Friday, 19 May 2017

Seaside Inspiration for Jewellery Designs - May 2017


Earlier last month the sun was shining in its hazy early-spring way and I went down to the sea. The water was calm and gentle, the beach mostly empty except for a few fishermen. We sat on some rocks exposed by the low tide, and I took some photos of the colours and shapes we saw.

seaside-inspiration-beach-may-2017-silvermoss

The curl of the beach, where the sea was slowly moving the shingle, was a nice reminder of the curves I like to put in silver wire. The rhythm of the water moving along the shoreline was hypnotic and quite beautiful.


seaside-inspiration-limpets-may-2017-silvermoss

The rocks we sat on to bask in the sunshine were, on closer examination, half covered with tiny limpets, waiting for the sea to return. The texture, and strength, of these tiny creatures was easily felt under my careful fingers. I'm pretty sure I didn't squash any although I only discovered them after we sat down...


seaside-inspiration-green-rock-limpets-may-2017-silvermoss


Simple shapes in jewellery often work the best, as in nature. The cone-shape of the limpets is both strong and elegant. The colours of the shells blended in with the rocks and seemed almost a part of them until we looked closer.

Simplicity equals strength seemed to be the design message from the seaside. Gentle curves and natural movements. Jewellery, like nature, doesn't need to shout to be noticed.

Do you find inspiration in simple shapes or do more complex ones challenge you? Do leave a comment if you like, I'd love to hear what you think.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Garnet Gems and Hammered Silver Circles Earrings


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I do enjoy making jewellery gifts for people I know. Matching colours and styles and preferences to the individual are some of the best joys of hand-crafting and when the choices you make as a designer work out well then that's a fantastic feeling.

These earrings were made for someone who only wears drop styles and whilst I looked at a few different colours of gemstone, I came back again and again to garnet. These small faceted ones are a deep but bright red and very rich in tone. When I saw them being worn I knew I'd made the right decision. The garnets were set with Wraptite settings, like I used on this necklace recently also.

The hammered circles were from a patch of time a while back when I made a lot of shapes and played around with textures and finishes on them. They looked just right in these earrings and the tiny silver beads, set on wire, finished things off nicely. The recipient seemed genuinely pleased with these - she's worn them nearly constantly since receiving them - so I feel content in feeling content...


Friday, 5 May 2017

Book Review - Stringing and Linking Jewelry Workshop by Sian Hamilton

Stringing and Linking Jewelry Workshop
by Sian Hamilton
Published by GMC Publications 2015
144 pages

book-review-jewellery-stringing-linking-jewelry-workshop-sian-hamilton-silvermossA lot of my older jewellery books are the work of one jeweller in particular, with the vast majority (if not all) the projects included designed by the author, and perhaps a few other jewellers being referenced in a 'Gallery' for extra inspiration. However I've notice a trend in some more recently published books to opt for a wider base of jewellers and their designs, as if the book were a kind of modern jewellery or craft magazine.

It's perhaps no surprise, then, to find that the Stringing and Linking Jewelry Workshop has been put together by the editor of Making Jewellery magazine, and that she has included several different jewellers, including herself, across the 30 projects that the book features. (A little disappointingly the book doesn't included a mini-biography of each of the jewellers, as I always find sections like that informative and fascinating.)

First Impressions

The book I'm reviewing is a large paperback edition, not dissimilar in look from a magazine. The front cover has a white background with different items of jewellery featured on it. The jewellery is all beaded and quite colourful and gives a good indication of the type of pieces you'll find in the projects themselves.

At The Start

The contents pages have a very handy visual guide to the projects, with each one pictured and numbered so anything that catches your eye can be found quickly by referencing the number against the written list and the corresponding page numbers. It's very handy to re-find a project using this, rather than flick through pages until you find what you're after on the last one you look at...

Next comes an introduction with a recommendation or two on how to adapt
designs and on how best to approach the book, which is perhaps more suited to beginners than more advanced beaders.

Two pages on tools and equipment follow, mainly devoted to different types of pliers and cutters and beading tools and sundries. This is followed by four pages about materials, ranging from different types of beads, stringing materials, and findings. All these pages are illustrated with good, clear photographs as are the next six pages covering techniques.


In the Middle

The projects cover the main part of the book and each has four pages devoted to it. The first page has a photo of the finished item and the second has a list of components needed and photos of ideas for adapting the project to make other pieces using similar materials. Instructions for all the pieces of jewellery shown are over the next two pages.

Most of the projects include three matching pieces, normally necklace, earrings and bracelet, and it's a nice touch that allows flexibility in how the reader can use the book. It's also useful in showing the beginner how easy it can be to adapt a design and make something different on a similar theme.


At the End

After the last of the projects the book concludes with a mainly UK-based page of suppliers and an index.


In Summary

As a silversmith primarily I found the book a little limiting in terms of projects.  But I always find some inspiration in every book on making jewellery, whether it's a way of combining materials that I've not thought of before, or a nudge in the direction of using more beads and more colour in my work.

If you're looking to begin beading then this book could be a good place to start. And if you've read the magazine Making Jewellery then that will give you an idea of the kinds of projects included and how they are laid out, and how well the instructions and photographs are done. If you're a more advanced beader then this book will probably work more as a source of inspiration and new ideas.


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If you fancy another jewellery book about beads then check my review out of Learn to Make Bead Jewellery.

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Please note, this post contains affiliate links, which cost you nothing if you click through but may make me a few coppers if the stars are right that day... For more info check out my about page.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Jewelled Web - May 2017 - Link Love


Mayflower blossom - Jewelled Web May 2017 Silvermoss


April is nearly done, taking with it a quixotic mix of weather... I've seen snow, hail, sleet and sunshine in the last week alone.

For a few years now May has often seemed a little like an early summer, with sunshine-filled days and flower-filled vistas. I'm learning not to take this for granted, as we've also had some summers filled with rain and cool winds after a warmer spring. This year I'm hoping both spring and summer will be sunny and bright...

(By the way, only on publishing this post have I spotted I've used 'April' instead of 'May' on the graphics in my photo... Oh dear...)

Here's what I've been reading and bookmarking for later reading. I hope you enjoy.



~jewellery links~

Amazing what you can do with some old coins, some copper and a large hammer.

A very handy tip about how to protect gemstones when soldering.

You can never know enough about annealing silver - a useful and succinct page.

If you fancy doing some forging then these earrings look a good place to start.

More forging here, along with other ways to move metal and some great ideas for bangles.

A wonderful guide to making a wire and gemstone pendant - no soldering required!

Tools for texturing metal, including household objects and a clever use for a wooden clothes peg... also has great images of the effects of each tool on the metal.

How to do you identify your different solders? I use a marker pen in a strategic spot (ie, in the middle of the strip) but this article contains an interesting idea if your solder comes in sheets.



~non-jewellery links~

Monsters dreamt up by children and interpreted by artists... (video)

An amazing artist who (legally) copies work by the masters.

Sweet illustrations of creatures from the natural world who also really enjoy a good cocktail. (More from the artist here.) And more wonderful illustrations here, this time from someone who also helps create The Simpsons.

Are you a fan of Instagram? Then you may have heard about the artist who used it as a platform for an elaborate project.

The effects of smog in Beijing via time-lapse footage...

and a fire rainbow cloud in Singapore.

An artist who paints on extraordinary canvases to wonderful effect.



~latest reads~

I've had a quiet time fiction-wise this last month and have been looking to factual books generally, and jewellery books particularly, more.

Wing Mun Devenny's The Complete Guide to Making Wire Jewellery has been reminding me of what I love about working with wire and inspiring me to try new things.

Stringing and Linking Jewelry Workshop by Sian Hamilton is full of projects by a wide variety of jewellers, always good ground for fascinating ideas, and lots of examples of great use of colour.

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Let's hope this May is sun-filled and gentle. Do enjoy your month

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Photo taken by me on the Saxon Shore Way, a surprise walk on a beautiful spring day.

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If you like more links to while some time away then check out my collection in the Jewelled Web from June 2014.


(this post includes affiliate links - please check details here for more info.)

Friday, 21 April 2017

Circles in Square Wire Pendant


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Made for a March birthday, this pendant also served to remind me how square wire is so effective, and also exceedingly nice to work with. Round wire is used more often in jewellery making, probably partly because it's easily available in so many thicknesses. It's easy to forget about square wire but I find it delivers a certain satisfaction during the making process, and also looks sleek and subtle in the finished piece.

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I set the tiny aquamarine gemstone using a sterling silver Wraptite setting. This wasn't quite as easy to work with as the video I watched had led me to believe (mainly due to the 'fiddliness' of such a small gem (4mm) and a nearly equally small setting), but looked good in the end, and also provided what feels like a strong and secure setting for a faceted gemstone.

Aquamarine is one of the most popular gemstones for March and the stone I bought was really quite beautiful, full of vibrancy that bounced light around. It reminded me how well colour works with sterling silver.