Silver Clay Ring workshop with Joy Funnell
Leicester Conference 2014
There were 8 keen students in the workshop and Joy had brought enough of the necessary equipment to ensure everyone had an organised work area. Joy passed around examples of finished rings while she told us the plan for the day; making the ring shank, making the ring topper, joining them together, firing and polishing them and finally adding enamel to accent the design.
Each student bought a 10 gram pack of Art Clay Silver, enough to make a ring. Silver clay is made up of finely ground recycled silver, mixed with binders and water to create a ‘clay-like’ consistency. Joy had given us each a small plastic zip lock bag and we had a ready supply of baby wipes, since it is important to keep the moisture in the clay while working with it. I found these very useful since I had to re-do both the ring shank and the topper several times, and I was relieved to learn you can add water back into the clay to bring it back to malleable clay.
The first step was to create the ring shank at the correct size. It’s important to note that the binders will burn away during the firing process causing the silver clay object to shrink. We each used a plastic ring sizer to check the size of ring required. As a general rule for rings add 4 UK ring sizes for an average size ring and adjust to 3 for smaller sizes and 5 for larger sizes. For example if your required ring size is ‘O’ then the clay ring shank will be made to size ‘S’. Wind half a post-it note around a wooden ring mandrel and draw a line onto the paper at the size you require (the clay is placed on the paper so that you can easily slide the ring off the mandrel when it is dry). Undo the plastic ring sizer and mark the length of the ring on a piece of paper (to ensure your prepared clay is long enough to go round the mandrel).