“A copse which had worn it’s firs all the year round seemed old and dowdy now beside the new green lace which the beeches had put on so prettily.” – A.A.Milne, Winnie the Pooh
It feels as though spring has finally sprung in my small corner of Gloucestershire. Everywhere the trees are bursting into leaf and almost overnight there is blossom everywhere. For those of you who know me, or have read any of my other blog posts, you’ll know that I have a thing for trees and leaves. And so it will come as no surprise to you all that I came over all creative when I saw my parent’s beech hedge just starting to throw open its new delicate buds in a vivid splash of almost lime green.
I took just a few leaves away with me to see if I could turn them into silver. I thought you all might be interested in the stages a leaf goes through from tree to a finished piece of jewellery – so here goes……..
Firstly it’s important to choose the right leaves for your purpose – I recently found a perfect heart-shaped ivy leaf that was just crying out to become a pendant – so I usually sort through them to choose the ones that will work best. I wanted to make a pendant and a set of earrings and so I chose three leaves.
The perfect shape for a pendant.
After being washed, the leaves are painted with thin layers of a paste form of precious metal clay. I recycle all the left over clay in my workshop into paste I can use like this, so the end product is really rather green! Between each layer the leaves must be left to dry. How many layers depends on how thick I want the finished piece to be – usually around ten, but I always lose count!
How many layers? I’ve lost count.
When the last layer is dry I roll out a piece of silver clay and cut a rectangle to make a bail on the back of the pendant, I prefer this to drilling a hole through the finished leaf. Look at my glamorous piece of kit, the drinking straw! I always drill my earrings after firing as I find they work better this way.
A ball of clay about to be rolled out.
This has to be left to dry overnight before sanding and smoothing and filling and finishing it to perfection.
Waiting to be sanded and filled to perfection.
Then I fire the piece by hand using a butane torch. The original leaf itself burns away leaving pure silver behind with the impression of the leaf print. The pieces are always white straight after firing – this is the pure silver in its unpolished form.
No – this isn’t a leaf but there was no one around to hold the camera at the time!
I then brush the piece with my soft brass brush and polish and oxidize if I want, before finishing with a chain and earring wires!
So here they are:
Beech leaf jewellery by MoonRiver.
Fine silver beech leaf pendant – £35 – Fine silver beech leaf earrings – £25
Ivy Leaf Pendant by MoonRiver.
Fine silver ivy leaf pendant – £35
All prices excl. p+p – please contact me for details or to buy!
So there you are – now you know! I hope you enjoyed reading – I’m off to find some more leaves, I’ve spotted some lovely strawberry ones!