My annual local workshop at Creative Side Jewelry Academy (an incredible Austin jewelry school) is coming a bit early. Instead of October, this year it's September 7 and 8, and there are still seats available if you can squeeze it in.
The topic is combining metal clay with Argentium silver.
We spend the first day building metal clay components. There are always students who have never touched metal clay, so we go over fundamentals - what metal clay IS, working without drying it out, how to fire it, etc. And we do the traditional approach of rolling it out and impressing a texture before cutting out a shape, although I teach making custom textures and templates.
Then we move to my favorite part -- sculpting from simple beginnings. I usually start from a ball or disc or snake of clay, then cut and push the clay into a three dimensional form. I teach nature forms - various flowers, a variety of leaves, birds and insects - and I'm available to brainstorm how to approach making whatever the student desires. My approach is to free the muse from fear by building a lot of components, and leave designing jewelry for the second day. Students sometimes struggle with that separation, but they always make beautiful work in the end. We do spend time discussing design before we get to assembly.
On the second day, we move to Argentium. Again, there are always novices who haven't played with this incredible material, so we cover the basics. Fusing, not soldering (there are a few exceptions). NOT quenching (that's a tough one for the people with a sterling background), heat hardening, etc. We start off fusing simple rings and jump rings, and making granules, then fuse those together to get some torch experience. When we move onto adding metal clay components, then the design work begins in earnest. I love the experience of moving parts around to find the composition that finally pops. And finally, we throw even more Argentium into the mix, adding sheet and possibly bezel cups for small cabochons, building a more complex piece.
I supply a tray full of sample pieces built with my techniques. Students are free to exactly copy what I make, but I encourage them to personalize their work by exploring variations. I'm always thrilled by the incredible work that emerges.
For more details and to sign up, visit the workshop page at Creative Side.