Silver clay was something I’d never heard of until I started looking at what new crafts I could learn. I found a book on silver clay in my local bookshop and was intrigued.
It is a relatively new invention, taking incredibly finely powdered recycled silver and mixing it with water and a clay binder. It means you can treat it like a clay and then, when dried it loses the water and when fired it loses the binder, leaving behind pure silver. It is purer than normal stirling silver, which has to be ‘cut’ with other metals to make it workable.
It is a very tricky and delicate product to work with though, partly because you are making small intricate things and partly because it’s so brittle until you fire it. A piece needs shaping, sanding, neatening, joining, polishing and some connector added like a bale or ring before it is fired. After firing, it is brushed, polished through seven grades of papers and burnished until it has a suitable shine and finish.
But the things you can do with it! From the simplest project where you mark some clay with a pattern and cut it out, through to lockets, boxes and moving jewellery… all turn out this very pleasing mixture of a familiar silver shine yet more intricacy than we are used to from silver.
As a crafter, I find it hard to beat the sense of achievement I get seeing something inherently precious emerge from my work. And as someone still getting used to the medium, it’s hard to match the stress of working delicately and consistently enough to meet the demands of the delicate clay!
My plans have slowed a bit because prices of silver are rising. But I still want to continue exploring natural forms, refining my designs by gathering lots of inspirational objects whenever I’m out: sea shells, seed pods, acorns, twigs, flowers and leaves. I then experiment with them in polymer clay to see how they could be used. The ones that get made in silver look like they should always have been jewellery. I can’t explain it better, they look right.