Thursday, 10 March 2011

Bracelet - Rainbow with silver helm chain

The other day I was playing with the idea of making a helm chain bracelet with a lampwork bead as the centrepiece.

I was looking around various sources I have for lampwork beads and couldn't really find what I was looking for to finish the bracelet.

So I spent some time on Twitter looking for new people to follow and I found Jane Hamill's account (@Jane_Hamill) and through that her Etsy shop - and I fell in love with the colours and shape of this bead - so I bought it!

This is what I produced as a finished item and I really love the way it looks and wears.

Until next time

Monday, 14 February 2011

Attempt 1 at piercing silver

In case you don't know, piercing metal involves cutting holes into a solid piece of metal using a drill (to make the initial starting hole) and an adjustable saw to cut out the bits of metal not wanted.

I've been wanting to try this for a while and a couple of months ago I ordered two pieces of 1 mm thick sheet silver. The two pieces weren't very large in the other two dimensions - 2.5 cm by 5 cm in fact. I felt these were large enough to give me space to work in, but small enough to make reasonable sized pendants and would not be daunting to work with.

Then, as usual, I couldn't think what to do with them.

Then the UK Jewellers Collective (or the Lars and Ingrid) forum poppped up with a "spring themed charm swap" idea.

So I cut one of the pieces of silver down into a square (mostly square at least). Stuck a sticky label on top of the blue plastic protective film (it arrives wearing the protective film to prevent damage before I get started on it) and then I drew a slightly abstract tulip flower on to the label.

I then drilled 4 holes into the bit of silver sheet. This involved using masking tape to bind the piece of silver to a wooden batten (an old bit of clean wood) and then clamping the batton into a vice. Then using a drill bit that was probably rather too big at 2.5 mm, I used my little hand drill to drill the holes through the silver. I tried to stop before too much of the wood was drilled, but that didn't always work.

Then I took off all the masking tape, and the sticky label, and the pieces of blue protective film from both sides of the silver and then the finishing work started.

(Next time I'm going to take some "work in progress" photos as it'll be easier to explain I think).

Finishing a piece of piercing involves the use of small files (trying to get the edges inside the cuts to look nice - that's still a work in progress on this piece) and micro mesh to get rid of scratches on the surface of the silver.

Anyway, with more finshing work to be done (as you'll see) here is the piece in it's current state:

Because I'm still learning the "art of finishing" a piece of silver like this, I've decided not to use it as my charm to swap in the forum's current swap session - I really don't think it's good enough. Instead I am making something involving beads and wire which I'm much more comfortable with.

In the meantime I plan to finish this charm for my own pleasure and wear as soon as I can.
Until next time, when I'll hopefully have done some more finishing on this piece


Saturday, 12 February 2011

Lots to tell you today

Having not posted anything for a few weeks, I now find that I have a lot to tell you.

I had some time off work this week so on Monday I visited the British Museum and I took some photos of some jewellery that was made using lapis lazuli, carnelian and gold - Mesopotamia 6000 - 1500 BC was the room I took the photos in. Here are a few of the photos - the ones that came out in focus that is.

Sorry about the reflections etc - but hey, ho, that's what happens when taking photos of jewellery inside glass cases.

On Sunday I  had spent time at the NEC in Birmingham at the Spring Fair, mainly in hall 19 where the jewellery sellers were. I picked up some lapis lazuli and carnelian beads - so I have plans now that I've seen the museum items. Here are some of the beads I bought at the Spring Fair.

I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to make but I'll let you see it when I'm done.

Until next time


Sunday, 30 January 2011

Trying to make posters!

I'm trying to design posters to advertise my website and the jewellery I make - and it isn't going well!

I guess this just proves that my design skills are definitely jewellery oriented, and not so able in the "poster design" area.

I've managed to decide that the posters need the company name (fairly obvious) and the website address (again, fairly obvious) and I've decided the best way to draw attention is to put photos of some of the jewellery on it.

But that's really as far as my "design" skills manage for this particular task anyway.

Attempt one I thought was quite good until I printed it out as an A4 poster and found that the captions I'd put on the photos cannot be read! If it was an A3 poster they would probably be readable - just.

Here's a scanned image of try 1 - it's worth a laugh anyway. It was printed in draft quality so the image isn't great - sorry about that.

Poster try 1

Ah well, on to try two - 'cos being me - in photoshop I had "merged" the captions down into the photos so therefore cannot change them in any way!

So, try 2 - better, much better in that the captions on the photos are readable - but now I'm not sure I'm even going about the right kind of thing. Here's try 2.

Poster try 2
One thing I am happy about on try 2 is that at least the captions on the photos are readable - whether they make sense and are good I don't know.

Tomorrow at work (the day job) I'll get opinions on the 2 I've done so far. But I think it's going to be back to the drawing board.

Until next time

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Sore fingers - but worth it.

So far my idea of doing something jewellery related each week is working - that's 2 weeks in a row that I've done something! Hopefully I can keep this up but we'll see.

Last Thursday I was thinking about the fact that everything I've made recently has involved beads - so colour choices for what to wear to work mean I can't always wear a particular piece of jewellery. I was also unhappy with the fact that nearly all the earrings I have made recently have been of the "long and dangly" variety - great for evenings out but they do get caught up between jacket collars and scarves in cold weather! I kept having to take one pair off everytime I put my coat on, and that got boring quickly. So, what this all leads to is, I decided to make myself a simple set of silver earrings for everyday wear.

Now what to make??? I've been toying with various chain maille designs for a while now, but something I've not really used is "flowers" - this is a set of 3 jump rings of the same size linked together and then laid on top of each other to create a flower as shown in this earring:

Flower earring
Having made the pair of simple silver earrings I wanted I was happy, at least for 24 hours or so.

On Saturday morning I was watching TV and my fingers started twitching - some might see that as a sign of madness or something, but I decided it was time to do some jewellery making.

So I spent a little while making 3 larger jump rings of 3 varying thicknesses of sterling silver wire - I had this idea of binding them together and using them as a pendant - but it kept falling apart. At that point I gave up for the day, it obviously wasn't to be. But I've kept the rings in case I can use them later - waste not, want not as they say.

On Sunday I was having a similar problem - couldn't really settle to anything, so I decided to have another go at a necklace. This time I decided to stick with the "flower" design I'd used for the earrings. Time to make a necklace to match the earrings already produced.

I decided to try different sizes of jump rings for the flowers - I have a set of mandrels with multiple sized sections so finding things to wind the wire around was not a problem. So the largest rings had a 10 mm inner diameter, then I just worked my way along the largest mandrel so the rings are 10 mm, 9 mm, 8 mm, 7 mm and 6 mm from that mandrel. I then decided I wanted one more size down, so the second mandrel was used to make some 5 mm inner diameter rings.

I formed the flowers one at a time - one in the 10 mm size and two each of the other sizes of rings.

Then I started linking the rings together. At first I was going to use small rings with an inner diameter of 2.92 mm - then I realised that you can't get 3 pieces of 1 mm thick wire in a 2.92 mm space - it doesn't work!

So I picked up the left over 3.25 mm rings I've been trying to find a use for. And they worked a treat. Originally I started linking the flowers together directly - but then decided I wanted more space between them, so used 3 smaller rings instead of one.

This is what it turned out like - and I'm really pleased with it.

Graduated flower necklace and earrings
Admittedly my fingers were sore after making this - holding the spirals of wire while you saw through the rings with a jewellery saw does tend to make your fingers numb after a while, but it was so worth it!

Bye for now

Friday, 14 January 2011

Inspired by Egypt

I've always loved Egyptian things - the pyramids, the temples, the art work and as you'd expect, the jewellery.

I visited Egypt itself a number of years ago and thoroughly enjoyed visiting the places I'd only seen on TV or read about. At the time I had no interest in making jewellery so was not bothered by not visiting the Cairo museum or any other location at which the ancient jewellery could be viewed.

But since I started making my own jewellery I've been toying with the idea of making something based on Egyptian designs. I knew I wanted to involve carnelian (my favourite stone) and something dark blue like lapis lazuli but didn't really know what I wanted to do.

Cornelian (or carnelian) drops
Recently I was at a jewellery exhibition and there were some stalls selling beads - one of them had faceted carnelian drops and dark blue tube beads labelled as "lapis" - so I bought them, a design was brewing at the back of my mind.

"Lapis" tubes
I carefully took my prizes home and my brain continued to work on what to do with them.

After a couple of false starts I sketched up a design for a necklace I liked (sorry, forgotten to scan the sketch or I'd show it to you now).

But then I stopped doing anything to do with jewellery making for a while - a combination of "winter blues" and lack of inspiration I think.

Anyway, with Christmas over with I was determined to get back to making jewellery again. So I sat down with the design for these beads and put the drops on to sterling silver wire with loops. Then it all sat around for another couple of weeks.

A couple of days ago I was fed up of having accomplished nothing recently so made the concerted effort to move on with this piece of work. And I managed to finish the necklace that night (it just proves what I bit of will power will accomplish), so I made matching earrings.

Sorry that the photo isn't the best one I've ever taken but you can see the important bits in it. So this is what I created.

"Inspired by Eqypt" necklace and earrings
Today I am wearing the set around the office, need to check that it isn't going to fall apart, and making sure that it has no "rough" bits. So far it's a success.

I'm hoping that I can create something jewellery related each week of the rest of 2011, even if only some findings to use later (ear wires, s-clasps, jump rings, etc). And I hope to be a bit more creative with my own designs this year rather than only copying other peoples designs. Guess I'll see how it goes.

Bye for now