A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to participate in a Precious Metal Clay (PMC) jewellery workshop. It was my birthday present. (I would much rather do things than be given gifts)
As a potter and a dabbler in jewellery making, PMC was intriquing and I've wanted to try this for a long time.
PMC is a clay medium of very fine silver (or bronze or copper) particles mixed with an organic non- toxic binder and water. You can use it like any other clay. It is fired in a kiln or with a small blow torch.
I had a hard time at first getting used to working at such a small scale with finer tools than my usual pottery ones. I took some photos but hands were busy and (dirty!) so I don't have all the steps of the process documented.
A gem setting was made and then "glued" on with a slurry of clay
Every step was dried on a small heat pad (one of those mug warmers)
which made the process go much faster than regular potter's clay.
Here are some rings and some dry leaves we were coating in PMC slurry for a pendant.
While the ring was in the kiln we worked on a pendant. I made a simple design in a piece of lino and then a piece of clay was pressed into it.
After much refining and sanding I used a small torch and fired the pendant. A little liver of sulphur was applied to oxidize the silver to accentuate the lines and then lots of polishing. (I was surprised that silver is white and dull until it is polished) and voila:
The ring came out of the kiln a couple of hours later and was polished.
The real leaf burned off when it was torched to leave a pure silver inprint :
All together, the three projects for the day:
When I got home I decided that the ring was too shiny. I hadn't used any liver of sulphur for a patina and I didn't have any at home I consulted the internet for a solution.
A still-warm hard boiled egg was the solution. Lots of sulphur in an egg! The ring went nto the bag with the mashed egg and almost immediately the ring oxidized.
I did not have any polishing materials at home either so I used my go-to for cleaning brass and silver, salt and lemon juice.
After a little while to process this new skill, I decided I would in fact like a little blow torch and a little package of PMC to play with. I won't be investing in the small kiln just yet.
The funny thing is for this last photo I put the ring on my middle finger and now it's good and stuck!