Since I started working with silver clay in 2008 I have only ever made one ring. When the silver clay is fired, the cotton and paper fibres that form part of its ceramic structure burn off, leaving a piece of fine silver that can even be hallmarked. It’s a kind of astonishing modern day alchemy but during the firing the design shrinks by around 7-8%. This can present a challenge whilst making rings- a challenge of geometry with a little bit of craft maths.
I’ve been determined to become more proficient at ring-making for several years. I receive one or two ring commission requests every month and always refer people on with a slight pang of creative guilt, whispering to myself ‘I bet I could do this really’. It was time to face the ring making fear.
So, I bought a kit, browsed Pinterest, hedgerows and my own sketchbooks for inspiration and started to plan. I had seen one or two ring designs incorporating birds and as I’d been drawing wrens recently as part of the Flatland Drygoods logo and bookmarks my fingers itched to make a ring with a tiny silver wren ring…
One of the most popular themes in my silver workshops is making silver ‘fossils’. We press leaves with prominent veins into the clay and the particles of silver in the clay are so small that the finest detail can be captured in the surface.
The leaves return to compost within a few weeks, but the leaf imprint, in effect a fine silver fossil, endures. This process can be used to capture memories from nature walks, holidays or even wedding bouquets. I was determined to make a silver fossil ring and I used the tiny leaves from a delicate alpine plant growing in one of the pots on our patio (it may be a form of alyssum).
So that smaller fingers weren’t left out I also made a tiny forget me not ring for Eldest (in the top photo in this post). She is rather pleased. I may incorporate ring-making workshops into my schedule for late 2016 and 2017…
Thrillingly I’ve been invited to teach a workshop casting nature finds – acorns, sycamore keys, shells and small fossils and imprinting leaves from local hedgerow plants – on Saturday 1st October at the Metal Clay studios in Purbeck, Dorset. If you’d like to book a space click here.
Metal Clay has kindly offered a £50 voucher to spend in their online shop for anyone who fancies starting using silver clay or for folk who have already attended one of my workshops and would like to get making at home. If you’d like a chance to get your hand on some of my second favourite substance (after cake) and make your own fine silver jewellery then you can enter my giveaway below.
£50 is more than enough to buy a pack of clay and the essential kit for beginning to make at home. I will send instructions on how to use silver clay to the winner. (NB soon I’ll be releasing a silver clay e-course for beginners with videos and a full guide to using this mind-boggling substance. This prize will be ace for those who want to learn how to make their own fine silver jewellery)