Shropshire Star

Silver keepsakes: What it's like to be a jewellery maker

Our favourite jewellery can represent special moments in our lives, evoke happy memories and connect us with loved ones.

Silversmith Lori Ridgway, of LR Silver Jewellery, at The Granary Workshop in Featherstone

Lori Ridgway loves creating bespoke pieces from silver that tell a story and will be cherished by their owner for years to come.

She also specialises in giving cherished sentimental items a new lease of life by remodelling them into new pieces that can be worn more easily.

Lori, who has a workshop in Featherstone, has been making jewellery for many years and has worked with silver clay for the past decade.

"I've always made jewellery, since I was a child. I'm the sort of person who decides what jewellery they want and then matches their outfit to the jewellery rather than the other way around.

"When I was younger I could never find what I wanted, so I started making my own.

"I'd always wanted to make silver jewellery but I thought it would be too expensive and I would need a big workshop.

"Then I found out about silver clay and decided to give it a go," she tells Weekend.

Silver clay has become an increasingly popular choice amongst jewellery makers as it allows them to easily create finely detailed pieces.

Lori working on a silver piece in her studio

It's formed from tiny pieces of silver, recycled from industry, that is mixed with a binder and moisture.

It can be sculpted, moulded and textured just like regular clay to create items such as pendants, earrings and charms.

Finished designs are then fired in a kiln to burn off the binder, leaving behind the solid silver.

Much of Lori's jewellery is inspired by the environment and the silver clay allows her to capture the natural beauty of the world around her such as the texture of leaves and tree bark.

Some festive pieces

If she's out for a walk in the countryside and something catches her eye, she will create a mould that she can use at a later date.

"I always carry little packets of moulding compound in my pocket. I mix the compound together and press it onto the texture. It takes 20 minutes to dry and it doesn't do any damage to thing I am moulding.

"It picks up the detail really well and once it's dry, I have a mould I can use to make jewellery. The silver clay will pick up the detail from the mould," explains Lori.

A lot of Lori's jewellery is inspired by nature

As well as creating her designs, she also enjoys making one-of-a-kind pieces for customers to wear themselves or give as gifts to their friends and family.

She also specialises in memory jewellery, where she captures precious details such as handprints, pawprints and signatures in silver.

The precious ashes of loved ones can also be encased in resin and set in silver pieces.

Lori is also commissioned to redesign pieces that may hold sentimental value or have been handed down through the generations.

She says that often people aren't able to wear these heirloom items because they aren't the right size or aren't to their taste.

Lori will re-purpose the metal and stones and create something new that the owner will able to and will want to wear again and again.

"A lot of sentimental jewellery sits in people's jewellery boxes and is never worn so it's nice for it to come out and see life and be worn again," she tells Weekend.

As well as making jewellery, Loris also enjoys sharing her expertise and inspiring others to be creative.

The 50-year-old, who has a higher diploma in silver art clay, runs workshops throughout the year teaching participants how to use silver clay and make a variety of different jewellery.

These are run at The Granary Workshop in Featherstone, Westhope College in Craven Arms and Zantium Studios, near Ashbourne.

"I teach people the techniques and they have free reign over the design. I just help them to make it.

"In half a day, they can make a really nice piece. It's really easy to pick up. People go home with some beautiful pieces," says Lori, who can also carry out repairs as well as cleaning and polishing.

Making people smile when they see her jewellery is what makes it all worthwhile for Lori.

"Every day is different and every piece of jewellery is different. Jewellery is a very personal thing and for it's all about the memories or sentiments behind the jewellery.

"The thing I enjoy the most is giving somebody something they can treasure forever. A lot of people cry when they see their jewellery because they are so happy with it.

"I absolutely love what I do - it doesn't feel like work to me."

For more information on Lori's workshops, see

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