Thursday 23 June 2011

Crafty Ireland Skills Swap

Hi Anne-Marie of Handmade by Amo'r here reporting on a successful exchange of crafty know-how. The Skillz Swap Shop was born after an inspiring Dublin meeting back in March this year. The discussion thread gave team members a place to find others willing to exchange skills and knowledge. I've heard that a few team mates have since followed up. Recently I had the fantastic opportunity to meet up with Eimear of Ella Green Jewellery for our own swap.

Eimear (above) offered me an introductory lesson in using PMC (precious metal clay) to make fine silver penants and charms. In exchange I offered help and advice in regard to online selling and her new Etsy shop. I also brought her some gemstones and beads from my stash. I still feel like I came out best in that deal!
The lesson took place at Eimear's home and studio. Though she normally works from her designated office, she had moved everything into the more spacious and airy kitchen.

First she showed me Siligum moulds she had already made from a variety of objects. I set to work pressing some PMC3 clay into them. I used a piece of leather to create interesting texture on the back of this piece.

While leaving the clay to dry on a mug warmer, I answered Eimear's initial queries regarding topics such as shipping rates, Google Analytics and seasonality on Etsy (eg, prepare for Christmas by mid September.)

Eimear then showed me how to cut shapes in the clay using stensils as an alternative to moulds. She used two small, equal piles of playing cards on each side before rolling the clay. This ensures that the clay will roll out evenly. In the picture above I am placing a small flower stensil onto a piece I have rolled out. It was quite a delicate matter getting the flower to land exactly in the middle. (I have to admit I made a bit of a mess cutting around and shaping this flower though....oops!)

Again, the cut-out was left to dry on the mug warmer. While waiting, I showed Eimear how to make an Etsy treasury.

And here is her first team treasury, 'Bye Bye Blues.' (Thanks for the inclusion Eims!)

In the meantime the clay pendants had dried. Next came the real fun as I got to use a butane torch to fire them. I'm afraid we were so caught up in what we were doing that I don't have a decent pic of this in action. This clip from Cooksongold, where I purchased the PMC3, gives you an idea of what it is like. It was so much fun, I'm still not sure if I unleashed the alchemist in me or discovered a disturbing interest in burning things....speaking of which, is that the dinner I smell?

Eimear took me through the follow up stages from soldering on a jump ring, through pickling and quenching to the final stages of brushing and filing. I had to admire her dedication to perfection as she patiently filed away the edges of a pendant.

Meanwhile, I did my best to impart useful advice on pricing and listing her gorgeous jewellery.

Here is my first PMC effort, not perfect, but I love it all the same.

...and the textured back of my second effort. Alas, the dodgy stensiled flower was too embarrassing to show. Methinks I will leave such delicate operations until I am more familiar with the clay.

Eimear often pulls from nature to create elegant jewellery.

I can't wait until I have collected all the tools and equipment to get going! A big thank you to Eimear. The lesson has openend a door to so many possibilities, limited only by my imagination...and that's one thing at least that I have in plentiful supply.

I have a penchant for the asymmetrical and abstract as well as Celtic motifs and sea themes. With precious metal clay I can introduce a new dimension to my designs. I hope Eimear benefits equally from the skills swap.

The Skillz Swap Shop thread remains open to members of the team. If you have already taken part in a swap session, or plan to, we'd absolutley love to hear about it on the blog!


  1. Beautiful prices here, love the blog too. Great to see it updated with nice useful images.

  2. Great article Anne-Marie. Amazing work. There is definitely something in this skills swapping.
    Welcome to the team Eimear

  3. What a great article, AM, and such lovely pics! Your first piece looks good - I have a fair idea what my first piece would look like...erm...basically like the back wheel of my bike...(which is actually in repair right now...)

    Looking forward to seeing more of your PMC pieces :)

    Eimear, welcome to the team!!! Love your work!

  4. Great article, and I LOVE that pendant Anne Marie! I will have to try my had at that someday! Also, thank you Eimear for including me in your beautiful treasury of blues!!!!

  5. Great post - I never heard of PMC. Looks very interesting, thanks for sharing girls.

    I love your articles AM, you always do fab how-to's & great step by steps. Will miss them now that you are stepping down but looking forward to new voices on the blog too :)

  6. I totally recommend using the skills swap thread & meeting up like this. It's very inspiring.

    Thanks Letizia I just need to step back a bit, for now at least, and the blog needs new voices to keep it fresh. I will submit articles to back fill on occasion, but less often. I love the blog too much!

  7. Hi guys, as the lucky recipient of Anne Marie's help on the afternoon of our skills swop, I definitely recommend it to everyone on the team. I really found it a great help and it's inspired me to get a wriggle on and make some new things too! Thanks again Anne Marie!