Stacks of Flotsam Rings …

Becca Williams stacking rings in progress

I spent some time this week working on an idea for a new design of stacking rings, to compliment my Flotsam range, with hammered textures and a couple of different shades of freshwater pearls:

They’ll be winging there way out to my galleries soon …

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New Stones …

I came back from a flying visit to IJL this week with a bag filled with new semi-precious gemstones to experiment with, here’s a taste of what will be appearing in the workshop soon:

Commissions: Stacking Rings

A little commission for a set of stacking rings went through the workshop last week  (they’re a larger sizer of a design that the customer liked on my stand at a show)

On the peg, before polishing:

Ready to go – the set consists of 2x plain and 2x decorated stacking, reticulated silver rings:

Reticulated texture

While my workshop was open over the weekend I used the opportunity to make a batch of my new seaside pieces for a couple of galleries. I find, when I have multiples of one thing to make, that I easily get into a good working rhythm and gain some good working momentum.

I’m fairly new to reticulation though and I have to watch these pieces like a hawk to avoid melting them! Lately I’m getting a better feel for how the surface textures of the silver changes, and how to spot the warning signs of over heating – but when  started out it was all rather trial and error.

So, you start off with your nice, shiny wire:

and get heating, with a nice, gentle, feathery flame. I use charcoal bricks to support work that I’m reticulating – it tends not to stick to the charcoal and the heat reflects really nicely (which helps to keep the temperature even through the metal). There’s a brilliant tutorial on Ganoskin which takes you through the process and a quick video of me reticulating the wire here. With this being the end result:

Going back over the piece with a slightly more intense flame, right at the end, seems to even out the surface really well too. Once it’s all pickled clean for the final time it’ll look something like this:

these polish up beautifully into a texture that proves to be  wearing ever so well:

Serendipity #3: Getting close to finished …

I ventured into the Jewellery Quarter on a Sunday today for the first time in aaages to get these pieces all ready to go off to Assay on Monday. There’s a couple of new pendant designs (and some more studs):

Plus, I got the pieces of that big new necklace sanded:

Satined:

and almost ready to string together:

The Heart Cutter from Wisconsin

A very exciting parcel arrived at the workshop last Friday:

Last year I invested in a Swanstrom disc cutter from Rio Grande and, without doubt, it’s one of the best tools that I own. This year those clever folks at Swanstrom have designed shaped cutters and my latest acquisition is this little heart shaped beauty:

Naturally I had it out on my bench and cutting things in under 3 minutes – and the little hearts come out just perfectly:

So I grabbed some spare silver and made a heart shaped version of my larger Flotsam pendants:

I’m really pleased with how well it came out, it’s neat, lovely and slightly more floral my usual. I think it’ll be just perfect for valentines.

I polished it up and the final piece is here:

To celebrate the new cutter (I know, I’m a little crazy about tools …) I’m going to run a Valentines Giveaway so, if you’d like to win the first product of the new cutter, then check out the details here.

(… and here’s a quick final shot of my disc cutter, Albie, and Winnie (of Wisconsin) nestled safely together on the bench. Aw!)

Silverware for 2012 #2

… remember those silversmithing thoughts from the other day?

Well – I went from paper model to copper model this week:

which is always interesting. There’s less than 1mm of difference between the thickness of the card for the model and the thinkness of the copper sheet but my, does it make a difference! Seeing something in metal gives it a whole new dimension and really made me realise quite quickly that this piece was just way too big.

So, a quick trip down the road to the photocopier at Delta Pi and voila! A new, smaller piece:

I made a few alterations to the basic shape, just to change the outline of the curves and the next copper sample is now ready for soldering:

more pictures soon …

Photographing Jewellery (playing with the light tent)

Photographing my work is something that I really struggle with. When you work in such a visual medium it’s very easy to be let down by poor photographs – and I’m always paranoid that mine don’t do the details my work justice.

In the past I’ve taken my own (which I can never get a perfect white background on) and paid for photography (some of which I love, others of which I was horribly disappointed with). So, it’s a very tricky thing – made more difficult by the highly reflective nature of silver.

Then I spotted this blog by the lovely Eileen Moylan  , an Irish Silversmith, who’s been using a light tent to photograph her work  . It looked like the ideal solution so I headed on over to eBay sharpish and bought myself one for the princely sum of nine pounds ninety-nine.

It looks like this:

 

Cute no?

Images of it in use on Amazon seemed to suggest that you needed high power photographers light too – but I just shone my daylight lamp through the top of it and the effect seems remarkably similar:

 

It came with lining sheets – presumably to provide a nice smooth white background but I struggled to iron the creases out of them and instead opted for lying a good old fashioned sheet of card inside the tent:

 

and, after a little photoshopping the images came out a lot whiter than I’ve achieved before:

 

it’s by no means perfect but I reckon that a little more work on Corel (and maybe just snipping the item out of the background too) would get these magazine ready.

What I really like about the tent is the little ‘door’ for the front with the slit in. It cuts down on the chance of the work reflecting your surroundings (and, in my case, reflacted my bright green camera too) and gets the tone nice and even across the object.

Photographing my necklaces was a little more challenging – in hindsight I probably should have turned the tent on it’s side and photographed them from above – but contructing a necklace hanging trapeze type structure was bags more fun:

 

though I’ll try the other angle soon to improve the results:

 

Today in the workshop …

… has been a day of experimenting with some new ideas. It’s always an exciting time and, chances are these will evolve into something totally different, but here’s what I got through today:

a little drawing

some press form making

followed by press forming

cutting

and assembling

to be followed shortly but some etching, texturing, and maybe even a little drilling …