With Silver PMC ®
Silver PMC stands for "Precious Metal
Clay." Relatively speaking, Silver PMC is the new
kid of the block, having been developed in the early
1990s. (PMC is also available in 24- and 18-karat gold
Silver PMC was invented by Mitsubishi
Materials Corporation, a Japanese company.
Essentially, Silver PMC suspends small silver particles
of microscopic size (about 20 microns) in an organic
binder that has the look and feel of clay. This
clay can be molded and sculpted into virtually any form
with your hands or tools. As such, it can be used
to create jewelry, art pieces, and most anything else
that the mind can imagine. Silver PMC is so
versatile that it can be used to make silver parts that
are later soldered together.
The magic comes when the molding is done
and the piece is fired in a kiln. When the clay is
heated at the appropriate temperature, for the
prescribed length of time, the binder burns away,
leaving in its place a piece of art consisting of 99.9
percent silver. The resulting product will be
lighter and more porous than traditional silver,
however. As such, it will not be as strong.
At present there are six PMC products on
Silver PMC was the first
product. It has more binder in it than the
other PMC products. As a result, during the
firing process the final piece will shrink
(proportionately) by about 30 percent. Since
there is more binder in PMC, the material will be
easier to work with. However, firing at 1650
degrees Fahrenheit will take a couple of hours.
The final product also lacks the strength (because
of its lower density) to be used as a finding; it
would not be appropriate to use PMC to make a clasp
or toggle, for example. Silver PMC comes in
clay form only.
PMC+ combines more silver and
less binder to create a clay that is quite stiff.
As a result, the art piece shrinks less (about 10%)
and can be fired in just 10 minutes at 1650 degrees
Fahrenheit. The final object is also more
dense than one created with PMC, and as a result is
a bit stronger.
PMC3 can be fired at just 1290
degrees, which has some advantages at the finishing
stage. This product comes in thee forms: clay,
syringe and slip-paste. It has the same degree
of shrinkage as PMC+.
The company also produces three
silver art clay products, named ArtClay,
ACS Slow Dry and Artclay 650.
These products fire at an even lower temperature and
have the lowest shrinkage, at around 8 percent.
Since these products require such a low temperature
for firing, they allow for embedding other materials
into the art piece, and also make some enameling
For both quality and safety purposes,
firing should be done in equipment designed for the
task, such as a kiln, in a well ventilated area, and
according to the manufacturer's specifications.
The beautiful silver PMC pendant pictured
above comes from artisan Carol Augustine. Visit her site,
PMC Studio Art Jewelry.