Original PMC — Some Retro Metal Clay

The original PMC silver was one of (maybe the) first commercially available metal clays.  It isn’t being made anymore, for a variety of reasons. For one thing, it took two hours at 1650 degrees for it to sinter. For another, the final product was quite soft — too soft for, for example, a ring or a cuff.

That is not to say that PMC did not have its charms. One was that it shrank about 25%. On first glance, a lot of shrinking might sound bad. However, it gives you the ability to produce some incredibly fine detail in your work. A fine texture, when applied to the wet clay, produces something that is utterly amazing when it winds up fired.

I recently found an envelope of the original PMC silver. While I probably won’t find any more, I thought I would share what I did. After all,  you might come on some original PMC. If you do, there are lots of things you can do with it.

The first thing I made was a commission. A client wanted an octopus pendant and earring set. The pendant would not be a problem — just make an octopus. The earrings were a challenge. If I made them two dimensional, they just didn’t look right. If I made them three dimensional, they would be too heavy. Original PMC to the rescue! I could make a pair of three dimensional octopus earrings with Original PMC, then they would shrink enough to not be too heavy to wear.

First, I found a mold that had two octopus designs on it. In one design, the octopus had dangling tentacles. In the other, they were wrapped around the body. Attaching a circle to the back of the pendant to fasten the bail to, I made earrings and pendant. The greenware is below.


I fired at the required temperature for the required time and tumbled. The pieces that came out of the tumbler looked like this:


Finally, I applied a patina and attached findings. I chose to leave the circle behind the dangling octopus’ head shiny, for contrast. The coin is for scale, showing how small these pieces are.


Now, I had just a little original PMC left over. If I didn’t use it, it would dry out. I decided to make an Egyptian themed piece.

I had a mold of an Egyptian lotus blossom. Carrying the theme of ancient construction, I made a background that looked like stonework. The greenware is below.


After firing and tumbling, it looked like this:


After applying a patina and attaching chain and pinch bail, I wound up with this:


While I am glad we have more modern forms of metal clay, I kind of miss the original. It let you do extremely fine work. Also, it was quite good for carving.

Should you happen to find some original PMC silver, I hope you will explore how its limitations can be used as an artistic statement.

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