Duplicating Organic Forms with PMC3 Paste

Straight from the PMC Guild archives! Learn how to turn just about any organic material into fine silver using PMC3 slip in this how-to from Ken Devos!

Last edited: 4/20/2020

Learn how to use PMC3 paste to coat organic material and fire, creating a beautiful fine silver piece. 

One of the wonderful benefits of PMC3 in paste form is its ability to make replicas of organic materials. Leaves, branches, bark, paper, cotton, lace, or almost any organic material can be used as a mold to create its likeness in solid fine silver. PMC3 paste is liquid enough to be applied with a paintbrush and will conform to all of the surface features of the original. The process is simple.

The process is the same to create either a flat, solid silver piece (such as a leaf) or a hollow, three-dimensional form (such as a flower bud) using almost any organic material.

You can apply PMC3 paste over folded paper sculptures (such as origami), breakfast cereal, dried mushrooms, almost anything organic that will not dissolve in the paste’s water content and that will burn out in the firing without toxic or noxious fumes. When you select your organic material, the amount of moisture in it will affect how you convert it to silver.

Material that is completely dry usually will not affect the silver as it is fired. Material that contains some moisture (e.g. green branches) may affect the silver. The moisture in the organic matter will turn to steam and may cause the silver to split if it completely encloses the organic material. If this happens, simply fill in the split with more paste and fire the PMC again.

The variety of materials you can use with PMC3 paste is almost limitless. Let your imagination run free and see what amazing things you can transform into fine silver.

Select an organic form you want to transform; a leaf, for example. (Pick a leaf with a matte surface, not one that is oily or hairy.) Make sure it has prominent veins on the back. Don’t be fooled by how the leaf looks. Touch the back to be sure the veins are raised.

Now take the PMC3 paste and apply a thin layer on the back of the leaf with a paintbrush.

Dry the PMC3 paste. You can allow it to air dry or speed up the process using a hair dryer.

When the paste is dry, apply another layer of paste. Repeat the process until you have a sufficient thickness of paste on the leaf: about 0.75mm to 1mm.

After the final drying, place the leaf in a kiln and fire at 1650°F for 10 minutes. The leaf will burn away in the firing, leaving a solid silver leaf.

Finish the silver using a stainless steel wire brush to bring up a matte finish. Use a burnishing tool or rotary tumbler with mixed stainless steel shot to bring out a bright finish.

Courtesy of the PMC Guild archives. 

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