Silver Clay – What’s to love?
When I was thinking about blog subjects to cover 30 days, I have to admit I was a little bit daunted. But when I started to break it down, I realised that I had a whole load of information in my head and especially if it I take the viewpoint of who the Silver Clay School is initially targeted at (i.e. the absolute beginner) then, I have loads and loads to share!
I wanted to do a wee series about what I love about Silver Clay and one of my top five reasons is how accessible it is.
When I talk about accessible, I mean it’s a table top craft. You can literally clear the kitchen table from all the day’s debris, set up your kit and make some lovely silver jewellery. Sitting at your kitchen table?! Who’d have thought it, the wonders of modern technology!
You need a minimum amount of tools to kick start your habit (erm I mean hobby) and there’s certainly nothing as unwieldly and heavy as a texture mill required to make fantastic textured pieces. One of the things that makes Silver Clay so wonderful to work with is that it’s so easy to manipulate and doesn’t need a lot of strength in your arms or hands. Before it’s fired, Silver Clay is just that, clay and it needs gentle and careful handling rather than the use of a saw and dapping blocks. A lot of my students tell me that it’s lovely to be able to get such stunning results with such a small amount of physical effort. Ideal for those who struggle with arthritis or joint problems for example.
Another brilliant thing is that most of the finishing processes can be done prior to firing, which means you are working with clay again, easier on the old hands and fingers; the amount of effort you put in at the stage really tells in your final pieces. Once out of the kiln, Silver Clay shouldn’t require any work except for burnishing and polishing. If you have ever worked with sheet silver, you’ll know that makes a huge difference to the amount of work that has to be done once a sheet silver piece has been constructed – think pickling, annealing, shaping, soldering, work hardening, some more pickling THEN polishing and finishing.
Of course there are always positives and negatives when working with any medium. Silver smithing is a wonderful skill to have and there will always be projects best suited to sheet silver rather than Silver Clay. But for the hobbyist, the accessibility of Silver Clay has to be one of the major advantages
Til next time