Precious Metal Clay (PMC) is made by Mitsubishi Materials Corporation in Japan using finely ground silver particles, a non-toxic organic binder and water.
During firing (using a butane gas torch or kiln) the binder burns off and the water evaporates, leaving a piece that is 99% pure silver. As such, it can be hallmarked as Fine Silver (.999).
There are four types of fine silver PMC Clay. Each has its own unique qualities. These are PMC3, PMC+, PMC Standard and PMC Gold.
There is also a fantastic new PMC Sterling clay, consisting of (.925) silver and can be hallmarked as Sterling silver.
Q & A
Q: How do you get the silver/gold into the clay?
A: In fact, it isn’t clay at all, but pure silver that has been finely ground and turned into a clay substance. When fired, the binder and water burn off returning it to its original state – Fine Silver.
Q: How does PMC differ from working with sheet silver?
A: PMC should really be seen as a complementary medium to Sterling Sheet. Sheet is ideal for creating large, smooth items. Due to the fact that it is sterling silver and because of the manufacturing process, sheet will be structurally stronger than PMC. However, PMC is ideal for creating patterns and textures as it can easily be moulded or sculpted. The use of certain construction methods and polishing means that most structural issues can be overcome.
Q: Can PMC be combined with other materials?
A: PMC can be combined with any other metal ranging from copper and brass to gold and platinum. You can solder onto PMC, pickle and oxidise it.
In addition, PMC can also be combined with glass and ceramics – basically with any material that can withstand a constant heat of 600˚C.
Q: How flexible is PMC?
A: One of the key advantages of PMC is the fact that it can be re-fired many times, which means that you can add it to an existing piece at any time. For example, if you are making a ring, you can create the band and the top separately. These can then be put together, using paste, before or after firing. And if you don’t like the result you can simply change it as many times as you like!
Q: Can PMC be hallmarked?
A: By law, items weighing more than 7.78g of silver, 1g of Gold and Palladium or 0.5g of Platinum need to be hallmarked if they are to be sold or exhibited as precious metal. Once fired all types of PMC silver can be hallmarked as Fine Silver and PMC 22K Gold as 22 Carat Gold. The PMC Studio recommends 3D laser hallmarking.
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