Brighton Fringe 2017
Jenny from Silver and Sage teaches us the rudiments of making a basic silver pendant, of our own design, from scratch.
Before I did this workshop, I didn’t know there was such thing as silver clay. Something that looks a bit like Blu-Tack, but which when heated strongly for 20 minutes with a blowtorch, turns from being that same Blu-Tack looking for stuff, into pure silver.
I also didn’t know that there was a jeweller/silver smith above the Round Georges in the Kemptown area, by the name of Jenny, the person behind “Silver and Sage”
It was Jenny who greeted us, that is my daughter and I, when we arrived, and took us upstairs to her small studio. There she showed us, in no uncertain terms, how to mould, with what looked like a plastic rolling pin and tiny cookie cutters, this raw material, silver clay, into a shape that would finally become the small pendant we were aiming for.
At first I didn’t think it could take two hours. But the process was really quite fiddly, needing dexterous hands and good eyesight. My hands aren’t bad, but my eyes are nowhere near as good as my daughter’s, so I had to make use of the large illuminating magnifying glass that was mounted on the table to be able to mount the teeny embossing letters, that we were to use to put a chosen word onto our new pendant.
Rolling out this putty, the silver clay, reminded me of rolling out clay in a pottery class, except it was all done on a small scale. I came to realise why the class was quite expensive, when I quickly searched online for how much a small amount of this silver clay was. It’s not cheap!
Jenny deftly explained to us and showed us how to roll out the clay, and cut it into the shapes that we wanted.
We then popped our creations into a dehydrator to dry them all ready to be sanded down.
Then once sanded into as close a perfect shape as we can get, and having embossed whatever word we wished for, all done by our own fair hands, it was time to bring out the blowtorches!
My daughter was nervous, always having had a slight fear of flames, but soon she had the blowtorch in her own hand and was confidently wafting it over her small teardrop shaped creation, making it glow with a soft melon colour.
The whole process was very satisfying. Jenny explained everything very clearly.
Luckily my daughter is quite confident with arts and crafts and was quite able to follow the instructions and create a neat little present for her friend.
Jenny then produced beautifully crafted little packaging for us to take our creations home in.
My daughter really loved this workshop and it was pitched just right for her. I have to admit I was a little tired myself from a late night commitment the night before, which made it in some ways quite a good thing that the process, although fiddly, was quite simple. I say simple because the shape that we acquired of the putty was formed using a cookie cutter like thing.
Part of me felt a little disappointed that we couldn’t form the party/clay into a shape of our own design using a slightly less mechanical shaping and cutting method. I.e., We were only ever going to end up with one of the half dozen also shapes on offer, rather than a more freestyle possibility.
This, of course, kept the sleepier ones amongst us, and the younger ones amongst us on the straight and narrow with a simple and easy to do process. The more ambitious and perky part of me would have liked to have had a chance to go more freestyle. On reflection it might have been a bad, and possibly arrogant, idea!?
I myself also would have liked to have had more examples of what’s achievable on easy display, and having to bring my daughter through a fairly busy pub, running the gauntlet of what felt like over-beery blokes and a packed pavement full of smokers, on a Sunday wouldn’t have been my favourite option either.
That said, the piece we each ended up with was successful, and simple and sweet.
I liked it enough to consider getting some silver clay of my own, and doing it again with my daughter. I’m not a silverware or jewellery wearer, so I wasn’t as excited as my daughter. She would have happily given this workshop a highly recommended, if not higher.