If you’ve read my about page, you know that I have a full-time job. I work at an editorial company in Leuven. (2015 update: I quit my job!) Recently, one of my co-workers got to choose an activity to celebrate her third year working for the company. That’s how I ended up at a silver clay workshop with nine female colleagues.
The workshop was given by Petra from Pallasart at an atelier at her house. It was so much fun!
First, we had to choose a design for the earrings or pendant we would be making. Some of us, like me, already had something in mind, while others had no clue of what they would be making. And choosing wasn’t easy, since Petra had a wide range of forms and stencils we could use. We got to experiment with all of these using normal clay, with which we had to try and make our first design.
Silver clay – the real deal
Petra told us that if we would manage to make our piece in normal clay, making it in silver clay (the objective of this workshop) would be easy. We were all pretty excited and stressed, though. We would be making our own piece of jewelry! What if something went wrong? What if we broke something? What if we let the clay dry out?
So many things could go wrong, but Petra guided us every step of the way and showed us what techniques to use for the design we had in mind.
After we’d made our earrings or pendant in clay, we had to clean up the table and our material to make sure no clay was left on it. You see, if normal clay got stuck on silver clay it would burn in the oven and destroy the piece we’d made. I don’t think any of us had cleaned that thoroughly in a long time!
When all was sparkling again, we all got 10 grams of silver clay. I was the first to open it and was greatly assisted by Petra, again, when making my own set of earrings. It was very important to work quickly and put the silver clay we didn’t use in a foil so that it wouldn’t dry out. After our piece was made, we had to check if it didn’t have any air bubbles in it. If so, we had to prick them open otherwise the bubbles would explode in the oven, destroying everything inside (do you see how dramatic making jewellery can be?).
Then the pieces went on a hot plate to dry and while they did, Petra explained to us what we would be doing next: we would fill up the holes we pricked with silver pasta, let the pieces dry again and then finalize their shape by using a file. After that, we still had to use some kind of sand paper to smoothen all the edgy parts. Apparently, what’s edgy in clay becomes veeeeeeery edgy in the oven.
Then we had to pierce the holes in the earrings to attach those little thingies you put through your ear. We actually had to use a teeny tiny hand drill to ‘drill’ the holes:
Then we had to make sure every piece was dry by using some advanced drying machinery:
And then, the moment had come: in the oven our creations went! The magic happened.
What went in as clay came out in a glittering white. That’s right, white.
Apparently, the natural color of silver is white! Did you know that? I didn’t. The white was really beautiful and I asked if I could keep my earrings that way, but apparently if you don’t polish your jewellery, the white turns browns pretty quickly. The polishing makes it so that gasses can’t access the material anymore and your jewelry doesn’t get dirty that quickly. So we polished as if our lives depended on it and the result was great. We’d actually made our own earrings and pendants!
I recommend this workshop to anyone who’s even just a bit into jewelry or crafts. We had so much fun trying out designs, getting our hands dirty (clay sticks to your hands so bad!) and comparing our work. And while doing so, we learned a lot about working with silver clay.
Prices for the workshop – everything (material, explanation, coffee, tea, water, chocolates and a great time) included – are €75 for 10 grams and €69 for 7 grams of silver clay. We spent five hours making our pieces, but the time needed depends a bit on how large the group of participants is.
Where to stay in Leuven
If you’re looking for an apartment rather than a hotel, I recommend checking airbnb. Sign up through my link and get a discount on your first stay!
How to get to Leuven
Leuven can easily be reached by train from other cities as well as from Brussels Airport, which is the best airport to fly to if you plan on visiting Leuven.
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