ScrapHappy January 2023 – #MrG does a Pallet

As you will probably know, we rent a couple of municipal allotments and every Christmas, rather than buy gifts for MrG’s family, they get a #GillyHamper. It’s usually filled with allotment preserves – jams I’ve made throughout the year and chutneys MrG makes (some successful, some not so!) and sweet treats we bake before delivering just before Christmas. This year MrG wanted to add some personal crafting to try and encourage his family to embrace nature, so he made everyone a bug hotel.

Of course, to be in keeping with our ethos, we didn’t want to buy anything, so he used some old pallets that were too broken for ‘proper’ reuse to make his little houses, plus the better of the bamboo canes left from this year’s beans. Initially he also reused screws from other dismantled projects, but as he likes to use A LOT of screws rather than proper joints for everything, he had to buy some more. He also ran out of the deck oil, so that was purchased. He also said that when he next does some shed repairs at the allotment, there’s be some felt offcuts, that he’ll use to cap the roofs, but never-the-less, here’s what he made, and how:

One pallet similar to the one in the trailer above made 13 bug hotels from one side, one for each hamper.

Instructions –

Break apart the pallet as carefully as possible. Note that each side usually differs in thickness – keep them separated if you want to make your bug hotels matchy-matchy. Set a marker at 10cm, and for each hotel cut 6 lengths at 10 cm.

Then you need another differently sized piece for the rear of the hotel. Make this stubbier by sawing it it to same length as the pallet strip is wide plus it’s thickness. You might want to wait and measure this more precisely after you assemble the other components

Then cut one final piece at 18cm which will act as a hanging plate (depending on your pallet, you might be able to get all this from one strip)

Note that there are long sides and short sides to those first 6 pieces.

Four of these become the roof, and two the base.

Pre drill for each screw, as pallets are routinely made from poor quality wood and will split easily, screwing the short ends together for the roof pairs (ie roof A+B are one pair) and the long sides for the base pair.

Screw the first roof pair to the base, followed by the second roof pair. You should have the back flat/flush, with a small overhang creating eaves to keep the worst of the weather out. The middle of the 3 photos above shows this before the second roof pair is fixed

Screw on the back, then the long back plate which sits outside all these.

Fill with bamboo canes, also cut to 10cm lengths. Jam them in as tightly as you can. MrG decided against gluing these in as he wants to be able to take them out and clean or replace occasionally to reduce the risk of disease. Coat with (ideally an organic) deck oil / outdoor paint and hang in a sheltered spot. We install ours where it’s cool, but not too draughty, and out of direct sunshine and where the rain won’t blow in at about 1.5 metres high.

ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything – no new materials.

It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture. Anything made of genuine scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful or useful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month?

Email Kate at the address on her Contact Me page. You can also contact Gun via her blog to join.

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy on occasion.

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, 
Jill, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys,
Claire, Jean, Jon, Dawn, Jule, Gwen,
Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue L, Vera,
Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2, Carol,
Preeti, Debbierose, Nóilin and Viv

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Posted in #Allotment, Hamlin Lane Allotments, ScrapHappy, Uncategorized | 12 Comments

ScrapHappy September 2022 – Fire brick offcuts – one woman’s waste is another’s wonder

It would appear I only have photos combining the woodburner with a cocktail 🙂

We installed a woodburner back in 2018. A DEFRA approved one, obviously. It replaced the open fire in the front room that was standard when our home was built in 1936. This has the extra benefit of reducing the draught (and dirt!) whistling down the chimney and retains the spirit of the house*.

Because we’ve had an open fire since 2001 when we moved in, I’ve employed a number of chimney sweeps, before settling on our current one. It’s a joy to finally have someone so clean, organised, thoughtful and informative. She always checks through everything carefully and explains all the reasoning which means that after every sweep and inspection I’m left a little more knowledgable and reassured without that creeping feeling of idiocy that’s often what happens when I speak with an expert. Did you know that a decent Sweep can tell what type of fuel** you are burning from the soot? And that they ought to share that feedback with the householder? I do now 🙂

Jo knows that I’m a jeweller, with an enthusiasm for reusing and reducing waste so back in the summer she asked if I’d like the offcuts of the fireproof bricks / sheet that line stoves.

These bricks usually only last a couple of years of intense heat within a stove before they need replacing, and because she’s all about paring costs to the bone and being economical in every area, she buys large sheets of the material, cutting them precisely to fit each stove as and when necessary. This gives her customer an exact fit for their stove and saves them some money but of course gives her an element of waste.

Jo’s magic box of firebrick offcuts, plus our replacements – look at the attention to detail in the edges of the ones for instal

She’s been saving them up for me, so when she came for this year’s check and sweep, she left me the offcuts for both our bricks and some in a variety of shapes, sizes and depths, from the other stove liners she’s replaced. She wouldn’t accept any payment for them either, so I could only trade with homemeade allotment PiccaGilly (this is a double win for me)

What do I want these pieces for I hear you ask?

Well, soldering props of course.

When soldering silver it’s crucial to have a flush and clean join. The whole piece usually needs to be brought close to the melting temperature of the solder, which means that any earlier joints are at risk of melting – obviously rarely a good thing.

Over heating – either too hot or too long with the flame – is also a bad thing, as that produces fire-scale / fire stain which is a struggle to remove and results in much language my mother doesn’t approve of, and usually I have to remake the whole piece

So it’s really helpful to set up the pieces that need joining in a way to minimise torch time and intensity.

A variety of props to appease thesoldering gods

I do this by utilising all sorts of things as little rests for the metal to sit on – stacking stuff up as a wall or tower for something to lean on, or making a little bridge so I can direct the torch flame upwards, heating a bezel from below, for example.

Often I’ll use a penny or an offcut of copper – usually when I want the prop to do double duty as a heat sink – absorbing some of the heat from the silver resting on it, which helps to even the odds if soldering something tiny (such as an ear wire) to something larger, or a 6mm diameter fine silver bezel setting in this instance

Sometimes though I can’t afford to drain the heat, I want simply to support something, which is where firebrick offcuts come in. You can see I’ve used some of them to make a bridge for a tieslide, which enables me to get the flame in beneath the larger piece of metal, which in turn will even up the intensity so the smaller piece is less likely to melt.

Here’s the finished slide, complete with it’s full UK and Platinum Jubilee hallmark (currently available in my Etsy shop)

Woodstore in the potting shed #MRG built onto the side of our large shed

*It’s only tiny, and we use it occasionally, in place of the regular heating. We are careful with our wood, sourcing it from a local tree surgeon who stores and drys it for a good period before delivering it by the trailer load. We then store it in a very dry sun-baked greenhouse, effectively kiln drying it for another long period. The logs we’ll be burning this winter are from the 2019 delivery.

**and therefore how responsible a firestarter one is. I delegate all and any tasks I find unpleasant, such as sourcing logs, emptying bins, to #MrG*** so he was delighted with the 10/10 score he received for the standard of his soot

*** I warned him this would happen.

ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything – no new materials.

It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture. Anything made of genuine scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful or useful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month?

Email Kate at the address on her Contact Me page. You can also contact Gun via her blog to join.

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy on occasion.

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, 
Jill, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys,
Claire, Jean, Jon, Dawn, Jule, Gwen,
Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue L, Vera,
Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2, Carol,
Preeti, Debbierose, Nóilin and Viv

Posted in Law, Hallmark, processes, ScrapHappy, silver, Tech Tip, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 17 Comments

ScrapHappy August 2022 – Seaglass

This year one of MrG’s nieces got married in Lindos, and all the family were invited. It’s one of the many events that was bumped due to the various C-19 lockdowns, and it was the first time we’d left the country since we went to Kalbarri in 2010.

We’ve all been waiting for this holiday since we were invited in 2019 which gave us a lot of anticipation.

I love to beachcomb so I had the idea of collecting some seaglass to make Laura and Dan some celebratory jewellery as a wedding gift. We spent many happy hours ferreting through the shingle to find suitable pieces.

When we got home I sorted the various pieces into colours, then into pairs using an old ice-cube tray to compartmentalise them and we selected a matching pair for tiny drop earrings and a couple of other pieces for a tie-pin and a pendant.

This post is to explain how I made them.

The examples shown are some of the pieces I’ve made for my shop and also as test pieces for me, not the ones I gave away 😉

As you know all my silver is already recycled, but I haven’t used offcuts for these, the only scrap is the actual seaglass.

I plan to make some more pieces with the bits I have remaining and to offer a service of converting people’s own foraged pieces into jewellery for them

First up is to bend wire into a pair of V’s and then place them next to each other like this

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and then I solder closed a small jumpring which (after pickling) I place on top of the joint, and solder again so it’s all one piece.

Depending on how the final piece is to be used, I either solder on an earwire, pin or piece of wire as a bail.

So far, so standard – the next part is to fold the wires over the glass, holding it in place.

But, the wire needs to be trimmed to size, the ends rounded and the lengths need the metal equivalent of scoring to ensure they fold neatly to ensure they don’t chip or provide too much strain on the glass

As always – it’s measure twice, so I lay the glass onto the setting, mark where the claws will need to bend, trim the excess and then use a small cup burr to round the tips and tiny needle files to file in the score line allowing space for the wire to bend.

I do one pair of claws at a time to ensure I get a snug fit!

Finally it’s time to smooth the claw ends. I use Irene-The-Foredom for this, and a silicone burr. Then they have good wash and a tumble to clean and pring up the shine on the silver.

I think I’m going to offer this as a bespoke service with people’s own seaglass. If it’s something you’d be interested in, or if you’d like to order this exact pair you can do so on mye website here

And in exceptionally #CheeryUppy news, I discovered this month that AusPost are no longer prohibiting jewellery, which means I can send orders over to Australia from either my website or my Etsy shop. Huzzah!!

ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything – no new materials.

It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture. Anything made of genuine scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful or useful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month?

Email Kate at the address on her Contact Me page. You can also contact Gun via her blog to join.

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy on occasion.

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, 
Jill, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys,
Claire, Jean, Jon, Dawn, Jule, Gwen,
Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue L, Vera,
Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2, Carol,
Preeti, Debbierose, Nóilin and Viv

Posted in cheeryuppy, DGDCheeryUppy, processes, ScrapHappy, silver, Tech Tip, tutorial, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 20 Comments

ScrapHappy Reticulation July 2022

I’ve failed to document our scrappy makes recently, which is rubbish, but I did revisit reticulation this month, and reuse the smaller pieces of that…

Reticulation* is where a sheet of sterling silver is heated to annealing temperature, quenched, pickled and repeated, a dozen times which results in the copper element of the alloy** has been depleted from the surface, effectively creating a layer of pure silver. The final torching that’s then applied is to melt that delicate layer of fine silver, without melting the rest of the sheet.

It’s a delicate balancing act, and if done well results in a fabulous texture of silver, that’s unique to that piece. It’s also something I love but find quite challenging to do – just like making toasted cheese – if the grill pan is too high, or left a fraction too long the toasted cheese isn’t bubbly and browned, but burnt and the smoke alarm’s howling!

I’ve learned that I should use a tip #20 to do the basic depletion annealing (the initial 12 heats) and then I have found it better to drop to a tip 21 or 22 for the final textural melt. If I get that just right, I can make the delicate top layer of silver flow a little on the surface.

As shown in this photo of me soldering a ring, the heat Smelty-Melty produces is intense in both temperature and scale, so the margin for error when using her is less than when using a standard handheld butane torch (such as a Dremel 2200)

I’ve made a number of bangles and necklaces using this technique, and then, because I did melt some holes into the lengths of the silver, making them unsuitable for a bangle or a cuff, I made myself some earrings from those shorter pieces for our recent holiday.

There’s then much careful sawing, filing and sanding followed by cunning use of dressmaker pins to support the tiny 3mm jumprings I solder to the backs of the sawn shapes to use to connect the pieces together

Here’s what I made all those pieces into (with the original pair on the left). Because I’ve been asked on every occasion of wearing If I have put them into either Etsy or my website, I made a range, and yes, now they are in my shop 😉

*Not the same retic you chaps in Australia have at all!!

**copper represents 7.5% of sterling silver, and is added to fine silver to add strength making it more durable than fine silver. It’s the copper element that oxidises)

ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything – no new materials. It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture. Anything made of genuine scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful or useful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month?

Email Kate at the address on her Contact Me page. You can also contact Gun via her blog to join. We welcome new members. You don’t have to worry about making a long term commitment or even join in every month, just let either of them know a day or so in advance if you’re new and you’ll have something to show, so they can add your link. Regular contributors will receive an email reminder three days before the event.

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at).

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys,
Claire, Jean, Jon, Dawn (me), Jule, Gwen,
Bekki, Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue L, Vera,
Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2, Bear, Carol,
Preeti, Edith, Debbierose and Viv

Posted in #SmeltyMelty, Aquaflame,, processes, ScrapHappy, silver, Tech Tip, tutorial, Uncategorized | 17 Comments

Association of Contemporary Jewellers Conference

I’m a member of the ACJ and this weekend was their/our conference. It was a special conference to celebrate 25 years of the guild and they chose to hold it in Exeter, my home town so of course I bought a ticket to all three days; it’s incredibly rare for anything to visit Exeter, and travelling to London is costly, and usually requires an overnight stay. I guess I’m a jeweller, and I suppose I’m contemporary, but I always think of myself as a craftsperson not an artist, so I was more than a little nervous of attending.

The three days were filled with interesting (and often intellectually challenging for me!) presentations by a wide variety of jewellery practitioners, none of whose work I was familiar with, many working in fields I didn’t know existed, and in a number of cases presented despite English not being their first language.

It was an honour to listen to them and I’d like to particularly give a shout out to (instagram handles and hyperlinks will take you an image of their work so you can see why):

Seeun Kim ( @art_studio_seeun ) whose mourning jewellery inspired copper brooches, are created through a complex and layered process of lost wax casting; layered in that she creates textures at each stage.

Yinglong Li ( @yinglong.li.961 ) whose modern reinterpretation of plique-a-jour was truly breathtaking, and took us on a virtual tour of his home city’s craft history

Jo McAllister ( @jomcallisterjewellery) creates exceptionally beautiful and textural jewellery (I had to stroke her bangle!). She was a very calming and inspiring presence. I particularly enjoyed getting to chat with her briefly on Sunday

Also thought provoking and well delivered talks that I really enjoyed from Jivan Astfalck (@astfalckjivan), Charlotte Dew (@gsmithscentre), Anthony Wong (@Anthonywongartist) and Kelvin Birk (@kelvinjbirk)

Extra thanks to Mark (@presman_mastermelt) for the goody-bag; my neighbour will never be able to misplace our spare key again, Emma from (@AssayOffice) Sheffield Assay Office for the Hallmarking reference book.

I met some fellow creative makers who seem supremely talented (go take a look at Stephanie @stephaniejohnsonjewellery) and David @davidjlillyjewellery) but were kind and generous, so made me feel less out of my depth. Thanks!

And of course, Kim (@MakeItWithKim) who was kind enough to come and crash at GillyTowers, and despite having to sleep in her van, managed to leave the bathroom cleaner than when she arrived. It’s always great fun to spelnd time with Kim. She should be grateful not to live closer!

Photos of my favourite of the brooches in the travelling ACJ exhibition…

and of some of the items created in the workshop ‘#MySlidingScale’ during which we created 6 identifying tokens to place on a bar thereby plotting where we feel between the two words at either end. eg, is my creation more messy or tidy. Interesting to see how varied all the tokens were, given we all had the same materials to use to collage / craft something. We then had to create an individual scale, and use two of our own words. I was a bit mentally and verbally challenged by this stage, (lots of people with much to try and absorb) but it was great fun and again very interesting.

Attending has made me realise I really must set aside time and create a budget to do more networking / gallery visiting over the next year. This was a very worthwhile use of my time.

Posted in Challenge, friends, geek, Law, Hallmark, Meet The Maker, Other Blogs, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments