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Lady Skillers: Silver Jewellery Making

This month we had a go at creating our own silver jewellery with the help of the Manchester School of Jewellery. Charlotte and Gemma, our tutors, both have studios in the Manchester Craft and Design Centre, so they hired Space2 in which to run our workshop. The aim was to learn texturing with hammers, stamping, doming, wire manipulation, soldering and finishing, with the bonus of having a lovely piece of silver jewellery ready at the end to take away!

Everybody was given a few different sized copper pieces, as well as a length of wire, so we could practice first in copper before we had to decide what we wished to make in silver. This was a great idea- we could try all the various techniques for ourselves before creating our design. Gemma explained all the different tools we could explore and there uses- there were hammers for flattening metal, rivet hammers, ball hammers, heavy hammers (for when you needed to whack something!), texturing hammers, files, doming blocks and punches, stamps, sand paper, and a vast array of pliers!!!

As soon as the demonstrations were over and we had all seen examples of the silver jewellery (Blue Peter moment), there was very little hesitation from the group and we all really got stuck in banging hammers (it was a VERY loud workshop). During this noisy experimental phase Gemma and Charlotte gave one-to-one practical silver soldering lessons using copper pieces and wire. This was so we could practice soldering the stud backs to our earrings, and joining loops of wire.

The part of the workshop when we worked on our final silver pieces seemed to fly by. The pickling pot, which was an acid bath, was introduced to clean up our pieces after soldering, as the flames discolour the metal. At the end we had a selection of lovely cupcakes as a sweet treat from the tutors (bonus) and one of our members shared, what I thought of as, an ingenious way of eating them!!*

At the end we had a short break during which the jewellery was hardened and shined in the barrel so it was ready to take home in little organza bags. Above are the end pieces we all made- a very impressive array of earrings, pins and pendants from our Lady Skillers. Well done all!

*Rip the bottom part off the cake and put it on top like a sandwich or small cake = equal distribution of icing with each bite :-) Brilliant top tip.

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