Instructables
Picture of Fine Silver (99.9% pure) Popcorn Pendant!
Make FINE SILVER (.999 pure) Pendant with POPCORN or any other organic material as a model!

The instructable is to make a 3-D hollow-form pendant for a necklace. We make the hollow form by coating a Completely Dry organic armature (Popcorn, in this example) with 8-12 layers of Precious Metal Clay (PMC) Paste.

When fired, the popcorn will burn away, leaving only the pure (99.9%) silver from the PMC in the shape of your popcorn kernel!

Required Stuff:

Jar of PMC3 (Precious Metal Clay) paste.
1 inch piece of Fine Silver wire (dead-soft).
Popped Popcorn.
Victory Wax (or cheese wax).
Hot plate.
Shallow pan for water.
Metal measuring cup for melting wax.
Small Paintbrush.
Bamboo skewers.
Styrofoam.
A craft or ceramic kiln of some kind.
Small, smooth jawed pliers.
Pencil.
Wire cutter or scissors.
Brass brush for polishing.
A necklace, piece of ribbon, or leather cord.

...all will become clear...
 
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Step 1: What is this Magic "PMC" Stuff?

In the 1990s scientists in Japan developed a combination of organic binders and metal particles to create a material with the working properties of ceramic clay. The organic binder provides elasticity while holding very tiny grains of metal in suspension.

This product became known as Precious Metal Clay (PMC).

After drying, the PMC is heated to the fusing temperature of the constituent metal. During this heating, the binder burns away, and the metal particles sinter together into solid metal.

We will be using a form of this product which is pre-prepared to a paste-like consistency.

Basic PMC Working Tips:

Its all about the moisture, PMC can dry out very quickly.

1) Plan ahead (have your tools at hand) before you open your jar of paste.
2 ) Water can be used used to moisten the clay and smooth the surface of your pendant.
3) Dried out PMC can be reconstituted with water and reused.
Detoxiodine3 years ago
Hello!

I really like the idea of this piece. You did a great job on it. I would like to ask you something. I have a dried lizard. We found it in the ice-melting salt that you put on sidewalks. Do you think it could be turned into a medallion with this process? Will I need to wax it down?

Thanks in advance,
Adam.
Kazooie6 years ago
Well, I did it! I made this for my girlfriend for Christmas. I folded the crane with origami paper, then used the same method as the popcorn, except I didn't use wax, and I torch-fired it. Using a butane torch to fire was easier than I thought it would be.
IMG_5465edit.jpgIMG_5466edit.jpg
cinne Kazooie4 years ago
That is so cool! :) I realize it has been a while since you posted this, but you wouldn't be interested in giving a more detailed description of how you did this? :) I would love to learn!
Kazooie cinne4 years ago
From what I remember, it wasn't too difficult, just a little bit time consuming. I slightly thicker paper, can't remember where I got it. The thickness is important. If it's too thin, the wetness of the pmc will seep in and start making it bend. If it's too thick, you could get air-pockets in folds, or it could be too difficult to make something small. My paper was too thin, and it started to break down where I had the hanging loop stuck through it. It was very close to breaking off by the end. Then just lots of coats, I think I did around 7 but I was kind of running out of time. As for the torching... It would probably be better to have a kiln, but my way with the butane torch seemed to work alright. For everything else, I just followed this great instructable! The only thing I would try to change next time is the smoothness. I'm not sure how, but I'd like to find some way to make the finished product smoother and shinier. Maybe sanding or a different way of applying coats? Hope that helps. Good luck!
cinne Kazooie4 years ago
Thank you so much! :) I really want to try this, but I guess it would be best if I got access to a kiln. I don't know anyone that got one, and I think it's to expensive to buy one "just to try" ;) Maybe I'll post on some forum about borrowing one...? And I was thinking about trying the kind of PMC that comes in sheets, then I can just fold the crane out of the clay, then I don't have to make all of those layers. Hmm.. I wish the materials wasn't that expensive, then I would have no regret about trying. :)
roughtyper (author)  Kazooie6 years ago
That's beautiful! Thank you so much for pushing the limits of my instructable!

You were right in skipping the wax step, that's so the popcorn keeps its shape. It sort of "deflates" from the water in the paste. It wouldn't be needed for your origami creation.

Since you already have origami skills, you might want to try "PMC Sheet". A Google search on that will turn up many sites, but here's an typical one: http://www.dickblick.com/zz305/22/ . The sheets are kind of small, but you could create your crane or other origami directly without all the layering steps.
botronics6 years ago
Does someone make a PMC using copper? It would be cheaper to experiment with and can be electroplated.
i found this a few days ago. its german though so it might be more expencive and you would have to translate it http://www.metalclaystudios.de/epages/61647883.sf/de_DE/?ObjectPath=/Shops/61647883/Categories/110_BronzClay
roughtyper (author)  botronics6 years ago
I've never seen copper. But I agree it would lower the cost of experimenting. I'm told the real manufacturing expense is creating the ultra-small particles of the metal being used. That's why even silver is so pricey...
TheJester7 years ago
Awesome instructable! I'd love to make one, but I don't have access to a kiln. You mentioned that there are other ways to fire this besides a kiln. Would a torch work, either butane or propane? I'm not too sure how regulateable the temperature would be using a torch though. What ways did you have in mind without using a kiln?
I know it's a bit late (now 2010), but your answer can be found at: www.riogrande.com or www.firemountaingems.com Both have a lot of stuff and online videos/instructions You can use a torch and they are not expensive--a whole kit from Fire Mountain will cost about $85.00, although the type of silver clay that they have is not as good as Rio Grande. There's Gold, Bronze and Copper clays and slips/papers now.
Thanks, I appreciate the reply even though it's three years later haha you've piqued my interest in this project again!
SNACKS5 years ago
  This  sound like a fun idea. can you use other things? what about a rose, would that turn out the same way? 
chalky6 years ago
hey thats pretty damn cool if i may say so myself!! i like your kiln where did you get it from?
roughtyper (author)  chalky6 years ago
The kiln link is at PMCSupply.com
roughtyper (author)  chalky6 years ago
We've had our kiln for a couple of years. However, you can get them any number of places, including: http://secure.cartsvr.net/catalogs/index.asp?category=193480
zaro123456 years ago
This is really cool. Now, finally, I can make homemade jewlery that actually looks good! Thanks alot! *faved*
rusty13jr6 years ago
VERY COOL!!! Where can I find PMC?
Kazooie7 years ago
I'm thinking using this with small origami pieces would be pretty cool... mini silver cranes...
A "silver" peice of popcorn? more like silver plated.
If you use something to hold the silver loop, such as those locking forceps used in surgery, you won't have to use the skewers. And as a result, no big hole in the bottom of your pendant. Oh, and doing it with a bug would be VERY cool!
OMG a bug would be awesome. If someone sold them, I would buy one! A spider one would be awesome!
roughtyper (author)  FreeBaseBuzz7 years ago
Unfortunately, you need a place for the popcorn smoke to escape, so you still have to have some kind of hole! Using the forceps, however, could mean that you could leave a much smaller hole than the skewer! Maybe (?) even a pinhole!
Yes, a pinhole would be preferable over a skewer hole :) Perhaps a toothpick? I did full silver casting when I was a kid. We'd get a wax ring shape and set it in paster of Paris. Then while it was still wet, we'd vibrate it to get all the air bubbles out. Once it'd set, we baked it in the kiln to burn off the wax, and then while still hot, pour in molten silver. I can't remember how we got the plaster off the outside, but there was some easy trick. Maybe we dropped it in water or something while still hot to crack it. Of course, silver was much cheaper 20 years ago..
roughtyper (author)  FreeBaseBuzz7 years ago
Unfortunately, lost wax casting is still a lot more complicated than the additive approach I talk about here! But you're absolutely right about just dropping a lost wax casting in water! Once the metal has cooled enough to be solid you can just pop the piece into a bucket. The plaster just fizzes off, leaving just a little left to clean up with a toothbrush.
Vendigroth7 years ago
instead of lost wax casting,m its more like lost popcorn casting
gets my +
and a VAMPIRE award
roughtyper (author)  Vendigroth7 years ago
Thanks!
1D10T7 years ago
Could this be done with a bug or a fish or something like that?
roughtyper (author)  1D10T7 years ago
Any organic form can be used! Just remember that the organic materials have to burn out. So, I'm not so sure about the fish...might be kind of smelly... ;-( That's also the reason I don't use plastics!
Skip7 years ago
Neat. I recently did a short course with this type of stuff, though the stuff we used was clay, not a paste. Also it's rather expensive here in Australia. How much is it to purchase where you are?
roughtyper (author)  Skip7 years ago
Hi!

We'll be using the clay you mention in our next Instructable: "5 Minute Earrings", currently in production!

The jar of paste I used is currently about $25US. I used about 6 gms of paste, so the PMC for this project cost roughly $10US. That's really good for a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry!
Skip roughtyper7 years ago
oh, don't I know it! The stuff we get here in Australia from http://www.silverlab.com.au/ is about $15 AUSD for 7gms. You might want to quote your source for your silver.

Looking forward to your next instructable.
roughtyper (author)  Skip7 years ago
Glad to help: PMC Connection or Dick Blick is where I usually go. Or you could just do a quick Google search on "PMC" and "Cart"!

I did a quick currency conversion, though, the prices I pay are about the same as you!
cool, but baby corn would be cooler :-P
roughtyper (author)  !Andrew_Modder!7 years ago
Baby corn would be cool. It might be possible to skip the step where I dip it in wax. I would dry a piece of baby corn on paper towels, then test it the same way I show testing the wax in step 5 of this instructable. If the PMC sticks, go for it!