Silver clay?

Clearly the cost to get into casting is much higher than that
of Precious Metal Clay. Look in your Rio Grande (
catalog at their beginning tool sets for casting – it’s in the
thousands. All you need for PMC is:

a little $500.00 kiln
1 oz. of PMC
a $10.00 tool kit from Rio (optional)
free subscription to Studio PMC
some dental tools, Play-Doh (TM) tools, exacto knife
papier mache
little ceramic pots to hold the work on the bed of vermiculite.

Clearly, the cost to get started in PMC is much less.

What about the cost per unit? I don’t know. Despite the
“high” cost of PMC everyone talks about, one shouldn’t forget
that it is much easier to finish than cast objects. There is no
burr to file, to heavy oxidation (possibly) to remove, no fine
filing or sanding.

Also, the learning curve on mold making and casting is much
longer than for PMC (depending on a person’s skills and natural



It all boils down to what kind of work you want to produce. If
metal clay will acomplish the look you want then by all means, go
that route. While it’s true that casting (especially vacume
casting-sorry guys, I could’nt resist:)) is more expensive, it
will yeald pieces far more in line with what most folks consider
serious jewelry. Smithing is also a superb method but the time
and patience to learn it may be more than you wish to spend.

Best of luck;

Elaine, I feel that the hobbiest using PMC–at the lower cost
for startup–would benefit the most with this medium. If
everyone using PMC could make that brooch by Sanae Asayama–gold
pmc leaves above amethyst traditionally set double pendant–I
would want to buy as much as I could afford and make that stuff
all day long. I think it has its place as accent
materials–however, most of the stuff that I have seen looks
rather crude and not something that I would want to associate
with fine traditional methods of jewelry making. I do not feel
that my jewelry making skills are diminished by not choosing to master PMC.

Hi Gang,

I’ve enjoyed the discussion on PMC. Here’s another slant on it.
I’m sure some of you won’t agree with it, but that’s OK, if we
all liked the same things this world would be a dull place. There
are a few draw backs to PMC compared to casting however. Here’s a
few; along with some other ideas.

Because PMC shrinks up to 40+% when baked, the final dimensions
can’t be guaranteed.

If multiple pieces of the same design are to be made, the time
required to form each piece is almost as long as that required to
make a wax model.

No 2 pieces will be exactly the same size. Unless you’re making
things with a cookie cutter type tool.

Given the life expectancy of the tools required to make PMC or
cast, the per year or per unit cost of the additional equipment
required for casting is not that much greater.

The additional equipment needed depends on the quantity of items
you plan to cast (and whether you’re a tool junkie or not (bg)).
Depending on the mold scheme selected, (RTV or vulcanized rubber)
the mold making tools could be kept to under $100.00. The 2
additional biggest cost items a caster would probably want are a
vacuum unit and/or a centrifugal caster. Both of which are in
the $400.00 range, if new. However, if only a few pieces will be
cast, a much more economical route might be steam casting and a
home brew vibrator for vibrating bubbles from the investment.

If the cost of the additional equipment is spread out over about
an 8 year period, the additional tool cost is about 30 cents a

Again, depending on the number of pieces to be made, casting
could result in substantial time savings, which when factored
into the 30 cents per day cost would result in making things with
PMC actually costing more than casting.

To each his own. For my part, there aren’t enough hours in the
day to truly learn and master the skills that have served the
jeweler since the beginning of time. It’s sufficient to know
there’s a product with PMC’s capability that I could use if
needed, but to me its’ short comings far out way its’ benefits.


I second this. I’ve been working with Larry Paul, a caster in
Philadelphia, for almost twenty years now, and have never had
any desire to do my own casting. I have given them some very
difficult pieces over the years, and have seldom been
disappointed. I can talk with them about sprue placement,and
they will even let me go in the back and repair damaged waxes;
sometimes happens in spite of hand carrying and my best efforts
at packing.

Like Deewo says, it’s a whole nother skill, and there’s others
I’d rather learn.

Janet Kofoed
fine handcrafted jewelry

Hello Kathi - As far as the cost - all the equipment adds up.
Before investing in all the equipment for casting - I would
highly recommend taking a lost wax casting class and experiencing
the technique and the complexities of the technique first. There
have been many strings on Orchid about the technical challenges
with casting. If you are far away from where a class is offered

  • perhaps, you could at least begin by picking up a few wax
    working tools and begin to explore the textures that you
    mentioned liking in your post. Definitely an affordable
    beginning. Cynthia

Hiya Kathi:

I concur with other respondents to your question. That is –
take a class in lost wax casting. To set up a shop yourself with
at least the basic equipment will cost you about $3000 to $5000
– if you’re lucky and get some good used equipment.

More importantly, casting requires that you work with torches,
flammable gases, and molten metal. You could blow yourself up if
you don’t know what you’re doing. Or fling molten metal on
someone. Casting is pretty safe – if you know what you are
doing and follow safety precautions. But I guarantee that
without some instruction, you will be reinventing the wheel
figuring out from your mistakes at a very great cost in money,
wasted time, and great frustration.

Also an added advantage of taking a class is the friends and
camaraderie that you will develop with folks in your area.



Hi All!

AJM also did an article based on independent testing of PMC in
the December 1996 issue. (It was the cover story, for anyone who
keeps AJM’s around that long!) You should be able to get a copy
of the article by e-mailing them at or
giving a call to MJSA member services at 800-444-6572. (Or cruise
on over to the Web site at and use
the “Contact Us” buttons from there.)

Suzanne Wade