Carl Stanley: Precious Metal Clay Part 1

Carl Stanley: Precious Metal Clay Part 1

To be honest I was not that interested in Precious Metal Clay before I saw this demonstration. It was very informative and I can see a lot of unique applications for it (now)…

Carl Stanlet Lecturing/metal clay

Precious Metal Clay is just what it sounds like. It is fine silver (or gold) ground extremely small and suspended in a binder to create a clay. Just like you played with as a kid.

Once the clay (PMC) is molded and shaped it is fired in a casting oven or depending on the type of clay it can be fired with a torch.

One of the major advantages of this material is that it’s really simple to work with and fast, it has very little learning curve for a beginner. Precious clay does not require the skills of traditional jewelry making, there is no soldering, or forging,.

Precious metal clay has another distinct advantage for a beginner, it can also be worked with in a very small space. No workshop is needed, just a small workspace on a bench or table. PMC does not need any of the traditional tools, with the exception of a burn out oven or torch. Classes are often taught at local clubs and schools… access to an oven is easy to get without buying one, just look around for a local class.

PMC comes in a plastic wrapped block just like any clay, although it is more money, about $22/oz. or so depending on quantity and supplier. The clay can be rolled, shaped, molded, glued together, stamped, extruded and about any thing else that you can think of to create objects or jewelry. Then set aside to dry out and harden up so it will keep it’s shape, then fired. Magic… silver/gold jewelry.

Clay being workedClay being worked

Clay being workedClay being worked

Working clay

Left – As you can see in the picture to the left precious metal clay can be manipulated in almost an endless number of ways and techniques.

Notice the lavender pieces of plastic laying around. This is a plastic material that can be used as a mold or to make a texture stamp out of.

Carl Stanlet holding the molding material

Left – The plastic molding material comes in sheets, clay (like) and liquid forms.

Basically is can be worked like the PMC itself to create molds, texture stamps, and forms.

When the mold material cures, it’s some what like linoleum or tire rubber. It will hold whatever shape you created with high detail, thus making a mold for the clay.

There is some shrinkage in both the precious metal clay (after firing) and also the molding material (after curing). The amount of shrinkage depends on the type of clay (or molding). Some materials do not shrink hardly at all and some a as much as 30% or so.

There are some distinct advantages that can be taken advantage of when the material shrinks. Pieces can be made smaller by molding, firing and remolding.

Carl Stanlet holding the molding material

Left – For example say you want to make a smaller version of this cactus silver pin you have already created. You can do this without having to go to the labor of re-carving the pin all over again.

Create a mold of the original pin using the molding material.

Simply press the original pin in the soft molding material, creating a duplicate image.

Note: More detail can easily be added to the molding material while it is soft by cutting, scribing or indenting with various tools.

Carl Stanlet holding the molding material

Left – Take some PMC and make a new pin from the mold of the original that you just made a mold from.

Fire the PMC and depending on the type of clay (and it’s shrinkage) you will have an exact duplicate of the original cactus pin.

If you want more or smaller pins just make a new mold using the unfired.

Note: You can make molds of fired (shrunk) cactus pins or unfired pins that will be larger.

Using this method pins of various sizes can be created quickly with out much labor. An interesting side note to this technique is that you can do small scale production of various pieces of jewelry by just making molds and not having to create wax copies and casting them like in a traditional manufacturing environment. For low production custom pieces of jewelry this is a tremendous advantage in labor and materials cost.

There is a lot more PMC material, I decided to make a second page because of length, so…
Precious Metal Clay with Carl Stanley Part #2

Below are some picture of various different textures that can be made using PMC. As you can see there are endless possibilities…
PMC textures

PMC textures

PMC textures

About the author
Jeff R. Graham
The late Jeff Graham was a prolific faceter, creator of many original faceting designs, and the author of several highly-regarded instructional faceting books such as Gram Faceting Designs.
All articles by this author