Tuesday 21 October 2014

Simple Circles within Simple Circles within...

juiter ring 2 photo jupiter_ring3.jpg
Sometimes it’s the simple things that capture your attention and fire your inspiration. I’ve always been attracted to shape-making in silver wire, and have loved creating leaves and hearts and getting them to look as sweet on the eye as I possibly can. But geometric shapes are something I’d not really explored that much in their own right yet.

So with my new mandrels to hand I came up with a simple ring design, a circle set on a circle, both made from round wire, and I then added a tiny semi-spherical silver button I’d created. And voila...

jupiter ring 1 photo jupiter_ring2.jpg

Although I say so myself, I do love the simplicity of this, the circle of the body of the ring, interrupted by the open circle of the top of the ring, interrupted by the small, solid circle, offset to one side...

The solid circle addition may well have been inspired by seeing the moons of Jupiter surrounding the planet earlier this year through a small telescope in a back garden on a chilly night, very tiny circles of bright light circling a slightly larger one; I chose to place the tiny circle within its 'planet' rather than without though.

I like the fact the ring can be worn either way, tiny circle top or bottom, to create a bit of variety.

jupiter ring 3 photo jupiter_ring1.jpg

This is a personal favourite of mine but I hope to make some more soon, as well as explore other shapes... well, I do have those mandrels now...

Friday 10 October 2014

New Tools for a New Season

Shiny new tools are one of the strangest things you develop a fascination for when you fall in love with making metal jewellery…The arrival of tool catalogues was always received with joy at my silversmithing classes, along with much disappointment if we didn’t have enough for everyone…

Not that tools are particularly indulgent. It may well seem that way when you find a bargain set of pliers on a market stall for a couple of quid, and yet a top of the range pair can easily cost well over fifty pounds. And I’ve been told that you really can notice the difference, both in terms of the quality of the tool and also the way it treats your work.

My own pliers are, on the whole, a motley collection assembled piecemeal over the years (and all have different coloured handles, which is such an unlooked-for bonus) - I have used high quality tools and can verify that the difference often isn’t in how damaged your bank balance looks but in the marks, intentional and not, that are left on the precious metals you're working with…

But I also have some super-cheap tools that really are super. A set of reverse angle pliers, one straight and one angled, are truly excellent and have done me great service for many years now - they came into my hands for around a pound each. I’ll happily seek out some of a similar calibre (and price) when these finally succumb to time but, looking at them, it won’t be for a while yet.

My latest tools aren’t not of the expensive kind but are decent quality and do a wonderful job. Plus, they were gifts, which makes them even sweeter.

The first is a set of two tiny mandrels, perfect for rounding up jump-rings ranging from pretty small to, well, far smaller than would fit on a typical ring mandrel.

tools-metal mandrels

Having used a variety of ‘home-made’ mandrels for such tasks in the past, it feels rather indulgent – and yet so much easier – to now have a metal tool that can tolerate a little more hammering than a leaky Biro.

The second tool is another mandrel, this one most certainly plastic (and so needing of slightly more careful treatment) but also made for the job and, so far, pretty sturdy.

tools - beadsmith plastic mandrels
The Beadsmith multi-mandrel consists of a handle and four interchangeable mandrel heads – in round, oval, square and triangular shapes. So far, oval and round have got the most use, but I’ve long been intrigued by the idea of softly curving triangles and hope the mandrel for this will prove helpful in future experimentations.

These are the first new tools I've had in a while now and I've been pleased at how they seem to expand not only what I can do (and the ease I can do with it) but also ideas and inspirations seem to flow more easily...anyone else experience that, and does anyone have ideas for tools that I should add to my wish-list?

{NB. The link to the Beadmsith mandrel from this post is an Amazon  UK affiliate link. This means that if you click through to the mandrel and then go on to buy it on Amazon, the nice people who run the company will give me money. From their own stash! And it will cost you nothing!! If I ever earn enough to qualify for payment, the money will go to my very needy rolling machine fund which currently contains only copper coins. For more info on my affiliate links, take a look at the bottom of my about page. Ta muchly.}