Thursday, 24 March 2016

Passionflower Necklace

I love Easter. Hot cross buns, chocolate, the feeling of renewal and a long weekend to spend with loved ones. Wanting to make a piece with a floral feeling I was reminded of the beautiful passionflower my grandparents had in their garden.


Experimenting with wirework

Big deep blue blooms with pink on the inside and yellow centres. I'm experimenting with some copper wire and beads first of all. Then when I've worked out how to construct a bloom I'll change over to sterling silver. Not sure at this stage what I will make with the flowers but as the passion flower is a type of climbing vine I will be making a garland style piece. I'm thinking the deep blue, pink and yellow will be a pretty colour combination with the sterling silver wirework. A lovely way to spend Easter weekend - when I'm not nibbling the chocolates!

Monday, 21 March 2016

I've got maille!

Finally managed to track down some beautiful solid copper carabiner clasps. These fit in so beautifully with copper wire woven jewellery and take the patina the same way the wire does - unlike plated clasps. Mark and Stephanie at 'BeadAddict' have some wonderful bare copper findings, as well as a treasure trove of other lovely things for the jewellery maker. I could happily spend hours browsing the treasures on their website.

'Mahogany Flame'

There were some interesting challenges with this piece, involving some of the construction techniques I had learned in silversmith classes. I wanted the pendant section to have some movement to it, so I cut a tiny length of copper tubing and threaded it onto the wire that the bail sits on. This means it can swing and enables it to sit well on the neck, the tube also adds strength beneath the woven bail. Nobody will ever see it, but it's the little touches that add quality to handcrafted pieces.

I do enjoy the engineering part of jewellery making. Its one of those things you seem to get better at the more you do. There's another first for me in this design - my very first foray into the challenging world of chainmaille. It's amazing what you can do with a little heap of jump rings and some nifty moves with the pliers. OK, I know they are only little rosette links, but it's a start!

Sunday, 13 March 2016

The hare and tortoise approach for wirework

I love it when a piece gets to this stage. After feeling 'in flow' as it were and progressing quickly a little pause is in order, both to take stock of where I want to take the chain, and to pay some careful attention to the finish of the main section. I tend to use pieces of wire that are no longer than a foot or so at a time, as working wire hardens it. When it gets too stiff I cut it and carefully finish the ends using a flexshaft fitted with a little cup shaped burr. This rounds the end of the wire. Then I tuck the end away flush to the wrap with pliers. We don't want scratchy jewellery!

'Mahogany Flame' necklace in progress

I have a plan for the chain section that involves more wirewrapped beads, hematite and coral, so the whole piece should look unified when done, and nicely encrusted and textural when the copper wire is antiqued and the highlights polished up.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Diverted by dichroic glass

Having a good tidy up after having finished my last piece I came across this beautiful piece of dichroic glass. It just begged to be made into a pendant, the colour just seems perfect with some small ethically sourced coral beads that I bought recently. Some larger beads in glossy dark grey and black will be wrapped into the design. I knew straight away that I wanted to use the copper wire across the cabochon to accentuate the colour divisions. Did a quick sketch and then grabbed the wire and made the first loop. That's almost the hardest bit and I try not to procrastinate over it. Every other move I make with the wire evolves from that first little curl. Now the cabochon is securely held and I can move on to the beads and wrap them in with 0.6mm wire. The second photo shows the first large bead dropped into the wire ready to be woven onto the framework.

I will cut some tiny bead caps from copper to put at the ends of the oval beads in the chain. I have a tiny dapping block and punches so I can make my own dome shapes from sheet copper. 

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Keeping true to my original sketch

My latest piece is complete. When I look back to my initial drawings and notes I am pleased that I have kept true to my original vision. Obviously there are happy accidents along the way, small adjustments to make and problems to solve as work progresses - this is all part of the fun of making a freeform piece. The last elements to go on were the petal shaped shell pieces in deep magenta. I had left little voids in the wirework to sit them snugly into. Once they went in the whole piece looked quite spring-like.

What next? I rather fancy making a wire wrap cuff bracelet, as I'm keen to expand my range to include those as well as the necklaces.