Melanie Blaikie, an author and jewellery maker that specialises in Silver Clay, sat down with us practically to address a few questions about her jewellery making journey, what inspires her and more in the interview below.
I started to specialise in design and worked with many of the big name Bond Street jewellers. I loved this work, up to this point, I wasnt in fact making jewellery myself. It was numerous years– and a modification of career– later, that I signed up for a silversmithing course and discovered it was much more tough than I d imagined …!! My continued curiosity about all things jewellery led me to, what was at that time a really new medium– clay silver.
Let us know a bit about yourself, detailing your background, research study and training in the jewellery making market.
Inform us about your work– exist any specific materials or methods that you favour?
I work exclusively in clay silver which is still a relatively current advancement on the planet of rare-earth elements. The clay is a blend of recycled pure silver with water and an organic binder. Its smooth, pliable texture makes it ideal to form and shape by hand. Considering that discovering silver clay, Ive been on a mission to present it to a wider audience. My work tends to be based around styles that will be easy for beginners to recreate at home, with a minimum of expert or expensive equipment. When fired, it becomes solid, fine silver metal and can be hallmarked 999. Its an almost magical procedure that completely entrances newbies– and I absolutely like it …!!
How would you finest explain your design style?
When Im not mentor, among my favourite methods is Keum Bo, using 24ct gold leaf straight over fine silver. Ive simply finished a gold and silver acorn pendant which Im using today.
I love to develop styles that might in the beginning appear complex or extremely comprehensive but since of the properties of silver clay, are simple for beginners to recreate. My trainees inform me how much they enjoy the sense of accomplishment on producing their very first piece and even much better, how impressed their friends and family are when they see them. For me, simpleness is essential. Absolutely nothing too fiddly or made complex. I like quick tasks with impressive results and silver clay provides on this– each time!
Where do you like to get your inspiration from for your pieces?
Working with clay is quite various to traditional metalsmithing. The techniques are more comparable to those utilized by a potter or ceramic artist a lot of my motivation, originates from those mediums. I enjoy the simplicity of Scandinavian design and get very thrilled about textures and contrasting surfaces. One of my favourite textures at the moment is a simple piece of sandpaper. It looks exceptionally advanced pressed onto the wet clay.
Do you have a piece that you have made which you favour or are especially happy of?
Im practically self-taught with silver clay. The only book I might find when I started was composed in Japanese, so I tend to state my preferred pieces are the ones Ive gained from. This indicates, theyre the ones that failed, triggered me a problem or merely where I slipped up. I inform students, the only factor I understand how to do these things is due to the fact that I did it incorrect, lots of times, prior to I discovered how to do it. Every mistake is a learning chance and I still have so much to discover.
Nevertheless, taking a look at one of my earlier disasters (yes, I do keep them all) wont be much enjoyable here. Ive selected this heart pendant on pearls, just due to the fact that I love the pearls!
What is the one item in your jewellery making workshop that you could not live without?
Something Ive always loved about making jewellery is that a lot of the techniques are the same in time. I couldnt live without my agate burnisher. This smooth stone has actually been utilized for centuries to polish precious metals and I love that sense of history. Its a joy to use, soft, perfect and strong for function. Its smoothness makes it perfect for Keum Bo as it wont scratch or tear the delicate gold foil.
What upcoming patterns do you see being popular soon?
Weve discovered a brand-new way of living with less. Investing less but selecting more carefully, so my forecast for 2021 will be simpler, less noticeable styles created to be more significant to the wearer.
What is the most important lesson you have learnt from your time in the jewellery making industry?
Ive met so lots of extraordinarily talented and wise people, numerous of whom have become long-lasting pals. I believe the jewellery industry is distinct in the sense of trust we position in our peers and associates, and receive in return.
Do you have any specific advice that you would provide to up and coming jewellery designers, or someone thinking about getting into jewellery making?
To someone considering using up jewellery making as a hobby or second earnings, its nearly the ideal side-hustle. You can get begun with very little, it really does not require to be costly– think recycled products– and your new hobby wont take up too much area (at.!!).
Make sure you have a secondary or back-up skill-set to call upon. Hopefully, you wont need to however it will provide you self-confidence to understand that you can survive when times are lean.
Time for a bit of fun in our quick-fire round!
Tell us your favourite …
Colour– GreenBiscuit– Fig Roll (truthfully!) Consume– Coffee with cream (its my special reward) Place– Anywhere warm and sunnyAnimal– DogGemstone– Peridot. Pleased to see it gaining new popularityFood– CakeSport– RugbyFilm — My Fair Lady with Audrey HepburnCity– London.
And finally, what was your motivation behind your book and what would you desire individuals to gain from it?
I was originally composing for a UK audience, Im thrilled to have gotten messages from readers in Europe, the United States and even as far away as Australia …!
As pointed out previously, when I found silver clay the only offered books on the topic were Japanese or American. These were indispensable in helping me begin however I recognised that an extensive guide for UK based novices was needed.
Many thanks to Melanie for sharing her insight and jewellery making journey with us.
View Silver Clay Workshop: Getting Started in Silver Clay Jewellery by Melanie Blaikie.
The book is particularly intended at those just starting out with silver clay. Projects are graded from beginners to more innovative and every stage of the procedure is plainly explained with in-depth pictures. The early pages demonstrate how easy it is to begin with simply a few basic tools and strategies. From here, I hope makers will quickly acquire confidence and move onto the later jobs although Ive particularly kept everything as clear and simple as possible. For me, a terrific task is one thats enjoyable and easy to make in your home. I definitely dont do fiddly or complicated.