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Personalised lockets and keepsake jewellery, hand made in Great Britain.

Blog

Skill swap day with Upside Down Tree Studio

Erica Sharp

Hi everyone, can you believe its nearly the end of May already, these last few months have whizzed by! I've been very lucky and have recently had two amazing holidays to Valencia and Naples, both very beautiful cities, and wonderful memories made with friends and family.

I've been meaning to write about a skill swap day I did with Denya, jewellery designer and founder of Upside Down Tree Studio, because it was such a brilliant opportunity to connect with another creative and share our skills and form a new friendship. I got to know Denya over Instagram and we had talked about meeting up for a while. When Denya asked if I wanted to meet to do a skill swap day I jumped at the chance, the thought of sharing our skills really appealed to me. Denya works in precious metal clay which I was keen to learn more about, and Denya was interested in developing some wax carving techniques. 

Take a look at some of Denya's gorgeous jewellery designs... aren't they stunning?

The detailed textures on Denya's feather pendant are exquisite.

The detailed textures on Denya's feather pendant are exquisite.

The most delicate daisy earrings. So dainty and are on my wishlist!

The most delicate daisy earrings. So dainty and are on my wishlist!

On the day of our skill swap I drove through the beautiful West Sussex countryside to Denya's home where she made me feel instantly welcome. We hit it off straight away and spent a lot of time chatting over a shared love of jewellery design and creativity in general- she also showed me some amazing ceramics she had created at a previous skills swap day with a potter, they were beautiful! Denya is really keen to take the concept of skill swap further which I think is such a wonderful idea; I've mentioned it to several other designer friends and they were equally enthusiastic about the concept. What are your thoughts on this, would you be keep to join a skill swap community and be able to share your skills whilst learning new ones? 

Denya works from her home studio, and she also teaches precious metal clay classes which you can read about here. She is a thorough, patient and encouraging teacher and I really felt like I learned a lot about the science of precious metal clay which I never knew about before. The day left me full of inspiration to develop some ideas of my own. It's such an interesting technique and would love to share a little of what I made....

The precious metal clay can be sculpted like regular clay but there are special ways in which to handle it I was unaware of. Denya showed me a really great technique where I could create a relief effect on the clay. As I love drawing this was so exciting to do! The clay was left to dry out and was then ready to fire. I could not wait to see what happened- it was magical alchemy before my eyes!

Firing the precious metal clay. Care needs to be taken with timings and temperatures.

Firing the precious metal clay. Care needs to be taken with timings and temperatures.

Once the precious metal clay was fired and quenched, I polished it with a brass brush and special papers to buff and get a lovely shine and finish. 

And as if by magic... the brass brush revealed beautiful shiny silver! 

And as if by magic... the brass brush revealed beautiful shiny silver! 

I loved the alchemical nature of this process and the detailed, delicate effects that were created. Denya also showed me some other techniques like using moulds which were also really amazing. Learning a new and exciting skill in the company of a fellow designer was so much fun! I'm hoping to do more of this (more skill swaps anyone?) as it's a lovely way to learn and support one another's craft.

The pendant was polished when I got home and is now a pretty little pendant that I love wearing. Not only does it show off a new skill I now love but also a new friendship formed over a shared love for creativity.

After buffing with a brass brush.

After buffing with a brass brush.

We then spent some time doing some wax filing and carving (and making loads of mess!) and I showed Denya a few wax methods of taking away and building up. I wish we had had more time as the day ended too quickly but I have promised Denya a visit to my house when my new little studio is ready.

One thing Denya shared with me before I left was some stories about her Father. He sounded like an wonderful creative man who taught himself many skills, and shared them with other creatives and artists in the same way that Denya and I did. She opened a box of the tiniest most delicate silver castings that her Father had made; of the many things he did, he had taught himself the art of lost wax casting. How incredible is that! I was really touched that I was able to take a little crab pendant away with me and I am wearing it now, I think it is a really precious piece of jewellery. That's what I love most about jewellery- the story and meaning it holds is what makes it so very special to the wearer.

My new leaf pendant next to Denya's Father's crab charm. It's so tiny and I adore it!

My new leaf pendant next to Denya's Father's crab charm. It's so tiny and I adore it!

If you want to find out more about Upside Down Tree Studio, see the details below:

Shop: https://www.upsidedowntreestudio.com

Precious Metal Clay Classes: https://www.upsidedowntreestudio.com/classes/

Also if any of you would like to share your thoughts on a skill swap community, skills you'd love to learn or share, I would love to hear your thoughts!