Turning nature into silver

Silver Clay workshop

On Saturday morning Mr B was up and out of the house before 7.30am to avoid the laughter and noise of eight women around the kitchen table from 9am to play golf.   When he returned just after lunch I found myself channeling my inner Lord Percy and imagining him as Blackadder:

 

Except I hadn’t created the finest “green”.  I had created the finest silver.  Along with some other gorgeous ladies I had spent the morning being taught by Emma, Silver Pebble, Mitchell, how to turn clay into silver jewellery.   Admittedly it is not any old clay dug out of the ground, but silver clay made from recycling dumped electrical appliances and TVs.   Silver is one of the best conductors so is used to conduct current in remote controls (amongst other things) and when the machine is taken to the tip the silver can be removed and re-used.   One application for it is to mix it with paper pulp to produce a fine clay and then sell it in small quantities to clever people like Emma.

We had been told by Emma to bring along anything we might have at home that we wanted to turn into a silver charm and I have to admit I drew a blank.  I didn’t have time to go for a nature walk to find a beautiful pebble or to the beach to find a shell but thankfully Emma arrived with a huge assortment of moulds that she had made from items she had found, or that had been used at previous workshops.

Silver making moulds

Everything from tiny keys to mourning buttons to fossils.   Even a blackberry had been pushed into a silicon putty and turned into a mould.

items suitable for silver moulds

To convince me that there things in my garden we could use Emma stepped out on to our drive.  To the patch of weeds that refuse to die by next door’s fence and within two minutes Emma had picked a bluebell seed pod, a primrose leaf and various tiny flowers, all of which would be suitable for turning into a mould.

Turning nature into silver

Finding leaves to turn into silver

Emma has written a post on her own blog about the workshops:  Capturing Nature’s Detail in Silver and if you don’t follow her on instagram, please do:  SilverPebble2.  Her photos and the captions she puts on them are stunning.   One of the most beautiful feeds on platform in my opinion.

So having made our moulds, or chosen one of Emma’s we were then shown how to roll out the silver clay (quickly as it dries in less than ten minutes and once dried, it’s buggered*)  *technical term.   These where then placed on little tiles and put in the oven to ensure any moisture in the piece is removed.

Silver Clay

Making a mould for silver casting

Once out they were then fired, simply on a gauze on a gas flame.   It really was like watching magic happen as the clay went to a very brittle form in the oven to a sold piece resembling plaster on the gauze.  Dropped it in water was then the last piece of the process before the real magic began.

Larch Pod in silver

We were all still bewildered at that point.  it just looked like a lump of stone.  Until Emma took to it with a brush and as the silver oxide fell away what was left was the stunning piece of silver underneath.   We all squealed.  Loudly.  Repeatedly.   Emma told us that several people have actually cried at this point in the past.

Removing Silver Oxide

As Emma handed each of us our pieces we began brushing to reveal our own pieces and there was silence as we stared in awe in what we had created in just a couple of hours.

Buttons necklace

I made a group of little buttons, others made pieces from leaves or seed pods, Caity made tiny kitten’s face and Emma then secured a ring on to them so we could then hang them from the chain she had also given to all of us.

It really was the perfect way to spend a morning.  Meeting some other local ladies I hadn’t met before, sharing cake, and walking away with something we had made in just a couple of hours but could treasure for years.

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  • I love this so much, I very nearly did a silver jewellery design course a while back, but wasn’t sure I had the patience, I could absolutely do this – I LOVE IT! Love your creations!