Beautiful Seaside basics …

I’ve been feeling the need for things to be a little simpler lately. Don’t get me wrong, I adore my new Beachcomber pieces but I also like wearing neat, simple everyday jewellery that can handle a tough week in the workshop and doesn’t need to be taken off when you get in the shower, still half asleep, in the morning.

And, for that matter, it’s nice to have jewellery that you can sleep in.

So a couple of months ago I made myself these:

and I haven’t really taken them out since. Sure, I’ve changed them for more special or dressy occasions but they’ve always gone right back in again after.

They’re silver and lightly reticulated, meaning that they’ve been heated to the point where the silver just begins to turn liquid – then cooled off to preserve the wonderful, slightly rough texture that that leaves behind:

It burnishes up to a lovely, warm glow that looks soft and natural.

I’ve put a small range together:

Simple pendants in silver (with a red gold accent):

Stacks of bangles, also silver with a red gold accent:

and rings (silver and red gold):

which I’m testing myself – they wear beautifully and feel really summery!

You can find the whole range right here

Serendipity #2: making …

I set to work bright and way too early this morning on the piece with those coral stones from yesterday:

Cutting forms (carefully numbered so that I get one of each half … )

Then soldering, filing and sanding to shape.

and it’s looking most promising.

I’ll put the final finish on soon …

Serendipity #1

I’ve been struggling for a week or so to come up with a larger, eye catching piece for the middle of my stand at the BCTF in a couple of weeks. I’ve thrown a lot of ideas around the workshop but the right one has been eluding me … I knew that I wanted to work at a slightly larger scale (and maybe use some stones) but nothing I tried was working.

Then Marcia Lanyon came to town:

A London based stone dealer Marcia and her team make a trip up to the Quarter a few times a year to sell to students in the university (where I first encountered her) and, more recently, to the general public in Cookson‘s foyer. The nicest thing about her visits is that you get time and space to fully inspect the stock, sorting through the jumble of lovely things that she and her team bring with her.

I was idling through the selection when I came by this:

A kind of fossilised coral. Isn’t it beautiful?

Each piece is different, with faint coral textures and an abstract shape all it’s own. It’s going to be just perfect for a big, new press formed piece!

I planned it all out and made the dies today so tomorrow I’ll set to work on it …

Press Form Practice #7:

I got the acid out today and etched some little studs to test the textures.

I matted them afterwards for nice, washed-up-on-the-coast feel and had a play with finishes:

These are patinated black and left matte:

I like it on the earrings but I think it might be a bit too much when you get up to the brooch scale …

The form in these pieces is really important and in a way I think that having such a strong etch might have taken away from that.

I’ll take some pictures over the weekend of the plain frosted ones and the etched ones together and see how they compare …

Press Form Practice #5 – Britannia Silver

I bought my first piece of Britannia silver yesterday:

Britannia Silver

– it’s a lot like Sterling silver but while the Sterling stuff is 925 parts per thousand pure silver (the rest being an alloy of copper etc) Britannia is 958 parts per thousand pure silver.

This means that Britannia is a little softer than Sterling and much more suggestable. It stretches where Sterling might have cracked and is more cooperative for things like ambitious silversmithing and spinning.

So Britannia seemed just the thing when I was struggling to move my pressforming from beautiful, stretchy copper into unyielding sterling silver …

In terms of cutting, annealing and polishing I really can’t tell the difference between the two alloys but for overall stretchiness Britannia wins hands down.

Here’s how I got on with it:

It’s my first silver piece on the new press forms and I’m really pleased with how well it’s come out, now I just need to make some etching/finish decisions and I might have a range ready for the spring!

(blogged at Brewsmiths)

Facebook Finds #1

Facebook steals hours of your life. Snooping through old acquaintances photographs at 3am is something everyone does but no one talks about. Right?

Recently though, I’ve started using my Facebook time a little more constructively by exploring Facebook pages. Pages allow businesses and organisations to have a kind of Facebook profile and stay in touch with people interested in what they do. Folksy has done some super articles on how to use them to promote your handmade business (like this one here) and I’m really starting to love mine.

This recent exploration has turned up some lovely, lovely things that I thought I’d share:

1.

Bekki Churcher here is from Glasgow and her gorgeous, almost fragile looking work is inspired by urban decay – she uses some beautiful textures to evoke the broken buildings that inspire her and her ‘geomatric granulation’ is especially wonderful. It reminds me of Ruth Tomlinson somehow crossed with Elaine Cox

2.

Hannah Livingston is based in Edinburgh and her fascination with hidden secrets and quirky little containers makes her work beautifully intricate and utterly tempting. Many of her neat little lockets contain folded paper – forming a story of your own just that’s just waiting to unfold.

3.

Rebecca Little is another Glasgow resident whose work is both deceptively simple and fiendishly clever – as the best things often are. Delicate twists in precious metals are all lined up neatly to form textile like structures that would, I imagine, flow through your hands rather nicely and defy the solid, mathematical look of them.

I’ll keep hunting through Facebook in the small hours – though if you’ve got a suggestion for a page you love do leave me a comment!

Centrepiece Open Studios 2011

I opened my new studio up yesterday for Centrepiece’s annual Open Studios. I really wasn’t sure what to expect so I was pleasantly suprised by the steady stream of visitors who came around, had a look at what I do and occasionally watched me solder something (but mostly watched me drink tea).

I was also suprised by how much I enjoyed it. I mean, I like talking to people at show when I sell my work but then I’m very much in a ‘retailing’ situation then. This was nice because when they expressed an interest in my work I could show them works in progress, things that were half made so that they could see the construction, or even, in one case get some advice on what I was currently making. It felt a lot more friendly and informal being in my own space and no one really minded that I was covered in workshop dust – today it just added to my artisan charm.

I also got to use the day as a little guilt free experimentation time – I had a play with a couple of ideas for expanding a new range I’m working on:

and got instant feedback on it from the people coming around, which was very nice indeed. I’m taking my bench on the road next weekend for the Worcestershire Arts Trail – so I’ll see how these pieces develop out in the Worcestershire sunshine.