Precious metal clay, or PMC, is an exciting material developed and patented in the 1990s by Mitsubishi Materials of Japan. Microscopic particles of silver are mixed with a moist binder to create a material that has the feel and working properties of modeling clay. Using simple tools, objects are easily given shape, texture, and character. After drying, the objects are heated to temperatures approaching the melting point of the metal, where the particles fuse together, or “sinter,” to make a dense, fully metallic object. Fired PMC objects can be polished, soldered, enameled, and enjoyed like any other silver item. Metal clay is available in a variety of metals including fine silver, 22k gold, copper, bronze, white bronze, steel and just recently, sterling sliver is available.
I have dedicated a corner of my living room to my work bench and my little blue Paragon kiln sits on a table on my back porch. I use a wide variety of techniques to create my jewelry including rolling, using textures I create in polymer clay, free form hand building, dry construction, making molds from items I find or shapes I first create in polymer clay, etc. Basically, anything you can do with clay, you can turn into solid metal! There are some structural limitations that you must pay attention to due to the fragility of some metals, but the possibilities are really endless!
If you are at all comfortable working with clay in any form, you will quickly find great satisfaction in working with metal clay. There are a few tricks to learn and hundreds of techniques that vary as widely as the artists using it. For the first year and a half of working with metal clay, I was self taught from books, websites and YouTube videos! Last summer I took a two day Level 1 Certification course and learned even more. But truthfully, the Internet is so full of information, inspiration and support, that you might find all you need online.