If you are a regular follower of my blog you will know that one of my favourite UK suppliers is Beads Direct and that I have been lucky enough to work with them on a couple of occasions. So when they told me that they were going to be running an Art Clay Silver Masterclass with two of the UK's top instructors and asked if I'd like to join them, I jumped at the chance! I have never worked with any kind of metal clay before (you know me, I am normally a strictly seedy girl!) but I have often admired the finished work created using this medium and when I saw that one of the classes was to make a silver leaf, I thought that this would work well alongside my current work. The classes were held at the easily accessible Yew Lodge Hotel just off Junction 24 of the M1 and as we arrived we were all welcomed by the Beads Direct staff who pointed us in the direction of tea, coffee and biscuits. Nearly everyone arrived early and so it was lovely to sit in the plush hotel foyer and get to know the other students and learn how far they had travelled, what kind of beadwork they enjoy and what they hoped to achieve from the course. After a round of introductions and a quick health and safety chat, it was straight down to work and our instructor Natalia let us all choose a leaf that she had picked from the hotel grounds that morning - I think the hotel guests who were having their breakfast in the warm dry glass-fronted restaurant must have wondered what on earth the woman foraging in the wet foliage was up to! I chose a small leaf and carefully began to coat it with my Art Clay under the watchful gaze of Natalia:
Natalia explained to us how to mix each coat to the right consistency, gradually building up the coats of clay on our leaves as we carefully dried each layer before moving onto the next one.
We then learnt how to set a decorative stone into our leaves and eventually our leaves were ready to go into the kiln to dry while we wandered around the room chatting to the other students and staff.
Although they aren't perfect, our leaves were not bad for a first attempt and we were all happy with the results of our work, keen to try out other ideas and hoping to eventually achieve something more like our tutor's inspirational work!
I had a thoroughly enjoyable day and I can't wait to incorporate my little silver leaf with its peridot crystal into some of my seed bead work. If you would like to have a go at using Art Clay Silver, Beads Direct offer a comprehensive starter kit complete with instructions and they also sell a great range of tools for when you are ready to branch out. Don't forget to keep an eye on the Beads Direct website, blog and Facebook page to see what other exciting events they have planned for the future!