PMC Pro: an exciting new material – part I, shaping

posted in: precious metal clay | 0

Actually, it is not that new. PMC Pro™ has been introduced by Mitsubishi in 2010, I bought it from Cool Tools in 2011. PMC Pro™ is an alloy of fine silver and copper. 90% silver, 10% copper. As a fan of “pure” fine silver I was a bit apprehensive about this new offering from Mitsubishi. Why should you use another – quite expensive per gram of pure silver – alloy, when cheap and strong sterling silver is widely available? Professional jewelry makers might have shrugged their shoulders: they were already sceptical about precious metal clay as such.
But curiosity took over and I decided to give it a try.  The next question was: for what kind of jewelry is this material best suited? The formal-logical approach documented here was very helpful. You should use PMC – Pro or any other kind – only WHERE its use is optimal and the material has a clear advantage over other materials.
Currently there are quite a few Internet resources available about PMC Pro™. After having read some tutorials, for instance, this article in Fusion, Journal of the International PMC guild and a very informative blog by Lora Hart Pro or Con?, I decided to make up the following table:

PMC Pro Constraints and Possibilities

“-“ Qualities
“+” Qualities
20% shrinkage
no large stones can be co-fired, tricky to estimate future bezel size
good workability: does not dry up fast
long working time, possible to re-knead several times
low melt point (800C), no hard solder can be used, no Oil Paste can be used for repairs!* Not true, read this blog
impossible to make multi-component pieces which need step-by-step soldering (from hard to medium to easy), no designs with the risk of cracks, no large stones can be co-fired
high tensile strength
possible to make rings and (bangle) bracelets, also from one piece, with tiny elements which will not break
complicated firing procedure (carbon firing needed)
when using combustible components, careful planning of the firing procedure is needed
very flexible, high plasticity
possible to make sophisticated sculptures
does not blend with other PMC
combined pieces not recommended
easy to attach fresh Pro to fired Pro with homemade slip (add some lavender oil to the slip)* Not true, read this blog
possible to make multi-element pieces without Oil Paste
dedicated tools needed
buy new toolkit, make a series with PMC Pro only


My logical conclusion was: make rings and/or bracelets without stones or just with very small stones, combine elements step-by-step, take your time between each step to think about the design and further procedure, read firing instructions carefully, avoid too complicated designs, especially at the beginning.
After having defined this strategy, I opened the pack. My first impression was: a chewing gum – very flexible, viscous, dense. Does not dry quickly, takes some time to blend with water. Sticky stuff, you should really use plenty of oil or other gunk on the roller and on the teflon foil. The fingers get dirty. Really dirty, as the color is dark grey – much darker than the color of PMC 3. On the bright side: very malleable, sculpturing is great, clay shapers are much more useful than with PMC3, where the main shaping job is done on the greenware.
So these are my first PMC Pro™ pieces – future rings. I will describe here the further working process and my experiences.
To be continued.

Leave a Reply