O.k., all this talk of PMC and Art Clay have got me curious. I
looked up some examples of work with PMC and like the look of it
(especially Dana Carlson’s boxes in the Orchid gallery - very
nice). Now I would like to try it. All I have for a kiln is a
small enameling kiln with no temperature gauge on it - can I use
this? And where can I order the Art Clay from? I like the sound
of less shrinkage, but is it harder to work with or have less
reliable results than PMC? And how do the results of either
differ from, say, a cast piece? Is the metal lighter? Less dense?
Does it look exactly the same? Any info for a PMC newbie would be
greatly appreciated. Thanks.
O.k., all this talk of PMC and Art Clay have got me curious. I
From the folks at Paragon: "At this time, the only we
have on the net for the Silver Art Clay is on our homepage. The
address is ParagonWeb.com it will be in the new items about
half way down the page. "
From another Orchidist:
Silver Art Clay
Paragon Industries Inc. (Paragon Kilns),
2011 S. Town East Blvd. Mesquite, TX 75149.
Precious Metal Clay is from Rio Grande, exclusively,
riogrand.com…they have a small amount of on their
web page about PMC. If you order an ounce of PMC from Rio, they
will send you a small booklet on how to use it.
I have only used PMC, not Art Clay (yet). Temperature is very
important, you need to have a thermacouple (temperature
measuring device) and a pyrometer (shows the temp. on a dial).
An ideal kiln for this is the Quick Fire Kiln from Even Heat,
available from them or Lark Books. Gets up to temp. in 15
minutes. PMC cooks for 2 hours, Art Clay for 30 min. PMC
shrinks 40 to 60 %, the other 10%. I don’t know how the costs
compare. If your temp. is wrong…it can melt. To best exploit
PMC, I feel hollow shapes are good – why make something you
could just as easily make in a wax? Yes, PMC is lighter and
more porous than cast metal, but this can be an advantage.
Reading on PMC is available in Lapidary Journal and Metalsmith.
(April LJ and March or April the other). Combustable cores I
have read about and/or used:
Floral foam (only one kind is safe)
packing pellets, the kind that dissolve in water
balled up dough or damp bread dipped in wax
You can press some stones into PMC, too, and make settings.
I reccomend buying Rio’s tool kit for PMC, it’s a nice
convienient little bit, and allows you to roll out the PMC to a
consist thickness. I use a number of plastic toys manufactured
for play-dough with PMC. I also make my own tools for working
with it from hard carving wax or polymer clay.
The learning curve for PMC is short; my students have had very
good results on their first trys.
Here is what I know about PMC:
It needs to be fired at precise temperatures, but there is a
variable table of times/temps depending on how much time you want
to take versus how much shrinkage you can tolerate. Cook it fast
it shrinks more, up to 30%.
It works just like soft clay and things can be mixed in with it
before firing, beach stones, enamel, ect. The form must be
supported when firing or it will slump. You can built up a mound of
aluminum silica? (the white powder used in ceramics to prevent
things from sticking) and use it to support your work when firing.
Styrofoam makes a good base for a hollow object, a bead or what
After firing, the piece is lighter than a cast piece and it’s
porous, so burnishing is necessary before any soldering can be
done. It’s a great medium for making a base for enamel, mix in a
little flux with the PMC and you have a base coat!
The challenge is to take advantage of its properties and create
things that can’t be made an other way. At around $25.00 an ounce
it has no practical value for me, but I have a couple of ounces
around I keep meaning to get to.
Disclaimer, This is not a well thought out document it’s just off
the top of my head. I haven’t used this stuff yet, but I’ve been
following it ever since the introduction of the material at
Haystack, via Tim McCright and Fred Wohl. Fred came down and
taught at UMD for a semester and I attended a workshop on the
subject. Fred is great, if you ever get the chance to attend one
of his workshops don’t pass it up.
That’s enough from me!
O.k., all this talk of PMC and Art Clay have got me curious. I looked up some examples of work with PMC and like the look of it (especially Dana Carlson's boxes in the Orchid gallery - very nice). Now I would like to try it. All I have for a kiln is a small enameling kiln with no temperature gauge on it - can I use this? And where can I order the Art Clay from? I like the sound of less shrinkage, but is it harder to work with or have less reliable results than PMC? And how do the results of either differ from, say, a cast piece? Is the metal lighter? Less
Does it look exactly the same? Any info for a PMC newbie would
greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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I have recently gotten interested in PMC and have noticed the absence
of talk about it here on the Orchid list. I have seen the references
from the archives, but there is nothing too recent. Is there anyone
out there using it and would it be possible to hear from you
regarding same? Last week someone made mention of it and I have been
waiting to hear a response. My interest has been along the lines of
using it as a component on pieces along with other metals. Is there
anybody out there? mailto:email@example.com
jmalone, I don’t know about Orchidians and PMC - but I do know
that a course on PMC is being taught at the 92nd Street ‘Y’ in
NYC, so you may want to give them a call and find out who’s
instructing it. You may be able to get in touch with them.
Also, I believe the Old Church Cultural Center in Demarest, N.J.
has a course as well; and possibly The NJ Center for the Arts in
Summit (used to be the Summit Arts Center) probably gives a
class as well. I’m also interested, so if you get anywhere with
this, please share! -Madeline, Arts Umbrella
I received this e-mail today from Tim Mcreight in response to my
question about using a glass fusing kiln without a programmable
pyrometer: I bought a 1/2 ounce of the stuff to try but haven’t had
the time to sit and "babysit " it in the kiln yet.
PMC needs to be fired to 1650 degrees F, so the kiln you are
considering will reach the correct temps OK. The difficulty might come
in the finesse of that temperature. PMC firing needs to be within a
range of no more than 15 degrees F, plus or minus. To reliably fire
PMC, you will need to be assured that the kiln does not go above the
correct temperature. The physics of metallurgy are quite unforgiving.
If the temperature goes about 1720, even for a moment, silver will
Have you seen the SC-II kiln that is made for firing PMC? It’s a neat
little unit with a programmableD pyrometer that allows you to set the
temperature precisely. It automatically cycles on and off to hold
exactly the temperature you choose, then it shuts off as a time you
set. It’s a bargain at just under $500.
You can get more or order it from Rio Grande at
This is not an answer but an addition. I have been wondering whether
or not, if you can find a way to accurately cope with the change in
size, it might be a way of simplifying a lot of the casting we do? Has
anyone tried this? thanks! Margaret @Margaret_Malm
I’ve recently read that Tim McCreight has a new book out on this
subject. There also is a recent article in Lapidary J. or Bead and
Button. Sorry I don’t have the magazines in front
of me but it is in the latest edition…Feb or March. M. Gottshall
I am certainly not an expert, but I may be able to share my
experiences with PMC. I had fabricated a Calla Lily pendant and
wanted matching earrings. At the time, I distrusted my ability to
accurately fabricate two identical earrings for the piece. So, I
bought some PMC and went about making a model out of polymer clay. I
tested out several designs with polymer clay first. Then, when I was
satisfied, I calculated the expected shrinkage (finished product about
60% of size of origonal) and produced my first earring.
I rolled the clay to 1.5mm (between two pieces of waxed paper) cut
out the components and assembled one earring. This was placed in a
small flowerpot with a piece of fire brick covering the hole in the
bottom. About 1" of alumina hydrate was placed in the bottom of the
pot, and the earring was placed in this, flower opening up (sepals
down). Then the remainder of the pot was filled with alumina hydrate.
A10X10X10 (interior size) burnout kiln was set to 6 about 20 minutes
before the piece was put in. The piece was not allowed to dry first.
After one hour in the kiln, I turned the temperature up to high and
left the piece in for an additional 1.5 hours. I quenched in water
and then soaked the piece in Sparex to remove oxidation. Burnishing
restored a silvery appearance.
I had some trouble soldering findings (PMC is porous and soaks up a
lot of solder!). I was pleased with the results but have not done
much else with PMC as I have concentrated on expanding my fabricating
There is, however, a PMC website (http://www.pmclay.com) and a free
PMC publication (Studio PMC) that is filled with technical tips. The
latest volume contains deails about an new type of PMC (PMC+) that is
reported to be denser after firing and less apt to shrink.
I hope that this helps.
Cheers - Debby Hoffmaster