Silvana Mallia is a Maltese metal clay artist. She makes precious metal jewellery with clay and fire, and is looking forward to showing her visitors on The Trail how she does this. If you like the idea of trying your hand at it and making your own silver pendant, then come along to her pop-up open studio at The Cavalieri Art Hotel in St Julian’s.
Silvana creates her designs primarily in silver, bronze and copper, using a clay-like medium of metal particles and an organic binder, which after the shaping process is kiln-fired at temperatures of up to 930°C. The result is a pure precious clay metal piece, which is then polished and finished using the traditional jewellery-making methods.
Silvana can spend hours researching methods and materials, but other times an idea comes into shape in a moment. Metal clay is a very versatile medium, and Silvana particularly enjoys adding interesting materials to her jewellery pieces, to add focus or texture. “You can add incredibly detailed texture using flowers, or leaves with their lovely veins. ” Silvana also incorporates them into her work by locking petals into resin. “I’m always collecting leaves and flowers during my travels, from the local countryside or from the flower pots on my own balcony.”
Her style has evolved from the classic silver, lace-textured Bizzilla collection, with freshwater pearl accents, to the more recent Pebble collection where the focal ‘gems’ are beach pebbles. It may be a beach pebble pendant with a cluster of hand-shaped leaves and fruit, or a square tile ring with a lace texture, to which nothing else needs to be added. To create further contrast Silvana sometimes adds colour by pairing a vivid red necklace with a polished silver pendant, or green jade beads with pairs of copper earrings. It is her bronze jewellery, however, that infuses warmth into her range. “I love working with bronze clay. I use bronzes of different hues; pink, gold and champagne…and after firing, one piece is never like the other in colour. I like to keep them quite unpolished, to give them texture, so they are not geometrically perfect, and to give them a used, antique feel.”
From a very early age Silvana showed an interest in all things creative, such as drawing, crafts and crochet, which can also be found in her jewellery, but in wire instead of fibres. “I loved jewellery, and my desire to create it developed into a passion, initially making beaded jewellery. This started in Paris while on holiday years ago, when I stumbled on a craft and jewellery supply shop. It was a kind of bead heaven and I was hooked. Later I discovered precious metal clay.”
“Many ask what inspires me. I say no element in particular. Sometimes it’s our beautiful sea, nature, our local lace, but also interesting patterns in everyday things. My full time, and long time, profession is in the financial sector, but in my small, chaotic ‘workshop’ space at home I’m in a different world.”