I really do love silver, it’s pretty much the only precious metal I wear. I even have white gold (a gold – palladium- silver alloy) wedding and engagement rings. So, when an opportunity to make things from silver myself came along I couldn’t really pass it up, and I may have mentioned it a bit to my husband around about Christmas time. He’s very good at taking the hint…
…two and a bit months later and and early spring Saturday morning found me and three classmates in a village at the edge of the fen, at the home of Emma Mitchell. Emma is @silverpebble on Twitter and I came across her initially via her twitter hashtag ‘events’ – is that the word, I’m not sure! – #makesewbake and #makingwinter. She has a beautiful website, and an envy inducing shed. We were greeted by Emma, a roaring fire, a lovely dog, and coffee (which I needed after a fairly awful night’s sleep in the nearby Holiday Inn Express). It was all shaping up to be a pretty good morning.
At the work table we had an introduction to silver clay and its properties – it’s made from recycled silver scavenged – yes that’s what they call it* – from old circuit boards and such, mixed with a binder. It looks very grey and uninspiring in this state. We were shown how to make moulds from weird blue silicon stuff with found objects like buttons, beads, pinecones, shells etc. – this is very satisfyingly like squishing things into Play-Doh to make shapes (I don’t get to do that now my boy is eight!). Also, how to roll out your bit of silver clay nicely and make an impression – for example – of the back of a leaf in it, so effective!. There were a lot of ‘Ooos’ and ‘Ahhhhs’, which I find does happen when you got a roomful of crafters together to learn a new thing.
I made a beautiful little leaf impression, a tiny silver pebble, and a slightly wonky little bee for my friend – she wore it round her office on the Monday, and reported back good comments, bless her!.
But my main thing, inevitably, was to try to make some silver knitting. I knit a square of sock yarn, made a mould with the blue stuff, and pushed silver clay into the mould. Once it was a little dry it was turned out and ACTUALLY LOOKED LIKE KNITTING. I admit, I was very overexcited by this point. It’s lucky it was time for tea (Yorkshire Tea, what else!) and rhubarb cake while our silver clay things were dried before firing.
Once the pieces were dried we rubbed the rough edges off, and then it was time to turn them into actual silver. You do this by firing them on the cooker hob. I know, it seems mad, but it really happens. I’m not going to spoil that moment for anyone who may take Emma’s class in the future but, just to say, there was gasping in wonderment.
And here is my silver knitting (with the original). Quite Amazing :
Everything at the same time:
Of course, a few days later, I had been shopping and had weird blue silicon and silver clay of my own…
Want to try it yourself? – Emma is an absolutely fantastic teacher and holds workshops regularly, you can find out more about her and the workshops here : http://silverpebble.net
*The fundamental inter-connectedness of all things strikes again. I thought, this process does sound very familiar, and then realised these scavenger systems are developed by the company my friend the chemist works for.