There is no doubt about it…silver metal clay is expensive. When the silver market escalated several years ago, the price of metal clay skyrocketed. In the past few months, the silver market has dropped in price, but the price of silver metal clay has barely declined. Fortunately, I still have several packets of PMC3, PMC+, and Art Silver Clay that I bought before the price went through the roof. I recently purchased some FYI (For Your Inspiration) silver metal clay because it is touted as being the lowest priced of all silver metal clays currently available.
Out of curiosity, I decided to do a side-by-side comparison of the FYI, which has a shrinkage rate of approximately 20% and PMC+, which has a shrinkage rate of approximately 9%. Both clays were fired on the same shelf in a kiln for 2 hours at 1650 degrees. The fired Flower Disks are shown after firing prior to being tumbled, hand-finished, and patinaed. The PMC+ Flower Disk is shown at the left and the FYI Flower Disk is shown at the right. Prior to firing, both Flower Disks measured 17mm. After firing the PMC+ Flower Disk measures 13mm. The FYI Flower Disk has shrunk to 10.5mm. Given the high shrinkage factor compared to the PMC+, one would have to use more of the FYI clay to arrive at a finished piece that is the same size as one made with PMC+. Because of this, I don’t know that one really is saving a lot of money by using FYI. It is a good replacement for the discontinued Original PMC and for those who want to make smaller pieces with crisp imprint. And like Original PMC, it cannot be torch-fired. FYI does have wonderful texture and workability. My supply of PMC+ was definitely a bit drier, but having not worked with silver metal clay for the past few years, my packet was far from fresh so I can’t make a fair comparison in that arena. Both clays are great and I will continue to use each type depending on the end result I wish to achieve for a particular piece(s) of jewelry. Because I mainly work with sheet and wire silver, I save my metal clay for creating highly textured components and embellishments. Ultimately, it would be great if all silver metal clay prices were based on the market, falling and rising daily just as sheet and wire silver prices do!