Category Archives: courses

Advanced Jewellery Diploma review – back to school again!

Back in September 2015, after a year of jewellery making in an evening class, I took the plunge and decided to use up a good chunk of annual leave on a two-week Advanced Diploma in Creative Jewellery Course at London Jewellery School.

Real school wasn’t easy peasy for me. As it turns out, I am a stealth dyslexic who muddled through, mildly stressed-out, until a lecturer found me out through the help of a particularly nonsensical essay. So I was slightly nervous rather than excited going into my two-week staycation learning holiday. I already knew I really enjoyed making jewellery, but had been making my first pieces in a very excited, thankful-it-was-going-well kind of way and was a little undisciplined when it came to perfecting techniques. I still work a little in this manner, cracking on with each new idea, as it’s what I enjoy about making. The structure of this course, with specific days for designing and the various methods of making (and focussing on the different techniques within this), really helped to control my natural inclination to work in a scattered way. Although this course was ideal to rein in and consolidate ideas, I feel it would be equally beneficial to students approaching these weeks looking for creative inspiration.

Having whole days devoted to making was such a treat, I felt like a proper jeweller. All the tutors are practising, exhibiting and selling their work, so the conversations in the classes were often helpful beyond the subject being covered and I felt genuinely encouraged by people who knew their onions.

Speaking of onions… One of the areas where I had little formal training and had practiced at home the least was wax carving and so in that way that it felt that it was stretching me to learn – these two days of designing and making were a little like going back to school. I love the products (or should I say produce) of these days. These bad boys are perfect for me, they are heavy, ridiculous and pun-tastic. The expertise of the tutors was there to make the heavy and ridiculous aspects non-essential qualities of this design. This advice always assumes that you may want to start your own business; these pieces could be made lighter and more wearable and it considers the cost of casting as well as the customer experience of the piece.  I also could not have managed to create such spheres without the patient help of an expert.

Onions

Another thing that attracted me to sign up for this particular course was the prospect of the work placement, usually a week long, that staff will help you to arrange within an area that is of interest to you. I did mine with JC (Just Castings in Hatton Garden) and it was an invaluable insight into the process of casting, CAD design, plating, 3D printing and finishing jewellery to professional standards –but this is another story in itself. I wear the silver ‘haribo’ ring I made there every day. Along with many other pieces from my happy little jewellery holiday.

I would recommend (and have recommended) treating yourself to this course, I signed up after a quick visit to the studios but there are taster classes and you can visit on an exhibition day (next one is 7th July 6.30-8pm, no need to book). Essentially I left the course feeling like I had achieved real goals I didn’t even realise I had at the beginning and with a certificate to prove it!  It also led to the potential to sell my work, something that I have mostly kept in my back pocket until the opportunity to sell through an immersive art show last December presented itself.

Polishing up your potential

The small class sizes at the London Jewellery School means that you get a lot of expert tuition in the classes, making it possible to cover a range of techniques in these weeks. The course description gives a really good idea of what you will learn but here is a quick run through of my experience on the course.

The course starts with a design day, a great chance to think about what you want to make and ways to go about making pieces for the projects ahead. As we were a very small group, we also had time to start experimenting with resin.

Day two was for learning cold connections, truly riveting stuff! This involves looking at ways to join materials without soldering, a great technique for moving pieces or mixed media. I made a decorative hinge that I later used for an oyster card holder, various animal shapes as testers to hold metal pieces together, a technique I later used on a Perspex and sea glass silver ring.

Fold forming was next, a really fun and loud technique for creating shapes and textures through excessive hammering. We made silver origami frogs amongst other experiments (I attempted my usual crane but a simpler design that another student knew was more effective), seen here with the squashed frog necklace. When fold forming goes wrong it can still be pretty interesting (I love this piece but would recommend a simple boat as a fail-safe alternative.)

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The two days of mixed media jewellery making were a total dream of experimenting and resolving ideas through different techniques. Making a sea glass, silver and perspex ring with rivets, a wooden neckpiece with a tube of multi-coloured macramé and perspex fastenings to hang from, some ‘Banana handbag’ earrings and a spirit level cuff. So not a bad haul at all. This was so useful as a chance to explore different materials and how to work with them. Great for exploring colour, shape and using bits and pieces you may not have considered using before.

The two days of stone setting were honing specific techniques that could be employed in any piece after the course and also resulted in 3 wearable items. Each of these techniques was challenging in its own way and I felt that each was improving my making skills in a recognisable way. These were channel, collet and claw settings and pictures of these 3 pieces were posted on the Schools’ Instagram account, a small gesture that was really encouraging, as probably only friends would have seen my work before.

Bean

Bean ring (magic beans for growth)

The last day of the taught course was recycling silver. I had done a little bit of silver recycling before so didn’t expect that going through the process in a structured manner would shed that much light on a technique. However, melting my silver scraps in the crucible on this day produced a really fun ‘Bean’ ring, a product of the natural shape and texture that can be achieved with this technique. I had already made some cast vegetable jewellery so it fits into my little collection nicely and its smoothness makes it distinctly more wearable than my Romanesco Cauliflower ring. One of the tutors recently reminded me to follow up the ‘food jewellery’ and get selling my work. This really illustrated to me how much they genuinely care about nurturing any ambitions you might be trying to shy away from and keep you making jewellery! Magic beans indeed!

Interested in finding out more about the Advanced Diploma in Creative Jewellery? Our next intake is Monday 4th September 2017. Take a look at our website for more information. Have questions? Give us a call on 0203 176 0546

Lil Adams is the London Jewellery School Sundays Studio Manager. Lil studied Fine Art in Leeds and lived in Melbourne before travelling about and settling in London. She now works at the British Architectural Library and enjoys making jewellery with found and natural objects and is shamelessly addicted to casting.

 

 

Born to Rock! – Birthstones for June

June is just around the corner so our Sunday Studios manager Lil has been looking at some birthstone inspiration!

If you are born in June apparently you are romantic and curious. Even if you don’t believe everything the internet tells you about yourself, it is interesting to look at the birthstones for next month.

June babies get the choice of Moonstone, Alexandrite or Pearl and each presents its own type of mystery and romance.

Moonstone was once believed to be moonlight captured in solid form by ancient civilisations. Alexandrite, is capricious – changing colour from emerald green in the day to ruby red at night while Pearl is a naturally forming rarity from the depths of the sea.

For some reason I could never quite get on board with the appeal of a pearl until now. Pearl obviously lends itself so well to dainty pieces and bridal jewellery that I had dismissed them as a bit twee for me. However the following jewellers have managed to convince me of this stone’s potential to rock and a new appreciation for the traditional use of these calcium carbonate layered spheres. Metalurj is probably my favourite jeweller for unusual and interesting ways to set stones.

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Here the juxtaposition of the smoothness of a pearl next to oxidised silver means that these pieces have never been further from prissy. Another two designs that steer away from conventional trappings are this monochrome fishing net style ring and elaborate octopus hand piece-both cleverly referencing the pearl’s marine origin.

Sevan Bicakci 

Why not discover the potential of your birthstone and join us on one of our classes in Stone Setting or our Introduction to Gemstones classes? Or, if your birthday is around the corner, you might want to treat your curious side to a Pearl Knotting class.

Lil Adams is the London Jewellery School Sundays Studio Manager. Lil studied Fine Art in Leeds and lived in Melbourne before travelling about and settling in London. She now works at the British Architectural Library and enjoys making jewellery with found and natural objects and is shamelessly addicted to casting.

 

What can you learn in an evening?

Here at the London Jewellery School, we have classes of different lengths but which do you choose if you’d just like to try out a new technique? Tutor Anna Campbell gives you the lowdown on our taster classes

 

What are taster classes?
Our taster classes are short evening classes designed to get you started with a new technique. What’s great is that by the end of the class you will have made at least one piece of jewellery and will have a good idea about whether you would like to take a longer or more advanced class in that technique.

 

When are taster classes run?
Our taster classes are run on weekday evenings from 6.30-9pm so are perfect for those who work in London to attend. You can see the complete list of all our taster classes here along with the scheduled dates for the year.

 

What can I learn?

Our expert tutors teach taster classes in a wide variety of subjects including

Beading

Cocktail rings

Silver clay

Soutache

Perspex jewellery

Make a fascinator

Hand stamped silver

Silver stacked rings

Wax carving

Polymer clay

Introduction to gemstones

 

And more!

 

Here are a few of the classes that are coming up

 

Wax carving

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Next available date: Tuesday 23rd May 6.30-9pm

Learn to make a simple but beautiful wax carved ring in just one evening! And your ring will be totally unique!

This class is a great introduction to wax carving and is often taken before doing our Beginners Wax Carving course and is a great one to do with friends as a fun evening out.  

Throughout the evening our experienced tutor will guide you through the process of sizing, shaping and carving the wax using hand tools and heat, adding a texture to your ring if you like.

By the end of the class you will have created your unique wax carved ring which we will then arrange to be cast into your choice of metal (silver, copper or bronze), and it will be completely polished and finished for you ready to wear. Your ring will be posted out to you within 3 weeks of the class or you are welcome to collect it from the School. Best of all this is included in the cost of the course!

 

Perspex taster class

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Next available date: Wednesday 24th May 6.30-9pm

Perspex is a hugely versatile material that can be used for small subtle piece of jewellery as well as large fashion pieces.

Perspex is a brand of acrylic plastic that is often used as a substitute for glass. It comes in a rigid sheet and can be sawn or laser cut and bent using heat. It is available in a wide variety of colours and finishes and there’s almost no limit to what you can make. Also, with a little thought and preparation perspex jewellery can be made from home as it needs minimal equipment.

Techniques covered in this class include:

  • Sawing and cutting perspex from a template
  • Filing, sanding and polishing
  • Drilling
  • Attaching stones  

 

Cocktail rings taster class

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You can find a range of ring projects in this tutorial – and make one to match every outfit.

Next available date: Thursday 25th May 6.30-9pm

Come along for a few hours make a beautiful cocktail ring (or two).This is a fun-filled, creative class (non-creatives are very welcome!)

Throughout the evening our expert tutor will guide you through the full process of making your own ring from scratch. We use a mixture of colourful beads combined with silver or gold-plated wire to make your bling statement ring.

Once you know how to make them you will have lots of orders pouring in from friends and family for their very own rings – you have been warned! 

 

Silver clay taster class

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Next available date: Wednesday 7th June 6.30-9pm

Learn to make your own personalised silver pendant in just one evening…

You will be using a great material called metal clay. Metal clay is a clay-based substance containing millions of tiny silver particles when you fire the clay under a torch or in a kiln all of the clay burns away and you are left with a solid silver piece – it’s like magic!

This is an excellent class to take if you have limited space at home and would like to make silver jewellery.

An expert tutor will guide you through the whole process from making the piece, through to firing and polishing.

Absolutely no experience is necessary as this is a beginners level class and complete beginners are welcome.

What would you like to make in a taster class? Let us know in the comments below

Introducing our latest silver jewellery classes

As you may have noticed, our tutors have been working on some exciting new additions to the courses we offer at LJS for both beginners and more advanced practitioners and we’d love to invite you to book a place!

Here are our newest silver jewellery classes (click on the links for more detailed information)

One day classes

Silver stacked bangles

Intermediate level – learn how to shape, texture and solder silver wire into stacking bangles. Students usually make 2-3 bangles

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Make your own silver findings

Advanced level – Learning to craft your own findings such as ear wires, clasps, and brooch pins allows you to customise your designs and add a truly handcrafted and bespoke element to your work. (We recommend that all students complete the soldering masterclass before taking this class or that you are confident working with the torch. As this is an advanced silver class and we recommend that students are familiar with silver jewellery making and are comfortable using hand tools in a workshop environment)

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Granulation and fusing

Granulation is the technique of creating numerous tiny spheres of metal with which to decorate your jewellery. They are not soldered into place, but are instead “fused” with the surface and to each other. Learn this technique in our one day class.

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Channel setting in silver

Advanced level – Learn to set stones in a ‘channel setting’ – a setting commonly used to set multiple stones along a strip of material, either across a pendant or around a ring (to do this course you must have completed our two day stone setting course and soldering masterclass or equivalent elsewhere)

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Collet setting in silver

Advanced level – Develop your stone setting abilities in this class and learn how to create a collet setting (to do this course you must have completed our two day stone setting course and soldering masterclass or equivalent elsewhere)

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Grain setting in silver

Advanced level – Learn to set faceted stones using the ‘Grain’ setting technique. The class will really bring on your stone setting ability and add a new setting technique to your repertoire (to do this course you must have completed our two day stone setting course and soldering masterclass or equivalent elsewhere)

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Evening and taster classes

For those of you that are working in London during the day, check out our new silver evening and taster classes

Stacked silver rings taster (1 evening)

Learn to make four individual silver rings in just one evening!

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Soldering and stone setting in silver (6 weeks)

This 6-week evening class (run once a week) is perfect if you’ve attended beginners silver jewellery and you want to move onto the next step. Learn more advanced soldering alongside stone setting techniques including bezel setting, tube setting and gypsy(flush) setting

soldering-stone-setting-evening-class-london-jewellery-schoolClick on the links to find more and to book a place.

We love ideas for new classes so what would you like to learn? Let us know in the comments below

Exciting new 10-week Silver Jewellery Comprehensive Course!

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Our Silver Jewellery classes are hugely popular here at the School and more and more of you are learning how to craft your own silver jewellery during our 1-Day courses.  But some of you have been asking for a longer course that will allow you to quickly develop professional silversmithing skills by coming regularly to us for a period of time.  Due to popular demand, we have been working hard behind the scenes to create a comprehensive short silver course and are thrilled to announce the dates for our new 10-week Silver Jewellery Intensive Course!

This is a practical and intensive course designed to help you quickly build your skills with a focus on traditional silversmithing techniques and skills.

Suitable for complete beginners or those who have some silversmithing experience; week by week you will build your skills so that by the end of the course you are a confident and professional silversmith able to work independently on your own jewellery designs.

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Stacked Silver Bangles
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Water Casting
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Collet Setting
Spend 1-day per week with us for 10 consecutive weeks and learn all of the essential silversmithing skills including 6 stone setting techniques, and leave us as a confident and professional silversmith able to work independently on your own jewellery designs.   Suitable for complete beginners or those with a bit of silversmithing experience alike!
The new course includes the following:

Week 1 – Beginners Silver Jewellery
Week 2 – Soldering Masterclass
Week 3 – Intermediate Silver Jewellery
Week 4 – Stone Setting (week 1) – Bezel, Tube and Flush
Week 5 – Stone Setting (week 2) – Bezel, Tube and Flush
Week 6 – Stacked Silver Rings and Bangles
Week 7 – Water Casting
Week 8 – Intermediate Stone Setting (week 1) – Irregular, Collet & Channel setting
Week 9 – Intermediate Stone Setting (week 1) – Irregular, Collet & Channel setting
Week 10 – Make your own Silver Findings

The first cohort of the 10-week Comprehensive Course starts on 29th April!  We can’t wait to see lots of accomplished silversmiths blossom before our eyes!

You can find out more including dates, prices and payments plans on our website here.

New jewellery classes and revamped favourites

As you may have noticed, our tutors have been working on some exciting new additions to the courses we offer at LJS for both beginners and more advanced practitioners and we’d love to invite you to book a place!

These new classes include:

Silver jewellery

Silver stacked bangles

Make your own silver findings

Granulation and fusing

Channel setting in silver

Collet setting in silver

Grain setting in silver

Silver clay jewellery

Make a metal clay charm bracelet

Evening and taster classes

For those of you that are working in London during the day, check out our new evening and taster classes:

Stacked silver rings taster (1 evening)

Stone setting 10 week evening class (10 weeks)

Soldering and stone setting in silver (5 weeks)

Perspex jewellery taster (1 evening)

Mixed media jewellery (5 weeks)

Guided workshops

Based on feedback from you, we also now have silver and metal clay guided workshops. These are designed for those with some experience who would like to work on their own projects using our facilities with an expert tutor on hand to answer any questions.

Silver guided workshop

Metal clay guided workshop

Phew! Lots of exciting new courses to tempt you with! But we haven’t forgotten some of our old favourite classes. Tutor Helen Walls has designed all new projects for our beading classes.

Beginners beading

Designed for complete beginners or those who would like to practice and develop their skills.

Earring project

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In this project you will learn how to

  • Make your own bespoke earring wires
  • Use bead caps
  • Make neat and even loops in wire
  • Open and close jump rings

Stacking bangles


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In this project you will learn how to

  • Make your own bangles from wire
  • Create your own finish on the bangles including a hammered texture
  • Add charms and beads to your bangle

Necklace with decorative components

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You will learn how to

  • Add beads and charms using wire and jump rings
  • Add chain

Double-row necklace

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You will learn how to

  • Use stringing materials e.g. tiger tail
  • Effectively design your piece so it hangs well
  • Use crimps
  • Professionally finish your pieces

Intermediate beading

Designed for those that have attended beginners beading or those with some beading experience, you will learn a wide variety of more advanced skills on this one day class

Cluster cocktail ring and single stone cocktail ring

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You will learn how to

  • Make and size your own ring with wire
  • Wire wrap beads to decorate your ring
  • Make a wire ring with a focal bead

Tassel earrings

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You will learn how to

  • Make your own bespoke earring wires
  • Create a rosary link
  • Add chain to make a tassel

Bracelet

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You will learn how to

  • Design your own bracelet with multiple components
  • Create a rosary link chain of beads
  • Link elements with wire and jump rings

T bar and toggle clasp

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You will learn how to

  • Make your own bespoke findings to match your jewellery designs
  • Make an effective toggle clasp out of wire

Lariat necklace

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You will learn how to

  • Make a lariat clasp in your choice of shape
  • Make a cluster bead pendant
  • Attach chain

Advanced beading

Designed for those that are ready to take their skills to the next level, some more advanced and complex skills and the opportunity to work on your own mixed media project with tutor support

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You will learn how to

  • Weave beads and chain to make a cuff
  • Design your own mixed media variation including cord, buttons etc
  • The same techniques can be used to make other types of jewellery including earrings

Structured earrings

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You will learn how to

  • Make your own wire frames
  • Add beaded elements
  • Use these design to make a pendant, necklace, lariat etc

Freestyle project

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You will learn how to

  • Use the techniques you have learnt to design a statement piece with tutor support
  • Experiment with mixed media including wire, beads, chain, buttons, cord, fringing, ribbon etc

Hopefully we have something new to tempt you to come and visit us in our new studio at Hatton Garden! If you have any ideas for courses you would like to see please do let us know. We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Author: Anna Campbell

LJG Guest Blogger - Anna Campbell of Campbell Hall Designs

Adventures in wax carving – Week 3!

So if you have been following my weekly diary of my 5 week Wax Carving Evening Class at the London Jewellery School you will know that after week 1 and week 2 we are getting close to finishing our first projects and spent most of week 3 refining and finishing our designs so our waxes were as perfect as possible before being cast!  Apparently it takes 3 times as long to fix any imperfections in silver as it does in wax so tutor, Sophie Arnott, spent a lot of time this week checking our waxes and helping us make those minor improvements that would save us precious time later!

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There were lots of busy hands this week! 

In the case of my design – I had to burr out some of the wax underneath to reduce the weight of the final piece.  That was pretty hairy as I was using a burr in a pendant motor.  Now whilst I have used a pendant motor many times before over the years, I have only ever scooped out the underside of waxes by hand (and I typically use burrs in a pin vice and do by hand too) so using burrs in a motor was a new experience for me and it was very easy to slip!  I was worried about burring out too much wax but Sophie assured me you can usually take away lots more than you think.

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My 1st Finished Wax

Once I had finished burring out the wax it was time to refine the finish of the wax so it was nice and smooth.  To do this we used many grades of sandpaper (haven’t met anyone who enjoys sanding yet and this class is no exception but it is necessary!) to smooth the surface and remove any scratches or imperfections.  I then finished off the surface with steel wool for a really nice smooth finish.  Finally, as I had a few curls of wax left on my piece that I couldn’t quite reach with the sandpaper or steel wool I wafted my piece over a flame which melted the excess and left a lovely smooth finish!  It is easy to overdo it and you do need to watch that you don’t melt your piece (or burn your fingers) but boy does it make a difference!

And as promised, here are some shots of my fellow students amazing waxes!

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Aren’t their designs stunning!?  Quite extraordinary that 7 people taking the same course are using the techniques learned in such different ways!  I just can’t wait to see what everybody does for their second project!

Until next time!

Author: Karen Young

London Jewellery School Blog_Karen Young Bio

So what exactly is metal clay?

You may have seen that we have metal clay classes at the London Jewellery School but what exactly is metal clay and how can you use it? Metal clay artist and tutor Anna Campbell updates you on the latest developments

Metal clay has been around since the 1990s but many people have never heard of it so I thought I would give a general overview and a rundown of the latest products available on the market. This year there have been a lot of exciting advances and new brands/products entering the market so the metal clay market is growing.

Just to note, I am focussing here on the brands that are easy to purchase in the UK without import costs. There are other brands available but at the time of writing these are not as easily accessible as those featured here.

 

What is metal clay?

All metal clays have the same basic structure – metal particles, a binder to bind the metal particles together and some water to form the clay. This can be moulded, shaped and textured before drying and firing – either with a jewellers torch or in a kiln to form metal.

All metal clays can be hallmarked by the assay office.

 

Silver clay

The two main manufacturers of silver clay are Aida (Art Clay Silver Clay) and Mitsubishi (PMC3). We use Art Clay Silver Clay in our classes at the London Jewellery School but if you have used one you can use the other in exactly the same way. Fine silver clay is also known as 999 meaning that for every 1000 particles, 999 are silver and 1 is copper.

Silver clay is available in different forms which lend themselves to different ways of designing. These are clay, syringe, paste and paper.

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Silver clay and syringe by Jeanette Landenwitch

 

Syringe

The syringe allows you to do finer silver work e.g. filigree. It is also useful for filling in any cracks or gaps in your work. Both Art Clay and PMC have syringe clay available.

 

Paste

Paste is a watered down version of clay that acts like a glue, perfect for sticking two pieces of clay together. Artists like Terry Kovalcik also use paste for painting amazing designs on their pieces.

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Pendant, painting with paste by Terry Kovalcik

 

Paper

Silver clay paper is a flat, dry sheet of clay that can be cut, woven and folded. I have recently written a blog post on origami with silver.

 

PMC flex

PMC flex is a type of fine silver clay that is flexible and has a longer drying time. Perfect if you find you need a little more time to create your pieces, it can be torch or kiln fired.

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Art Clay Silver 950 – sterling silver clay

 

Sterling silver clay

Sterling silver is also known as 925. This means that there are 925 particles of silver to 75 particles of copper. Sterling silver is widely recognised in the UK and is stronger that fine silver so is perfect for making rings, bangles or other pieces that need more strength. You can also roll it out a little thinner as it maintains its strength and is a little stronger in the greenware stage (when dry but before firing) although still take care when you’re filing! It carves and engraves well. However, it does have to be kiln fired, torch firing is not sufficient.

Previous incarnations of the sterling silver clay needed a two firing system using carbon but this year both Art Clay (Art Clay 950 Sterling silver clay) and PMC (PMC sterling onefire) have released one fire clays. For more information you can have a look at a previous blog post I wrote about trying out Art Clay 950.

For those that are selling their metal clay pieces sterling silver clay is an attractive option as customers know what it is and are confident buying hallmarked sterling silver however the need for a kiln can put people off.

 

Gold

At the time of writing 3g of Art Clay gold is £259.95! Youch! It may not surprise you to know that I have not tried using it! However, there are other ways of adding gold to metal clay. I have had success with accent gold for silver which is 24 carat gold that you can paint onto fired on unfired silver clay. It is still costly, £92.95 for 1 gram, but a little does go a long way as you are only painting a layer onto the surface of the clay.

You can also use keum boo, a gold foil that is adhered to fired silver clay. You can learn how to do this on our one day intermediate metal clay class.

 

Base metal clays

Base metal means non-precious metals e.g. bronze, copper, iron and steel.

 

Copper

Copper clay is available from a number of manufacturers, for a full list see here. Art Clay Copper (at the time of writing) is the simplest of the clays to fire as it can be torch or kiln fired. Copper clay is an affordable option although not everyone likes to wear copper jewellery. However, it could be a good option for making larger pieces like bracelets.

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Bronze clay neckpiece by Anna Mazon (made from Goldie Bronze)

 

 

Bronze

I have enjoyed experimenting recently with bronze clay. I have been using Goldie Bronze. It is also very affordable and comes in many different colours. It arrives in powder form and is easy to make up into clay with ordinary tap water (I have a two minute video on how to do that here). This allows you to mix up the amount you need when you need it. Hard is great for making bangles and rings whereas soft is easier to carve and texture so a mix of both has, in my opinion, given me the best of both worlds. Firing Goldie Bronze does also have to be done in a two part schedule in the kiln in activated coconut carbon and, if you do it right, it works! In the UK you can purchase Goldie Bronze from Metal Clay Ltd. Metal Clay have also recently started stocking the Aussie Metal Clay brand and I’m looking forward to having a play with it. There are other brands of bronze clay on the UK market including Metal Adventures and Prometheus.

 

Other base metals

Other metal clays available include brass clays and iron clays.

 

Final thoughts

The original fine silver clay is still the most reliable to fire. However, it is among the more expensive of the metal clays to work with so doing some experimenting with other metal clays could prove worthwhile, particularly if you have a design for a larger piece in mind. I really wanted to make a chunky bracelet in metal clay and am currently doing so in Goldie Bronze. The cost of the same amount of clay in silver would have been prohibitive.

You do need to fire the majority of metal clays in a kiln (with the exception of art clay copper) but you may be able to find a kiln firing service in your area if you don’t have one yourself.

The final thing to note is that you do need separate tools for working with the different metals. Contamination from one type of clay to another can result in the piece not firing correctly and all your work is wasted. My main set of tools is for silver clay (as I started working in it I have more tools for silver!). I have a box of tools, texture sheets, clay roller etc that have just been used for bronze clay. Make sure you mark your tools clearly. In practice it hasn’t meant buying too many duplicate tools and I think the opportunity to try other metals has made the added investment worthwhile.

For a more in depth run down of the different brands of clay on the market see this excellent article from Metal Clay Academy

If you’ve been inspired to try a silver clay class why not join us for a day? The following classes are in silver clay:

Beginners metal clay class

Intermediate metal clay class – in this class you get the chance to add gold to your silver clay in one of the projects.

Would you like to try working with paper clay? Enrol on our silver paper clay class.

 

Author: Anna Campbell

LJG Guest Blogger - Anna Campbell of Campbell Hall Designs

 

Adventures in wax carving – Week 2!

So last week I posted about week 1 of my 5 week Wax Carving Evening Class at the London Jewellery School.  We have now had our second week of our class and it is fair to say that we were all getting into the swing of things and powering forward with our designs!  Some of us made some changes to our designs this week as we had had the chance to think about our pieces and how we would realise them in wax!

So it was pretty much straight to business this week!  We all worked hard shaping the wax and scraping away and refining the waxes.  It was a very quiet class as we were all concentrating so hard!

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Everybody hard at work on their designs! 

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Our lovely tutor, Sophie Arnott, putting us through our paces 🙂

My own design is coming on.  I pretty much have the organic shape carved out and am just refining the surface with sandpaper and steel wool to make sure it is nice and smooth as any flaws in the wax will be picked up in silver (and are much harder to sort out once cast!).  I will waft my piece under some heat to remove any little curls of wax remaining so it is completely nice and smooth for casting.

Next week I will start burring out the underside of the ring to make the ring lighter (as it would be very heavy in solid silver, not to mention expensive to cast!) to make it nice and comfortable to wear using a ball burr in a pendant motor.  And I will hopefully make a start on my second design.

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My wax carved ring – almost finished 🙂 

I am really enjoying the course so far and although I still love fabricating pieces completely by hand from sheet metal, wire and tubing, I can see how this technique could be incorporated into my designs and collections.  Plus it is incredibly therapeutic peeling away layers of wax!

I can’t wait for week 3 and seeing some of the finished waxes of my fellow students!  Have a great week and will post pictures of how everyone is getting on next week!

 

Author: Karen Young

London Jewellery School Blog_Karen Young Bio

 

Mindfulness – Origami with silver!

As I’m sure you noticed, the mindfulness craze for 2015 was adult colouring books. For 2016 it has been origami. But did you know that you can do origami with silver? Tutor Anna Campbell gives you the lowdown.

For many of us jewellery making is a hobby; a way to relax and create away from our day to day lives. The need to concentrate on what we are doing allows us to be consciously aware and focussing in the moment rather than worrying about the future or thinking about the past. This is the elusive state of mindfulness.

I’m sure you can’t have missed articles and books on mindfulness over the last few years. Through research, mindfulness has been found to be beneficial to

  • Reduce rumination (going over and over things in your head)
  • Reduce stress
  • Boost your working memory (this is an element of your short term memory)
  • Improve your focus
  • Increase flexibility in your thinking and problem solving abilities

(For more information on this see the research from Davis and Hayes, 2012)

There are a number of ways to add periods of mindfulness to your day to day life. Activities like yoga, tai chi and meditation have been famously studied but concentrating on a hobby is also on the list.

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Last year, adult colouring books became all the rage (my personal favourites were Secret Garden and the Orla Kiely colouring books). I think the mindfulness aspect was one part of it but there is also the simple pleasure of going back to childhood and the only things to be concerned about – choosing the right colour and colouring inside the lines!

In 2016 origami was introduced to the mindfulness trend. Origami is the Japanese art of folding paper into decorative shapes and figures.

Origami with silver looks impressive but is hard to achieve with traditional silversmithing techniques. However, it is something we can achieve with metal paper clay.

Both the main brands of silver clay, Art Clay and PMC, have their own version of paper silver clay. Both are a dry, flat sheet of metal clay that can be cut, folded and shaped before being kiln fired.

Here are some examples of silver origami that have been created in our one day Metal clay – paper clay class

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Paper Clay ‘Windmill’ earrings by Anna Campbell

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Paper Clay ‘Paper Aeroplan’ earrings by Anna Campbell

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Paper Clay ‘Origami’ Pendant by Anna Campbell

Why not join us for your own mindfulness day and leave with some silver jewellery?

During the paper clay class you learn three different techniques

  • Weaving with strips of clay
  • Quilling (rolling and shaping strips of paper)
  • Origami

Our next class with places available is Monday 27th March 2017. More dates can be found on our website.

Author: Anna Campbell

LJG Guest Blogger - Anna Campbell of Campbell Hall Designs