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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Working With Kiln Silver Clay in a Hot Pot

One of the difficulties of working with metal clay, like kiln silver clay, is the problem of how it ought to be fired after the pieces are shaped and dried. Many hobbyists demurred from using metal clays because it is necessary to have a kiln in order to accomplish this task. However, now that low-fire metal clays are readily available, ceramic kilns are no longer needed so long as the pieces to be fired are not larger than a silver dollar. Many low-fire metal clays fire at low temperatures so that pieces weighing less than twenty grams can be easily fired with a butane torch. But another possibility is to fire them in a hot pot. Hot pots cost around forty dollars, and require gelled ethanol fuel which costs about one dollar per use.

I had tried a hot pot which belonged to the instructor in a metal clay class which I took at a local university, so I was only able to use it in class. Before purchasing my own I inquired on the internet about what other jewelry-makers thought about
them. I received mixed reactions to my internet inquiry. Some jewelry-makers liked it, but some didn't. Complaints against the hot pot were that the fuel is expensive, and that it can crack eventually, which limits the number of firings you can do in the same one. When I purchased mine the instructions said that cracks will sometimes occur in the pot, but it is sill okay to use it so long as the cracks don't split the pot open.

So, I figured that for forty dollars the thing was worth checking into, especially since it represents a considerable savings over the cost of purchasing ceramic kilns. For quite a while I continued to use my butane torch, but eventually I tried out the hot pot, and I immediately loved it. For one thing, it is very convenient. I usually make lots of clay pieces at one time and let them dry naturally, which means it may be a day or two until I get to firing them. Using the torch method I'd have to sit there and do one piece at a time, and since it can take 5 minutes to torch-fire each piece, and when there are lots of pieces this takes a considerable amount of time. On the other hand, with the hot pot it just takes a few minutes to set up the pot, and lots of pieces can be fired at the same time so long as they are small. Then I can just let the hot pot fire, which takes around 15 minutes.

There are some safety precautions, as with kiln ventilation, which must be taken into account. Although the fuel used in hot pots is supposedly non-toxic, nonetheless it has a bad smell, so it is a good idea to use it outside and keep an eye on it. Also, they get extremely hot, therefore they shouldn't be touched and children and animals should be kept away until they are completely cooled down.

Hot pots can be considered miniature ceramic kilns well-suited to making small ceramic items out of kiln silver clay. As is the case too with kiln ventilation, simple safety precautions should be observed to make your hot pot experience a happy one.

Written by Alice Lane

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Alice_Lane http://EzineArticles.com/?Working-With-Kiln-Silver-Clay-in-a-Hot-Pot&id=3277707

Saturday, November 14, 2009

How to Make a Silver Clay Ring Using Precious Metal Clay

Precious metal clay (PMC) was developed in Japan in the 1990s as a malleable, easy to use product that produced fine quality precious metal results. PMC is a combination of binders and fine material particles that creates a material with the same properties as modelling clay, but can be fired to produce a solid metal object. Utilised throughout jewellery making, precious metal clay has revolutionised the creative market, allowing both professional jewellery makers and hobbyists alike to create their own, finely worked jewellery.

Ideal for almost any application, silver clay (PMC is also available in gold) is an ideal way to make intricate silver findings, silver beads or even silver rings. Making a clasp finding or ring is basically the same process and involves some specialist equipment, but nothing that is beyond the reach of most competent hobby jewellery makers. Modern silver clay can be fired in a conventional oven, although if you are serious about using PMC in your jewellery making it may be wise to invest in a small kiln where the firing temperature can be more accurately controlled. Firing temperature for the clay is around 1500 degrees F and takes around 10 minutes depending on the nature of the clay and the design. Although precious metal clay does still suffer from a certain degree of shrinkage once fired, the modern versions of PMC are far less prone to this problem than the earlier forms of the clay. If you are working with smaller pieces, a kiln or oven can be replaced with a jeweller's gas torch and the heat applied directly to the clay to achieve the same result.

Because of its malleable properties, precious metal clay is ideal for making patterned objects that would otherwise require casting or engraving to achieve the same effect. The clay takes a 'transfer' pattern extremely well - by simply pressing a patterned surface into the clay a unique texture can be achieved, even on the smallest of PMC beads or silver findings. Once fired, the final piece can be polished and because the binding agents burn off in the firing process, the resulting piece is almost pure silver and can be finished in exactly the same way as any other piece of silver jewellery.

Making a silver ring or finding is simplicity itself. Once you have the correct size of the ring you wish to make (remembering to allow at least 10% shrinkage in your
final piece), a simple loop of clay can be formed around a ring mandrel. A useful tip is to wrap a self-adhesive note around the mandrel and place a tiny amount of oil on the surface to stop the clay sticking to the mandrel. Form your ring from a rolled-out length of clay approximately 1mm thick and wrap it around the mandrel, joining the two ends together carefully to ensure that there is no obvious join.

Allow the ring to dry naturally and remove it from the mandrel once it feels dry and firm. You can now use fine jeweller's files to smooth any rough edges and shape your ring. Place the ring on a heat resistant surface and apply the heat from the lit torch. The ring will begin to discolour and produce a small flame after about 30 seconds. Continue to fire the clay until the ring gives off a slight orange glow. This should take between three and five minutes. Once this point is reached, remove the heat and pick the ring up with tweezers and very carefully submerse it in cool water.

Once the ring is completely cool, it can be cleaned with a stainless steel brush until the white residue has been removed and a shiny surface is achieved. Your PMC ring can now be used in your final jewellery design.

Precious metal clay is simple to use and opens up a world of possibilities in jewellery making. It is no surprise that the popularity of this adaptable material continues to grow.

Adam Hunter - E-commerce Marketing Manager of cooksongold.com. Cookson Precious Metals offer a choice of jewellery making supplies from over 10,000 products including all types of [http://www.cooksongold.com/Precious-Metal-Clay/]precious metal clay (PMC) - art clay and [http://www.cooksongold.com/Precious-Metal-Clay/]silver clay. Other items include - jewellery tools, precious metal clay, gemstones and gold and silver sheet - gold, platinum and palladium plus technical information for jewellers, jobbers, designer, craftsmen, artisans and students.
Adam Hunter
E-commerce Marketing Manager
Tel(DDI): +44 (0) 121 212 6491
E-mail: [mailto:adam.hunter@cooksongold.com]adam.hunter@cooksongold.com
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=A_Hunter http://EzineArticles.com/?How-to-Make-a-Silver-Clay-Ring-Using-Precious-Metal-Clay&id=3254313

Friday, October 2, 2009

Introduction to Working With Precious Metal Clay (PMC or Art Clay)

Perhaps you feel intimidated by the complexity of the more usual way of creating jewelry from metal and are looking for an alternative. It is difficult to saw, shape and bend metal into an exact shape, so how much simpler to use a type of metal modelling clay to create the jewelry that you have designed for yourself.

Precious metal clay is a compound of water, an organic binder and tiny particles of silver or gold, depending on the clay you purchase. The basic idea is that you form it into a shape, perhaps a ring or pendant, decorate it by texturing the surface or cut out designs and then leave it to dry out in the air. Then it can be heated until it almost reaches the metals melting point, this causes the metal particles to fuse and the binder to be burned away leaving you with a fully metallic object. This can then be polished, soldered, drilled or enamelled as any other silver item. Items made with precious metal clay will shrink on firing, so make your first pieces things that size is not critical, so that you can become accustomed to the degree of shrinkage. To make a simple necklace and matching earrings will only take a small amount of clay and you will still be able to wear them if they are not your designed size at the finish.

The clay dries out very quickly so only work on one piece at a time, using a glass surface or perhaps the shiny back of a playing card to work on. Always keep clay well wrapped if not in use. If you want an even thickness of clay you will need to roll it out on a lightly oiled surface. Use a plastic rod as a roller and two or
more playing cards as formers each side of the clay. Once rolled out cut to your design shape, using a craft knife or the edge of a playing card. The earrings should be a smaller version of the pendant so that they will all match. Now you can add a surface design by either pushing textured surfaces against your shape or cutting into it. You can mould the clay into bumps or stick other shaped pieces on with slip (very runny clay). Then leave your pieces to dry in the air. Check front and back for drying and once dry make sure to file off any rough pieces or burrs.

Firing can be done in a kiln if you have one available otherwise you will need a soldering torch to heat your items to the correct firing temperature, just below the melting point of the metal and held for the time as indicated on the product packaging. Once the piece has cooled it will need rubbing with a wire brush to create the shiny metallic surface, that can then be finished as you require. Perhaps drilling so that a jump ring can be added for attaching to a chain, or even covering in coloured, powdered glass as in enamelling. Beginner kits, books and classes are all available for this very creative medium.

Learn more about this author, Barbara Guess.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Comparing Copper Clay and Bronze Clay to Precious Metal Clay

To start with, all 3 clays are easy to work with, giving you the ability to create beautiful pieces, whether they are jewellery or sculptures.

All 3 clays consist of 3 different elements: metal particles, binder and water.

Now you are asking yourself, how you get a beautiful piece of art from a piece of pliable clay.

Well this is how it works -

When the clay is heated to a specific temperature, the binder burns off and the metal particles sinter (fuse together), making a solid piece of metal (your beautiful piece of art!).

The cost of all 3 clays is affordable, making this a highly popular craft.

Metal clay (which is Silver) can only be used to make jewellery, as it is not so dense after being fired, whereas Copper and Bronze clay can be used to make much larger jewellery pieces as well as sculptures. Bronze Clay has a density of over 95% that of cast copper.

Both Copper & Bronze Clays can be thrown on a potter's wheel.

All 3 clays can be pinched, rolled, sculpted and manipulated.

In the firing process, the binder vaporizes, leaving a solid, pure bronze, copper or 99% sterling silver object that can be sanded, patinaed or soldered using traditional jewellery or sculpture tools and techniques.

The firing process of Metal Clay is different to that of the Copper & Bronze Clays. Metal Clay can be fired, using a hand- held butane torch, whereas the other two must be fired in a kiln. This makes Metal Clay more affordable to the general man-on-the-street crafter as a kiln and all the necessary accessories do not need to be bought.

The shrinkage for Copper and Bronze Clay is 20% and 8-12% for the Metal Clay.

The shelf-life or storage of unused clay, for all 3 clays, once opened is simple -

Keep the clay tightly wrapped in plastic and place the wrapped piece iof clay, into a sealed plastic bag, into the refrigerator. Periodically check the clay and if necessary add a little bit of water and knead gently.

If you have ever wanted to create your own unique jewellery or try your hand at metal sculpture, but thought that you just could not afford it - now is your opportunity to experiment and still have change in your pocket! Give it a try!

Learn more about this author, Merle Maselle.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Applications of Precious Metal Clay (PMC)

Once heated, the binders burn off, allowing the particles of metal to combine and resulting in a solid metal piece. The most common type of PMC is silver clay, although gold and even bronze clays are available (the gold clay being very expensive).

This remarkable material means that you can create solid silver or gold items of jewellery as easy as using any other form of modelling clay. (Do be aware, however, that there is around a 10-15% shrinkage rate during firing.) The possibilities with PMC are only limited by your imagination.

The surface of PMC accepts impressions extremely well, allowing you to give your pieces texture and patterns. By using patterned rollers or any item that comes to hand such as lace, leaves or even bark, you can create a textured surface in silver or other metals that would be difficult to replicate without the use of specialist equipment. Once the clay has been fired and finished, the pattern will be clearly visible on the surface. This is a perfect way of making interesting and unique beads, for example, or for creating a patterned finding for a broach.

With practice and skill, PMC can be utilised in fine work such as filigree or cloisonné, but do remember that the PMC will shrink during firing, so be sure to allow for this in the initial stages.

One of the easiest pieces of jewellery to make with PMC is a bangle. By simply rolling out the clay, placing your design on the surface and joining the ends, a beautiful silver bracelet can be produced in a very short time. Once the clay has been fired, it can then be polished and finished to produce something that will complement any outfit.

PMC is most often used to produce silver beads, again lending itself perfectly to this application. The blank shapes can be easily produced by hand, or, if you want to add a more complex design, by using a mould. Once the basic form has been made, it is simply a matter of placing a hole through the bead and firing. The temperature for firing PMC has to be carefully monitored though - too low and the binders will not completely burn off, leaving the finished item vulnerable to breaking or crumbling, too high and the metal will blob, leaving you with an ingot and nothing more. The usual firing temperature of PMC is 1500 degrees F, so the use of a kiln, which will enable the user to monitor the temperature closely, is advisable.

PMC has proved to be so popular in jewellery making that a number of guilds and organisations have developed around its use. The PMC Guild has a wealth of information, video clips and project ideas available on its website to help you get started, including tips on how to work with this versatile material and incorporate it into your jewellery making.

Adam Hunter - E-commerce Marketing Manager of cooksongold.com. Cookson Precious Metals offer a choice of jewellery making supplies from over 10,000 products including gold and silver wire, jewellery findings, tools, [http://www.cooksongold.com/Precious-Metal-Clay/]precious metal clay (PMC) and gold and silver sheet - gold, silver, platinum and palladium plus technical information for jewellers, jobbers, designer, craftsmen, artisans and students.
For interviews, quotes, images or comments contact:
Adam Hunter
E-commerce Marketing Manager
Tel(DDI): +44 (0) 121 212 6491
E-mail: adam.hunter@cooksongold.com
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=A_Hunter [http://ezinearticles.com/?Applications-of-Precious-Metal-Clay-(PMC)&id=1794162 ]http://EzineArticles.com/?Applications-of-Precious-Metal-Clay-(PMC)&id=1794162

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Techniques, Tools & Processes Used When Filing Precious Metals

Filing is an essential technique in jewellery making, and although simple in concept following proven practices combined with the right equipment and tools, ensures the job becomes a breeze.

Filing Precious Metals

Filing is used in jewellery making to remove excess metal, even out surfaces, smooth or to shape, form and texture pieces.
The actual files come in a variety of shapes, grades / cuts and sizes The shape of the file you choose will depend on the job you are completing i.e. flat files are used for straight edges or convex curves e.g. the outer edge of a disc, and curved files are used on concave curves - e.g. inside of rings.
The cut describes the arrangement of teeth and therefore the amount of material the file will remove and the surface finish it will leave. The most often used and useful file is a medium cut 2 file, this general purpose file removes material quickly, and leaves only light markings which can be easily removed.

Common types of file types

In terms of types of file, both needle and hand files are the most commonly used in jewellers workshops. The common shapes of file are Flat file - a general use file for use on flat surfaces and outside curves, Square file for use in grooves or inside angles, Three square file for tight angles and difficult to reach areas, Round files for inside curves, Half round file for inside curves, Knife files for limited access corners, Crossing files for inside curves, Safety back file ideal for tight angles as serrated edge are only on one side.

Fitting a File Handle

Needle files have an integral handle; however hand files often require a handle to be fitted. To fit your handle place the file in a vise with the 'tang' (where the handle is fitted) pointed upwards, then heat the tang until red hot ensuring you direct the flame upwards. Push the file handle onto the hot tang allowing the it burn into the handle. Then tap the handle with a mallet until the handle is secure.

Filing Techniques for a straight line.

When filing ensure that the metal is secured, as an unstable bench peg/metal will lead to inaccuracies and mistakes. When filing a straight line use long strokes, applying pressure on the forward stroke. Make sure that the file is level and that you watch the metal to ensure accuracy plus allowing the jeweller to continually assess the pressure/placement of your next stroke. When filing you should work a steady pace, as an aggressive technique increases the chance of inaccuracy. Many jewellers mark there metal as a guideline to measure progress and to see where they need to file.

Filing techniques for curves (convex)

With a flat faced file place the file on the metal and push forward using a sweeping action that follows the curve, ensuring the file is level. Use marks to guide the filing process, and check the surface whilst filing.

Files - an essential jewellery tool

Skilled filing is a key technique that once mastered gives the jeweller great control over shaping metal, and forming designs. However initially it takes practice, concentration plus a level of intuition to ensure accurate lines or curves are achieved. A complete jewellery tool kit will include a full selection of files - both needle and hand, of all shapes and sizes and cuts, and become some of the most used tools at the bench.

Adam Hunter - E-commerce Marketing Manager of cooksongold.com. Cookson Precious Metals offer a choice of supplies from over 10,000 products including [http://www.cooksongold.com/category/Jewellery-Tools/]jewellery tools, findings, precious metal clay, wire and precious metal sheet - gold, silver, platinum and palladium plus technical information for jewellers, jobbers, designer, craftsmen, artisans and students.
Article Source:
http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=A_Hunter http://EzineArticles.com/?Techniques,-Tools-and-Processes-Used-When-Filing-Precious-Metals&id=942035

Friday, June 12, 2009

How to Solder Earposts to Precious Metal Clay

Making Hollow Beads Out of Precious Metal Clay PMC

Making hollow beads out of Precious Metal Clay is a good way to keep your pieces lighter weight, and use less PMC per piece. That means that the jewelry you end up with would be less expensive to the end user. It also allows you to make much bigger pieces that won't weigh the customer down when they are wearing your piece.

In order for the hollow beads to keep their shape, you need to make a placeholder for the center of the bead.

A good material to use to make the placeholder is cork clay. Here are the steps:

Making the mold or placeholder out of the cork clay.

Cork clay comes in a plastic wrapped package and is damp. It can only be formed when it is wet, so you definitely want to make sure that you keep the package tightly sealed. Once it is dry, you can no longer work with it.

Take a piece of the cork clay and mold it into the shape for the inside of your bead. You can make as many of these as you like.

Decide where you would like the hole to cut through the bead.

When you have decided where you would like the hole to be, take a wooden toothpick or similar item, and push it through the cork clay. Leave the toothpick in the the cork clay. There should be ends of the toothpick sticking out on both sides. When you fire the bead, both the cork clay and the toothpick will burn up in the kiln.

Let the cork clay dry overnight. Do not put PMC over the cork clay while it is still wet.

Now you have your mold or placeholder.

Making the bead.

Now that you have the placeholder, you can form the bead around it.

Use olive oil to moisten your hands and work surface. Just use a few small drops of oil. The work surface should not be slick.

Use your plastic roller to roll out your PMC to 3 or 4 cards thick.

Remember that you do not want to waste any of your Precious Metal Clay, so put any excess back into the ziplock bag.

You can either cut out the shape beforehand or form the clay around the cork clay and cut the shape as you go.

It is best to have a slight overlap where the two edges join together and seal the overlap with paste or slip.

If you want to press a design into the PMC, do it before you form it around the cork clay. If you want to etch a design into the PMC, wait until you have formed it around the cork clay, then do your etching.

Next add any embellishments that you want around your bead. You can add PMC paper cut outs, additional pieces of rolled out PMC, or filigree with the syringe.

Make sure that the bead dries thoroughly.

After the bead is dry, green finish it with an emery board or light sandpaper. You may need to fill in any holes or cracks with slip. Let it dry again, and repeat the process until you are satisfied with your work.

Fire your bead in your kiln at the proper temperature. The cork clay and toothpick will burn away.

To clean your bead after firing, you can use a wire brush and polishing cloths to do it by hand, or a tumbler. Each gives you a different finish.

Learn more about this author, Paula Atwell.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Making the Most of Your Precious Metal Clay (PMC) Use.

When using Precious Metal Clay it is important to remember that it is an expensive material. Therefore, you want to make sure that you do not waste any of it. PMC is not a clay really, it just looks like clay. Every bit of it can be used to make a piece.

Here are some tricks to making the most out of your Precious Metal Clay:

Whenever you open a new package of PMC, take out just what you need to use, then seal the package up again to keep your clay as moist as when you opened the package.

Then, as you use the clay, and cut off scraps, put the scraps back in the package as well.

As you are working with the clay on your work surface, it will dry out. To keep the clay moist, dab a small paint brush in water, and brush it over the drying areas. PMC typically dries the fastest on the outside surfaces that are exposed to air.

Once you have used the PMC, and it starts to dry out too much to be easily used, put it in a ziplock bag overnight with some drops of water. By morning it will absorb the water, and be usable again.

If your clay has become completely dried out, you can still reconstitute it.

Take your lump of dry PMC. Place it in between two sheets of paper. Get a rolling pin, and roll the PMC between the two sheets of paper until it crumbles into dust. Then remove the top sheet and bend the bottom sheet into a U shape and pour the powder into a ziplock bag. Add water little by little, over time, to reconstitute the PMC. The more water you add, the thinner the consistency of the PMC will be. If you want to make paste or slip out of it, you will add more water. If you want to get the consistency of lump clay, then you add less. Leave it overnight or over 2 or 3 three nights for the water to properly reabsorb.

All PMC can be reconstituted in this way, except for PMC sheet. Many experienced Precious Metal Clay artists make their own slip and fill their syringes with reconstituted clay. This is one way not to waste any particle of the material.

Another hint is to save all of the dust that gets filed off your green pieces as you green finish them. The dust is great for making slip. Just throw it in a small jar with water and keep adding to it until you get the slip consistency that you like. Depending on what you are using the slip for, you may want to keep 2 or 3 different densities of slip. One for finishing a rough surface, another for filling in cracks. When you make your own, you can control the feel of it until you get the consistency exactly where you would like.

Just remember not to waste any particle of your PMC. You will be amazed at how many pieces you can make from one small package.

Learn more about this author, Paula Atwell.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How to Set Stones in Precious Metal Clay

Precious Metal Clay lends itself to many different styles of design. One element that can add interest to any PMC design is setting stones into the PMC.

There are two different methods to set stones into PMC. One is setting the stones into the raw PMC before firing and then firing the stone into the PMC to secure the stone. The second way is to fire the PMC piece without the stone, and then add the stone in a traditional metal setting that is soldered onto the PMC base.

Both methods have use, because many stones cannot be fired in the kiln and survive the heat.

If you want to set stones into Precious Metal Clay, first it is important to know more about the stones that you would like to set. Most cubic zirconia are capable of being fired into PMC, and some natural stones. Before you decide to use a stone, make sure that it will not be altered by the heat of kiln firing. Most cubic zirconias and lab made stones are tested for use with Precious Metal Clay.

To set a stone into PMC for firing:

1. Clay must be in its wet, raw form for setting a stone.

2. Determine where you want to set the stone in your piece.

3. Create a small hole in your base piece. The hole will not show because it will end up being directly underneath your stone.

4. Determine what type of bezel you would like to surround your stone.

5. Form your bezel around your stone.

6. Attach your bezel to the base piece of PMC with PMC paste or slip.

7. Add any deorations to the bezel that you wish with a syringe or applique method.

8. Allow your piece to dry overnight to make sure it is thoroughly dry.

9. Dry finish your piece and fill in any cracks with slip.

10. Allow the piece to dry again.

11. Fire the piece in the kiln at the proper temperature for stone settings.

12. After firing, do not quench the piece in cold water. Allow the piece to cool slowly on its own. If you quench it quickly, it might upset the stone setting.

13. Once your piece is cool, you can clean, polish, and finish it.

To set a stone on a fired piece of Precious Metal Clay:

1. Clean, but do not polish or add a patina to your fired piece.

2. Lightly file the surface of the PMC where you are going to attach the bezel or prong setting.

3. Solder your setting to the PMC as you would to any other silver piece. Unless you have already used solder, it is best to use easy.

4. Once the bezel or prong setting is attached, polish and add any patina that you want to the piece.

5. Set your stone into the setting normally.

For more comprehensive information on setting stones into Precious Metal Clay, and PMC resources, follow this link.
Learn more about this author, Paula Atwell.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Basic Tools Needed to Work with Precious Metal Clay

Precious Metal Clay is one of the easiest ways to make fine silver or gold jewelry, especially if you are a beginner at metalsmithing.

Although the PMC itself is expensive, you don't need a lot of expensive tools to work with it. There are many inexpensive household or common items that you can use to work with Precious Metal Clay and are actually used by the most experienced PMC craftsmen.

Here are the tools you need to work yourself with Precious Metal Clay:


The most expensive piece of equipment you need for working with PMC is a kiln. You will get your best quality result with PMC when you fire with a kiln. Most PMC kilns start around $500 new.

If you do not want to purchase a kiln, you will need to work with PMC3 which is the Precious Metal Clay formula that needs the lowest firing temperature. PMC3 can be fired in a kiln, a hotpot, and with a torch which are the most popular methods.

The rest of the tools you need are fairly inexpensive.

Small carving hand tools:

You can use tools designed for PMC, for ceramic clay, or wax carving, or you can design your own from household items.

Needle files:

These can be purchased in sets of 6 or 12 files in any hardware store. Don't buy expensive files because they get covered with PMC dust.

Emery boards:

Emery boards are a great finishing tool for PMC. These can be purchased in any drug store.

Paint brushes:

Small, fine tip paint brushes are good for applying water or PMC paste to your unfinished piece. Make sure to get cheap brushes. These get ruined easily by the PMC paste.

Xacto knives:

You should have at least one Xacto knife for cutting the wet PMC.

Clay cutting tools:

Most craft stores have a good supply of basic polymer clay cutting tools. These work very well with PMC.


You will need at least one roller. The best rollers are plastic or acrylic. You can just use PVC pipe that can be purchased at a hardware store.

Wire brush:

A wire brush is a good tool to have for finishing your fired piece.

Dremel tool:

Many people like to use the versatility of a Dremel tool for finishing Precious Metal Clay. Dremel tools have a lot of different heads each with its own purpose.

Barrel tumbler:

Another finishing tool for your fired PMC is a barrel tumbler. This is a fast way to finish a lot of pieces at one time, and clean them quickly.

Other tools can be found in just about any home:

Playing cards-preferably old ones from an incomplete deck

Olive oil

Graph paper

Page protectors (plastic sheet)

And don't forget the PMC itself:

PMC comes in several formulas. The most popular is PMC+, but you do need a kiln to fire it. If you are going to fire in a hot pot, you need to make sure to buy PMC3.

If you would like to read more about the best tools for working with PMC, follow this link.
Learn more about this author, Paula Atwell.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

How to Create Designs in Precious Metal Clay

One of the things that makes working with Precious Metal Clay so innovative is how easy it is to add design motifs to the material. PMC has several states, and as a designer you can add design elements at each stage.

Raw, wet clay:

This is the easiest stage to design with PMC. PMC is soft enough to press or stamp designs in. Many artists make their own molds or stamps to add designs to the raw clay.

Raw clay is also great for etching designs with a stylus or any pointed tools. Artists can deepen impressions that they etch or carve out designs in the wet clay. Wet, the clay can also be cut into any shape or molded.

Applique techniques can be used with PMC, adding pieces of cut out lump clay or PMC sheet.

Pieces of any organic material can be embedded into the clay. At the firing stage it will be burned away.

Green, dry clay:

There is still much that can be added to the PMC piece at this stage. One thing to keep in mind is that PMC is much more fragile when it is dry and unfired.

Dry clay pieces can be sanded, filed, and smoothed until perfect. Wet slip or paste can be added at this stage, dried, then blended in with the rest of the piece.

Two pieces of clay can be put together with slip or paste.

Holes can be widened with a round file. It is not recommended to create the hole after the clay dries. It is better to start the hole when it is still at least damp.

A lighter style of etching can be added to dry clay. This is a good point to sign the piece.

With care, applique techniques can still be used and may be preferable for some designs. For instance, it might be better to add metal wire or leaf at this stage. Stones can be added to a dry piece. Some artists prefer to add syringe designs on dry clay. The key here is to make sure that the connection between the dry piece and the new addition is wet enough to hold.

Unpolished, fired clay:

PMC can be fired more than once, and for some designs this is the best way to add to the piece. To add to a fired piece, do not polish it. The binder that is left at the surface of the clay helps hold the unfired clay to the fired clay. Add the raw clay with slip just as if both pieces were raw.

Once fired, PMC can be drilled with a metal drill, hammered, sawed, or soldered. It's best to do these before you polish and clean the piece. PMC is fine silver or 18K gold, so the metal is softer than sterling. Take care to not hit it too hard when hammering.

Polished, fired clay:

After the piece has been cleaned and polished, an artist can add patinas. This works best with silver. The most popular patina is liver of sulphur which applies an oxidation to the surface in colors ranging from light gold to black.

Author: Paula Atwell

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mold Making for Precious Metal Clay

Firing Precious Metal Clay 3

One of the beauty's of Precious Metal Clay is it ability to create small piece quickly, and rather using a kiln for just one piece many designers prefer to use a hand torch to fire & start the sintering process.

Is the piece suitable for hand torch firing?

When deciding how to fire a piece consider its weight. Pieces weighing 25g or less are ideal of for torch firing, but also consider that your piece should be of a relatively even thickness for torch firing to work effectively. If your piece is of complex nature kiln firing is recommended to ensure even heat distribution.

Preparation before firing

Before starting to fire its worth considering the preparation of your working area. Make sure that you work in a well ventilated room, and that you have a dedicated area for soldering. Ensure that you have a heat proof surface i.e. soldering sheet, and then place a soldering block on top to work on. Plus consider you own safety with glasses, apron and tweezers and even protective gloves on hard to protect you whilst working.

Test firing

The first time you torch fire clay, practice on a small piece to watch how the clay reacts to the heat, and to practice the firing process.

Preparation of the clay

Before you fire ensure you are happy with the shape and detail of your piece and that the piece is complete dry, as excess moisture will turn into steam causing the clay to expand or crack. If your piece contains gemstone, shells, or even findings consider how this will react to direct heat.

Firing the PMC

Once ignited adjust the torch flame so the flame is around 6cm, and the blue inner flame is around 4cm. Hold the torch at 45 degree, about 5cm away from the piece using the outer flame first to warm and then bring closer to increase the heat, ensure you keep the torch moving keeping the flame on the piece.

First the binder will begin to smoke and then flame, burning away. The clay will be then exposed and begin to glow red/orange (at sintering temperature). At this point continue firing the piece for 2-4 minutes depending on its size, be careful not to over fire the piece -if the piece beings to look shiny (indicating the surface is starting to melt) then move the torch away to reduce the heat. Once heated the particles fuse together and form a solid dense metal, and PMC3 only shrinks around 6% of its original size. To complete the process let the piece cool down to room temperature. Once fired silver PMC 3 becomes fine i.e. 99.9% pure - and can be hallmarked as fine silver.

Adam Hunter - E-commerce Marketing Manager of cooksongold.com. Cookson Precious Metals offer a choice of supplies from over 10,000 products including [http://www.cooksongold.com/category/Jewellery-Tools/]jewellery tools, findings, precious metal clay, wire and precious metal sheet - gold, silver, platinum and palladium plus technical information for jewellers, jobbers, designer, craftsmen, artisans and students.
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How to Use Precious Metal Clay in Jewelery Making

Precious metal clay (brand names are PMC and Art Clay) is modern-day alchemy. PMC is a clay base with tiny pieces of silver suspended within it that, when heated, burns off the clay leaving a solid silver residue. The clay base acts as a binder for the metal particles. Once this has been removed, the remaining silver particles bind together, giving you the finished product.

The real beauty of precious metal clay is that it can be manipulated like any ordinary modeling clay, making it perfect for jewelery making. The modern precious metal clay can be using a jeweler's torch, as the firing temperature is much lower than the early versions of this clay. However, a small kiln will produce a much more constant temperature range and can be controlled exactly, meaning that the results will be more consistent.

Precious Metal Clay once had a very bad reputation for shrinkage, making it unsuitable for fine work or detail. Modern precious metal clays have a much lower shrinkage rate (around 10-15%), but you still need to factor this into the final piece to ensure that really fine detail is not lost in the firing process.

Once fired, the silver piece will seem very lackluster and dull, so it will need finishing. The dull matt surface hides the real beauty underneath, so finishing and polishing will reveal the shining silver below. When soldering finished precious metal clay pieces it is essential to remember that the surface will be more porous than standard sterling silver, so it is best to burnish the piece prior to soldering. But because it is almost pure silver there is little risk of fire stain on the surface and the final results are almost indistinguishable from sterling silver.

Because precious metal clay is a clay, it takes impressions very well. A design can be pressed onto the surface of the clay and be revealed in the final silver piece. Patterned rollers, lace or even leaves can be used to create unique effects that are difficult to reproduce in ordinary silver unless it has been cast. Precious metal clay is a popular way of making silver beads. The clay can be formed into beads, decorated with a surface pattern and then fired in a kiln quickly and easily, producing high quality silver beads.

Safety considerations have to be taken into account when working with precious metal clay because of the high temperatures required to fire the clay. A small enameling kiln allows you to safely achieve the temperatures required for optimum results, but ensure that you have all the correct equipment such as tongs with heat resistant handles to extract work from the kiln safely and a heat-proof surface upon which to work.

Precious metal clay is an ideal medium to work in if you want to create pieces of silver jewelery that are unique to you. The only thing that limits you is your imagination. Precious metal silver clay is widely available from good jewelery equipment suppliers. There are two main brands - Precious Metal Clay and Art Clay Silver. The clay is also available in other metals including gold, but the cost is significantly higher than the silver clay.

Adam Hunter - E-commerce Marketing Manager of cooksongold.com. Cookson Precious Metals offer a choice of [http://www.cooksongold.com]jewelery making supplies from over 10,000 products including gold and silver, jewelery findings, tools, [http://www.cooksongold.com/Precious-Metal-Clay/]precious metal clay and gold and silver sheet - gold, silver, platinum and palladium plus technical information for jewelers, jobbers, designer, craftsmen, artisans and students.
Adam Hunter
E-commerce Marketing Manager
Tel(DDI): +44 (0) 121 212 6491
E-mail: adam.hunter@cooksongold.com
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=A_Hunter http://EzineArticles.com/?How-to-Use-Precious-Metal-Clay-in-Jewelery-Making&id=1875790

Types of Silver Clay Explained - Precious Metal Clay and Art Clay

Metal clay is a suspension of tiny particles of metal in a clay binder, which can be used to make jewelery, beads and small findings. The beauty of metal clay is that it can be manipulated in the same way as any modeling clay, but once fired the binding agents are burnt off leaving the metal form intact. Although there is a certain amount of shrinkage (between 10-15% for the more modern versions), very fine detail can be achieved, including impressions that would require casting in any other method of metalwork.

Silver metal clay results in objects containing almost pure silver (also known as fine silver) which is ideal for enameling. There are two popular brands available - Precious Metal Clay (also known as PMC) and Art Clay Silver (ACS). Precious Metal Clay was developed in the early 1990's in Japan and consists of microscopic particles of pure silver (or fine gold powder) and a water-soluble binder which burns off during firing. The original formula of PMC (now called 'Standard') has to be fired in a kiln at a temperature of 1650F and has a high shrinkage rate of around 30%. Two additional versions were later developed called PMC+, which can be fired at 1490F and PMC3, which can be fired at temperatures as low as 1100F. Both of these later versions of PMC have much lower shrinkage rates, allowing much finer detail to be worked into designs.

Art Clay Silver (ACS) was also developed in Japan and is similar in consistency to PMC+. The main difference with ACS is that it can be fired using a hand-held torch or gas oven. Because of subtle differences in the binder components and the longer firing times, ACS benefited from having a considerably lower shrinkage percentage - only 8-10%. This means that ACS can be worked in more detail without any loss of definition in fine work. Art Clay Slow Dry was introduced soon after, which has a much longer working time before requiring firing, allowing intricate work to be molded into the clay with no loss of malleability.

Art Clay 650 and Art Clay 650 Slow Dry are now becoming increasingly popular, as not only do they have a longer working time but can be fired at temperatures as low as 650C/1200F. This allows jewelers to incorporate glass and Sterling Silver into the designs without fear of damaging the components. AIDA, the manufacturers of ACS have also introduced Oil Paste, a product only used on fired metal clay or milled fine silver, and Overlay Paste which is designed for drawing designs onto glass and porcelain. These two products have allowed the use of metal clay products to be incorporated into a whole new range of designs and mediums, expanding the potential of this product.

Metal clays allow jewelers to work with a material that is as malleable as ordinary modeling clay but produces fine (almost pure) silver jewelery of exquisite intricacy and beauty. Once polished it has a luster and shine that is easily comparable to cast silver and because of the development of the products over the last few years shrinkage is now no longer an issue. The type used depends on personal preference as both types have their advantages, but incorporating metal clays into your jewelery design gives you a new medium to explore with beautiful results.

Adam Hunter - E-commerce Marketing Manager of cooksongold.com. Cookson Precious Metals offer a choice of [http://www.cooksongold.com]jewellery making supplies from over 10,000 products including gold and silver findings, tools, [http://www.cooksongold.com/Precious-Metal-Clay/]silver art clay and gold and silver sheet - gold, silver, platinum and palladium plus technical information for jewellers, jobbers, designer, craftsmen, artisans and students.
Adam Hunter
E-commerce Marketing Manager
Tel(DDI): +44 (0) 121 212 6491
E-mail: [mailto:adam.hunter@cooksongold.com]adam.hunter@cooksongold.com
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=A_Hunter http://EzineArticles.com/?Types-of-Silver-Clay-Explained---Precious-Metal-Clay-and-Art-Clay&id=2036804