Friday, 8 December 2017

Jewellery Book Wish List - Christmas 2017

It's December, it's nearly Christmas, and, so far, I've not asked for any new jewellery books this year... having said that, just because I've not actually said I want a copy of one of those potential gems, doesn't mean I wouldn't mind finding one in my stocking/pillowcase come Christmas day morning...

As in last year's post, the books are in no special order (of any kind)...

Mixed Metals by Danielle Fox book cover Metal Clay for Jewelry Makers by Sue Heaser book cover Weave Wrap Coil by Jodi Bombardier book cover 

Mixed Metals by Danielle Fox
It may be obvious but I love working with silver, and I've dabbled a little with gold and copper over the years. Integrating different metals together fascinates me and a book that covers those metals and more, and how to use them together, looks to be an interesting read.

Metal Clay for Jewelry Makers by Sue Heaser
I was very impressed with the book by Sue Heaser I received for Christmas last year and this is a way of working with silver that I still haven't explored anywhere near fully enough.

Weave, Wrap, Coil: Creating Artisan Wire Jewelry by Jodi Bombardier
Wire wrapping is a skill I'm increasingly eager to learn more about and this book looks to be a great guide to starting, and progressing, in this kind of jewellery making.

Metalsmithing Made Easy by Kate Ferrant Richbourg book cover Christie's by Vincent Meylan book cover The Art of Polymer Clay by Donna Kato book cover

Metalsmithing Made Easy by Kate Ferrant Richbourg
Many jewellery making books deal more with the 'softer' side of the art, involving threads and beads. This one, however, seems focused not just on metals, but how to connect them, covering both soldering and cold connections, topics you can never know enough about if you work with silver.

Christie's: The Jewellery Archives Revealed by Vincent Meylan
This book isn't about making jewellery, but it is about appreciating the skill and work and inspiration that has gone into some of the most beautiful pieces and collections that have passed through one of the most famous auction houses in the world. No doubt also an ideal way to convince yourself that you're not good enough to even pick up a piercing saw ever again...

The Art of Polymer Clay Millefiori Techniques by Donna Kato
Every year I spend a little time working with polymer clay and every year I vow I'll do more, which is no doubt why I'm always attracted back to books on this subject. Plus, I know the author of this one is so good that she even has her own brand of clay...


If you've read any of these books then do let me know what you think about them, and if they're worth adding to my already heaving jewellery book shelves? And do let me know of any recommendations you have for books I many have missed. I'd love to add to my wishlist!

PS. To see my jewellery book wishlists from Christmases past, then do take a look at my posts from 2016, 2013 and 2012.

(this post includes affiliate links - please check details here for more info.)

Friday, 1 December 2017

Jewelled Web - December 2017 - Link Love

Sunlight on frosty and cobwebbed teasel heads - Jewelled Web December 2017 by SilverMoss Jewellery

Oh, but it's suddenly come in very cold in the UK, the last few leaves are only barely clinging to the cold trees, it's even been crisp underfoot a few times and today I was surprised by waking to snowfall and seeing a brief but distinctly blizzardy sky.

My Christmas shopping still isn't done.

No tree or decorations are up.

I've not even bought any Christmas cards yet.

But, despite that, I'm still looking for and even finding some of that wonderful Christmas atmosphere, the glow from lights that is all the brighter when the days are so short at this time of year.

Like last month's Jewelled Web, this December edition is also devoted to links from fellow jewellers, who've also been interviewed on my blog, as well as a few more Folksy finds that leave me wondering if I want to buy them as gifts or to keep for myself...

Have a happy December and enjoy the links.

~jewellery links~

I interviewed Tracy from Cinnamon Jewellery on my blog a while back and it's well worth a read if you've not done so already - she works with silver, copper, and bronze, as well as enamel and these pink and green enamel earrings from her shop really showcase her skills in both metal and colour.

This beautiful ring has been made by Emma from Little Cherry Hill Artisan Jewellery, who creates wonderful jewellery down in Australia (where the weather is probably much warmer than it is in the UK right now...)

I love the inspiration behind Leisa Howes jewellery and the pieces she makes are just beautiful, like this Meadow Hare brooch.

Nanuk Jewellery is designed and made by Louise who is exceptionally versatile in her materials and skills. I love this sea dragon necklace, full of colour and clever ideas.

If you've not heard of fordite then do check out my interview with Sasha Garrett
and this necklace is a perfect example of her work.

My most recent interview is with Gemma Atwell of The Silver Shed - her moon gazing hare pendant feels just right for this chilly time of year.

~non-jewellery links~

This pinecone-covered dress by Molly Coddle Childrenswear makes me wish I was young/small enough to fit into it...

I adore this picture, full of snow and yet with a warmth all of its own, by Illustrator Kate.

Another snow scene, this time of the Dales, by Little Ram Studio.

On a foxy theme, these bookends made by Kittiwake Design are delightful.

This wolf brooch, made in wood by Martin Tomsky, is very evocative of the winter months.

A tea towel that will cover all seasons with its woodland theme is created by Lydia Meiying.

~latest reads~

Philip Pullman's latest His Dark Materials book has recently been released, but before reading it I've been re-reading Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass all over again, and enjoying them so much that I can't wait to dive into La Belle Sauvage very, very soon...

To breakup the above up a little I've also started ready The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory, which is officially Book 3 in the Cousins War series but seems chronologically to be Book 1 so that's where I've started...


Wishing you a beautiful December and a wonderful Christmas - thank you for reading my blog :)


If you're looking for a few more wintery links then do take a look at my Jewelled Web for December 2016.

(this post includes a few affiliate links (in the 'latest reads' section)  - please check details here for more info.)

Friday, 24 November 2017


November seems like a good month to pause. December awaits with its cacophony of noise and light, demands on time and energy (and money...), and the increasing onslaught of Christmas-themed everything.

But this November I've been trying to push back against that a little, to notice my surroundings more, and appreciate them, whether they be a mug of hot chocolate in a warm cafe or a pot of tea by the stove, and whether my feet are hidden under damp, fallen leaves or are crunching over shingle as the sea lashes the shoreline.

Sterling silver leaf and two autumn leaves

I'm also finding this philosophy in my jewellery making too, where simple shapes and simple ways of constructing them in simple materials, like round sterling silver wire, are more pleasing just now than elaborate details and complex finishes.

You could say, and you'd be right to, that I'm trying to be more mindful, in every part of my life, including when I'm sitting at my jewellery bench. I know mindfulness has become one of those words which often makes people either roll your eyes in disdain or nod your head in agreement - well, I'm one of the latter and am attempting to use it more and more every single day and let it help me in any way I can. So far, I think I'm better off with it than without. If you're interested in finding out more then I've found

this book (and free CD) - Mindfulness for Health,

this website - Rachael Kable,

and this (free) course - Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance

to be of great use.

But whether you're mindful of mindfulness or not, I hope you get a chance to breathe in some late-autumn tinged air very soon - the scent of fallen leaves with a hint of bonfires is how I'd put it; if only I could bottle it!

Happy the rest of November.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Jeweller Interview with Gemma Atwell of The Silver Shed

Fairy tales in all their forms are such an important part of childhood. We think we grow out of them but, really, those years are so formative that we can never really leave their magic behind, and I felt a reminder when I first saw Gemma Atwell's beautiful jewellery.

Silver Wolf and Moon Silhouette Pendant by The Silver Shed

The Silver Shed, Gemma's online shop, is full of jewellery inspired by fairy tales and childhood stories, as well as images from folklore and nature. It's a wonderful place to visit to escape from the modern world and go back to simpler times...

Read on to learn more about how Gemma comes up with such wonderful ideas, how she is developing her work, and  where her beautiful pieces is created.

When and how did you start making jewellery?

I kind of fell into it really, around 15 years ago I was looking for a creative short course to do and found a 10 week silversmithing one. That was it, I was hooked. The interest had always been there though, I was given a silver charm bracelet as a child and was so fascinated at how the little charms were made. After the short course I signed onto a City & Guilds design for jewellery NVQ, the love for metal-smithing grew from there.

I love your shop name - how did you think of it and does it have a story behind it?

It is quite simply because I am a shed dweller! My studio is a garden shed/summerhouse. I originally thought to use my own name as my business name but I wanted something a little more memorable.

Silversmith's Workshop by The Silver Shed

Where do your design ideas come from and what is the process that sees them through to the finished product?

An idea for a collection can begin anywhere, I have many snippets of inspiration waiting to be worked on. I tend to make mood boards, Pinterest is good for this, and doodle in sketchbooks until an idea forms into something more concrete. Sometimes I make maquettes from paper or copper, but more often than not I move straight into working in silver. If something doesn't quite work I will smelt that silver down to cast other pieces. If I am working on a gold piece of jewellery I will usually make a model or two first to make sure the design works.

Your designs have a wonderfully whimsical style - where do your ideas come from?

The majority of my work is based in folklore and fairytales, I am a firm believer that we can all do with a little bit of magic in our lives. Nostalgia and whimsy definitely play a part, I love when someone says a piece stirs a long forgotten memory, or when they get misty eyed thinking of the books they have read to their children.

Silver Pendant set against a Spool of Thread by The Silver Shed

Do you take your own shop photos, and if so do you have any photography hints?

I do take my own photos yes, although I am never completely happy with them. I'm no great photographer but it is something that needs to be done. I would certainly say good, sharp photos are one of your best tools when selling your own work, naturally lit and styled to reflect you and your business.

How did you decide on the way you style your jewellery photos?

The photos I take need to represent my brand so I like them to reflect the way I style my stands at shows/markets. I always want my staging to evoke the idea of a professor's study or an alchemist's desk, with books, inkwells and bell jars filled with archaeological or natural history finds. I use a lot of text and ancient/folk imagery in my work so I want my lifestyle photographs to enhance that.

Two Silver Rings with Stamped Quotes from Alice in Wonderland by The Silver Shed

Which social media platform do you find the most enjoyable and helpful, and how do you use it?

Instagram is definitely my go to for social media, I like how visual it is and that it is one of the only platforms where independent businesses still have the upper-hand. It's great for networking too, I've made lots of Insta buddies and love how much support you can find from other creatives all over the globe. I also still use Facebook and actually manage to sell through both, they are a great way to gauge how a new design will be received before launching it properly.

How do you hope your jewellery making will evolve over time? How do you see your shop changing?

I actually made a conscious decision this year to concentrate on making some larger, more intricate jewellery, pieces I want to make rather than what I think I should be. I was really nervous about this move but thankfully so far my new work has been really well received. I understand they are more considered purchases but I also know that when somebody buys one it is because they truly love it.

Silver Cloud Pendant set against a White and Gold Feather by The Silver Shed

What is the best tip or advice you've been given?

Be inspired by others but don't copy them and do not constantly compare yourself to your contemporaries, do your thing and the right people will find you. Those you follow and admire have the same insecurities as you too.

All photographs in this post ©Gemma Atwell (The Silver Shed)

Thanks so much for the interview, Gemma, I loved learning more about the inspiration behind your work - and that you really do have a silver shed!

To see more of Gemma's work and inspiration then head to the links below:

Folksy Shop ~ The Silver Shed
Etsy Shop - The Silver Shed
Facebook ~ The Silver Shed
Twitter ~ @silvershedgirl
Instagram ~ @silvershedgirl


If you'd like to read some other of my jeweller interviews then do click here to find more

Friday, 10 November 2017

A Ring of Two Stones - Sky Blue Topaz and Labradorite

Sky blue topaz and Labradorite faceted gemstone sterling silver ring - silvermoss

This is a birthday ring, for this month, and I liked the idea of using a birthstone. Of all the shades topaz comes in, the sky blue variation is, for me, the most beautiful. It does seem to look like a little piece of sky, captured in stone, perhaps even the sky on a November day when the sun is as bright as it can bear at this time of year and the blue around it has that slightly chilled look, as if the heat from our star can't quite warm it to the deeper hues of summer.

The other most usual birthstone for November, according to information on the web, is citrine. And although I've used topaz and citrine together before (see the stones I bought and what I made from them), it just didn't seem to work right for this birthday or the ring I wanted to make.

Sky blue topaz and Labradorite sterling silver ring on a wooden stand - silvermoss

So when I bought the rose cut cabochons I wrote about in this post, as well as the sky blue topaz which I'd purposely chosen, I bought gems in colours I hoped would match nicely with it. The lapis lazuli was too opaque and the iolite too small (fool that I was not to order it in a larger size) but the labradorite sat perfectly with the topaz. Against the sky blue topaz, the labradorite looks, to me, like stormy skies, with a hint of rainbow, the opposite to clear blue heavens but with a beauty of its own.

I made a simple ring in rectangular wire, with the design left open to be a little adjustable so I didn't have to reveal too much by casually enquiring after someone's ring size - let's face it, when isn't that a giveaway?

When I make this again, I may use a slightly heavier wire as I had to hammer this ring to give it a bit more strength - I didn't want it to be too adjustable... But I'm happy with the colours and cut of the gems against the silver and I hope the recipient is too. I also rather love the way the gems, especially the labradorite, look different in varying lights and I've tried to show that in the photos I've included here.

Sky blue topaz and Labradorite sterling silver ring set against a white pebble - silvermoss