2025 Festival Dates: 5 & 6 July

Adorning with Clay

In 2021, the National Festival of Making commissioned artist Aliyah Hussain to develop a project intended to inspire creativity, skill-development and making-for-wellbeing. Thirteen participants took part in a free ceramic jewellery workshop series, creating their own playful, sculptural jewellery and contributing to a collaborative piece which was exhibited at the National Festival of Making 2022.

About the Project

Adorning with Clay consisted of five workshops in Blackburn, and invited participants to experiment and learn new skills working with clay, glazes and the tools and fastenings required for jewellery-making. All of the clay components were made by the participants and fired in the kiln at The Making Rooms.

The workshops, led by artist Aliyah Hussain, encouraged participants to examine their own relationships with jewellery and the sounds it can make when moved or worn on the body.

Each participant created their own collection, developed over four workshops and taken home in individually decorated boxes to be worn, treasured or gifted. In the fifth workshop, participants used their leftover clay items to contribute to a collaborative textile piece. This was exhibited at the National Festival of Making 2022 alongside an abstract audio-visual piece.

Scroll down to the bottom of the page to read an overview of each workshop.


My own memories are deeply connected to the sounds of jewellery on the bodies of family and friends, on occasions or just in the actions of the everyday. There is a percussiveness to it, a beat, a rhythm of the day.”

– Aliyah Hussain

The AV and textile piece are a collaborative documentation of the project, using material generated in the workshops including drawings, ceramics, embroidery and sound recordings.

The jewellery components were arranged on top of a panel connected to contact microphones – the sounds of their movements became the soundtrack and their compositions were turned into drawings for the animation, showcasing and documenting everything that was made in the workshops.

View the AV piece below.

About the Participants

The workshop participants applied to take part in the series by emailing a short paragraph about why they would like to attend for reasons of personal or professional development. All materials were provided to the participants and at the end of the series were gifted to them to continue making at home. Participants were also given a bursary payment of £100 in recognition of time commitment and possible travel expenses.

About the Artist

Aliyah Hussain is a multidisciplinary artist whose work crosses the intersection with contemporary art and craft. Her practice approaches themes found within feminist science fiction literature, geology, and nature, she works with abstract forms with a focus on pattern, form, and colour. Collaboration is an important part of her practice and she feels most at home working alongside other people. Recent works and collaborations include Potential Wor(l)ds with Anna Bunting-Branch, shown at Bergen Kunsthall, Norway, Sonic Acts, Amsterdam, and Castlefield Gallery, Manchester (2018-present), The Sleep of Plants, for Holden Gallery, Manchester (2020), and The kitchen table collective with Human Libraries, Bootle/Crosby (2020-present).

Visit Aliyah’s Website

I was always waiting for the next workshop. It was very enjoyable to feel, think, design and see the result. Combining the designed jewelry with music was a different and surprising interpretation. Thank you for giving me this happiness and unforgettable feelings.”

– Tugba Borekci, workshop participant

Below you can read an overview of each workshop:


Workshop 1

Getting straight into making with clay! We began the workshop with a quick drawing exercise, encouraging us to be creative in a playful way. We then began creating shapes and forms from coils of clay to make jewellery items such as necklaces, earrings, bangles and brooches.

Tools and materials used: 

  • Clay
  • Rolling Pins
  • Clay Extruders
  • Wooden mats
  • Clay tools


Workshop 2

In this session we worked with dyed clay to create patterns and textures in flat-rolled slabs, inspired by encaustic ceramics and the Nerikomi technique. We then cut these into shapes to create subtle patterned components for our jewellery.

Tools and materials used:

  • 5 dyed porcelain clay slabs
  • Rolling Pins
  • Wooden guide sticks for rolling even slabs
  • Shape cutters

Workshop 3

Glazing! We began the session by exploring mark-making techniques with brushes and ink, decorating labels to be used as stickers on our jewellery presentation boxes. We then used fabric paints to continue making quick, playful marks on fabric pieces, ready for the session working on the collaborative textile piece. Finally, we used a range of underglazes to decorate all the jewellery pieces we had made.

Tools and materials used:

  • Coloured inks
  • Fabric paints
  • Paint palettes
  • Underglazes in various colours
  • Brushes of various sizes

Workshop 4

 In this session we got to grips with the basic techniques of making jewellery, using tools to combine our ceramic pieces with metal findings, creating earrings, necklaces and more. We then presented our jewellery in gift boxes, finished with our previously decorated labels.

Tools and materials used:

  • Long Chain Needle Nose Pliers
  • Needle Cutting Wire Cutters
  • Cotton Cord
  • Earring fastenings
  • Clasps
  • Chain
  • Jump rings in various sizes
  • Crimp Tubes


Workshop 5

In this final workshop we turned our leftover ceramic items into textile artworks using embroidery. These individual textile pieces will be joined by Aliyah to create one large collaborative textile piece. 

Tools and materials:

  • Embroidery hoops
  • Fabric – painted in previous workshops
  • Needle
  • Threads in various colours
  • Ceramic pieces

Photography Credits: Bea Davidson


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2019 Trusts & Foundations

The National Festival Of Making Delivery Team

National Festival of Making is supported by the Arts Council England, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, Brian Mercer Trust and Foundations and Partners. This project is part-funded by the UK government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

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