A couple of summers ago, I took a class in working with precious metal clay. The course was only six weeks long, but I really enjoyed it. There was something very satisfying about digging into that clay and getting my fingers dirty.
Precious metal clay (or PMC at it's known) is a clay that's 99 percent fine silver. When you bake the clay in a kiln, the binders and water are dried out and you're left with a piece of silver. It's a great substance to use for making jewelry.
During my time in that class, I made several pairs of earrings and a few pendants. I made my clay go far. Unfortunately, PMC is REALLY expensive. For about $50, you get a tiny hunk of clay that's the size of a marble. You can stretch the clay -- literally and figuratively -- to be used for a couple of items, but if you want to make anything large, you need a lot of clay. I went through a few packs of clay; so far, it's been my most expensive class at the Y.
I've managed to sell most of my enamel and metal pieces that I've made in class, but I haven't had the same luck with my PMC jewelry. I get a lot of admirers at craft fairs -- "Oh, this is nice! Is it silver?" -- but people seem to balk when I explain that yes, it is silver, but it's silver clay. Maybe people don't like the idea of wearing clay jewelry? I don't know. I'm tempted to just say that my pieces are silver and leave it at that because I'd technically be telling the truth... but then I'd feel guilty about my lie of omission. I always like to share how my pieces were made and what materials were used. It's part of the fun of selling handmade things!
I haven't taken another PMC class because it just costs too much money to do something for fun. I'm all for making jewelry simply for the love of designing, but we also have to pay our rent. But maybe this will be the year that my PMC pieces get some love....