For the Christmas of 2012 I bought my mum a jewellery making workshop at Unit Twelve Gallery. Partly due to lack of organisation and also the fact the courses seemed to get booked up really quickly, we finally managed to get ourselves along to one in late January this year.
The studio, a contemporary craft workshop and exhibition space in a stunning rural location in Staffordshire, is somewhere that I have wanted to visit for ages, ever since being introduced to the wonderful work of Jennifer Collier. The studio houses Jennifer and her work alongside a number of other studio artists and a regularly changing programme of exhibitions.
The class was taught by the very talented Katherine Richmond and was a wonderful introduction to making with silver. The course, run over a day, allowed us first to experiment with various different techniques on small pieces of copper, including applying textures, pressing, rolling, drilling holes, cutting and soldering.
Mum (not wanting to waste any of her work) chose to make all of her experimental pieces into earrings. Her final silver earrings are also below.
I made a pendant out of my copper, using two pieces, one with a texture creating by rolling the copper with sandpaper, I then used a soldering process to fuse to an untampered piece to bring out the different qualities of the metal.
As most who know me will know, I like to push myself when learning new things so I really wanted to experiment with everything that I could do with the metal. Huge thanks to the very patient Katherine who put up with my constant questioning and showed us techniques, which we probably didn't really have time to learn all in one day!
My silver earrings were created by rolling the metal (using several methods of trial and error) into small tubes. The texture I had applied to the metal first being on the interior of the piece. I probably should have drilled the holes for the fixings into the metal first but kindly Katherine helped me make what are quite fiddly pieces into wearable earrings, of which I am really proud!
In the afternoon we applied the techniques we had learnt in the morning to make a ring. Mum made a beautiful ring (below) with a texture on the outer face made by rolling the metal with a leaf.
I continued to use the sandpaper texture, which I really liked the effect of, and also continued to experiment with bending and shaping the metal to see what forms I could create. It was more difficult than I expected to create something wearable and I needed to heat the metal several times to get into a shape that I was happy with, but I think for a first attempt it worked ok?
It was a great and really inspirational day with some lovely people. You can see more of the work created by others at the workshop here. I truly would recommend a trip down to the wonderful gallery space in Staffordshire either just to look at the amazing work and meet the makers, or to do a workshop, whether in jewellery or one of the other wonderful courses they run.
Mum's collection of jewellery.