Seems like aeons ago, though it was only a few months, that I did the Level 1 Art Clay Silver Certification course - set by the Japanese manufacturers of Art Clay, the Aida Chemical Industries Company. The UK Art Clay Guild oversees the education program in the UK in accordance with the criteria set in Japan and awards its certificates - and I am the proud holder of one!
For anyone thinking of doing the course - it is hard work, you have to complete seven projects in three days as set by Aida in Japan but I had a brilliant teacher who kept a great pace and knew her subject thoroughly. The projects are designed to ensure you have a good grounding in the main techniques: using clay, paste and the syringe, ring-making, firing schedules, adding findings and stones, making hollow forms using cork clay, mirror polishing and several others.
I found it to be a challenge, but well worth it, so I thoroughly recommend it. Here are some of the pieces I made:
This (one of a pair of earrings) was made using the syringe over a dried cork ball that burns out in the kiln, leaving a wonderful hollow design.
This was one of my first items, made using clay. I applied a bark texture with paste and embedded the marquise settings, for the stones to be set later, and the brooch fittings. The edges of the branch were mirror polished.
This is what I call my Willow Ring. First we made a ring out of clay - and carefully syringed a design around it. Rings in silver clay are a little tricky and so a course is absolutely essential to understand how best to work with the material for a solid structure and a good finish.
We made more pieces - I will post these another time.