Scraphappy – August 2019

I’m part of a jewellery group on Facebook (well, I’m a member of a few now), but this one is run by a wonderful Silversmith, who’s teaching style makes her hints and tips invaluable. Joanne has classes on Skillshare (get 2 free months of premium membership here  Free – did I mention that?!) and one of her recent classes is about creating a specialised tool.

The metal rod on a stick you can see at the front of this photo, DSC_0332.JPGis a commercial bezel pusher.

A bezel is the bit of metal that sits around a stone (usually a smooth stone) holding it in to the piece of jewellery.

It’s an essential bit of kit and usually inexpensive – I think I bought mine for under a fiver, but as you can see, it’s reasonably large – the working end of this one is about 5mm x 5mm square.

It’s perfect for pieces such as this large stone: 1-PrehniteNecklace(https://www.etsy.com/uk/DawnGillDesigns/listing/702387670)

 

 

 

 

 

Not so much for these12-12-DSCF8980 small stones with silver detailing close to the bezel – there’s no room for the tool to fit down the edge:

(https://www.etsy.com/uk/DawnGillDesigns/listing/700439377)

 

 

What I had been using was a tiny steel rule to get into the nooks and crannies, and I was feeling restricted by the material, but now I’ve these new tools, there are many more possibilities. 😀

I used scrap from the Steptoe-Shed, some bolt cutters that Lovely-Sue gave us, prosecco corks from my hoard, some leather scraps also from my bookbinding days and my old whetstone from 1990.

Two hours (and the loss of my fingerprints) later I have these gorgeous mini tools.

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Scraphappy is a challenge / regular community posting run by Kate and her chum. There are a number of us that join in – I’m a rarity, working with hard metals. I also am one of the least regular contributors!

The variety of creations made by these talented craftspeople* is astonishing, well worth nipping over to  take a look at their sites, and perhaps follow any that interest you.

KateGun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancyAlysKerryClaireJean,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawn (ME!)Gwen, Connie, Bekki, Pauline and Sue L.

*List accurate for July2019 Kate always has the main list on her site. She always inspires me to consider getting out my needles. ‘Course, I don’t – I’ve shinies to be making, but hey, one can imagine.

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Posted in #HandmadeHour, friends, processes, ScrapHappy, silver, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Scrap-Happy May 2019

I usually schedule my #ScrapHappy posts. Not this month. I got distracted by spring, elections and orders!

Still. better late than never and all that.

One of the joys of my job is I often get asked to repair or replace a damaged / missing item. Most often it’s earrings. I think I’ve said before that there are some people who never lose an earring, and others who seem to have them forcibly rejected by their piercings.

I was asked, in April to make a matching (or similar) earring to this forlorn orphan (photos at the end. hover / click for descriptions). My pal didn’t know if I’d be able to, so told me all the bits she loved about it in case I couldn’t and simply had to make something similar.

This post is about my process in making the replacement pair. I added a simple jumpring bail to the original, so she could wear it as a pendant if she wished

First, I drew round the flat piece of silver that formed the base, and hunted through my scrap box for some sheet that was the right size and thickness. I didn’t have any, but the piece is only small, so I thinned and stretched some other pieces til they had sufficient surface area and became the same thickness – thanks Morris-The-Mill 🙂

Stuck them together with double sided tape (did I mention already I bought this about 35 years ago in a village jumble sale? It’s clearly not in the least biodegradable, but at least I’m using it*) and sawed out the basic shape.

Next up was to solder on the wire accents. I ferkled some more, and retrieved some of the off-cuts of wire that occur when I’m coiling jumprings – there’s always an incomplete ring at one end, and a tail at the other, so I keep those for just this kind of occasion. A bit of snipping, filing and melting to create a ball on one end, and then I sweat soldered them to the base plates. I drilled the holes, filing with my super fine file. I made the curly dangle using fresh (ie new to me, recycled silver wire) that I balled at either end, and then tumbled them all in Betty.

I had some seed pearls and turquoise beads left over from other projects – whenever I buy gem beads there are always some that are either damaged, or have holes too fine to accommodate my favourite 0.8mm wire, so I used those for this pair – because the tiny bit of wire isn’t taking any weight or much movement, very fine wire will be fine as the wear will be minimal.

My chum was properly delighted with her replacements, and I had great fun making them. Everyone’s a winner, as I like to say!

*this tape gets either burnt off when I heat the silver, or peeled off, rolled in a ball with any silver dust from the sawing, and goes into my ‘sweeps’ pot. That will then be returned to a bullion refiner along with all the old emery paper, sawblades and the like . They then reclaim all the precious metal. I have a separate pot for the lemel – ie the silver sawdust, bits with any solder on etc, and another for any gold. This also will be sent off to the bullion dealer – once I reach the minimum requirement of 500grams.

The rest of the #ScrapHappy gang (led by Kate and Gun) can be found here:

Kate , Gun, Titti, Heléne, Eva, Sue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan, Karen,
Moira, Sandra, Linda, Chris, Nancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean, Johanna,
Joanne, Jon, Hayley, ME 🙂, Gwen, Connie, Bekki, Pauline and Sue L.

Posted in friends, processes, ScrapHappy, silver, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 14 Comments

March Meet The Maker 2019

Many of my friends have been participating in #MarchMeetTheMaker over on Instagram. I didn’t – in part because I didn’t want to overload the kind people who follow my accounts and in part because I try to make each post interesting – or at least amusing (plus I was a more than a little overwhelmed at the thought of 31 daily, non vegetable related posts!)

I have, however found it to be incredible interesting and it’s given me a whole load of new genius crafter/artists to spend my hard saved pennies with (do pop over and take a look). You will find lots of inspiring creatives to follow, including a few fabulous people whose work I’ve already bought, and whom I’d like to support / buy from later. I thought it would be appropriate to share some of my new favourites* with you

I’m adding links to their instagram pages, or their websites, each of which should open in a new window.

First up, because she’s the organiser of #MarchMeetTheMaker2019 and has some lovely cards that work for all sorts of occasions Joanne Hawker

Then, in no particular order

Amazing paper engineer Hannah Kokoschka

Awesome fabric designer and sewer Ailsa Wilson who I’ve followed for ages, gradually adding to and improving upon my household soft furnishings

Fabulous free-motion embroidery artist Rebecca Bruton 

(I’m cheating a tad here – I actually discovered Rebecca by accident, at the local Craft4Crafters fair in February. She is as lovely in person as she appears on t’interweb)

I bought this print from her                     

And now it’s hanging in our dining room, adding some much needed class

Inspiring floral artist (and embroiderer – there’s a theme here!) Dartmoor Flower Shed

Paper artist ThoughtsPaperScissors

Traditional (with a twist) embroiderer  Emma Knapton

Quilting for Borrowers Miss Leela

Mixed media artist Veronica 

Amazing (and local – hurrah!) ceramicist MarieAnne 

Papermaker (I trained as a bookbinder, so I have a special place in my heart for hand printed papers) Katrina 

Stained and fused glass genius Juliet Forrest I adore glass, and would love to have some stained glass in my home. Perhaps that’s the next thing to save for

So, I hope that you too have enjoyed having a look at the inspiring work created by these talented women

*All bar Rebecca I found purely through this campaign.

 

Posted in Meet The Maker, Stuff I love, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

My attempt at a USP, and connection

Something I have been planning to share for a while, is how I approach the whole ‘interacting with paying customers’ part of my little jewellery business, and why.

When my newly-wed, city dwelling parents moved to rural Devon from the suburbs of London in 1970, the small village had it’s own saddler, blacksmith, baker, shop, post office, doctor primary school and until just before they moved, a bus to the local town and it’s own fully staffed tiny police station, complete with cell. Plus of course (like most Devon villages) a couple of pubs, a church and a chapel. It was still lacking any useable public transport, and by the time I escaped left the village in 1990 to go to college, all bar the school, churches, pubs and Post Office had closed. I have an extremely faint memory of watching the blacksmith in his forge, none of the bakery but many stronger memories of Alan the Saddler (they lived opposite us) and the shop. What I do remember is being able to watch their commissioned work being made, and I wanted to be able to echo that with my work.

Most of my sales come through Etsy, and are either of items I’ve already made, or repeat sales of an item I made earlier (at the moment Bat’leths and these earrings are very popular 🙂 ).  I make practically everything myself (regular exceptions being boltring clasps, butterfly backs and fine chain) and it’s important to me to try and engage with each person; recapturing and sharing that sense of creation, community and awe I gained as a child when I watched an expert craftsman make something useful and beautiful from raw ingredients. That connection – with craft and with people – however minor is crucial to me.

Now, I’m far from expert, but I do recognise the element of truth in the phrase ‘ignorance is bliss’ Anyone with a skill will understand how, one friend will be completely amazed by something you can do well, without thinking about it – parallel parking, joke telling, knitting, long division, tolerating small children, sewing – all these are things I wish I could do better (or in the case of knitting and maths – do at all!) They are also all things that most other people don’t see in themselves as an amazing skill / superpower, merely something they learnt along the way.

The same thing goes for me and my jewellery. As I said, I’m not an expert, I don’t consider myself highly skilled and I learn something new every week – usually via a mistake, but I recognise that for most people the process of forging something wearable from a precious metal seems shrouded in archaic skill.

So, whenever I receive an order for something that I need to make before I can dispatch it, I send my customer regular work in progress photos. ‘WiP-Pics’. Yes it adds to the time it takes me, no I don’t factor that into my fee, yes it bemuses some people, but I like to think it adds to their overall experience. Crucially it helps me feel that connection to my roots as a craftswoman / artisan maker (if that doesn’t sound too pretentious). The upside is that it helps me justify that my work is more costly than something off the shelf, or imported from overseas, and I feel that my Wip-Pics help to communicate why that is the case. Of course, if it’s a gift then the giftee will also get to benefit from the experience of having commissioned something. It’s all part of adding value.

So, here’s a recent commission, and some of it’s allied WiP-Pics here, so you can get an idea of how this might feel.

Before I start- here are the formal photos of the finished piece, taken with my 2009, point and click compact Fuji FinePixF10 (that’s my neck, not my customer’s!). I don’t do any post production editing with my pictures – I want the finished article to be better than the photos, so I never use a filter, or do anything editty other than crop, group and superimpose text. I might not get quite as many sales as all those flat-laying professionals, but I’m happier

 

WiP-Pics. All taken with my phone (Sony G3121)

I’ve annotated each of them – when I send them to my customer, I include a brief summary of what’s happening, and any decisions that need to be made by them – choice of stone, changes if the original brief isn’t going to work, clarification on sizing etc

Firstly, after the design is agreed upon, there’s inevitably some fine tuning. In this project that was predominantly on the sizing of the beaten hoops, and the exact gemstones to be included

Then there’s the manufacturing of the pieces. Done in three stages- the main decorative element (silver rings sawn, beaten, stamped, shaped, stones wrapped, assembled)

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1 Using a socket set to form a consistent coil, which I then saw from the inside, to create evenly sized jumprings

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2 Annealing the jumprings after filing

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3 Jumprings soldered closed, any unevenness filed, hammered on my block to make them flat (and the rest of that day’s coils for other projects which includes the components for those earrings I mentioned earlier)

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4 Reshaping the rings – the hammering tends to distort them a little Selecting the best and putting them in order, annealing after the letters are stamped in, taping one to my steel block so it doesn’t move when stamping

 

The second part is to make the chain that goes round the back of the neck

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Chain 1 Coiling the jumprings for the individual links, setting them up on my saw, the coils after sawing

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Chain 2 Tiny pallions of solder (this gets rolled through my mill, pickled to clean, then snipped into pieces – see one on my finger tip?!) All those jumprings came from the three coils in the last collage The difference in finish that a tumble makes

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Chain 3 Stretch the jumpring Pinch the jumpring Bend the jumpring Repeat. I need 5 for every 2cm of chain (All four stages)

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chain 4 Not all joints survive the stretching process! Assembling the chain

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chain 5 Using the draw-plate (before, with a scrap of leather I use to help protect my fingers when gripping the leading wire) One un-drawn, one drawn, one tumbled Into the tumbler they go

Finally, assemble the two and dispatch, all the while hoping that the finished article is better than the customer envisioned!

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Quick photos with my phone, to check everything works

Posted in processes, silver, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments

I made a new tool!

This entertained me. I joined a few jewellery / metal-smithing forums over the past year, and one of them mentioned using a clothespeg as a useful tool.

Now, I love to get something for nothing, and also to find something that is multi-functional.

I’ve wrapped an elastic band (thanks to Judith, our postie for that) round it and then it becomes a small clamp, perfect for holding flat things. The advantage this has over a traditional ring clamp is:

1-clothespeg-clamp

a) it was free

b) it’s easy to operate with one hand

c) I can rest it on my bench peg more easily

d) smug factor – did I mention it was free?!

Smug factor is a big part of my life, and I love to get a new moment of smugness.

I made these earrings using some scrap silver and the clothespeg. I was just using up a bit of scrap, from an early bangle I had made myself – it’s a bit too skinny for my personal preference, so I wanted to recycle it into something else.

I decided to run it through my mill, and flattened it slightly. This made for a very long piece of wire with a rectangular profile and the narrow edges having a delightfully battered finish making them less precise and rather more interesting than if I had used the rectangular wire sold by bullion dealers. I then coiled it into jump rings, using my new clamp to keep the rectangular profile from twisting and my mandrels, to make a coil, sawed it us and soldered the wonky ones at either end into closed jump rings. I’ve stretched them a little with my oval mandrel, and then soldered on earwires.

Finally I added a couple of interesting hematite beads I’ve had for ages, – I bought the strand because of the shape (interestingly shaped, decent quality, sustainable /fairtrade, gem, beads are surprisingly challenging to find), shaped and hammered the earwires and then sent then for a run through the tumbler for work hardening and shine. I think they look rather splendid, even if I do say so myself.

I didn’t think I’d make more than one pair (and these are intended as the tip for my hairdresser – if only I could actually pay for my haircut with jewellery!), but I love them, so I might make some more.

I’ve been late coming to the scraphappy party so I cheated and scheduled this ready for February – if you haven’t read any of the posts from the other contributors, take a look at the links at the end of this post.

ovalhematiteearrings

Kate (who runs it), Gun, Titti, Heléne, Eva, Sue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan, Karen,
Moira, Sandra, Linda, Chris, Nancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean, Johanna,
Joanne, Jon, Hayley, Gwen and Connie

Posted in DGDCheeryUppy, geek, processes, ScrapHappy, silver, Tech Tip, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments