Precious Metal Clay

Precious Metal Clay lets you make fine jewelry with little experience or equipment. It works like Fimo clay, except it is more crumbly because it contains powdered precious metal, such as silver, or gold. (It will also dry out faster.) The organic clay binding burns off when you fire it and you end up with pure fine silver or gold in the shape of the clay you made. If you have jewelry skills you can keep working it from there, soldering, shaping, etc.. Since I don’t have much skill I just polish up my pieces or antique them with silver black. There’s an implication that you have to fire PMC pieces in a kiln (that would be nice), but so far everything I’ve done I’ve fired myself on the kitchen floor with a basic propane torch.

All PMC shrinks significantly when fired. However since the shrinkage is proportional, jewlers use this shrinkage to produce very fine detail that would be difficult if you had to work at full size. PMC comes in various formulations with different shrinkage rates. The original PMC shrinks 30%, while PMC+ and PMC3 shrinks only 10%. (I’ve never tried using the torch on anything except silver PMC+ and PMC3 because I prefer the lower shrinkage of these.)

My one piece of advice about firing PMC with a propane torch: This stuff is very expensive (it’s silver or gold, remember!) so take a small piece and sacrifice it to learn how to heat evenly first. It is very easy to overheat it which will melt the silver into a blob., which is bad. If you aren’t sure if it’s metal yet (it’ll be whitish), pick it up with needle nose plier and drop it very gently on the metal surface you fired it on. It should make a satisfying metal-on-metal thunk. When I am feeling more flush, I’ll find out if gold PMC can be fired this way.

– Quinn Norton

Cool stuff, indeed. You can get it thru Dick Blick as well. They also sell a book, “Introduction to Precious Metal Clay” (also on Amazon).

precious_book.jpg

They also offer a special formulation that can be fired in a “hot pot” rather than a kiln.

–Paul Saffo

 

PMC3
$20, 6 grams
PCM+
$45, 18 grams
Available from Metal Clay Supply