Jewellery Making Techniques: Silver Clay Shenanigans

My final delve into learning a new skill last year ended with precious metal clay and a class taken with Emma Mitchell (Silver Pebble) in the glorious surroundings of rural Reach in Cambridge.

Driving to Cambridge, bathed in brilliant sunshine both there and back, I could not have had a better day of crafting; this time using Art Silver Clay and silicon moulds of natural objects  (you can probably tell I still wasn't quite satisfied with nature-inspired jewellery making after my electroforming class earlier last year!).

keeley2.jpg

As I did with the electroforming class, I took along a box of 'beasties' I had collected (thinking something would make the perfect piece of jewellery!) and again, I was overwhelmed by what the instructor, Emma, had prepared for us. She had laid out a mountain of moulds she had already taken of natural objects, herbs and plants for us to have a look at. There was also a plate of silver pendants and charms which had been made using these moulds. Bedazzled by the possibilities, I set about making a mould using a sycamore key. It set very quickly and was ready to be used in a matter of ten minutes or so.

I then chose a couple of moulds I wanted to use to make a few pendants; one of a fennel sprig, an elongated poppy seed pod and a little pine cone (I think). Emma's knowledge of the natural elements she had used was impressive to say the least. One of the other students used Victorian/vintage button moulds and the other had brought a yarrow spray from which she made her own mould. We then proceeded to roll out/press our clay onto/into the moulds.  These were dried (burning off the water element of Art Silver Clay) and then fired (burning off the binding material used in the clay) and -boom- see the photo for the results! Lovely, unique 99% fine silver adornments.

poppy seed.jpg

After my little poppy seed pod didn't quite turn out right at the electroforming class, I was overjoyed by the silver clay version which I gifted to my sister in law who gave birth to a beautiful baby boy in November (she had nicknamed her baby Poppy before he was born).

Check out Emma's classes (and other brilliant) nature-inspired things on her website.  I would sincerely recommend a class with her; her enthusiasm on how crafting can help you relax and keep your mind at ease, amongst other things, was truly inspiring. Get crafting people!


 

Jewellery Making Techniques: Dabbling with Electroforming

I have been rather quiet since the end of summer 2017 by way of blogging but I have been a little busy! I thought I would use the seeing in of the New Year to write a little bit about what I have been up to in the world of handmade jewellery and craft.  

I have been attending a few different jewellery making classes (always a student!), temporarily side stepping the traditional silversmithing techniques I usually use. As I discussed with a(nother creative) friend recently, when you have a creative streak, sometimes it is hard to stick to just one craft or technique! I think you get bitten by the "making and doing" bug.

Electroforming with Penny Akester

So my first stop (and what this blog is about) is electroforming, which is a bit of an erratic (exciting?!) process essentially connecting an object to metal and then transferring that metal onto the object using electrical current. We were using copper as our base metal.

keeley1.jpg

I was excited to take along lots of natural objects I had picked up over the years. I also had a few I had picked up over the summer on my holidays last year to Parga in Greece and Suffolk and some I had gathered with the onset of autumn.  This included an array of shells, seaglass and a poppy seed pod. I thought my bounty was good until I saw what Penny had! Sea urchins, huge acorns, starfish. It was hard to select just a few items!

See the outcome of the weekend in the photograph collage. It was an interesting experience and one I am still wondering about. Some of the copper didn't quite transfer to the items, especially those which were heavily porous, despite many coats of sealant and conductive paint, and the long timings involved meant my patience was tested. But still, what a wonder to discover the results when the objects were removed from their wires and out of the chemical baths they were sloshed in! Transformed, even if a little rough around the edges! Some were then given a silver plating using more chemical processes and some were only coated partially in copper (see the shell) so that the natural beauty of the object remained visible.

It was a thought-provoking weekend and one I would highly recommend.  See more details by visiting Penny's website.

COMING SOON: see how I got on with the inspiring ancient Korean gilding technique of keum-boo and a nature-inspired silver clay class!