How to learn silversmithing
Thorn & Claw was officially birthed into being early 2020 - but the studying, crafting and dreamings began many a moon ago.
I was drawn to silversmithing after training first in blacksmithing at Kingston Maurward in Dorset, England. I wanted to learn something ancient, which involved working my hands hard - away from a screen. I worked in UK Wildlife Conservation for over 10 years with multiple organisations, however as the years progressed my work became more and more office-based. I longed for physical movement and tactile creations. Blacksmithing was a steep learning curve but incredibly rewarding. It felt ritualistic working with all of the elements, fire to heat, water to quench, air to quicken or cool and forging with the earth. More than anything I desired to create wearable jewels and talismans, thus silversmithing was the next creative step for my journey.
Learning how to silversmith in Dorset
I began my studies at Jenny Greenhow Jewellery in Wareham, Dorset in the evenings after my conservation work. I was taught by the extremely knowledgeable Eliane of ELS Jewellery, alongside invaluable cameo teachings with Jodie Metcalfe Jewellery and Wendy Nutt Jewellery. These evenings crafting with other women on their creative journeys felt almost tribal as we prayed to the soldering deities together. I am forever grateful for their warm support.
The art of life casting
It was a specialist workshop with Jenny herself when I discovered the particular silver skill that called to me - casting. Jenny taught the art of casting natural forms by melting down silver and pouring liquid metal into moulds of sand, to create a perfect replica in glimmering silver. My mind was stirring with possibilities and future designs.
Learning to wax carve jewellery
Later in time, it would be a wax carving workshop with Emma Leonard Jewellery in Westbourne, Dorset, when the final piece fell into place. Emma taught the art of carving waxes into whichever forms you desired. These, in turn, could be cast and combined with natural castings or other metalwork. Wax is forgivable and can be shaped into the smallest of details, opening up the most intricate design possibilities. An additional wax carving workshop with Jane of Hex Cavelli aided my wax skills further, as well as providing the opportunity to study alongside the talented jewellers Lilly of La Madre Silver and Ellie of Olive and the Wolfe.
After years of crafting and studying under the guidance of many gifted jewellers passing on their knowledge, I craved working on my art with solo studies. My partner gifted me a custom jewellers bench one Yule, and we set up my workshop in our home during that winter. Everything at Thorn & Claw is crafted on this very bench, which sees tweaks and further customisations on an almost monthly occurrence.
I am not completely alone, however - the online and local community of jewellers and makers is a warm and welcoming one. I have received expert teachings from Jess and her team at the Jewellers Academy, and I continue to evolve my silversmithing abilities with each passing day at my workbench. There are so many facets to crafting jewels, that it is impossible to not keep acquiring new skills, and I hunger to study the art further.
Forging a path
I am endlessly thankful to those that have shared their knowledge and skills so generously with me over the years, and to my partner, family and friends that have supported my dreams with such encouragement and kindness.
If you dream crafting and forging your own path, I implore you to not let that dream die. It will be a long and winding route, but you will be walking towards the direction that your heart is most called to - however small the steps may be.