Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Reducing costs using PMC


#1

All this talk about PMC reminded me that I still have several
unopened 50 gram packs left over from when I tried it and then
decided it did not suit what I make. I got some wonderful
instruction from the book written by Jackie Truty, and from friends
whose specialization is metal clay.

However, enjoyable as it was to work with (I have a programmable
kiln), it just did not lend itself to what I do. Fabrication and
casting are much more suitable for me than metal clay, especially as
the cost of the materials for fabrication and casting are less by
far than that forthe metal clay. Today a 50 gram packet sells for
$113.00, and a troyoz of fine silver is $16.00. But that is beside
the point.

Which brings me to my question. I opened one of the packets this
morning, and found that the Art Clay had gotten hard and unusable,
even though the packets were completely sealed. To my surprise I
just learned that it has a shelf life of 2-3 years, and mine is
about 5 years old. Since I have it I would like to use up rather
than have it go to waste, but don’t know how to reconstitute it, to
a workable state, or even if it can be done, Any suggestions will be
appreciated. I thought of taking it to be refined, but they will not
accept it as it is still mingled with the clay. I thought of putting
the lumps in the kiln and burning off the binder, but then decided
to try to reconstitute it and use it, if possible.

Alma-- in the Pacific Northwest where we are having freezing nights,
some freezing rain, and howling winds.

All this talk about PMC reminded me that I still have several
unopened 50 gram packs left over from when I tried it and then
decided it did not suit what I make. I got some wonderful
instruction from the book written by Jackie Truty, and from friends
whose specialization is metal clay.

However, enjoyable as it was to work with (I have a programmable
kiln), it just did not lend itself to what I do. Fabrication and
casting are much more suitable for me than metal clay, especially as
the cost of the materials for fabrication and casting are less by
far than that for the metal clay. Today a 50 gram packet sells for
$113.00, and a troy oz of fine silver is $16.00. But that is beside
the point.

Which brings me to my question. I opened one of the packets this
morning, and found that the Art Clay had gotten hard and unusable,
even though the packets were completely sealed. To my surprise I
just learned that it has a shelf life of 2-3 years, and mine is
about 5 years old. Since I have it I would like to use up rather
than have it go to waste, but don’t know how to reconstitute it, to
a workable state, or even if it can be done, Any suggestions will be
appreciated. I thought of taking it to be refined, but they will not
accept it as it is still mingled with the clay. I thought of putting
the lumps in the kiln and burning off the binder, but then decided
to try to reconstitute it and use it, if possible.

Alma-- in the Pacific Northwest where we are having freezing nights,
some freezing rain, and howling winds.


#2

Hello Alma,

Here’s some info on rehydrating dry or partially dry metal clay,
which can be done even if the mc has been sitting rock hard for
years.

For rock hard mc, break it up into very small pieces (I sometimes
use a dedicated coffee grinder and pulverize the pieces further),
add a very little bit of distilled water (a few drops, if it’s a
full package of mc) and seal it in plastic wrap, overnight. I
continue to add water a few drops at a time, until the material
becomes soft enough to roll out, as below. The reason you want to
roll out the clay, as below, is that you want to re-distribute the
binder and metal particles as evenly as possible. That’s what this
method does.

For all metal clays adding too much water at once can be messy,
making them a bit too sticky and coating your hands with Metal Clay.
Use water only a very small drop at a time, knead it into the clay,
wrap the mc in plastic wrap and set it aside to allow the water to
be absorbed completely.

Once the dry clay has become a bit flexible, use a PVC pipe or a
plexi or acrylic cylinder as a roller and roll the mc between a
sheet of plastic wrap or a plastic bag and an lightly oiled sheet of
tempered glass or teflon coated baking sheet. Roll it very thin.
After rolling it out, scrape it up into a lump, using a tissue
blade, and roll it out again under the plastic wrap. If the clay
seems a little dry, cracking at the edges, etc., add a little more
water. Repeat this perhaps three or four times, until the clay is
perfectly flexible, then roll it into a ball and begin to use it.

Hope this is useful,
Linda Kaye-Moses


#3

Hi Alma

jogging my memory, not always a good thing, solder paste was mixed
with turpentine to re-use it when it had dried out. So there is
likely to be some such to mix with the metal clay to get it workable
again.

Be interested to see what can be done here.

All the best
Richard


#4
Which brings me to my question. I opened one of the packets this
morning, and found that the Art Clay had gotten hard and unusable,
even though the packets were completely sealed. To my surprise I
just learned that it has a shelf life of 2-3 years, and mine is
about 5 years old. Since I have it I would like to use up rather
than have it go to waste, but don't know how to reconstitute it,
to a workable state, or even if it can be done, Any suggestions
will be appreciated. I thought of taking it to be refined, but
they will not accept it as it is still mingled with the clay. I
thought of putting the lumps in the kiln and burning off the
binder, but then decided to try to reconstitute it and use it, if
possible.

@Alma: Do a search on You Tube for rehydrating or reconstituting
metal clay, there are many good videos available. I’ve used lavender
oil with success and it brings it back into condition again quite
well.

As for doing PMC jewelry on the cheap Debbie, there is no such
thing, not when you’re paying nearly 4x the price of silver for the
metal clay. You could reduce costs by using significantly less metal
clay or using it as an accent on a base metal. I started out making
jewelry using metal clay, I practiced with polymer clay to start
with, got proficient and made several pieces of jewelry with metal
clay, but to my eye, no matter what you do with it, it would never
have the same “feel” or look of silver, even after firing it looks
like something masquerading as silver. My suggestion, having been
there; learn to use a saw, learn to carve some wax, find yourself a
good caster and/or try your hand at steam casting, which is how I
broke away from metal clay when I was first starting out
metalsmithing and didn’t have access to a caster or casting
equipment. I’ve had no formal instruction and have learned the hard
way, but it is doable and a lot less expensive than metal clay. You
can get into doing your own casting for the cost of a torch capable
of melting silver. Good luck.


#5

Alma - for reconstituting the clay I believe you can dunk it in
distilled water then wrap it up tightly in cling wrap to allow the
water to soak in. Then knead, knead, knead. You may have to do this
more than once.

I tried metal clays and found them not much fun - and really messy -
to work with, and I too have some unopened packs which are probably
dead, like yours, by now! I much prefer “real” metals - for me they
are magical materials.

Anyone want a programmable kilne I still have the original packing
and would be willing to send anywhere - providing you pay the
shipping costs as well as a reasonable price for the kiln. I’m in
Alberta, Canada BTW.

Janet


#6

You can easily reconstitute the clay by breaking it up into smaller
pieces, putting the pieces in a recloseable bag with a few drops of
water and a wet newspaper (not papertowel). Let sit for a day and
begin to knead the water into the clay. Add a few drops of water
every time you do this. It may take a few days, but you can bring
the clay back to working consistency. Worst case scenario: grind the
clay up, add water and make clay or paste whichis then useable.


#7

Richard, as you probably have already seen, Linda Kaye-Moses has
spelled out in detail how to reconstitute the metal clay with drops
of water. I was interested to read your statement that turpentine
mixed with dried solder paste will reconstitute it. What I have done
with dried solder paste was to mix in some Battern’s liquid d flux.
Itreally worked. I had to grind it in using the back of a stainless
steel spoon. Alma


#8

Thank you Linda for the detailed explanation about reconstituting
the metalclay. I have an old coffee grinder that I use to pulverize
lump enamels and can use it. And when kneading I will be careful to
use just a drop of water at a time.

It will be fun to get it reconstituted and put it to use. I have
five50 gram packages. Each package has 2 lumps, so reconstituting 10
lumps will take some time but will be worth it. Just to be sure that
I don’t end up with a big batch that may go hard again, I will do
one packet, use it. Then reconstitute another. Alma


#9

Thanks Janet for the about dunking the metal clay in
water and kneading, and then doing more kneading. I guess that is
the secret—lots of kneading. Alma


#10

Links to all my stores at:

Talk to me about custom designed merchandise!!!

Do you have any idea what you’d like to sell the kiln for?

Debbie


#11

Hello All,

I have been following this thread and have been very happy to see
that it has been a honest and open exchange of views.

My only comment about both metal clay and also the use of CAD is that
I would consider the initial premise of the discussions to be wrong.
The use of either should not be driven by a desire to solely reduce
costs. Rather, imho, it should be about using new tools and new
materials to produce exiting, innovative new designs; be these in a
traditional or a modern style.

Charles Allenden


#12

Debbie

I took a quick peek at your designs posted on your facebook page. I
think they could be improved by strengthening the design message. Go
ahead and order Tim McCreight’s book the “Design Language” It’s only
$10 but worth million words. it will help you to realise what you
miss in your current work


#13

Does one have to worry about air bubbles when working in PMC, as one
does when working with regular clay that’s got to be “wedged,” if
it’s been manipulated or used, that is, prior to using again.

Oooh. with Jackie’s mention of paste, I wonder if you could
reconstitute your material for use, and then set some aside to make
slip paste from? I’ve heard that it’s a great way to build up
filigree work. Does anyone know if that’s true? I’m asking out of
curiosity’s sake, mostly.

Cheers!
Becky


#14
Does one have to worry about air bubbles when working in PMC, as
one does when working with regular clay that's got to be "wedged,"
if it's been manipulated or used, that is, prior to using again.
Oooh. with Jackie's mention of paste, I wonder if you could
reconstitute your material for use, and then set some aside to make
slip paste from? I've heard that it's a great way to build up
filigree work. Does anyone know if that's true? I'm asking out of
curiosity's sake, mostly.

I’ve never had an issue with bubbles, but I think that’s because
compared to traditional clay, it’s so much smaller and easier to get
rid of bubbles in a much smaller piece. Always had bubble concerns
with traditional clay, never with metal clay. But if you do have an
internal cavity, you need to have a place for hot air to be released
(or explosion!), and your cavity (say, like with a hollow bead) can
collapse and distort. That’s where you use something like cork clay
to fill up the cavity, and it helps hold the shape as the binder
burns off. I have only used cork clay in a few instances, so others
(Linda Kaye-Moses?) can explain how to use that in more detail. I
just don’t do a lot of hollow things.

And yeah, using your extra as slip for delicate build-up is one of
the greatest things about using metal clay. I make a lot of items in
metal clay that require the basic shape build-up, then lots of
carving, then more delicate build-up. Carve / build-up / carve /
build-up /etc. I put the carving scrapings and powder in the slip
jar, then I use the slip to build up delicate detail " like the
eyelids on a horse or snarled lips on a dragon. You can reconstitute
it all " even a little dried smudge you scape off the floor! Just
pick out the dog hair and dirt. I personally like the texture of how
metal clay carves and then builds-up with slip better than how it
does with wax, which is one of the reasons why I like using it for 3D
decorative details more than I do casting. But that is my personal
preference, and I think it works well with my personal style. I like
to fabricate my stone settings and things like ring bands and strong
structural items from sheet/wire/etc. But then for the decorative or
"frilly/fun" stuff I use metal clay designs. El


#15

Becky,

Yes, absolutely, you can make Slip/paste from both out of the
package metal clay, and from dried metal clay. There are many uses
for Slip. You can check out my book for a project using just Slip
(Pure Silver Metal Clay Beads, and it’s now available as a Kindle
edition), and other books on metal clay.

So many ways to use metal clay, and there are artisans figuring out
new ways every day. Check out Wanaree Tanner or Barbara Becker Simon
or Celie Fago, and so many others, for innovative metal clay work.

Linda K-M


#16

Hi Debbie,

I’ve stayed out of this whole thing, but I did look at the one
picture you had up on your facebook page.

(a bunch of PMC pieces on a burgundy background.)

A couple of things:

(A) Focus. It’s hard to have much more to say when you can’t see
anything. If you’re serious about getting into real shows, focus.

(B) Look at having someone shoot your work. As far as real show
juries go, a bunch of pieces on a blanket is an almost automatic
reject. The images need to be much clearer, and have better layout
of the image. Those kinds of images are fine for note taking. I even
do that sometimes, but I wouldn’t let anybody else see those.

Now for the real question: why did you do them in PMC? From what I
can see of them, only the braided piece really needed to be done in
PMC (or wax). Most of the rest could have been done in sheet metal,
probably faster, and certainly cheaper than doing them in PMC. Even
the braided piece could have been done in wax and cast. For much
less final cost than the PMC versions.

So why PMC? “Because I have it” isn’t a valid answer for this
particular question, because you won’t always have the PMC on hand.
If you’re deciding to use it, make sure you’re deciding based on
what you want to do, not just because it’s easy.

One of the best pieces of advice/instruction I ever got from one of
my early teachers was to make sure that any time I picked a
technique to use, I had to use it because of some unique quality
that particular technique gave to the finished piece. One shouldn’t
cast a piece that was just as easily done out of sheet for example.
If you want to cast, make sure you’re changing thickness and profile
in a way that sheet metal can’t really duplicate. Or if you’re using
PMC, make a list of the qualities of PMC that sheet metal and
casting can’t duplicate, and play those up.

So, why PMC? What unique qualities does it bring to your work?

Regards,
Brian


#17

Hi all

Just as I thought there would be good info forthcoming on
reconstituting metal clay Linda has made a great post. Alma also has
another method for dried out solder paste.

I was just posting that some Orchidian would know what to do and as
usual that was the case. I was not saying how to with metal clay just
that as people had posted about solder paste there would be those who
knew how to do it with metal clay.

all the best
Richard


#18

Hi all

can metal clay be pressed/stamped using dies/stamps made from
"plasti steel" which is a heavy duty resin. It works for fine silver.

Made some stampings years ago with this method and it worked well.
Stopped because I grew to like to hand make rather than production
runs, done a lot of those.

I don’t think you can reduce costs with PMC but you could do amazing
things with some experimentation.

I did as why top end jewellers do not us PMC.

Reason they have million dollar workshops that can make anything.

So don’t need to use PMC. Guess no one got that.

All the best
Richard


#19

Actually, Alma, the real secret is patience. Really dry metal clay
takes its time absorbing the distilled water. The rolling of the
clay can’t happen until the clay has absorbed sufficient water.
Rolling the clay evenly redistributes the material within the clay
body.

I would try just breaking up the lumps with a mallet. Put them in a
strong plastic baggie and smash them up. Pulverizing is not always
needed, and generally is used with small chunks to make a powder
that when water is added will be used as Slip/paste.

So, one drop at a time of distilled water to your rocks, wait, wait,
wait. You do have a lot of clay, so, you will have a lot of time to
do the other things in your life that you need to do, while waiting
for the water to do its job. Once you get the hang of it though, and
its really not rocket science, you’ll feel ready to plunge ahead and
do multiple packages at the same time.

Keep us posted,
Linda K-M


#20

The prefilled syringe is what is normally used to create filigree
work. Of course, paste can be created using clay by adding water,
but syringe type has a consistency all its own.