Adhering PMC3 to PMC3

Adhereing PMC#

The single most common oh-oh of beginner PMCers is this, "I joined my two pieces and when I brass-brushed (or burnished) my piece it broke.”

The instructions “Add lots of water and let it sit a bit” means different things to different people. 

Here is how to join pieces of PMC3.

There are three ways to join PMC3 pieces.

  1. Wet to wet construction
  2. Wet to dry construction
  3. Dry to dry construction

The bottom line in any one of these three is the BINDER in the clay MUST BE ACTIVATED; i.e., ACTIVE. What activates the binder? H2O, agua, water.

Party On

Here’s an analogy. You go to a party in which no one knows any one. At first you all stand around not really interacting yet. Okay, freeze the scene and take a mental snap shot of this image. Call this scene Number 1.

The host and hostess go around a begin introductions. You see people shaking hands and nodding heads. You see some open arms, recognition, and hugs. There’s music playing now. Food appears, and ah, the group is loosening up. People are relaxing and interacting. Okay, freeze this scene and take a mental snap shot of the image and call this scene Number 2.

The party continues, more connections are made as people realize they know people in common. They discover interests they share, tell jokes, get laughs, and share interesting tidbits and tales. The connections are getting more real and deeper. Okay, freeze this scene and take a mental snap shot of this image. Call the scene Number 3.

Now, replace people at the party with silver molecules in a PMC creation. In scene Number 1, the molecules and people have not mingled, have not shared auras and electron orbits, so to speak, have not connected. The equivalent of freezing this scene in your mind is placing your PMC creation on a coffee mug warmer to dry. You stop the water from activating the binder. You stop the ability to mingle and connect.

In scene Number 2, a little more time has elapsed before you stop the scene in your mind or place your creation on the warmer. A little more mingling occurred, a few more connections were made, and information was exchanged so that you have orbits and auras in common.

In scene Number 3, more time elapsed. We’re past mingling. Connections were made, info exchanged. Future plans together were set in place. Bonds are in place.

“Add lots of water and let it sit a bit”

Below is a photo of three syringe snakes on glass. These are comparable to the above scenes. Number 1 is one person’s interpretation of “Add lots of water and let it sit a bit.” Number 2 is another's interpretation of “Add lots of water and let it sit a bit.” Number 3 is yet another person’s interpretation of “Add lots of water and let it sit a bit.”

A lovely thing about water is its surface tension, whereby water molecules "link" together at the surface of water to form a sort of slight dome. Water’s surface tension allows you to overfill a cup and the water will not run over the side.

T&T Syringe snakes numbers

Attachment and Stopping the Process by Quick Drying

What does this have to do with joining PMC3 pieces? Remember the snapshots from the party scenes? I’ve place the above snakes on glass on a coffee mug warmer. 

Number 1 - Silver molecules not yet mingled, mingling stopped, no binder activation and thus no attachment

Number 2 - Silver molecules slightly mingled, but mingling stopped, not much binder activation and thus attachment is iffy
The chances that the two pieces of PMC3 will stay together for the life of your creation is a little greater.

Number 3 - Silver molecules mingled sufficiently, binder activated a longer time, the silver molecules bonded
The two pieces will stay together for the lifetime of your PMC creation. 

Construction Dry and Stop Rx


Below are the syringe snakes after they sat at room temperature for five minutes then were dried on a cup warmer.

Number 1 - No silver halo around the snake means this snake will be leaving.
Number 2 - Slight halo of silver around the snake and this snake may or may not stray far from home.
Number 3 - Healthy halo of silver means this snake is going nowhere.

Construction Let Sit Rx

Skill to Develop

Working with PMC3 is a developed skill. Here is why.

Say the glass beneath the snakes above is PMC3 with a fine texture. If you leave water on textured PMC it absorbs water, and when it absorbs water the texture may kinda melt or soften, much to your dismay. Also, if you touch that water-soaked texture, which is as good as fresh clay, you’ll put a nick or smear in it.

So, the trick is to keep a little seam of water around the snake but not so much as to impact the texture in or smoothness of the dry clay beneath. This may require that you “Add lots of water” but wick the excess away with the corner of a paper towel or a freshly dried paintbrush. It may also require that you add more water with time to “let it sit a bit” and so the silver molecules may party on.

MT Charm 29

So, all joining of PMC3 pieces, which translates to construction….

  1. Wet to wet construction,
  2. Wet to dry construction, or
  3. Dry to dry construction

is the same. You need water-activated binder and time. (Fresh clay contains water-activated binder.)

  1. Wet to wet construction needs only water and some time.
  2. Wet to dry construction needs a little more water and more time. It’s good to add syringe or paste between but not necessary.
  3. Dry to dry construction needs a dollop or layer of fresh clay and more water for a longer time.

Next Time

In the next Tidbits & Tricks, I’ll explain a dry-to-dry construction method that uses only water and movement.

T&T Slip attachment

For online courses in metal clay, go to I Love Silver, where you learn how to design and create your own silver creations.

© Kris A Kramer 2018