As I string necklaces and make earrings, sometimes I just want a small silver disc for an accent or to rest against a rock bead to take the focus off a less-than-perfect drill hole. When I am making larger beads with PMC (precious metal clay) I try to remember to take the scraps of fresh clay to make these little components. I know I will use them eventually, even if I don’t have a specific design in mind at the time. I usually have a few of these fired discs kicking around my bead stringing area, but I could always use more. This week I decided it would be better to have a lot more!
The thing is, I did not want to open a fresh package of silver clay to make them. My clay supply is low, and for small pieces that will not be part of a hollow form or a clasp, I decided to reconstitute my scraps and broken pieces of unfired clay. The reconstituted clay is way less than perfect for many pieces of jewelry, but for these small textured pieces that will not be withstanding any direct tugging or pulling, this clay works just fine. I fired the discs at 1650º for 2 hours to maximize the density of the clay and then finished them in a tumbler with steel shot for an hour.
I have started to minimize the silver clay dust in my studio by cutting back on sanding unfired pieces of silver clay. Reconstituting dried out clay means working briefly with the dust I am trying to avoid. But I still end up with pieces that break before I have a chance to fire them, or designs I decide I really don’t like, and this is still a great way for me to recycle that scrap.