Browse through our blog posts to find out what life is like at Hoe Grange Holidays along with some great ideas for days out in the Peak District.
Have you ever had a go at hand crafting silver jewellery? Rebecca Green is the artisan designer-maker with a studio workshop called Rock Paper Silver based at Caudwell's Mill in Rowsley.
Always on the lookout for interesting activities and being a little creative myself I enrolled in one of her one day jewellery making workshops “An introduction to silver clay class”
I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect but Rebecca explained the whole process, so we knew what lay ahead for the day. As a small group we discussed our initial design ideas, then created detailed sketches on paper, before moving on to produce a practice prototype in fimo clay.
Rebecca demonstrated various tools and techniques to achieve different textures to enhance our designs.
With my passion for riding I had quickly sketched out a horse’s head as a pendent but decided that it was probably too ambitious and beyond my capabilities. However, Rebecca thought that it was not too complicated and would work well. So with her encouragement I boldly set about crafting my idea into a 3D design in fimo clay. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought and seemed to go well so I bravely opened the precious silver clay packet.
I rolled and worked the clay before breaking off small pieces for the ears and mane. Splitting the precious clay was quite fiddly, and somehow I managed to drop the small pieces on the floor. Luckily I found all the bits and brushed off the dirt - no harm done!
Time flew by and before lunch we had all crafted our final jewellery from a 7g piece of silver clay. Some of the other participants had been on previous workshops and had brought along precious gems to incorporate into their designs. One person was adventurous enough to craft a ring with 3 gemstones.
Once completed the designs were fired in an oven whilst we had a delicious lunch at the Hlaf vegetarian café in the mill yard.
The clay had hardened off in the kiln but still looked pale in colour and not very attractive. At this point we could refine, and file the pieces to get the perfect finish. However the next process was where the magic really happened!
The clay is made up of extremely fine particles of pure silver, almost like dust, mixed up with a non-toxic organic binder. Once heated to high temperature for a couple of minutes the binder burns out leaving you with a piece of pure metal. A little polish with a stiff brush and a tumble with small ball bearings in a soap solution and the transformation is stunning!
I thoroughly enjoyed the day – it was very therapeutic and I had a great sense of achievement going home with a unique piece of silver jewellery, totally designed and created by myself! It was also fascinating to see what everyone else had designed and made.
Even with no previous experience I was able to craft a unique piece with a little guidance from Rebecca. All tools and materials, including the silver clay, were provided at a cost of £75. You can choose an adjustable leather cord if you are making a necklace like mine, or buy a silver chain. No need to be nervous as Rebecca also explains everything clearly and provides a helping hand if needed. I hope this inspires you to have a go!
Rebecca Green has an eye for beautiful designs inspired by nature. As well as running workshops Rebecca handcrafts delicate designs of wearable sculpture in solid silver, including hares, hedgehogs, horses and harvest mice, as well as flowers, leaves and acorns.
Rebecca completed an MA in Sequential Illustration and Design at Brighton University. Since then she has worked in traditional bookbinding and illustration, cutting edge 3D animation and interactive digital design, before becoming a silver smith in 2012. Our stunning Peak District countryside provides much of the inspiration for her beautiful designs.
Rebecca says “I find it a thrilling and rewarding way to express my ideas and my creativity. I especially like that the result is something that is decorative, functional and tactile, as well as being formed from precious materials. I am inspired by nature, the seasons, mythology and primitive cultures”.
All her Jewellery is designed, hand crafted and finished in her workshop at Caudwell's Mill, Rowsley. Some pieces are distinctly one-off items, others are created in a small batches. Rebecca also offers bespoke services for those special pieces of jewellery for a loved one or maybe for yourself to mark a special occasion.
Caudwell's Mill is a unique, Grade II listed historic roller flour mill, situated in Rowsley, near Bakewell, in the Derbyshire Peak District. Powered by the fast-flowing River Wye, one or more mills have stood on the site for at over 400 years.
The current mill was built in 1874 by John Caudwell and run as a family business for over a century, before closing in 1978. The mill was fortunately purchased by a charitable trust which means that we are still able to see today how flour was produced using traditional methods and machines.
The mill was originally powered by two water wheels which drove 8 pairs of millstones in the flour mill and 3 pairs in the provender (animal feed) mill. The water wheels did not provide enough power, so they were later replaced by water turbines.
Most of the machinery is pre 1914 and is still driven by leather belts and pulleys from line shafts. Elevators and Archimedean screws abound throughout the four floors.
If you have tasted our delicious granary bread in your welcome pack, you’ll be pleased to know that the malted flake flour used comes from Caudwell's Mill. Not only are you tasting a delicious locally produced product, you are also supporting the charitable trust to preserve this historic building for future generations.
Entrance to the mill is FREE and definitely worth a visit - it's a great rainy day option and you can also buy some flour to take home from the shop!
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