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PMC tools


#1

I have become intrigued with the idea of PMC but know little about
it. Is there anyone who might enlighten me about what tools would be
inexpensive, but necessary in the creation of clay based silver? What
books would you recommend that I read? I live in Maine and there are
very few outlets to take courses in silver smithing. I was thinking
of going to Calif. this summer to take a class at the Revere
Institute…provided I can get in. However, that would require time
and money…which a laid off college teacher has some and none of in
that order. I understand that one can use a torch to fire some of
the precious metal clay products but I just have an acetylene torch
and don’t know if that would work. I suspect that I have to buy a
kiln. I know nothing about kilns save that paragon is a good product
to look at. If I need a kiln, does anyone know where I can get one
that can be used with pmc and be appropriate for a beginner in the
field? Lots of questions but I have found this site is the best place
for honest, forthright and detailed answers. regards, Barbara


#2

Hi, Barbara,

You’re so lucky to live in Maine! I get the impression that your
state is just full of fabulous metalsmiths. One of the best I know
is Pauline Warg of Warg Enamel & Tool Center, 10 Oak Hill Plaza,
Scarborough, ME 04074. Phone is 207-885-9382. Pauline is the author
of the book Making Metal Beads. She teaches out of her store. Her
classes cover traditional metalsmithing techniques, enameling, and
metal clay. She’s very talented, a great teacher and a really nice
person. If you don’t live near Scarborough, I’m sure she’d be happy
to talk with you about your questions and might even be able to
recommend a teacher who is close to you.

There are many wonderful books out about metal clay. I’d suggest
Metal Clay, the Complete Guide by Jackie Truty, both of Hadar
Jacobson’s books, and PMC Technic to get you started.

To do really interesting work with metal clay, I do think you have
to have a kiln. It may be that you live near someone who has one who
would be willing to fire things for you for a small fee. You can
torch fire small pieces with a small creme brulee torch & I’d assume
you could do it with an acetylene torch as well. Paragon makes a
great kiln.

Good luck!
Jonna


#3

I found a used kiln on ebay cheap and have been using it to both
lost wax cast burnout and pmc firing there are some excellent ways to
get started cheaply.

I was a sculpture major in college so I can tell you it is different
than working with clay, but you can get used to it and adapt. I love
it for doing masters for my casting. I have done some one of a kinds
comission pieces too

The tools you need most are the 2 dollar storage things to keep it
moist and the roll out surface is nice to have but you can sculpt
with anything dental tools tooth picks (soak them then flatten the
ends and snip if need be and I use a scribing tool the most has a
nice metal sharp point cleans well. nail setters from the hardware
store make nice impressions to set bezel cups into all in all you can
go as cheap as you want to start the most imprtant thing is the kiln.

Tim McCreight has a book on working with PMC I am sure there are
others.

I too live far away from the courses offered by Orchid members but
if you can do it I suggest take as many classes as you can. I intend
to keep learning for a lifetime.

Teri Davis
Cornelius’s Pick


#4

I would just like to reiterate how fabulous Pauline is. I’ve taken
severalof her classes - she has a great learning studio and has
always been willing to answer all of my questions. Warg Enemel &
Tool Center is the best! If you are near Scarborough, she is an
excellent resource!

Terri


#5

Barbara - I teach pmc classes and in the beginning I learned from a
book after a few years I took a class only because I wanted to teach
pmc. There are several books out there for beginning pmc and they
are all fine. The supplies you need are at the hardware store. Many
of my students use a small refillable butane torch which costs 5-7$.
Just follow the books instructions on firing. I fire everything in a
kiln which is more accurate but I alreadyhad a kiln and a kiln is a
major purchase that is not necessary for a beginner. You may be
surprised if you check the pmc guild website that is a class closer
to you. Many technical colleges offer metal working classes and
workshops. I would be shocked if there is not anything available. Rio
Grande jewelry supply offers classes around the country too. Look at
their website under education in motion. I recommend buying a PMC for
beginners book and going to Home Depot.

Have fun!


#6

Dear Barbara

I have done PMC on and off for a few years. It was the catalyst for
me to become a silversmith. Which is my job now. A couple of things.
I went to Revere three years ago. Had a great time, learn from Alan
Revere. Got offered a job right out of the gate. That is how well
known the quality of student graduating for Revere is and how trusted
Alan Revere is in the industry for teaching top quality silversmiths.
Now to PMC. Try this link http://www.pmcguild.com/ all basic info on
"how to" and local chapters. I am part of the North East Ohio
Chapter. Have a meeting tomorrow. I don’t do much PMC anymore.I am in
to cutting stones and making high end gold jeweleryand I work for a
jeweler doing custom work and repair. So I am selling my Paragon PC-2
programmable Kiln for $400.00 plus shipping. It is used and in great
condition. If you go to www.riogrande.com and look up this number
703117 that is what I have, though mine is white not blue.

Hope this helps. Tim


#7
I have become intrigued with the idea of PMC but know little about
it. Is there anyone who might enlighten me about what tools would
be inexpensive, but necessary in the creation of clay based
silver?... 

Hi Barbara - You could use a small hand-held butane torch for small
pieces of PMC, which is cheap enough to buy - also you can fire PMC
pieces on a heavy gauge mesh on a gas hob - you’ll find exact
instructions somewhere on the net if you Google “firing PMC” or
something similar.

As a kiln, I’d recommend the Paragon SC2 - I use this (the version
with a window, because I also do enamelling, glass fusing and
bisque-fire my ceramic pendants in it) because it’s easy to programme
for the different things you want to fire in it, and the instruction
manual has a special section on firing PMC. The Paragon SC2 is
available in many places online - Paragon Web would give you your
nearest stockist.

But you really can start with just a gas hob or just buy the small
hand-held butane torch (the sort you can use for cooking - creme
brulee etc!) - that way, if you don’t care for it, you haven’t laid
out much money to start with. But as I say, if you want to invest in
a small kiln, you can use the SC2 for so many other things as
well… Very useful!

There are also lots of tutorials on the Web about firing PMC by
handheld torch - youtube would be a good place to look, and there
are instructional DVDs available.

Hope this helps!
Sally (UK)


#8

Hi I play with PMC all the time. Look at PMCsupply.com and they have
lessons on line they supply everything. It depends on what you want
to do. No you do not need a kiln they have other inexpensive options
you can use.

Leslie


#9

My first ever Orchid reply! I have recently begun working with PMC,
and have found that it is a very flexible material. You can fire it
with a torch & screen, you can use many household tools for shaping.
You can get a nice kit for about $125, with 16 gms. PMC+ silver and
pretty much all you’d need to start but the torch, including a book
for beginners from MEDA Creations web site. Their price per gram for
the clay is also the lowest retail I found. You can buy or rent ‘how
to’ DVD’s there & many other places. And for larger peices I have
found a local bead store owner who will fire your work for you for a
small fee with a disclaimer. I’ve followed local classified ads &
found used kilns & such from time to time. But you can start with
just the torch or even a fairly inexpensive tabletop unit called a
hot pot. There are many way to approach it, but once you get the
clay you can prepare your peices & they can sit dry for a quite a
while if need be prior to firing. When you order your supplies, be
sure to get some paste, and if you want to gold finish, get the
Aura22k paint on gold, these were not in the kit. You will also find
a lot of instant on YouTube & via Google. Have fun, I
am!..Sharon Thompson, Sanford Florida


#10
But you really can start with just a gas hob or just buy the
smallhand-held butane torch (the sort you can use for cooking -
creme brulee etc!) - that way, if you don't care for it, you
haven't laid out much money to start with. 

And, not to open a can of worms, I hope, but… In my opinion, if
you start this way, you are pretty likely to decide you don’t care
for it, because your pieces will not be durable or dense.

Anything fired for just a few minutes with a torch or a burner will
not come out anywhere near its maximum density and will be brittle
and fragile. If you are making chunky pendants, this may not matter,
I suppose. But if you want to try a ring, you will be sadly
disappointed when it snaps in two in your fingers. This is a sore
point with me. These materials (PMC and Art Clay) are pretty
commonly described as being OK to fire at low temps, but the reality
is that they need 1650 for two hours, or something very close to
that, and even then they are not as dense as cast or fabricated
silver. A few minutes with a torch simply is not going to yield a
good result, at least by my standards. And I find it unconscionable
to contemplate selling a piece that is not fired to its max
density. Not only is it a cheat to the buyer, it undermines
confidence in every artist who uses this medium. OK, I’m done now.
Thanks for your tolerance.

Noel


#11

Hi Barbara,

There is a wonderful squidoo lens on PMC at

http://best.metal-clay-info.ever.com

It covers suppliers, tools, books, videos on you tube, just about
everything you need to know to get started in PMC. Also check out
the PMC Guild website at: pmcguild.com. They have classes listed in
most states including Maine. There is a Maine chapter of the PMC
guild in Portland that meets once a month & Maine PMC ambassadors
that answer questions. You can use a torch, but it is great to have a
kiln, especially if you want to fire several pieces at once. I have
an everheat and a paragon kiln. Both are easy to use with the pmc
firing schedules programed in, so beginner or advanced it is very
easy to fire your pieces. I started using PMC a little over a year
ago and took a class from Celie Fago, who is an amazing teacher.
There are a lot of little tricks to PMC so it is great to start with
a class. And now there is bronze and copper clay to work with so the
possibilities are endless.

Jascha
J Sonis Designs
http://www.jsonisdesigns.com


#12

Noel mentions the brittleness of PMC and Art Clay when not properly
fired. That explains the problem one of my clients had with a ring
she purchased from another jeweler. It had snapped in two. She asked
if I could repair it, as she had purchased the ring at a show, and
was unable to get in touch with the person from whom she bought it…
As I don’t work with PMC, I suggested she seek the services of
someone who works with PMC. Hopefully it can be repaired for her.

I really was surprised at how brittle the ring was. Obviously, it
had not been fired properly. From Noel’s post, It seems that with PMC
and Art Clay, there really is a right and a wrong way to work with
the material.

Alma Rands


#13
Anything fired for just a few minutes with a torch or a burner
will not come out anywhere near its maximum density and will be
brittle and fragile... These materials (PMC and Art Clay) are
pretty commonly described as being OK to fire at low temps, but the
reality is that they need 1650 for two hours, or something very
close to that... 

To chip in again, low fire Art Clays and PMC3 don’t require such
long high temperature firing as the original PMC. PMC3 silver is the
strongest version of the clay, and can be fired, according to the
manufacturer, for 10 minutes at 1290 F (700 C) (although of course
longer in a kiln is better, but this is not essential). The
manufacturers and most suppliers say you can use either a torch,
hotpot or kiln - I have no experience with the hotpot, so can’t
comment.

The point, I think, is that using the gas burner (after finding the
hot spots and using them) for long enough, or using the butane torch,
is still a good way to get started - I find the tricky thing when
starting with PMC+ or PMC3, is simply handling the unfired clay and
learning how to cut, shape, texture etc.

Using a butane torch with PMC3 on a small pendant or simple ring
will give good enough (and wearable) results, enough to see if you
like the process of shaping the clay, etc. If you do, clearly you
wouldn’t use the torch or gas burner to produce work to sell - I was
talking about getting started, which I thought was the question.

Obviously a kiln will fire several pieces at once, can be
programmed, can fire for the highest or longest temperatures, etc,
and is required for larger, dimensional or hollow pieces, and this is
what you’d want to get if you got seriously into it. But just
starting, surely anything that will fire the clay successfully and
show you the results that are possible is a good thing?

Sally (UK)


#14

Hello,

I am just completing my book on PMC Beads (Creative Publishing Int’l)
which will be off to the Printer shortly and distributed in the
Summer. In that book I recommend ONLY firing with a kiln, because I
don’t believe that metal clay fully sinters with any strength using a
torch. I know this flies in the face of the manufacturer’s and
distributor’s intentions, but I have experience with both methods of
firing and twelve years of working with PMC.

Torch-firing and the low-temp, shorter duration clays were developed
to allow for a less expensive way to sinter the material, in order to
make it easier for more people to enter the metal clay field.
Unfortunately, I have found that torch-firing creates an end product
that does not have the durabiity of kiln-fired metal clay, much as I
wish it were otherwise.

Linda Kaye-Moses


#15

Please remember that PMC is a brand name. The squidoo lens is on
metal clay, which encompasses both brands of metal clay, Art Clay
and PMC.

Jackie Truty
Art Clay World, USA


#16
To chip in again, low fire Art Clays and PMC3 don't require such
long high temperature firing as the original PMC. PMC3 silver is
the strongest version of the clay, and can be fired, according to
the manufacturer, for 10 minutes at 1290 F (700 C) 

And, again, I must repeat thisisnottrue*. Well, it is true that
manufacturer says this. I bought PMC3 for a workshop, believing
what the manufacturers instructions said. I fired the class’ pieces
strictly according to instructions. Rings snapped into pieces in
people’s fingers. If you want strength, you must fire higher and
longer.

Noel


#17
Anything fired for just a few minutes with a torch or a burner will
not come out anywhere near its maximum density and will be brittle
and fragile... These materials (PMC and Art Clay) are pretty
commonly described as being OK to fire at low temps, but the
reality is that they need 1650 for two hours, or something very
close to that... 

I think what you are saying may have been true some years ago, but I
have been making pieces with PMC for about 4 years now, most of which
are rings, many of which I own and wear constantly, plus many more
that I have sold and have had no problems whatsoever with these
pieces. No one has ever complained about the rings they have
purchased from me that I created using PMC or Art Clay (I use both,
am certified in both mediums). In fact, I have had many repeat
customers.

None of these pieces were fired at 1650 for 2 hours, yet they have
stood up to lots of use and abuse.

Of course, I do have some training in traditional jewelry methods,
although I could never call myself an expert, I do think that that
training helps even if you are creating in metal clay.

The point is, that if you follow the guidelines for firing your
pieces in metal clay they are as durable as 18K gold. There is really
more to it than just the firing temp or time. The thickness of the
clay is also a factor as well as the construction.

There are many other factors that contribute to durability in metal
clay pieces, too many to go into here.

At any rate, I hope people will try it if they are interested in it.
It can be a great medium to work in, just as traditional
metalsmithing is.

Laura

Laura H. Hastings
Eclectica Jewelry
Tucson, Arizona


#18
The point is, that if you follow the guidelines for firing your
pieces in metal clay they are as durable as 18K gold. There is
really more to it than just the firing temp or time. The thickness
of the clay is also a factor as well as the construction. 

Not to open any PMC battles but this is just not correct, even when
fired to the full density attainable it is softer and less dense
than bulk fine silver. This is not an opinion but is factual data
that is posted on the PMC Guild website. Fine silver is no where near
as hard or durable as 18k gold and PMC is slightly less hard and
durable than that.

Jim

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#19

I have the bad habit of saying PMC when I actually mean & should say
metal clay. My apologies to the Art Clay World. When I suggested the
squidoo lens it was for it’s great content about all metal clay to
answer the question titled PMC tools. I did not mean to leave any one
out. Since I mentioned the PMC Guild’s site for tips and techniques I
should also mention that great tips and techniques can also be found
on the art clay world site:

http://www.artclayworld.com/tips_and_techniques.php

Jascha
http://www.jsonisdesigns.com


#20

I agree with Noel. I have taught many small beginner PMC classes
torch firing PMC3. It breaks later. Now I show the torch firing,
explain the problem and kiln fire everything.