Sunday 23 December 2012

Inspiration - Winter

November and December have brought a lot of rain and a few frosty days. Christmas shopping has been hard, but it's done and (most) gifts are wrapped. I'm trying, now, to enjoy a little of that Christmas feeling, trying not to miss it in the rush and bustle and things-to-do chaos that can easily descend at this time.
Here's some photos I've taken in the last couple of months.

Hope you've enjoyed the chaos and cold a little this winter!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all my readers and fellow bloggers!

Wednesday 19 December 2012

The Jewelled Web ii

If you're ever stuck for a way to display your jewellery, this is something to try out, and also doubles up as a bit of wall decoration too...

The vintage (antique) pendant in this post is simply beautiful. The Past Era Blog has gone a bit quiet of late but has heaps of archives to delve into.

Free silversmithing jewellery ebook (sign-up required).

The Huffington Post has a few ideas on making jewellery from things that other people may overlook.

In my never-ending quest to take better jewellery photographs, I found this article, with a great set-up for a light box.

Utterly beautiful beads.

Full of helpful links, a feature about selling on Etsy (much of it relevant to Folksy and selling online generally).

and on a non-jewelery theme...

Last minute gift crisis? You should find something to make here...

And a discussion about Instagram's new policy ideas. Interesting reading.

Hope you're lead-up-to-Christmas-week is a good one.

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Jewellery Book Wish List

I adore jewellery books. Some I feast on for inspiration and rapidly discard. Others are referred to again and again, both for inspiration and information. Despite a heaving bookshelf, when Christmas comes around and people ask me what I'd like, I always find myself trawling bookshops, both on the high street and online, browsing for the latest, the oldest, and hopefully the best.

Here's a few books I'd like to find in my Christmas stocking this year.

three jewellery book covers

I've given Vintage Jewellery by Caroline Cox, a few, long, lingering glances in the book shop. Beautifully produced, full of inspiring images. If this doesn't make you want to get making, then nothing will...

I have no kiln. The title of Magical Metal Clay Jewellery: Amazingly Simple No-Kiln Techniques for Making Beautiful Jewellery (written by Sue Heaser) says I don't need one to make metal clay jewellery. What more could you ask for?

The sheer vibrancy of the polymer clay colours used on the front cover of Polymer Clay Color Inspirations by Lindly Haunani and Magie Maggio just make me want to know more about what's inside. Cover image is very important.

three jewellery book covers

This book looks fascinating. Jewellery from Recycled Materials by Jaimie MacDonald, looks wonderfully inventive, and that is always inspiring. Ideas for jewellery from everyday objects, things you'd otherwise throw away, must be worth a read.

Setting Up a Successful Jewellery Business (Setting Up Guides) by Angie Boothroyd, is a title to strike a chord with anyone who tries to sell on Folksy, Etsy, or another other craft-based online outlet. This book looks comprehensive and, unusually for this topic, seems aimed at a UK audience. (For my review of this book, after reading it, click here)

The Workbench Guide to Jewelry Techniques by Anastasia Young has been out a couple of years but has, until now, escaped my jewellery-book-radar. It looks detailed. It looks wide-ranging. It looks just about right. It's also a silversmithing book, pure and simple, and I just adore those.

Please leave details of any books on your Christmas list this year. I fear they will only make my list grow longer, but I'm always on the lookout for new books to desire...

I've not included any ebooks. My Kindle is greyscale and, from the samples I've downloaded images, and instructions containing images, just don't work. For those of you with full colour eReaders suitable for such books, do share how well they work for you. I'd love to know.

Hope you like my choices and that something here inspires you too.

(Please note, this post contains affiliate links - see my about page for more info on my early adventures in affiliates :)

Saturday 8 December 2012

The Jewelled Web

The run up to Christmas is always a busy time, and feels more hectic than ever, for me at least, this year. As much as a boon for shopping the internet is, it's also a massive distraction. But surfing around does have its compensations, not least a bit of down-time and on my virtual travels this last week or two, I've found some goodies. I thought I'd share them here.

A thoughtful post about finding balance by Silverpebble. Twitter or blog? I prefer blogs too...

Bracelet of the week, on Folksy.

Need inspiring photographs of vintage jewellery? Look no further.

How to wear all your rings at once. I approve.

A blast from the past on Folksy about making jewellery with wire.

Heard on Radio 4's Midweek show (listen again here), world renowned silversmith Jocelyn Burton talking about inspiration, metal, and training as a silversmith in less enlightened time (she's on first so listen from the start). Find her own website here for sumptuous examples of her work. (Download 5th December podcast here.)

And something with no connection to jewellery in any way whatsoever... a 'Where's Wally' but with photos and a very sweet dog ...

Hope you enjoy. Have you found any interesting links recently?

Wednesday 5 December 2012

My purple notebook of Ideas

For several years now (slightly over three of them, to be more precise), I have used a special tool when I make jewellery. I use this very tool every time I sit down with silver to hand, and it sits on the table alongside soldering torch and piercing saw, pliers and snips.

It's an A5 purple notebook, not an expensive one, and not even a particularly nice one. If I'd known it would be with me so long, and become so important to me, then I suspect I would have chosen something a little more special to look at. But it's a hardback, its cover is wipe clean and that's always handy in the workroom, and the purple colour is distinctive enough that I can normally find it amongst heaps of emery paper, or under plastic bags half-filled with silver off-cuts and dust.

For many years when I started making jewellery, I winged it. I always promised myself I'd make notes, jot ideas down, make sure I knew what I used to get which effect, both to replicate successes, and to avoid repeating disasters. I just didn't get round to it until the purple notebook came along.

Very rarely now do I not use it when I work. If I don't use it at the time, I fill it in later. I add the date, draw some truly amateurish sketches of ideas that I'm going to try, annotating them when they don't work out, or adding details such as trying a different wire gauge, or a different length of silver. I draw little images of things that have worked, sometimes using a shorthand of a big tick next to them. As my writing is normally an illegible scrawl, a large tick by a familiar looking design is a great shorthand when I'm flicking through, trying to find just the right 'ingredients' of silver and skills that I need to recreate a particular style.

And I have found this invaluable time and again, to have a written note of things that work, as much as things that don't. If several weeks or months have passed between me 'perfecting' (as much as you ever can) a new idea and then trying it again, it saves an afternoon of frustration if I know exactly what I need to do, rather than having to make some educated guesses, and then find they're not as intelligent as I thought they were.

The notebook is equally as handy for jotting down inspiration for designs as they come to me. Working with silver can easily spark new inspiration for how to use it (often in the middle of something else, when it's inconvenient to take that inspiration any further). But a small note in that old purple book means I can return to that same idea, expand upon it, and add the same positives and negatives that inevitably arise as I attempt to turn a flat, pencil sketch into a living piece of jewellery.

I do regret, very slightly, not using a spiral bound book, something that would lay open on the table easily, but that aside, I'm more than happy with what has become so important to me. In both front and back, receipts and invoices are tucked away, along with a few dried leaves, kept for inspiration and memory.

Whilst it's not a tool in the conventional sense, in terms of making jewellery, it's one I'd recommend anyone interested in designing, in any type of craft, to invest in. You don't have to keep it with you all the time, although it might be worth having a small notebook around for that purpose, but it is worth having some kind of record of your ideas, your failures, and your successes  - and how you achieved them.

Does anyone else have a notebook that's also a time and lifesaver? Links to similar posts are most welcome!

PS. If you read the comments you'll notice that Vic said she was going to do her own notebook post - and she did! Do check it out.