Making a Ring with Precious Metal Clay (PMC)
Basic Ring Making Techniques
Making a ring with Precious Metal Clay is more complicated than making a flat piece. The main complication is making the PMC ring round instead of flat.
There are two techniques to creating a ring with PMC.
- The first technique is to make a flat band, fire it, then hammer it into a round shape.
- The second technique is to shape the green PMC around a ring mold, and fire it already round.
Both techniques have strengths and problems, so I will go through the explanation of both of the Precious Metal Clay ring techniques in this article, and then you can try both techniques yourself to see which makes more sense for your design.
This gorgeous ring is made by artist Hattie Sanderson. http://www.hattiesanderson.com/
The Art of Metal Clay: Techniques for Creating Jewelry and Decorative Objects
When designing a ring with Precious Metal Clay, you need to be aware that firing green PMC to green PMC is the strongest hold. You can fire Precious Metal Clay a second time, green PMC to fired PMC, but the joint will not be as strong.
You can also strengthen a bond on fired PMC with traditional soldering, but most PMC artists use soldering for design elements that cannot be attached through firing.
When you do fire green Precious Metal Clay to fired PMC, you do want to make sure to leave the organic binder crust that rises to the surface of the PMC during the firing process on the fired PMC. That will help create a tighter bond between the green PMC and the fired PMC.
Technique 1: Firing the PMC Ring in Two Firings
This technique works best for smaller rings that do not have a lot of weight.
Create a band for your ring. Remember that the band will shrink about 10% after firing. After your ring band is completely designed, dry it thoroughly, and green finish the band.
The next step is to create a ring top. Design your ring top. The top of the ring should be on a flat base. You can insert a gemstone into the ring top as long as it can survive the firing process. Dry the ring top. Green finish the ring top.
Fire both pieces together. Remember that you are firing the ring band flat.
Once your ring parts are fired, do not clean them off. Hammer the ring band into shape around a ring sizing rod until you reach the desired size. Attach the ring top to the band with slip at the part of the band where the two ends meet. It is fine if they do not meet all the way.
Once the ring parts are attached and dry, fire them together. Once they are fired, you can finish and polish the ring.
Technique 2: Firing the Ring on a Ring Mold
Firing a ring on a ring mold will give you a stronger ring, and stronger bond. However the level of difficulty in designing and building the ring also increases.
Precious Metal Clay ring molds are available in varying ring sizes to ensure that your ring is made in a true ring size. Ring molds can be purchased from Delphi Glass.
Determine the ring size and design you want to make. The ring band must overlap itself somewhere in the design. This will get hidden later. Overlapping the ring band will strengthen the bond, and make sure the ring does not pull apart when it shrinks in the kiln.
Mold your ring band around the ring mold, attaching the overlapping parts of the ring band with slip. Once that is dry and in place, you can complete your ring design attaching any loose pieces with slip.
Let your complete design dry overnight.
Once dry, green finish your ring.
Read the instructions carefully for your ring mold. Some are fire in place, and others need to be removed before firing. Fire the ring.
Once cool, finish the ring, and add any elements that cannot be fired in place.
Finishing Your Precious Metal Clay Ring
Once you have fired your ring, you can finish it in any way you like. Clean the crust from the organic binder off the fired ring. Polish it to the gloss desired. You can also solder prongs or any other elements to the PMC ring that could not be fired on.
Pearls and many gemstones cannot be fired because they will disintegrate. These can be glued or set into settings. There are literally endless numbers of designs that you can put into your Precious Metal Clay ring, your imagination is the limit.
The more rings that you make the more experienced you will get in using the techniques. Making rings from PMC can give you a lot of design options that you cannot make with traditional metalsmithing.
More Precious Metal Clay
- Create Designs Using Precious Metal Clay (PMC) Paper/Sheet
PMC paper is a unique way of working with metal clay, allowing the user to cut the clay like paper, punch holes, and more.