So, today I indulged my love of shiny things, and took a class in Precious Metal Clay Charms. PMC looks like a blob of white Sculpey, only gloopier. It's made of water, organic binder, and fine silver powder. "Fine silver" is a form of silver, higher purity than sterling silver, and thus easier to work with, although more prone to scratches.
Each of us in the class got a half ounce of this stuff, which we rolled out and shaped, stamped, and otherwise decorated. We then heated it to "hard leather" stage, when we filed off edges and burrs, then fired it in a kiln.
It emerged white, and looked terribly brittle--the way clay would be if it were fired in such thin strips. A few swipes with a metal brush, and Hey Voila!--shiny silver. I ended up with about seven or eight tiny little charms--kidlets' initials, shaped made with stamps. Already, I know some things I would do differently--make the charms thicker, for one thing. We were resting our rollers on stacks of four playing cards, so we didn't roll it too thin. Next time I'd use at least six cards, and maybe more.
I'd pay more attention to smoothing out the surface before placing my image on it. I didn't know that the charms only got harder when baked--there was no "plastic" stage when the clay leveled out. I'd also smooth the edges more carefully.
But the result was not bad, even for a first shot. The images are a bit off-center, and the shapes are not uniform: the squares are a bit round, the rounds are a bit oval, but the overall effect is of handmade jewelry, which is not a bad look. I think I'll hang them on a bracelet with some interesting colored beads, which should make for some interesting jewelry.
Just what I need--another hobby! I'd only need the PMC--which runs about $1 per gram--plus the tools to work it, plus a whole bunch of tiny stamps for designs, and some letters and numbers, and then a kiln...
Or, maybe not.