay that way), and I'd
definitely cut some of the clay instead of using only smooth shapes.
The pins, pendants and earrings I made are my first attempts - so instead of
attempting to give expert advice and instructions I will offer the ideas and
impressions of a novice.
MOST IMPORTANT: Please turn to books, the manufacturer of the clay, classes
or workshops, and other sources for more information. Since the clay is
expensive and the kiln in which it is fired is operated at a high
temperature, there are many things to consider - the primary one of which is
I want to thank Andrea Scholes for being my teacher and host and for her
fabulous hospitality. She guided me, fired the pieces for me, taught me how
to polish them and then she and her husband, Brian, did a great deal of the
polishing (I'd still be sitting in her studio with a wire brush without their
- Red Castle Rubber Stamps:
- Precious Metals Clay(PMC)
Instructions for all projects
For more information about where to buy precious metals clay:
- Precious Metals Clay (PMC) is made of fine sterling particles (.999)
suspended in a soft clay that burns off when it is fired in a high
temperature kiln. Because projects shrink to approximately 2/3 the size of
the clay piece after firing, it's important to calculate the size of rings
and holes in charms and pendants to allow for shrinkage. The finished fired
piece looks like it's covered with white dust till it's polished, and then
the sterling is "revealed" and the piece is complete.
You work with PMC much like other soft clays, though there is no
"conditioning" needed the way there is with polymer -- it's more like the
gray modeling clay art students use for sculpture class, only more expensive.
It's sold by the ounce (one ounce will make about six small pendant charms,
or two - three bigger ones).
Knowing how to load and operate the kiln is important. Make sure you
work with someone who has experience and if you do this on your own, make
sure all the safety factors are in order -- read the instructions and make
sure your wiring is right, that the kiln is situated somewhere fireproof that
can stand the heat, and that your homeowner's insurance will allow you to
fire the clay. Find someone who will fire the clay for you for a fee if you
prefer. This is a major benefit from learning the process in a workshop or
class where the firing is included in the cost.
Make sure the pieces are completely dry before they are fired to avoid
cracks. A couple of my pieces had little cracks on the back because they
were thicker in some places and not totally dry when they went into the kiln,
but Brian used a Dremel to buff out the problem areas. If the cracks had
been on the front, the pieces would have been ruined, so I was very lucky.
I began all of my jewelry with rounded, pebble-like pieces of clay that I
smoothed and flattened before pressing with rubber stamps. My pieces are
textured rather than based on pictures or images, except for the pin that has
a trio of cats. That piece was pressed into the back of a metal medallion
used to mold the shape.
The layered pieces were made with several pieces of clay attached to each
other. The smallest bead-like ornaments are pre-made sterling balls that are
imbedded into the soft clay.
Because I don't know metalsmithing techniques, I used a professional
jeweler to create sterling pin backs and solder jump rings instead of using
base metal pin backs and glue or open rings for the pendants. This added
expense was more than I expected, but I felt it was worth it to have sterling
PMC holds the details from very complicated stamps - the leaf and pod
pendants shown on chains give some idea how well the stamp images "hold" on
the finished jewelry. PMC also works great with graphic, texture stamps like
the linear pin that has a simple modern, elegant look.
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