Monday

Rubber Stamped Silver Jewelry

In the early 1990s the Japanese developed a clay, called Precious Metal Clay (or PMC), impregnated with silver powder. You can use it just like clay, then fire it which burns off the clay part, leaving the silver. Genius!

I had a package of PMC+ for 5 years before I screwed up the courage to actually make something with it. I watched every YouTube video on "torch fired PMC" that I could find, then took a deep breath and dove in. I can't believe how easy this is. If you have rubber stamped, worked with polymer clay and lit a barbeque with a lighter, you can easily do this (even if you've done none of the above). It's a bit more expensive than my usual tutorials, but even so, you can make original pendants for about $5.00 each. That does not include the cost of the butane torch but you can also use that to make creme brulee thus justifying the expense ($25.00 at Home Depot). The rest of the materials are very inexpensive and you may already have most of them. Unfortunately PMC is not available at craft stores, you have to order it. But believe me, it's worth it.

Materials:
PMC+ (PMC+ and PMC3 are the only ones that can be fired by torch) Available here.
cooking oil

Tools:
plastic place mat
mat board
acrylic brayer (or small section of PVC pipe or dowel)
rubber stamps
small round bottle caps
razor blade (or exacto knife)
skewer
emery board
PMC is fired in a kiln. PMC+ and PMC3 were developed with lower firing temps so it can be fired with a torch. Since I don't have a kiln, this is what I opted to use and it worked like a dream.

Tools:
butane torch (Home Depot)
butane fuel
fire brick (a brickyard)
boiled egg
Ziplock bag
fine sandpaper


Roll out the PMC+ between 2 pieces of mat board or two piles of several playing cards on a plastic place mat. This insures that the clay is a uniform size and the right thickness for a piece of jewelry.

Rub a little oil on the surface of the clay and stamp with rubber stamps. (mine just happen to be unmounted, but mounted work as well)

Cut out the pendants with small caps. The clay will shrink, but only about 10% so keep that in mind when choosing the size of the cutter.

Carefully remove the excess clay with a razor blade. (the left over clay can be rehydrated with water and used again) Poke a hole in the top of each circle with a skewer. Allow the clay to dry completely. The dried circles will easily pop off the placemat. Turn them over and allow the backs to dry. This size took about 4 hours to dry. You can hurry this with a hair dryer. After the pieces are completely dry, clean up the edges and any blobs by sanding with an emery board.

Fire in a dimly lit room. I positioned myself between the light and the clay to cast a shadow. Working on one pendant at a time, heat the clay on a fire brick. Keep the flame moving and about 1 1/2" away from the piece. The clay will emit a small flame. When the clay begins to glow a peachy orange (only visible in dim light), begin to time your firing. Fire for one minute. Allow to cool.

If you fire from the back of the piece, you won't damage the front if it starts to melt. If the pendant begins to melt, back the flame away a bit. You can tell if it is melting because the piece will bubble and get shiny.

Fully fired clay will be white. Scrub it with a brass wire brush to remove the residue. The above photo shows the before and after; the large circle has not been brushed, the smaller one has.

Here is the fired and wire brushed circle.
Boil an egg and while it is still hot place it in a larger size zip lock bag. Break the egg to expose the yolk which is the part of the egg that causes the patina. Place your silver pieces into the bag but don't let it touch the egg. (Why? I don't know)

Here is the pendant after about 3 hours. Lightly sand the pendant with fine sandpaper to remove the dark patina on the surface and allow the dark indentions to show up.

Add a jump ring and hang it from a wire or chain.

No one will have any idea that you made this in your kitchen with a creme brulee torch.

*update: One of my readers has told me that my source for PMC seems not to be in business anymore. The only thing I can recommend is that you google PMC and call the suppliers to make sure that they can sell you some.

32 comments:

StepThruCrazy said...

Beautiful! Adding this to my to-do list!

Alyssabeth's said...

I've been wanting to try this forever...... you made it sound so much more user friendly!

Hanneke Nelson said...

I had no idea you could fire PMC with a torch. I stayed away from it because also do not have a kiln and no intention of buying one. Thanks for the tip!

Jenn Erickson said...

Gail, it's modern day alchemy! I'm stunned! I've never heard of this clay! So much of what we find online these days are revamps of the same old thing, but this is truly original and something NEW! WOW! I can't wait to get some of this stuff and start playing with fire! I have that same butane torch (fired many a creme brulee with that baby)! Thank you! jenn

Sweet Birdy Love said...

Hey Gail, what a wonderful tute, never heard of PMC, but then I usually play with textiles!

Still a bit stumped about the boiled egg part of the tute! How long do you leave it in the bag?

Might have to give this a go when I can pack away the sewing machine......

Gail said...

Okay, I'll try to explain the egg thing as best I can. You usually use liver of sulphur to darken silver. I didn't have any nor am I close to any stores that might. (a stained glass shop should have it). I Googled "silver patina" and found a few mentions of hard boiled egg yolks doing the trick. It kind of makes sense as sulphur smells like rotten eggs (remember chemistry class?). Anyway, that's my theory.

I put my pendant in a plastic bag along with the freshly boiled egg (broken up). I waited 3 hours but since it is a clear bag, you can see when it is as dark as you would like. I think the heat of the egg might help things along, but that needs some experimenting.

It worked perfectly. I liked the idea that I wasn't using chemicals that have to be disposed of after you use them.

Try it.

PS I'm doing a bit of sewing myself so you will see some tutes on that in the future. It's tricky - maybe because my sewing machine is from the dark ages. Anyway, my hats off to all of you sewers.

Sweet Birdy Love said...

Hey Gail, thanks so much for the explanation, be lucky to boil an egg and use it for something other than a sandwich if No1 son is around !
Love your pendants, they are just brilliant, shall make a few calls to craft shops and see if they stock PMC

Stacia said...

this is SO cool!

Suzonne said...

Finally! Something to do with our creme brulee torch! Very cool.

Julie said...

Very interesting process. Beautiful, too!

Mary Ellen said...

Wow these are beautiful! I can see this used in so many different areas!!

Coming over from Cheri's!

bee blessed
mary

Maggie said...

Wow - that is amazing. I've never seen anything like it!

Kelley said...

That is awesome...I have read about that clay butnever worked up the courage to actually try it myself. Great toot!

pixxie said...

This is brilliant! I will have to check my local craft store to see if they stock this stuff. Your pendants are beautiful!

alyssha lynn said...

Wow - What an awesome and unique tutorial! Thanks so much - and where on earth did you learn all that ;)

Anonymous said...

Wow this is a great resource.. I’m enjoying it.. good article

Jane said...

Your rubber stamped jewelry is an awesome inspiration! Many thanks for sharing. I would like to feature it at http://www.handmade-jewelry-club.com/

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Sarah. said...

I've always wanted to try PMC but needed a project that would turn out looking like jewelry, not a craft project. This is perfect. Now to hunt down the clay -already have the torch!

Doña Calles said...

This is a great tutorial! I am doing etched copper, but this will seriously expand what I do.

Would you mind sharing your resource for the stamps? They are great.

Thank you.

http://donacalles.blogspot com

Tiffany said...

I cant tell you how exciting this post made me, I want to do something for my sister and this just helped so much. Thank you!!!

Janel F. Acton said...

AMAZING!!!!!!!!
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Janet Caperton said...

You can purchase PMC and PMC+ through Fire Mountain Gems, http://www.firemoutaingems.com

I've never heard of the egg trick, I'm going to have to try that. Liver of Sulfer stinks to high heaven, even with a well ventilated area, and I got a bad migraine from it, this sounds so much easier.

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abdullah said...

I've never heard of the egg trick, I'm going to have to try that. Liver of Sulfer stinks to high heaven, even with a well geveze sohbet

1saucywench said...

Gail,
It is important to mention that a torch can effectively fire pieces equal to or smaller than a 50 cent piece. Items larger than that cannot be fired properly with a torch and must be kiln fired. The whole piece needs to be fired at the same temperature to be properly sintered, and the torch's capabilities max out around the size of a half dollar. Also, triple filtered canned butane is suggested for firing metal clay. Lastly, the binding agents give off smoke during the firing process, so use plenty of ventilation.

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Linda Premkumar said...

Awesome . always was a dream. You made it simple.

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