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 #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)

Earrings today #2 …

I soldered up that test earring press form today and I’m really encouraged by how nicely it turned out.

Fitting the ring to the top was a little fiddly (luckily I have a lot of fragments of firebrick lying around) but I got it balanced in the end:

here it is, all sanded down and in my ear (just to give you an idea of scale)

I think the form works well, but I’m a little concerned that the asymmetry of the shape is causing it to hang ever so slightly off centre. I’m going to make up a couple more and adjust the positioning of the ring – just to see if that helps it to hang more evenly.

Of course, I might be the only one who notices it …