Sleep deprivation, pink, and other stories

You join me on a sorely sleep-deprived sunday. The older I get, the more ill-equipped I am to cope without a good 7+ hours, so this post is unlikely to be as sparklingly conversational as I hoped. One good thing about this lack of sleep is that it leaves me unable to do more than sit in a chair with some kind of brain funk. Anything more creative or requiring fully firing synapses isn’t going to happen. Okay, that’s not really a good thing, but it does mean that I’ve done a long, looooooong day of listing stuff. Hoooooooo! So now there’s a stack of new jewellery in the shop! Including a surprisingly large number of pinkish things. I know pink is widely frowned upon, but in the right quantity and the right shade, well, I’m fine with it.

traces-of-amy-1 examples-of-the-same-lily-1 lacuna-1 the-magi-1

I’ve also been drawn back to a palette I used to obsess over.

and-the-sky-turned-the-world-red-1 the-urgents-1

And, of course, there are neutrals and off whites…

bones-of-the-swan-1 more-yesterday-1 over-the-plains-of-the-deadland-marshes-1 unconditional-day-1

More unusually, I have !necklaces!…

a-journey-through-the-water-and-stars-1

how-far-they-have-come-1 my-urchin-one-1

And also bracelets! – just the two…

all-day-every-day-1 fleeting-1

The next job will be getting the last lot of silver pieces in the shop asap. They are currently at the assay office. Once that’s done, I plan to start winding down for Christmas. I’ve decided that I’m not going to drive myself up the wall trying to do a bead shop update before xmas, but I have already started on a fresh pile of beads and plan to keep up the relaxing clay-times over the hols. So, there should be a pretty mammoth shop update in the new year.

I’ll be back as soon as possible with the new silver things. (Can you tell I’m anxious to get on with having a break?) Ciao for now!

Stacked Earrings V

Long time visitors to this blog may remember that about two years ago I participated in the first of a series of fun wee earring-making blog hops. The idea was suggested by Malin de Koning, who proposed that a group of five of us make earrings from a collection of pairs of beads that she had put together (head here for more details and to see the first blog hop). Subsequenty, each of us put together a pack of beads and then sent them out to the rest of the group. The last time we did one of these blog hops was in February 2016, so it’s been a while. This final pack that we’ve been working with was put together by Heidi Post. And, through an usual turn of a events, I’ve actually had them since May, 2015! At the time, it was thought that this final hop would be happening much sooner than it is, and Heidi had to send something else to me, so she included her bead selection in the parcel.

14958310_10154535209831598_881510156_n

I actually made some earrings when I received them. Just recently, with a date set for this hop, I looked at them afresh and ended up taking most of them apart and re-designing them. Looking at this photo above, I see that I really haven’t done a very good job of incorporating the larger beads to the right of the picture. The beads that first caught my eye were the black stick pearls on the left. It’s a shape I’ve used quite a bit in earrings in the past, using tektite and black tourmaline crystals. These first two pairs were both re-made recently.

dark-things

The marvellous dark things are from Petra, of course. The other beads are from the pack.

awkward-squad

I really liked the unusual colour mix in the lampwork beads at the top of these, and so I worked with it throughout this pair. The thing I like about these earrings is that they’re actually slightly awkward and strange in outline. I think I tend towards more conventional, balanced profiles when designing; it’s good to diverge from these habits sometimes.

The next pair were made not long after I received the pack.

south-west

A good part of them are beads from Heidi’s selection.

Now for the earrings made more recently. Here I’ve combined some of my porcelain tusks with the curved tube beads and a couple of other tiddlers from the pack. I’m afraid that they look frankly peculiar in this picture!

curves

When they’re on, however, they’re going to sweep gracefully below the chin, framing the face. In the next pair I’ve mixed a selection of the kinda earthy, autumnal coloured beads from the pack with some black slice beads and some unpolished amber.

plum-stacks

The drops, which match so well, are from Robyn Cove. Finally, I have two pairs of skinny stacks that barely make the grade because they only include a few of Heidi’s beads. The minimum we’re supposed to use is three and I’ve not managed to use any more than that in either pair. Still, they exist…

steely-skinniesicicles

Again, more Petra pieces here, along with some lampwork from Linda Newnham.

I haven’t listed any of these yet. I could only face taking a few quick snaps this morning (hence my failure to take a more flattering picture of the tusk-y jobs). The whole silver listing marathon has left me with scant appetite for photography and drafting listings. At least some of them will find their way into the shop anon. If there is anything that particularly catches your eye, do message me through Etsy.

But before you do anything else, go check out what the others have made – the links are just below. A big ol’ thanks to Heidi for sending this cool pack of treats! And thanks to Malin, again, for setting this whole thing in motion!

Malin de Koning – BeadingByMalindeKoning – www.beadingbymalindekoning.blogspot.se

Rebecca Anderson – SongBead – www.songbeads.blogspot.com

Leah Curtis – BeadyEyedBunny – www.beadyeyedbunny.blogspot.com

Heidi Post – ExPostFacto – www.expostfactojewelry.blogspot.com

Silver and ceramics, forest floors, and fordite-based whimsey

So, I’ve listed the last of this initial batch of silver pieces on Etsy. Amongst them were a small handful of pieces made with silver and my ceramics. There’s this more elaborate pair of earrings which I made using off-cuts and stuff.

familiar-organisation-of-the-body-1

There was also some simple drops with reticulated silver up top.

notes-on-a-northern-sky-1

some-flawed-place-1

These both sold quickly. I need to do more of this combining of silver and ceramics. I’ve just got to work out how to be both working at the silver and working on ceramics at the same time. I also listed this ring, which is one of my favourites. I wanted to achieve a kinda impression of forest floors…

feathers-fall-around-you

…with lichen and tendrils and moss and feathers…. but nothing too fairy-ish, if you know what I mean. There will definitely be more along the same lines. I have a crazy big ring nearly finished with similar embellishment.

Finally, there’s this fordite brooch. First brooch I ever did make! When I came up with the exclamation mark design, I just had to make it.

fa-fa-fa-fine-1

So that’s the lot for the time being, although I already have a fresh pile of silver things just waiting to be oxidised and set and finished, along with a new crop of circle rings that are in the works. And, on top of this, I have a lot of assemblage earrings waiting to be photographed and listed. And then there’s that whole ceramics business that needs some attention… Phew – this making stuff thing is never done…

Shop this way!

Spikes!

Have I mentioned my love of spikes? Surely I must have before now. In any case, if you visit this blog at all regularly you may well have noticed that they frequently appear in what I make. When I was thinking of shapes to include in my silver, it was inevitable that spikes would feature eventually. I have spiky rings and spiky earrings, and I’ve just listed them all on Etsy today.

variations-on-the-theme-of-harm

the-she-was-incomprehensible-1

an-allegiance-to-the-unmentioned

you-had-to-go-asking-1

single-white-female

Shop This Way!

And Today: One-Off Rings

Today’s listings are a collection of one-off rings. They were all made in response to the particular stone. It gave me the idea and then it had to be realised. I have been kinda working on series, but sometimes you just want to make that one particular thing. First up there’s this very simple piece which has the most deep, delicious globule of rutile quartz.

a-sleepy-golden-storm-1A Sleepy Golden Storm

I spent some time considering potential embellishments: maybe some granules on the rim, or maybe a few small spiky prongs placed irregularly round the stone. But, in the end, I just went with simple, because whoever ends up owning it is just going to be looking at the stone, really. You can see all the delicate rutiles better in this picture.

a-sleepy-golden-storm-2

(With thanks to my dear, dear friend Toni, for lending her non-metalling, non-ceramic-ing, non-oxidising fingers!)

Next up, this little thing.

the-gap-of-today-filling-itself-1

The Gap Of Today Filling Itself

I don’t have that much to say about it, really. It was, like I said, just one of those ideas that came to me, and appealed to me, as I was turning over this little piece of reticulated sheet. But I rather like it!

Next one! Some time ago I treated myself to a this gorgeous great drop of sunstone. It’s a favourite stone of mine and I knew I’d be keeping it. So, I went to town and came up with this whopper. For once I didn’t even oxidise the metal.

my-sunstone-ring(mine!)

Getting the metal to rise up into this cupped shape was a time-consuming but fascinating and ultimately satisfying process. When I started, it seemed impossible that my hammer strikes could result in this smooth sweeping shape. I knew I wanted to make another to put in the shop.

a-tender-thorn-1

A Tender Thorn

There may well actually be more in this design in time.

I’m also planning on using more of the little spiky prongs that I’ve added to this next ring.

the-empty-immensity-1

The Empty Immensity

It’s kinda spacey this one; and the rough pyrite sits so well with the reticulated silver. It just needed those wee spiky accents.

Finally, there’s this bumblebee jasper piece.

an-easy-luminosity-1

An Easy Luminosity

I got the cab in a de-stash someone was doing and I knew, even before I had it in my hands, that I wanted just this simple geometric shape as the face of the ring. And – a rare thing so far! – it’s actually adjustable, so it’s likely to fit most people!

That’s it for today. They’re all listed right now on Etsy.

Silver and stone earrings now listed

So, I’m listing earrings today, all of them combining silver and stones. I got so immersed in making rings, I haven’t really got around to doing much in the way of making silver earrings. But I put a few together, including a couple of cabochon set pairs, including these with some rather lovely crazy lace fans –proclaiming-these-glorious-lies-1

– and these plump little solar quartz buttons.

divisions-multiplications-1

I have a stack of paired cabs so there’ll be more bezel set pairs anon.

Then there’s this pair of pairs with grey orbicular rhyolite drops. thickenings-of-light-and-air-1

obscurations-1

I’m kinda a sucker for grey. I have a pair similar to these last ones with the reticulated pads – soooooo very wearable!

Next, well, I’ve made silver spikes; I had to make silver cones! Every scrap of these is made from sterling – except the labradorite here (which is more glow-y in reality!),

the-happy-phantoms-1

and the little black spinels here –

the-nightlong-limblong-warmth-1

All of these are now listed on Etsy. I’ll be back tomorrow with the next batch!

Fresh silver listings…

Let’s start with these. They’re a variation on the circle designs that I shared yesterday, with the added inclusion of some mini cabochons. There’ll be more of these. I just needed a break from sawing those circles!

rocky-shoal-bright-star-1

still-chipping-away-at-the-moon-1

Now another little series. Sometimes you just want the thing itself clad in a simple silver setting. When I saw this chunky square of green rhyolite I knew that was what I wanted to do. Like the shape of the stone was design enough. There’s something really pleasing about the shape – and in this colour, it has a slightly retro, seventies look.

imaginary-gardens-with-real-frogs-1

This stone also has a kinda vintage, 70s look.

division-street-1

This one has a slightly different feel, but it still suits little embellishment.

petrifications-1

These are now all listed on Etsy.

And finally: first silver listings!

So, with some trepidation, I’m embarking on getting my silver pieces up and available in the Etsy shop. I’m tempted to expand on the extent (and the many aspects) of my trepidation, but I’ll spare you.  Let’s just say, it’s significant. I’m not sure how many things to add at a time – the listings are all ready and drafted – but I thought I’d start with this clutch of ‘circle’ designs. I’ve been scratching my head, trying to think of a name for this design/series but I’m drawing a blank so far. In my last post I shared a ring with a fab pinky peach fossil coral, which was the first piece I made along these lines. That ring and all of the following are now available.

into-the-dusk-charged-air-1

Into The Dusk-Charged Air

were-incandescent-and-it-doesnt-seem-fair-1

We’re Incandescent And It Doesn’t Seem Fair

yes-i-said-yes-1

Yes I Said Yes

sharpening-the-objects-edge

Sharpening The Object’s Edge

a-mind-that-moves-in-a-staight-line-1

A Mind That Moves In A Straight Line

word-from-the-red-planet

Word From The Red Planet (Reserved)

I am very happy to set up payment plans so that items can be paid for in instalments. Just send me a message through Etsy. I’ll be back tomorrow with the next batch of new things. Ciao for now…

Finally… Something of Substance on the Silver…

For some time now I’ve been mentioning my silversmithing but failing to share any images or discussion here. It’s been such a thing, and it’s been going on for large parts of the last year. There’s so much that I feel I want to record about the process, I don’t know where to begin. I did, however, make something of a start on doing this when I was still writing for the Art Bead Scene blog. I wrote several posts on my early metalworking progress and I also wrote about setting up the tiny metal workshop that I’ve created in my airing cupboard. As these posts cover quite a lot of what I’d wish to cover on this blog, I thought it would be easiest to include them here in one long post: a kind of Me and the Metal: The Very Early Days, if you like. (Apologies if you happened to read them at the time; I’m just a bit lazy!)  Inevitably, reading these posts back now, there are things I want to correct; matters that I’ve since learnt about, of which I was ignorant at the time. So, I’ll chip in between the posts. I should say, first of all, that I’m less than impressed with my sawing skills on the first pair of studs in this post from last November, but hey – it was still the very early days….
Sometimes I find that, when my Inside the Studio post comes around, I risk going over the same things: I’ve been making beads; I’ve been making jewellery. And, since my last post, I’ve done plenty of both. But, I actually have other things to report on!  For a long time now, I’ve wanted to get to grips with metalwork. Ages ago, when I first got into making jewellery, I bought a load of kit for silver-smithing, but for various reasons, I’ve never set to and used it all.  I bought books and read things online, but I find taking in instructions from reading things quite difficult. Finally, during the summer, I got my act together and booked a place on a silversmithing course.  It’s not that I really wanted to start making silver jewellery. I’m planning to use other, more affordable metals, in the main, I think. I just needed opportunity to get comfortable with the various tools and processes. However, I have got a little seduced with working with sterling.

 
 
 
This crop of earrings – all kinda minimal (and not without some flaws!) – have all been made during the six weeks of the course. The term finished this week but I’ll be booking on to go back in the new year.  I am now far happier with the logistics of soldering, and I really want to do it some more, preferably sooner than next year! One of the things that has held me back from trying soldering, etc., at home is the lack of space. I’ve moaned about this here before, numerous times, in relation to one thing or another. Speaking to Christina, the jeweller running the course, I’ve come to see that the table area I was planning to use wouldn’t necessarily be the safest place. Then, about a fortnight ago, I had a brainwave. In the corner of my flat there is what I – and certain close friends – would describe as ‘a naughty hole’. To flesh the term out, I guess I’d describe a ‘naughty hole’ as any cupboard or hidden space where undesirable junk and clutter or ‘just stuff’ is stored/dumped, usually in a careless, haphazard manner. You open the naughty hole door, you take the thing you’re struggling to house, you sling it in the naughty hole, you shut the door, you forget about it.

Now, my naughty hole isn’t just a cupboard. It’s a walk-in naughty hole. Can you guess what my brainwave might have been? I really can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner!!  If I clear out the naughty hole I can set up a jeweller’s bench in there!! And possibly have space for other things! Like good, orderly storage! And places to keep all of the many, many things!  But… oh… oh no, that means…. I have to clear out the naughty hole!


That will be quite a tall order. Towards the back of the hole there is stuff that I stacked up in there when I moved in. Heaven knows what half of it is. Dozens of VHS tapes that I can’t play, that no charity shop will take, that can’t be recycled easily…. but that belonged to my grandma?  Mountains of bank statements and suchlike that need shredding before disposal. About 8-10 years worth of the Times Literary Supplement and The London Review of Books. If I chuck them out, am I abandoning academia forever? Oh, naughty hole!!

BTW, am I the only person preserving one of these?

Because: design classic? Thought so…

The mouth of the hole poses another problem. At some point, I did attempt to set up some sort of storage nearer the door; there are some old shoe racks on which I had piled my unused metal tools, my polymer stuff, and various other supplies and kit. This started in an orderly fashion but has since descended into chaos. I messed it up even more the other week, trying to find my neglected metal tools under the other stuff. Now it looks like some kind of craft-based dirty bomb went off in there.

Just writing about the task in hand is making my head spin. I’m telling myself that, now we have this lovely expanded ABS team, and now I only write an Inside the Studio post every other month, I might have it sorted by the next time I join you. I so hope I can do it. Wish me luck!

One of the many, many things that I’ve learnt along the way – but this is a big one – is that, in most cases, it’s really worth using silver over copper, especially for making elaborate, time-consuming things. Sure, silver is expensive. but it’s not that expensive. The other cost that really racks up when making a substantial piece, is that of your time. I soon came to the conclusion that if I’m going to spend hours slaving over something, I want to be able to charge a decent price for it, and – as a quick scan of Etsy will show – you simply can’t command anywhere near the same price for a piece made in copper that you can for a piece made in silver. Moreover, there’s every chance that you’ll spend even more time working at the copper because you’ll need to remove all signs of the silver solder (assuming you’re using silver solder), which is far more visible on copper, obvs (although I have learnt a trick to help with this problem). I think this is particularly the case with bezel-set rings, as the connection points are more conspicuous. Also, rings receive more scrutiny when they’re worn – at least, I think that’s the case. It’s less of an issue with bangles, say, or earring hoops or pendants. So, I may have thought then that I’d largely be working with copper but I’ve ended up working primarily with sterling, and I love the stuff. I used not to be so bothered; now I get anxious if I feel I’m getting low on my favourite gauges of wire and sheet.

On to the next post, which I wrote in January this year. This is an extract from a longer post covering various things.

Is it a little late to be wishing you all a happy new year? I hope you’re all contending with the potential gloominess of January. I last shared an Inside the Studio post with you back in early November. Perhaps you’ll remember: I have recently taken up metalwork and I had plans of converting my under-the-stairs cupboard – aka the naughty hole – into a little work space.  There was a problem, however. Five years of accumulated junk and mess.
 
 
Well, it certainly seemed like a mammoth task. I was shocked just now, revisiting these pictures. A chance turn of events lead to me actually taking it on. I was telling a friend about my plans, a friend who actively likes sorting and tidying (I know?!), and she said, ‘Right, we’re going to do it’. I can’t thank her enough. It took two long afternoons-into-evenings-into-the-small-hours to sort it all, and it was pretty tough going and stressful at points: so many things to have to decide to throw away; so many, sometimes painful, memories unearthed. (Some of the stuff at the back had been dumped in there when I moved into the flat and that wasn’t the best time of my life.) But we did it! Can you see the little pixie door? Where the metal working pixies live?
 
 
Open wide and what’s inside….
 
 
I hope you’ll agree, it’s a pretty remarkable transformation! This is going to be the tidiest it will ever look, I reckon!  I’m so chuffed; I’ve only just got to the point where I’ve stopped going in and turning on the light and just thinking, ‘Eeeeeeeeeee!’ One thing I hadn’t remembered was that the naughty hole was actually an airing cupboard.
 
 
My first thought on seeing this beast (which actually serves all the flats in the damn building) was: ‘Oh, thank goodness! That’s several square foot of stuff I’m not going to have to drag out of here and and re-locate!’ Once this relief had worn off I was a bit disappointed that it was lurking in there taking up precious space. Still, I reckon I’ll live with it well enough.
 
So, it’s now time to pick up the torch/saw/file/hammer, etc.  My classes started again last night. I’m making bezels for stones. I was working on my first one again this morning. I got to the stage where I had it looking all neatly trimmed and thought, ‘Oooo, look, that looks like what it should look like! Will the stone fit nicely? Yes, it fits very nicely!’ Hot on the heels of that thought came, ‘Oooooo, look, is it? Yes, look, it is… it’s…. stuck…’. I’ve tried finding something thin enough to lever it out, but nothing is thin enough. I’ve tried running water into it. I’ve tried tapping it on the back. I’ve tried tapping it on the back with a hammer. I’ve tried holding it in a pair of tweezers and hitting it on the back with a hammer. I’ve tried holding it in a pair of tweezers and hitting it on the back even harder with a heavier hammer. No joy. It’s only a small, inexpensive, piece of moss agate but if anyone has any suggestions, do share!
I think the only thing to say here is that, despite a wealth of helpful suggestions, I never did get that wretched moss agate cab out of the bezel. I still have it somewhere – an object lesson in the importance of dental floss when seeing if your stone fits its setting!
Finally, this is an extract from the last post I wrote for Art Bead Scene in February 2016:
In the last couple of weeks. I’ve primarily been focused on the metalwork that I wrote about in my last Inside the Studio post.  I’ve been happily settling into my new workspace, filling it with tools and pleasing things – the utilitarian things; the lovely, visual things. It’s the closest I’ve ever got to a dedicated studio. (Well, my living room is as much studio as it is living room.) So, it’s still kinda exciting – and I rather love its diminutive proportions.
 
 
(Apologies for the blur – it’s hard to photograph this space through the aperture of its mini door.)
 
I really must thank all of you who expressed concerns about the lack of ventilation. (I even had one lovely reader message me. You know who you are – thanks again!) Of course, you were all right and I was… optimistic? After a few short bursts of soldering in there, even my raddled lungs were questioning the wisdom of it. Fortunately, I located another area of my flat that is also sorely underused and all set up for tolerating heat!
 
 
I know – I just boss health and safety! I must be making some progress because I’ve been happily soldering away in my pyjamas, which is not something I’d ever imagined. (NB. Never solder in your night clothes.) I had hoped to include some images of finished pieces with you. One thing I’m still getting my head round is the amount of time that metalwork takes (for instance, the filing, the endless, endless filing…. ) – especially when you’re still learning. I just have to keep telling myself that there are things that were boggling a few weeks ago, that I’m now doing with some ease. I have a stack of things in the works, including a number of bezelled rings which now need setting. I had my first go at setting in my class last night. Like a fool, I’d imagined it would be a relatively quick job. Will I never learn? For the first time ever, I’m wishing I had muscles in my arms. Why can’t I order them from Cookson’s like everything else?
I’m sure people who read this must have wondered what the hell my problem was. Why was I struggling so much with the setting? Well, I was making my bezels from 0.7mm sterling sheet. I’ve since learned that it’s best to use fine silver so I’ve swapped to 0.5mm fine silver strip. I did try the 0.3mm fine silver strip but I really can’t get on with it; it’s like working with tin foil. I think my early use of thick sterling has lead my to favouring a thicker bezel – something with a bit of resistance and the scope for shaping and sculpting.
By this stage in the proceedings (i.e. February 2016) I was fairly close to the point where I felt fairly comfortable doing simple bezel settings. All of these still get a good amount of wear.
simple-rings-group
And I was moving on to developing more involved and distinctive designs.
double-ring
the-mooring-of-starting-out
The last two rings are amongst a large crop of metal pieces, primarily silver, that I have ready to put into the shop. They’re all ready to go! The listings are drafted, they’ve all been hallmarked, I just need to take some more photos and edit them. I’ll come back in the next day or so to share some pics of more recent designs.