Less than 2 months ago I asked the question, “How much is too much?” when it comes to paying for fine silver metal clay. The price of silver was $33.70 an ounce. I could not imagine that price would ever sound like a bargain, but today the price of my favorite precious metal reached $40.41, making that February 22 price look a lot better than it did then.

Today this much PMC would cost me  $95.16. I have 2 packages on hand that cost me about $20 less, and I will not be rushing to open them or to order more. It’s hard to think that in another 2 months I may kick myself for missing out on the “bargain” price today. I would rather hope that the price will come back down sooner than later.

Most of the people I know who work with PMC, (myself included) are starting to freak out, wondering how much higher the price of silver will go. But whining or worrying is not going to get us anywhere. What’s the worst that can happen if we stop working with it for a while? If the demand goes down will the price go down?  Who knows?  In the meantime, we have  an opportunity to grow as artists. We can find ways to make jewelry from other materials, learning new techniques and expanding our base of experience.

Think of Alexander Calder and the jewelry he made from brass and copper.

Alexander Calder (1898-1976) Untitled (spiral pendant), copper, 3½ x 2 1/8 in. (8.9 x 5.4 cm.). Executed circa 1957.

Not into forging wire? The world of base metal clay is expanding all the time. There are a variety of manufacturers of bronze and copper clay, and the price is very reasonable. For those of us who still like a silver colored metal, Hadar Jacobsen has developed a white bronze clay, and there is a wealth of information available on her blog.

My friends Angie and Marly, from Studio 28, have been working with Hadar’s white bronze clay lately, and they have a wonderful blog entry about it.  Their earrings below are a combination of white bronze and copper. (Looks like silver, eh?)

The white bronze is something I hope to try soon.

But first, I have ordered some patina solutions and an e-book from Shannon LeVart at Miss Ficklemedia. Her patinated beads and components fascinate me, and the process is one I’ve wanted to try for a while. I like the idea of creating my own colors on copper and brass to use in my necklaces and earrings. I will use silver, too, but I can stretch my silver supply a little farther when I combine it with other metals.

After I ordered the solutions and instructions from Shannon, I checked out some of her sources for copper beads. I also found some copper and brass pieces at the Beadin’ Path. So I ordered a few things on which to apply patina. I spent some studio time stamping, dapping and drilling holes in some of the flat pieces to leave my own marks on the metal.

See the plain willow leaf shapes in the center of the photo above?   This is how I made them “my” copper leaves:

The next step(s) will be to clean all the metal surfaces, making sure any grease is gone. I’m excited and nervous to try something new, especially applying the patinas that require heat.


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6 responses to “Opportunity

  1. INSPIRING, as always!!!!
    and yes, oh yes! i wish we had another rockland planned…have you gotten over for open torch time yet?


    • Barb Fernald

      Not yet. I probably won’t for a little while. Bruce and I’ll go to Portland in 2 weeks to see the boys, and then I’m making a quick trip to Rye. But meanwhile, I’ll be home working etc. It would be good to go and just pull some stringers and make some head pins. Have you used any of your beads yet? xoxo


  2. Definitely time to play with base metal clay, although we are trying to come up with designs that might have a wee bit of silver in them….love that silver clay and sad, too, that it has become so expensive!
    We’ve just received some more of Hadar’s powders in the mail…so time for more creating with those!
    I’m excited about the patina kit you got…looks like you can get some beautiful colors with those. The leaves are beautiful! Have fun playing!


    • Barb Fernald

      Work with clay and plenty of beach rock collecting when you get here! I’m excited about the patinas too. I tried the Verdigis color on some things today. It’s sitting around to react. It’s the only one that is a cold application. The others require some heat. I won’t be applying them in my kitchen!


  3. Man, it’s terrible, isn’t it? That white bronze looks awesome, thanks for sharing that! I’d never heard of it. Have fun with your patina experiments. :3 New things are perfect for jump-starting creativity!


    • Barb Fernald

      I think I’ll get out my copper and bronze clay this week. Once I get back to the feel of it, I’ll probably order some white bronze. Hadar’s clays are easy to mix, and they are clean to work with. She has great mixing instructions on her blog.


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