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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
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