Precious Metal Clay
Make your own silver jewellery!

(I apologize in advance. All the photos  for this post were taken with my iPhone because using my regular camera would have been too inconvenient for all involved in this adventure.)

 

Package Of PMC

 
Precious Metal Clay! I know. I had no idea what the hell it was either. I’m sure there are many of you out there who are familiar with it but chances are you’re reading this post while looking over your worktable filled with Precious Metal Clay pieces, ready to be sold on Etsy.

So for the rest of you, a definition:

Precious Metal Clay or PMC is tiny particles of fine silver that have been salvaged from other things. They’re suspended in an organic binder that looks like clay.  It’s used to make silver jewellery.  It isn’t really clay but if you didn’t know that you’d think it was. You can roll it, mould it, even fire it. But it’s not really clay.  You realize this when, once you fire it, all of the organic binder burns away and you’re left with a hunk of silver.  It’s really, REALLY weird.

The silver, in fact, is purer than regular sterling silver which is 92.5% pure silver, with 7.5% filler.  PMC is 99.9% pure silver.  Which makes it slightly softer than regular sterling silver.

O.K. I’m boring myself with all of these explanations.

Now that you know what Precious Metal clay is, I can tell you that my mother and both of my sisters took a course in it at our local Art School last weekend.

That’s Betty there.  She’s always the one wearing the loudest article of clothing in the room.
 

PMC- Class

 

It was fun!  Mainly because you show up for the class at 9:30 in the morning and you leave at 3:00 in the afternoon with a finished piece of jewellery.

This is a table filled with moulds, and textures and files and other things to make your jewellery with.

 

PMC- Stamps

 

You can make earrings,  pendants, charms … that sort of thing.  Rings are reserved for more advanced classes.  As are BBQs

 

PMC- Tools

 

In fact this is the look on my mother’s face when she found out she couldn’t make a BBQ.  It’s her “pretend smile”.  The one she uses when she’s pretending not to be upset or angry.

She decided to go with necklace pendants instead.  But she wasn’t happy about it, let me tell you.

 

Betty !

 

Some of the tools we used.

 

PMC- Tools 2

 

This was our instructor Deborah.  As you would imagine, she had a lot of silver jewellery on, which all looked great.  As far as I could tell she was not wearing a BBQ.

 

Teacher

 

At 9:30 a.m. all 12 students sat down and looked expectantly at our instructor.  We were clueless.  At least most of us were.  A couple of people were taking the course for the second time so they had a pretty good idea of what was to come.

Deborah ran us through making a piece of jewellery from beginning to end.

The clay is rolled out, and then cut into whatever shape you want, either by hand or with something like a cookie cutter.  From there you can press different textures into it, or attach other pieces of shaped clay.  The piece (which just looks like a hunk of clay) is then dried on a little candle warmer for a few minutes.

The piece is then sanded and perfected.

Into the kiln it goes.  After an hour or so it’s removed and it no longer looks like clay.  It looks like silver.

When our instructor took the pieces out of the kiln there was a collective gasp and I’m pretty sure one of the students fainted.  It was a quick one … like just her eyes rolling back in her head with a little cough, but it was pretty much a fainting episode I think.

 

B&amp ;A- Firing

 

The organic binder that holds all the tiny silver particles together just burns away, leaving the silver.  When the binder is removed there’s some shrinkage.  That’s what she said.

So your finished piece is slightly smaller than the one you formed.
Then it’s just a matter of cleaning and polishing your jewellery and running home with it held high above your head while you scream I AM AWESOME at the top of your lungs.  Then you casually walk back to the art school because that is where your car is.

 
Cleaver Charms

 
Those are my cleavers, ready to be hung on a necklace.  I … am awesome.  Just ask anyone on the streets from the art school to my house.  They’ll confirm it.

 

Steps To Making Pmc

 

Obviously this isn’t meant to be a replacement for taking an actual course in PMC, just an introduction to it.

So to recap … it’s a clay-type material that you can make silver jewellery out of. Not BBQs.


94 Comments

  1. KimC says:

    Once again Karen, I have learned something really interesting from you! My husband bought me a lovely pendant two Christmases ago which looked to me like melted metal but now I’m fairly certain it must be this PMC that you so excellently have presented here. I’m going to have to hunt down an art class now. You are awesome and I love Betty’s pretend smile. :-\

  2. Su says:

    super cool… seriously

  3. KariMcD says:

    PMC+ can be torch fired for smaller pieces. Takes a while and you run the risk of having your pieces shatter if put under too much stress…like Christmas shopping on December 24th. But aside from that, if you’re careful, and thorough, torch firing is perfectly fine. I use a kiln, as it makes the pieces a lot more durable.

  4. Ev says:

    PMT working has been on my WANT list for years. It is a bit $$$, which is why I never did it (The PMT, tools, kiln, etc). You can also buy GMT which is two arms and legs! Glad you had fun–going to make more?

  5. Tigersmom says:

    Now I want to be awesome, too. Once again you educate and inform. I’ve never heard of this stuff and have always wanted to be able to make my own jewelry. (Allow me to translate that to Canadian – jewellery)

    And I would have been fake smiling right along with Betty because I would have wanted a ring, too. Although I would not have looked nearly as cool as she does in those fabulous glasses of hers. Is the reason I never noticed those before because we always see her from the back or side swinging some heavy object at your bidding? Nice to see she gets to go on some fun outings, too, if not an actual BBQ for all her labors. ; )

    I especially love how you casually walked back to the Art School because that is where your car was parked.
    Snort!

    Love the cleavers. I hope you intend on keeping one for yourself. You know, in case you need a visual reminder of your awesomeness.

  6. Bre says:

    Ewww! Ahhhhh! Ohhhhh! I like shiny! That is so neat-oh! You could make bullets to keep the werewolves away, or at least Twilight movies. Even better, can you get that stuff in gold? Cause I was thinking some bullion would be great with Christmas coming.

  7. Christy says:

    Ruh roh…this post my become my new obsession. Absolutely would buy a clever pendant. Just sayin’…

  8. Nancy W says:

    Love this…addicted to jewelry, and shiny stuff…i might have been a bird in a previous life. thanks for sharing!

  9. Julianna says:

    Karen, make sure the clay you have is the kind that CAN be fired with a torch. Not all can. Yeah, I used to be one of those etsy women who you mentioned in the first paragraph… It’s amazing stuff. Depending upon brand and type of clay, you may or may not be able to torch fire. Probably anyone researching this will figure that out once they get past the sticker shock (and yes, it’s so totally worth it, just in case anyone is wondering), but just wanted to throw it out there. I *think* PMC+, as pictured above, is ok to torch fire, but don’t quote me. It’s been awhile… There’s another brand as well, at about the same price point. The market fluctuates with the price of silver, naturally. Xoxo

  10. Sia says:

    What? Whoever invented this PMC is one smart person.
    Want.

  11. Peg says:

    love the cleavers,nice job.!!

  12. Shauna says:

    Ooh, I’m so intrigued! Just curious: Is the clay very expensive? I just did a quick search, and found a 25 gram package for $53 American. But I have no idea how 25 grams translates into pieces of jewelry. Any idea how much clay it took to make your three awesome cleavers? Thanks.

    • Karen says:

      Hi shauna. It is expensive because it’s pure silver. I believe I had around 25 grams and that got me 3 cleavers. ~ karen!

  13. Nora W. says:

    Your silver cleavers are sooo cool. As said above, we all DO want one … or two. And I was looking forward to seeing the stove you chose for your kitchen renovation … but it just shows an error message. Is it a secret?

  14. Janet says:

    Oh man…. I kinda wish I hadn’t seen this post…. PMC jewelry has been calling out to me. Faintly. From a distance. But I’m afraid it might be coming closer. I think I’m in trouble.

  15. Lisa H says:

    I want a kiln!

  16. Shauna says:

    so cool. i want to take a class now.

  17. Christina B. says:

    That is just WOW! :)

  18. Sara says:

    I realized that once I re read the post. maybe I should have done that first. duh.

    must find a kiln.

    • Peg says:

      you can use a butane torch also(don’t need for the kiln)it’s such a fun product to work with.check some PMC sites.

      • Karen says:

        I’ve read about people using torches and microwaves but since I haven’t tried it myself didn’t want to recommend it. I may try it on my tiny bit of remaining clay. ~ karen!

      • Susan says:

        The clay has to be the “quick-fire” variety. Heat it with the torch until it glows cherry red and then hold it indirectly for two minutes. Best to do in low light so you can watch the colour because if it gets too hot you’ll melt it. I love the stuff – it’s wonderful but when you pay over $50 for a little piece about the size of a double bubble, if you get addicted, it’s best to spring for the kiln and try the bronze clay or copper clay.

      • Nika says:

        You can use a torch — you CANNOT use a microwave. The metal particles in the clay will cause arcing in a microwave and destroy both the microwave and the PMC piece before the organics burn away. Ever accidentally put a piece of foil in a microwave, or a piece of china with metal accent on it? If so, you know what I mean. If not, try it for a second — it’s quite dramatic!

      • Peg says:

        hmmm….. never heard about micro.But torch is great for small pieces.

  19. Sara says:

    I’m confused. do I need a kiln?

    • Karen says:

      Yes. You need a kiln. That’s why you take a course, because they provide the kiln. Then if you decide to delve further into PMC you buy a used kiln. ~ karen!

    • Holly says:

      No, you can fire most small fine silver pieces with a kitchen propane torch! You can get a starter kit from firemountain.com for about $114. Comes with clay, torch(no fuel because propane can’t be mailed) and a lot of “Stuff”!

  20. Amber says:

    You are AWESOME!!! Which I think should allow me dibs.

  21. Teresa J says:

    Wow!! Too cool! I want to do that too!

  22. Edith says:

    That is so cool! I never heard of this, so thanks for sharing!

  23. Grammy says:

    I’m almost as old as Betty, so understand that I have never said this before: That is awesome! The cleaver necklace is brilliant and beautiful.

  24. Cathy says:

    I’d buy one of those cleavers… Or be the proud
    winner if *someone* had, say, a raffle for one…..

  25. Laura says:

    You know we all are wanting that clever cleaver pendant!!

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