Making Jewelry with Clay

May 31, 2022
Hollow domed beads

Back in May 2008 I attended a workshop. During that brief 3 hours my creative excitement level flew off the chart, into orbit and may have collided with the International Space Station and a couple of asteroids.


Fine silver blackbird commission perching on heather

It’s a ceramic made from finely ground particles of silver reclaimed from the printed circuit boards of broken electrical goods mixed with particles cotton and paper and an oily binder. So far so excellently green.

It can be modelled into vessels (tiny POTS! OH yes! I shall be making some new tiny silver vessels in the coming weeks), nature-inspired shapes, birds and 3 dimensional flowers.

A longtailed tit for a commission, prior to firing

Leaves and seeds can be imprinted into it to, in effect, make silver fossils.

Seedy inspiration for new designs

It can be used to cast perfect, wearable replicas of tiny found objects with intricate textures and designs.

It’s not just silver-coloured though. When these tiny ceramic items are fired on a gas hob or in a kiln the cotton and paper burn away leaving pure silver.

This knowledge still seems a little unreal to me seven years later. When I handmake a tiny silver berry, beehive or wren and fire it, the moment when I polish away the white oxide from its surface still holds a serious dose of wonder for me. I feel as though I’m a 16th Century alchemist who has been digging up and chucking acid at bits of rock for years and boiling what remains and sighing and experimenting and suddenly I realise I have made ACTUAL SILVER.

Three people who have attended my workshops have cried tears of craft joy at this juncture. I keep an emergency lavender bag to hand in case of those who may be overwhelmed by silvery wonder and joy.

I don’t think I will ever tire of this magical* substance. Its possibilities are innumerable.

*I use this word advisedly, truly.
** includes 4 hours’ tuition, 7 g clay, sterling chain and headpins, gemstones, homemade cake an document with instructions and supplier info and endless cackling opportunities.

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