Joining Fired Pieces of PMC3


New metal clay artists, experienced artist who have rushed a piece, or artists who space out temporarily will find their pieces breaking apart at some step after the firing process. Usually it breaks in the brass brush step. This is most often due to them not following the exact steps in

Adhering PMC3 to PMC3 or

Joining PMC3 Pieces Dry to Dry

as they constructed their piece.  Some pieces are reparable. Here is how I repair broken pieces and join fired pieces.
This is also the process I use to join pieces that I’ve had to fire separately, like in creations that include natural stone cabochons.  

See text in the captions.

Joining fired broken

The bail came off this leather-stamp bear pendant. 

I would guess the maker did not add enough syringe or paste when joining the dry clay pieces.
Or he or she didn’t add copious water.
Or didn’t let the newly-joined-wet-pieces sit long enough at room temp before accelerating the drying process.

See Adhering PMC3 to PMC3.

Joining Fired marked

I used a course filing disc to on the flexible shaft to rough up the surfaces that will be joined. I marked where they will be joined.

How did i determine where to put the bail?

I used my homemade, copper-wire center finder.

(As a side note, here’s what else you can do with a center finder. Make a texture roller. Thank you, Patrik Kusek.)

I took the center finder and gently pinched the piece where I thought the pendant would hang straight. 
I hung it, adjusted my center finder, and then marked the point where I wanted to attach the bail.

Here is the marked piece again. I marked the front also, because the next few steps would likely obliterate my back marks.

I added paste to the areas where the two will be joined. I added water making a thin slurry of paste.

Lots of water is my middle name. More on this, FGM (for good measure). In this case there is no binder to activate, but there are little rough spots in the silver into which the water needs to carry the silver molecules. 

My theory is the more silver that gets into every tiny pore of the already fired silver, the more strength to the joint.

Same process on the bail.

I let these pieces sit at room temp for five minutes. This will allow the creation of what I call a halo of silver. 

Halo of silver? See also Adhering PMC3 to PMC3, in the section called Proof.

I dried the two components on the coffee mug warmer.  

On other pieces, I may add watered down paste two or three more times, depending on what I am trying to adher in terms of functions of components and appearance.

I then added syringe to bail.

Lots. Here is syringe clay on the bail awaiting  . . . 

. . .  you guessed it — a ton of water! Two thousand pounds of water (not).

I pressed the bail onto the piece. I often hold a piece like this on a grid on my workbench to check the angle of bail.
Is it striaght? Centered? Does it look right?
When faced with my measurements versus my eye, I always go with my eye.

Then, I added more water.

I used a rubber finger to push the syringe clay into the joint, smoothing as I went along.

I moved on to a stiff wet paintbrush, added more water, and smoothed, smoothed, and smoothed.

I allowed this to sit at room temp for 5 minutes.

I prepared my coffee mug warmer to recieve this piece without putting gravitational strain on the joint.

I set piece on stand so there was no pressure on bail.

Dry, dry, dry

This was how this piece looked at this stage. Rough. 

The entire piece was rough either by choice or because this was the person’s first PMC3 creation;
regardless, I wanted to stay with that theme.

I added more syringe clay and pressed it into the joint.

Same process. Rubber finger smoothing.

Same process. Wet paintbrush smoothing.

I was also sure to add water on the front joint, as a thin film of silver will have traveled there.

The ol' five minutes at room temp gig

Here’s the rub. I watch tutorials and have taken online and in-person courses.
I see what others do and it isn’t near as involved.
So, I’ve concluded my technique is total overkill. But seeing as Ive made well over a thousand pieces, 
I know what works and what doesn
t work for me.
Like I said at the beginning, this is how I join pieces. Not how anyone should join pieces.

Having stated now my disclaimer, I painted this joint with paste one or more times.

At this point I dried the piece totally.

I then fired the PMC3 at 1650 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours for maximum strength and shrinkage.

I’m going to just to another example before I show you the final results.

This was a feather charm that I made that I felt had a weak bail connection.
It may have broken in the dry-clay stage, and I ignored it.

Kinda tenuous by my standards. I was leery of the joint holding.

I roughed up the entire back.

I added syringe clay in a decorative way.

Water. Lots, no duh.

Just about when it was dry I added more water. 'Going for the halo. Three times, all a room temp.

Dried. Notice the halo of silver!

The two brass-brushed and steel-shot tumbled pieces

I finished this piece as the maker wanted — a rough finish.

The back and the end.

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