Summer PMC Jewelry Class

My third school year as a teacher has ended and I’m enjoying my summer so far!  It hasn’t really seemed like summer, though, because (after a long weekend trip to Ocean City the day after the teacher workday) I’ve been taking an all-day summer class through VCU at one of the county high schools.  The class has been incredible, but I always come home counting the hours till bed time!  Monday will be our last class, so I’ll commence relaxing, weeding in my garden, and knitting soon enough.

 

PMC stands for precious metal clay, and it’s a clay-like material made of microscopic precious metal dust (in my case, silver) and an organic binder (the instructor believes it to be rice flour) and water.  It can be molded just as you would normal ceramic clay, but when it is fired (at between 1100-1600° F for between 30 minutes and 2 hours) the organic binder burns out, the “clay” shrinks by 12-15%, and you’re left with solid silver.  When the pieces come out of the kiln, they’re white and chalky looking but a quick run through a tumbler produces a gorgeous high-shine polish.  We’ve also used a chemical called liver of sulfer to add a patina to certain pieces.  The effect can range from copper and gold to green, gray, and almost black.  Then, if you toss the piece back in the tumbler, the raised portions of the piece get shined back up, leaving the patina on the rest.

 

The pictures show most of the pieces I’ve been working on so far, in various stages of completion.  I still have some of the (super-expensive) clay left, so I’ll make a few more things to use it up before Monday’s critique.  I used Sculpey clay to make molds of various textures I wanted to use in my work, my favorite of which include a sage leaf and some knits.  I also used some EZ-Carv linoleum to make some tiny swirls to impress into a ring, with another planned.  I used some single earrings (for which I’d lost the mates) to add gemstones to a few of my pieces.  I also painted layers of PMC slip over brass mesh to enable crisp folds in one piece.

 

During the class we had a lampwork bead artist come in and do a demo before allowing us to purchase some of her beautiful beads, as well as an enamel artist who did a demo before we got to do some enameling ourselves!  I went a little overboard on the blue knit piece.

 

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