Final Place Available. For details of our July course click here.
A course for novice makers to learn and develop basic silver smithing skills and make some beautiful, individual pieces of jewelry. Led by experienced silversmith and teacher Cat Mills, you’ll be working with silver and also copper, and you can create work in a mixture of metals if you wish.
Places are limited to 8, but we are planning further courses later in the year.
As a rough guide the week will look something like this:
Monday evening introduction: Cat will show you some jewellery making techniques and examples, and help you to familiarise yourself with the tools needed before starting. You’ll also get an overview of the possible projects for the week, and time to digest and think about what you’d like to make.
Tuesday, Traditional jewellery making: As a group you’ll look at examples, and try effects like hammering, lettering and patterning, before embarking on a simple project; we’ll most likely start with rings, but there will be time in the day to embark on a second project – a bangle or earrings, or another ring – using what you’ve learned.
Wednesday, Cuttlefish Casting: Cuttlefish casting is a ancient technique for making cast objects that goes back hundreds of years. You will carve a design into a cuttlebone, then pour molten silver into your mould. Cat will show you how to finish and polish your piece to make a stunning piece of jewellery.
Thursday: This is your day! Use what you’ve learned so far to decide upon your own project. Or you can use the time to repeat projects you’ve already tried, or finish pieces you’ve begun.
Friday: depart after breakfast with your beautiful jewellery and new skills!
Who’s it For?
No prior experience is necessary, but you’ll be working in a workshop environment with hot metal and sharp hand tools; come prepared for an environment that will be noisy (hammering metal is not peaceful!), and where manual dexterity is an advantage. You’ll be sent a Health and Safety form to read and sign before you come.
You will need to pay Cat direct for the materials you use. Silver is charged at £1 per gram, and most projects will use between 5 to 10 grams. We will weigh your projects as you go, so you can understand the value of the materials you’re using and plan other projects according to the depth of your pockets.
As a rough guide – as it will depend massively on how big your pieces are:
Rings £4 – £6
Bangles £10 – £25
Earrings £5 – £10
Cuttlefish cast pendants £12 – £25
Cuttlefish cast rings £6 – £10
By nature of the process cuttlefish pieces tend to be somewhat heavier than formed pieces. When making earrings you can keep costs down if you use a mixture of copper and silver. This is also a beautiful way of giving contrast to your work.
Cat has an ethically conscious approach to her work and loves to recycle scrap sterling silver and copper into new and beautiful forms (eg through cuttlefish casting). If you wish, you may bring your own sterling silver items (lion-marked, antique items are most reliably pure – this could be tableware, hand mirrors, hairbrushes, pill boxes etc, not just jewellery) to melt down and cast; please let us know if this is something you’d like to do and Cat will plan it into the week.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, our original tutor Ness Bird is unable to tutor this course.
We are delighted instead to welcome Exmoor silversmith Cat Mills to Halsway. Cat has over 10 years’ teaching experience, including day courses and regular evening classes at her workshop deep in the heart of Exmoor, as well as travelling with her mobile workshop to deliver workshops at festival street fairs and events.
In her work she is a strong advocate of recycle and re-use, mixing new with recycled metal and tapping into waste as a resource.
“Taking scrap sterling silver, I melt it down and ether cast it into my designs, or forge into organic shapes. To this I add recycled copper and brass, these base metals giving contrast and colour to my work. My handmade jewellery is made using traditional hand tools and avoiding harmful chemicals, packaged in recycled boxes.”