Saturday, October 12, 2013

I Love Precious Metal Clay!

I first wrote about PMC (precious metal clay) in July, (here's the post link)  when I took a class at the Adirondack Folk School.  At that time, as I said in that post, I had no idea what PMC was all about, so I went in with no preconceived plan.  This time was different.  I had some ideas I wanted to try, and so I went in with a plan.  Which is good, since PMC is real silver, and thus very expensive.

I wanted to experiment with weaving ideas. Sorry this image of the completed earrings posted sideways. 
Here's a close-up (below).  I first rolled out and textured my clay, and then cut it in strips, working quickly as the clay dries fast. I used some water on a paintbrush to slip in between the connections, and then gently pressed them together.  They do not look like exactly what I envisioned, but I still think they are really cool.  I don't know anyone else with woven silver earrings!  I dangled them on a piece of chain because, with my long hair, I kind of liked them having a little 'swing'. 
 Then, still in weaving mode, I wanted to try out my other idea.  The plan was to create a frame with drilled holes all the way around, so I could actually weave inside it, either with threads, or fine wire.  I made these curved top rectangles (maybe an inch and a half long), and in addition to the hole for the ear-wire, I put two holes in the top and bottom (for the warp), and four down each side (for the weft), measuring very carefully.   At least that's what I thought I did.  After they were fired, and I brought them home, I discovered there was, on each earring, one hole on the side that had not drilled through entirely.  This of course undid my original plan for an authentic weaving, with warp and weft.  Instead, I used fine wire and seed beads and weaved in and out in a random pattern, twisting here and there.  Here's the result - the pair, and a close-up of one earring.  By the way, the funky texture was achieved with a texture plate.
 Then it was time to make a ring.  You may recall that I was NOT happy with the ring I made last time, so this time I wanted to redeem myself.  Here's a few views of the result:
 Sorry - another sideways post - but I wanted to show you the close up of the texture.  This texture, believe it or not, came from a very subtle texture on a tiny strip of wallpaper!  I think it looks like dragon scales. 
 I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out.  A lot of people in the class inserted stones, but they were cubic zirconium and I didn't want to put cheapy stones in a real silver ring. 
Then I wanted to make some petal earrings.  They are not yet assembled, but I'll show them to you anyhow.  Though unplanned, they ended up looking like a calla lily.  I didn't even realize, when I picked the stripey texture for the inside, how much that would look like the calla llily. 
  I want to dangle something down the middle (a pearl? on wire? on beaded thread?) but I have changed my mind a ton of times and need some advice.  They do not have black patina, as does everything else but the waffle weave earrings, and so they are extremely reflective.  A real calla lily has a yellow center, but I don't think that will look good with the silver.  but I just don't know what to do, as whatever I put inside will be strongly reflected by the shiny inside of the petal.  (Sorry the photos aren't focused great - I forgot to include them when I shot the other pics.) On the palm of my hand, you can get the idea of the size.
 They have a lovely texture on the outside, too.  I'll be able to do a wire wrap at the top, or an anchor bead, and then drop something through the inside.  I could decide to forget about calla lily accuracy and do 3 or 4 little pearl drops at different levels.  Opinions, please?  No crystals though - I tried them and didn't like them.

After the  lily earrings, I still had some clay left over, but we were running out of time, so I quickly rolled out some leftover clay and pressed a rubber stamp into it, and then used a circle cutter to make these quick earrings:
 The red beads did not photograph accurately.  They are actually a very dark red, and not at all the cherry red in these photos.  I added the beads when I assembled the earrings at home.  Again, I wanted the earrings to dangle.  The circles are probably about an inch in diameter.
And then - oh no, still another little hunk of clay!  And the woman seated across from me was done, and had a teeny piece left too, and gave it to me.  So, I swear, I made these little earrings below in about 2 minutes.  I rolled the clay, used some star punches for 6 stars, and then rolled again, and used a teardrop punch for 2 teardrops, and with the tiny bit of clay still left, I was able to roll and punch out two more tiny stars. I assembled them quickly with simply dabs of water from a wet paintbrush.  In the nick of time, I dried them with a heat gun, and they were ready for the final firing of the day.  As it turns out, I absolutely love these earrings for an everyday pair, the kind you slip on for a trip to the gym or the farmer's market.  They are maybe an inch or so long.
Then... the crazy irony of all that rushing about - I was cleaning up my workspace and discovered that I still had some totally unused PMC carefully tucked in it's little package.  So I will make something at home (the tools are simple) and bring it to the teacher who says she can fire it for me.  Yay! Not sure what I'll make - perhaps I don't need any more earrings right now?  I'm thinking I may make one bigger piece for either a statement brooch or a necklace, going back to the idea of incorporating woven fiber into a window. Or maybe some tube beads.  Or both...

As you can see, I am smitten with PMC, so down the road you may see me doing some more.  For those of you from NY state, if you attend the NYSATA conference in November, I'll probably have a different pair of PMC earrings swinging from my ears every time you see me (remember, I made another 4 pairs back in July, so that's a LOT of earrings).  Anyhow, if you don't recognize me from my silver hair, just look for the jewelry!


  1. By the way - for those of you who enjoyed the fact that I did not force you to do word verification for leaving comments, I apologize, but I had to change it today. I am getting a lot of spam comments, and it is aggravating to have to keep marking and deleting them. So for the time being, word verification is back. I know, I hate it too. But so it goes...

  2. Gorgeous jewelry! I instantly thought dragon scales for the texture on your ring before I read it! Have you thought about an elongated pearl? I've seen some in jewelry catalogs. I like the organic quality of fresh water pearls...

    1. Thanks! And yes, I'm considering fresh water pearls, among other ideas. There's four challenges: 1) the size of the drop has to be very very small to keep from overpowering the silver; 2) the reflectivity of the silver; 3) the decision whether to veer from the authentic look of the calla lily; and 4) I don't want the earrings to be too dressy. I'm basically a pretty casual gal, and I don't want fancy pearl earrings I'll never wear. So sparkly Swarovski crystals are not a good choice, for example.

  3. What a great collection, Phyl. I love the shiny woven earrings. You are on to something with the whole weaving thing!!

    1. Thanks so much, Christie! I've taken to calling them my waffle earrings. I think I may. Shorten the dangly chains by a couple of links, though. They are so uber-shiny they look very glamorous; I, however, am definitely not the glamorous type. I'm more clogs and lace-ups than heels, and prefer a more bohemian look, I guess. I need to make them fit with my lifestyle!

  4. they are awesome so much textile influence which I love. reminds me of how chanel quilts everything and puts leather through chain link.

    1. Thanks! I can't even imagine being in any sort of comparison with Chanel!