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Tips, Techniques, and Questions -- Technical questions or tips

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Old 2006-12-28, 3:28pm
SLY Creations SLY Creations is offline
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Default pmc3 bead caps??? Do you know how?

I would like to try and make some bead caps from pmc3. I have never used this product or for that matter, any clay product. Can anyone educate me on how you would make bead caps? Also, how does the product come, do you roll it out, and if so, how do you do that? How long do you bake it? Etc. I am clueless. Please help me out here.

Thanks, Sharon
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Old 2006-12-28, 7:04pm
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Firelilly Firelilly is offline
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Here's a few PMC links. I'm pretty sure there are message boards out there devoted to PMC too...have to hunt around. Or maybe someone here can direct you to a message board site...but there is a more specific section here on LE for you PMC questions too...

Good luck!

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Old 2006-12-29, 7:27am
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JanMD JanMD is offline
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My sincere advice is: Take a class or study a book before you start. Believe me (and I know this by very painful experience!) it's WAAAAY too expensive a material for you to be wasting it by learning as you go.

Here are a few more links:
-- PMC Guild home page. Nice galleries!
-- 'The Alchemy of Precious Metal Clay With PMC, jewelry makers turn clay into silver or gold", Lapidary Journal article here
-- 'An Introduction to the Material, Tools and Techniques of Working with Precious Metal Clay' from the Society of American Silversmiths
-- And here's Timmy McCreight's book Working With Precious Metal Clay, from Brynmorgan Press

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Old 2006-12-29, 9:20am
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Emily Emily is offline
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At the PMC Guild site linked in Jan's message, there's a .pdf file that's a booklet called "Getting Started with PMC." Take a look at it, and it will give you an idea what working with PMC is like. The last page of it has a chart of firing times for the various types of PMC.

I don't know what kind of kiln you have. The lowest firing temp for PMC3 (which is the lowest firing temp for any kind of PMC) is 1110 F (double-check this, but I think I'm right). You shouldn't kiln-fire PMC in a Chili Pepper. (If you have another non-firebrick kiln, check to see what its maximum recommended temperature is.) For maximum strength of the PMC, you should use a higher firing temperature. The lowest temperature isn't recommended unless you're using something in your project (like glass) that forces you to fire that low. If you fire at too low a temperature, the particles in the clay won't fuse completely and your piece can break. There's another thread here on the forum where someone had pieces from a class that broke, and it seemed pretty clear that they'd been underfired.

I second (third?) the recommendation on buying a book. I like Tim McCreight's book. It's a few years old, though, so it won't mention PMC3. That shouldn't make a difference to you as long as you have something else that gives you the chart of firing times. If you're near a Barnes & Noble or a Borders, I'd go and browse through the PMC books to find one you like. They'll probably have several.

What none of the books and websites will convey to you is how fast this blasted stuff dries when you're trying to work with it. You have to be absolutely meticulous about keeping the clay you're not working with covered with plastic wrap, well sealed, every second. You can add water, but it's better not to let it dry out in the first place.

The clay picks up hairs and lint and stuff, too. It burns out in the kiln, but if there's a cat hair or something on the surface that you missed, it can leave a mark that looks like a scratch, and PMC holds detail so well that there will be a scratch on the surface of the silver that you'll have to get out. To minimize the amount of time that you'll be fussing with the PMC, I really recommend getting some polymer clay (Premo, Sculpey, Katoclay -- I'd avoid Fimo because it's really stiff -- any craft store has it, and the little blocks are about $1.50, I think) and working out your designs with that first. Polymer is oven-bake, and it's fairly similar to working with PMC, although a little bit easier to manipulate. Remember that the PMC will shrink about 12%, so your final product will be smaller than your clay piece. (Polymer doesn't shrink when you bake it.)
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Last edited by Emily; 2006-12-29 at 9:22am.
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Old 2006-12-29, 12:16pm
SLY Creations SLY Creations is offline
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Oh, thanks to all of you - and for all of the links. I love our beading community.

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