Tag Archives: PMC

Creativity and wellbeing – can art or craft really help?

Have you opened up a magazine or Sunday newspaper supplement lately to find bold claims being made about the power of creativity to boost wellbeing?|
There’s a good chance you have – it’s one of the most written-about topics in the health world at the moment and there’s a growing appreciation that enjoying a creative pastime or artistic activity can indeed improve that sense of ‘living well’.

It’s not all anecdotes –creative experts worked with civil servants to research a report in 2017 with findings that agree – being creative helps keep us well and socially engaged.

And in 2018 age UK released its own study – Creative and Cultural Activities and Wellbeing in Later Life. This considered the links between participation in artistic activities and the wellbeing of 15,000 respondents aged over 60.

Overall, these and other studies conclude that being involved in art activities or belonging to creative groups has real potential to enrich all our lives, at any age.

To get our own informal insight, Jenny and I at Vitreus Art asked some of our students how they felt they benefited from the art workshops they attended at our studio.

Precious Metal Clay )PMC) – a great way to get started in Silver jewellery making

 

 

One said, “I lost track of time, I was so engrossed in what I was making”. Another said, “I haven’t learned something totally new for years – how refreshing”. A third said, “I love being able to forget about work, the cold, dark winter and home chores”.

And then there’s the new vogue of TV programmes devoted to traditional crafts and restoration skills, along with painting and pottery competitions pulling in sizeable night audiences!

This, plus the rise of the maker-movement and growing appreciation of traditional skills means the idea of making one’s own craft or art is more appealing and more accessible than it’s been for years.

And independent shops selling hand-made or upcycled goods and craft-collectives where makers collaborate to supply and sell are injecting some much-needed vibrancy and variety to our town centres.

We’re are all better served than ever when it comes to places to learn new skills, or to discover the joy of making now.
There are friendly card-making and stitch-and-bitch groups in towns of any size now, there are independent shops and galleries selling hand-made goods and art close at hand, and several art workshops running craft courses in just our area alone (Northants, UK).

At the Vitreus Art craft & art studio, you’ll find stained glass courses including traditional and modern styles and glass fusing classes using a kiln to melt and manipulate glass in to unique pieces of art.

You can also discover the amazing properties of Precious Metal Clay, allowing complete beginners to create their own pieces of 99% pure silver jewellery.

Students keen to develop their painting and drawing will benefit from our tutor Clare Tebboth’s lively and productive teaching style, producing work to a high standard while having fun!

A working glass studio and art gallery as well as friendly art workshop venue, there’s always glass work being created by resident artists Jenny and Mike, or craft workshops being taught. Visitors are welcome to call in during gallery hours to find out more.

Vitreus Art is located at Wakefield Country Courtyard, just off the A5 a few miles south of Towcester. On site you’ll also find the ARTtea Room and plenty of free parking.

So if you’d like to learn a new craft or create your own art, visit the studio in person or online at www.vitreus-art.co.uk and make 2019 the year you improve your own wellbeing!

Make your own silver jewellery with Precious Metal Clay – it’s like magic!

What is PMC (Precious Metal Clay)?

At its most fundamental level, PMC is particles of fine silver bound up with an organic binder and a little water to make a malleable clay-like material.

 

 

 
When shapes made out of this clay are fired (in a kiln or with a blow-torch) the binder and water burn away, leaving a fine silver piece, ready for polishing.

The finished piece contains higher-purity silver than 925 sterling silver and can be hall-marked just like silver jewellery made with silver sheet, wire and blocks.
The binder materials accounts for about 10% of the overall volume of the clay, so the fired piece ends up 10% smaller. This is important to know when making rings, for example!

Because the clay is 90% silver, it’s not an inexpensive material to work with. Many crafters will be familiar with polymer clay (you may recognise brand names like Fimo) and graduate to PMC to make silver jewellery using similar techniques.
The cost of the materials, and the discipline this imposes on managing waste and controlling the size of projects sometimes comes as a shock!

Why is PMC good for home experimenting?

The upside of PMC though, is that a starter kit of tools isn’t expensive to buy, and small pieces (like earrings or small necklaces) can be fired with a chef’s blow-torch instead of a kiln.

 

 

 

Unlike the benches, bench-hooks and silver-smithing tools needed to make silver jewellery using traditional techniques, PMC can be shaped and refined using clay modelling processes – great for home experimenting.

PMC is available from many retailers in the UK, and in a variety of pack sizes, so the experimenter on a budget can carefully control their use of their key raw material!
One aspect to note is that opened packs of clay will dry out if not handled carefully, or left unused for a while. Open a pack of the size needed only when needed and carefully preserve the remainder!

What will you learn on our class?

We’ve structured our beginner’s class to give you a feel for a range of clay-modelling techniques you can develop at home.

You’ll learn about the properties of the clay to begin with – important to minimise costly waste and ensure you’ll have enough clay for all your beginner’s projects.

You’ll also learn about rolling and shaping, taking a lump of silver clay and making the basic shapes for your pieces.

 

 

 

We’ll introduce you to the use of textured surfaces to give your jewellery more interest and show you how to add bails to necklaces.

We’ll cover the stages of clay shaping, drying, refining, firing (also called sintering) and polishing; each one of these is an important step towards making a finished piece that will be strong enough to be worn regularly.

What can you make on our class?

You’ll make three pieces on our class. If you have spare clay and finish your three pieces before the end of the class, we’ll aim to make a further piece.

First, you’ll make a pair of earrings (like Jenny’s).
This will introduce you to clay handling, shaping, cutting and sanding. The size of these allows these to be fired with a blow-torch – instant gratification!

 

 

Then you’ll make an initial letter necklace – any letter of your choice!
You’ll discover how to roll a smooth snake of clay and shape it in to a letter.
We provide a template for all 26 letters of the alphabet to work to.

This is a tricky assignment but worth it as rolling and shaping is a key technique, applicable to many jewellery design elements.

 

 

 

Finally, you’ll make a pendant incorporating a bail to hang from a necklace, textures, added silver details and a highly-polished section – known as ‘high shine’ in the trade.
You’ll learn about rolling textures in to your clay, cutting shapes and integrating layers.

You’ll also learn about making bails and securely adding them to a pendant base as well as polishing and finishing.

 

 

 

After your three projects, if you have clay (and time) left over you’re welcome to make another project. We’ll help you decide what is achievable in the time, with the clay that remains.

The aim of this beginner’s class is to give you a feel for the versatility of PMC, introduce you to some key techniques you can use at home, and to send you away with three pieces of silver jewellery you’ve made yourself!

Want to have a go yourself and enjoy the magic of making silver jewellery out of clay?
Visit our PMC begonners class website page here and let’s get creative!

If you’re not ready to book but you’d like to receive updates and our monthly newsletter, you can subscribe here.

Happy crafting
Mike