Making jewellery in the landscape with wild tools with Jo McAllister

Ref: SWE31681

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About this course

Make a small object or wearable piece in silver. Work the silver outside in the landscape using wild tools to create land-based textures then refine your piece back in the workshop.

Course Description

Work outside in the landscape with wild tools, using the simplest of tools and working methods. The course starts with a short presentation on how the landscape has inspired the way your tutor works. You will then look at the landscape and discuss with the tutor how you will make a small object or wearable piece from a square of fine silver sheet.

You will be encouraged to look at things a little differently, with an exercise provided by your tutor. You will look at what you’ve brought along with you or found on your walk, and define the essence of what interests you through questioning and discussion.

You will initially work with paper/card to investigate proportion and form. Through deconstruction and pattern making, you will translate your work from paper/card to sheet metal using the simplest of hand tools, such as shears, bow-drills and emery papers to cut, pierce, smooth and burnish. Your tutor will demonstrate where necessary.

You will take your precious metal outside and use suitable wild anvil surfaces and natural hammer tools to create unusual textures. Heat from portable gas torches will be used to anneal the metal after work-hardening, whilst you work in the wild.

You will review what you have achieved and finalise with cold connections, such as tabs and slots, rivets or stitching needed to achieve your desired outcome. At the end of the course, you will look at and discuss what you have achieved with the group.

By the end of the course, you will have:

Worked from sketches and paper/card models

Worked metal in the wild to hammer, form and burnish edges using found tools

Used cold connections

Created a fine silver object or wearable object using the simplest of tools and working methods

The course is suitable for all. If you have metalsmithing experience, you may find this alternative way of working will prompt new ways of thinking and working that prove challenging and liberating.

N.B. You must be able to walk a reasonable distance unaided and with sure footing, and clamber about a bit.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials


  • On this course, the College will supply most of the studio materials, such as modelling paper and emery paper, plus one piece of fine silver sheet per student – 0.8mm x 75mm x 75mm, coloured threads.

What students need to bring

  • You may wish to bring small found object(s) for inspiration as a starting point or to incorporate within your piece.
  • Pencil, sketchbook or notebook, camera/phone for process pictures or documentation if desired.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • A good variety of art and craft materials
  • Silver can be purchased from the College Shop, which stocks a range of sheet, wire, rod, tube and findings. These will be available in set sizes and lengths, suitable for a wide range of projects.
  • Available from tutor:
  • Extra pieces of fine silver sheet may be purchased directly from your tutor at an additional cost if needed.

Additional information

Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear (no open-toes or sandals). Tutor supervision required at all times. You must be able to walk a reasonable distance unaided and with sure footing on uneven ground and be fairly agile.


Jo McAllister

Jo is an award-winning studio jewellery artist. She has worked in and with the landscape using wild tools since 1999, on her BA at The Cass followed by an MA. She is a regular exhibitor at Goldsmiths’ Fair.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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Our Foundation Degree in Metalwork will enhance your employment prospects, give you the skills to set up as a self-employed craftsperson or allow you to continue to higher education. Encompassing both silversmithing and blacksmithing, you will learn practical skills, material properties, placing your work in a broader context and historic metalworking techniques. Find out more