How to use Precious Metal Clay?

October 2, 2016
Beads and pendants - using
I still use the same technique that I came up with a decade ago and that was first published in Lapidary Journal in ‘05. I then refined things and came up with some variations for Tim McCreight’s book PMC Technic in ’07. If you don’t have the book, the digital version was just released for sale through the Apple Ibooks Store, Amazon (for Kindle) and plays on almost any phone, tablet or computer.

The “Kahn Bezel” (as some have called it) is made up of scanning a cab, printing it 118% larger and using that template to make your back sheet. I still use PMC Plus for this (cause why not, it works great for this purpose and is less expensive than the newer clays).

Originally I used PMC Paper for the bezel because it was available, uniformly thin and created a great bezel wall. Then I moved to using PMC Plus or PMC3 because of the length limitation of the PMC Paper and because I wanted to create textured bezel walls. Rolling those clays super thin was difficult but even more difficult was handling them when dry.

This little Flipagram illustrates me making a bezel from start to finish.
First I would roll out a snake of clay at 2 cards and then drop down to 3 pieces of paper on each side and roll onto my texture. Then I would cut bezel strips and I let them dry. (They need to dry so they don’t get hurt while working with them and so they stand up without flopping over.) Then I would re-wet the one side so it would become soft and flexible and bend it around the back sheet and mark where to cut it. I would sand beveled ends on the strip and in that time, it would dry and become rigid again and potentially break. I would wet it on the inside again and bend it around the back sheet, this time adhering it to the back sheet as I bent it around.

PMC Flex allows me to avoid some steps. I can simply let it dry and then it is super bendy and flexible - no cracking! It’s amazing that something so thin can be so pliable and worry free!

So now, once it’s dry I can take my strip and bend it around, mark it, cut it, sand the ends, bend it around again and attach it to my back sheet, saving those re-wetting steps and saving me from holding my breath! What a treat!

Once fired, it is rigid and acts just like any bezel wall, I use a bezel roller followed by a steel burnisher to set my stone.

PMC Flex is so flexible that it is challenging to sand but for the purpose of making a bezel it is perfect. I’m loving setting stones again. I have 3 new turquoise pendants in my Etsy shop
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