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The Top 10 Reasons that I Love to Work with PMC

Updated on September 25, 2014
Paula Atwell profile image

Paula Atwell is a freelance writer with WriterAccess, webmaster, member of Pinterest Party on FB and the owner of Lake Erie Artist Gallery.

Precious Metal Clay

I am an avid fan of Precious Metal Clay, also called PMC, a non-toxic material made by Mitsubishi Corporation. PMC is made of metal particles bound together in an organic binder which acts mostly like ceramic clay in its green state.

Then once it is fired in a kiln, the binder burns away and what is left is either fine silver or gold which can be worked in a traditional metalsmithing manner.

I am trained as a metalsmith, but I love working with the claylike functions of PMC, and can get very different results than I would get with metal sheet. Here are the top 10 reasons that I love to work with PMC.

Buy PMC and PMC supplies from Delphi Glass

City Style Slide
City Style Slide

What I Love About PMC #1-3

PMC is Non-Toxic

Reason #1:

I love that PMC is a non-toxic substance. With most art supplies, you are constantly taking your life in your hands. And that is true of jewelry making as well. PMC is totally non-toxic, safe for touching your bare skin. The binder is organic, and the smoke when it is burning away in the kiln is harmless. I can work with it in any room of my house including the kitchen.

Reason #2:

I don't need a lot of fancy tools to work with it. Although I prefer to use a kiln to fire PMC with, it can also be fired in a small hot pot that costs less than $100 (pictured above which can only be used with PMC3). Other than firing, tools can be anything from regular silverware to straws, plastic forks, toothpicks, and many other household items.

Reason #3:

PMC can be purchased in small quantities. I can buy one pack if that is all I need and one pack lasts me a very long time. I work pretty small, so I can easily get a lot of pieces from just one package.

Buy PMC+ (This is what I use the most)

This is the most common form of PMC. PMC+ is available as a Clay, Paste, or Sheet. It has a shrinkage rate of about 10%, and fires in 10 minutes in a kiln. Use the Paste to coat organic objects such as leaves or pine cones to create an exact replica in silver, or build it up around a completely organic form to create a hollow piece. The water-free Sheet won't break or crack and can be folded like origami paper. Note — Because PMC product is pure silver and gold, prices are subject to change based on market fluctuations.

Buy PMC Cubic Zirconia

Cubic Zirconia make wonderful decorative additions to PMC sculpture. Each is selected for its ability to remain stable and withstand the high temperature of kiln firing. They are one of the few crystal/glass products that can remain stable in the kiln environment.

Tim McCreight is the U.S. master of Precious Metal Clay. He is the authoritative voice in the field. Tim was the first person to really use it in the U.S. and has written most of the best books about it. PMC is still relatively new and much is still being discovered by jewelers and metalsmiths.

Working with Precious Metal Clay (Jewelry Crafts)
Working with Precious Metal Clay (Jewelry Crafts)

Tim McCreight has been working with PMC since it was first introduced to the US in 1994. As a consultant to the manufacturer he has studied with the scientists who invented PMC and leading artists as they pioneer uses of this radical new material. McCreight's years of teaching experience and signature lighthanded touch are evident on every page. He has written 10 other books on metalworking and is a consultant to numerous organizations and periodicals.

 

More Resources for PMC - Precious Metal Clay for the beginner

These books are all good guides and idea generators for working with PMC. After a while, you will want to come up with your own designs, but these will help get the techniques down.

The Art of Metal Clay (With Dvd): Techniques for Creating Jewelry and Decorative Objects
The Art of Metal Clay (With Dvd): Techniques for Creating Jewelry and Decorative Objects

Since it was first published in 2004, The Art of Metal Clay has introduced thousands of readers to metal clay—the amazing craft product that starts out as moldable, malleable clay and turns into real metal. Now it’s even easier to perform that modern alchemy, because something new has been added to The Art of Metal Clay: a great new DVD featuring author Sherri Haab. Haab’s personal appearances are popular with crafters eager for new information and ideas, and seeing her on televis...

 
Metal Clay Jewelry: Projects. Techniques. Inspirations.
Metal Clay Jewelry: Projects. Techniques. Inspirations.

Hot New Jewelry Making Material *Features innovative metal clay techniques not found in any other books *Perfect for every skill level--covering the basics through the cutting edge Polymer clay and jewelry artists are experimenting with metal clay more than ever, but there are few books on the market to show them how to use this exciting new medium. Highlights include: *19 fashionable step-by-step projects, including a variety of styles provided by both the author and talented contributing artis...

 
PMC Technic: A Collection of Techniques for Precious Metal Clay
PMC Technic: A Collection of Techniques for Precious Metal Clay

In this book, ten leading artists teach their specialty, with clarity, care, and passion. Innovative techniques are pesented with clear instructions and examples. Tonya Davidson: Using the PMC Syringe Celie Fago: PMC Hinges Jennifer Kahn: PMC Bezels Doris King: Fusing Sterling and PMC Terry Kovalcik: Viscosity Painting Noortje Meijerink: PMC on Ceramic Kelly Russell: Using Stencils with PMC Barbara Simon: Lampworking and PMC CeCe Wire: Water Etching on PMC J. Fred Woell: Coreless Beads

 
Enameling on Metal Clay
Enameling on Metal Clay

Love metal clay? Who doesn’t? Now Enameling on Metal Clay offers an exciting new technique to use with this versatile favorite. Enameling adds a whole new dimension to metal-clay jewelry. The striking, exciting projects in this book range in skill level from beginner to advanced and include earrings, pendants, pins, beads, and a ring. A tools and materials section, as well as metal clay and enameling basics, introduces key supplies and techniques. Easy-to-follow step-by-step directions are....

 
Metal Clay Beyond the Basics
Metal Clay Beyond the Basics

Combine amazing metal clay with ceramics, enamel, wire, gemstones, and more. Create earrings, bracelets, pendants, pins, clasps, and more. Combine materials for unique textures, shapes, and finishes. Push the creative envelope! Metal Clay: Beyond the Basics is the perfect book for crafters with some metal clay experience who want to take their skills to the next level. With information on basic tools and supplies, plus beginning, intermediate, and advanced techniques for using metal clay and....

 
Metal Clay and Mixed Media Jewelry: Innovative Projects Featuring Resin, Polymer Clay, Fiber, Glass, Ceramics, Collage Materials, and More
Metal Clay and Mixed Media Jewelry: Innovative Projects Featuring Resin, Polymer Clay, Fiber, Glass, Ceramics, Collage Materials, and More

Metal clay plus more, more, more! * Follow-up to the best-selling Art of Metal Clay * Author has sold more than two million books! * Metal clay is hot with crafters, artists--anyone who wants to try alchemy Metal clay starts as clay and turns into metal. Does it get any more magical? Now it does--with Metal Clay and Mixed Media. Author Sherri Haab takes this compelling material, today’s hottest craft item, to the next level, brilliantly combining it with other media ranging from the timeles...

 
Creative Metal Clay Jewelry: Techniques, Projects, Inspiration
Creative Metal Clay Jewelry: Techniques, Projects, Inspiration

Imagine a material that looks and feels like clay and yet, when fired, becomes pure, solid gold and silver! That’s metal clay, and here are the fabulous techniques and instructions, lavish photos and projects that will open up endless creative possibilities to every crafter. With this versatile product, metalwork becomes easier and faster, and it’s simple to create meaningful gifts or add techniques to the forms you’ve already mastered. Combine the clay with lampworked and fused d...

 
Metal Clay - The Complete Guide: Innovative Techniques to Inspire Any Artist
Metal Clay - The Complete Guide: Innovative Techniques to Inspire Any Artist

*Findings and supplies are readily available at chain and independent art stores, and online Ten years since its inception, metal clay is rapidly evolving, as thousands more artists yearn for more in-depth techniques. This thorough guide to metal clay jewelry features step-by-step instructions and basic information about materials and processes you can use as a beginner, or an advanced metal clay artist. From glass and polymer clay, to ceramics and everything in between, this book demonstrates....

 
Precious Metal Clay: 25 Gorgeous Designs for Jewelry and Gifts
Precious Metal Clay: 25 Gorgeous Designs for Jewelry and Gifts

Precious metal clay is an exciting new material made from fine silver dust in a binder that can be used just like ordinary modeling clay. However, once fired, the silver dust fuses together to become pure silver. This unique and versatile material gives crafters of all levels the opportunity to design and create unique silver jewelry--a technique once reserved only for trained silversmiths.Artist Xuella Arnold demonstrates how precious metal clay can be used alongside traditional methods of jewe...

 
PMC Decade
PMC Decade

It has been ten years since Precious Metal Clay was introduced in the United States, and it is time to see what artists have done with this fascinating material. This book gathers for the first time work made by leaders in the field. A critical essay by noted designer Donald Friedlich and a technical explanation from scientist Darnall Burks make this a landmark volume for artists and collectors.

 
Introduction to Precious Metal Clay
Introduction to Precious Metal Clay

Introduction to Precious Metal Clay from Wardell Publications art glass introduces precious metal clay, one of the most remarkable developments in silver and gold metal working since lost wax casting was developed thousands of years ago. An easy to understand teaching style is presented in this step by step book to guide crafters through the process of hand forming this remarkable clay material to produce distinctive silver and gold jewelry. Artist and instructor MaryAnn Devos uses 18 engaging p...

 
Precious Metal Clay In Mixed Media - Instruction & Jewelry Making
Precious Metal Clay In Mixed Media - Instruction & Jewelry Making

Precious Metal Clay in Mixed Media from Wardell Publications art glass introduces an innovative process from Precious Metal Clay that combines the playfulness of clay with the value and permanence of pure silver and 24K gold. It is a fun material to work with and is one of the worlds fastest growing hobbies largely due to the quick and easy learning curve. The 21 projects in this book were carefully selected to demonstrate the versatility of PMC and release the artist imagination to explore the....

 
Fine Silver Sampler: Introductory Precious Metal Clay Projects--Step by Step Guide for the Classroom or the Home
Fine Silver Sampler: Introductory Precious Metal Clay Projects--Step by Step Guide for the Classroom or the Home

Fun to read booklet introducing Precious Metal Clay (PMC), a wonderful new form of fine silver or gold. Step by step instructions and many photos show any beginner how to create beautiful silver and gold jewelry pieces without traditional metalworking experience. Booklet features 5 projects - "Ancient" Coin, Teardrop Pendant, Snowflake Ornament, Silver Crane Earrings and Silver Leaves with more ideas. PMC Tips, lists of resources, and many technical Tips are offered in addition to basic jewelry....

 
Creating With Precious Metal Clay
Creating With Precious Metal Clay

Creating with Precious Metal Clay offers in-depth discussion about Precious Metal Clay (PMC), along with over 200 color and black & white photographs. This book is divided into two sections. The first half gives all the information you need to work with PMC. The entire process is explained, including the types of PMC, tools, techniques, firing, and finishing. The second half includes 15 in-depth projects that allow hands-on experience. Some of the techniques taught include joining, texturing, dr...

 
Precious Metal Clay: Creative Projects for the Beginner
Precious Metal Clay: Creative Projects for the Beginner

Precious Metal Clay is a revolutionary new material developed in Japan. It contains microscopic particles of pure silver in a claylike substance. It can be rolled like cookie dough, cut with a cookie cutter, molded by hand or even thrown on a potters wheel. When fired the binder fires away and you are left with pure silver. This book contains over 30 easy projects from jewelry to embellished candles to decorated lampshades. There are also great party and gift ideas. Along with step by step proje...

 
Gorgeous Necklace
Gorgeous Necklace

PMC is Fun to Work With #4-6

PMC is extremely versatile

Reason #4:

PMC is fun to work with. It does take some practice to learn how to keep it from drying out, and to understand how it bonds together, and how it shrinks. But you always have to get to know any new medium.

Reason #5:

Precious Metal Clay lends itself to many different styles. I personally prefer an organic look in my work, and I can get that with PMC. But it is also possible to get a delicate filigree look, and a shiny polished look.

Reason #6:

PMC comes in several different varieties to work with. It comes in three different formulas with variations in shrinkage and firing temperatures. It is available in paste, lump, syringe, and paper--all which give the artist more ways to work with it.

PMC+ Sheet (This is really cool to try)

This is the most common form of PMC. PMC+ is available as a Clay, Paste, or Sheet. It has a shrinkage rate of about 10%, and fires in 10 minutes in a kiln. Use the Paste to coat organic objects such as leaves or pine cones to create an exact replica in silver, or build it up around a completely organic form to create a hollow piece. The water-free Sheet won't break or crack and can be folded like origami paper. Note - Because PMC product is pure silver and gold, prices are subject to change based on market fluctuations.

Designed in PMC, and then cast in fine silver.

Paula Atwell Jewelry

Needle Files - This is a necessary tool for working PMC

This is one set of tools that it is worth buying when working with PMC. The easiest time for finishing your piece is in its green state but you can also file it after firing.

Heart of Pearl Necklace
Heart of Pearl Necklace

There is No Limit to What You Can Make with PMC #7-10

PMC is fine silver which is 99.5% silver

Reason #7:

In its green state, once dry, PMC is easily smoothed, filed, and finished. Engraving can be added in its dry state. Shapes can be changed or modified. And it can be re-wet to continue working it wet or to bond another green piece to it.

Reason #8:

Firing is very easy. I prefer to use the kiln for firing. But you can fire some of the low temperature varieties with a torch or a small hot pot.

Reason #9:

Once you know how to use the material, it is much quicker to finish a piece then traditional metalsmithing. Much less sawing, soldering, and cleaning.

Reason #10:

It is compatible with so many other items like base metal, gold, polymer clay, found objects, sterling, and glass. I have added fused glass, gemstones, and watch parts to some of my pieces and fired them right into the piece.

Buy PMC Tools

Needle files are really important for working with PMC. You should get a basic set of 6 or 8 files.

PMC+

This is the most common form of PMC. PMC+ is available as a Clay, Paste, or Sheet. It has a shrinkage rate of about 10%, and fires in 10 minutes in a kiln.

This is definitely the best form for any PMC beginner to start with unless they don't have access to a kiln. PMC+ has to be kiln fired.

The reason I recommend this one is that it is the most versatile, it doesn't shrink very much, and of the three versions it is the easiest to work with and learn on. It also comes in all of the forms, lump, paste, syringe and sheet. You can get various size packages of PMC+ and price changes with the price of silver.

If you are planning to fire in a hot pot, then you need to get PMC3. Hot pots are only good to fire small pieces. PMC3 was designed to fire with fused glass at a lower temperature than PMC+, however that also cannot be done in a hot pot.

You can fire small pieces or veneers with a torch as well with PMC3 or PMC+.

Buy PMC3 Hot Pot Kits

Hot Pot Project Kit - These 3 refill kits include clay, instructions and tools to make a bead, a pendant or another earring and pendant set. These refill kits include clay, instructions and tools to make a bead, a pendant or another earring and pendant set. If you like working with kits to start out, this is a great way to go.

The Final Finish #11

After firing PMC

Reason #11:

(I know, I said 10)

My favorite part of working with Precious Metal Clay is finishing the piece after firing. My finishing technique is to polish pieces after firing until they have a high sheen. Then I decide how I want to add color. Some pieces are left the bright color. Others are changed to gunmetal gray.

The majority are oxydized with Liver Of Sulphur. Liver of Sulphur allows me to have a range of color from yellow to black with every color in between. I love to work with the Liver of Sulphur because I can such great colors on the silver. I never really know exactly how they will turn out, and that is part of the fun.

Buy Liver Of Sulphur

A chemical for antiquing copper and silver only. Changes color to darker shades from brown to black. Directions on label. 4 oz bottle.

Dremel Tools - Perfect for Working with Precious Metal Clay

A Dremel tool is a great addition to your tool collection for working with fired PMC. It is also good for a myriad of other uses, of course.

Polish Many Pieces at the Same Time

Use a tumbler

Buy Barrel Tumbler

This is the tumbler that I use to polish my finished PMC pieces. It also hardens the metal. It is nice and small and simple to use. You need to get stainless steel shot, do not get plain steel.

Uses 2 lb steel shot, sold separately.

© 2008 Paula Atwell

Have You Had Experience with PMC?

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    • profile image

      ohcaroline 4 years ago

      Very interesting post. I am wanting to get into jewelry making; so I will consider this avenue. Great resources.

    • SophiesWords profile image

      SophiesWords 5 years ago

      This is beautiful and informative. I'm very tempted to have a go myself - the results looks beautiful! Thank you.

    • earthybirthymum profile image

      earthybirthymum 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I have used pmc clay before. I hope to use it again soon. For now I'm working with Sterling silver and Copper.

    • profile image

      gemjane 5 years ago

      No, never heard of it, but it sounds cool!

    • Laniann profile image

      Laniann 6 years ago

      Beautiful jewelry. I haven't worked with PMC but, would like to.

    • profile image

      Mellony 6 years ago

      Great lens !

    • Rita-K profile image

      Rita-K 6 years ago

      I have always wanted to work with PMC, you have done an excellent job in giving me the much needed information to get started...thanks so much!

    • charliehorse1 profile image

      Charle 8 years ago from Northeast Florida

      I am trained and experienced as a weldor and metal fabricator. I am wondering if heli-arc is ever used in the jewelry making process. Being retired, I am fascinated at the prospect of taking up the PMC process and helping my wife who is doing very well beading and making jewelry. I am grateful for how well you have surveyed the subject and made the process accessible.

    • capriliz lm profile image

      capriliz lm 8 years ago

      You have made some beautiful pieces of jewelry! I am quite envious!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Very informative lens! Thank you so much for posting this. :)

      - Candice of Artsy * Tartsy * Jewels

    • Paula Atwell profile image
      Author

      Paula Atwell 8 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      [in reply to chefkeem] You are such a sweetheart, Chefkeem. Thanks.

    • Bellezza-Decor profile image

      Bellezza-Decor 8 years ago from Canada

      Informative lens! I've wondered how much it would cost to get all the material and equipment to start out making PMC. - 5*s, favorited, and lensrolled.

    • Mortira profile image

      Mortira 8 years ago

      Great exploration into PMC! I loved the photos of all the wonderful things you can create. 5 stars and a lensroll to my "Just Beads" lens!

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 8 years ago from Idaho

      Very beautiful jewelry, I had no idea what PMC was...I do now!

    • funwithtrains lm profile image

      funwithtrains lm 8 years ago

      Good stuff! 5 stars and a Digg!

    • chefkeem profile image

      Achim Thiemermann 8 years ago from Austin, Texas

      Ooops! Time flew by while I was immersed in this lens, reading every bit of it. So interesting - it looks like something I'd really like to do, if I had the time..lol

      You art is beautiful and this lens is a wonderful resource. 5*s and a Squid Angel blessing! :)

    • RuthCoffee profile image

      RuthCoffee 9 years ago

      The necklace in the Polaroid is stunning!

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Gorgeous jewelry. Makes me want to get my ears pierced.

    • VBright profile image

      VBright 9 years ago

      What Beautiful Jewelry! You are very talented.