Tag Archives: eBay

A Very Happy Customer!

We’re big lovers of nature and finding things when we are out and about here at Spiny Sharkly Things, and a particular favourite haunt is the beach at Llantwit Major, in South Wales.  It’s a fabulous stony beach with a very sharply defined set of dinosaur footprints in some petrified mud flats, and there are many other fossils to be found – from ammonites embedded in rocks the size of a VW Beetle to more manageable fragments of dinosaur bone, shellfish and plants.  I regularly go down there with my husband and eight year old son to just mooch about – “fossicking” as we call it in these parts.

It was on one of these outings that I found this lovely nugget of seaglass – it just glinted at me from amongst the pebbles, so I just had to pick it up.  I gathered a fair bit of driftwood that day too, and when I was back home and rechained to the kitchen sink, I decided to create a ring inspired by the finds of the day.  This was back in the days when my workshop had to double up as  kitchen (or was it the other way around?) and I was only using precious metal clay instead of the sterling bullion that I work with mostly now (in the shed).  I love the way the clay can be easily textured, and until I get a rolling mill, it’s the only way I can get texture into silver that isn’t hammered.  I took a mould of an especially nice piece of driftwood, and made the ring shank from that.  It oxidised beautifully in the liver of sulphur and really gives the feeling of the wood on which in is based.  In my opinion, a perfect combination, and I was really pleased with the final result.

It’s been languishing on eBay for a few months, but that never fazes me, all our creations are individual, unique, and just waiting for the right person to stumble across it and fall in love…  I’ve not been silversmithing for all that long, not even a year yet but I really think I’ve discovered my vocation in life.  I just love working the metal, it whatever form it takes, and what craft gives you chance to hit things with big hammers as well as twiddle about with fine details and create something beautiful, wearable and above all, SHINY!  So everything I make has a lot of myself put into it on the blood, sweat and occasionally tears front (often quite literally!), and it’s usually quite a wrench to let something go.  I’m always happy when they go to a loving home!

As my regular readers will already know, I have just registered with the London Assay Office so I can get my jewellery properly hallmarked, and this ring went off to be verified and stamped a couple of weeks ago.  Sod’s law struck, of course, and I had an alert come through on my phone that the ring had been sold to a lady in Canada…  Cathy had already been in touch to arrange International shipping and so forth, and explained that she had Welsh ancestry, and she had relatives an many parts of Wales, so wanted something Welsh!  After explaining that it would take a week or so before I got it back from London, and all was fine, the ring was sent across the Atlantic to Ontario.

I just wanted to share this lovely message I received yesterday from Cathy…

Hi Melanie, I wanted to tell you how amazingly beautiful this ring is! I’ve been wearing it since it arrived and it’s incredible — when the light hits it, there is an inner light that shines like a tiny beacon and is wonderful to behold! Also, the surface markings and crenellations are so exquisitely intricate, it’s great to observe how it responds to all light patterns! I’m so thrilled with it and it’s especially dear, because it’s Welsh — Diolch yn Fawr! I used to know quite a bit of Welsh, but most of it has slipped away with the passing of time — my Mother-in-law is a native Welsh speaker and used to be a teacher, so hers is still beautifully perfect. Thanks again for all your help and I do hope that you’re having a wonderful evening. Cathy

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That will do nicely 😉

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Wrangling eBay

Yet another day of laptop bashing, I am very tempted to put the damn thing on the anvil and hit it hard with a hammer now.  eBay is still being annoying, making you sign in again at every move – and if you have a super-secure and complicated password like I do, this is proving to be a monumental pain in the arse.  I’ve finally come up with a design for our eBay shop banner that both Beardy and I can agree on, the main bone of contention seemed to be his opinion that there is such a thing as too much purple.  Humph.

Click here to visit my eBay shop! Although there's more on Etsy, cos it's behaving itself :-)

Progress is slow… but progressing! With any luck, webgods permitting, I might actually be able to get on with some real life creativity that produces actual THINGS.  Watch this space…


Discovering Silver

Being a crafter for more years than I care to recall, and a magpie to boot, it was only a matter of time before I turned my hand to making jewellery. I just never really got round to starting, except for a day’s silversmithing that I did with some close friends in lieu of a hen night three years ago. We learned a little about wirework, making balls and some simple soldering, and I made a pretty ring and a slightly less elegant pair of earrings!

I was adopted as a young baby, and recently got in touch with my bio-mum, Pauline.  Turns out all my crafty tendencies were inherited (who knew there was a gene for that???), as well as most of my other traits, and we’ve been getting on like a house on fire.  We thought it would be nice to go away for a mother-daughter weekend, to get to know each other a bit better, and booked a course in precious metal clay at Zantium Crafts in Derbyshire for February this year.  Precious metal clay (pmc) is basically very fine silver particles mixed with water and an organic binder which you mould and shape like any other clay, than fire it at very high temperatures to burn away the binder giving you solid silver.

It seemed like a great idea to do a course in a craft neither of us had tried before, but neither of us could wait until the February and we were both kitted out and producing silver by Christmas! Mirror, mirror on the wall, I am my mother after all…  Still, lots of the rellies had handmade silver jewellery for Christmas, so it all worked out.

The course itself was great, taught by the lovely Xuella Arnold.  We both learned a lot, drank a lot and laughed a lot.  Mum showed a real talent for making leaves and birds, while I had fun making bugs.  We met some very interesting people and bounced lots of ideas around the studio.

I actually found it quite hard working in a big open studio with other people watching me and coming to see what I was doing.  Quite a few of my projects broke apart after firing in the kiln, which was so frustrating, convinced it wasn’t firing hot enough, I repaired them and refired using a blowtorch.  That seemed to do the trick, and has really put me off using a kiln.  I definitely work better without trying to have a conversation at the same time.  Luckily Mum and me can work in virtual silence together.  My studio until recently has been the breakfast bar in my kitchen, and my firing and soldering was done with a blowtorch on the cooker!  My husband got a bit fed up with scorch marks on the worktop and swarf in his coffee, so now I work in a shed.  Maybe I’ll get a kitchen revamp now I’ve ruined this one 😉

Since the tsunami in Japan in the spring, prices of pmc have doubled, so I’m spending more and more of my time working with traditional silversmithing techniques, with both silver and copper.  I love using a wide range of stones, from locally found sea glass to stunning black opals, via big sparkly CZs and semi precious amethysts, labradorites and moonstones. Mum and me, with our friend Sally formed Spiny Sharkly Things as a collective to showcase and sell our designs.  There is a link to our eBay shop at the top right of the page if you’d like one of our shinies for your own.  The gallery post below this one shows some of my earlier work, and there’s a lot more to come!


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