Saturday, April 26, 2008


I took a class a couple of months ago at my local bead shop to learn about making fine silver jewelry pieces out of PMC (which stands for precious metal clay) and I must say I'm really enjoying learning more about this amazing medium. I love the creative process of shaping something out of clay, refining and sanding it to take out its imperfections, firing it, finishing and then making it into jewelry. It is quite a process and I thought I'd share a few of the steps. I'm sorry it's not totally complete, since I've missed out some of the steps, for example firing with a torch. It's a little challenging to hold a camera and use a butane torch with a 1600 degree flame at the same time but if I can talk my husband into taking a picture soon I'll add to this post or begin a whole new one!
In a nutshell, Precious Metal Clay is a substance originally developed in Japan in the 1990's. It is a clay made up of very fine silver particles, an organic binder and water. It can be shaped, rolled, or put in molds and then left to dry. The form is sanded and then fired with a torch or kiln to burn off the binders leaving you with a pure 99.9% silver piece that is a dense, strong metal.

This picture above shows a ball of clay in the plastic (so it doesn't dry out) and a link I rolled and cut into circles, then stamped with a swirl design.

The picture to the right shows the pieces after firing. They have been scrubbed with a brass brush to give it a satin finish and then burnished with an agate tip to have a very shiny reflective surface.If I had a tumbler this would be much easier but all in good time! I will have to wait for a few more sales in my shop for that one!
The next step is to give the pieces a "patina" or an aged look. This is done with "liver of sulphur" which is sulfurized potash. It's pretty smelly stuff but does a great job with the silver. It's a little sad to purposely tarnish the silver with all the effort we take to try and keep it looking shiny but it really does bring out the details in any design that is stamped on the surface.

Here are all the things I need to apply the patina in the picture above.

The silver pieces on the right have been "patinized"and are ready for the final polish.
And here is the finished product on the left. A pair of earrings that I listed in my Etsy shop recently! If you're interested in this or other fine silver jewelry click here.

I am by no means an expert or claim to be but I hope you enjoyed this simple explanation of PMC! There are many books on the subject and bead shops that are offering classes to get you started!


  1. Thanks for this post. i have been wondering about that medium for a long time and your detailed post really answered some of my questions!

  2. wow the finished product is gorgeous!

  3. beautiful work! i love cherry blossoms so in yr shop, those are my favourites!

  4. These are darling! I really wish that my ears would allow me to enjoy earrings again because I would totally buy them. After years of wearing earrings, my ears started to itch and no matter what kind I try, they always itch... DONGIE SLUMP ICK I like earrings!

    I like your jewelry, Theresa.


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