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Mid Cornwall School of Jewellery

Last weekend I went to the Mid Cornwall School of Jewellery for the first time. It is near Par in Cornwall. This is a LOOOOOONG way from my house! I loaded up the ipad (I work in technology so this is a work ipad - I am very lucky, they are so cool!) with a couple of films, some books, some games etc and stocked up on snacks. The train journey from Paddington was fine and I was lucky enough to be staying at the Boslowen guest house which was recommended by other students at the jewellery school. They picked me up from the train station and took me to and from the jewellery school every day which was so handy as I can't drive and I think cabs are a bit scarce around that way.

Saturday 8th January
Another student from the jewellery school was also staying at the Boslowen so we were dropped off there together. MCSJ is based in a farm building that was mentioned in a Daphne Du Maurier book. The workshop we were taught in was large and very well stocked with all the equipment we could need (and lots we probably didn't!). There were seven of us students altogether with a varying degree of experience in metal clay from beginners to people with their own fingerprint jewellery business.
The pace was very intense. We had a number of projects to complete within the two days and as this is a certificated course, everything had to be done to the correct standard. We learnt how to reconstitute dried out clay, made earrings with different types of PMC, made a silicone shell mould, a shell charm, a leaf bead and a cork clay bead.
We stopped for lunch but kept going the rest of the time. We were given our homework before leaving in the evening.
My fellow Boslowen and I were exhausted! We managed to have a great meal and a chat in a pub and then went back to the BandB to finish our homework!

Sunday 9th January
We were back again by 9.30 to finish off some pieces before the start of the final day at 10am. I'd had a bit of a nightmare with my shell charm (I dropped it when I popped it out of the silicone mould and had to re-do it) so I felt up against it. We made two types of pendants and did a lot of finishing and polishing. I found drilling into the shell very challenging as there weren't any straight bits to drill into and the drill kept slipping off.
I particularly enjoyed learning how to do the ear wires for the earrings.

On the whole, I did learn a lot from this course. Having done the Art Clay level 1 I was hoping to find that this wasn't too challenging but the pace meant that I felt up against it a lot of the time. I have to be honest with myself and say that I don't think I'd practiced enough before doing this course. The next level is in March and I plan to do a lot of practice before then.

On the level 1 course I learnt the following things that I couldn't do before

- how to make a silicone mould and mould silver clay shapes
- how to fire and make my own earring wires
- innovative uses of household objects for texturing clay
- how to make a clay bail
- how to make a wrap over pendant
- how to reconstitute clay
- how to make a cork clay bead

And lots more.
I do recommend the course for those that are serious about their silver clay, those who really want to progress either to sell quality work or to teach. It's tough though and I was glad that I wasn't down to do the level 2 consecutively as I had originally planned (although I think I will do levels 3 and 4 together). Julia Rai is an excellent teacher and I thoroughly enjoyed the company of the other students on the course. I didn't enjoy the six hour journey home! But it can't be helped.

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