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Reducing costs by using PMC


#1

I hope I don’t ruffle any feathers by asking this, but is there
anyone herewho has worked with PMC (Precious Metal Clay)? I have
found that working with it has reduced my costs meaning I can sell
my pieces for less, but I have some issues with working with it.

Debbie


#2

Hi Debbie,

There are a number of us on Orchid who work with PMC (and other
metal clays). Metal clay is a legitimate topic on this forum, as it
is simply a new tool/technique for working with metal. Anyone on
this forum whose feathers are ruffled by your questions is not
really tuned in to what makes Orchid so wonderful.

So. Ask your questions and I will do my best to answer them. And just
in case I can’t, or someone else on Orchid can’t, there is also a
good Yahoo forum for metal clay users, where questions are answered
daily: http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/ep81mn and just in case that
doesn’t connect, you can go to Yahoo. com and look for Metal Clay
Gallery. That should get you where you need to go. You will need to
join the group in order to post your questions.

There is also Julia Rai’s thorough Metal Clay Academy, a wonderful
resource for all things metal clay. There is so much good information
there. http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/metalclayacademy

I would be happy to answer your questions off Orchid, if you wish,
but there are others on Orchid who might be asking the same
questions you have in mind and would benefit from your asking them
on the forum.

Linda Kaye-Moses


#3
I hope I don't ruffle any feathers by asking this, but is there
anyone herewho has worked with PMC (Precious Metal Clay)? I have
found that working with it has reduced my costs meaning I can sell
my pieces for less, but I have some issues with working with it. 

Debbie, Surely you can’t sell your pieces for less because the cost
of the material is less? My experience was that the high cost of PMC
meant I couldn’t use my regular formula for pricing – it ended up
being too high. I only used the 99.9% silver, though. Are you using
the copper, bronze formulas? Curious, Pegi


#4

I was considering making and selling pieces using PMC (I have worked
with it), but I discovered PMC to be very costly and time consuming.
Here is an example of the breakdown of costs: 1 troy ounce rounds to
31 grams of metal and it costs $22.85 at the moment for 1 troy ounce
of sterling silver. To get the same amount of grams in PMC sterling
you would have to pay well over that. At the moment for 25 grams of
PMC it costs $54.75.

Hope that helps.


#5

Hello,

The breakdown of costs is, of course, essential. However, there are
times when metal clay is the best choice for an intended design,
when other methods would not be right. The true use of metal clay is
when nothing else will do, just as for other design concepts,
casting, fabrication, die forming, etc. might be the only possible
methods for achieving the desired results.

It’s useful to have many “tools” in one’s repertoire, in order to
make the work one wants to make. Metal clay is just one of those
"tools". I do recognize that calling metal clay a tool can be
confusing and seem inaccurate, but metal clay is sort of a hybrid.
it’s a material, a technique and a tool all at the same time. Think
about it.

Linda Kaye-Moses


#6

Pegi, I’m pretty much mostly a designer and not so much a jeweler.
For me, I don’t have the time and money and supplies to work directly
in silver (orany other metal, for that matter). Working in wax is way
more expensive for me since I don’t have my own casting
supplies/setup (or a place to put them if I did) and my old caster
work with her through the mail and the costs are so high that I have
to charge way too much (more than my customer base is willing to pay)
for casting (not to mention finishing off – though that works a bit
better when needed since I have a local jeweler who I can walk over
and he acts as my middle man, cutting down on shipping costs). PMC
offers me a way of creating new pieces without all those costs. I
took a class in working with it (only in silver) in the hopes that I
could replicate working conditions at home.

I would like to start working with Copper and Bronze (I have bronze
clay) but working with a torch (which I was assured would work on
bronze) has not worked after 5 tries (I didn’t create anything nice
that got messed up nor did I use very much clay on these
experiments). This is mostly what I’m trying to figure out. Do I need
to use carbon for it to work? How do I fire the bronze (or copper or
a piece with both metals) without ending up with a “mushy mess” (or a
crumbly mess)?

(Linda, thanks for offering to help – I have more questions, but
this is my first concern)

Debbie


#7

I have a friend who creates excellent work with PMC, but as the cost
of the material is so high, she had to price her jewelry
accordingly, hence did not sell much, As she is certified at the
highest level and teaches PMC she gets discounts on what she buys but
the price is still very high. As she already had a programmable kiln,
she now has switched to lost wax casting. She did have to get a
centrifuge for the casting, but said that she has been able to price
her work at a level that sells, so it has already paid for itself.

She carves the waxes and found she can make the same designs as with
the PMC. By using scrap silver which she accumulates when
doing fabrication, and supplementing it with casting grain which she
now gets for well under $20 an oz. she has cut her costs and her
sales have really picked up.

Being a very creative person, she found that by using the Matt wax
gun, she could extrude the wax and get wonderful overlays on the
carved waxes, similar to what she did with extruded PMC. I asked how
she got the extruded wax to stick to the carved wax, and she said
applies a thin layer of water proof glue over the carved wax, and the
two waxes stick together.

She enjoyed working with the PMC, but the high cost of the silver
caused her to make the switch. Alma


#8

Using silver metal clay (PMC brand or Art Clay Silver brand) is only
cost effective if you are making one of a kind. What you pay for the
silver clay is offset by the fact that there is no waste (you use
and recycle every bit) and the fact that you have more versatility
in what you can make and, in most cases, make it faster. If you are
just starting out in jewelry making, it also means you don’t have to
buy solder, multiple hammers, saws, graveurs and all the other
expensive tools needed in traditional jewelry making. I think, for
the bench jeweler, it all depends on how much time you spend making
pieces and how much unused scrap you have.


#9

Regarding PMC, my limited experience tell me that it is wonderful for
3D stuff, but for flat surfaces, bezels, wire like ring shanks, etc,
it needs to be quite thick and therefore I prefer regular sterling.
For press molding, heavy textures and the like it is fast and simple.
(I did find that it can melt when soldering a small decorative
element to sheet silver if you forget that you shouldn’t use Hard
solder!)

Have fun,
Noralie Katsu


#10

The cost of the materials is high for PMC however you don’t need as
many machines and tools for PMC as you would for traditional metal
smithing.

We often forget just how much we have invested in tools and
machines. I shudder to think of how much money we have tied up in our
studio.

For the record I’m not a PMC person. Just a tool junkie metal smith
with a bad habit.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry

Jo Haemer
timothywgreen.com


#11

You should join the Yahoo Group metal clay gallery for your
questions on bronze and copper. They can help you.


#12
would like to start working with Copper and Bronze (I have bronze
clay) but working with a torch (which I was assured would work on
bronze) has not worked after 5 tries 

The only clay that can be torch fired is Art Clay Copper, as far as
I know.

Elaine


#13

Debbie,

You would need a kiln to fire copper and bronze, BOTH clays require
carbon. Three websites that are really good for PMC supply needs are

http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/cooltools
http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/ep81mp
http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/ep81mq

I saw that Metal Clay Supply has smaller kilns that are front loaders.
This is the only site that I found them on.

Ginger


#14
What you pay for the silver clay is offset by the fact that there
is no waste (you use and recycle every bit) 

If you’re working in precious metal you always use and recycle every
bit. That’s why there’s a catch tray in your lap, why there’s a
sweeps box in the drawer, and why you send the polishing dust and
sink sediment to the refiner.

Elliot Nesterman


#15

Ok, so I am happy that you are interested enough in this subject
that there is a conversation started about the pros and cons of using
PMC, but I’m using it. At this point it’s my best option and I am
enjoying it. But I really need answers to my question — how do I
fire bronze (and/or copper) PMC without an expensive kiln? I have a
torch but all my experiments with using it have created a crumbly
black mess.

Debbie


#16

I’ve never seen anything that was made in Metal Clay that was not
able to be made by other means; however, that should not stop someone
from trying their hand at it to find out if it fits. The silver clay
is priced unbelievably high and the gold clay is out of reach for the
vast majority of people. However, working in the bronzes (many
colours) and coppers has brought the price point down to acceptable
levels. There are many manufacturers and their tips on firing vary -
so I urge you to search the internet for their guidelines first.
There are many courses, workshops, videos available and lots of
people working with it. Even see the Silhouette machine for what
people have turned that machine to doing. And most of all, enjoy
working with it; learn from both the pieces that turn out and the
ones that don’t. Failure is not an opposite to success - it is part
of of the success that we each build.

Barbara on a blue sky day on the island, wishing this weather could
last until June.


#17

Debbie, I don’t have any casting equip. either, nor do I have any
idea HOW to work with it. I do mostly fabrication (13 years). I get
what you like about the clay. My favorite thing was carving 3
dimensional stuff – sort of miraculous what comes out! I also spent
plenty of money on PMCtools, classes, certification. Just sold my
programable kiln, along with enameling kiln. I was spread in too
many directions, plus my studio space has decreased in our new home.
But, I have that problem (spreading in too many directions) even at
the bench. I get bored doing the same thing over and over. Gotta
keep it varied.

I bought the Bronze Clay, along with the firing pan/carbon. Never
used it. Mainly because it seemed like such a headache to get
started with it – and the contamination thing, as I used all my
tools for silver/PMC. I’m sorry I can’t help with that. My
assumption (why I bought the pan/carbon) was that bronze/copper clay
had to be fired in the covered pan, in a kiln. And you were assured
you could fire bronze clay with a torch?

I would think Linda Kaye-Moses would be an excellent resource!!!
Jump at it!

Pegi Pike


#18
But I really need answers to my question --- how do I fire bronze
(and/or copper) PMC without an expensive kiln? 

You can’t.

Unless you use Art Clay Copper.

Elaine


#19

Thank you for the info. I’ve just started working with the clay and
alreadyI’ve found it to be a wonderful medium. I do need to finish
off the piecesI’ve done so far – I’ve only finished off a pair of
earrings and one necklace so far. I’m still thinking in my mind what
I want to do with each piece (and still looking through boxes to find
my tools – we just moved here in June). If it sells, then I’ll keep
going.

Debbie


#20

I think Elaine meant that the only BASE METAL clay that can be torch
fired is Art Clay Copper (Jackie, chime in here). There are silver
metal clays that can be torch fired.

Linda K-M