One of my favourite things about knitting is the lovely knitting community! Many of my knitty friends share my love of ALL making (even if it doesn’t involve yarn) and a passion for leaning new making skills.
My friend Steph (aka Nettynot), who started the fabulous Knit in Notts knitting group, is also the manager of The Bead Shop Nottingham. She wow’s us regularly with her jewellery, but we were all particularly intrigued by silver art clay and very excited when Steph offered to host a workshop just for us!
So last week – Steph very kindly gave up her Sunday to teach us and we hired the workshop room at the bead shop. I was so excited and I’d set up a pinterest board for inspiration and arrived bubbling with ideas.
After a failed attempt at a ring, I decided to go for simpler things! The clay dries out quite quickly but you can add water to make it squishy again and it handles just like normal clay. We had loads of cutters and things to make texture with – but I wasn’t really getting on with them very well and was much happier when I decided to freestyle.
I bought some lovely turquoise beads last year at festival of quilts, and wanted to make a disc to go on a necklace with them. The plan was to create texture on one side and a J on the other. So I started by rolling the clay into a textured mould, cutting it into a circle and then stamping on the J. But every time I used the stamp it was squishing the other side and losing the texture. I also didn’t like the neat edges from the cutter. So I ended up making two discs – one with a J stamped and one with texture. Instead of using the cutters I just made a ball of clay and then squashed it flat. They look more handmade and you can see my fingerprints, which I like.
I also wanted to make a butterfly pendant. This was more of a challenge because I wanted the wings to poke up like this one by OliveYewJewels, so it was in danger of snapping in half as it dried out. I cut this out by hand with a craft knife and then moulded it into shape. I didn’t do too much sanding before it was fired because I was scared of breaking it!
The triangles were a bit of an afterthought. I’ve seen a few bunting necklaces and of course they’re dead simple to make! We did have a triangle cutter, but I like my slightly wonky hand-cut triangles.
Before firing – we dried out the clay with little heaters which allowed us to do a bit of sanding to get rid of any imperfections. I quite liked my imperfections so I didn’t do much of this.
Then the exciting bit – they go in the kiln! You can do this at home on a gas hob if you have all the correct equipment, but I would recommend going to a workshop before attempting that.
When they came out of the very hot kiln – Steph put on her ‘fire glove’, picked them out with tweezers and dunked them in a bowl of water to cool them. I was expecting them to be silver at this point, but we had to scrub them with wire brushes to unveil the silver!
You can then play about with different finishes. I liked my butterfly mat silver so I left it as it was. I battered my biggest triangle with a hammer (not sure what that effect is called!), and shined one of them up so that they all looked slightly different. You can shine them up to a mirror finish if you have time and patience! I ‘antiqued’ my two discs to make the J and the texture more visible, by dunking them in a solution to make them tarnish and then polishing the surface.