Saturday, 3 December 2016

3 ways to add gold accents to silver clay

Last week I taught a diploma class at the London Jewellery School which covers three different ways to add gold to silver clay. Gold is an expensive commodity (3g of gold clay costs £259.95! Yikes!) but there are other ways to get the look of gold at a more affordable cost.

1. Keum boo
Keum boo is adding gold leaf to silver. This is done after the piece is made and polished. The metal needs to be heated (I use my jewellers torch), the gold leaf added to the hot metal and burnished on. (Example of this in the photo above is the heart at the right of the image)

2. Gold paste
Gold paste can be painted onto fired silver. I find it is best to do a few layers and I torch fire the piece between layers, burnishing the metal to ensure the gold is well adhered (Example of this in the photo above is the christmas tree at the bottom of the photo)

3. Gold nugget
Adding a small piece of gold can enhance the silver clay design. The gold is embedded in the clay when it is wet and fired in place. You can find a link to the gold that I use here. (Example of this is the very top piece).

The adding gold to metal clay class at the London Jewellery School is only available as part of their one year Diploma in Creative Jewellery. If you would like to learn how to do this with me do contact me about a private tuition in London.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Fingerprints and handprints - teaching silver clay jewellery classes this week

Silver handprint pendant, London Jewellery School
It's been a fun week teaching some more advanced silver clay classes. First up was Prints and Drawings in Metal Clay at the London Jewellery School. This one day class is about making photopolymer plates featuring your own designs, drawings, child's drawings, hand prints, paw prints etc. The photopolymer plate can then be used as a mould to make silver clay jewellery.
We had a lot of fun trying out our own drawings, printed images and taking our handprints! Unfortunately this class won't be running anymore at the London Jewellery School but I am happy to do it as a private tuition.

Fingerprint jewellery, London Jewellery School
I then also taught a fingerprint jewellery class at the London Jewellery School. This also uses silver clay. We looked at a couple of ways to take fingerprints, how to use letter stamps and carve letters into the clay to make some lovely finished pieces. 
I also advised about setting up a fingerprint jewellery business either online or with friends and family.

It's been a busy week but I've had fun! It was also lovely to get some great feedback after the fingerprint course. I love my job and I'm so glad my students get a lot out of attending classes with me.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Celebrating jewellery collaborations - the Pass it Along Project

In March I wrote a blog post for the London Jewellery School blog about the Pass it Along Project, a jewellery collaboration project spearheaded and collated by my colleague, LJS tutor Penny Akester to challenge jewellers to work with others from around the world on the same piece of jewellery. I participated in the challenge alongside fellow LJS tutors Penny Akester, Hayley Kruger, Helen Walls, Annie Mason and Natasha Williams. The first iteration of the project is now complete so I thought I’d share some of the finished pieces.
(This blog post was originally written for the London Jewellery School blog and has been adapted to post on my blog)

What is the Pass it Along project?
The Pass It Along project is a group jewellery making challenge – it is open to any jeweller who was interested in challenging themselves. It was designed to enable unexpected and unplanned collaboration between makers – to generate new ideas and inspiration, as well as connections with other jewellers. The idea is based on the idea of a chain letter, game of pass the parcel, or a game of consequences – everyone taking part is allocated one of three themes, and starts to make a piece of jewellery, they didn’t complete the piece however, they passed it along to someone else in the group who continued to work on the jewel. It was then passed along to a third person who put the piece together and completed it / made it wearable, then on to a fourth who got to keep the piece, and who shared images of the piece. It meant that everyone who signed up got to take part at each stage of the project, and everyone got to keep a jewel too.

Some examples of the pieces collaborated on by LJS tutors

Piece no 32, was created by Tilly Wilkinson, using copper sheet and enamel, changed by Anna Campbell, who used wire, collated by Penny Akester, who used tercel yarn to add kumihimo braiding and created a necklace.

Piece no 13 was a collaboration between Angela Dickson, Ana Pina and Annie Mason

Piece no 35 was created by Rosa Elena Rivera using bronze metal clay, silver clay, Pebeo paints and bronze tubing to ‘create’ the pendant. Dicle Erver then ‘changed’ the piece by using wire binding techniques with craft wire in varying shades of purple to compliment the subtle tones originally created by Rosa with the Pebeo paints. Natasha Williams ‘collated’ the final piece by adding brass chain, which provides a backdrop for the whole piece and enables Dicle’s wire addition to wind it’s way around the chain and pulling the whole piece together.

Piece no 38 was started by Jeannette Froese LeBlanc in etched aluminium, changed by
Hayley Kruger using ink, pencil crayons, paper, perspex, saw piercing and finishing techniques. It was collated by Lisa Welbourn using sterling silver, silver clay, lava beads, rubber neck cord.

Piece no 56 was made by Julia Dainty, Helen C. Walls & Aimée Cope in Silver & Peridot.

Where can I see all the finished pieces?

How can I get involved in the next Pass it Along round?

The Pass it Along project is a great challenge and learning experience for jewellery makers with any level of jewellery making experience. You can find out more information about the current project and can sign up to be involved in the next round here.
The next round will start in January 2017.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Mindfulness - origami with silver!

As I’m sure you noticed, the mindfulness craze for 2015 was adult colouring books. For 2016 it has been origami. But did you know that you can do origami with silver?

For many of us jewellery making is a hobby; a way to relax and create away from our day to day lives. The need to concentrate on what we are doing allows us to be consciously aware and focusing in the moment rather than worrying about the future or thinking about the past. This is the elusive state of mindfulness.
I’m sure you can’t have missed articles and books on mindfulness over the last few years. Through research, mindfulness has been found to be beneficial to

  • Reduce rumination (going over and over things in your head)
  • Reduce stress
  • Boost your working memory (this is an element of your short term memory)
  • Improve your focus
  • Increase flexibility in your thinking and problem solving abilities

(For more information on this see the research from Davis and Hayes, 2012)

There are a number of ways to add periods of mindfulness to your day to day life. Activities like yoga, tai chi and meditation have been famously studied but concentrating on a hobby is also on the list.

Last year, adult colouring books became all the rage (my personal favourites were Secret Garden and the Orla Kiely colouring books). I think the mindfulness aspect was one part of it but there is also the simple pleasure of going back to childhood and the only things to be concerned about - choosing the right colour and colouring inside the lines!
In 2016 origami was introduced to the mindfulness trend. Origami is the Japanese art of folding paper into decorative shapes and figures.
Origami with silver looks impressive but is hard to achieve with traditional silversmithing techniques. However, it is something we can achieve with metal paper clay.
Both the main brands of silver clay, Art Clay and PMC, have their own version of paper silver clay. Both are a dry, flat sheet of metal clay that can be cut, folded and shaped before being kiln fired.
Here are some examples of silver origami that have been created in our one day Metal clay - paper clay class

Silver paper clay windmill earring
Silver paper plane earrings
I teach a one day metal clay - paper clay class at the London Jewellery School.

During the paper clay class you learn three different techniques
  • Weaving with strips of clay
  • Quilling (rolling and shaping strips of paper)
  • Origami

You can find dates for this class here (note, I am not the only tutor for this course). You can find my teaching calendar here.

(Adapted from a blog post I originally wrote for the London Jewellery School blog)
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