Friday, 24 March 2017

Broken tools...

Broken wire cutters - Silvermoss

The collection of tools that I use for jewellery making has been built up over years on a need-to-have basis. It's also been built up quite cheaply. But I've grown used to my mismatched pliers and wire cutters and have my favourites and others that are consigned to a box for emergency use only. Or when someone wants to borrow one of my tools for a non-jewellery task (this does happen, although thankfully not frequently - I keep my tools carefully to make sure they do their best for the silver).

It's proved quite handy that most of them have different coloured handles (I know which pair I'm reaching for by colour) rather than having a matching set and while I've wondered at times what the difference really is between a £5 pair of pliers and a £50 pair, I've not worried too much because the tools I have work and I'm (mostly) happy with them.

So it was with some consternation that I discovered my trusty wire cutters (yellow, bought circa 2005 in Sheffield, I believe, for around £4) were broken. A quick survey of the damage led me to the conclusion that they should still work for the time being, albeit with a slightly different style of action, and so I wasn't made to either explore my stash of emergency-only tools or dash to the local hardware shop for a rushed replacement.

But it did make me wonder what those jewellers with expensive tools would say the advantages are over cheaper ones. Are they worth the extra expensive? What is the difference? Should I indulge in a branded set of wire cutters when I do replace mine?

Please do leave a comment if you've any advice or even if you just know how it feels when a trusty tool, of whatever monetary value, passes its sell-by date...

Friday, 17 March 2017

Jeweller Interview with Nanuk Jewellery

Nanuk jewellery photo - SilverMoss blogLouise from Nanuk Jewellery is one of those clever jewellers who are as happy working with precious metals and semi-precious gems as they are working with polymer clay.

The proliferation of dragons in her work also marks her out as a craftswoman skilled enough to transfer creations of myth and fantasy into works of silver and clay art.

And if you've ever fancied carrying your very own dragon with you, in a locket around your neck then you've found the right jeweller for you. Enjoy the interview.

When and how did you start making jewellery?

I have always enjoyed making things and trying different crafts, and eventually I came across beadwork and jewellery making. I was amazed to discover you could even study jewellery making at university, so that’s what I eventually did!

How did you think of your shop name and does it have a story behind it?

I knew I wanted a logo, so when I had trouble coming up with a name for my business I started working on a logo instead and came up with my bear. After some reading into bears, I discovered Nanuk is an Inuit name for a polar bear, which seemed to fit with my little bear and so I became Nanuk Jewellery.

Nanuk jewellery photo - SilverMoss blog

Where do your design ideas come from and what is the process that sees them through to the finished product?

I like trying new techniques and materials, so quite often I will start by trying out some basic ideas in a new technique before starting to experiment and see where I can go with it. Quite often my ideas develop around a stone, or the beads or metal I have to hand and what I can do with them.

I read a lot and love illustrated books, and sometimes this or something I have seen on a walk will give me an idea which I will sketch for trying out in the future. I don’t often sketch ideas out before making them, at least not in full, unless I am working on a commission and have to show some suggestions; sometimes I sketch out the vaguest intention of what I have in mind and the final form comes into place once I start thinking about what materials and techniques I want to use to create the piece.

Where do you create your jewellery; do you have your own studio or use a kitchen table? Does your physical space affect how you work and what you can create?

I do have my own little studio space, but it is in an outside shed so it can get quite cold! It has a jeweller’s bench and my larger equipment, so it’s not really suitable for design work or metal clay (which I work with quite a lot) anyway. The rest of the time I work from the kitchen table, often with headphones on and something on my ipad in the background.

Nanuk jewellery photo - SilverMoss blog

How do you motivate yourself to keep on creating?

I am usually always making something, jewellery or otherwise, so not much motivation required! I really enjoy making things and trying out new crafts. My problem is trying to narrow down my project list so I don’t have too much on the go all at once.

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

Probably my many pairs of pliers are my most useful tools, and the ones I use just about every day, and my tumble polisher has become indispensable! My wishlist would include some enamelling equipment, as that’s the next technique I would like to try as another way to add colour to my work.

Nanuk jewellery photo - SilverMoss blog Nanuk jewellery photo - SilverMoss blog

What is your favourite part of making and selling jewellery?

I enjoy being able to see an idea in my head made into something tangible, and being able to share it and hear what other people think of it, which is why I enjoy doing craft fairs and being able to meet the people looking at my work in person.

Which social media platform do you find the most enjoyable and helpful, and how do you use it?

Surprisingly, considering I wasn’t attracted to the site when I first decided to join it for my business, I have found Twitter to be probably my most successful social media outlet. I don’t always post very regularly, I have trouble thinking of things to say and have considered stopping it to concentrate on my Facebook and Instagram pages, but I have had some great conversations on there and found some of my most faithful fans through Twitter!

How do you hope your jewellery making will evolve over time? How do you see your shop changing?

I have so many different ideas I want to work on that I sometimes worry my shop is becoming a bit too eclectic; I already have two shops, Nanuk Jewellery and Nanuk Designs, to separate out my range of steampunk and fantasy-inspired polymer clay jewellery from my silver and stone jewellery. I would hope in the future to find a niche I can really focus on, and create a more cohesive, distinctive Nanuk style.

Nanuk jewellery photo - SilverMoss blog

Thanks so much for such a great interview, Louise, I hope others have enjoyed your words and the photos of your beautiful jewellery. 
All photographs in this post ©Nanuk Jewellery

If you would like to see more of Louise's work then do check out the links below - and I can definitely recommend taking a look at Nanuk Designs on Etsy for those whimsical locket dragons.

Website - Nanuk Jewellery
Shop - On Etsy and Folksy
Facebook - Nanuk Jewellery
Twitter - Nanuk Jewellery
Instgram - Nanuk Jewellery

Friday, 10 March 2017

A Vantage Point of Light and Flowers

Vantage Point of White Azalea Flower - SilverMoss blog

At this time of year light is increasingly present in the lengthening days; it feels like a balm after the long nights of winter. A sunny morning, the lighter evenings both send more natural light into our lives. And light always matters to a jeweller, whether it's finding enough to see those tiny jump rings, keeping it dull enough to be able to solder in (I had to shut a gloriously sun-drenched morning out recently as I couldn't see the flame from my torch in the light), or having bright but diffused light in which to photograph the finished creation.

Light is also the name of an internet startup whom I've been in contact with. It's also the name of their camera, which is of course so logical (since cameras are all about light) that I'm surprised no one has thought of it before now.

Along with other bloggers, from a variety of fields and interests, I've been asked to share a Vantage Point that matters to me, somewhere I find inspiring and beautiful. I've chosen gardens, mine specifically. But, in general, any one that has a profusion of plants is enough to prompt me to reach for my camera.

The photograph I've shown here is of a flower from an azalea plant that was given as a gift. When I looked through my archives I realised that so many of the photos of plants are actually images of flowers, ways of getting up close to them so the colour, texture, and the very structure of them is the subject of the photo and nothing else. I guess this fascination with the form of the small is reflected in much of my jewellery too. My creations tend to be petite and delicate-looking rather than big and bold. In both plants and jewellery, it's the detail of the tiny that interests me.

I don't have a particularly advanced camera and tend to use very little equipment so natural light matters a lot to my outside photography. Whether it's sunlight filtered through leaves or a cloudy day, natural light isn't always easy to use but it is an endlessly interesting challenge. The azalea image was taken on a cloudy day which had bursts of bright winter sunshine; some of the other images I took are a little more muted than the one I eventually chose.

When I'm next able to indulge in a new camera I will look at the Light model. It's price is pretty high-end and it is, at present, only available to those who've already pre-ordered them, although you can sign up for more information. But with the amount of features, including the ability to work well in low light and a feature that lets you change your area of focus after the photograph has been taken , fitted into a device around the size of a smart phone it is closer to a DSLR than a point-and-shoot style of camera.

So, today, my Vantage Point is my garden. Tomorrow it could be the seaside or a woodland. Quite often it's my mini jewellery photography studio. And at others times it's a snap taken from a car window that just happens, when I look at it later, to have captured entirely the mood I was hoping it would, with colours, textures, atmosphere and, of course, light, all just perfect.

Do you have a Vantage Point, somewhere you return to either to challenge your photography or to allow you just to enjoy how it photographs for you? If so, then feel free to share.


NB. Whilst I was contacted by Light and asked to take part in their Vantage Point project I am otherwise not connected with them and the links in my post are not affiliate links.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Jewelled Web - March 2017 - Link Love

Spring sunshine, shadows and trees - Jewelled Web March 2017 Silvermoss

February was another cold month. I know it warmed up a little towards the end but mostly it was chill, grey and sometimes white with snow. That said, I have seen brave flowers rearing their heads; snowdrops, hellebores, crocuses and miniature irises are all promising brighter days.

~jewellery links~

Beautiful copper clay bracelet and a detailed tutorial to make it.

I've only once or twice combined metals but work by some artists using silver, copper and brass makes me think I must do it again - take a look at this and this.

Speaking of brass, I love this simple tutorial on making a brass triangle necklace.

And this is an interesting post about soldering brass - it's not jewellery-based but is still worth a read if you're thinking of working in brass.

Pretty and practical jewellery display stands - or make your own terrarium-style.

A detailed tutorial, with great photos, on adding patina to a copper or brass bangle.

Amazing lightbulb/bumble bee jewellery.

Can you make a living making jewellery? A brief but positive article.

It's spring (well, nearly) and so this tutorial for making a bird's nest brooch is very timely. Also, it's very charming.

~non-jewellery links~

Breathtakingly beautiful and award-winning photographs of gardens, from around the world.

A tutorial for a tiny house made from polymer clay and a lot of care and time...

Found underneath the floorboards of an old house, a four hundred year old shopping list.

An old thread but full of tips and advice on how to make the best-ever scrambled eggs.

February brought a wonderful display in the sky (which was entirely hidden by clouds for me) of a Snow Moon, lunar eclipse and a comet streaking by... if you missed it too then photos worth seeing are here.

And if you're a little fed up of only hearing about comets and the like after they've gone by, then this site called Comet Watch looks very handy.

Since I've never even been to Australia, I can't blame the weather for missing 'Melbhenge' however.

I can't resist this video of a seal taking a ride on a kayak in the Firth of Forth...

~latest reads~

Nightbird by Alice Hoffman - I didn't realise this was a YA (young adult) novel when I bought it and I did find the writing a little more simplistic than previous books by Alice Hoffman that I've read, but the themes were as universal and as touching as ever.

So many books seem to carry their amount of pages as a badge of honour or worth, so it's nice to find a shorter book (just over 200 pages) that has as much beautifully written and insightful content The Summer Without Men by Siri Hustvedt, as many books twice the length.

I do have quite a love of history and have indulged it a little in this true story, The Inheritor's Powder by Sandra Hempel. If you enjoyed the book The Suspicions of Mr Whicher (by Kate Summerscale) then chances are you'll love this too. A fascinating tale of family dysfunction and gruesome poisoning in 1833, I finished the last few chapters of this one night when I couldn't sleep and it really didn't help...


Enjoy browsing the links and have a wonderful month of March.


If you fancy seeing some more links then take a look at my Jewelled Web from March 2015 to see what I was looking at and reading then.

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