VIDEO LESSONS IN THIS COURSE
All pieces shown in the images above were made by beginners during my silver workshops
The videos and documents for this course will start being released on 10th April and will continue over 2 weeks. I'll be holding one zoom session a week for you, when you can ask me questions, I can help you troubleshoot and we can talk further about how this course can shift your brain biochemistry to improve your mental health.
In this course you'll learn how to take fresh leaves, seedheads and flowers you may have found on nature walks or in your garden, and make them into truly beautiful pendants. The process of using artclay silver is like modern-day alchemy. You will also learn how the processes you'll take your silver clay through to make your pieces affect your brain biochemistry and in turn improve your mental health.
The silver workshop foundation course will take place over 2 weeks and I will pass the knowledge about casting nature finds in silver and the impact of nature and time spent creatively on your mental health on to you via a combination of videos, PDFs and 2 live zoom sessions.
The short paragraphs below describe what I'll teach you in each of the videos that will form part of this course.
Introduction and how this course will alter how you feel
Who I am and why I'm teaching you this, the changes that take place in our brains when we spend time in a green space and spend time creatively, focussed on making, and what happens when we combine the two. I'll explain how even short walks or just a brief period of creative activity really can improve our mental health.
At each relevant stage in the process of making your silver piece I'll tell you how that particular activity can alter brain chemistry and/or levels of stress hormone and in doing so improve mental health.
The history and chemistry of and how to handle silver clay
How and why silver clay was invented, what it's made of, what happens when it's fired and how best to handle and use it efficiently to ensure your pieces turn out beautifully and have as much detail as possible.
I'll run through everything you need, from tools to kilns in order to make pendants on this course and in the text accompanying this lesson
Making your pendants
How to roll out your clay, cast your nature finds and ensure your piece can be used to make a necklace.
The secret to making several of the same design...
I share the secret to making more than one copy of a design you love, so you can give one to a pal.
Drying, smoothing and firing
How to finesse your pieces to make them pleasing to the eye and comfortable to wear and...how to set them on fire...
Polishing, oxidising and burnishing
Creating beautiful patina on your fired silver piece: an almost magical and very satisfying part of the process.
Constructing your necklace
Basic jewellery construction techniques to turn your beautiful silver pendant into a wearable necklace.
Along with knowledge about the mental health changes that both craft and nature can elicit and the skills and techniques needed to make beautifully intricate silver jewellery that I have taught in my face to face lessons for a decade, I've also recorded the following extra lessons for this course, which will allow you to expand the range of pieces that you make and mend your pendants prior to firing if there are cracks or breakages:Winter nature finds and plants that are perfect for casting in silver
A seasonal guide to the botanical finds that can be found between November and March and that work perfectly with the silver casting technique I teach you in this course. You'll see me gathering specimens, identifying them for you in the field and showing you examples of them made into sample pieces back in the warmth of my cottage.
Troubleshooting and recycling
I'll show you how to mend a broken piece and use every scrap of unused clay left over from making your pendants. Silvery thrift and dolly hospital for handmade accidents that can sometimes occur.
If you have any questions about this course, please send an email to: [emma at minniedog.co.uk]
Emma Mitchell is an author, mental health advocate, naturalist, illustrator and designer-maker. She studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge, spent time in academia studying molecular cell biology and was an technology consultant in emerging technologies in Silicon Fen until 2008, when her struggles with depression and anxiety led her to begin writing about the positive impact of both nature and time spent creatively on mental health.
Emma has written and presented films for BBC Springwatch and appeared on BBC Countryfile, Radio 4's Woman's Hour and Ramblings. She is a Guardian Country Diarist and has contributed pieces on nature and mental health for the Times, Big Issue, inews & Psychologies magazine.
Emma has been teaching creative workshops with a focus on mental health for more than a decade. She taught Anita Rani to cast yarrow in silver on BBC Countryfile and has taught classes at the Victoria & Albert museum, Cambridge University Botanic Gardens and Highgrove.
In Emma's classes students learn the techniques needed to make and draw beautiful things, but crucially she combines this with teaching the science that explains why and how spending time creatively can shift brain biochemistry to improve mental health.