I had always dabbled with silver but it was mostly wirework until someone introduced me to silver clay! Silver clay (PMC) was developed in Japan and is a mixture of pure (99.9%) fine silver particles and a clay, called a binder. The clay is shaped, dried, sanded, fired, sanded and finished according to whether you like it highly polished, satin or ‘antiqued’. When the piece is fired, the binder burns off, leaving a fine silver item (most silver we buy is 925 – or 92.5%) – it is important to remember that the piece will shrink by about 10% once fired so make it bigger accordingly – especially important when making rings! It is not an easy medium to work with, unless you just roll it out and cut shapes – it dries very quickly, so for the type of sculptural pieces I make, forward planning is a must!
I use it less often now the price of silver has rocketed. Silver clay art jewellery pieces take a lot of work and most people are so used to paying the low prices of commercially available silver that if I were to sell it at those prices I would probably be working for about 12p an hour!!!
Below is a selection of pieces that I have made. They are either sold, were commissioned pieces, or are in one of the local art galleries. Some of them incorporate wirework as I love mixing media. I hope you like them!
Silver clay is available from a few makers now and they also make copper clay and bronze clay, which I have used – the properties are extremely different to silver clay and it has to be fired in charcoal or it will not sinter properly and disintegrates into a pile of black dust! Very frustrating when you have spent hours on shaping and sanding a piece! When I get time, I plan to play with copper clay as I want to make my own bead capps and toggle clasps…watch this space. I also plan to incluse a step by step tutorial on how to make a silver clay ring at some point soon….or if there is anything particular you would like to see, then let me know!