Director of Education
It’s hard to believe that just 16 years ago Precious Metal Clay made its debut in the United States. Since then we’ve gone through three generations of PMC fine silver – Standard, Plus, and PMC 3 – plus PMC Gold, and Aura 22. Now we have PMC Pro and the new kid on the block, PMC Sterling. As if that wasn’t enough, several types of copper, bronze, and other interesting base metals have joined the mix. It’s absolutely mind-blowing.
Above: "Faux Jasper 2" by Hadar Jacobson using just a few of the newest metal clays: copper, bronze, white bronze, and pearl grey steel.
The other thing that is really mind blowing is that each one of these formulas has its own unique set of firing standards. It was confusing enough when we just had to keep track of the nuances and variables associated with firing fine silver. Now we have different firing schedules, temperatures, chambers, and carbons mixes to go along with each of the various products. Whew!
If you plan to teach with some of these new materials, know your stuff! There is nothing worse than trying to wing it in the classroom. Sure, things naturally can and do go wrong. But make sure you’ve practiced extensively with whatever type of metal clay you plan to teach with. Have plenty of samples on hand to share with your students, including your mistakes. There is plenty of value in making mistakes and we’ve all made them. Fess up to your blunders. Through are, “Oh crap!” experiences we gain lots of, “Ah ha,” moments and plenty of valuable insight.
No one can remember all the firing schedules associated with the wide variety of products now on the market. Start a firing journal to record your experiences, successes, and mishaps with each of the metals. Note the times and temperatures, the type of carbon used, and any little nuances and nuggets of wisdom. Turn this into a quick reference guide – a cheat sheet – and share it with your students. One of the biggest parts of being a successful teacher is in paying your dues….and paying it forward.