What will I make at your Bristol silver jewellery making classes?
If you’ve always wanted to create your own unique piece of silver jewellery by hand then my Bristol Jewellery Making Workshops are for you! These fun and informal jewellery classes take place every 6 weeks or so at Kiln Workshop just off Gloucester Road in Bishopston, Bristol. If you’ve not been to the venue beofre, it's a lovely laid back pottery painting café, perfect for some creative r’n’r.
Over the course of the 2.5 hr jewellery making workshop, we explore the ancient technique of wax carving. You can choose to make a ring or a pendant and we’ll use a range of tools – files, craft knives and special heated wax pens – to create different effects in the wax. I will then send your finished wax ‘master’ to be cast in silver then I’ll finish and polish it before posting it back to you a few weeks later.
What is wax carving? It sounds tricky!
Wax carving is a brilliant technique for creating pieces with a bit more texture and volume than you’d get from making jewellery from a section of sheet or wire. In the jewellery class we'll use blue jewellers wax which can be easily carved into with the tools to shape into your desired ring or pendant design. It works equally well for bold geometric designs and softer more organic pieces. You can add details such as spheres by melting the wax with a wax pen or give the piece a faceted finish by chipping bits off with your craft knife.
Those with a steady hand can also carve a design into the wax piece such a flower, leaf or initial. If you’d like to see some examples of jewellery that previous students have made then do check out my Pinterest board. Of, if you have any idea and you’re not sure if it would work then of course just drop me a line and we can chat though your design.
Can I make a ring or pendant in gold rather than silver?
At present I don’t offer pieces for casting in solid gold due to the high cost, but do let me know if this is something you’d be interested in as I’d be happy to provide you with a quote.
However, if silver isn’t your thing you can opt for a gold vermeil finish for your piece. This is a layer of hard gold plating over a silver base and if you look after it well it's pretty durable. You’ll just need to let me know on the night and pay a small additional charge (£30) to have your jewellery finished in this way.
Do I need to come to the jewellery making workshop with a design in mind?
No, absolutely not! Don’t worry if you don’t have a design in mind before you start. I always have some photos of rings and pendants that other workshop participants have made and a display of sample pieces to give you some inspiration.
Some people like to plan out what they’re doing in advance and others just go with the flow and see what happens – either approach is fine! You may decide that you just want to get a feel for the material and how it behaves before you decide on a design. If you have a very specific idea in mind and want to talk it through in advance of the class then of course please do get in touch and we can discuss how to make it work.
Who is the jewellery making workshop suitable for? Do I need previous experience?
Don’t worry if you’ve never made jewellery before…these jewellery making classes are suitable for everyone, whatever your level. I promise you that no previous jewellery making experience is needed to make something beautiful. I've had attendees as young as 11 years old to over 70 years old and everyone has been able to create a wonderful and unqiue piece of jewellery for themselves.
If you have some basic jewellery making skills such as sawing, filing and soldering then that’s great, but wax carving is quite a different technique so it’s not necessary to have made jewellery before to able to create something great!
I’m not at all creative, does that matter?
No it does not (and also, you probably are!) Lots of people tell me that they didn't think they were creative, but have been amazed by what they made so please don't let the idea that you're not creative put you off coming along to a class. I guarantee you'll be able to make something you love and, who knows, you may even discover a hidden talent for jewellery making?!
Do I need any special equipment or clothing to take part in the jewellery class?
I will provide all the tools and materials that you need for the class, but wax carving can get quite dusty so it’s best to wear something you don’t mind getting a bit messy!
If I’m making a ring for someone else, how can I check it’s the right size?
Obviously if you're making a ring for yourself then it's easy enough to check the size as you go along, but if you're creating your piece for someone else then please check their size before the class. You can do this in a number of ways and you might find my ring sizing tips blog post handy. Alternatively you can bring one of their rings along with you and we can check the size on my ring mandrel on the evening.
How long after the class will my finished jewellery take to arrive?
After the class I will prepare the waxes and send them to my casting company in London’s Hatton Garden. The pieces usually take around 10 days to be cast and returned to me and I will then finish them and polish them according to your specifications. I send them back to you via Royal Mail's First Class Signed For service so you can typically expect to wait between 2-3 weeks after the class before you receive your finished jewellery.
If you are having your piece gold plated then I will finish and polish it before sending it off to be plated. Due to the time taken to undertake this additional process, gold plated pieces can take between 3-4 weeks to arrive after the class.
What happens if I love wax carving and want to do more?
Wax carving can be quite addictive and many people are keen to do more after coming along to a class. The good news is that you can buy your own wax carving kit relatively cheaply and you don’t need much space or a special workshop set up to do it at home – just some space on the kitchen table will do the trick!
If you’d like to know more about the kit you need then check out my blog post: What equipment do I need to get started with wax carving at home?
Jewellers Academy also offers some great online tutorials - some free and some paid for (they're near the bottom of the page) - which can help guide you through the process and demonstrate more advanced techniques such as how to incorporate stones.
I'd love to come to a jewellery class, but I'm not in Bristol
I also hold private parties for between 6-10 people, so if you and some friends would like to get together and make some beautiful wax carved and cast silver jewellery then just get in touch. You provide the venue (which could be your kitchen table) and I'll provide everything else!
I hope that helps to cover some of the questions you may have before coming along to a jewellery making workshop with me in Bristol. However, if there's something I haven't covered then please do get in touch and I'll do my best to help.
Elin Horgan designs and creates handmade jewellery in her Bristol studio. Elin’s beautifully simple handmade jewellery is carefully crafted and designed to be worn every day. You can read more about Elin’s work and the ethos behind her understated jewellery brand on her About Elin Horgan Jewellery page.