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Ladies Night at The Bead Shop

Apr 4, 2012 - 09:31 AM
Ladies Night at The Bead Shop

When I say Ladies Night, the words "bead shop" are probably not the first things that come to mind. Yet when I learned that local jeweler Lisa Horton was teaching a Precious Metal Clay (PMC) class, I went with my beads on.

PMC is an amazing invention that came out of the Mitsubishi Materials Corporation (a subsidiary of the car manufacturer) in the early ‘90s, taking the world by storm. PMC is ground metal mixed with an organic binder and water that has the feeling of clay but is not actually clay. Weird, I know, but very cool. It comes in several different base metals including, bronze, silver, gold, copper, platinum and steel.

Our Thursday night “Fast-fire Bronze Clay” class held at the Bead Shop in Hailey, was comprised of four students (but can accommodate up to six)—three locals and one visiting jeweler from San Diego. Lisa started off the class explaining what was in our tool kit. What I love about artsy people is how they find creative uses for ordinary objects like straws, produce bags, playing cards and coffee stirrers. She then talked about the clay and how to work with it—always keep it moist by putting it in a sealed container when you aren’t working with it.

Tool kit.                                                                                    Rolling clay out.


Applying texture.                                                                   Cutting out shape of pendant.


Drying pieces on Bunson burner.                                        Getting ready to smooth edges with fingers.


Creating with PMC clay is not unlike working with pottery clay. We folded it into itself, sprayed it with water and worked it into a ball. Then we used the playing cards in our tool kit as thickening devices,  stacking several next to each other and rolling the clay in between with a cylinder. Next we chose a shape in which to cut out our clay and applied a “texture” to it. I used a red plastic produce bag and loved the outcome! Finally we dried the clay on wax paper on top of a food warmer. Once dry, we smoothed the rough edges with water. Lisa took our finished creations home and fired them in her kiln for two hours at 1,550 degrees. Once baked, we later burnished them (the first stage of polishing) with a steel brush and hand soap giving the pieces an immediate shine!

While the PMC class was unlike other ladies’ nights I’ve attended, I’m excited to work with PMC and psyched about taking another class at The Bead Shop. It was a great way to spend an evening with like-minded women. (Did I mention the wine-drinking part of the evening?)

The Bead Shop (7 E. Bullion St, Hailey) opened in 2003. Owner, Tammy Eaton expanded the shop in 2011 to include Bella Cosa pottery painting, and recently acquired yarn and knitting materials to complete the full circle of crafts.  “Ladies Night” is held Thursdays and includes various jewelry and knitting classes. To make it a true Ladies Night, Tammy serves yummy appetizers and wine. It’s a great way to spend an evening relaxing with ladies who love jewelry and embracing our creativity.


Teacher and jeweler Lisa Horton explains working with PMC clay.


Teacher and jeweler Lisa Horton explains smoothing the edges of dried clay.


Finished pendant.




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Old to new | New to old
Apr 5, 2012 12:14 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Sounds like a very fun 'ladies night out'. Crafts, jewelry, wine and appetizers, I love it!!! When is the next one? Go Loki!

Apr 10, 2012 06:47 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Ha! Little did I know you should have been writing for us all along! I LOVE PMC. I haven't done it in a while. Did you know you can fire small piece of PMC3 with a torch or on a gas burner? I always wanted a kiln, but could never figure out where to put it! My Studio-rage (garage) is still chock a block with artsy stuff, much of it accumulated from my Expression days. So good to hear from you, Jules!!-Kathie on Facebook

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