Tag Archives: Sterling Silver

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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Incy Wincy Spider…

This enormous purple stone has been glinting at me for quite some time now, I made it into a ring once, but didn’t like it so I recycled it into this cute little spider.  I love making bugs (click here for a previous post!) and he seemed just perfect for this time of the year.  We live in a semi-rural area, and have had some enormous spiders wandering in to the house, which is hilarious when the big beardy biker I share my life is turns into a screaming girly when he sees one – he was tidying up some shoes in the hall the other week, and picked up one of our lad’s plastic spiders, only to realise it wasn’t plastic… I think they heard the screams in the next valley!

I made Incy’s head using a small piece of black Murano glass that I had made in a glass making class, silver clay and eight 1mm white CZs for his eyes – that was a fiddly job, with much swearing 😉  The bezel was soldered to the legs, the shank added, and finally his head popped on – so many joins needed some really careful heating on a very makeshift jig made from copper nails bashed into my fire brick.

 

So after a nice warm bath in the pickle, he was polished up and oxidised, repolished and ready for setting the stone.  I’m really very fond of this one, and by sheer coincidence he’s just my size, but if you’d like one, just give me a shout!

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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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Not a Cannabis Leaf

When I had my son eight years ago, we bought a maple tree to celebrate his safe arrival and I’m proud to say that they both seem to be surviving my tender ministrations so far!  It has some very frilly leaves which I wanted to transfer to silver, and clay was the obvious choice (until I get a rolling mill, mwahaha!).  A simple disc which I domed and set in a circle displays the texture beautifully.  A little natural oxidation as it is worn means this pretty, natural piece will only mature and improve with a little age…  It moves freely on the bail, just like leaves in the wind.

Think I’ll make some more before autumn!

This one is being donated as a raffle prize for a Welsh Blogger’s event being held in Cardiff next month. Really looking forward to that, watch this space for my report on it.


Making my Mark

This weekend I arranged for manchild to go to his dad’s and for Beardy to be busy mending his mate’s bike so that I could have some quality shed time. I had applied for my maker’s mark with the London assay office last month and ordered a few chunks of silver from Cookson’s soon after, but due to the running aboutiness of the school holidays, didn’t get chance to make anything. Until today!

Just to test the punch, I tried it on a bit of scrap copper, and that looked good, so I did another on a little lump of 2mm sterling.  With a bit of texture and some fancy bezel as detailing, it makes the perfect focal point for a very personal piece of jewellery.

The lumps of silver I have had taunting me for the last three weeks finally became pendants.  A lot of hammering, annealing and filing turned two quite rough cut pieces of metal into lovely smooth shapes.  The only decoration on these will be a hallmark – vanity pieces really, but why not?  The long one is for me and the other for my mum, but I’m planning on making some earrings to match mine next.

So now I’m busy temporarily reclaiming the silver goodies I have made for friends and loved ones, so I can send them off to get assayed and hallmarked.  I really want to do it asap as the date letter for this year is an “m”!


Leaf Me Alone…

I just love the textures you can find in nature, and combining them with shiny silver really floats my boat.  This elegant 18mm domed disc pendant on an 18″ sterling silver belcher chain features the impression of a skeleton leaf, the texture of the veins are defined by an oxidised finish.

You can buy it here!

Fine Silver Leaf Skeleton Pendant, £25


Carbon Fibre Loveliness

I wasn’t feeling spectacularly inspired today, and not terribly well either, truth be told.  Still, I had a bee in my bonnet to make this ring, and I have to say it came out as good as I’d hoped although it’s practically impossible to photograph well.  The silver ring has a satin hammered finish to subtly frame the carbon and glass cabochon – I wanted a more industrial look to the ring to suit the material.  Of course I may well decide to polish to a high shine later!


Fabulous Fluorite

My lovely cousin-in-law gave me this stone as one of the contenders for her Cariad necklace, so I thought I’d make it into a delicate ring.  Up until now, I’ve made just a simple bezel setting and then soldered it to a plain ring band, but it’s time for a change! The band on this pretty ring has a small-scale hammered texture to add to the delicate feel.

 


Poison…

One of my printing blocks featured a small poison bottle complete with label. I made a bottle with copper clay and the tag with silver, but it just didn’t look quite right!  So I ditched the copper bottle and filled a tiny glass one with silver dust, glued the top on and wired the tag to that.  I made the silver findings too, and fixed them to some lovely grey velvet ribbon.  Looks rather good, I think!  I have some more ideas on the poison bottle theme, so do 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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