Saturday, 31 August 2013

It's the blues turn!

Just a quick post before today's student arrives for their private tuition session. I came in a little early to take some photos of a couple of pieces I finished on Thursday - including a variation on the ruby earrings I made the week before. You may remember that I posted a picture of the earrings half made on my facebook page, trying to decide on which stones to use. I went for rubies in the end, but amazonite was a popular choice too, so here they are!

I went for a drop earring design this time instead of studs, and decided to leave the silver bright rather than oxidised too. Subtle changes but they do make quite a difference. I'm really pleased with how they turned out. I love the curve in the silver - again quite a subtle thing to do but it usually is the small things that turns a design from "that's nice" to "I love that!"!

Both pairs of earrings are now on the website - amazonite here and ruby here - but if you'd like a different colour of bead then do drop me an email and let me know!

Friday, 30 August 2013

The Year's Best Beads, Findings and More!

Some exciting post arrived from across the Atlantic today! The Fall issue of Jewelry Stringing magazine includes the Beads 2013 Buyer's Guide, with (to quote the magazine's front cover) "100 of the year's best beads, findings and more" - and four of the pieces on show in the guide are mine!

There they are - in such great company too!

I entered them for consideration way back in the Spring. Each designer or business could enter up to five designs, and I was delighted when the editors asked me to send in all five of the designs that I had submitted - a copper Lovebird clasp, a daisy toggle clasp, a copper Poppy connector and matching Poppy earwires, and an Oak Leaf clasp. They didn't include the Oak Leaf clasp in the end, but I'm hoping that that one will find it's way into a project sometime. You can, of course, find all of the designs and plenty more over at  I'm in great company too - many of my friends over at Art Jewelry Elements are featured. A certain pie bead is on show for example!

I've been working away on some new designs for the Daisychain Extra shop over the summer. They're finished and lined up on my desk waiting for their turn with the camera so they will be listed in the shop Wednesday or Thursday. Wednesday hopefully, but it depends on how long the photo editing takes!

Thursday, 29 August 2013

More Bangles!

Lots of hammering and polished took place in the studio today! Some of the bangles I showed you this morning will have cups of gold or lovebirds attached to them as orders come in, so they've been left as they were for the moment, but the square wire bangles were hammered with my favourite hammer today. I estimate that each centimetre around the bangle gets about 10 hammer strokes, so considering that the bangles are hammered on the three outside faces of the wire each bangle has approximately 700 hammer strokes - give or take!

However, I've got an extra special bangle to show you now. Rebecca came for a day's tuition at the beginning of July, but the main piece that she wanted to make was for a present for her fiancé which meant that I had to keep it under wraps for a while! They got married a couple of weeks ago and are now, I hope, having a wonderful time on their honeymoon so I can now show off what Rebecca made!

Rebecca asked the jeweller who made their wedding rings to use the remaining gold (which came from a piece of family jewellery) to make a little "kiss", and came to me to make a sleek bangle to solder the kiss onto. She hadn't made any jewellery before, and worked really hard to give the bangle a beautiful finish. Often it's the pieces of jewellery that look the most simple that need the most attention. If you give your jewellery a texture you can sometimes use that texture to cover small surface imperfections or scratches - with a smooth sleek surface there's nowhere to hide!

Of course, Rebecca couldn't show her fiancé the bangle until their wedding day and knew he would ask to see what she made, so the last hour or so of the day was spent making herself the pendant and earrings below. Again, the gold in the middle of the pendant was left over from the wedding rings. I can honestly say that out of the many many pieces of jewellery my students have made over the years, Rebecca's pendant is one of my all time favourites. It started out as a simple disc of silver, but hammering has given it such a beautful shape and texture, and as liver of sulphur doesn't affect gold the patina really works wonderfully. I love it!


Lots of bangles waiting for more hammering and polishing!
 Just taking a quick break from hammering to show you one of the jobs on my list for today - lots of bangles! I think I may have mentioned once or twice before that bangles are one of my favourite pieces of jewellery to make - the one of the most visited posts on my blog is one with photos of all the steps I go through to change a length of wire into a beautiful, go-with-everything piece of jewellery.

My Maker's Mark and the traditional hallmarks
I made these bangles last week and they've just come back from hallmarking up in London. You might notice a black mark on a couple of the bangles. This is where the Assay Office put the hallmark. I like to mark where I like the hallmark to be, so a quick pen or pencil line marks the spot. Hallmarking is another of my favourite things - I'm fascinated by the history of hallmarking and proud to continue the 700 year old tradition, and of course I've got a blog post about that too!

My first group workshop of the Autumn teaches how to make a bangle. At £65 plus the cost of the material (usually £10-15) I will teach you everything you need to know about making bangles - and of course you will go home with your own beautifully made bangle as well! On NOTHS sterling silver bangles cost £75 or more - so for the cost of buying a bangle you will go home with a bangle made perfectly to fit you and all the skills you need to make more at home. A bargain when you think about it!

The Bangles workshop is on Friday 13th September, and booking is easy through the website here.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

New Jewellery Workshops

It's that time of year, when my mind turns to getting ready for the new school term, and it's a busy new school year for our family - my eldest starts Junior School, my youngest starts Preschool (how on earth did that happen?!), and moving to my wonderful new studio means that I can restart my group workshops again.

I am really looking forward to teaching my new workshop programme. I will be teaching one group workshop a month, to a maximum of 8 people at a time to make sure that everyone gets the help and attention that they need. You can take just one workshop as they each have their own project, but the more you take the more confident you will grow in your jewellery making skills and, of course, the more jewellery you will make! And as an extra incentive, if you book three separate workshops you will get the cheapest one half price.

Full details of all the workshops can be found on the website here, but briefly:

Bangles workshop – 10am-4pm Friday 13th September Learn all the traditional silversmithing techniques you need to create your own stunning sterling silver bangle, made to fit you perfectly!
Workshop fee £65, cost of materials payable on the day.

Bezel Stone Set Pendant workshop – 10am-4pm Friday 18th October Create a beautiful pendant with a bezel set cabochon stone. Workshop fee £75 includes all silver required. Cost of your choice of semi-precious stone payable on the day.

Hammered Chains workshop – 10am-4pm Friday 8th November Learn how to turn sterling silver wire into a beautiful chain and embellish it with beads. You will also be taught how to make head pins, ear wires and clasps. Workshop fee £65 including beads. Cost of silver payable on the day.

Earrings workshop – 10am-3pm Friday 13th December Learn how to cut, shape and texture sterling silver sheet and wire to make at least three pairs of stunning stud and drop earrings – perfect for yourself or for Christmas presents! Workshop fee £55. Cost of silver payable on the day.

I think that the earrings workshop in December is going to be my favourite this term. It's not that the others aren't fun to teach, and it's great seeing everyone going home with beautiful jewellery they have designed and made themselves, but I'm picturing everyone going home with little beautifully wrapped bags of equally beautiful Christmas presents in December!

By the way, if you want to come along but the dates aren't right for you, get a group of friends together (between 5 and 8 of you is ideal) and a list of dates suitable for you, send an email to and we can arrange a workshop just for you. Afterall, I can't pass up an opportunity to get more people addicted to jewellery making, can I?!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Decisions decisions.....

Today was my first day back in the studio following a few days off - we had our friends from New Zealand visiting us for a few days. We would have loved for them to have visited for a few weeks, but they were only over here for 4 weeks and had lots of other people to visit, so we were thankful for every moment that we had. Saying goodbye is always the hardest part though.

I had some admin to catch up on today, a couple of magazine deadlines to meet, a few orders to finish off and some planning to do for the small group workshops that I've got planned for this term. This was some of the planning I was doing - new stud earrings examples for the workshop coming up in December!

I posted this picture on the Facebook page earlier today, and there were votes on which of the beads to choose! I'm afraid to say that I didn't go with the majority rule, but only because some of the votes came in after I'd finished the earrings! But don't worry, I have another pair started already!

I choose beautiful rough cut faceted rubies to dangle from the bottom of these long stud earrings, and gave them a patina/oxidised them too to show off the lovely texture. The texture came from a piece of linen that I sent through the rolling mill with the silver after I'd cut the shapes out. Usually I texture a piece of silver with the mill and then cut out as rolling metal through the mill distorts the shape, but if you line up a symmetrical shape like the one I've used here carefully the shape stays symmetrical and just gets a little bit longer.

So, these workshops..... I have organised a series of monthly workshops for this term, with the plan to have more in the New Year. The full details will be on the website over the weekend but briefly, the four workshops I have planned between now and Christmas will teach how to make bangles and chains, set stones, use your scraps of silver to create stunning earrings and perfect your soldering skills. Watch this space for more information!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Today's work

At last! Some lovely pictures of lovely jewellery made by one of my lovely students that I can show you! I'm hoping that there will be some more finished pieces tomorrow as well as Brenda should finish at least one of the pieces that she's been working on in her session tomorrow.

My student today was Nicky, who came along to some of my classes at Eastleigh College a couple of years ago. She had a stone setting that she wanted to finish off and mount onto a ring, and wanted to learn how to make a bangle too - she did both of those, and made a pair of dainty stud earrings as a bonus!

New tuition dates will be on the website here in a couple of hours - sign up for the newsletter if you want to know exactly when!

Long summer days

It may have been very quiet on here recently, but our long hot summer days are very full! We're now half way through the school summer holidays and so far we've had two camping trips (one a mix of gorgeous sunshine and torrential rain, typical British summer, but still loads of fun), a trip to Legoland and a couple of other days trips out. The rest of the holiday is booked up with our friends from New Zealand visiting for a few days while they're back in the UK and trips to see T's side family. And of course two days a week I disappear off to the studio - we've all felt the benefits of me having a studio away from home this summer! Normally during the school holidays I feel pulled in all directions on work days, even though T is looking after the boys (the benefits him being a teacher!), but now I leave for work and can concentrate completely on the wonderful world of jewellery making!

I've done lots of teaching so far this summer, but I can't actually show you any of the finished pieces yet. They are either work in progress being made by some of my regular students who tend to make pieces that take more than one session, or jewellery that people have made for particular occasions, and I can't show you those yet just in case I spoil the surprise! I'm teaching again today though, so hopefully I'll be able to show you some finished pieces this evening. I can, however, show you one of the most special pieces that has been made so far in my studio. Ben spent an afternoon in here with me, as is rightly very proud of his rabbit key ring - as am I!

Talking of teaching, I will be putting new private tuition dates on the website this evening. There will be a newsletter going out as soon as the dates are up, but this is a bit of advanced warning!


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