I’ve always had a love of jewellery and have been stringing beads since I was knee high to a grasshopper. I have completed short courses in traditional silver techniques, beading and PMC to name a few. The rest I have learnt from good books and just playing about with things. Some of my favourite pieces come from a flash of thought, trial and error and sure determination to make something work.
Over the years I have come to love making jewellery with PMC (Precious Metal Clay). This medium is relatively new in jewellery making. PMC is made up of silver particles, binder and water. It comes in the form of a grey clay and you can manipulate it much like potters clay. Once you have made the piece you want, you leave it to dry then fire it. When fired the binder and water burn away leaving an object made up of fine silver (999 parts silver in 1000) which is purer than sterling silver (925 parts in 1000). This can then be polished or worked with like you would with regular silver.
Some of the more traditional jewellers may turn their noses up at PMC, saying it is not the right way to make jewellery but I say ‘go for it’. The beauty of PMC is that you need far fewer tools than you would using traditional techniques and it can be more forgiving for newbies because (up to a point) you can squish it back together and start again if you go wrong! You can even get away without having a kiln to fire the PMC. Some types of PMC can be torch fired so all you need is a butane torch (ones from B&Q work just as well as ones from jewellery supply shops) and a firing block. Oh, and a timer as you have to be pretty precise with this part of the creative process!
PMC brings back memories of playing with polymer clay as a child. You can roll it, cut it, imprint on it, add stones, pipe it, use cookie cutters…the limits are only what your mind can not imagine. PMC comes in many forms to help with your ideas as well. There is the standard lump clay, syringes, paste and even paper PMC. Each type can be used in different ways to make some truly unique jewellery.
One of the things I love about PMC is that I can use some of the traditional silver techniques that I have learnt as well. I can solder sterling silver pieces to my fired PMC to attach ear posts or cufflink parts. Combining PMC and silver is easy and effective. There is always something I learnt from each course I’ve done that goes into each finished piece of jewellery.
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