Monday 21 November 2011

Silver Clay Workshop

Another tick on the 'Things to Achieve' list.

Saturday I went on a day long Silver Clay Workshop with the famous Sue  Heaser

Was I nervous - you bet!   But she is a lovely lady and has such a wealth of talent - and her work is awesome.  As you will see if you look at the link above to her website.

 This was my first attempt at the silver clay jewellery piece.  I am so very disappointed with it, and if the silver wasn't so expensive I would have binned it!  Sue is a brilliant tutor - it's me the pupil that's not very good.  I guess that stress had a lot to do with it.  A long drive on narrow country lanes all the way from where I live. Mist, then piercing sunshine which was in my eyes all the way, so I had to screw my eyes up to see as I didn't know the area, and I arrived with a headache!
I started off making an oblong with an art nouveau style flower impression on it which I loved.  Unfortunately I had stamped the impression on the hough as we call it where I live - a bit wonky, not quite straight.   I didn't honestly mind that - as I liked the imprint on it and would have worn it 'wonky'.  But I needed to do it again, and there are only so many times you can fold and roll the clay and this was my last 'chance'!  In my bag, I had taken along leaf cutters, and leaf rubber impressions that I used years ago in sugar craft - and it would have made a beautiful leaf - but I kind of felt too shy to mention it to Sue in case I offended her as she had an amazing array of things to leave impressions with!   The impression on this is made with a skeleton leaf, and when burnishing it after firing, I rubbed a bit too long so the pattern one side is 'shallow'.  I thought the silver would be as tough as a spoon, but as this is pure silver it is softer.
I should be proud with my first effort as a complete novice - but it's the 'perfectionist' in me that's disappointed.  The veining is black and it looks more pronounced in real life than the photo shows - but my photography skills are lacking - the silver just gleams.

The afternoon session - after a lunch break and a couple of paracetamols proved a bit easier for me - not a lot!  There was a lot of information to take 'on board' to understand the nature of the material and the drying and firing of it etc.  
Can you guess what the above is?   It's the reverse side of a teeny, weeny, charm - not even as big as a 1p!  The pattern is made by pressing a scrap of lace into the clay before drying.
It's a tiny, but very ornate cup and saucer - vintage style.  I need to buy some really 'smelly stuff' can't remember the name off hand - liver of sulphur or something like that.  Then I have dunk it in and keep doing it until it all goes black, then polish it again to reveal the silver which leaves the impressions black!  It'll really make it look good.
This is a tiny initial - again smaller than a 1p - and definitely needs the dunking treatment so that the flat impressions are black and the raised parts will be silver and really 'pop' - and will, I think, give it a Victorian look.
Am I gradually improving?
A teensy weensy fish - made with a scrap of leftovers - just as long as my smallest finger nail.  Again needing the dunking treatment to reveal its lovely fishy scales etc. 
And this last piece I like the best - although it is small!
It is just big enough for a pendant - and I am very proud of the texture made with lace on the back!

I have to say that I made this as perfectly as is possible - at least for me.  I didn't have any cutting or filing to do - so was rather chuffed and relieved I have to admit.

This is just as perfect as a real sea shell, with so much texture I just love touching it.   When I buy this 'soaking stuff' to turn it black then polish it, you should be able to see every single rib and detail.
The drive home was in thick mist and darkness - very nerve wracking but 

I bought a few basics from Sue's little sales table to start me off - and I was also pleased to be able to buy her gorgeous book.

I have to admit to being a bit of a 'groupie' and asked Sue to sign it for me - it'll not only be my Silver Clay 'bible' but a lovely keepsake of a very memorable day!
Thank you Sue - if you ever get to read this!

I am going to save up and do another of Sue's courses next spring - when the weather is nicer and the nights are lighter!


cockney blonde said...

OMW Lottie, you are far too critical. I think all the pieces look amazing especially as it was something new and also after such a difficult journey. I think you can wear them all with pride. Well done, x

Cath Wilson said...

Lottie, you did brilliantly! I remember my one and only attempt with that stuff and the result was dire! I was at CHA and had to go back to pick it up when it was fired and really remember how disappointed I was. I kept it, though - had to after paying so much for it, lol. These are beautiful pieces and you should be so proud of yourself. I'm in awe of silversmithing full stop x

sam21ski said...

I wish you weren't so hard on yourself, perfection on the first go, not likely!!!! You've done a great job and I love that sea shell.

Glad you're getting out and about and most of all finding enjoyment out of what you are achieving.

Give yourself a pat on the back.

Sam xxx

Sara Sandberg said...

I have heard about silver clay but never looked into it - but your pieces really inspire me! How wonderful to create such lovely things - although you create lovely things whatever craft you are doing! :) Actually, lovely isn't enough to describe the things you make - amazing, wonderful, stunning . . .

Anonymous said...

Lottie you really shouldn't put yourself down. You did amazing work and there should be a superb feelng of achievement. I love the leaf but, to be honest, I wouldn't be able to say what is my favourite as I love them all.
Well done and glad you enjoyed the day after all your driving tribulations :)

Lynn (rusticus) x

Deborah said...

Well done you! after watching Kirstie on TV your efforts are really good, I just adore the shell :)

Bee happy x
Have a delicious day!

Unknown said...

Thank you both - so kind of you. I am not really being hard on myself - just realistic really - and it's great to keep your 'first' try at anything and then can look back later and think WOW haven't I improved since then.

I think with any craft you attempt - it's a confidence thing until you get the 'feel' of the medium you are working with - so it's very exciting trying new things and finding which you grow a passion for and which you accept that you just don't have a 'feel' for. In my case it's card making so far!

Linda Hart said...

Lottie, you ARE way too hard on yourself! I love that leaf, yet it is the piece you least like! I think you did stupendously well for a silver virgin!

Christine B. said...

Hi Lottie I think you did marvelously for your first time. They all look beautiful I really love the shell. You should wear them with pride. Love and hugs x ChrisB

Marion said...

I just love that first one and I'm surprised that you are so critical of it. All the pieces are beautiful and that shell is exquisite. Did you use a real shell as a mould or did you sculpt it yourself?

Magpie's Mumblings said...

Well I have to say that I think your first effort is pretty darned good! I've never heard of silver clay - will have to research it to see what it's all about. You certainly created some beauty with it!

Flo said...

Lottie I think you have achieved a great deal with these itms

Kath said...

Wow! I am so impressed. I think your first attempts are really good. You must have a 'feel' for silver clay. I shall be really interested to see how you progress with this skill. I hope you are going to continue.

Ginger said...

Wow, give yourself some credit miss Lottie, these are really lovely, and that shell is to die for. It is a shame that the materials for some hobbies are so expensive especially when you enjoy them so much. G X

Angelnorth said...

You did fantastically well! Even your very first attempt is charming and I'm sure you learned loads from doing it as each and every piece afterwards looks like you got more and more confident. It is indeed liver of sulphur you need to make your pieces oxidise and get that patina on them (they'll do it naturally over time but you probably don't want to wait years for the effect!). Glad you enjoyed the class and came away with some new skills!

Sandies' Patch said...

Improving?? Your a Pro!
I love it all, even that first leaf, it reminds me of the wind-battered leaves of the plum and damson trees on the estate.
Very natural.
I love the fish and the shell....
I think you are just brilliant at this jewellry mularky!

Well done Lottie!


Sandie xx

VickiA said...

You did a brilliant job. It's fiddly stuff to work with isn't it. Yes the smelly stuff is liver of sulphur but makes a huge difference to your pieces. My basic kit also includes a rubber block and a drill ( The link might help.

I have silver clay on my christmas wish list this year as it's sooo expensive now.

Heather371 said...

i'm very love to silver and i think they are great such talent! great job!


Lorraine said...

wow these are fab..the leaf one is my fav

Anonymous said...

How can you possibly be disappointed with any of these!!! They are all fabulous, although I have to say that shell is the tops! So sorry your day was spoiled by a horrible journey though. Silver clay is on my wish list but I think I will wait till I can go to a class like you have as there is so much to learn. Not sure I like the sound of the liver stuff, ha ha. xx

Deborah said...

When I started reading I thought the leaf was the only thing you had made (and it looks fine to me) but then I scrolled down to see all the lovely stuff you've made...fabulous!

Thanks for your blog comment - and on uk stampers - about the memo blocks. In case you didn't see my rely, they don't come with a cover, just shrink-wrapped. They are glued on one side to hold them together.

Anonymous said...

Oh! I saw Sue demonstrate the silver clay work on TV a few years back and it has been on my to try list also. Lottie you have done brilliant work in just one lesson! I love all the pendants especially the little shell.

Teena Vallerine said...

Hello lovely lady. I have been thinking of you. My friend Emma is a silver clay jeweller and I think you would love her nature inspired work.

Good to see you as creative and energetic as ever! We really must meet up. Lots going on and off here. I have some holiday booked with my boy in December so maybe a date?! xx

ScrappyDandyDoo said...

Wow well done :D I would love to have a go at this but its just soooo expensive!! Fabby shell!!

Julie xx