We try a jewellery making course at Studio Ceramics in Bahrain
Time Out Bahrain staff
When you’re travelling from Bahrain to Kenya for a wedding, knowing the happy couple are soon to set up home in Ireland, the standard toaster is really not going to cut it in the pressie stakes.
And when said soon-to-be newly weds have done that everso helpful ‘your presence is all the gift we need’ instead of a wedding list – well, it leaves the imagination with a bit of work to do.
Hoping for inspiration I set off for Studio Ceramics, at the Shakura turn off the Budaiya Highway, to meet jewellery making teacher Tina Stokle who would show me how to create my own unique piece of silver prettiness.
I’d expected it to be complicated and not something you could master in one go – and to be fair my effort didn’t look quite as polished as some of the sample pieces – but I quickly took heart when Tina explained: “It’s really not that hard, you just have to remember that, before it’s fired, the silver is very, very soft and delicate and it sticks to everything.”
Our beginners’ silversmith kits consisted of a package of silver clay, mini Perspex rolling pin, two flat plastic sticks to use as guides when rolling the clay, a small Teflon cloth to roll it on and various pointy sticks for making patterns.
First things first, you have to cover the cloth and the rolling pin with grease. Forget and the silver, which comes in the form of putty-like clay, sticks to everything.
Next, roll it out flat and then comes the fun part, deciding what you’re going to do with it.
Tina produced a bag of molds containing patterns from seashells to hearts and even a baby reptile made from the badge off a pair of Crocs.
One of the students was creating a flat disc which she was using to copy a piece of traditional South American-type jewellery and with Tina’s guidance, I opted for a wonky heart.
Rolling the precious putty out to a couple of milimetres thick, I gently set the tiny metal mold in place and, much like using a cookie cutter, trimmed the edges to give an, almost, perfect shape.
Punching a hole for the chain it was time to put it to one side to dry for a few minutes while contemplating what, if any, pattern to add.
And that’s when inspiration struck – for my unique wedding gift I decided the bride should receive a hand-made heart bearing two sets of initials and the date. For the groom, I’m going back to make a pair of initialled and dated cufflinks.
With wording completed, all that was left was to take an emery pad and very gently sand off any rough edges before popping my heart into the mini-kiln where it was fired for around 15 minutes at 800 degrees.
It comes out hard and looking white, which is where the clay particles have come to the surface and, as you buff these away to raise a shine, you’re left with 99.9 per cent pure silver, the purest you can get – not bad for a wedding gift even if I do say so myself.
Studio Ceramics has jewellery workshops running every Thursday throughout June, starting on June 7 from 10am-1pm and ongoing through the year.
Mediums range from silver and copper to glass, ceramic and enamel with prices from BD10 for clay beads up to BD50 for silver.
If you’re busy during the day, evening groups can also be catered for by arrangement. Call (17 599 026)