New beachcomber necklace:
I got the big new beachcomber necklace all finished up yesterday, just in time for the British Craft Trade Fair in Harrogate this weekend.
I’m really pleased with how well the stones and my silver press forms work together and it’ll be interesting to see what the galleries who visit make of it …
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:
and almost ready to string together:
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 …
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 …
I bought my first piece of Britannia silver yesterday:
– 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!
So, where was I with my press forming?
Ah, yes – earrings:
I’ve played around with the balance and hang of the larger piece a little more and I think I’m finally settled. I much prefer slightly asymmetric shapes to the precise structure of symmetrical ones – these look a little more like the fish/boats and sea of the coast that inspired them. I’ve got some new etching patterns in mind to decorate them too.
So far the range is shaping up like this:
though there’s at least another large brooch form already cut and waiting to be sampled on my bench …
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 …