Friday, 6 November 2015

My creative process: making jewellery with silver clay



Back in May 2008 I attended a workshop. During that brief 3 hours my creative excitement level flew off the chart, into orbit and may have collided with the International Space Station and a couple of asteroids. 

Silver clay. Oh my STARS AND GIDDY TROUSERS.



Fine silver blackbird commission perching on heather

It's a ceramic made from finely ground particles of silver reclaimed from the printed circuit boards of broken electrical goods mixed with particles cotton and paper and an oily binder. So far so excellently green.

It can be modelled into vessels (tiny POTS! OH yes! I shall be making some new tiny silver vessels in the coming weeks), nature-inspired shapes, birds and 3 dimensional flowers.







A longtailed tit for a commission, prior to firing

Leaves and seeds can be imprinted into it to, in effect, make silver fossils.



Seedy inspiration for new designs

It can be used to cast perfect, wearable replicas of tiny found objects with intricate textures and designs.



It's not just silver-coloured though. When these tiny ceramic items are fired on a gas hob or in a kiln the cotton and paper burn away leaving pure silver.



This knowledge still seems a little unreal to me seven years later. When I handmake a tiny silver berry, beehive or wren and fire it, the moment when I polish away the white oxide from its surface still holds a serious dose of wonder for me. I feel as though I'm a 16th Century alchemist who has been digging up and chucking acid at bits of rock for years and boiling what remains and sighing and experimenting and suddenly I realise I have made ACTUAL SILVER.



Jax's pieces being set on fire. Photo credit: Jax Blunt

Three people who have attended my workshops have cried tears of craft joy at this juncture. I keep an emergency lavender bag to hand in case of those who may be overwhelmed by silvery wonder and joy. 

I don't think I will ever tire of this magical* substance. Its possibilities are innumerable.

I am taking commissions for *whispers* the c-word. If you'd like to contact me about a particular design drop me a line on emma@minniedog.co.uk.



Oh and there are 3 spaces left on my 5th December workshop and 2 new dates for 2016 in my sidebar if you'd like to learn how to use silver clay yourself. Spaces are £80 a head**. Email emma@minniedog.co.uk if you'd like to come along.

*I use this word advisedly, truly.
** includes 4 hours' tuition, 7 g clay, sterling chain and headpins, gemstones, homemade cake an document with instructions and supplier info and endless cackling opportunities.

Note: huge thanks for the contributions to Making Winter so far. The November link will be active until the 1st December if you'd like to share your cold weather creativity.

20 comments:

  1. One of these days I am determined to get to one of your workshops!

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  2. Oh me too, me too, one day I shall get there. I love the idea of silver clay, I looked at maybe making something a while back, but I don't have any means of firing it. But as you say, it's so very clever. The acorn with the oak leaves is gorgeous, you're so very talented. CJ xx

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  3. I totally agree Emma...metal clay is indeed magical....although I tend to work with silver sheet I do love clay too and the 2 mix well! I love your new pieces,so delicate.Enjoy creating and have a lovely weekend xx

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  4. I love this. I recognize the revelation of a creative discovery and the joy and wonder it brings. I love hearing about your passion for this art form and it shows so clearly in your beautiful work! I'm still a bit sad I wasn't able to take a workshop with you when I was overseas. Yet, I am so happy to "know" you here and there about the web. I so enjoy seeing things from your view.
    xo

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  5. I'm in awe of your beautiful designs, I would love to wear all of them! Heading over to your site now, then I need to drop some serious hints for Christmas!!! That seed head one is just so beautiful! Katie x

    http://long-may-she-rain.blogspot.co.uk

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  6. You jewellery looks so elegant Emma! Like them all!

    The silver clay sounds really special. I can imagine your joy to be working with such a fine material.

    Have a good week!

    Madelief x

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  7. I bought a pair of your viburnum berry earrings a couple of years ago and they are gorgeous! I also bought your very pretty necklace using antique pearl drops, surely the loveliest necklace ever!

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  8. Your work is wonderful, I particularly like the fact that it is almost all based on nature. If only I felt comfortable wearing jewellery...

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  9. I would love to do one of your workshops one day Emma. Have always loved your work so much x

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  10. The alchemy extends to your skill with the other mysteries of the jeweller's art..headpins, jumpy rings and the like. Your work is so beautiful Emma,you've made your very own silver language.

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  11. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  13. Hello dear, Thanks for your ideas. its really superb. Your creation with silver clay is looking beautiful. Thanks again for sharing this lovely post.

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  16. I love it! I went on a crafting workshop before Christmas and came out with so many different designs! I wear a necklace to work similar to your summer grasses design and people are always asking where I got it....it's so satisfying knowing the piece I made is truly one of a kind.

    Verna Ford @ Jacobs The Jewellers

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I so love reading your comments and will try very hard to answer them but sometimes life gets in the way and I don't manage every time. Thankyou for dropping in here and taking the time to say something - it means a great deal.