Thinking about using your existing clay jewellery design know-how and how to take that further? Learning how to make a PMC ring is an excellent way of improving your metal clay design skills and concentrating on minor details will really make your PMC rings stand out.
Follow our tutorial on how to make metal clay rings and produce a new design that you can adapt and improve as your silver metal clay jewellery skills develop.
How to make a PMC ring step by step
- Precious metal clay
- Kiln or hand torch
- Badger balm
- Plastic spacers
- Plastic roller
- Textured sheets of your choice
- Metal clay cutting blades
- Clay cutters
- Sanding pads
- Needle files
- Brass brush
- Measure out the size of your PMC ring. You can do this using a traditional ring sizer, but one simple way of doing this is by cutting out a strip of paper or string and wrapping this around your finger. You can then mark the string or paper with an accurate measurement and unravel this so that it’s easy to continue onto the next stage.
- Add 15% to your original measurement. With your string or paper unraveled, mark this out on a separate piece of paper for clarity. Make sure that you add an additional 15% of the initial measurement. This will make sure that the ring size is correct even after firing as the ring will shrink.
Advance metal clay ring design: How to deal with metal clay shrinkage
Remember that precious metal clay is prone to shrinkage during the firing process. And as rings need to be a specific size it’s important to know how much your clay is going to shrink by so that you can initially size up as you’re shaping your ring, ready for firing.
PMC+ and PMC3 both shrink 10-15% during firing but always check the specific notes and instructions of the metal clay you’re working with to get an accurate idea of how much it will shrink. This will help you to calculate how much the clay will shrink by and how much extra material to use when forming your PMC rings.
Why does metal clay shrink during firing? This is because the natural binder that is mixed with the metal burns away leaving you with just the metal.
Roll out your precious metal clay. Place your clay onto a clean work surface, preferably a Teflon coated mat or something similar to prevent the clay from sticking as you work. You can also add badger balm to the mat and your hands to prevent the clay sticking further. Place your plastic spacers either side of your clay to make sure that the clay is even as you roll it out.
Advanced metal clay ring design: Take your PMC ring further with this additional step…
At this stage you can also add a texture to your ring design. Use a textured rubber matt or brass sheet and sandwich your clay in this before rolling out. This will leave you with a professional-looking texture that would take a lot of time to hammer out if you were to make a ring using traditional methods with metal sheet and soldering techniques.
- Cut the clay. Once you’ve added texture to your silver clay ring, you can cut it accurately to size. Use a metal clay cutting blade to cut along the measurement you made earlier.
Advanced metal clay ring design: Add another element to your PMC ring with small clay cutters…
At this stage you can also experiment with small clay cutters or stamps. If you’ve already added texture to your ring, use a small clay cutter shape such as a star to add interesting negative space to your ring and leave your customers wondering how you created such a detailed design!
- Leave your ring to dry. Once you’ve added the detail to your ring with texturing sheets and cutters, make sure you leave it to dry for 24 hours. It’s important to make sure your PMC ring is completely dry so that it hardens and strengthens before finishing up. You can leave your ring to dry in its flat, laid out state – forming the ring shape will come after the firing process.
- Tidy edges and neaten cut-outs. Use sandpaper to remove any burrs and smooth out the edges. You can also neaten any cut-out shapes and awkward areas with a needle file.
Now you’re ready for the firing process. Learn about the firing process in more detail in our post on how to fire precious metal clay. This will advise you on firing with a kiln, with a hand torch, and with a gas hob. Whichever method you choose, make sure you read the metal clay manufacturer’s instructions for firing times. Once the ring has been fired, leave to cool for as long as needed. You can quench your PMC ring, but quenching is not recommended if you’ve embedded stones in your design.
- Brush and polish. Now your design is completely cool use a brass brush to remove the tarnishing that’s been created from the heat. This will start to bring out the shine of the metal. Then continue to polish as required depending on the finish you would like. Start with coarse sanding pads first and work your way through finer pads for a high lustre shine.
- Shape your ring. Firstly, bend your ring into shape using your fingers and pliers. Using a mandrel and a mallet start to refine the shape and bring the ring together. You may need to make several passes with your mallet to create the perfectly rounded ring you’re looking for.
- Adapt and refine your PMC ring designs. At this stage you can create an overlapping ring as part of your design – this is the simplest way of starting out when learning how to make a PMC ring. Later you can experiment with fully formed rings before firing or create new designs that suit your jewellery making style. Remember the cutout start shape from earlier? You can also experiment by adding these cutouts to your design in a raised pattern on your ring. Add with metal clay paste to ensure a sturdy bond that lasts and lasts.
Now you know how to make a PMC ring there’s nothing stopping you from expanding on this initial design idea and creating something special. Learning how to use metal clay is an excellent way of expanding on your jewellery making skills and giving your customers new collections to choose from.
If you’re just starting out with clay jewellery design, take a look at some of our precious metal clay starter kits. Choose from our silver Clay Super Starter kit, our Silver Ring Kit, and many more pendant kits.
For more information on Precious Metal Clay, download your FREE PMC Guide today.