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Thoughts on PMC


#1

As an fairly elderly, fairly new “jeweler”, I fully intended to
become a fabricator and smith. Now, having figured out not just the
time and money and physical endurance problems, but the space
problems as well, I doubt I’ll ever get there. I don’t want to sleep
with e.g. a rolling mill in my bedroom and I can’t afford one anyway.
And, since (having little foresight) I never got over being a hippie,
I don’t own a house, so I can’t just add a studio. But I can have a
kiln and a tumbler in my windowless hellhole of a garage.

For someone like me, PMC is a miracle–as is wire, still my primary
medium, and “forged” quite frequently on a tiny horn anvil. And, even
though I used to work in ceramics, I don’t find the PMC learning
curve all that short–not if you want to make something really
beautiful and well finished (I think it was shorter with the original
version, but I find the newer ones somewhat tricky). Actually, I
found the learning curve for texturing successfully with a rolling
mill shorter than for texturing successfully with PMC.
Furthermore…many of the best PMC pieces I see incorporate some
traditional skills. I’m still trying to set up a way to solder bezels
and jump rings with a microtorch (yes, In my bedroom, with the pickle
pot in the bathroom–the only room with an exhaust fan).

I don’t understand why so many jewelers consider carving wax to be
"making real jewelry" and working with PMC to be “making hobbiest
junk.” Sorry, ive, I usually love your posts, but, in this case, I
think you’re comparing apples and oranges. What would you have said
if the customer had asked if the piece was “that lost wax cast
stuff?”

message split

Lisa Orlando
Aphrodite’s Ornaments
Benicia, CA


#2
I don't understand why so many jewelers consider carving wax to be
"making real jewelry" and working with PMC to be "making hobbiest
junk." Sorry, ive, I usually love your posts, but, in this case, I
think you're comparing apples and oranges. What would you have
said if the customer had asked if the piece was "that lost wax cast
stuff?" 

Keep in mind that there is a huge difference between “cast” items
and PMC items. PMC is just not as strong as something cast. Many
forms of PMC are fired for 10 minutes - I’ve found that wearing
rings that were fired for the necessary two hours (for maximum
strength) crack after several wearings. I’ve also found that using
slip or paste to attach embellishments doesn’t guarantee that those
embellishments won’t fall off. I’ve had to solder things on and do
repairs. Not fun. And I wonder how many of those actually working
with PMC, Metal Art Clay (in any form) would be able to do repairs
by customers who have problems??? And don’t even think about making
some findings from PMC - they just won’t hold up unless you have
fine sliver under the pmc, and even then, it may still not hold up.


#3

The analogy to wax is more direct than you make it. You would find
wearing a wax ring to be highly untenable too. Once something is
made in PMC, it can also act as a metal master to develop a mold and
cast more. If you think of it as a development media, then you
might be more interested in it. The skills to do PMC are more
intuitive than the skills of wax carving for some of us. Which may be
a function of whether you were directed to take home ec or Shop. ;-}

In addition, for those of us who need to see it to believe it;
developing in PMC gives us a master that shows us what the finished
product could look like rather than something in green, blue, purple,
brown or pink wax. Thereby saving at least one step in the process.
In addition, if it’s not just right it can be cycled out at much less
cost in energy, time, and wax.

Of course none of this applies if you are doing CAD/CAM.


#4
    I don't understand why so many jewelers consider carving wax
to be "making real jewelry" and working with PMC to be "making
hobbiest junk." 

hello, that wasn’t my post - i made no reference to “making real
jewelry” or “making hobbiest junk”. nor did i mention casting or
carving wax

 What would you have said if the customer had asked if the piece
was "that lost wax cast stuff?"
  • i would have answered “i don’t cast my designs either”; i forge. i
    fabricate. i cut, carve and polish rough material into stones. each
    piece i do starts out life as a sheet of metal, wire, and or tubing,
    using a design sketched out on paper - more or less. until storm
    gabrielle put several inches of saltwater into the garage all my
    never used vacuum casting equipment stored away there because i am
    not a caster (i’m a great wax carver though).

the biggest mystery to me in this field is how a ‘jeweler’ can buy a
stone cut by someone else, set it into a cad designed cast setting
(possibly cast by someone else) put a finish polish on it, hold it
up and declare “look what i created!”

good luck
ive


#5

It’s Jen again!

Wow, you guys are great! Thank you so much for all of the
responses. PMC does seem too good to be true, but I am in no
position to not consider it, if only to just create something and
start somewhere, while I learn metalsmithing techniques. When I
decided I wanted to make jewelry, I forgot to think about the
mechanics/engineering behind the finished product. My major thought
was “I want to make something so beautiful, I won’t be able to take
my eyes off of it”. I’m a little goofy, I suppose. But when I did
take mechanics/engineering into account, I wanted to learn how to do
it the hard way - no shortcuts, because I appreciate the art of
creating jewelry, no matter the type (metalsmith, beading, wirework
etc.) Not to get preachy or sappy, but I’ve come to the conclusion
that no one way is better than the other; it doesn’t matter what
technique or material you use to make your jewelry, just put your
heart into it.

You’ll be hearing from me again… You guys are awesome.

Thanks,
Jen


#6

From the time I was very young, I dreamed of working with
silver–the magic metal. Instead, I had babies and kept house,
taught Girls Scouts how to build things with popsicle sticks, and
spent years moving from drying flowers to making my own paper from
dryer lint. I eventually settled into pottery, then ceramics. And
one day, I saw precious metal clay on TV. My dream had come true.
And indeed it had! That was 5 years ago and I’ve worked hard at my
art since then.

I don’t teach about PMC for money, but I AM a PMC evangelist and
will teach anyone willing to buy a lump of PMC or Art Clay the
beginning techniques so they, too, can have a passion. One of my
very first PMCers was recently juried into a prestigious guild on
the basis of her PMC skills and beadwork–right up there beside the
silversmiths, goldsmiths, woodworkers, metal sculptors, and all the
other fine artisans.

As far as strength of the end product is concerned, I would not
blame the material but rather the production methods if a ring made
of PMC cracks. I have a simple band made of standard PMC that I
have worn constantly for 5 years while mopping floors, working in
the garden, etc., and it is flawless. I DO fire all my metal clays
to 1650 degrees for two hours (old pottery habits die hard) for
maximum strength.

I was confronted by a jeweler selling charms at a show once. He
rudely told me I was making “junk.” When I asked what he knew about
PMC and if he had ever tried it, he became rudely irate, telling me
he wouldn’t touch it if someone paid him–he didn’t want to
contaminate his “skilled” hands. I smiled and attended to a
customer who was waiting to purchase a reasonably expensive piece
who asked what his “problem” was, as I boxed her one-of-a-kind
pendant and took her money.

This is a wonderful site and I spend lots of time lurking and
learning. I love you Orchid folks and your willingness to share and
teach. If you have a chance, try PMC–even if it’s just for fun. I
like to tell my students: ALCHEMY IS ALIVE AND WELL!!

Ann Lacava
Silver Moon Reflections/Craftdreams


#7

My thoughts on this medium is to push its limits and see what you
can really create organically.

My first PMC workshop was a bit disappointing. It was a typical
pendant class. I was not motivated to take the big leap in investing
in this new medium.

Not giving up just quite yet, I took a wonderful workshop taught by
Linda Kaye-Moses. Linda is an incredible artist and a fabulous
teacher. I went to her slide lecture before the class and I was
blown away by her creations of mixing traditional, fabricated
Sterling and adding elements of PMC to her jewelry.

I then took my PMC certified workshop by another incredible
artist/instructor J. Fred Woell. He too combines PMC with fabricated
Sterling and of course found objects.

Linda and J. Fred have inspired me to continue working with PMC and
experiment. Seek out instructors who relate to your vision and you
will not be dissapointed.

Rachel Dow


#8

Regarding the strength issue –

PMC +, fired at 1650 for 2 hours, has the same density as cast fine
silver.

Where did I get this From a presentation at the PMC
Conference in 2002, by an engineer from Japan from the Mitsubishi
Materials Corporation.

~Elaine
Elaine Luther
Chicago area, Illinois, USA
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
Studio 925; established 1992
@E_Luther


#9
  PMC +, fired at 1650 for 2 hours, has the same density as cast
fine silver. 

I’m curious, what is the shrinkage factor when PMC + is fired for
the entire two hours? 10 minutes is about 15%


#10

At TIJT PARIS TX., A certified PMC instructor offered a class on
working with PMC for the students. The class was offered in the
evening. Two instructors from TIJT ( who volunteered to open the
studio ) over saw the process being shown. Both JA Certified Master
Jewelers showed interest and remarked that the materials and process
showed potential.

One of the instructors present, Harrel Harrison, co authored the
proposals with Alan Revere which resulted in the JA Certification
Process.

The general consensus I have heard is that the Silver PMC is too
expensive to make larger volume productions of. But if used as a
master model, it offers many new prospects.

ROBB.
Do not mistake CIVILITY for SERVILITY


#11

Hi all,

After reading all the different opinions on the subject, i was just
wondering about a few things. I am only new to jewellery, so please
excuse my being so naive.

If you use casting house stuff to make your jewellery, are you
cheating? If you cast it yourself, are you cheating? Is fabricating
the only “real” jewellery making ? And at the end of the day, does
it really matter how you made it, if it sells? Isnt what really
matters that people will only buy what they like and they dont really
care if you made all of it buy hand or castings or even Pmc?


#12

Hello All,

I have been watching this thread with great enthusiasm, as I have
just purchased some PMC products and am planning to give it a try.
Without ever opening a single package of the clay, I have already
come to the decision that PMC is too expensive to use as a production
line product–BUT, I am planning to use it several different ways. I
make and glaze clay beads by hand. I plan to use PMC in conjunction
with my porcelain clay and glazes. The more I read about PMC (I have
purchased several books, videos, etc.) the more I feel that it is
another great tool for jewelry design–but cannot replace true
metalsmithing. I am by no means a master jeweler, which makes PMC
great for me. I’m always excited to find something that is user
friendly on many levels, and will enhance the designs I am already
creating. I think the challange will be to come up with totally
unique ways to use PMC–the possibilities are certainly vast.

If you think about it–PMC is actually a great “teaser” for anyone
interesting in metalworking. I bet there will be many, many folks
jumping from PMC to traditional metalsmithing because they will
discover that PMC mearly whets the appetite for the “real thing”. My
husband, and my pocketbook fear the same thing…wish me luck!

Best to you all,

Karen McGovern
Beadkeepers


#13
    I'm curious, what is the shrinkage factor when PMC + is fired
for the entire two hours?  10 minutes is about 15% 

No perceptible increase in shrinkage.

Elaine Luther
Chicago area, Illinois, USA
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
Studio 925; established 1992
@E_Luther


#14

I have never worked with PMC. I know many people who do use this
medium and not one of them uses it without having to supplement
their pieces with some traditional metalworking, whether it be
findings or bezels, for example. It seems to me that people are
describing it as a substitute for traditional metal and I think that
is the problem. It is another medium and should be treated as such.
From what I am told PMC can really excel as the medium for certain
things and really suck for others. My main question regarding the
medium would be the durability factor and the ability to get really
clean, sharp lines as you might want for a bezel, for instance. So,
if we are going to address PMC as a ‘substitute’ for traditional
metal techniques I would like someone to address the durability and
shortcomings at length. As a metalworker it would be very
intersting if someone would discuss it as a medium to be used along
with traditional metalworking and how the two can enhance each
other.

Grace , Cleveland


#15

My experience in PMC workshops has been that clay workers, potters,
etc. do much better with PMC than do metal workers. They produce
excellent three dimensional objects that would be extremely difficult
to accomplish in metal fabrication. Following their lead, I have made
some very interesting and artistic pieces with PMC, justifying the
expense.


#16

The jewelery shop manager at the college I go to does various silver
alloy lost wax casting that looks like what people are doing with
PMC. He uses beeswax and presses the wax onto textures or presses
things into the wax for the models. Pieces that are cast in fine
silver can then be enameled. Can enamel be applied to PMC? Some of
the containers he has cast are done in an alloy he calls cheapuichi.
Says it comes from the Japanese Mokume alloy Shibuichi. He says he
calls it cheapuichi because he uses scrap copper and the silver
scraps left on the floor by students.


#17

Tim,

There’s a new magazine, Art Jewelry, and the first issue has several
PMC projects. This is from “The Look of Enamel Created with Swirls
of Paint” by Jackie Truty:

  "Years before I discovered Art Clay Silver, I'd been painting
  Pebeo's  Porcelain 150 on glass bottles and ceramic tiles. I
  liked that the vivid  colors didn't change when they baked and
  turned out to be permanent  afterward  And you can mix Pebeo's
  colors to customize even more.

  The paint will level itself and become glossy and smooth. Do
  not touch  the color with your fingers, even after the paint
  dries; if you do, your  fingerprints will transfer to the
  surface and damage the shine. Allow the  bead to air-dry at
  least 24 hours; if less drying time is allowed before  baking,
  the surface is likely to bubble. 

  Place the finished bead inside a toaster oven or a regular
  kitchen oven  with the oven thermometer nearby on the same
  level. Rely on this  thermometer because the built-in ones in
  ovens often provide inaccurate  temperature readings. Bake the
  bead at 325F for 40 minutes. 

  Clean it with a damp cloth or polishing cloth. Do not soak it
  for any  length of time or use ammoniated cleaning products on
  it." 

Of course, it doesn’t look exactly like real enamel–it’s shiny but
not glassy, nor as durable. But it is nontoxic and doesn’t require
a kiln.

Janet


#18

Tim Pentrile,

I took Falcher Fusager’s enameling class at Revere last year. One of
the others participants tried transparent enamels on silver PMC and
it worked fine.

John Flynn


#19

Tim Pentrile,

I took Falcher Fusager’s enameling class at Revere last year. One of
the others participants tried transparent enamels on silver PMC and
it worked fine.

John Flynn