- Arts and Design
How to Make a Simple Pendant from Precious Metal Clay
What is Precious Metal Clay?
Precious Metal Clay is a non-toxic organic material made from very fine particles of fine silver and an organic binder. Together these ingredients form a clay like substance called Precious Metal Clay. Even though it feels like clay, Precious Metal Clay is actually fine silver. This point is important to remember when you are working with PMC, because it is expensive and you need to save any scraps for use later.
Precious Metal Clay can be worked like ceramic clay in its green form. Many tools used for polymer clay and ceramic clay can also be used for PMC. Once the Precious Metal Clay is fired, then you need to work with it like a metalsmith, using tools for working with precious metals.
At this point, you can hammer, saw, drill, or solder the PMC just like any other silver metal. This allows you to add traditional silversmithing elements like bezels, prongs, and hinges that need to be added to the PMC after firing. Many natural stones cannot be fired into the Precious Metal Clay because the kiln temperature is too hot for them, so they can be added later with traditional methods.
Never Waste PMC
My prime rule when working with Precious Metal Clay in any form is never, never waste PMC. If you take any of my classes, you will hear that phrase over and over again. A new student may be surprised at how much you can make out of a small amount of Precious Metal Clay.
In this article, my purpose is to take you step by step through the instructions of how to make a pendant out of Precious Metal Clay. You should find that with even the smallest packet of PMC, that you have enough materials to make more than one pendant.
Supplies That You Need for Precious Metal Clay
For this project you will need the following supplies:
- 1 package of Precious Metal Clay
- 1 sheet protector
- 1 piece of graph paper
- 1 cutter (Xacto knife or clay cutter)
- 1 roller
- 10 playing cards
- olive oil
- 1 round coffee stirrer
Proper Care of Precious Metal Clay
As I mentioned before, Precious Metal Clay is expensive and we do not want to waste any. PMC comes in a foil package with a plastic ziplock bag inside. This is to protect the PMC and keep it moist. When you open the package, take out just the amount of Precious Metal Clay that you want to use then reseal the package. Every time that you have scrap PMC, put it back in the sealed package. Then seal the package tightly. If your clay becomes too dry, put a few drops of water in the sealed package of clay overnight and the PMC will absorb the water back into the clay.
Books to Add to Your PMC Library
Making the Precious Metal Clay Pendant
- Insert the graph paper into the sheet protector. This is your work surface.
- Pour a few drops of olive oil on your hands and work surface and rub it in. This keeps the Precious Metal Clay from sticking.
- Form two piles of playing cards, 5 cards in each. You will roll your PMC out between the stacks of cards, and put the end of your roller on each stack. This keeps the roller evenly spaced from the work surface.
- Roll your piece of Precious Metal Clay into a rough ball, the roll it out like rolling dough on your work surface. Your clay should end up "5 cards thick".
- Create a design on your pendant with a rubber stamp. This will make your PMC a little thinner. That is okay. As long as it is "3 cards thick" it will be sturdy enough to fire.
- Using your cutter, with the lines of the graph paper as a guide cut out the desired shape for your pendant. Remember that with PMC+ or PMC3, your piece will shrink approximately 10% after firing. With original PMC, it shrinks about 50%.
- The next step is to cut a hole in the center of the top of your pendant using the coffee stirrer. Put a drop of oil on the coffee stirrer so that it won't stick to the PMC.
Getting The Green Precious Metal Clay Ready for Firing
After you have designed your Precious Metal Clay pendant, allow the piece to dry overnight. Then the next step to this project is to dry finish the green piece.
- Take a piece of fine sandpaper, or a fine emery board and very lightly smooth any edges or sharp places in your design. Remember that after the clay is fired, you will have a metal piece. Any sharp edges will be razor sharp as metal.
- For smoothing small areas, you can use needle files that you can buy at any hardware store. Don't forget about getting the inside of the hole smooth as well.
- At this stage you can etch a design into the back of the piece lightly or your initials with a sharp knife or pointy tool.
Firing Precious Metal Clay
I highly recommend firing Precious Metal Clay in a kiln. None of the other ways of firing give you as good of a bond or as strong of a piece. That being said, if you are working with PMC3, you can fire in a hot pot or with a torch. Once your piece is fired, it will shrink to its finished size, and be covered with a white or gray crust.
Clean your fired Precious Metal Clay piece with a wire brush for a matte finish, a polishing cloth for a shiny finish, or a tumbler for a shiny finish. Your piece is finished and ready to make into a necklace.
More Precious Metal Clay
- Precious Metal Clay
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