When metal clay first appeared on the scene, things were pretty simple. Then as the field progressed, there were more brands, new products, improvements and variations. Artists had choices that broadened the range of what could be done and what equipment could be used. These developments made the world of metal clay richer, more fulfilling, and, let's be honest... a little confusing.
Mitsubishi Materials Trading Corporation has just announced a new product called PMC Flex.™ Two years in development, this new clay brings the longest working time of any of the current silver clays. Let's start with the specifications, then get to our reviewers' comments.
What will it cost: As far as we know, about the same as PMC3.
PMC Flex after several days of exposure to air.
Like other silver clays, Flex can be fired to 1650ºF (900ºC) for maximum strength.
PMC Flex,™ as the name implies, has been developed to remain flexible after the package has been opened. We all know that most metal clays have a relatively short working time. Depending on the ambient heat and humidity, clay can dry out in a matter of minutes. PMC Flex™ will remain pliable not only for hours, not only for days, but for weeks. You can roll out a long rod, set it aside for a month, then pick it up and tie it in a knot.
PMC Flex™ offers two kinds of workability. Out of the package it behaves like other silver clays. It can be rolled, pressed in molds, textured and so on. Set aside, it will retain the form it is given, but that form will remain flexible. Here is an example: If I roll out a strip and give it a texture, a week later I can form that strip into a ring and seal the ends together. I can't wad the clay back into the original lump and start over completely, but PMC Flex™ can be rehydrated by reducing it to small bits and mixing with water.
Brooch by Patrik Kusek
A spokesman for Mitsubishi says that this material will be especially beneficial to beginners and those who teach beginners, where a common problem is clay drying out before they can finish their project. It is also noted that artists can make multiple elements in advance then assemble them, including bending and twisting, weeks after the original parts were made.
As you might guess, the response of reviewers was related to their level of comfort with dry clay. Some reviewers really enjoyed the longer working time of PMC Flex™ because it allowed them to modify designs days after starting a project. Those reviewers describe projects in which they want the clay to mimic ribbons, fabric, rope and other sinuous materials.
Other artists we talked to note that while increased flexibility is great in the early stages of a project, there comes a time when they want the clay to be firm for drilling and sanding. PMC Flex™ flex can be made firm by drying at 300ºF (150ºC) for about 20 minutes. In this way, according to the manufacturer, you get the best of both worlds. Flexibility when you need it and rigidness when you're ready for it. PMC Flex™
PMC Flex is a pure silver clay that has been formulated to provide extended working time. Unlike the other versions of PMC™, Flex does not completely harden at room temperature. This means it is possible to make rods and sheets for later use and to return to projects several days after getting started to continue working on them! When you are ready to sand or carve PMC Flex, dry the object by heating to 300F (150C) for about 20 minutes. Firing and finishing is the same as for all other fine silver clays.