Thursday, March 19, 2009

PMC Pendant

Today, I thought I would share with you my experience making a pendant using PMC (Precious Metal Clay).

This whole project started one day when Dave (a very dear friend of mine) approached me with a picture of a pendant that he saw in a magazine. He really liked it and asked if I came across anything like it with any of my suppliers - could I order it in for him. No problem! But... what exactly is it? He wasn't sure but the one thing he did know was that he really liked it!

Here is the original picture... you tell me... what do you think it is?

At first glance, it reminded me of some kind of coin... but what kind of coin could this be? You have to love the internet for this... I started searching... and searching and then... did I see what I thought I saw... did I see a picture of a coin that resembled this picture? I did - it's an old Spanish Doubloon! Great, I now knew what it was. Onto suppliers... no luck, not even something that closely resembled it. I just so happened to have some PMC and I thought... why don't I try making it!

First approach... I could order in a toy replica, make a mold and press the PMC clay into the mold. Not a bad idea right? I did manage to find some Doubloon replicas and ordered them in. Here it is...

Looks like the picture doesn't it? Only one problem... the details on the coin were not defined enough to make an impression.

Onto second approach... one of my first passions in life is to paint. Thinking... I could make a flat coin from the PMC and using PMC Paste, I could layer all of the details on. I did start this and before too long realized that it was going to take forever to get all the detail onto a not so large coin!

I hadn't given up yet although I knew, Dave probably did. Just to give you some perspective on the elapsed time here... I had been pondering this project for about 8 - 10 months at this point!

I am a very determined individual and I don't give up too easily. Then one wonderful day, I came across this stuff called Photopolymer sheets! Wow... could this be my answer? I quickly got my hands on some and went to work.

It's a really cool process. First, you need a black and white image which you need to copy onto a transparency. I sketched the image onto a piece of paper, scanned it into my computer and went to work using Paint Shop to clean it up. Here is the black and white image.

Now, time to make the mold which is a really simple process. You build a sandwich (bottom to top), a piece of wood or tile, the Photopolymer sheet (remove the plastic film), the transparency that you copied your image onto and a piece of glass. Clamp it all together and expose it under a UV lamp for 30 seconds. Next, place the exposed Photopolymer sheet in tepid water and wash away until the unexposed surface has receded and no longer has a sticky or slimy feel (about 5 minutes). Dry with hair dryer and expose in the UV lamp again for one minute. You now have a mold that can be used over and over again with PMC.

To make the coin, I pressed PMC into the mold, and did a bit of cleanup before the PMC started to dry - you only have a few minutes here. Next, let the piece dry completely either overnight or in my case... I used the toaster oven at a low heat for about 45 minutes. Once dry, I did a bit of sanding, and then, into the kiln it went. Once fired and completely cooled, onto the burnishing and polishing stage. Since it was a replica of an old coin, I didn't want to polish the whole piece to a perfect mirror finish... I wanted it to have the look of an old coin. Here is the coin in the clay form and finally the finished piece! The finished piece is 99.9% pure silver.

At this point.. about a year had gone by but, I was finally able to give the pendant to Dave and he loved it! Told you I was determined! I really loved working on this project and and it is my all time favorite piece!

Dave - thank you for the challenge and the opportunity to make this for you!


  1. DAMN! i'm IMPRESSED!!! and btw, next time... call me... i coulda told you what that was in a heartbeat! LOL (my grandpa once gave a REAL dubloon to a waffle house waitress as a tip... what can i say? eccentricity runs in the family! LOL)

    REALLY great work though! and now i know who to go to when i want to learn to use PMC!!!


  2. Thanks Jenn - and where was I when your grandpa was handing out those dubloons!! Wow... can you imagine getting a real one... as a tip!!
    Anytime you want to use PMC just give me a call.