Tag Archives: Mel

That’s a Wrap

Just got home from another lovely day’s workshop at Lemon Blues with Melissa Warren, not knitting this time but making yarn wrapping landscape pictures.  A very relaxing pastime that requires very little by way of equipment – just some thick card, double sided sticky tape a huge collection of various yarns!  The one with the boat is my dad’s birthday present, and the purple one? Well, obviously that’s for ME.


Spiralling out of Control…

A very slow start to the day (I got eaten by the duvet monster this morning) made me think I’d get nothing done, but Beardy wanted to reacquaint himself with his cavernous garage and have some “man time” in there, so I snuck out to the shed when nobody was looking. My mum had made a heavy silver pendant with a panda on a swirly background a little while ago, but the two got separated while in transit to the Assay Office. Both parts were hallmarked, so we decided to keep them separate and rework them to make two pieces.

I needed to think of something nice to cover the flat part in the middle of the background piece, and toyed with the idea of a cluster of rubover set stones, but didn’t think that it would suit the rustic shape I had to work with. So I reached for the copper and made spirals – inspired by the Celtic Triskele, a symbol I have always loved. They echo the embossed spirals on the background and tie the whole piece together very nicely.

Triskele Pendant

Past, present and future – or maiden, mother and crone? Up to you to interpret it as you will.


Fabulous Fluorite

I bought this flourite cabochon a little while ago but it’s taken me a little while to come up with a way to set it. It has quite intense colour striations, especially the purple, and I was concerned it would look dark and muddy once set.  So I put it to one side, got on with other things and kept it on the back burner.  Luckily it didn’t fall down the back of the cooker!

I came up with the idea of putting a gap between the stone and the back of the setting, to allow light to enter the stone from behind, and figured a shiny surface would act as a mirror as well.  I’d textured an oval with a leaf skeleton using the rolling mill, and soldered an oval to the rear of it for strength.  Initially I added a cross of wire to the back, bent up around the oval to form claws which would be soldered to the bezel, but it looked a bit too Heath Robinson, even for me! So I took that off, and cut small lengths of 2mm sterling wire to use as upright posts.  I soldered these to the base oval, squared them off and added a ring of reticulated silver to the top post before soldering the bezel (also leaf textured) on top.  A few hours in the tumbler while I went out for lunch, a quick dip in liver of sulphur to oxidise it, and then the polishing begun! Once I had a finish I was happy with, I set the fluorite into the bezel and gave it a final polish, before hanging it from a black satin cord with sterling silver ends and a twist of fine wire just above the pendant to stop it from slipping.

Time to test the theory and emerge squinting from the shed… I’m delighted with it, it worked really well.  I’d love to know what you guys think!

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You learn fast, young Paduan!

Had a lovely day with Sally today. She turned up with a trolley full of her new toys and a box of cake. Game on.

We’d done some metal bashing in the kitchen before the shed landed, but that’s nearly a year ago now. I’ve been doing it pretty much on a daily basis, but Sal has been concentrating on her beadwork since then. So we went back to square one and decided to make copper rings. Stones chosen, it was time to cut a bezel strip and solder it. It took her a few goes to get a good soldered join, got there in the end though!

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Amnoyingly she didn’t break a single saw blade. Grrrr. I broke at least three today! Cutting and soldering her ring shank was a very smooth operation, just going to show that I am a fantastic teacher 😉 With a talented apprentice, obviously.

The clock was against us as usual, so Sal had to load up her stuff and head off in time for the school run. She’s planning to finish her ring tonight, can’t wait to see it!

This is my finished ring, the ammonite I mentioned in a previous post. Rather pleased with it, I have to say!

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Spiralling out of Control…

A very slow start to the day (I got eaten by the duvet monster this morning) made me think I’d get nothing done, but Beardy wanted to reacquaint himself with his cavernous garage and have some “man time” in there, so I snuck out to the shed when nobody was looking. My mum had made a heavy silver pendant with a panda on a swirly background a little while ago, but the two got separated while in transit to the Assay Office. Both parts were hallmarked, so we decided to keep them separate and rework them to make two pieces.

I needed to think of something nice to cover the flat part in the middle of the background piece, and toyed with the idea of a cluster of rubover set stones, but didn’t think that it would suit the rustic shape I had to work with. So I reached for the copper and made spirals – inspired by the Celtic Triskele, a symbol I have always loved. They echo the embossed spirals on the background and tie the whole piece together very nicely.

Triskele Pendant

Past, present and future – or maiden, mother and crone? Up to you to interpret it as you will.


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 😉


Falling Oak Leaves

After the two day summer some of us had at the very beginning of October, I for one was quite relieved to look out of the window to see that normal service has been resumed.  Rain, gray sky and a snuggly jumper 🙂  Autumn is one of my very favourite times of year, and I just love the colours and the leaves falling from the trees.  I had some tiny discs of silver that were just begging to be a seasonal pair of earrings.  If you like them, click here to make them yours!

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Cabin Fever (or lack of…)

It’s the last day of the school holidays, and I’m bursting with ideas and frustration!  I really need to get back into making things for the sake of my sanity (or whatever passes for it these days).  My hallmark registration has gone through, and I’m the proud owner of a hefty punch with my maker’s mark.  I’ve got some sizeable chunks of sterling to make into pendants where the decoration will be just the texture of the metal and hallmark – vanity pieces really, but why not?  They will make really personal gifts for the special people in my life who have helped me get this far.

I found some beautiful lace when I was up at Mum’s in the summer, and have been experimenting with making Steampunk chokers with lovely Swarovski crystal beads, silver chains and the occasional skull.  I’ll be listing these for sale over the next few days, now that the final elements to finish them are on their way (Royal Mail permitting).

I have also been playing with wire wrapping and when I have had a chance, some leaf textures.  This lovely labradorite is going to become the focal point of a lariat with silver and moonstone elements, and maybe some leaves…


Back to the Coal Face

I arrived home last night after a lovely few days with my mum to an impressive pile of boxes that had arrived while I was away…

Mostly from Vistaprint, I’ve been making the most of the free offers they keep sending me, and as a relatively new enterprise, we can certainly use some stationery!

I’ve been using the shed as a bit of a dumping ground over the last couple of weeks, so I had nowhere to create, sit down, or stand up, if I’m totally honest.  Add to that the three tons of banners, posters, cards, t shirts, magnets and other stuff, and SOMETHING HAD TO BE DONE.  So I did it.  Beardy will be expecting me to do the same thing in the house at this rate…

Ready to MAKE STUFF!


When shall we three meet again?

20110628-195704.jpgThe three of us got together today for the first time in ages, and spent a lovely sunny day making things.  Pauline on wirework, Sally on beading and Mel on silver clay monograms.


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