So What is PMC?

Portion of this article has been adapted from an article by Darnall Burks, published by Brynmorgen Press (date).

Precious Metal Clay® represents a dramatic development in the handling of precious metals. PMC® consists of microscopic particles of silver or gold suspended in an organic binder to create a pliable material with a consistency similar to modeling clay. PMC can be worked with the fingers and with simple, inexpensive tools to create an infinite range of forms, surfaces and textures that would be unattainable or laborious with traditional techniques. When PMC is heated to a high temperature, the organic binder burns away and the metal particles fuse, forming solid metal that can be sanded, soldered, oxidized, patinaed and polished like conventional material. Below are illustrations of the variety of particle sizes and shapes used in the different types of PMC products.

Particle size PMC
Particle size and shape in PMC®
Particle size and shape in PMC+™
Particle size and shape in PMC+™
Particle size and shape in PMC3™
Particle size and shape in PMC3™
Particle size and shape in PMC Sterling
Particle size and shape in PMC Sterling

In concept, Precious Metal Clay is an elegant and simple material. In fact, it is a highly technical product. The idea was the brainchild of a scientist named Dr. Morikawa, employee of Mitsubishi Materials Corporation in Japan. His goal was to develop a form of metal that had the feel and working properties of pottery clay. He reasoned that such a material would allow artists to create objects from silver or gold just like a potter makes ceramic items. In fact, the first PMC pieces were Japanese style tea ceremony cups formed on a potter’s wheel.

PMC is made from pure silver or gold (or gold-silver alloys). Gold and silver are noble metals, a term which indicates that they react chemically much less than most common metals. One result is that they react much less against skin. People who have an allergic response to sterling silver may be able to tolerate fine silver, and that is why fine silver is used in medical implants and dental fillings. Another result is that noble metals are less likely to develop an oxide skin when heated. In PMC, this is what allows the particles to fuse together.

Recently, MMTC has developed a variety of PMC Sterling clays that are a combination of noble silver and a bit of copper which adds strength to the metal object. Currently, PMC 925 Sterling and PMC OneFire 950 Sterling is available in a variety of sizes. To fire these material, the final object needs a reduced-oxygen firing process.