Thursday, 19 March 2015

Silver nuggets

Any jewellery maker who works with silver inevitably collects lots of little scraps and trimmings. I'm talking about the 'scrim' between pressings of disks, jump rings that haven't quite worked and so on. I collect all mine in an old baccy tin and every so often I have a session of weighing, melting and polishing to make them into the silver nuggets I like to include in my work.

I weigh them on a tiny jewellers scale.....
I place them on a charcoal block and melt them with my torch.....

and then I put them in some jewellery pickle to take off the firescale.

Ok, I know they don't look very promising when they are fresh from the torch, but when cleaned they look great, very organic and nicely textured. If a shinier finish is called for a bit of sanding does the job nicely. I'm using some at the moment in a pair of earrings, here they are in the early stages, soldering done and now about to sand and refine the finish before the resin goes in.


Sunday, 15 March 2015

Clementine - a necklace under construction

Things are a bit noisy in the Jones' household this weekend. I've been cutting the sterling disks that make up the little bead caps in the chain for my ' Clementine' necklace.

The device I use for stamping out the circular shapes requires some hefty bashing with a large hammer. I tried doing it at my bench but it makes the whole house reverberate, so I make them sitting cross legged on the kitchen floor. Feels very primitive! I wanted the links to echo the design I used for the centrepiece, here is a picture of a single link section.

I had to use 3 different grades of silver solder in their construction - easy, hard and also medium in paste form to solder the jump rings.

Will spend the rest of the afternoon working on the rest of the chain, but with all that hammering I can eat a big slice of cake with afternoon tea guilt free!

Monday, 9 March 2015

Shapes and textures in silver

The Larch tree which I pass underneath on my almost daily walk to the Post Office often has cones on the ground underneath it. These are long and tightly scaled, quite unlike fir cones, and I love the shape of them. I often look up and spy magpies in the topmost branches, and the irony is not lost on me, as the Larch is supposed to be a protector against thieves according to folklore. The branches in the hedgerow near this majestic old tree are covered in lichen, making them look very interesting and gnarly. So I set out to make a piece of jewellery inspired by all this wonderful imagery and did a quick sketch first. I often like to imagine what kind of  ‘Dryad’ or tree deity might be associated with a tree or I imagine the mystical beings that protect the hedgerow plants. This it helps me to decide what form the jewellery will take. The being that inhabits this particular stretch of hedge is male to my mind's eye, so a strong design was called for. Hammering the bark texture on an anvil with a hammer was oh so therapeutic!


My latest area for experimentation in my silversmithing class has involved making slots in which to suspend a pendant and the main section on this necklace hangs from such a slot. I decided to make it asymmetrical, with a squiggle on one side and a ball soldered on the other. The final step was the chain inspired by those lichen covered branches. Tiny crystals are woven in and all my jump rings are neatly soldered, making the necklace very sturdy. I’ll need to send this off to be hallmarked at the Assay Office, as there is a fair bit of silver there. I now have my own maker’s mark which is kept in London, at Goldsmiths Hall, ready to be added together with the little leopards head and the year and silver grade mark.

The necklace below is inspired by a bowl of pot pourri, the larger chain links have been hand forged by me. I like making links – it’s a real challenge finding innovative ways to suspend pendants.