Silver At Rufford

Last Saturday I managed to escape for a day and take a class in silversmithing; something I have wanted to try for years.  Having booked this in January, I have anticipated it eagerly, and it really lived up to my expectations. 

The venue was Rufford Craft Centre in Nottingahmshire which is a lovely setting of an old abbey with gardens, lake and parklands, and our tutor was Kate Bajic.  I went with a good friend of mine, Erica Thomson and we were joined by 9 other students, some of whom had been to one of Kate’s earlier classes.

The aim of the day was to learn some basic silversmithing techniques whilst creating a pendant (or two) under Kate’s composed and experienced eye.  She showed us how to solder, saw, texture and dome silver, and set us free to pursue our own designs.  It is amazing what you can get out of a small square of sheet silver, and with Kate’s perfect timing (she turned up to solve your problems before you got into serious trouble), and excellent tips and advice, we all managed to create unique pieces of work by the end of the day.

 

This piece is made up of 3 separate bits which tought me a lot and allowed me to introduce some stitch into the work.  It is about 7 cm high.

I can now make little silver balls from silver wire with confidence (actually it is the easiest thing to do, and requires no talent whatsoever, and would be easy to do by accident!).  Trickier was learning to solder, and I have to say that the tiny slivers of silver solder require a microscope to see them clearly, my varifocals struggled.  Soldering jump rings closed was much more of a challenge, I am only glad that I made my jump rings large enough to handle.  Texturing was noisy but fun, and an awful lot more difficult to get a good even coverage than I would have thought.

The piece below was made out of the bits left over and is only 3 cm high.  The balled wire was my last little bit of silver wire, and Kate showed me how to create the balls on the end by using the soldering torch and a Third Hand (gadget for holding things).

I am sure that if I persevere with some more silversmithing then the techniques that I learn will help to inform what I do with Friendly Plastic.  If I can possibly fit it in then I would like to go on a longer course, because like anything else, including Friendly Plastic, the more you practice, the better you become, and I really love mixing my mediums.

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