Making Jewelry in France with Metal Clay
I enjoyed a fabulous week in southwest France near Agen making jewelry from silver and bronze metal clay. My tutor Caroline has many years of experience working with clay (and other kinds of jewelry making materials) and she was always available to answer my questions about technique and design and advise on how to make my pieces the best they could be. She maintains an enthusiasm about the art form that is encouraging to any beginner. I made 22 items during the weeklong workshop.
Art Clay Silver
The techniques/steps we covered in the workshop were:
- Stone setting by drilling a hole and embedding
- Stone setting with a bezel
- Differences between silver and bronze clay (can’t paint layers of bronze clay because of oxidation)
- Layering silver paste on an organic object to create finely detailed pendant
- Drying, drilling, filing, sanding, brushing, and polishing each piece
- How to size a ring
- Using a syringe of silver to create delicate forms
- Creating textures from natural materials and pre-made patterns
- Creating molds from silicone putty
- Using supports to create more rounded forms
- How to add a bail/join two pieces of metal together strongly
- How to roll out clay to specific, uniform thickness
- Firing using a kiln and a butane torch
- Using a tumbler to polish and strengthen pieces
- Adding a patina with liver of sulfur
- Taking long healthy walks!
I highly recommend the class to anyone interested learning to make jewelry in a peaceful setting in the French countryside. You will be welcomed into Caroline’s home and studio — I felt like part of the family … except that I didn’t have to do any dishes, so even better! Her husband Adam made delicious inventive meals each night and they introduced me to several new kinds of wine produced in their area. The confit duck and cinnamon carrots were especially tasty. I stayed in the apartment attached to their home. It was quiet and private and had everything I needed for the week. I hope to continue making more jewelry as soon as I can get my hands on some more materials!
Goldie Bronze Clay
And here’s a link to a music video by Yael Naim. I first heard her music in Paris and I found this video charming.