Thursday, March 4, 2010

Designing jewelry with Precious Metal Clay

Hi everyone!  As promised here are photo's from the beginning to end of my jewelry designing process.  I work with a material called precious metal clay (pmc).  PMC is a clay-like material that consists of very small particles of fine silver mixed with an organic binder and water.

Here is what the clay looks like when I take it out of the package:

As you can see, there are stacks of playing cards next to the clay.  I use the cards to ensure that the thickness of a piece is consistent.

 The next step is to roll out the clay and either stamp or carve out your design.

In this next photo you can see a piece of jewelry that I used a rubber stamp to create.

After I create the pieces of jewelry, I let them dry on a griddle.  Next the edges of the piece needs to be filed.  I use 3 different grade sand papers to achieve a soft finish without any rough edges.  Now I apply a design to the back side of the piece.  I use PMC that is available in a paper form, hole punches in various designs, a paint brush and water to apply the cutout to the clay.

Now the pieces are ready to go into the kiln to fire.  The PMC is fired at 1650 degrees for 2 hours.  After firing the binder and water burn away, leaving pure fine silver.  Here is what the silver looks like after it gets out of the kiln.

Now the silver must be brushed with a brass brush and tumbled in a tumbler for 2 hours.  This will bring out the high shine of the silver.

The next step involves using a antiquing solution called Black Max.  Which, you guessed it turns the silver black. 

 I have to admit, the next step is my least favorite...using 6 different grades of very fine sanding paper and a polishing cloth, I bring back the shine to the raised areas.  This whole process allows the antiquing solution to highlight the design area while still having a shine to the finished piece.

At this point, all your hard work is rewarded!  

Another part of my design process includes photo transfer...but I'll save that for another day!  Here is what the finished piece of jewelry looks like using the silver square frames and a little photo transfer work:

I have to say I enjoy all the steps of the process (except maybe that 6 step polishing process!).  I find that each time I create a new piece of jewelry I grow creatively.

 Thanks for visiting!  Please let me know if you have any questions or comments about the process.



Renze said...

I love that dog necklace...haven't seen it before! Was Scooby the model?

stacie said...

Of course Scooby was the model! It's actually an ankle bracelet, but can do a necklace too.

Lisa Dominy said...

Love your work! Thank you so much for sharing your process. Just took a class in glass fusing and purchased a kiln because I would be able to do pmc and enameling. But, now that I have my own kiln I am afraid to use it (irrational fear, I know), any tips for beginner pmc person?
Have been making jewelry for 15 years and studied metalsmithing and wire wrapping. Now I want to learn pmc because it will give me the ability to be more creative. Will you help me please?
My email is when you get a chance, I know you must be extremely busy. Any advice is much appreciated.
Kindest regards,