Handmaking the Little Silver Cats

Precious metal clay is a relatively new option for jewelers that allows us to uniquely shape and texture our own charms and findings. Most jewelry lovers haven't heard of PMC, so I thought it would be interesting to show my process for creating my little feline friends.

PMC is available in many types of precious metals, including the fine silver I used in this project. Silver clay is made up of real silver plus water and a binding material. It can be torch or kiln fired. During the firing process, the water and binder burn off, leaving behind only the precious metal.

For this line of cat-themed jewelry, I started with a vision of a climbing cat as a pendant. I opted to sculpt the original cat out of polymer clay because it doesn't dry. Traditionally, jewelers use lost wax casting for their models, but anything works. I like polymer clay because I like the look of charms that are sculpted from clay. Polymer clay can retain really detailed textures.


I baked the polymer cat in pieces so I can assemble the pendant later. Then I mixed a silicone mold and pressed the pieces in to set. I made a separate mold just for the face.

I pressed the silver clay into the mold and then cleaned up each piece by hand. I added silver paste to build up any feature that was distorted by the mold. The final effect was a set of perfectly unique little cat faces. They all retained the essential qualities of the original sculpture, but here and there I changed a detail. PMC dries quickly, but I left these out overnight just to be sure they dried all the way through. I wanted realistic proportions so I didn't squash any features back to save some silver. Each cat stud earring contains about two grams of solid fine silver.

I sanded the edges and backs of the dry pieces before torch firing with a butane jewelry torch. I cleaned them up with a brass brush until they were shiny and beautiful.


Still at the torch, I soldered sterling silver posts onto the backs and polished them again. Finally I added some definition to their little features with an oxidizing solution. Here are the finished earrings!


I have big plans for these little cats so stay in touch. The little silver cats will be available in store soon!