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PMC in General


#1

Hello,

Eight years after PMC became available, it’s still generating
energetic dialogue, isn’t it! And that’s a really good thing. It
deserves dialogue and experimentation that stretch the limits of
what’s currently being done…and isn’t that the way we want it for
any new technique?

I have been a working studio jeweler for more than 25 years and was
given the opportunity to work with PMC in 1996 at one of the Master
Classes that Tim McCreight was offering. Since then, I have been
teaching it’s use and, more importantly, it has become a staple in
my studio, for the following reasons:

  1. The process allows for the creation of three-dimensional forms
    that I cannot/did not make any other way. It has added to the visual
    and tactile impact of my work.

  2. If I want to produce multiples I can make them in metal clay
    (PMC) or I can make a model in PMC and cast it or send it out to be
    cast in whatever metal I prefer.

  3. I can achieve textures in metal that cannot be (easily, if at
    all) produced in any other way.

  4. Metal clay has, simply put, become just another technique in my
    arsenal of techniques. I know that PMC sounds like it is a
    ’material’ as opposed to a technique, but it’s really not. The
    ’material’ is really the fine silver or gold. With the addition of
    the binder+water, the metal becomes the technique or process, if you
    will.

  5. Ounce for ounce it IS more expensive than rolled sheet, but it
    can be used in ways that are economical, efficient and appropriate
    for metal clay.

  6. Metal Clay can be used along with traditional metalsmithing
    techniques to create pieces that are unique. The same careful
    consideration given to stonesetting, forming, finishing, etc., if
    given to the use of metal clays, can produce equally beautiful and
    interesting work.

Just one last note: The PMC Guild has an excellent and recently
redesigned website <www.pmcguild.com>. There’s an almost infinite
amount of about PMC, with some discussions re: Art Clay
(the competing brand of metal clay) as well. Many of the questions
that keep appearing in the Orchid Forum, have been asked and answered
on the Guild website. The Discussion Board is an open forum (you
don’t have to be a member of the Guild to access it). It’s not
expensive to join the PMC Guild and membership includes the
full-colour magazine of the guild, Studio PMC, which is published
quarterly.

Hope you find this helpful.

Linda Kaye-Moses


#2

Hi Linda,

I have as yet not started work in this area and before I do i want
to get as much knowledge from the people who are already worked with
it. Could you please elaborate on the point—

Ounce for ounce it IS more expensive than rolled sheet, but it can
be used in ways that are economical, efficient and appropriate for
metal clay.

Thanks. Hema


#3

Cheers back, Jeanette ! I enjoyed seeing your website. You might
remember me as the Lost Wax Casting instructor who took your class
in Falls Church. I’ve been following the very active discussion on
the PMC subject for a long time now. There seems to be only one item
that has never been mentioned, on the plus side of using the stuff,
vs. fabricating or working in wax and casting. That is the
heightened sense of instant gratification it gives. I can do all
the things Elaine mentioned for texturing in wax as well as PMC,
But it takes a lot longer to finished product. Were I a crafter, or
beginner looking for a pleasant material to work in, as opposed to
setting up a costly casting studio or sending the jobs out all the
time, there is no contest. I Love wax working. I Love casting. But
you know, there may come a day when I need to retire from all that
and PMC would still give me the pleasure of creating things in a
reduced space, at reduced cost, with reduced stress on my arthritic
hands. So, I’ve filed all the the wonderful McCreight
book, and the tool kit from you, for the day I downsize to an area
perhaps the size of a kitchen table. It is a perfectly valid material
for most things, done expertly, and certainly better than not messing
about in jewelry at all. Looking on the bright side.

Best wishes for your continued success,

Patricia Hicks,
still casting when possible


#4

Dear Hema et al,

You asked about my comments and, to be quite candid (without trying
to self-promote), using the clay economically, efficiently and
within the parameters of the what the clay can do is part of the
learning experience. It’s what my students learn in my workshops,
while I am teaching technique. Rather than try to elaborate here,
which would essentially involve teaching a workshop on this
discussion (pretty silly to try to do that), may I suggest that you
enroll in a PMC workshop near where you live. You can find
instructors on the PMC Guild website <www.pmcguild.com> for almost
every area of the United States, and, I believe abroad as well.

A 31 gram package of Original Fine Silver PMC costs $32.50 USD from
Rio. You can compare that with the cost of sheet Fine Silver
yourself (it does vary, of course, but it never costs what PMC costs
weight for weight). What you are paying for with PMC is the various
ways that it can used and it’s immediacy (see all the other postings
for all the other benefits).

On another note:

Let me comment here on the negative postings re: PMC on this site.
New concepts are not always good concepts, but closing one’s mind to
new concepts (like PMC), without fully exploring the benefits,
counters the very nature of the creative mind. Prejudice, in any
form, is a waste of human intelligence, energy and emotion. Bullying
via insult is coercive and nonproductive.

All of us jeweler/metalsmiths use whatever tools and materials we
need to create the end product…objets that are pleasing to us and,
hopefully, to others. PMC is JUST ONE OF THOSE TOOLS. It can be used
well. If it does not satisfy one’s artistic vision at first, there
are two choices: (1) perhaps further exploration would result in
more expert and satisfying results; (2) it may not be a suitable
technique to reach one’s goals. Just as a pitch bowl and chasing
tools do not deserve to be demeaned simply because the end results
might not be satisfying first time out, neither does metal clay
deserve that approach. A tool is a tool…and a poor
(uninformed/uneducated) craftsperson blames the tool for her/his own
inadequacies in it’s use.

Ok, I’ll get off the soapbox, now!,
Linda Kaye-Moses


#5
A 31 gram package of Original Fine Silver PMC costs $32.50 USD
from Rio. You can compare that with the cost of sheet Fine Silver
yourself (it does vary, of course, but it never costs what PMC
costs weight for weight). 

OK, I know a lot has been said pro and con PMC here and elsewhere,
but there is one issue I haven’t seen addressed. Fine silver and
pure gold have very few realistic jewelry applications because they
are so soft - that is why we have alloys of these metals. When I’m
buying metal for my designs, I don’t consider fine silver (except
for bezels or weaving chains). How is PMC different in this regard
(or is it?). Donna

SilverSorceress Designs
Unique, handcrafted Silver and Gemstone Jewelry
http://www.silversorceress.com/

19 Bomarc Rd.
Bangor, ME 04401
207-947-6200


#6

Hello,

Andy Cooperman wrote,

Exploring, discovering and exploiting the idiosyncrasies of the
material, ie its "clayiness" might open the door to innovation

This is an important point that Andy made. We are still at the 'dawn’
of PMC exploration; we are learning what can (and cannot) be done
using metal clay. Improvement in design and technique comes as a
result of experimentation and experience, in any medium.

Noel Yovovich wrote,

    I can understand  not liking much (most?) of what is done in
it. I even agree that most of the metal clay work out there is
clumsy and amateurish. (Though I think it could be said that
there's an awful lot of bad crap in virtually every medium. Nobody
condemns oil paint despite the unbelievably bad work that is
created using it!).

He’s right…in any art form, from metalsmithing to ceramics, from
oil painting to sculpture, from poetry to music, 90% of everything
is crap. It’s the possibility of creating the 10% that isn’t crap
that keeps artists doing what they do…making ‘stuff’. The garbage
can mutate into good art as the result of becoming proficient in our
techniques, observant in our design sense, responsible to our media,
centered in our hearts, and clear about what we want to say in our
art (whether simply to express the beautiful in our world, to
describe the ugly, to declare our politics, whatever we want/need to
say). We do what we do over and over again until it works!

Brian said, "Most important - to me at least - is that it can’t be
engraved!

Well…that’s not true. I have engraved on fired PMC+. It takes a
different touch, but it is engravable. Now…I’m not a proficient
engraver, but I was able to engrave a very simple design on a ring
made from PMC+. I admit it publicly here. But, if I can engrave on
PMC, then a really accomplished engraver ought to be able to work
wonders. We are finding the limits of what PMC (and other metal
clays) can do, and not a day goes by that someone figures out how to
approach the use of metal clay in new and imaginative ways.

richard hart wrote,

A while ago there was a thread about how to label yourself as metal
artist, silversmith, goldsmith, ect.  If you work in pmc, how do we
refer to what is done as opposed to those who use metal working
techniques to achieve their goal. Fabrication and casting are metal
working techniques in my opinion, working with pmc is more similar
to ceramics. PMC is not metalsmithing.

Who cares what one calls oneself…the work one does, the jewelry or
sculpture in metal, whatever, is what defines you.

Richard again,

Those of us who have spent years (20-30) learning how to work with
metal might be prejudice because pmc does not require the time and
discipline required to achieve results that fabrication or casting
requires.  PMC has resulted in a sort of dumbing down of a medium
that at one time required perseverance and skill to overcome
obstacles. 

I have spent 25+ years working as an artist making jewelry (I don’t
know what to call myself, hope that works). I don’t consider the
work I do with metal clay undisciplined or dummied down. And when I
teach I don’t dummy down techniques and I know this is true for
other instructors teaching metal clay use. One teaches/uses any new
tool at a skill level appropriate for the student or oneself. As a
result of perseverance and skill overcoming the obstacles inherent
in any learning experience, each day brings progress to another
level.

Richard again wrote, “I doubt if I will be PMCing”

There is no need for you to use metal clay, IF YOU DON’T FEEL THE
NEED. However, if you have not learned to use it, please don’t feel
you have the necessary to make an informed pronouncement
about what metal clay can or cannot do. I’m surprised every time I
sit down at my bench, with metal clay and with fabrication
techniques.

Come on folks, there’s a good reason to keep an open mind,
especially for artists. It allows all kinds of exciting ideas,
concepts, imaginings, and fantasies in to shake up the synapses,
wake up one’s subconscious and add to the skills and techniques one
can incorporate into one’s work. Metal clay is just one more way to
add innovation. Let your imagination get you around the
mindblocks…the resentment, the prejudices.

Tha’s all,
Linda Kaye-Moses
"Fear is the darkroom where negatives develop"


#7
    A 31 gram package of Original Fine Silver PMC costs $32.50 USD
from Rio. You can compare that with the cost of sheet Fine Silver
yourself (it does vary, of course, but it never costs what PMC
costs weight for weight). What you are paying for with PMC is the
various ways that it can used and it's immediacy (see all the other
postings for all the other benefits). 

It is hard enough to make any money when selling silver jewelry due
to the perception that " it is only silver" even though the labor
involved is in most cases equivalent to that of other jewelry
materials like gold or platinum. So when a company sells you silver
at over 3 times the market rate it makes it even harder to justify
using PMC for anything but your own amusement. There is nothing
wrong with this but I find it hard to look at it as a "Professional"
material. I am familiar with the cost of having silver powder made,
I currently have about a kilo of it that I had atomized for some
experiments I am working on. It is not very expensive to have the
appropriate powder made and the binder is cheap so it comes down to
Mitsubishi positioning it to sell into the hobbyist, enthusiast
market which is not as price sensitive as the limited production or
manufacturer markets. This marketing position is one of the reasons
I have a hard time taking PMC seriously.

On another note:
Let me comment here on the negative postings re: PMC on this site.
New concepts are not always good concepts, but closing one’s mind to
new concepts (like PMC), without fully exploring the benefits,
counters the very nature of the creative mind. Prejudice, in any
form, is a waste of human intelligence, energy and emotion. Bullying
via insult is coercive and nonproductive.

I love learning new things, and I have been studying powder
metallurgy for several years now because it is one of the few
places to learn about diffusion bonding, the understanding of which
is central to my work. So I have nothing against PMC because it is
new. I am not certain if this is directed at me but whether it is or
not I am not certain where the “Bullying” or “Prejudice” or "Insult"
is in the conversation we have all been having about PMC . Are you
saying that I cannot have an opinion that differs from yours without
being a bully or prejudiced? I feel that my opinions on PMC are just
as valid and legitimate as yours.

    All of us jeweler/metalsmiths use whatever tools and materials
we need to create the end product...objets that are pleasing to us
and, hopefully, to others. PMC is JUST ONE OF THOSE TOOLS. It can
be used well. If it does not satisfy one's artistic vision at
first, there are two choices: (1) perhaps further exploration would
result in more expert and satisfying results; (2) it may not be a
suitable technique to reach one's goals. Just as a pitch bowl and
chasing tools do not deserve to be demeaned simply because the end
results might not be satisfying first time out, neither does metal
clay deserve that approach. A tool is a tool...and a poor
(uninformed/uneducated) craftsperson blames the tool for her/his
own inadequacies in it's use. 

Up until the last sentence I agree with this last paragraph. But
just because I do not sing the praises of PMC doesn’t mean that I am
uninformed, uneducated or that my skills are inadequate. Many folks
have found that they like PMC as a tool and that is wonderful. But
just because you like it doesn’t mean it does not have some
significant issues with its use in jewelry making. Some like
shrinkage can be dealt with by proper design and also have been
addressed to a certain degree by the manufacturer with newer
formulations of PMC. Some like its density and strength cannot be
addressed without sintering dies and hot presses or other means of
constraining the PMC during firing which are economically unfeasible
for a studio metalsmith. And in my opinion Mitsubishi’s pricing of
the material is just too high for what it is.

Jim Binnion

James Binnion Metal Arts
Phone (360) 756-6550
Toll Free (877) 408 7287
Fax (360) 756-2160


@James_Binnion
Member of the Better Business Bureau


#8

Whoops, I should’ve qualified my statement about engraving PMC.

Of course you can make some kind of marks on it with a sharp graver

  • I just wasn’t satisfied with the results I got.

Since the piece I cut was made elsewhere, I have no idea which brand
or number it was made of. All I can tell you is that the lines that
I cut into it (I work under a microscope) were “muddy” - not crisp.
There was also a tendency to tear coming out of a cut - or crumble
and mash in a sharp turn.

To me these are not desirable engraving characteristics. Perhaps
others are satisfied. I was not.

B.


#9

I’ve never posted here before. I love both fabricated metal and PMC
for many wonderful reasons. I just thought I’d toss out two artist
websites as examples of inspiring work with metal clay. I’m not
certain, but I believe they both have or still are metalsmiths which
informs their work in a lovely manner. Thank you for all the
I’ve gleaned from lurking here as a beginner.

http://home.hawaii.rr.com/energies/jewelry.html Gordon K. Uyehara
http://www.celiefago.com/ Celie Fago

Respectfully,
Tonya Miller


#10

PMC is wonderful stuff, it is an exciting medium for expression of
creativity, there are no limitations to the material except the
limitation of the mind of the person exploring the possibilities,(as
per the defense by those enamored).

I make a motion to drop the subject, except for technical exchange
of

Anyone care to second?

Richard Hart


#11
When I'm buying metal for my designs, I don't consider fine silver
(except for bezels or weaving chains). How is PMC different in this
regard (or is it?). 

It’s less dense than fine silver, it will break if slightly stressed.
PMC plus or PMC3, unless fired at the highest temperature for the
longest time (1650 F/2 hours) will break! In MY OPINION, I would
never use PMC for findings, jump rings, or anything that will
be under stress.


#12
I make a motion to drop the subject, except for technical exchange
of Anyone care to second? 

Now, Richard :-). Why ever would you want to cut short this
discussion (not that anything short of running out of steam would
accomplish that)? There have been some brilliant, thoughtful and
hilarious posts (some of which, like David Huffman’s, fall into all
three categories). Hopefully there will be a lot more. As long as
we all observe basic courtesies (and I’m sure Hanuman would spank us
if we didn’t :-), let this thread go on forever! If you really don’t
enjoy the debate, tune it out. The delete button is just a fingertip
away.

Cheers,
Beth


#13

Tonya -

http://home.hawaii.rr.com/energies/jewelry.html Gordon K. Uyehara
http://www.celiefago.com/ Celie Fago 

Thank you so much for posting those links. I have seen Celie’s work
before, but Gordon’s work is breathtaking (in my opinion, of
course). I’ve never seen PMC so masterfully used.

Linda


#14
   When I'm buying metal for my designs, I don't consider fine

silver (except for bezels or weaving chains). How is PMC different
in this regard (or is it?).

It's less dense than fine silver, it will break if slightly
stressed. PMC plus or PMC3, unless fired at the highest temperature
for the longest time (1650 F/2 hours) will break!  In MY OPINION, I
would never use PMC for findings, jump rings, or anything that will
be under stress. 

OK, but that still doesn’t answer my question. My point was that
most metalsmithing is done with alloys of silver and gold (sterling,
karat gold) because the pure silver or gold is too soft and
malleable to hold it’s shape for most jewelry applications (bails,
wire embelishments, castings). I use sterling for these things, not
fine silver. Why is it that fine silver in metalsmithing
applications is considered inferior to sterling for durability
reasons, when PMC apparently is not?

Donna

SilverSorceress Designs
Unique, handcrafted Silver and Gemstone Jewelry
http://www.silversorceress.com/
19 Bomarc Rd.
Bangor, ME 04401
207-947-6200


#15

This is the first time I’ve posted, here, and I just want to clarify
some things regarding metal clay. PMC is a brand name. It is,
currently, one of TWO brands of metal clay on the market. The other,
Art Clay Silver, is also 99.9% fine silver after firing. They are
similar products, not identical, but using PMC to refer to the medium
is a misnomer. The medium is metal clay, and using “PMC” to encompass
the medium is like using Coca Cola to refer to all cola drinks. I
would very much appreciate everyone’s cooperation in being more
specific in your reference to the medium in the future. Especially
since Art Clay has such incredible artists, like Gordon Uyehara,
whose work rivals anything traditional metalsmithing has to offer.

Jackie Truty
President, Art Clay World, USA


#16

Hi everyone, Just read through David’s posting and can totally
understand where he is coming from. I think that there is a lack of
respect for skilled workers in all areas not only the jewellery
sector. Art for example, someone puts a few scribbles on a bit of
canvas and it has clever marketing and sells for a ridiculous sum
while someone who does meticulous wonderful work struggles to put
food on the table. Humans are fickle creatures and the tougher times
get economically the worse it is.

I have huge respect for my jeweller and his skills and if I can’t
afford to pay him what he is worth I wait and save up till I can. It
is downright disrespectful to try and bargain down in price
someone’s work skills.

I get the odd idiot who comes into my workshop and gives me a
roughed out carving and say’s " can you just polish it I have done
the carving work I just need it polished" I would do it myself you
know if I had the tools blah blah blah " can I pick it up
tomorrow??? it shouldn’t cost too much seeing as I have already
carved it, you only need to buff it up a bit.

As you can imagine I try and resist the temptation to throw the
piece of junk back at them and tactfully decline the job, I refuse
to justify my fees any more and I am just way to busy to bother with
these fools, I have a million other more important things I would
rather do such as clipping my toes nail ect ect.

I don’t think anyone who works with PMC pretends to be a trained
jeweller {a lot are though} but I think the public should be make
aware of what PMC is especially if it is sold and displayed with
hand fabricated jewellery work.

People love to create and if PMC helps them that’s good and I think
you will find it will lead a lot of them to can I say real
"Jewellery work"as I see jewellers anyway.

That’s my two bobs worth today from Lightning Ridge were the weather
is a lovely 32 degrees c and you wouldn’t be dead for quids.

Christine


#17
    Why is it that fine silver in metalsmithing applications is
considered inferior to sterling for durability reasons, when PMC
apparently is not? 

Donna, I think you will find that it isn’t the fine silver, itself,
that is in question in this discussion. Rather, it is the medium of
PMC, et al, and it’s relative ease of use, versus those who have
developed fabrication skills over many years, and/or artistic
academic accomplishment. I laughed and laughed at the idea that an
academic degree can make one a good artist. Just as the idea that a
G.G. degree automatically makes one a top-notch gemologist. This
thread is ample fodder for my funny bone.

James in SoFl


#18

Hi All;

I’m glad so many of you responded that you enjoyed my little madness
on PMC and the world of jewelry and metalsmithing. I really thank
you all. I’m a little concerned that I might have hurt the feelings
of some of us who are working in twisted wire, PMC, beads, dichroic
glass, etc. Actually, I hope I don’t sound patronizing, but my only
problem with those medium is that it takes a little more for me see
them as vehicles for significant artistic accomplishment (which is
something I’m sort of stuck on). I think I need to see people work
pretty hard at challenging themselves with those things. I’m not
saying that it can’t be done. And I’m not saying you don’t belong
here if you aren’t grinding away full time trying to be a
jewelry/metalsmithing virutuoso. Please enjoy. But please, challenge
yourselves from time to time. I can respect that. Those are the
people I will be eager to share all the knowlege I can with. That
said, perhaps I also offended some of the artists and traditional
jewelers as well. Well, I promised I would. But don’t you agree,
we sometimes take ourselves just a bit too seriously? But finally,
the only people I don’t have respect for are people who are lazy and
selfish, so who cares about them, right?

But finally, there are two issues I’d like to see rise out of this
PMC in General thread. I believe one issue is of the intrinsic value
of different media and methodology. I think it boils down to this.
How to people see the value of “mastery” of ones media? Is there
still a point, as I believe there is, or at least a virtue, in doing
something really difficult until you reach a point where you make it
look easy? Have we deconstructed that meaning completely away? Does
PMC really threaten such a value, or does it really only threaten the
affirmation of that value in the marketplace? Is making a living a
separate issue? Well, it’s a rhetorical question, really.

Overlapping it somewhat is yet another area of interest, to me, at
least. That’s this whole shake-out that seems to have affected the
craft market itself. It’s always creeping into one Orchid thread
after another. I wonder if there’s someone out ther with a PhD in
MacroEconomics who has written something in plain english that
explain where the whole economy is going and why. I’ve posted about
Gersham’s Law before, but it’s a phenomenon, not a primary cause, I
think. Is what we are seeing a leveling of the value of labor across
the board, with the advent of a world market, to something closer to
what that value has always been in the so called “third world”? I’ve
always marveled at what people in other countries were making for so
little money. Such an amazing discrepency between the beauty and the
monetary value. Is that what we can expect for all of us?

David L. Huffman


#19

I think there should be an Orchid Award for the person who manages
to be both the craziest and the sanest among us, as well as the
funniest, the smartest, and the baaaadest. I nominate David Huffman.
How he got what the dog does past Hanuman’s snip is beyond me.

I have no desire to respond to David’s post, only to applaud a
bravura performance. I just want to express my bemusement over the
classification of PMC as a “tool.” Isn’t it a medium? Isn’t this why
people are freaking out? A new medium has been introduced and it
allows people like me to “express our creativity” in precious metals
without either Major F…ing Attitudes in metalsmithing or years at
the bench or even an art-center fabrication class (I do have some of
the latter, but I wouldn’t have to). It allows ceramic artists, with
years at the kiln (the banding wheel?), to make precious metal
jewelry, because the medium requires a skill set much closer to the
one they have been perfecting, than to the one you develop at the
bench. That’s why my recommendation to Hema, who started this thread,
was that she study ceramics.

My jewelry-making started with ceramics (and with very little
encouragement from my ceramics teachers or fellow clay-workers, who
mostly thought I was nuts). Like Celie Fago, who started in polymer
clay (after, please note, a lifetime as a visual artist, so don’t get
snotty), I realized that I needed other skills in order to make
complete pieces that fulfilled my vision. And then this new medium
arrived from Japan. If most ceramicists didn’t think making jewelry
is a wacko waste of time, there could be some really baaaad PMC
pieces out there.

As it is, someone like Gordon Uyehara is the real danger–one of
those people with a wild imagination who took time off from a
straight career to explore his creativity and has managed to master
this new medium. And now he’s learning metalsmithing! What if he’s a
"natural" and manages to master in a year what has taken some
Orchidians decades?

I conclude, with David: get over it. What I think of the world
capitalist system won’t make it past Hanuman’s snip, so just read
between David’s lines and you’ll know. It’s a lot easier to attack
upstart “artists” who are having fun already than to go after the
root of the problem. One way or another, we are all likely to end up
in the dustbin of history. Is modernism dead? If it isn’t, it will be
soon!

But Orchid is alive! Let’s keep it well, too…

Lisa Orlando
Aphrodite’s Ornaments
Elk, CA


#20
        Why is it that fine silver in metalsmithing applications
is considered inferior to sterling for durability reasons, when PMC
apparently is not? 

I think you will find that it isn’t the fine silver, itself, that is
in question in this discussion.

Maybe it should be. It doesn’t seem to be a small thing, in my
opinion. But no one seems to want to admit that fine silver is a poor
material to make into the body of a piece of jewelry. Why is that?
For this reason I consider PMC to be in the “hobbyist” category.