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!

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Roll out the barrels!

I'd been so preoccupied with all the various family disasters that seem to have happened recently that my birthday crept up on me without me thinking much about it. My lovely husband took me out for the day though and made it really special. He treated me to a lovely book on setting gemstones and we had walk and a drink by the river followed by a meal and another few drinks! Lovely - and as Monday was needed to gently recover I got to put my feet up with the book - something I haven't seemed to find time for in ages.

Have just been playing with yet another new piece of kit that I have just acquired - a barrel tumbling machine complete with compounds for finishing jewellery. Basically you just load your jewellery in the rubber barrel with the mediums, switch it on and it does the polishing and work hardening whilst you are free for other things. We have one in class and it really is a great piece of kit.

'Bluebell' is done and very pretty now that I have added the final tiny size 15 beads around the cabochon and added a lovely sterling silver clasp. I think it captures the feel of a bluebell wood quite nicely and the curlicues of wire were a great way to refer to the curly ends of the petals.


Just starting out on my first experiments with enamel and resin, my desire to have colour in my metalwork is leading me in this direction. Here is a rough sketch of my next piece with the metal roughly cut.

Next stage is annealing and hammering some texture before I get busy with the soldering torch. It's all go. I've got a nice crème brulee in the fridge so that if I get peckish I can use the little torch to melt the sugar topping. Yum!

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Back to the beads again

It’s been rather a horrible month and jewellery making has been on hold for a bit. My sister-in-law Viv had been ill for some time and after a short stay in a hospice sadly passed away at the end of April aged just 62. So we have been  to North Wales for the funeral and to see the family, rather a contrast to all the other visits we have made for get-togethers and weddings. However, the weather was gorgeous on the day and the  ‘do’ afterwards at the Cricket Club in Llandudno was not as sad as you might think. After coming home on Wednesday I came down with a sore throat and a cold and just wanted to sleep. A reaction to all the travelling and the strain of the occasion I expect.

Now things are just starting to feel better again and the beads are impatient to get going. I missed my silversmithing class as we were away on Tuesday, so I am looking forward to it this week. My silver and copper pendant needs just one more session before it is done. I have 2 more little silver shapes to saw and solder, a sterling silver chain and clasp to attach and coloured Efcolor enamel to put in the 4 circular shapes and then heat in a special little low temperature 'kiln' at 150 ⁰ C. As well as honing my soldering skills it has enabled me to do my very first cold connection in the form of a silver wire rivet which attaches the bail. I found  this wasn’t as daunting as I thought it would be and is a useful skill to have learned.
The bluebell inspired beadwork necklace has also seen some progress and I am working up the strap. I plan to make 3 beaded beads on each side and these will be interspersed with shortish sections of stringing worked on the strands of special Beadalon wire that you can see protruding.