Monday, 23 November 2009

Yummy Beads!

This weekend I've been on a beading frenzy. I happened to be at a meeting in Cleckheaton and looking at my sat nav, found that I was only 2 miles away from my favourite bead shop, Bedazzled Beads in Heckmondwike, so I couldn't resist paying them a visit. The last time I was there I spent a fortune, so I do try to ration my visits and this time was just as compulsive.

The yummy beads look good enough to eat an
d all that colour gets my heart pounding. So as predicted, I soon found myself pouring beads into my little basket and making numerous trips to the counter with each stash. But my visit hasn't been in vain as it gave me a creativity boost and I did lots of work over the weekend just pulling together pieces of silver jewellery that had been sitting in the bottom of a box waiting for some magic to happen.

I'm quite pleased with these shells that I'd made from a mould and didn't really know what to do with. They've been given a new lease of life with some glass beads (onl
y 10p each!) and some earring wires.

On my beading travels, I found some beautiful golden angel's wings and turned them into a host of angelic angels that I'll be giving away to my friends and family as gifts this Christmas. A couple of these will also be gracing my tree this year. I wanted some in silver but they'd all sold out, so now I may have to take a mould and make my own extra precious silver angels!

I must just say a big thank you as always to David for taking these beautiful photos...what would I do without you!

Friday, 20 November 2009

Miraculous Metals

I really love silver! Working with it, wearing it looking at's fun to find out about the symbolism of different things and I really enjoyed discovering that silver is supposed to mirror the soul and helps us become more intuitive. It's also one of the most reflective metals and the best conductor of heat and electricity.

Silver is also a healing metal as it has antibacterial properties and is used in so many different ways in the medical profession from being impregnated in bandages and as a lining for breathing tubes and catheters. Don't you just love it!

To add a little interest to your work, it's worth considering adding some gold accent. You can do this with gold leaf using the Keum Boo method, where you heat the silver up and burnish the gold leaf onto it. Gold is the most precious of metals and signifies perfection as it is found in a relatively pure formin nature and needs little refinement.
It symbolises wealth, success, prosperity, abundance and good fortune. So if you need to attract some of these into your life, it's probably worth adding a little gold here and there!

I'm planning to add some information here shortly about Keum Boo as it's very straightforward to do but it adds so much.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Scrap Silver

Just wanted to remind you that all those bits of silver that you accumulate should never be relegated to the back of the drawer or heaven forbid, the bin! Your scrap silver is worth valuable pennies so what you need to do is this:
  • Find a nice little jar
  • Fill it with pieces of scrap silver, for example, this can be objects you've created that you don't like, anything that breaks and is unrepairable, etc.
  • When you've accumulated a little stash of silver contact Cookson Gold about their scrap services. You can exchange your scrap for cash or have a credit put on your Cookson Gold account (Cookson have every jewellery making tool under the sun so you'll be spoilt for choice about what to spend it on!)
Contact: Simon Dreher if you'd like further information:
Cookson Gold,
59 - 83 Vittoria Street, Birmingham, B1 3NZ
Tel : 0121 212 6420

Email :

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

New Lily Pendant

Hi everyone, I just finished my arum lily pendant last night. Here it is...hope you like it!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Mould Making

Mould making is a fantastic way of capturing something you admire and turning it into silver. If you've not had a go at this yet then do, as it's ever so easy and very satisfying. We also cover it in the Advanced Silver Clay Workshop.

To take a mould, you simply knead equal amounts of the two-part moulding compound until it's an even colour and there is no marbling. I've found the best way to take a mould of an object is to place the object on a flat, clean surface and push the moulding compound down over it, rather than pushing the object into the mould. This way you get a lovely, even mould.

Once the mould is set (this takes around 2 to 3 minutes) you're ready to take a cast with your silver clay. Push the clay into the mould, use some cling film or disposable gloves to help you do this as it stops the clay from sticking to your fingers and you won't leave unwanted fingerprints in the clay. Top tip: if you run out of clay around the edges of the mould simply add some syringe clay or paste to top it up. Use a wet finger or water pen to blend it in.

I usually leave the clay to dry in the mould so it can harden and shrink away from the edges, this makes it easier to remove.

Here's an example of a ring I made using a mould taken from a £1 ring from Top Shop! We now stock the moulding compund in our on-line shop silver clay creations shop

Monday, 16 November 2009

Water Pen...or is it?

I've discovered a brand new use for my water moisture pen. It's a great tool for using to smooth out cracks and flaws on the clay. You simply fill the barrel up with water and squeese to release water into the brush tip.

I've found that when you fill the barrel with olive oil it's also useful for smoothing the oil over texture tiles and cookie cutters to stop the clay from sticking. Plus you get to keep your hands nice and clean. Perfect!

Silver Fruit Bowl

I've been creating projects recently for Dolls House & Miniature Scene magazine since the editor visited my stand at the Stitch & Creative Crafts Show in Manchester. We came up with a few ideas for projects in silver clay that would work in a dolls house and after I made a contemporary mirror as a test piece, I was delighted that they commissioned me to create 10 more projects.

Here's a sneak preview of a leaf shaped fruit bowl for the January issue, complete with cute fimo fruit that my daughter Estella helped me make.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Inspiring Arum Lilies

Just got my new copy of Beads and Beyond magazine and I'm really inspired by the winners of the Metal Clay Jewellery Maker of the Year competition. All the pieces were beautiful but I actually prefered one of the shortlisted entries best. Katrina Lucas designed an utterly gorgeous Arum lily necklace. I love it so much that I'm going to make one this weekend and post the finished picture up for you to see how I get on. Katrina's necklace has six flowers but I think it would look divine with one large lily on a silver wire.

That's the best part of design, improving on whatever we see around us. If my necklace is half as good as Katrina's I'll be happy!

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Cutting Out Shapes

I found a great new tool yesterday, the Helix shape template. I've been using cookie cutters to cut different shapes into the clay but they're never quite the right size for what I need so I end up having to accumulate loads of them.

The Helix shape templates have every size of circle, square, oval, etc. that you'll ever need. Simply place the template on top of your clay and cut around the shape using a clay pick or craft knife. You can get these templates from stationary shops such as WH Smith and Staples.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Making Bangles

I had the most fabulous time recently making bangles with my friend and fellow silver-clay enthusiast, Heidi. As well as being a very therapeutic experience, it was also a great learning curve. I've discovered that the best way to build a skill is to throw yourself in at the deep end, experiment and learn from your mistakes....they make you so much more confident.
My first forray into bangle making came when I made a ring and wanted a bangle to match. I looked around on the internet for guidance and simply couldn't find any. No one seemed to make bangles with Art Clay Silver (my chosen medium) and I'd also been warned that it wouldn't be flexible enough when fired to bend and manipulate, like a good bangle should.

Being rebellious by nature I took the bull by the horns, threw caution to the winds and decided to make my own bangle by my own methods. I rolled out each piece of the bangle separately and used syringe clay to paste the pieces together, otherwise you'd need an enormous amount of clay. I didn't have a bangle mandrel, so simply wrapped the clay around an existing cuff I had in my jewellery box. I'm very happy with the end result, it's got great flexibility so I can squeeze it to fit my wrist and then to gently open it up again when I need to take it off. I used 50 grams of clay altogether (not including syringe clay) but it truly worth its weight in silver as I love to wear it.

Here's Heidi's gorgeous bangle (on the left) expertly photographed by my partner David. It's set with mineral accents which are supposed to stay put when pressed into the wet clay...except they didn't, another joyous learning curve! If at first you don't succeed as they we waited until the bangle had been fired and then used clear resin to set the mineral accents, which worked a treat. A really lovely design feature of the bangle is one of the corners has been rounded off. This was came about by sheer fluke as it slipped out of Heidi's hand whilst she was sanding it and the corner broke off into several unsalvageable pieces. So she decided to sand the corner off in this rounded fashion and voila, it's a thing of true beauty!

Monday, 9 November 2009

Our Brand New DVD!

We're delighted to announce the launch of our brand new DVD, 'Silver Clay Made Simple'. We decided to film this after so many requests from silver clay enthusiasts who would have loved to come on one of the workshops but either couldn't travel up to Huddersfield, or simply could not spare the time.

So here is the perfect way to learn the essential skills of working with Art Clay Silver to produce your own beautiful pieces of jewellery. The DVD has over 100 minutes of step-by-step advice, techniques and tips and over 14 chapters, takes you through the whole process of working with the clay, from which types of clay to use, how to roll, texture and finish your pieces and finally how to to fire, polish and age them.

Visit our on-line shop to order your copy, you can also combine the DVD with a starter kit, visit silver clay creations shop