Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Adventures in PMC (Precious Metals Clay)

It was actually low temperature, slow dry Art Clay I used. PMC and Art clay consists of particles of pure silver and some enviromentally safe binders that once burn off from firing, leave the artist with 99.9% pur silver. So, prior to diving in, I carefully researched the product. I'd seen some beautiful pieces of jewelry made by artists online and was certain I too could create a unique masterpiece.

So my clay arrived, I had my design all mapped out and I was rearin' to go! The clay was harder than I'd thought it would be so I kneaded it in my hand in hopes of softening it. This may have been my first big mistake because it seemed the clay was becoming drier.

As much as I tried to create my design, the clay cracked and fell apart. I added a bit of water to it but it seemed the material was now pasty with little hard chunks. Frustrated, about all I felt I could do was roll the clay on my mat and create something different. I came up with a cross. Quickly I grabbed my "scratch and dent" irradiated diamonds and pressed them in, careful each one would be secure in the clay.

I then took a hair dryer and dried the clay for about 40 min. on high. From there I filed my cross. It had an amateurish look to it, but it was my salvaged work of art. I let it set out and continue to thoroughly dry until around noon the next day (about 12 hours).

To fire my piece I used my gas stove top and some metal wire netting my husband picked up at the hardware store. I followed instructions I read online. I lit the burner to see where the red from the heat was then placed my pieces there (after first turning off the stove). When my cross and other pieces were "cooking" they eventually became a pinkish-peach in color. I knew this was the time to begin the timer. I made sure each piece was like that at least a few minutes and watched making sure they didn't turn red hot.

When the timer beeped, I placed my pieces in a dish of cool water and heard each make a popping noise from the temperature change. Once cooled I filed away the white surface creating a mat finished pure silver creation. I buffed the parts of some items I wanted shiny. I later wire wrapped them, but my poor cross never did look like I'd hoped. Nonetheless, I like it.

I'm not too discouraged. I read up on PMC and Art Clay a bit more and learned I shouldn't "play" with the clay but work with it right away. I can worry about perfecting edges when I sand the dry piece rather than while it's soft.

Each of the pieces displayed have been offered in my Esty store:




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