I've recently taken a couple more silver courses at the London Jewellery School, the main one being the two-day intermediate clay workshops where we learnt so many techniques it was hard to keep count.
This is a course for people who have some experience in basic metal clay techniques and is designed to show the range of things you can do with this material.
We started by learning about cork clay, a material that will burn off in a kiln at the temperature you fire preciou s metal clay which means you can use it to help build hollow shapes. We also buried a cubic zirconium stone in our cork cores before using silver clay in syringes to create freehand filligree cages.
The colour here is due to another technique - dipping the piece in a "liver of sulphur" solution which can produce a range of colours which you can also affect by judicious polishing and burnishing. What is hard to convey is the fact that there is a stone rattling about in the cage - if you listen very carefully to this video clip you may hear it.
After that there was the first of my ring disasters - I may be rechristened "Death to Rings". In this case we were making a motif to sit on a wire wrap ring. The wire part was fine but unfortunately my ring tipped over when drying and I ended up with a blob rather than a motif.
More successful was the session on creating bezels to set cabochon stones. This involved using a strip of silver, worked on a mandrel, to make the bezel to fit your stone and then setting that in the silver clay piece. Then after firing we placed our stones and hammered our bezels into shape.
I'm particularly pleased with my intentionally organic lapis flower.
We also had a go at making full round rings in silver clay - I shattered mine when filing it before firing, so least said best on this point.
Hollow silver beads seam more my style as can be seen from this "walnut" made from two pieces and joined.
Amazingly I still had enough materials and time to fire a pair of earings.
Despite my track record with rings, I do have one success to share. I have also taken a beginner's silver one-day course where we made silver rings from cutting our metal strip through annealing, texturing, shaping and soldering to create the final piece.