Leaves, recycled silver & lots of elbow grease! That’s what is involved in creating my eco silver leaf pattern pendants.
These pendants are one of my favourite things to make. They are always popular, as being simple and elegant they can be worn for a variety of occasions, if not everyday!
My leaf pattern pendants are handmade from Precious Metal Clay, a fantastic material which incorporates fine silver particles in a non-toxic binder. There are lots of different products available, I like to use Art Clay Silver which has a slower drying time and less shrinkage than other metal clay products I’ve tried.
Another reason I use Art Clay Silver is it’s a great eco-friendly product. It uses silver recycled from items such as circuit boards, dentistry and photographic processes and mixes them with an organic, non-toxic binder. This binder burns off when fired in a kiln (it can also be torch fired) to leave behind a piece of jewellery that is 99.9% pure silver.
First the clay is rolled and shaped (a bit like play dough), then I use a leaf from the garden (a skeleton leaf from craft shops works well too) to make an impression on the clay. I have a collection of clay cutters, which are a bit like miniature pastry cutters, to cut out the desired shape of the pendants. My favourites are the heart and teardrop and these always seem to be popular with my customers too!
I like to use a cocktail stick to make a hole for the pendant jump ring to go through, being very careful not to disturb the delicate design before it’s dried. Then comes the drying, which can be done at room temperature over twenty-four hours, or in a cool oven within an hour. There’s always drying instructions included in the Metal Clay packet and I’ve found oven drying to be the best and speediest method for me.
It’s important for the clay to be completely bone dry before it is fired in the kiln, as any residual moisture can cause the silver to crack. Any little imperfections can be sanded away at this stage, however this has to be done with extreme care as the dry clay will be very fragile! I’m afraid I’ve had a few casualties in the past, so have learnt the hard way to be very careful.
Following the instructions on my clay packet, I then fire my dry pendants in my table top kiln. This little kiln is one of my favourite tools as it’s so versatile and easy to use. I always look forward to hearing the timer ping and seeing what the pendants look like, once they are cooled down.
I like to burnish my fired pendants with a brass brush; this brings the fine silver to the surface and gives them a subdued, satin finish. I tidy up the edges and reverse side with polishing papers, this is where the elbow grease comes in! Then give them a quick spin in the tumble polisher too if they need it. All that’s left is to buff and shine with a silver cloth and then the finished pendants are ready to be boxed up awaiting their new homes.
Why not take a look and let me know what you think!