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!