Friday, December 15, 2006

Working in Precious Metal Clay

Recently I have added PMC (Precious Metal Clay) to my repertoire of design work! Interestingly, working in Polymer Clay and lampworking hot glass has honed special skills sets that have readily transfered to work with this new form of expression in one of a kind, art quality, jewelry. With careful planning and selection of materials, it is possible to bring into reality those designs circling in my mind, trying to find a way out.
Natural gemstones have inclusions that cause them to behave very badly (cracking and exploding) in the high heat that is required to reduce PMC to pure fine metals of Silver and of Gold. With this in mind, turning to lab created stones is a natural step in bring nice quality faceted gemstones into play with PMC. Also, art glass and a wider variety of glass enamel work may be added to the palette of an artist to allow for a broader and more exciting enhancement of artistic self expression!
In this necklace, a stick of Oak, a fabulous dichroic art glass cabochon by Carolyn Relei, an Oriental Jasmine Leaf, and three lab created gemstones are used to create a pendant in Fine Silver with PMC3. The stick of Oak and Jasmine leaf were coated with PMC3 paste multiple times with a thorough drying between each layer, then fired in a kiln to burn out the organic materials. Once the organic materials have been burnt away, what is left is a Fine Silver (99.9: pure) .... highly elevated from what is available in the way of Sterling Components on the market, with artistic value, one of a kind embellishment, and much less tarnishing than found with Sterling Silver.

Leaves of Morning Glories from my garden made beautiful Fine Silver leaves. Lots of detail in strong veining and an elegant heart shape render enchanting components for jewelry design. The leaves are combined here as accents for color change Sapphires and Sterling Silver. Often, elements for design that can be used with PMC may be found as near as your doorstep or back yard! It is my feeling that when you open your eyes to the real world most near you, some part of that world will stroke a creative spark, offer a special artistic element, and offer what is an inspired work ( the best kind of work).

Using Textured plates above and below a layer
PMC can deliver and interesting contrast that
adds excitement or at the very least more visual
interest to a piece of jewelry,such as a pendant.
Lab created Amethysts are used here in cabochon
and faceted ovals to a soothing color, and a round
faceted Cubic Zirconium brings additional texture
light refraction, and color to the overall composition.


There are several resources available for
about using PMC including
websites and really fine publications! I recommend:

1. "Creative Metal Clay Jewelry", by CeCe Wire
2. "Introduction to Precious Metal Clay", by Mary
Websites that I have found valuable are:
1. Excellent resource for working PMC
2. A nice compilation of information and tutorials on how to use PMC in several different ways by a dear friend, Margaret Schindel!