Sunday, 27 July 2014

Petallica - A flower necklace in mixed metals

My love affair with sterling silver and copper continues. I spent this morning adding the finishing touches to 'Petallica' my new flower necklace. The centrepiece is a gorgeous foiled glass cabochon. I pierced out the flower shape myself from copper sheet, making little rounded tabs between each petal to create a prong setting for the stone. The hanging bail at the back is soldered on and is designed so that it is concealed - the flower just seems to float on top of the black necklet. I engraved subtle lines on each of the petals and gave the copper an attractive satin patina with my flexshaft tool. I then did some wirework with sterling silver, also weaving in sterling silver beads and then carefully shaping the top wire to lock them in place. Keeping the back neat is so important and I'm pleased that it looks nice on the back. I know it's hidden, but it matters. The flower is 40mm wide.


 
 
I felt it needed to be suspended from something simple and elegant to complement the black in the cabochon. Cooksons Gold do a range of superior quality rubber necklets with really beautiful sterling silver clasps - fastened by pushing and twisting the end - really secure and unusual. I find that as far as fixtures and fittings are concerned, you get what you pay for.

The same is true of tools. When I first started out I bought a cheap piercing saw on ebay for a fiver. I struggled with getting the blades in. Sitting at my bench for 10 minutes fiddling every time I needed a new blade led me to buy a Swiss made Grobet brand saw - pricy - but oh so worth it. New blade in in a jiffy and it's a joy to use. Yep - you get what you pay for as a rule.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Two new necklaces

So many things to keep even the keenest jewellery maker away from the workdesk at this time of year. We have been so busy, starting to tackle repairs and improvements that have been put off for far too long. But I'm a happier bunny now that we have chosen the wallpaper and paint for the living room. Just need to finish fixing the fencing in the back garden and then we can make a start. Soon as the inside is fixed up I will plan my little garden studio.

But I have actually completed 2 pieces and have a couple more well on the way. The copper and sterling silver shield pendant was a real learning curve for me. Several grades of solder, my very first wire rivet and some fiddly enamelling in those little circles. No less than 5 layers of enamel powder, heated and cooled between each application. What held me up was wondering how on earth to get the enamel evenly and precisely within the circles. In the end I used dentists tool to gingerly tip teeny amounts into the little circles. Any residue was carefully swept away with a small damp sable brush. I'm a lot more confident with the technique now and can't wait to make something else with enamels.


The blue crackle quartz, sterling silver and sodalite necklace is also done. How I loved every mad wire wrappy moment involved in it's creation. A piece to suit a real wild child!

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Reciting the soldering 'mantra'

I’ve got some tricky soldering to do this afternoon. I need to remember the mantra that my tutor has been drumming into me. Lucky soldering lizard sits on top of my rolling mill in my workspace watching me with his beady little eyes and reminds me that ‘’It has to be clean….. it has to join….. solder won’t flow if there’s a gap or dirt’’.  Also in the photo are the links that, combined with soldered jump rings, will join the shapes. I'm keeping these irregular, to fit in with the squiggly sterling silver in the copper leaf shapes.

 
 
 
Well these sterling silver wire squiggles are clean and fit into the copper shapes so well that they don’t fall out even without the solder, so I’m hoping the soldering will work. The only thing I may have to watch is if they ping out of place when I am heating them. I think I will use some iron binding wire to bind the copper shapes to the soldering block, then I can hold the silver squiggles in with the tweezers while I manipulate the torch with the other hand.  This piece has been inspired by memories of lovely sunny walks – many years ago, with my sister and my little nephew, then 2 years old. There was a quiet little lane at the back of our house and we’d gather blackberries amongst the brambles and twisty roots in the hedgerow. I did a painting at the time to remind me of those happy times, with Michael in his little blue dungarees with his little basket.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Ebb and Flow - necklace in progress

Wire wrapping with sterling silver wire is a lovely process. It moulds itself so beautifully to the stone. With this design I wanted to keep the wraps done with the finer wire quite loose, so I used a half hard wire as opposed to the fully annealed soft wire that I have used to create the double ended coiled sodalite links that also appear in the photo. All the while I have been manipulating the wire I have been thinking off flows and ripples - hoping that these thoughts will magically transfer themselves to the necklace!

Before I went to my silversmithing class I would probably have strung the drop on the base of the necklace on a bought headpin. Not this time though! I got out my trusty little torch and melted the sterling wire to make a nice balled end. It's a small thing that makes so much difference and ties in with the organic nature of the piece.


Monday, 23 June 2014

Sterling silver and quartz necklace

You really can’t beat a good old fashioned stay in a little seaside town. As my husband recently turned 65 we decided to head off for a nice little break in Cromer, which is on the North Norfolk coast. We stayed above our favourite pub – the Wellington – and had a wonderful time. Great to be able to slide off the bar stool and up the stairs to our nice little room. We had some lovely walks, with pit stops in Pegotty’s Tea Shop when we got tired. Oh and of course there just had to be fish and chips. Ian was subjected to a day of mooching in and out of antiques, books, jewellery shops etc. Cromer has some lovely little independent shops – I came home with a secondhand book on silversmithing and a couple of stones from the crystal shop. Normally these would be sitting around for a while looking pretty until I decided what to do with them. This blue crackle quartz just begged to be wire wrapped though, so I have put aside the shameful number of half worked projects (apologies if you are waiting for something but we craftsters are a fickle bunch!).

All of the wire in this will be sterling silver with tiny silver beads woven in and I am weaving in some blue sodalite gemstones. Sitting with peaceful happy thoughts of our recent seaside hol whilst doing the freeform wrap was a lovely way to spend the solstice.

 
 

Also on the workdesk recently have been some experimental work with collage, resin and efcolor enamel. I like working with all these things and there are several books to learn the basics. But I need them to speak with my own creative voice and this can only happen with trial and error experiments. Here is the result of my first experiment. Not for sale as it isn’t quite perfect, but I’m getting there slowly!