Christine Calabria is from Artisans Retreat and runs a jewelry workshop. We recently participated and thought our readers should know more.
Tell us a little about your artistic background.
My appreciation of artistic pursuits was developed through watching my mother creating magnificent floral arrangements, decorating cakes and, in later years, painting exquisite porcelain plates.
My artistic background is varied and goes back many years. I have tried many different forms of art and craft over the years, including leatherwork, mixed media and photo collage, watercolour, pencil drawing, photography, metal shim embossing, silk painting, kiln formed glass, decoupage, paper-tole, counted cross-stitch and candle-making. I have studied fine arts and have experience in many and varied crafts. Precious Metal Clay has been a recent discovery.
Tell us a little about PMC; what is it, and where did it originate?
Precious Metal Clay (PMC) is a clay-like medium used to make jewellery, beads and small sculpture. It consists of very small particles of precious metals (such as silver, gold or platinum) mixed with an organic binder and water. PMC can be shaped just like any soft clay, by hand or using moulds. After drying, it is usually fired in a kiln. The binder burns away, leaving the pure, solid metal.
Silver PMC results in objects containing .999 pure silver. Gold clay is quite expensive to use by itself, but can be used to make beautiful accents on silver objects. PMC is sold in sealed packets to keep it moist and workable. It is also sold as a softer paste in a pre-filled syringe, which can be used to produce extruded forms, in a more dilute form called Slip, and as paper-like sheets, from which most of the moisture has been removed.
Metallurgist Dr. A. Morikawa developed PMC in the early 1990s, in Japan. Success was first achieved with gold, and later duplicated with silver. PMC Original had to be fired in a kiln and had a very high shrinkage rate. Mitsubishi Materials Corporation, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi, later developed two additional versions of silver called PMC+, which displays less shrinkage, and PMC3, which fires at lower temperatures in a kiln or by using a torch. A 22k gold coating material (Aura 22), and a 22k yellow gold alloy are also manufactured.
How long have you been designing jewellery with PMC?
I experimented with PMC about 2 years ago, but I really didn’t make any jewellery pieces until my first Certification Class in October 2008. From that point on, I have been creating a variety of pieces using all forms of PMC.
Where do you draw your inspiration for your pieces?
My inspiration comes from many sources. I have a good collection of books on the subject, over which I pore constantly and use in adapted pieces. Because you can use natural objects, such as leaves, seedpods, etc, as a basis for the jewellery pieces, I am always on the lookout for interesting shapes and textures when I am out and about.
Where can people see and purchase your work?
My work is on show and can be purchased in our own gallery at Artisans Retreat, which is at 702 Tinonee Road, Mondrook. The gallery has the work of over 40 different artisans from Emerald in Queensland, right down the eastern seaboard to Tasmania. The emphasis, however, is on craftwork from local North Coast artisans, and we are always on the lookout for unique and well-crafted pieces to add to our collection.
Do you encourage your customers to have input into the design process?
The other service I offer is uniquely designed commission pieces. Anyone who would like a fine silver art jewellery piece, fashioned for that special occasion or just because they want a one-off piece to wear, is able to sit down with me to design the piece, which I then create.
You also teach PMC classes at Artisans Retreat. How did that begin?
Of course, the best way to have your own piece of PMC jewellery is to come and make your own. I have been teaching classes at Artisans Retreat for the last 18 months. As with all other classes we teach, I wanted to make sure that I could teach the subject well. To this end, I have completed the three levels of Certification in PMC training, making me the highest qualified teacher between Sydney and Brisbane. This has allowed me to gain a full appreciation for the amazing things that can be created in the medium.
The introductory class explores the use of PMC in its lump form, the use of a syringe and also the Slip. It allows students to create their own pendant piece from fine silver, which may also include a cubic zirconium to add some colour and sparkle.
Follow-up classes are also available, and these are project-based. The student can opt to make filigree pieces using just the syringe, or make a ring or earrings or choose a found piece from nature to coat with Slip – the sky is the limit.
Where and how often do you teach classes?
PMC classes are held on a regular basis at Artisans Retreat – actually in the coffee lounge! Some class dates are already on our web calendar at www.artisansretreat.com but you always have the option of arranging a suitable time and date either by contacting me on (02) 6553 1199 or by email on firstname.lastname@example.org
Of course, PMC is not the only class we run at Artisans Retreat. We have a varied program, which includes woodturning, kiln-formed glass, Hebel sculpture, candle-making, paper tole, counted cross stitch, and silk painting.
We also run children’s workshops on the weekends and in school holidays. Check out the website for more details concerning these.
Thank you Christine.
Artisans Retreat 65531199