Silver clay is like magic! It’s alchemy…..
You take something that looks and feels like potters clay and turn into pure silver. Basically, it’s made up of silver particles, an organic binder and water. You shape it, then fire it in a kiln or with a blow torch and it burns off everything except the silver. It has the added bonus of requiring very few tools.
It was silver clay which got me started on my jewellery journey. At university one of my flatmates was studying silversmithing and I can remember thinking how complicated it looked. There were so many tools and techniques involved. At the time it didn’t occur to me that it was something I could do.
Fast forward 13 years, I had a big baby bump and maternity leave ahead of me. My Mother said she’d like to take me away to do something fun before the appearance of the small person. I’d heard about this stuff called Silver Clay but didn’t really have any idea what it was. So we went off (with my sister in law also) for a two day course in Silver Clay.
These are the first pieces I made, on that course:
I was hooked! We all were. We just couldn’t believe that we had created these pieces of solid silver jewellery. And that there were so few tools involved. Our minds were overflowing with ideas and we chatted all the way home about what were going to make next.
I ordered the few tools that I needed, a blow torch and a fibre brick being the main things and gathered the rest from cook shops and around my house. I’ve always had a thing for buttons, so one of the first things on my list was a button pendant. I’ve since had the design cast and it’s now one of my best sellers.
Of course, one thing led to another….I wanted to learnt to solder the jump rings, which involved learning some silversmithing techniques and that in turn led to me wanting to learn other silversmithing techniques. And now, five years down the line, I have a studio full of tools and all sorts of skills under my belt.
But, I’ll never forget that it was the silver clay that got me started. And I still use it. Most of my master copies (the first pieces, that I then have cast to produce replicas) are made in Silver Clay, like the little mice on my bangles and rings. The body of the mouse was originally made in silver clay. I have it cast and solder on a tail, which is wrapped around the bangle or ring and soldered into place.
I have a few designs which are still made to order in silver clay too. My initial pendants for example:
There’s the magical moment when you’ve fired the clay and it’s solid silver but matt and white. You take a brass bristle brush to it and scrub. Your creation then turns silver and it’s the most magical thing! I’ll never tie of it.
I’ve had so many people ask me to teach them about it, and to run classes, but my house isn’t huge and having people round to learn stuff would involve spending lots of time cleaning it……so I’ve decided to harness the magic of the internet and teach classes online.
My first class which is a beginners class in silver clay and teaches you how to make a simple but pretty pendant, is now live on Skillshare. Skillshare is a brilliant platform, which I’m slightly addicted to! I see it as a cross between you tube, pinterest and Instagram. It’s has the videos of you tube, but each class is broken down into bite sized chunks, it has the range of subjects of pinterest (there seems to be a class for everything you can think of) and it’s even more inspiring than Instagram.
You can find out more and watch my class for free HERE.
I have lots of ideas for future classes, so if you’d like to learn some of my creative processes click the follow button next to my Skillshare profile and you’ll get notified when I publish something new.
If you have any suggestions for things you’d like me to teach, then just leave a comment with your suggestions and I’ll see what I can do.