Saturday, 25 September 2010

Finished fine silver charms and chain maille

Finished fine silver charms

The last post talked about the fine silver charms I was making from moulds of buttons and I said I'd post a photo of the finished, polished charms, so here they are after they've been tumbled:

Finished charms
I'm rather pleased with the way the charms turned out, although if you look closely enough, you'll probably spot the finger prints!

Weekends and chain maille

The last couple of weekends I've found time and inclination to saw jump rings and make chain maille.

Last weekend I used 0.8 mm sterling silver wire to make 144 jump ringswith an inner diameter of 4 mm - I wanted to try the Half Persian 3 in 1 chain maille weave. It took me a couple of hours to make the jump rings, but that's what films on DVD are for.

Once I'd made the jump rings I turned my hand to the weave and made a bracelet that ended up 7.5" or 19 cm long and used up 90 of the jump rings I'd made. I finished the bracelet with one of my s-clasps and 2 larger rings made from 1.5 mm wire with an inner diameter of 4.5 mm. The larger rings were attached to the bracelet using 4 jump rings made from 0.8 mm wire but this time with a 3 mm inner diameter.

So, here is the finished piece:

Sterling silver half persian 3 in 1 bracelet
Today I made some more 0.8 mm jump rings with a 4 mm inner diameter - then I used the ones I made last week with the new batch and made a Full Persian weave bracelet.

This bracelet is 7.25" or 18 cm long and contains 176 of the 4 mm jump rings I made last week and today. It is slightly shorter than the length I prefer for a bracelet but since I've used up all my 0.8 mm sterling silver wire it will have to do. It does fasten around my wrist but there is not a lot of space so it doesn't drape well. I finished it off for now to see if it would fit my wrist and to see how it would look. So I used my usual s-clasp, 1.5 mm rings of 4.5 mm inner diameter and a couple of the smaller 3 mm 0.8 mm rings to hold the larger loops to the weave and allow the s-clasp and larger rings to lie on the same alignment (it makes it easier to close and lies more comfortably against the skin). So here's a photo:
Full Persian bracelet
Until I buy more sterling silver 0.8 mm wire (and 1 mm wire as I've finished that too) I can't make any more sterling silver chain maille items. So maybe I'll concentrate on something else.

More likely, I'll buy more wire when pay day arrives.

Until another time

Friday, 24 September 2010

Finally made fine silver charms from button moulds

I few posts back I showed pictures of some buttons and the moulds I had taken from them to be able to make fine silver charms from using precious metal clay (PMC).

Last night I finally got around to making the charms. And this morning I fired them using my gas hob - a smelly job as the binder in the PMC burnt off but at least its finally done.

Here's a photo of the moulds with the unfired clay charms:

Moulds with unfired charms
 I then used a pair of tiny drill bits to drill a hole in each charm, the smaller bit first and then a slightly larger bit to widen the hole. Later I will put jump rings through these holes so that the charms can be hung on bracelets or necklaces.

After firing, PMC has been changed to fine silver but it is covered with a white crust that needs to be removed to be able to see the silver, in the photo below, the fish charm in the top right corner has been cleaned with a wire brush and water to remove the white crust. The other 3 charms have not yet been cleaned.

Fired charms
Tonight I will clean the last 3 charms of the crust and then tumble them with steel shapes to polish them further. I'll post a photo of the polished charms next time.

Until next time

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Website development

Last December I bought myself two domain names. and

The intention was that within a few months of buying the domains I would have a website that show cases my jewellery up and running on the Web.

At that point I wasn't thinking in terms of selling the jewellery I put up photos of, but more of just having a place on the web where I could sent friends etc to see that kind of thing I make and what I'd been doing with my spare time recently. It would be a lot easier to put up a site of photos than lug the box of finished items around with me when visiting - especially given the weight involved - or at least, that's what I thought.

When I mentioned my plans to friends, more than one of them said "what's the point of the site then, you should be putting prices up in case people are interested". Which complicated the whole process of course 'cos it meant I had to find a way of quickly pricing everything I make so that I have a "reasonable" price on them.

So first, I made a spreadsheet of the list of things I'd made and started trying to put calculations in to generate the prices. This was slow work as such actions are not something I'm particularly good at. But I had some prices.

So I started building a website from scratch. In theory, the day job (computer programmer using Visual Studio 2008 and building browser based applications) would help enormously.

Of course, what really happened was I quickly found that my short period of exposure to Visual Studio etc (about 2 months at that point) really did not provide me with enough knowledge of basic HTML to create a page with photos on it.

I turned to a friend for help - luckily for me, he's patient enough to repeat answers to questions even when I've asked them multiple times over various days and to read the pages I put together.

With his help, the site has grown from a single page to a set of 8 pages including terms and conditions as well as the jewellery photos. All the sterling silver items shown on the site have a price attached and each description comes with a "contact me" button so people can email me if they wish.

The photos on the site are (in my opinion) not bad considering that photography is not one of my talents. The friend who helped with the website is a keen photographer (understatement really) who has helped me learn so much more about taking a photo than I ever thought I'd know, and introduced me to functions on my camera I've never heard of before, let alone used!

It was the same friend who looked over my shoulder at my pricing spreadsheet and started asking questions that started with the words "why don't you...." - at which point I gratefully asked for his help and the resulting pricing spreadsheet was born. A spreadsheet into which I type a few simple pieces of information, e.g. how long it took to make, how many of each size and material of jump ring was involved and a few other bits. And then the spreadsheet produces me either a trade or retail price depending on my input. It makes my life so much simpler now when it comes to pricing everything even if I do have to keep it all up to date myself.

Anyway, the point of this blog post is, that 9 months after I bought my two domain names I am on the verge of uploading my first ever website. I'm currently waiting until on/after 1st October to organise a company to host the site - that way the relevant monthly direct debit payments are due shortly after pay day from the day job so I can afford to pay it.

So, hopefully in the next week or two I'll be able to announce the launch of my site. Here is a glimpse of the home page I'll be loading up.

Screen print of my home page
Then the hard work of getting it known by search engines starts, which will be a whole new learning curve.

Until next time

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Round maille bracelet

Over the last few months I've tried a few different chain maille weaves - out of curiosity to see how they work and if I can do them.

I couple of months ago I started a section of Round Maille - this is a "tube" of linked rings made from 1 mm sterling silver wire where the rings have an inner diameter (ID) of 3 mm. It was fun to do and grew quite fast as there are only 3 rings in each "round" of the tube - but it takes a lot of rings. In fact, I didn't have enough rings to finish a bracelet at the time so I put it aside for a while.

Then I made some more 3 mm ID rings and finished the bracelet. It's a lot chunkier than I expected it to be and I had a problem figuring out how to attach a clasp to the end of the tube until I asked for help on a forum and was given some help.

Round maille bracelet
This bracelet contains 307 individual 3 mm ID rings. It seems to be a much more "masculine" bracelet than the other ones I have made so far, just because it is much thicker and a lot less flexible than the byzantine or helm chain weaves made with the same thickness of wire.

I'm planning on making another round maille bracelet soon, but this time I'm going to use 0.8 mm wire and the rings will have an inner diameter of 2.75 mm - this should produce a narrower, less chunky, bracelet which may be more suitable for a women to wear.

Until another time

Monday, 6 September 2010

Changing my mind - maybe

In the last post I showed you the lamp work bead I had bought that reminded me of a framed seaside sunset.

I showed photos of the piece on a forum, and one of the members commented that it made her think of a window into another universe showing the swirls of gas clouds! And when I look at the bead again I can see exactly what she means.
Seaside sunset or View on a universe?
Of course, people always talk about how an image can seem different to different viewers and I guess this is a case in point. I see it now as both a seaside sunset (one of my favourite scenes) but also as an amazing view of a galaxy similar to some of the amazing pictures that are produced from the images that the Hubble telescope and others take.

Whether it is ultimately a sunset or a galaxy will be up to the person who finally owns this piece. If different people own it over time, then what it shows may also change over time. Isn't the human mind amazing too!

Until later

Friday, 3 September 2010

Seaside sunset in a lampwork bead

Recently I bought some lampwork beads from Annalyse Taylor who is one of my favourite bead makers. There were 7 beads in the group but all were different.

One of the beads looked to me as if it had a framed picture of a seaside sunset in it so I decided to try and mirror the "framing" using silver wire. This is side 1 the result which is currently hanging from a simple silver belcher chain. What do you think?

Side 1
 And this is side 2, they are a bit different.
Side 2
I'm pleased with the way the silver frame worked out even it is a bit more rustic than my mental picture was.

Bye for now

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Can't decide what to do

I'm having a period of time where I have lots of ideas in mind for things to make - I just can't decide what to do first!

I'm glad that I've got a lot of ideas going, but just wish I could settle to something.

Last night I got really fed up with myself and made myself sit down and do one thing, so I thought I'd tell you about it.

Moulding compound
The first task was to use some two part moulding compound to make moulds of 3 buttons I bought while I was away on holiday. The idea of making moulds from buttons was given to me by the wonderful Nic of Murano Silver with whom I have done one course on using Precious Metal Clay (PMC) and I can't wait for the next course I have booked with her in October this year. The moulding compound I use comes in 2 parts, as you can see from the pots in the photo, I don't have much left of these pots.

You take equal amount of each of the compounds and using your fingers work the two pieces of compound together until you end up with a light blue mixture. While the compound is still soft (and it doesn't stay that way for more than a few minutes) you press a button (or other object you want an impression of) into the compound and then leave it to set. I learnt recently that you can keep working the compound in your fingers, but when it's ready to set it will set - I overworked a piece because it was just so squidgy and fun to play with, at least until it turn rock solid between my fingers and had to go in the bin.

This is my favourite of the buttons that I wanted to mould and the mould that I made from it last night.
Heart button and mould
And here is a picture of all the moulds I have made recently.
Moulds of buttons
Once I get my act together I will use some PMC that I have already bought and use the moulds to make fine silver charms. PMC (or ArtClay) can be used to "sculpt" items in a way similar to clay and then when they are fired (in a kiln, with a torch or on a gas hob) the "binder" that they contain burns off and leaves behind a solid fine silver item. The moulds can be used many times so here is one of my favourite buttons with it's mould.
Swirl button and mould
And here are the 3 pieces I have made (so far) based on the button's mould.
Swirl button and moulded charms

On one of the charms above I remembered to drill a hole for a jump ring to be threaded through before I fired the piece on the gas hob (I don't own a kiln, although I'd really like one!) for the other two I forgot to drill a hole so will need to find another way to attach them to chains. The charm in the lower left of the photo has had a small cubic zirconia gem set into it - although the gem isn't very straight unfortunately. As you can see from the photo above the final charms are smaller in size than the original button, this is because when the binder burns off the piece shrinks slightly in size.

Until another time