One woman's adventures in the land of hand made jewellery

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Challenging Challenges

Having enjoyed the Spring Is Sprung challenge set by Linda Jones at the WireWorkers Guild last month I've decided to enter a few more. Making something to meet a brief set by someone else exercises the greater grey matter not only in choosing colours, materials etc to match the requirement but also ensuring that the more technical side of bringing it all together works. Thinking of the layout of the piece, how it will fasten and how the various components can be joined together are as much of a challenge sometimes as the more creative aspects.

So here are a few challenges you might be interested in:

Also the Wire Workers Guild will publish any photos of pieces submitted before the end of March in their gallery - the piece must obviously contain some wire art. Check out the website for the rules.

Good luck and if I come across any more challenges I'll add them to the list above! Mean while here are a couple of photos of my entry to the MJ Spring challenge:

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Silver Clay Delight

Silver Daisy - my first ever piece in silver clay
Back in January I met a lovely lady, Lisle Skirker, at an Arte market in Dubai Festival City shopping centre. Desperate for a fix of jewellery making (my beads and equipment were still in transit from Bahrain to Dubai) and wanting to learn a new skill I signed up for her Art Clay evening workshop. Three hours later I had myself a new silver pendant (picture left) and was well and truely hooked!

On a short trip to the UK to renew my passport later that month I visited Hatton Garden to purchase supplies of clay and spent a happy few days acquiring various tools on the shopping list Lisle had given me.

Last month I began a four session certificate course in Art Clay with Lisle* at DUTAC a wonderful arts centre located in the MoE shopping centre close to our home.

So what is silver clay? Its finely powdered silver that has been made malleable by the addition of a clay medium as a binder. It can be rolled, moulded or syringed just like potters clay although it does need to be kept moist as it is quite fast drying. Once fired the silver powder sinters to become 99.9% solid silver. This is finer than sterling silver and in the UK once assayed, pieces can be hallmarked. Similar clays in other metals including gold, copper and bronze are also available and there are several brands, the most well known ones being PMC and Art Clay. I am using the latter. When fired the clay shrinks slightly as the binder burns away so for any piece where size is crucial eg a ring, it's necessary to take this into account. Different brands shrink different amounts and require slightly different firing times for the same weight of clay. Lisle has been on hand to provide all the information and advice needed so I am beginning to feel confident that I can work it out for myself.

The pictures below record the pieces I've made so far - I love the medium and the results, even the slightly wonky heart pendant which was the first and only item so far that I've made on my own at home. Everything I've made has been torch fired. I'll share more about the process as I complete the course.

Leaf Pendant using a Syringe and Dichromic Glass Carbouchons

Dancing Hearts - first solo make at home

Tiny Silver Ring

Hollow Silver Earrings

Silver Mint Impressions - made using paste on a mint leaf

* If you want to know more about Lisle and her courses click here or find her here on Face Book.