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Christine Cox
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Wooden Book With PMC and Glass Inlay
By Christine Cox

Briefly, here's how I made this book using an experimental technique with Precious Metal Clay (PMC) . I haven't worked out all the bugs, but there's potential in using unfired PMC.

The book has shiny/burnished/unfired PMC, matte/darkened/unfired PMC and shiny/fired PMC for 3 distinctly different looks.

First I prepared 2 pieces of oak for the cover by; cutting to shape, drilling for sewing, sanding and staining.

I cut a piece of clear plate glass to the height of the finished book. For this book I cut one river shaped piece of  glass and then cut that into 3 wavy strips. I lined the edges of each strip of glass with PMC, reassembled them and then fired the joined piece in a glass kiln. The metal clay sinters in the kiln and the pieces of glass become one unit. Note that the glass in my book fades from a soft yellow to a darker amber color. That is caused by the silver reacting with the soda ash in the glass during the firing process.

To hold the glass inlay into the wood cover, I carved a "riverbed" shape corresponding to, but slightly larger than, the 3 strips of glass. I then lined the riverbed -- bottom and sides -- with unfired (raw) PMC which I then burnished just as hard as I possibly could (being careful not to crack the thinned wood) with a metal burnishing tool. This made the clay look like polished pewter.

I mixed up some 2-part epoxy and smeared it all over the PMC in the riverbed and then laid the glass into the resin while it was still wet. This left some great bubbles that resemble waves.

After the epoxy was dry I "grouted" the edges of the glass along the walls of the riverbed to make sure that the glass was bound on both long sides with PMC. If you try this, be careful not to get any PMC into the grain of the wood as it stains badly (voice of experience). I then burnished this PMC as I did earlier.

After the PMC dried I carefully brushed liver of sulfur over the exposed PMC "grout" to darken it.

I then sewed the book together using Keith Smith's Type lV board attachment and a Coptic Stitch.

If I was to use the unfired techniques in this article again, I would carve the wood to the exact shape and size of the fired glass/PMC piece, forgoing the "grout" around the edges. I didn't like the finished look as well as I might have and it can be dug out with a fingernail. Perhaps a layer of epoxy over the top is the answer. Let me know what you come up with!

Bookbinding Tools and Materials are available from Volcano Arts.

Christine Cox teaches metalsmithing and bookbinding classes in our Studio in Volcano, CA.

This book is now in the collection of Carole Lamb