Friday, 13 October 2017

Book Review - Start Making Jewellery by Nicola Hurst


Start Making Jewellery
by Nicola Hurst
Published by Apple Press 2008
128 pages

Book Review of Start Making Jewellery Workshop by Nicola Hurst

One Line Review

An excellent silver jewellery book, suited for those starting out and those looking to develop their techniques and skills.


First Impressions

In common with a lot of jewellery making books, the title is a little vague about the particular type of jewellery it means, but the cover photographs make it clear that it involves metal, heat, and tools. A brief look through the book shows a lot of photos and a lot of instructions, broken down into convenient steps.


At The Start

The Contents page is followed by a Foreword by the author, and then a couple of pages about the book itself, explaining its layout and commenting on health and safety issues.

Chapter 1 is called Getting Started and has details on Tools, covering pliers, hammers and files, and a small section on Materials, detailing that those used on projects in the book are brass, copper, and silver. It then includes information about creating an ideal work space.

The chapter also includes a very useful section on Inspiration and Design, as well as one on Planning and Design. This topics of ideas and how to develop them is often touched upon far too briefly in jewellery books, so it's good to see them covered in a little more detail here over 8 pages. This section also details methods of copying designs onto the metal itself, which is a very handy skill to have.

(Just as a side note; in the Contents page of the edition of the book I was reading, these two latter sections are both shown as being part of Chapter 2. In fact, they are here included in Chapter 1. This causes no problem at all in terms of using the book and I may not have even noticed if I hadn't been looking closely to write this review.)

 

In the Middle

Chapter 2 deals with Techniques and Projects and takes up much of the book, at 90 pages. It includes eighteen techniques, ranging from piercing, filing, and soldering, to texturing, doming, and riveting, as well as thirteen projects. The projects are mainly focussed on using metal, with a couple of beadwork ones included near the end.

The techniques are dealt with one at a time and are covered in detail, with handy hints included. They are clear and well illustrated with quality photographs and text instructions.

The projects are interspersed throughout the techniques, and include a list of tools and materials needed for each one, as well as an easy to follow sequence of steps to make each piece and excellent photos that also include extra close-up images to increase clarity at certain crucial points. These close-up photos also appear within the techniques as well and are a really helpful way to ensure particular details are well understood.


At the End

The last chapter deals with Resources. It includes a section on ideas for shapes for ring, earrings, necklaces and pendants, as well as brooches, bangles and bracelets, and cufflinks. A section on the most commonly used gemstones follows, along with some guidance on buying them. Next comes a few charts on topics such as ring sizes and melting temperatures of metals, and some notes on metal properties.

After this is a Glossary, then a page on further reading, detailing magazines and books, and only a few websites (this edition of the book was published in 2008). The book finishes with an Index and some photo credits.

 

In Summary

This is a very useful book, both for beginners to the topic and anyone with more experience who wishes to refine their skills and perhaps learn a few things via the hints and knowledge of an excellent jeweller. The photographs are excellent, both in clarity and composition, and the close-up photos are particularly valuable. A very good resource book that is worth having on your shelf if you work with metal and solder, or wish to do so.


~~~~

If you'd like to read another of my book reviews, then check out this one of Stephen O'Keeffe's Practical Jewellery Making Techniques.

~~~~
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, 6 October 2017

Green Marble Gems from Scotland

Even when you're buying gemstones for other people it still feels like a treat for yourself. Perhaps that's just me. But I always feel a thrill of excitement when a package arrives in the post and I get to unwrap it and see the gems for the first time... Oddly enough, it's not quite as exciting in a shop - maybe because it isn't until you get them home that you can really indulge in really looking at and feeling the texture (so important - or again, perhaps that's just me...) of your new gems.

Green Marble Gemstones

The new gems in question here are rather special as they're from the UK. The UK doesn't seem to have masses of gemstones, perhaps partly due to the relatively small size of the country. And the colours of those we most often see from here tend to be more muted rather than some of the brighter hues gathered from overseas. I know part of the glory of gems is that they can be from anywhere all around the world, and that in itself can feel special, to be able to hold a tiny piece of rock from thousands of miles away. But it's also nice, when you're from a small place, to feel that connection to something a little closer.

Sourced from the Highlands of Scotland the islands on the west coast, the stones I bought were a small collection of green marble. The greens are subtle and hint at their origins, from the plants they once were. The veining is as beautiful as you would expect from marble, and the marble itself is in gentle off-white shades, nothing stark at all.

The smallest stone is around 17 mm and the largest 40 mm and I've not yet decided what to do with any of them, although I have started working on settings for a couple of the gems. But they're so wonderful to look at that I want to try and do my best by them, to make sure the silver around them doesn't detract from the stones, and only enhances them.

Green Marble Gemstones

I found the stones on Etsy, from a shop called Two Skies Rocks. They collect and shape stone from around the world but with an emphasis on that which comes from Scotland, which is where they're based. Their shop is well worth a look and, if you do buy from them, you'll find your parcel carefully packaged (with a lot of tartan!) and the gems thoughtfully chosen.

Now I'm away to ponder over the stones some more and figure out which one I can find a good enough reason for to keep for myself...

Friday, 29 September 2017

Jewelled Web - October 2017 - Link Love


Boats in the Bay - Jewelled Web October 2017 by SilverMoss Jewellery


It does seem as though Autumn is here now. The air is crisper, as are the falling leaves, and the days are noticeably shorter, and cooler. The seasons have shrugged although, to be honest, they're moving all the time, just so slowly that we don't notice so much unless we're really looking.

The last month has been windy and a little rainy, interspersed with glorious sunshine that makes the growing autumnal colours glow. It may not be summer but it's not all bad...

Hope your new season is mellow and beautiful - enjoy the links.



~jewellery links~

Wonder Woman jewellery - what more do I need to say?

Tutorial on making an adjustable bangle, via Cooksongold.

Gorgeous images in this post about jeweller Lies Wambacq.

If, like me, you love watching film and TV to see the jewellery, especially in period pieces, then you might like this post on a jeweller who made jewellery for films.

This site isn't in English but scroll down for a series of photos (with English captions!) explaining how some extraordinary wooden rings were created.

Excellent article and inspiring photographs on enamelling.

I've been looking for information like this for ages - a detailed article on polishing metals with a Dremel (although I would say the tips will work on any Dremel-like tool).



~non-jewellery links~

I love that phone camera photography is taken so seriously now that the Saatchi gallery has run a competition and the winner is beautiful.

Ever been frustrated by a modern-day Victorian who thinks only men invent things? Memorise this list of women who've come up with ideas ranging from windscreen wipers to bullet-proof vests.

If you've ever felt you'd like to sit on a laptop in a coffee shop and be extraordinarily productive then try this web site for authentic ambient background noise...

Or if you fancy working a more natural environment then try a birdsong soundtrack - here, here, here, or here.

Amazing photos from the old Wild West in the USA...



~latest reads~

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren, a wonderful autobiography about one woman's love affair with life, science, and plants.

Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler - if you've not read anything by Anne Tyler yet then please, please do so soon. She is always utterly wonderful, creating real characters with flaws who move through seemingly normal lives - a little like all of us. Ladder of Years is both honest, beautiful and sad.

~~~

Hope you have a wonderful October.

~~~


For more links then do visit my Jewelled Web for October 2014.



(this post includes a few affiliate links (in the 'latest reads' section)  - please check details here for more info.)

Friday, 22 September 2017

Rose-Cut Cabochon Gemstones - a discovery

Confession time - I'm not a person who has their finger on the pulse. Films, TV series, books, music and, jewellery as well, I tend to come to things late. Which I don't mind as such, apart from the feeling that I've been missing something that everyone else knew about...

Rose Cut Cabochon Gemstones of Lapis lazuli, Labradorite, Iolite and Sky Blue Topaz in a circle

So it's fitting that only very recently have I discovered rose cut gemstones. Perhaps I didn't notice them whenever they arrived on the online retail scene, as keen as I've been to only deal with flat-backed cabochons. Or perhaps I missed them when I assumed that if I wanted a faceted gemstone then I had to have a pointed back to it to contend with (and it has always felt like those angled backs are something to contend with, never something to get along with).

Given a little research has shown that rose cut stones have been around for at least 500 years it's obvious I'm later than normal, even for me, on this scene. I do know that they weren't available where I was looking when I first started working with gems and was hunting for just such a thing, and can only assume they've become more accessible in the intervening years.

But recently, spending a while perusing gemstones on line and searching, searching, searching, I was rather excited to discover rose cut gems, which, to my mind at least, are the best of both worlds - the beautiful facets that catch the light with the more practical (for me, anyway) flat back.

Rose Cut Cabochon Gemstones of Lapis lazuli, Labradorite, Iolite and Sky Blue Topaz in a line

I've indulged in some recently, and have started finding ways to use them in my jewellery making (photos to follow!). I also hope to buy some more, in different stone types, and find uses for them too.

The stones in the picture are labradorite, lapis lazuli, sky blue topaz and iolite. The largest is 5mm, the smallest 3mm, so they're all rather neat and delicate-looking, but all utterly beautiful, although I do have a personal soft spot for iolite... what's your favourite gemstone and how do you use it? Do share in the comments below.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Jeweller Interview with Sasha Garrett

Sasha Garrett's jewellery is incredibly striking. When you see it, first it catches your eye. Then you notice how beautiful and professional it looks. And then you wonder just what gem those amazingly coloured stones actually are made from...

Fordite Pendants set in Silver by Sasha Garrett, against a fordite backdrop

The bold and beguiling colours are set into artfully simple silver settings and are dazzling examples of bold jewellery. But, still, just what are those gemstones?

If you're similarly intrigued then do read on as in this interview, Sasha will explain everything including just who Jacques and Gibby are...



How long ago did you begin making jewellery and what prompted you to start? Are you self-taught or have you attended classes?

I've made jewellery since I was young (I love sparkly things and my personality type is very much a doer) but got into it properly in 2005ish when I did several terms of evening classes in silversmithing at a local college. That covered the basics and had much more of a club feel to it rather than taught course with objectives - we could turn up, use the equipment and bounce ideas (and problems) off each other, if we got stuck the tutor was there to help. Since then I've used blogs and youtube videos to fill in the knowledge gaps as required.


Where do find ideas for your designs and how do you develop them into the finished piece of jewellery?

I tend to be lead by the colours and patterns of the stones I use so there is normally lots of laying combinations out together to see if they work and shuffling them about until I get it right. At the moment my computer desk has disappeared under beads whilst I work out which murano beads from the stash go better with tanzanite and which with apatite. When I've made my mind up it will get moved round to the work bench for construction.

I love to travel and my boyfriend has many stories of me pouring over trays of gems and haggling in markets for cabochons and beads (he prefers it when I buy the already cut and polished stuff rather than the heavier rough slices as he has to carry it!). So I tend to buy when I find something interesting and figure out what to use them in later rather than designing first. This does mean I have quite a stash but I have sold pieces 'off plan' when people have chosen their stone and asked me to set it like something I've already got made up.

Fordite Cufflinks, finished and a work in progress, set in Silver by Sasha Garrett

What is your workspace like? Is it set up exactly the way you want, a work in progress or a kitchen table?

I share my workspace with Jacques the faux taxidermy cow head and Gibby the zombie gibbon (aka 'the artistic directors') and other mementos so its very much a reflection of me and if I'm being honest its a bit of mess (an organised mess with not an inch to spare but a mess none the less) so I'll go with a work in progress. I have a dedicated work room but would love some more space to have a photography area with proper lighting and a lapidary zone (screened off to keep the muck under control).


Where did you discover fordite and why did you decide to incorporate it into your jewellery?

For those who have never come across fordite it is layers of cured car paint that built up as a by-product of old spray painting processes which are no longer used.

I fell in love with it about a decade ago when I read an article in The Times. Its not just the colours and patterns but also how it reflects the changing fashions of when it was made, it's a little bit of social history. Back then the jewellery making was just a hobby but I knew I wanted some for me so made a chunky ring and some cufflinks for the other half and then thought nothing more of it.

When the jewellery became a business I went back through the stash and found the few cabs I had left from doing that and made another pair of cufflinks, they were much admired (and sold pretty quickly) and I started getting questions about whether I could do rings or pendants. I realised that I wasn't the only one who appreciated its uniqueness and set about finding more so that I could produce a whole range of pieces.

Fordite is quite rare here in the UK (we stopped producing the rough material by the mid 80's but I have a dwindling stash of what is known as Dagenham agate) so I buy the rough from the USA and cut and polish it myself. I'm stockpiling at the moment as supplies will run out at some point (it's already been described as rarer than diamonds) and prices are creeping up.

Fordite set on a Sterling Silver Hollow Ring Pendants by Sasha Garrett

How does working with fordite differ from working with traditional gemstones? And which is your favourite to work with?

I do love some of the more traditional stones, I have a soft spot for malachite and opals but fordite is definitely my favourite. In terms of handling it is similar to softer stones like opals but it comes with a couple of drawbacks; with traditional stones you can normally be certain of getting a standard range of shapes and sizes whereas with fordite the cabochons are free-form and you have to buy what you can get rather than being able to shop around for what you want. If you go wrong you can't phone up a supplier and get a replacement! Every setting has to be made to fit the piece's unique undulations and getting pairs for things like earrings and cufflinks is unusual and one of the reasons I learnt how to cut it myself.

The other drawback compared to the traditional stones is that not many people know about fordite - I'm working on changing that - I sound like a broken record at craft fairs explaining about it but it pays off and I have converted many people to its charms. That is much harder to do online which is reflected in the rate of sales.


What jewellery making tools could you just not do without, and what is still on your wish list?

I wouldn't be without my P1000 autobody wet and dry paper; I shape the fordite by hand with saws and files but its not until I get to this stuff, used wet, that the colours and patterns really start to appear and I know if it has been worth the effort.

My wish list consists of buying the end of my neighbour's garden and putting a work-shed on it (shed is a bit of a misnomer I have visions of solar panels, lots of insulation, storage shelves, veranda for sitting out on, a hedgehog box, tea on tap). And more fordite, always more fordite.

Fordite Earrings set in Sterling Silver by Sasha Garrett, against a fordite backdrop

What is your favourite part of making jewellery?

I still get a kick out of seeing people wearing my work and was recently told a story of someone showing off a 'specially commissioned ring by a local jeweller' at a party and someone else looked at it and asked it if was 'a Sasha Garrett?' (it was). I don't like to think of my work languishing in jewellery boxes.


What is the best tip or advice you've been given, in jewellery making or life in general?

I'm always worried that I'll sound like a fortune cookie if I go giving advice. Life has thrown me rather a lot of curve balls over the years and I've always landed on my feet so I work on the principle of 'never be afraid to try something new'. It's working well for me with both the jewellery and life.


All photographs in this post ©Sasha Garrett


Thanks so much for answering those questions, Sasha; I really enjoyed reading your replies and I hope other people did too.


Do check out more of Sasha's jewellery at the links below:


Shop - Folksy
Facebook - Sasha Garrett
Pinterest - Sasha Garrett

~~~~~

Click here for other jeweller interviews.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Book Review - How to Make Jewellery by Mary Helt


How to Make Jewellery - Easy Techniques and over 25 Great Projects
by Mary Helt
published by Pavillion Books, 2017
160 pages

Book Review - How to Make Jewellery by Mary Helt - SilverMoss Jewellery Blog



One Line Review

A wide-ranging introduction to making jewellery with beads of various materials is a little let down by a lack of photographed instructions.

First Impressions

The cover of this book is rather excellent and easily persuaded me to pick it up. It's bright and fresh with muted colours of turquoise, terracotta, and white and a well-designed title graphic that is nicely integrated with the photo used. This led me to feel the book was modern and vibrant and the layout and designs within would, hopefully, be the same. On picking the book up and flicking through its pages the layout looked pretty traditional for this kind of project book but the vibrancy seemed carried through into the photography and the designs themselves.


At The Start

The Contents page is simple and text-based, and shows that the book contains designs based around sections on Stringing, Wire Wrapping, Polymer Clay, Textiles and Advanced Techniques. Each section contains five different designs.

Following this is a brief Introduction from the author and then a section on Tools and Materials, which covers Basic Equipment and includes information on and photos of the tools needed for each section of jewellery making covered in the book. The photos are a nice touch but would be more helpful if the individual tools pictured were numbered and related more clearly to the text.


In the Middle

Each section has a few pages of techniques at the start of it. For example, the section on Wire Wrapping has photos and instructions on making different types of loops, and the section on Textiles goes into detail on needle felting, embellishing, and making crocheted-covered beads.

The projects that follow are labelled as easy, intermediate or advanced and a mixture of all are included in each section.

A list of materials required is clear and simple to follow. The instructions for each project are in the text and, whilst these are detailed, they are hampered by having no photos displaying what is being described for each stage. Instead the only photograph for each project is one or two showing the finished piece. This is a little unfortunate especially if the book is being used by a beginner, but I always find photos or images of the 'making of' stages of individual projects are exceedingly useful.

It's worth saying that this lack of images isn't carried through into either the techniques pages near the start of each section, or into the section on Advanced Techniques, where photos accompany the instructions for each of the projects - this seems to me to be the most successful section by reason of these extra images; although the projects are more advanced the photographed steps are also easier to follow and understand.


At the End

The book finishes with a glossary and index and a very nice page or two on resources, with details of mainly UK suppliers, and also some web site addresses for learning resources.


In Summary

Covering a wide range of different techniques and styles of jewellery making this book is a good introduction and I particularly enjoyed learning more about fabric jewellery, as well as the advanced techniques section. The techniques displayed at the start of each section were helpful and often included handy hints, which are often a good source of more specific information.

However the lack of photographs to go with the instructions for each project left me feeling that the book could have been far better than it was, just by their inclusion. This absence of photos would dissuade me from recommending the book to a beginner beader jeweller. If you're a little more experienced then you might gain a lot more from its pages.

How to Make Jewellery - Easy Techniques and over 25 Great Projects by Mary Helt


~~~~~

For another jewellery book review, check out my thoughts and feelings on Practical Jewellery-Making Techniques: Problem Solving by Stephen O'Keeffe

~~~~

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, 1 September 2017

Jewelled Web - September 2017 - Link Love




September is still summer. No, really, it is. It is summer until October. That's how it works with me. And if you say 'Well, the weather's not so good now, so summer is over...' then my reply is 'Well, the weather hasn't been good for much of summer anyway. What's the difference? None.' Sorted.

But I can't deny that the seasons do seem to be shifting a little around the edges - a few leaves have fallen already (mostly green, but falling all the same), the flowers are showing up less, and spiders are (nearly) everywhere!

Links below are guaranteed spider-free...



~jewellery links~

I love this challenge! Jeweller Kim Thomson is recycling one piece of silver for 100 days and making it into something new every single day... see the items she's making on Instagram.

Speaking of recycling silver, here's some handy hints on what to do with your offcuts.

Being a professional jewellery designer - an interview with Josephine Tournebize.

A couple of years back I followed this tutorial to make a wire prong setting for a faceted gemstone. My own attempt involved an unfortunate incidence of silver melting where it shouldn't, but this is still a detailed guide for an effective setting. I shall return one day...

I've been watching some You Tube jewellery videos lately - I've come to these quite late as I've always preferred being able to see all the steps, and images of each step, before I decide to commit the time to following something through. And, as you probably know, some You Tube videos are very long because much of the information you want is hidden away after a long and frustrating preamble. But this three minute clip is extremely useful and to the point and if you want to know how to set corners on a gemstone bezel - as I did - then I highly recommend it.

A handy page of downloadable conversion charts covering such topics as saw blade sizes and cleaning gemstones to the ever-useful wire gauge sizes chart...

I adore looking at other jeweller's workspaces. Mine is, at present, an old kitchen table that is too small and in a very awkward position. It's also often shared, which isn't ideal. But when I see other workspaces then I get to dreaming of what might be some day... so here is Tracy from Cinnamon Jewellery's wonderful workspace.




~non-jewellery links~

An excellent Etsy interview with Carol from Kabinshop who makes beautiful ceramics (and a little jewellery too).

A whale playing with dolphins, video taken by a drone.

Different photo file formats and when you should use them.

You may have seen Jodi from One Million Lovely Letters in the media recently, if you're in the UK. Her project, which basically is sending love and support by way of hand-written letters (remember those?) is really quite wonderful.

Flying in the high winds - no wings required.

We may not have had the kind of total solar eclipse experience the USA has had last month but these space travel posters are still quite wonderful wherever you are.

The robots that are changing the world - or may do, anyway (video).

A binman in Bogota collects books thrown out as rubbish, has set up a library in his own home, and loans the books to children.



~latest reads~


Moving on from binge-watching box sets, I've discovered binge-reading and have just finished the second book in the Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children series, Hollow City. The first, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, was great fun. Library of Souls (book three) is next... If you know nothing about them, the books are full of (genuinely) old photographs of slightly peculiar people and are as fascinating as the text.

The Rings Book by Jinks McGrath has proved very useful to me of late and is an excellent resource.


~~~

Here's hoping that September really is still summer...but have a good one whatever the clouds are doing.

~~~

Sand dunes, grass and sea photo taken by me - it was warmer than it looks!

~~~

If you're looking for more links, jewellery or otherwise, then take a look at my Jewelled Web from October 2015.


(this post includes a few affiliate links (in the 'latest reads' section)  - please check details here for more info.)

Friday, 25 August 2017

Photos & Photobucket & Unwelcome Changes


A few years ago I made a decision for my blog which now turns out to have been an almighty error and will take me many hours to fix. Of course, I didn't know it was an error at the time and thought it was the right thing to do. I'd read it on a blog, you see, on more than one blog, so obviously it was a good decision. What could possibly go wrong?

Quite a lot, I now discover.

What did I do?

I decided to move the hosting for images on my blog to another platform, which would then relay the images to my blog. I'm sure part of my reasoning for doing this was the battles I often seemed to have with Blogger (my blogging platform) and a feeling that a different way of managing visual content on my blog might be a fix.

And it was until now. I developed a system of editing my photos, shrinking the size, and then uploading them to the web and linking them to the blog post in question. Sorted and relatively simple.

The platform I chose to host my images was/is Photobucket, one that was often mentioned and recommended by those helpful blogs I read. Photobucket have recently, and abruptly, changed their terms and conditions, and the service of hosting images on other sites has gone up from free to $399.99 per year. Pretty much overnight. And retrospectively, meaning that all the images I've previously uploaded using their service will most likely disappear at some point to be replaced by an image like one of these.

In fact, you may well have seen this image on other blog, auction sites, craft sites, and chat forums, as I was not alone in using Photobucket for image hosting and am also not alone in finding the new cost prohibitive and the rapid introduction of it, with no warning, a little lacking in courtesy.

I'm going to slowly move my images away from Photobucket and have decided to let Blogger handle them again and see whether a few years break has given me a bit more experience and/or allowed Blogger to iron out any of those glithes I used to experience.

So if you visit one of my older posts (all posts after this one should be fine and dandy) and discover the images are looking a little typographical, shall we say, then the reason will be that I've not got around to fixing those ones yet. But I will.

A lot of people have been very angry at Photobucket for both the introduction of the change with no warning or preamble, and the price of it - from what I've read this seems to be quite a high price for this type of service. I'm frustrated and disappointed but some of the reading I've done on the topic has been interesting - a frequently held view is that we've come to expect the web to be free (I'm talking about the content here - I'm well aware  that line rental, broadband access, and the devices used to actually get online are all rather expensive and a long way from free and get slightly annoyed when some people don't appreciate those costs are not insignificant - but I digress) and yet much of it isn't and that much of it is used to generate income, jobs and wages. The theory is that advertising, which was meant to help keep things online free, isn't covering the costs companies and business need it to and that other avenues are being explored.

I can't really argue with someone wanting to be paid for a service, and if I find the cost too high, as I do here, then I can choose to walk away, which is what I'm doing. Yes, it's annoying. The rules have been changed, and fast. And yes, it is going to take me a lot of time and effort to ensure my images will display correctly. But it seems the web is perhaps a more fickle place than I previously thought and so I will bear that in mind in my future interactions with it...

This also shows how important it is for all of us who use images online to back them up and remember that they're our responsibility to look after. This also goes the same for blog posts and probably nearly anything at all you put online - it's wiser not to trust that it will always be accessible to you, with terms and conditions that don't alter and systems that don't change. If it matters to you then keep a copy (or ideally two).

If you've also been directly affected by this, then you have my sincere sympathy. Unfortunately I know of only two options - either pay the subscription or do what I'm doing and slowly and painfully move your images. After a little searching I have found a detailed post from blogger Lauren Wayne about how she's trying to deal with the problems created, which is worth a read.

In the meantime, thanks for reading this and please bear with me while I update those photos.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Jeweller Interview with Becky Pearce Designs


Becky Pearce Designs jewellery photo - SilverMoss blog
It's fair to say that for a long time now I've admired the jewellery of Becky Pearce Designs, mainly for the sweet-shop-hued gems and the artful simplicity of the silver settings that brings out the best of those rich colours.

The clever use of birthstones to make beautiful jewellery and, in particular, the wonderful stacking rings that Becky specialises in creating show both her flair for design and wonderful consistency in finding a very good idea and then sticking with it.

I do hope you enjoy this insightful interview - do check out Becky's Instagram page for more of her photographs and for excellent work-in-progress images and find links for her shop and other online sites at the end of the feature.



How long ago did you begin making jewellery and what prompted you to start? Are you self-taught or have you attended classes?

I started making jewellery back in 2009. I took an hour long earring-making class at a bead shop in Kingston, and immediately caught the bug. The great thing about jewellery making is that you can start with something relatively simple like threading beads and making loops with wire, but there are so many different skills you can learn as you develop. You can never get bored. I've attended a few classes along the way, but I'm mainly self taught.


Where do find ideas for your designs and how do you develop them into the finished piece of jewellery?

I tend to let the materials lead the way. My designs don't tend to be particularly intricate or detailed, and for new designs I pretty much just make it up as I go along. I do have a sketchbook where I note down new ideas, but they are not fixed in my mind, they're usually just a starting point to remind me of an idea, and I'll adapt and adjust as I go. I think I need to see things in front of me to judge whether I like it or not - I haven't got the brain power to do that from a sketch.


What is your workspace like? I've seen images of your studio (and am suitably jealous!) - is it set up exactly the way you want or still a work in progress?

A few years ago we turned our garage into living space, part of which is my studio and I absolutely love it in there. It was great to be able to get a worktop, sink, and extractor fan all built in. It's not perfect, it always feels a bit messy (I'm currently eyeing up tool boards which I'm hoping will help with that!) and it faces North- East so it doesn't get a huge amount of natural light, but it is my happy place. I am so very grateful to have a specific room for my work after years of having to work on the kitchen table.

becky pearce designs jewellery photo - SilverMoss blog


You talk on your site about listening to audiobooks and podcasts while you work - which ones do you recommend and which are your favourites?

Yes I have an audible account, so I get a couple of audiobooks each month - I go for the longest ones I can find to keep me going - it was the only way I was ever going to "read" War and Peace. In between the books I subscribe to loads of podcasts; I have things like TedTalk audio, Stuff You Should Know and In Our Time for when I'm feeling like being educated, Dirty Mother Pukka, My Dad Wrote a Porno and the BBC comedy podcast for when I want a giggle and The Small and Mighty Podcast, and Hashtag Authentic when I want to be business focussed. And then there are all the general interesting things like This American Life, S Town... honestly the list goes on. I'm always looking for new ones to add in too if anyone has any suggestions.


One of your key design themes is birthstone jewellery - when did you decide to focus on this? Which are your favourite gemstones, both to work with and in terms of colour?

Jewellery is such an amazing thing if you think about it. It can be traced back to the very earliest ancient civilisations and throughout it's history it's held a special meaning for the wearer. Even today in our modern world although we're not necessarily wearing carved gemstone amulets, jewellery does tend to be something we buy for a specific reason. We might treat ourselves to celebrate a special birthday, or to finish off an outfit for a particular occasion. We might spend time choosing something for a loved one; it all has that meaning, a story behind it.

For me birthstones just add to that layer of meaning. My birthstone stacking rings are my favourite things to make, as there is always a story behind them, and they are so special to the wearer as they represent their loved ones. It's such an honour to be a part of that.

My favourite gemstone tends to be what I'm working with at the time. I am so fickle! But I love those stones with a flash of colour like labradorite and moonstone.


What jewellery making tools could you just not do without, and what is still on your wish list?

I absolutely could not do without my pendant motor. My wish list isn't that long at the moment, I keep toying with the idea of getting an engraving machine so I can engrave names, dates, or phrases on the insides of the rings instead of hand stamping them on, but my customers seem to quite like the not so perfect, hand stamped look so I haven't gone for it yet.

becky pearce designs jewellery photo - SilverMoss blog becky pearce designs jewellery photo - SilverMoss blog


What is your favourite part of making jewellery?

I love batch making ring charms to go on my ring charm bangles. It's just so satisfying to get lots of things made all in one go. Oh, and that moment when after all the preparation, and careful setting up the solder flows perfectly and joins the piece together. It's like magic.


Your photographs are wonderful and your Instagram feed is quite beautiful - do you take your own jewellery photos and, if so, do you have any photography hints?

Oh thank you! Yes I take all of my own photos. For the jewellery shots I have set up a little corner of a table near the window to be my photography area. It's set up all the time, so I can literally just take a quick snap of a piece of jewellery when it is made which gets me taking more photos. I have both a daylight lamp, and a studio light there to make it a bit brighter on those overcast days.

Sometimes I get a little bored with the way product photos look, but I remind myself how important it is to have a consistent look. And at the end of the day it's the jewellery I want to highlight, not some fancy new background. I would love to get some more pictures of my jewellery being worn, but I'm finding that a real struggle to get looking right.


When did you start your website and blog and how much input have you had in their design? How do you look after them?

I started both my blog and website back in 2010. And I've just been working on a little revamp. The new website will be launched in mid August and I can't wait to share it with the world. I do all of the design and updating myself. It's part of what I like about having my own business... the fact that you get involved in all aspects of it. I even quite enjoy doing my tax return in a strange kind of way.

becky pearce designs jewellery photo - SilverMoss blog


Like many people now you're on several social media platforms; which one is your favourite and how do you use it for your jewellery?

I have two favourite social media places - Instagram and Facebook. Instagram is great as I love the sense of community on there, as well as all the photo inspiration. It's a place where I really feel a part of the handmade/ small business world; I used to get that sense of community from from Facebook too, but that has changed in the last year or so. Facebook to me is now primarily a way for me to connect with my customers, as opposed to other handmade businesses. I pop lots of work in progress pictures on there, so people can see their jewellery being made and my customers seem to really like that.


How do you find the balance between making your jewellery and marketing and selling it?

I do find that hard. It used to be that I would do the making in the daytime and do the marketing/ listing etc.. in the evening when I got a chance. But recently I realised that the marketing and admin is vital, and should be incorporated into my working day rather than being an add on in the evening, when my energy and enthusiasm is not necessarily at it's highest level. I'm still trying to figure out the best way to structure my day - as I feel guilty doing computer based tasks when there are orders waiting, even if they don't need to be made immediately.


How do you see your jewellery evolving over time? Do you feel happy with what you're creating or do you hanker after new styles or materials to experiment with?

I hanker after more time to develop new designs. I have a little sketchbook with ideas in, but orders keep my busy day to day. I am trying to carve out a little time each week just to play, and develop new pieces, but it does feel like less of a priority than keeping up with the current orders so I don't do this as often as I would like.


What is the best tip or advice you've been given, in jewellery making or life in general?

Just to get started. Don't wait for things to be perfect, or the time to be just right. Stop waiting and just go for it.

becky pearce designs jewellery photo - SilverMoss blog


All photographs in this post ©Becky Pearce Designs



Thank you for that wonderful interview, Becky, I really enjoyed reading it and I'm looking forward to exploring some of those podcasts you listen to!


To see more of Becky's jewellery then do take a look through the links below:


Website - Becky Pearce Designs
Shop - On Folksy and Ethical Market
Facebook - Becky Pearce Designs
Twitter - Becky Pearce Designs
Instgram - Becky Pearce Designs

Friday, 11 August 2017

Experiments with Sea Glass and Silver

That magical beach, full of driftwood and carefully sea-polished glass, has so far proved elusive for me, despite some hunting. I've found a few pieces of sea glass over time, some still tucked away and not yet used, other gems have been made up into jewellery by myself, like this piece I made a while ago as a gift.

But recently I happened upon a small organza bag filled with sea glass, on a quiet shelf in a craft shop. I hesitated only briefly and then I bought it, unopened. When I took the glass out I discovered a typically and wonderfully muted set of colours and textures. Although I was a little disappointed at how large some of the glass pieces were, I was able to do a few 'swaps' with a family member who'd previously bought a similar bag of sea glass from the same shop.

Here's my, refined, stash of treasure...

sea-glass-silvermoss

Both the pieces of sea glass I used were quite small and I really fancied the idea of a sea glass ring so I embarked on that project first. I made myself a small band of silver using rectangular wire which I'd bought a while back and never used (and found it wonderful to work with) alongside using silver wire to create a cross-like structure to hold the glass in.

sea-glass-silver-ring-silvermoss

I used a similar basket-principle with the pendant I made next, adding another row of silver as the glass was (very roughly) rectangular in shape.

sea-glass-silver-pendant-silvermoss

Despite some concerns that the wire I'd chosen was too fine (it wasn't) and that the structures wouldn't hold the glass securely (they both do), I was pleased with the end results and am extra pleased with thought of how each piece is unique, not just by way of being hand made but by way of the nature of sea glass, each piece formed slowly in the sea. That's kind of a nice feeling.


Friday, 4 August 2017

Designing your own Blog Graphics with Canva


designing for your blog with canva by silvermoss

Designing and creating your own graphics, banners, and buttons online is nothing new and is, in many ways, easier than ever. On this blog I've previously created my own banner heading as well as the side buttons for quick links to collections of blog posts - see them on the right hand side.

I also created the main image, above, for this blog post using Canva, after playing around with some of their templates and changing colours and font.

I've dabbled with using both PicMonkey (the free version) and an old copy of Photoshop Elements, plus recently I've also been looking further afield and that has included Canva. Yes, you do have to sign up to use it, but you also have to do that for PicMonkey now as well - PicMonkey used to be handy for 'quick' edits when I didn't want the hassle of either signing up or signing in, trying to remember my password, failing, having to reset it, etc... Now, however, both PicMonkey and Canva both require an account, even for their free versions.

While Canva is, obviously, different from PicMonkey, many of the tools and techniques they use work in a similar enough way that means it's easy enough to pick things up quite quickly if you've used the other, and if you've not utilised online image editing before (and even if you have!) then a brief web search on a specific problem can provide answers.

It's often better to learn as you try to create something (this applies to jewellery too!) than to try and gain a working knowledge without using it practically, so to teach myself a bit about Canva I decided to spend some time experimenting. I began by trying to create a new side button for my blog, and then ended up creating a whole set of them.

Here's what I made first:

first jeweller interview canva blog button by silvermoss


And here's what I made when I'd worked out what I was doing and decided to be a little more ambitious and create something more specific to my overall blog design:

jeweller interviews canva blog button by silvermossjewellery book reviews canva blog button by silvermoss


I created a custom-sized template and used one of Canva's own backgrounds, before adding text and choosing font, size, and colour. I may well re-do the buttons with an image of my own, to make it more personalised to my blog.

At the end of this flurry of time on Canva I very quickly chose a template for this post (see the first image, above) and adapted that to use some of my own blog colours, taking just a few minutes to complete.

I created all my images using used free components on Canva although they do have a paid version as well, with more options. I prefer the free version of such applications and tend, in general, to avoid paid versions as they often involve subscription models (as Canva does) and they just don't suit me - I'd rather pay up front and own something than hire it. Also, I don't create enough images to justify paying a fee and so it is helpful that places like Canva have a good and usable free version.

Canva allows you to upload your own images to incorporate into design elements, and although you can also upload your own fonts this is unfortunately only available on the paid version. One very handy part of Canva is that is has the facility for you to copy an image you're working on and adapt it or alter it slightly, without having to start over again - you can also chart your own progression as you do this, and change your mind and use an earlier version without having to undo changes you've made.

If you've never used this kind of graphic design and image editing software before then, when you first start out, it will take a little while to create anything you're happy with, but using a web application like Canva will, with a little practise, allow you to make banners and buttons and pretty much any graphic you care to without much fuss at all. If you are more adept in using such software then you should adapt to this quite fast and may well enjoy having some different options for new designs.

PS. I designed this alternative post banner as well, a few days after I'd created the above graphics, just to see how much I remembered. It was still very easy and also a lot of fun.

designing for your blog with canva by silvermoss

~~~~~

Please note - I was contacted by a representative of Canva about creating this post. However all the content has been designed and created by me and I have received no payment of any kind and am not connected with the company in any way. Nor are any of the links in the post affiliate links. The opinions in the post are, as always, my own, and have been given honestly.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Jewelled Web - August 2017 - Link Love


wildflowers in summer - jewelled web august 2017 by silverMoss jewellery


Oh crikey, it's August already. August is often a wonderful month, a real summer month, if you know what I mean, when the warmth of the last few months seems to have built up and spread out and the lushness of greenery is overtaken a little by how sun-parched it often begins to appear...

But August, the very look of the word, also makes me think of Autumn, and it feels like, unless I really focus on when I am, I'll miss the summer that is here (even if it's raining!) by looking out for the autumn to come...

So here's to some mindfulness and living in the now and enjoying the fact it is still summer and will be until about, oh, let's say November!

Enjoy the links below - I'll try keep them summer-y!



~jewellery links~

A brief but useful tutorial on making feathers in copper clay (pdf)

These copper and silver earrings are simply stunning in their careful detail.

I saw jewellery made from pencils in a craft shop recently and thought it was a great way to symbolically say school is out! Well, for a little longer at least...

This jewellery made from pencil shavings is also pretty amazing.

Pretty waterfall earrings in a simple tutorial.

Such a beautiful ring made by Beth Legg.

Grow your own crystal pendant - I've not tried this but it looks fascinating!

Precious metal clay has been around fpr quite a while now but I've only just learned about silver metal clay paper... 




~non-jewellery links~

Not quite jewellery, but beautiful soaps that look like gemstones and an excellent detailed tutorial to make them.

A wonderful way to grow small plants in dark rooms.

Excellent collection of furniture hacks to make what you own a little bit more fun/useful/attractive.

A good few of these small space living ideas for camper vans translate into small space living ideas for any home (that is also small...)

An illuminating cheat sheet on growing vegetables on a patio or a veggie plot, when to sow and plant, and harvest and hints on companion planting.

Reusing old jeans and making handy box bags via a detailed tutorial.

A guide to cutting down on digital clutter.




~latest reads~

After a trip to the Lake District a couple of years ago (has it really been so long...?) I vowed to read Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransom as I had never done so. Despite my inability to understand most of the boating references, overall the book has been a delight and a wonderful reminder of both a recent holiday and a (slightly!) more distant childhood.

Resin jewellery always fascinates me and this book, The Art of Resin Jewelry by Sherri Haab, is an excellent, and encouraging, read with good photos and helpful instructions.


~~~

I hope your August is warm and sunny and a great month whatever the weather.

~~~

Wildflower photo taken by me on a day when the weather changed from gloom to sun and I was surrounded by so much flora.

~~~

Fancy some more links for the long summer days? Then check out my Jewelled Web from March 2016.


(this post includes a few affiliate links (in the latest reads section) - please check details here for more info.)

Friday, 21 July 2017

Book Review - Handbook of Jewellery Techniques by Carles Codina

Handbook of Jewellery Techniques
by Carles Codina
Published by A&C Black, 2002
160 pages

Book Review by SilverMoss - Handbook Jewellery Techniques


When I used to go to silversmithing classes my excellent tutor, every lesson, would bring in all his tools and anything else that he thought would help his students, including a stack of jewellery books (and sometimes the photo albums of the beautiful work he himself had created when he worked for a goldsmiths in London) for us to look through and gain ideas and inspiration.

This book was one of those and so when I saw the cover, and recognised it, I was rather excited to have the opportunity to look through it all over again.


One line review

A sophisticated introduction to more advanced silversmithing skills and jewellery as a form of art.


First Impressions

The cover of the edition I'm reviewing gives a good indication that this is a ‘serious’ jewellery book, covering topics such as stone setting, hinges, granulation, soldering and enamelling.

On flicking through the pages again I was reminded how detailed both the images and text looked inside.


At The Start

The Contents page contains images of some of the items it covers but mainly shows how the book is broken down into five parts –
Metallurgy
Basic Techniques
Surfaces
Related Techniques
Step By Step

The Introduction is very interesting as it discusses the concept of jewellery and jewellery making; it also includes a brief biography of the author. The beginning section then discusses the history of jewellery, by way of a piece on The Origins of Human Ornamentation and then a section on Contemporary Jewelry, both well illustrated and useful.


In the Middle

The main part of the book begins with a chapter on Metallurgy. This covers gold, silver, and alloys, annealing and pickling, and the care of metal in the workshop environment. This is both a technical and informative chapter, well worth reading.

The next chapter covers Basic Techniques and deals with creating shapes from metal using rolling and drawing, creating tubes, filing and sanding metal. It moves onto piercing and sawing, drilling and grinding, and then soldering. Making domes, cylinders and clasps, forging and creating hinges as well as clasps comes next, and the chapter ends with a section on jump rings. Lots of photos mean the information imparted isn’t too wordy, but is extremely useful and full of good advice, and small projects are included to explain some of the techniques.

Textures are dealt with next, covering etching, combining different metals, twisting, granulation, embossing, and reticulation. The chapter concludes with different finishes such as mirror shines, patination, and oxidisation. Again the photos and text are well combined and the idea of mini-projects is well used.

The Related Techniques chapter covers chasing and repousse, urushi (Japanese lacquer), and enamelling in all its many forms including cloisonné and plique-a-jour. It goes on to deal with stone setting and ends with wax carving and casting.

The last chapter focuses on projects, with the making of seven Step By Step pieces of jewellery laid out in great detail, with clear photos and text explaining each part of the process.


At the End

The book finishes with a Glossary, and Index, and a Bibliography & Acknowledgements page.


In Summary

This isn’t a merely a project book, with simple instructions on how to make each item based on the techniques included in the book. Rather, it is a guide to some of the more complicated smithing skills and how to approach them, along with examples of various designs for the reader to understand how those techniques may be incorporated into their own work and creations. The projects that are included are complex and elaborate, but the step by step instructions seek to make them as simple to create as possible.

If you're keen to start learning smithing techniques then this book may perhaps be one to purchase after you've learned the basics, or perhaps to utilise in conjunction with another book. For example, learning to form metal sheets or wire using a rolling mill or draw plates are useful skills, but instructions for these appear at the start of the first chapter, Basic Techniques. A beginner might find themselves daunted by being shown so soon how to not only form their metal but also to invest in expensive equipment to do so, rather than skills relating to jewellery made from pre-bought sheet and wire.

Whilst the information contained is wide-ranging and very useful, I don't think it's suitable for a beginner, but more for someone with experience of working with metal and the techniques involved, wishing to improve their skills and refine them. For that type of jeweller, this book is an excellent investment that provides sound advice and careful instruction by a skilled craftsman, and should only help both skills and confidence grow.


Handbook of Jewellery Techniques by Carles Codina


~~~~~

Click on the link if you'd like to read my review of the Compendium of Jewellery Making Techniques by Xuella Arnold and Sara Withers

~~~~
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, 14 July 2017

A Gem of a Find - Aquamarine Treasure

I have too many 'jewellery items'; tools, materials, beads and metal, small pots that will come in handy one day to put even smaller things in, and pieces of paper and plastic that have intriguing textures and patterns on that are inpsiring and interesting and, again, will come in handy one day.


Aquamarine gemstones closeup on SilverMoss Blog

Consequently I have a drawer or two (or more, well, okay, definitely more) or slightly random 'items' stored in an extremely ad hoc manner. This makes it hard to find a particular 'item' when I want it, something I know I have but have only a vague idea of where it is. But it also means that when I go searching sometimes I find some real gems. Literally.


Aquamarine gemstones and sterling silver wire on SilverMoss Blog

I went searching for a couple of underused tools and not only found them (yay) but also found, stored away with them, a small quantity of delicate silver wire (either 0.3 or 0.4 mm - I will need to measure it to be sure) and a tiny bag of beautifully cut aquamarine gemstones.


Aquamarine Faceted Gemstones on SilverMoss Blog

I'd forgotten just how inspiring gems can sometimes be, especially when they're cut to bounce and reflect light in the most delightful way. Spending some time just looking at these got me thinking of things to make from them and aware that as soon as I did so the simple magnificance of them would be lost a little - not only would they be 'finished' (for now anyway - repurposing gems in jewellery making has been going on since prehistory) but any setting, even plain silver wire, would detract from their beauty...

Does this mean they won't get utilised? I doubt it. But I also know I'll take my time doing so and spend a little more of it at present just looking at them...


Friday, 7 July 2017

Mini Tools - Worth Plying and Buying?

Some silversmithing tools need to be hefty, to have some weight to them, to allow them to do the job they need to do. Others are able to combine some strength with deceptive delicacy.

I have a lot of pliers, all around 10 or 11 centimetres (4 or 5 inches) long, all collected piecemeal and utilised with varying degrees of success - many are used regularly but some languish in a "spare toolbox" and are tools of last resort.

A while ago I treated myself to a set of mini pliers, wrapped up tidily in their own case. I was intrigued to find out what quality they were and if they served any real purpose other than, well, being small and so more convenient to store.

Mini Jewellery Pliers Set on SilverMoss Blog


The pliers are indeed mini, measuring around 8 cm (3 inches) each, and this decrease in size is felt in the handle more than elsewhere. But the heads of the pliers (round-, needle-, and flat-nosed and one side cutter) are all as well-formed as any other plier in a comparable (budget, in this case) price range and, while obviously a little smaller than a typical version, are still usable and effective.

The handles are well-shaped but their smaller length makes it harder to use them as comfortably as typically-sized pliers - I find with the latter much of my hand works the tool, whereas with the smaller version that action is more confined to the first two fingers.

Mini Pliers and Typical Pliers for Jewellery on SilverMoss Blog


However, for quick fixes and repairs, for times when you've packed everything away but really need a tool that's easy to lay your hands on, then this set is neat and ideal. The pliers also well-sized for working with very small items. For prolonged work I would find them a little tiring and fiddly and probably wouldn't choose them over larger sized tools, if they were easily available.

If you're just starting out or if you fancy smaller tools for more delicate work, then mini pliers may well be worth trying. Buying a set of pliers is a handy way to get the most used tools for simple jewellery making and these are usable, portable, and useful. I've made earrings and necklaces with this set and found the pliers and cutter excellent with very delicate sterling silver wire and tiny gemstones.

I'm not one to have superfluous tools ("spare toolbox" aside) but useful tools, even if they're near copies of other tools, will find a place in my main toolbox every time.

~~~~

Please note: this post contains no affiliate links and I have no connection with any manufacturer or retailer of jewellery tools.

Friday, 30 June 2017

Jewelled Web - July 2017 - Link Love


Avenue of Lime Trees - Jewelled Web July 2017 SilverMoss Jewellery


It's really summer now, whatever the weather. The days are longer and, when the sun comes out, it's wonderful to feel its warmth. And even when it rains, well, it's still summer and that's what matters.

When the weather hasn't been so kind (or the wifi has stretched to outdoors) here's what I've been reading and bookmarking. Hope you enjoy.



~jewellery links~

So many jewellery making techniques have been around for centuries, including granulation.

More textured effects, this time created using a rolling mill - something still on my tool wish-list.

And yet more texture with a video on reticulation.

I adore these earrings, simple shapes and beautiful textures and colours.

Metal clay shell necklace tutorial - beautiful.

Simple and quick DIY makes, including a beaded lace cuff, a jewellery box, and how to make a plaster hand from a washing up glove to hold your jewellery.

What to do with leftover copper pipe after you've had a new bathroom fitted? Etch it.

The Pink Star diamond has sold in Hong Kong and set a new world record.



~non-jewellery links~

Fascinating article about a decades-long study on what makes us heathier - it's not just relationships but the quality of them...

A super-bloom of wildflowers that can be seen from space.

I love Cheryl Strayed (a film about her, Wild, is well worth watching and it's based on her book of the same title) and this piece by her about what writing (and reading) does for us is quite special.

Such a beautiful garden print, created by artist Fiona Willis

A publishing house in Iceland that produces books once a month and then burns the unsold books the next day...

Cinnamon can keep ants away and other amazing things it can do outside.

Online camera simulators for when you have to learn just what an f-stop really is.



~latest reads~

I've been binging on a lot of jewellery books of all kind the last month or so, but have really enjoyed re-reading Carles Codina's Handbook of Jewellery Techniques and Nicola Hurst's Start Making Jewellery in particular. Reviews to follow.

Non-fiction has been winning out over fiction lately for me, something I'm keen to overturn soon and find something wonderful to spend the warmer months with. But one of the best non-fiction books I've read in a long while is The Brain's Ways of Healing by Norman Doidge. If even half of this book is true then our brains are more fascinating and far more adaptable than we could ever have imagined and have the ability to transform our bodies. Totally recommended.


~~~

Here's hoping July is gentle and beautiful, in all ways. Enjoy your month.

~~~

Photo of the lime avenue taken during a wonderful walk in the park.

~~~

If you need more links then check out my Jewelled Web from July 2015.


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

Friday, 23 June 2017

Countryside Inspiration for Jewellery Designs - June 2017

Spring has begun its gentle slide into summer and whenever I'm out and about I've tried to snap photos as much as I can. All the photos in this post were taken on my camera phone as I've been trusting it far more lately to capture a good image for me. I've also been increasingly aware that the shapes and features that attract my eye in the landscape also feed into my approach to the jewellery I design and create.

Countryside Jewellery Inspiration Wheatfield by Silvermoss

The photo above of a green wheat field, backed with a wall, then a further field, and then the sky beyond made me consider the importance of both pattern and uniformity in jewellery design as well as aspects that break one or both of those qualities. Yes, the lines of the features in the photo run parallel to each other, but the spaces between those lines are all different - wide, narrow, narrow, wide and so they add interest and break expectations of a uniform pattern.

Creating differences through contrast in design is often pleasing - we naturally recognise rhythm and anything that alters or interupts it. The texture of the wheat itself, being pushed by the breeze, within the overall stripe it forms, shows how effective angles can be when set against horizonal patterns and shapes. And the clouds in the skyscape provide a rounded texture in contrast with all the lines in the photo, serving as a reminder how texture can be used as a subtle contrast.

Countryside Inspiration Bluebell Wood by SilverMoss

This photo was taken late into bluebell time, when I nearly missed the best of the blooms through a rather weighty migraine that kept me hidden away instead of experiencing the flowers at their most blue. But even here in this image, the carpet effect is still in evidence and the trees, as ever, provide a protective canopy against the harshness of direct sunshine and beautiful spots of light falling on the flowers.

If you imagine the scene without the blue hues then it becomes a little drab, something a little plain - the bluebells add interest and texture and show how detail can lift a design which, while still attractive, may also be a little flat without it.

Countryside Inspiration Gateway to the Wood by SilverMoss

The contrast between the sunlight falling on the wooden gate and fence and the gentler dappled shade in the woodland prompted me to take this photograph. Contrast adds interest in jewellery design, as do angles, like the one that the gate and fence are on which helps draw the eye through the image, and prevent a one-dimensional quality by adding depth. In jewellery, the fact it is three-dimensional and tactile is one of its great strengths and allows freedom in design to create that sense of movement within each piece.

I'm really enjoying examining the photos I take a little more closely, choosing a few of my favourites and thinking about why I took them and like them so much and how certain elements of design manifests in my jewellery designs as well.

Do share anything you've noted in these images, or in any others you yourself may have taken, and leave a comment below. And if you fancy seeing my earlier posts on photographic inspiration they are here (on the seaside) and here (on flowers).