Hearts and a lovely day at the Castle Museum
May 12, 2012 2 Comments
I have had a lovely day at the Castle Museum in York teaching art clay silver jewellery making to a small group (five). After a brief description of our aims for the day – to make a silver keepsake pendant, I took the group down to Kirkgate, a street created within the museum which has a variety of Victorian shops. We spent a bit of time looking at the jewellery in one of the shop windows and talking about ideas of sentimental jewellery. There are some lovely examples of cameos and name brooches but I wanted the group to focus on a pretty little gold open work heart shaped pendant. Because the museum light levels are fairly low to protect the objects in other displays and the pendant it was quite a way back in the window I couldn’t get a good photo of it. Having had a good look at the examples we went back up to the meeting room and I showed them the sample I had made and talked a bit about the art clay silver products and production. I then did a demonstration of the first steps for rolling out, creating the textures and forming the main heart shape.
This is based upon a project published by the Artist Alcina Nolley some time ago and adapted slightly by me to fit into this theme of creating a sentimental keepsake. After rolling out and trimming a textured strip it is wrapped twice over a plastic straw. We had to add a little moisture to the surface of the strips – it was really warm in York today! The ends were joined with a little paste and gentle pressure and trimmed, keeping the clay trimmings safely in a bit of plastic film. The shape was tweaked slightly while the metal clay was still soft.
Then the main pieces were put to dry while the students re-conditioned the trimmings and made another small piece. At this point some of them chose to set a small fireable stone. This little piece was also put to dry. By using the trimmings to make this little additional shape the project uses a complete 7g pack of art clay silver. After refining the edges of the pieces using ‘baby wipes’ (which avoids the need to sand and having to supply students with dust masks and makes it easier when away from my own studio) the pieces were joined using a little of the paste, dried fully and fired in my kiln.
After firing and cooling the students polished and burnished their pieces before threading them onto chains. They can be threaded through one loop so that they hang asymmetrically or, as all the group chose, by threading the chain through both loops so that the heart hangs level.
Thanks to them and to the staff and volunteers at the Castle Museum, York for making this possible and to Alcina Nolley for sharing her original idea on which this project is based.