Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Back to the workdesk

One of the best things about a holiday is the way it makes you feel when you get back home again. I must admit, I’d got to the stage where I felt a bit tired and jaded and I hate the way that affects my creativity. I went away to Tenerife leaving several unfinished projects on my desk, some of which are going to be Christmas gifts. I love giving handmade gifts and this year I have either bought them on Folksy, or made them myself. The trudge round the shopping malls just isn’t me any more.

Anyway, we came home and as soon as I went upstairs there was my little workspace with all my tools sitting there like old friends inviting me to get going again. So I’ve finished two of the projects that are going to be gifts.

Part of the pleasure was getting out the art gear to do the illustration for the little card that will go in the ‘Moonfrost’  box.
‘Harlequin Heart’ was great fun to make. The most difficult part was because I set myself the challenge of having a completely seamless soldered ring through the hole, so that meant all the assembly had to be done before the resin went in the framework. But the extra hassle was worthwhile as the pendant has a neater finish as a result.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

A little bit of tree magic

I don't know where the summer went do you? Leaves are coming down already, and walks out with Mr J are a bit chillier, although he is bravely still sporting a pair of shorts. Last week we had a very long walk, to Maplins to pick up my shiny new ultrasonic cleaner. This will speed up things at the polishing side of things. I use an environmentally safe polish called Luxi to finish my creations and the ultrasonic cleaner will be used for removing the last traces from hard to reach places. I was pleased to find it on special offer at Maplins, and as it was a glorious sunny day we decided to do the 2 hour round trip on foot. Halfway home we decided to head into a pub. A few beers and a nice lunch later meant the ultrasonic jobbie was quite expensive after all. But we had a great afternoon!

I've been putting the finishing touches to my latest piece, inspired by a beautiful silver birch on our daily walk. I melted sterling silver on a charcoal block to make the base for the silver accent at the top of the leaf, which I cut to shape myself, from a pretty piece of shell. Visit my website at http://www.beadizzy.com/ to see more pictures of it.

I made quite a few of these melted silver pieces, some of which you can see laid in position in an oval pendant.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Water Sprite and Mulberry - my new pendants

Oh I've had such fun making these! I just let my imagination go wild and got forging, hammering and mixing jewellery resin to embed pretty shell pieces and beads. I decided to include the name in the back of 'Water Sprite' - I used several layers of jewellery resin so everything seems to float within. I'm really excited about the possibilities of combining the forged metal with the resin and it has been interesting coming up with creative ways to keep the resin within the framework in its liquid state. Mr J. urged me not to hang them from anything complicated with too many beads in and he was absolutely right. Less is more with these!

My next idea will incorporate some sterling silver and a piece of mother of pearl. I want it to have the look of lichen, or twisty tree roots. I melted loads of silver (got told off by Mr J as he found some little fragments near the teapot ooops). Melting silver on a charcoal block demands concentration. The molten metal dances about like mercury, but after a bit you get the knack of stopping the melt before the silver turns into a ball and it still has a lacy look to it. Must say I felt a bit like an alchemist. Still at the quick scribble stage as yet but I think it will be pretty and rather elfin in appearance. That's the plan anyhow.
Just booked another minibreak in Cromer. Hooray - I can go to the gemshop as it's just round the corner from the pub where we stay. Beer and beads in one weekend.... perfect!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

A new beaded garland

My 'Blooms and Berries' necklace is complete. I think the cream mother of pearl flowers are pretty in amongst the rich berry coloured beads. Finished off with brick stitched ends so that it is easy to do up and a really good quality clasp. I soldered the sterling silver ring on the other side, as it makes it extra secure.

Now my workdesk is bare and tidy - so we are off for a stroll to see what I can find in the hedgerows and wood to inspire me. After a few days of beadwork I fancy making something that involves some hammering and a torch.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

When is a button ‘not a button’?

Thinking outside the box (well the button box in this instance) can often result in some really unusual and attractive components. I had some pretty flower shaped mother of pearl buttons that were just begging me to include them in a braid. I wanted them to have a red and silver centrepiece, to fit in with the colours in my braided garland. Trouble was, the little cone bead cap slid around on top of the button way too much for my liking, so a rethink was needed. I realised I would need to drill out the centre, to allow the silver cup to sit comfortably within, so out came the flexshaft with a diamond tip, cone shaped burr attached. On went the dust mask and goggles and I got to work on them.

The great thing about the little silver cups in the centre is that they reflect the red bead that sits on top in a really subtle way. A bit like the reflector behind a light bulb. It’s a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. My next challenge with this necklace is to find some beads that mimic some pale coloured buds to go in between the blooms. I’m thinking either tiny drop shaped beads in silver or cream. Must say I do love this time of year when berries are starting to appear, but there are still flowers in the hedgerows and gardens – it always has me wanting to work on beaded garlands!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Wire wrapped leaf necklace

Well it's a typical Summer bank holiday Monday in Norfolk - cold and wet. But this is good weather to get jewellery made and I've been busy completing my 'Forest Stream' necklace. Mostly in sterling silver, with a lttle antique copper and loads of glass beads woven in. I finished the back with oval link sterling silver chain and a sterling clasp. The leaf shaped pendant is 60mm from tip to the top of bail.


Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Forest stream themed necklace

Spent this morning working out my design for a new piece called 'Forest Stream'. This will be based around a leaf shape, and will have loads of pretty beads included in the wirewrapping.

I have found some lovely beads that look like tiny mottled pebbles, as well as some glass ones in turquoise blue. I've started off by making my soldered leaf, which will be the base of my wire wrap.

Most of the wire will be sterling silver, but a little copper will go into the middle of the leaf. Here is my desk as it looks at the moment, hoping to have lunch outside if it stays sunny long enough and then spend the afternoon making a start on this new creation.


Sunday, 17 August 2014

When wirework meets bead embroidery

Anyone who is familiar with my work will know how much I love colour and texture. This latest piece combines forged metal shapes with wirewrapping, in order to achieve a rich tapestry of colour, form and texture. It's surprising how much sterling silver wire goes into making a piece like this! Just as well I bit the bullet and bought a big reel of it!


Friday, 8 August 2014

Venetian Dreams - a new wire wrapped necklace

They say that a picture paints a thousand words and I find that is true of jewellery making too. I'm constantly surprised by the many ways that you can express your ideas and feelings by making a wearable work of art. These shapes were originally made for something completely different - and it firmly took on a life of it's own after looking at pictures of Venice - in particular masks and gondolas. I decided to listen to my intuition and go off in this new direction. The shapes in copper with sterling silver soldered inside them provided the base onto which I am wrapping copper and sterling silver. Figure of eight shapes made from sterling will go in between. I have some very nice oval sterling belcher chain to finish the back with a sterling clasp. Here it is in the very early stages of the wrap.


Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Queen of hearts and kingfishers

Inspiration for my latest necklace came from a pack of cards. Some tricky piercing with a jewellery saw and some nifty wirework stretched my skills. The clasp was designed after looking at the curled formal wigs on the deck of cards. Originally the topmost shapes on either side were plain, but after I completed the necklace, I realised they needed to have a  tiny hearts pierced out, and it was worth the extra step as it reflects the designs on the playing cards nicely. Once the necklace was constructed I added the antique patina, polished it and buffed it with Renaissance Wax to seal and protect the finish.


A lovely Sunday pootling about the Norfolk Broads on my brother’s boat has left my jewellery making brain buzzing with ideas. Relaxing on a heap of cushions with a glass of bubbly watching lovely scenery slowly drift by was a lovely decadent way to spend the day – thanks bro! I took some great photos of windmills and the ruins of St Benets Abbey.
I’m left with fleeting impressions of jewel like kingfishers, dragonflies, and later on as we sailed back into the sunset, tiny silvery fish plopping out of the water. I need to make something inspired by all these things so I have selected this piece of handmade dichroic glass. This will be a bead embroidered piece.

As well as having the textures of rippling water it has the iridescent colours of a kingfishers plumage. I will also include some abalone shell in lustred silver and blue shades to symbolise the tiny leaping fish. Next step is to sketch out a design.

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!

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.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

A garland for a May Queen

A sure sign that summer has arrived is when Ronaldo the hot chestnut seller in London Street swaps his stand for  his ice cream cart – see my sketch below.

Talking of carts…. I now have one of my own, to wheel to my silversmithing class. It was getting to be such hard work carrying everything in on a Tuesday that I decided that this particular Boudicca needed a chariot. At least it’s a plain black jobbie – I drew the line at a tartan one! It caused much teasing from husband but my back will thank me in the weeks to come.

Decided to have a few days break from my bluebell embroidered necklace to make a beaded garland.

I just had to put in these fabulous metal flowers, I have given some pink centres and some have blue ones. Ordered some really lovely quality clasps from Cooksons – 13mm long sterling silver and then made my own sterling silver rings which I hammered to work harden them. It gave the garland a lovely quality finish. To see more photos and a description visit my website at: www.beadizzy.com

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

When beadwork takes on a life of it's own

I love it when a piece of jewellery takes on a life of it's own. It almost tells you how it wants to be made. It certainly seems to have been the case with this one. I'm loving the little curlicues at the base and I'm fully engrossed in encrusting it with glass flowers, pretty beads in greens and blues and some crystals. I'll wait until the end before I decide if I will add dangles to the bottom of the pendant.