Made in East Yorkshire, exhibited in Tokyo - the remarkable silversmith offering lessons in Hull

Richard Allen in Pepper Tree Studio in Trinity Market, Hull
-Credit: (Image: Richard Allen)

A Hull-based jeweler is offering lessons for anyone curious to work with real silver.

Pepper Tree Studio recently moved to a bigger unit in Hull Trinity Market. It is owned by artisan silversmith Richard Allen, 59, from Hedon, who has perfected the art of silver clay, an environmentally friendly material made from recycled silver.

Richard, whose work has been exhibited as far afield as Tokyo, said silver clay is a fascinating material and suitable for complete beginners. He told Hull Live: "We moved to the bigger unit last month which allows me a little more room so I can actually teach as well.


"The classes are brilliant, I started them earlier in the year and I have previously held them in other studios in Harrogate and all over the place and people love it.

"Because I work with silver clay it is very different from conventional silversmithing it is a totally different process. It's quite exciting and a very different way of working so people love it.

Jewellery by Richard Allen picked for an exhibition in Tokyo, Japan
Jewellery by Richard Allen - one of just 68 pieces picked worldwide for an exhibition in Tokyo, Japan -Credit:Richard Allen

"I've been working with silver for about 40 years but discovered silver clay about five or six years ago. That's all I tend to work with now.

"Silver clay was developed 30 years ago in Japan and it is recycled silver which is quite an ecological feature people are interested in. It allows you to work with it in a different way.

Copper Clay Skull exhibited Open Gallery, Halifax
Copper Clay Skull by Richard Allen exhibited Open Gallery, Halifax -Credit:Richard Allen

"It is particles of silver that have formed in a binder so you can work with it like pottery clay while it's wet and once it dries you can sand it, you can file it, you can engrave it and then what happens is you fire it so the binder burns away and the particles fuse.

"And whatever you make out of silver it can be hallmarked so it is proper silver. It allows you to work with different shapes to what you would in normal silversmithing."

One of Richard Allen's pieces that will be exhibited at Forge Gallery, London
One of Richard Allen's pieces that will be exhibited at Forge Gallery, London -Credit:Richard Allen

Richard said it is possible to pick up the basics of silver clay in just one of his lessons. "It doesn't matter how elaborate your finished piece is, there are basic principles and fundamentals you need to follow," he explained.

"It is a valuable material so you need to be using it wisely so you don't waste it and my classes teach that. They teach people how to look after your clay, how to work with the material, then from there you can learn techniques like cutting, shaping, sanding, texturing et cetera, then they can use what I've taught them to start making their own designs and apply that.

"So my lessons are in two parts - the first bit is showing them the basics of how to set things up and then part two is what is your idea and let's apply your idea." Richard's next big exhibition is at the Forge Gallery in London this September.

Find out more here.