Teaching casting methods – cuttlefish and delft clay

I’ve just completed  two 1:1 sessions showing how I cast using delft clay and cuttlefish.  This was spread over two sessions doing delft clay first, though with the benefit of hindsight, it would have been better to do cuttlefish first.  Prepaing a cuttlefish mould is easier which gives more time to introduce the actual melting and pouring part.

We followed the same format as the basic class  – I do a stage, the student does their stage and so on.

My delft clay castings are on the left and the student’s on the right.  The bee is a little bigger than the ammonites.

This is a cuttlefish cast once finished and the amber stone mounted.

Abstract silver cuttlefish cast surround for amber stone
Abstract silver cuttlefish cast surround for amber stone

‘I had the pleasure of 2 casting lessons with John, delft clay and cuttlefish. I had the best learning experience. Prior to lesson John advised me on equipment etc so I could set up at home.

Hands on, informative and very inspiring. In 4 hours Johns vast knowledge and experience had taught me enough to go home and recreate, which I have been,non stop!
Thank you’

Teaching sessions in my workshop

Today, I ran a day course for two friends who wanted to learn the basics of working with silver.

In the morning I went through the stages of making a silver ring – we made one each.  In the afternoon, the two friends made motifs to go on a bracelet.  We made up the design over lunchtime and implemented it in the afternoon.

They experienced soldering, using the piercing saw, doming, and polishing and learnt about the metal, assay and various other tools and techniques.

Silver RIng and star motifs by students
RIng and star motifs

Trophy repair

I’m quite pleased with this repair.  There was a similar dint on the opposite side that came out well too.  It had been neglected and took a lot to bring the inside back to a shine.

Abingdon Traditional Craft Fair is over – Millets Farm next

Abingdon Traditional Craft Fair on 3-5 November was very enjoyable.  It revived memories of Joanna and Dave’s wedding reception and its great to meet up with fellow stall holders  – some I knew and some I now know.  I also met some existing customers, some wearing my work,  and some people interested in having work done – so there should be some follow on.

My stall at the ATCF
My stall at the ATCF

My latest innovation is an easel I made to hold two corkboards – for Millets there will be clip on lights as it can get a little dark in the Long Gallery.  The Long Gallery can also be cold as the material behind my banner is a single thickness of fabric.  It’s all there is between the inside and the outside and it’s not windproof.  Fortunately an industrial scale heater was on hand.

My new website

jhsilver.co.uk updated

Today I’ve just launched my new website.

Hopefully everyone will find it easier to use and more up to date.  Please let me know if there are  any problems or errors.

The shop remains the same – that seems to work fine and ‘it ain’t broke, so why fix it?’,  but the new website should surround the shop seamlessly.

It is also a more secure site now, you should see the little padlock on the browser bar most of the time.  There are probably a few links I need to fix still.  I still have some content I want to move over or update.

I’ve trimmed down the examples of my work  to about 100, but there’s more in the shop and on the blog.  Also you can sneak into the old website areas for further examples.

Chain types

Nothing too exciting, but I’ve recently updated my page on chains to include a further page with some photos of common styles of chain and clasp.

For example

Belcher chain with carabiner clasp
Belcher chain with carabiner clasp

Please remember that if you like a pendant in my shop, I can change the style and length of its chain.  Just contact me first, rather than ordering from the shop.


1500 different designs

I have a photograph of pretty much everything that I have made.  Although I’ve been silversmithing since 1978, I decided in early 2006 to record my work on a database.  From that point, each new design or item, if individuals varied from the design, has been allocated a number ss001, ss002 etc, which is used on the corresponding photograph.  Each item also has a number.

With the cow horn rings previous to this post, I’ve reached ss1500 so that’s about 150 variants each year.  I’ve made 2800 items in that time.  Most pictures are on my website, in my shop or in the blog.

Mosaic tessera earrings

Years ago my wife and I visited Sam Gimignano in Italy.  I bought a box of bright blue tessera – the little tiles used as the basis of a mosaic.  I occasionally make some earrings using them that usually sell well.

Blue mosaic tessera earrings
Blue mosaic tessera earrings

It was only recently that a lady visited my stand during Artweeks and said “I make mosaics and those are tesserae, but that’s the back which is pressed into the cement.”

I’d never given it a moment’s thought – that side looked best so I put it outermost.  Of course, the other side being flat sits well in the setting.   Few people normally see this side.

Replacing a comb in a silver cover

Replacing the comb in a silver cover
Before and after

This silver backed comb has sentimental value to the owner and was clearly of no practical use.  The problem here is usually to find a suitable replacement.  The best fit was slightly too long and had to be filed and repolished and the teeth are shorter than the original., but it is now usable.  If anyone else is interested, then please locate a comb that you think is an acceptable replacement and I’ll fit it.