TOOLS, INSPIRATION & WORKING WITH METAL CLAY FROM JEWELLER CHLOE MICHELL

Truro Silversmithing and Jewellery Design Show

When we were offered the chance to sponsor an award in the Truro Silversmithing and Jewellery End of Year Design Show, we jumped at the chance. It was more than a privilege to go along and view the amazing work made by all of the talented students.

When we found out that Cornish jeweller Chloe Michell had won our category, we were delighted. Her designs were ones that particularly stood out for us. It was clear Chloe had been inspired by the sea and her abstract, eye-catching designs had us discussing her methods after the show. 

After giving Chloe her prize we asked her if we could share her inspiration and jewellery making journey through a guest blog post... 

Chloe Michell

Cornish jeweller Chloe Michell has been running her own jewellery business since 2003 - Chloe Michell Jewellery. Chloe was a self taught jeweller with years of experience behind her in the crafts industry. In 2012 Chloe made the decision to advance in the creative / skill side of her business and commence in a 3 year degree in silversmithing and Jewellery at Truro College. 

Getting Started

We asked Chloe how she went about starting her own business: " I was able to get a Princes Trust start up loan so that I could work with silver and gold as well as semi-precious stones. I then used Kernowcraft to to order the bulk of my supplies - from my trusty piercing saw, to my beads. I found It was really helpful to get nearly everything I needed from one place."

"I still have all of my first tools and use them everyday that I am in the workshop. I expect to keep using them for a long time to come - It just goes to show that spending a little more on good quality products really does pay off in the long run." 

"My jewellery journey has been amazing, for anyone just getting started I would advise the best thing you can do is put time and money, if necessary into learning. Unlike when I started out, there is such a huge selection of easy access help available on the internet. You can access books, demonstration videos, course and funding information, advice pages etc."


Inspiration

We were really taken by the design of Chloe's Degree show jewellery and asked her how and where she found her inspiration:

"The collection I made for my final major project was based on live sea corals. I love the aesthetic, colour and the way they move in the water. In fact, most of the jewellery I make has a link to the sea  and nature, I think growing up on the north coast of Cornwall has been an endless inspiration for me."

Many of us at Kernowcraft also like to find inspiration by spending some time away from busy day-today life and taking in natures surroundings. 

Chloe also gave some great advice that we, again couldn't agree more with...

"Spend time reading, looking and learning. Be inspired by people and by other peoples work, journeys and stories. I never ceases to me amaze me how much you can develop through this. I truly believe you will make the best jewellery when you enjoy yourself!"

Working With Metal Clay

Chloe also gave us some insight into how she went about making her sea inspired designs:

"I made the ball part of my jewellery with Art Clay Silver, and then enamelled the insides to create a flash of colour while they were being worn. It took me a while to master the Art Clay and work out how it behaved. I was continually tweaking my designs to get a successful collection" 

Art Clay is a variant of a range of Metal Clay products available on the market.  It can be moulded, sculpted and formed just like modelling clay and can be fired, in most cases, with a gas torch, in a kiln or even on a gas hob. 

We are big fans of metal clay at Kernwocraft, it feel like magic... a clay that transforms into real silver! Like Chloe, you will need to experiment to get the most out of metal clay and see how you can use it best.

Great tips on working with Metal Clay:

- Rub a little olive oil onto your hands, work surface, rolling pin and any other item that will come into contact with the clay, to prevent it from sticking.

- Once the PMC/ Art Clay Silver has dried out you can use emery boards or fine sandpaper to smooth edges or carve into it to make patterns or textures. It will be much easier to make any alterations or neaten it up at this stage than after it has been fired, as then it will be a hard metal and will take much more effort to work it.

- If you get the Precious Metal Clay/ Art Clay Silver too hot whilst firing then it will begin to melt. As with all silver it has a melting temperature and if you get it too hot it will simply melt into a ball. The surface will begin to look mottled and silvery, this is a sign that the PMC/ Art Clay Silver is too hot and you will need to remove the flame to prevent it melting.

Read more tips from our Precious Metal Clay Frequently Asked Questions page. 

As you can see, Chloe has achieved amazing things with Metal Clay. We love the endless possibilities the material offers, especially for jewellery makers who may have limited jewellery making tools available to them. We have a number of advice pages on using and working with the different metal clay products that we supply, including: PMC Sterling Silver User GuideWorking With Art Clay Copper,  Reconstituting Precious Metal Clay and About Art Clay Silver New Formula .

Thank you to Chloe for sharing insight and inspiration, we wish you the best of luck in the future. You can view a range of Chloes jewellery on her website: https://chloemichell.com/ or on her Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/ChloeMichellJewellery

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