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.
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.
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.
(With thanks to my dear, dear friend Toni, for lending her non-metalling, non-ceramic-ing, non-oxidising fingers!)
Next up, this little thing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 –
– and these plump little solar quartz buttons.
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.
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!),
and the little black spinels here –
All of these are now listed on Etsy. I’ll be back tomorrow with the next batch!
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!
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.
This stone also has a kinda vintage, 70s look.
This one has a slightly different feel, but it still suits little embellishment.
These are now all listed on Etsy.
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.
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…
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.
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.
Well, the title tells you most of what you need to know. This weekend you can get 25% off any jewellery currently in the Etsy shop. Just enter the coupon code AUTUMN25 when you check out. It’s months and months since I last did a promotion like this and I won’t be doing another before Christmas. In truth, I’m unsure when I’ll do another sale in the future because once I get the silver items listed, offering discounts will be less easy. So, head over now to take advantage!
The sale will run over this weekend and will most likely finish on Sunday (16th October) night. Here’s another link to the shop!
It’s been some time since I last got some jewellery made and out there in the world. What with the bead-making, the silvering, a rare trip away, and some other things I can’t actually recall right now (and wouldn’t interest anyone terribly), life has been rather full – for me, at least. But, after I’d got all the beads from the last update sent out, I rewarded myself with a few days of non-stressy, non-torchy, jewellery making. Heaven… It seems I’m still struggling to make anything other than earrings. Whilst I say that this jewellery making spell was supposed to be un-stressy, I did have a little catalogue of other ‘things to do’ nagging away at me. It seems that I couldn’t set my head to settling down and designing a whole necklace, and I failed to make any bracelets either… That’s now a ‘thing to do’ in itself. I did manage one necklace…
(I’m still torn over which of these different displays works best, and which I should use as my main photo on Etsy….)
Now, on to the earrings….
(There is a real and present danger that the pair above are going to be whisked out of my shop and into my ears.)
(Hate that blue-ness! Stooopid seasonal light!)
That’s the lot! What’s more, they are all listed here on Etsy!
So, I’m back with the details of the bead shop update and some images of the other new beads I’ll be listing, aside from the sawdust fired beads I shared in the last post. The update will be happening this Wednesday, 14th September, 6.30pm BST. There are lots of new designs, including some new sets. I love the interaction of the glazes on these:
And this, above, is one of my current favourite glaze combinations.
There are a lot of new earring charms.
And that is just a few – believe me! I’ve also done some autumn. I don’t tend to do seasonal beads but, while I prefer summer, there’s something irresistible about the colours and forms of autumn.
But if that’s not for you there are some more colourful things.
There’s a scattering of head pins –
And the sets of earring pairs are making a return –
along with more tubby cones…
I think that’s most of the categories covered. Here’s a link to the bead shop. This lot will be up in the shop tomorrow at 6.30pm BST. I’ll leave you with a few more pics of more new things…
Several weeks ago I went to do a sawdust firing with Jenny Barton (Enigma Pottery), whose classes I attended a couple of years ago to refresh my ceramics knowledge. It was the first time I’ve tried sawdust firing and a one-off session, so, in the weeks prior to doing it, I spent a good amount of time reading up on the process. Sawdust firing, if you don’t know, is a low-fire technique similar to pit-firing, but done in a brick built kiln or some kind of metal container (which is what I used), rather than a hole in the ground. The kiln is packed with sawdust and other combustibles, which surround whatever it is you’re firing. Amongst this, other materials can be included to create different fumes which produce different effects and colours on your work. This might include salt (and anything salty!), oxides, dried plant matter, different woods, different metals, etc… Once you’ve got everything in, you set light to the top of the sawdust and let it burn away slowly. There’s no glaze involved: the look of the finished ware is entirely dependant on the chancy business of how the materials in the kiln burn. So, for some time, I was walking around looking at everything, thinking, ‘Will that burn?’ and ‘What will it bring if it does burn?’ I got a bit fixated..
I’m mad about the results. I feel I can enthuse more because there’s so much chance involved, so I can’t claim that much credit. I had been pretty apprehensive about what would happen in the firing. I feared that everything would just get oxidised and turn black because there’s so little surface area on a bead. Don’t get me wrong, there are amazing studio ceramicists whose work is largely focused on using and adapting the blackened surface that can be achieved on sawdust fired ware (and, the wholly black beads I got are lovely); I just wanted to try all the things at once and, hopefully, get lots of variety. So I was pretty thrilled to discover all these rich colours and subtle details as I cleaned the ash away from the beads. Thrilled to the point of thinking, ‘Oh my goodness! I just want to do nothing but sawdust firing all the time for the forever now!’
One thing I did contribute was a hell of a lot of burnishing. I feel a little giddy when I reflect on the hours which I spent rubbing away at these pieces. And then, once they were out of the firing, there was a whole heap of polishing and waxing. It’s crazy time consuming, but the finished surface is so nice.
(Just perfect for Autumn, hey?)
In my reading around the subject, I discovered a way in which I can actually carry on doing sawdust firing on a smaller scale – which pleases me very much! I had been in two minds about it, but now it seems I’ll be able to make more, I’m ready to part with some of these. I’m still havering on pricing, given how long it took me to burnish and polish some of them. There are also some more kinda matt sawdust fired beads which I didn’t burnish and they will be cheaper.
Which means it’s update time! And I’ve just finished a large load of my regular fired, glazed beads too. I’ll share some pictures of those here in the next day or so, once I’ve got some taken, and I’ll confirm details of the update. It will be next week some time. In the meantime, here’s some more sawdust fired lovelies…
Oh, I haven’t included a link to the bead shop! Here’s one now!