An experiment in PMC - Precious Metal Clay

PMC or Precious Metal Clay is a clay made from very fine particles of a metal, such as silver, which are combined with a binder and can be used to mould or shape jewellery. The binder is then burnt off either in a kiln or with a torch (similar to torch used in kitchen for Creme Brulee) and the solid metal is left. This was my first time to use PMC to make jewellery as I normally use the 'lost wax' method or make the jewellery directly from cutting out silver sheet.

I started with earrings inspired by the poem "For Anne Gregory" by W.B. Yeats - in particular the lines:

'Never shall a young man, Thrown into despair By those great honey-coloured Ramparts at your ear, Love you for yourself alone And not your yellow hair.'

You can read more about this poem in one of my other blog posts.

The 'ramparts at your ear' reminded me of the hairstyle of Princess Leia from Star Wars (her 'cinnamon buns' as she called them) so I used wax wires to make a model of a bun of hair, which you can see in dark blue in Fig. 1. Then I used the model to make a mould from Siligum, which is a silicone moulding paste (Fig. 2). I then made two silver clay earrings using PMC Silver Clay. I left them to dry for about an hour in the mould so they shrank slightly and were easier to pop out (Fig. 3).

After I left them overnight to dry out completely I then fired them with a torch, bringing them first to a peach colour with the heat, and then holding them at that temperature for about two minutes (Fig. 4). As they are very small I had to be careful here not to melt them completely. Then I soldered posts to the back of them (Fig. 5) and finally I plated them in gold (Fig. 6).

And that's how I made "Golden Hair" stud earrings. Experiment successfully completed!

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