Thursday 1 October 2015

Jewelled Web - October 2015 - Link Love


September has left us with sunshine (and moonlit nights), despite the feeling that this summer has been the wettest I can remember for a good while. I am prepared to forgive that at the present, however, when moving into October the sun is still earth quite nicely and I've got blackberries, raspberries, and even some very confused strawberries fruiting in my garden.

Here's some links, although I do recommend reading them whilst basking in the autumn rays...

~jewellery links~

Ever find yourself with an 'essential' jewellery tool that used to be something else entirely...? At one point my entire collection of mandrels were 're-purposed'...

I've been making some jewellery with cord lately so this tutorial may save me some calculating headaches about how much cord I actually need.

If you do shows then this tutorial for a ring display stand could be very useful.

The 100 top selling jewellery makers on Etsy for 2014 - unless I missed it, not one from the UK.

How to make perfectly round loops in metal (you need to register (for free) on this site to access the tutorials).

These earrings are so, so pretty, beautifully detailed, and perfect for the autumn.

I'm rereading this tutorial on how to drill glass, after being requested to make a necklace in the same material - although I suspect I'll make a bezel instead...

~non-jewellery links~

I'm still giddy with the fact I was lucky enough to see the lunar eclipse - no clouds whatsoever for much of the event. I saw the start of it, missed a little bit, then watched from totality to totally normal again. It was a little like this, but without the sea, the island, or, thankfully, the lightning storm in the distance.

Also in the sky, the Northern Lights from space, and winning photographs of the skies...

Why is everyone succeeding except me? I've not read this yet but I must...

It's good to think outside the box, in every part of life, including home furnishing - so I like this idea of using outdoor light fixtures inside your house.

Fancy sleeping in the sea?

'Self-care' sounds a bit of a twee principle but it also kind of makes perfect sense...

Surprisingly sweet - a DIY pom pom wall hanging. Seriously.

My Own Personal Book Club ~ this month I've been reading...

Michel Faber's The Book of Strange New Things - science fiction but unlike any I've read before, no detailed explanation of space travel or space craft, just the minutia of human, and non-human, life. Makes you think and may make you cry.

Metal Clay Jewellery by Natalia Colman, full of good, clear images and inventive ideas (review to follow).

Half of the Human Race by Anthony Quinn, a book loaned to me and nearly finished now. Sweeping and dramatic, taking in women's suffrage, the First Word War and, yes, cricket, but also focused on the small details that make up a life. I'm still enjoying this and am glad it's a long one...

(affiliate links included in the books listed - please check details here.)

Hope the start of your October is as sunny as mine is - and long may it continue!

Tuesday 22 September 2015

Book Review - The Complete Jewellery Maker

The Complete Jewellery Maker - consultant editor Jinks McGrath
Published by Quantum 2012

Complete Jewellery Maker - book review by Silvermoss Complete Jewellery Maker - book review by Silvermoss

I was rather excited by this book. Firstly, it’s big and detailed, but also the spine is flexible enough to keep it open as a reference while at the work bench. Also, it’s by Jinks McGrath who is a jeweller, teacher, and writer I always have time for. However, it was only when I flicked through it that I noticed something of great importance if you’re an avid buyer of jewellery books, or even if you’ve just accumulated a few over the years you’ve been making and creating; it’s an amalgamation of a variety of other books. Some of the projects and some of the photos looked familiar; in fact one of the projects I adapted only last year to make a gift for a family member. When I looked at the inside front of this book I discovered that it consists of excerpts from half a dozen other books. I’ll list them here in case you’re wondering if you own one or more of them:

Basic Jewellery Making Techniques by Jinks McGrath - pub 1993 by Quintet
Jewellery Making Manual by Sylvia Wicks - pub 1985 by Quill
The Creative Jeweller by Claire C Davies - pub 2000 by Quarto
Jewellery (Two in One Manual) by Madeline Coles - pub 1999 by Quarto
Jewelry Making Techniques Book by Elizabeth Olver - pub 2001 by Quarto
The Art of Jewellery Design by Elizabeth Olver - pub 2002 by Quarto                                          

I also read the cover more closely and read that the book has Jinks McGrath as a ‘consultant editor’ rather than its writer.

If you own none of the above books then this edition can only be useful, covering everything from the basics of setting up a workshop, to working with different materials (although the emphasis is on working with metal), to techniques and projects, and an in-depth section on design. It’s comprehensive, well illustrated, and methodically set out. It might also be a lot easier buying this one edition, rather than buying six other books.

Complete Jewellery Maker - book review by Silvermoss Complete Jewellery Maker - book review by Silvermoss

But if you do possess any of the above books then it might be a little frustrating when you come across pages that are familiar and already well-read. I own three from the above list and, especially because I did not know initially how this book was constructed, I was a little disappointed at first when I flicked through and found projects and photos that I already knew. However on looking more closely I also discovered information that I hadn’t read before, and, thankfully, a good proportion of the book was new to me, most notably the chapter on design.

The fewer of the books above that you already own, the greater your enjoyment of this book will be. I wouldn’t say not to buy it if you already own some of the books it’s been created from, but I will say approach with caution, try and get a hold of a copy to look through, either via a library or a book shop, rather than buying online and hoping for the best. That way you can make sure that it still contains enough new information to make it worth your time and money.

Please note, this post contains affiliate links, which cost you nothing if you click through but may make me a few coppers if the stars are right for me that day... For more info check out my about page.

Tuesday 1 September 2015

Jewelled Web - September 2015 - Link Love

Jewelled Web September 2015 Silver Moss photo Jewelled_Web-September_2015-Silver_Moss.jpg

It's been a long summer, not that I'm implying summer is over, and I'm glad of that. Summer, and sunshine, feels like a respite from the colder, darker parts of the year; it's the reward for getting through the trickier bits. Having written that, I'm aware it makes me sound like I dislike the colder months and I don't. I like the drama of seasons, but I find the warmth of summer easier. Although this summer we've also had our share of rainy weather too in the UK, and the really hot days could probably be counted on both hands. But not feet.

This Jewelled Web is a little delayed, in some ways; despite my best intentions I missed August's edition and although I was going to upload it late, events conspired and all that, and it instead turned into September's Link Love.

I hope your summer has been long and warm and really rather nice. I hope it lasts a little bit longer too.

~jewellery links~

Making jewellery = a bad back. I'll be reading this feature over a few times, looking for some hints.

I do love the idea of keeping a kiln in a fireplace...

Soldering tips? No, you can't have too many - parts one, two and three from Art Jewelry Elements.

A tutorial for adding some thread tassels to jewellery. This could be adapted even if you don't work with beads.

A beautiful cross-over between painting and jewellery.

How to make a slide bracelet.

Cold connections, for when you don't want to solder.

From eBay, a handy guide to gauges, and the ideal size for different jewellery projects.

A video on how to get your hand-made ear wires to be matching sizes.

~non-jewellery links~

Reading is good for you. I knew it.

Such amazing photographs from the winners of the Ecology Image Competition, but Waterlilies in Madagascar in my favourite.

Still amazed by the images sent back from Pluto in July, planet or not...

Drinking customs around the world; how to drink alcohol in Uzbekistan.

And look here for amazing images of tribes from all over the globe.

How many facial expressions do horses have? Do sheep really recognise each other?

How many everyday items are actually easier to use than we think?

Heard of Myers-Briggs but not sure what it is? It seems it applies to London tube lines...

I'm going to start adding a taste of what I'm reading, have been reading, and perhaps even hope to read very soon to my Jewelled Web posts. Links will, most likely, mainly be to Amazon, and may well be affiliate ones, but don't let you put that off; whether you click them or not, buy something or nothing, it won't cost you a thing. For more info, check my affiliate info here.

My Own Personal Book Club ~ this month I've been reading...

Oh Sugar by Katherine Bassford which is about how we just eat too much sugar that we don't need and it's actually bad for us. It's a little unnerving, but if you start viewing food as medicine, why would you take something that makes you ill...It's also wonderfully sane about trying to cut sugar down, and how everything bit you avoid really can help.

Queen Mab by Kate Danley, a retelling of the Romeo and Juliet story. It took me a couple of chapters to get into it, but the more I read the more I love it. Yes, chances are you know the tale but this is one of the kost refreshing versions of it I've read (still reading!)

The Complete Jewellery Maker edited by Jinks McGrath - a more detailed review will follow soon, but this large and well-illustrated compendium is giving me lots of food for though - sugar-free of course...

Have a good start to September!

Wednesday 26 August 2015

An Endlessly Charming Bracelet...

When I started making jewellery, I stopped buying jewellery. It seemed the right thing to do, even if I was turning down something that I couldn't actually make myself. I mean, how much jewellery does one person need that they can afford to be fussy about what type it is? I made jewellery with silver so surely not indulging in a beaded bracelet (that I might learn how to make one day (and I have done so)) wouldn't be denying myself too much. Over time I've relaxed about this a little, letting myself enjoy jewellery that I haven't made, can't make, or probably won't ever learn how to make. This has helped my family at Christmastime no end... And while I have a soft spot for artisan made pieces, I am not beyond seeing the good points in a machine-cut ring from a high street shop, ever so occasionally...

So on receiving an email from Endless Jewelry asking me to review some of their jewellery, I hesitated at first. My blog is about  hand-crafted jewellery, mostly designed by individual makers, often in their spare room. Endless Jewelry is made by a large company, perhaps involving some expensive machinery, most probably not by the designer, and also had a promotional campaign fronted by Jennifer Lopez. Not so much in common really...

Endless Jewelry Bracelet in packaging

But a love of jewellery is a love of jewellery and  curiosity got the better of me, so I said 'yes'. I was told I would be sent a bracelet, and I was asked for the size and colour I would like it in. I chose 36cm (double-length that wraps twice around the wrist) and grey. Well, the grey looked like silver so what else could I choose really.

Parcelled up, all the way from Germany, came a nicely designed box finished with coloured elastic ribbons. Inside was a jewellery stand and the bracelet itself. The first thing I noticed was that the attention to detail in the packaging was carried through into the jewellery also. The bracelet consists of a piece of leather, sewed to make a tube, and finished at both ends with a magnetic clasp. Threaded onto the leather tube was a small silver charm, in the shape of a four-leaved clover. The leather bracelet itself is well made, carefully finished with no loose threads, and the clasp is strong and seems reliable. The Stirling silver four-leaf clover is small, sweet and charming and  while most likely made by casting is, again, nicely finished.

The only issue I found with the bracelet is that it's a little too snug fitting - despite having skinny wrists my feeling is that this size is either suitable for models or children. One of the downsides of ordering online, affecting any jewellery who sells in that space, is that people don't have an opportunity to try things on. Less of an issue with necklaces and earrings, but quite awkward with bracelets (as in this case) and rings especially.

Endless Jewelry Bracelet in packaging

Sizing issues aside the bracelet is very wearable, casual enough for any time, and dressy enough for an evening out. The selling point of this jewellery is a little along the Pandora charm idea, where you can add silver charms, or gemstone or enamel beads to your collection (and store them on your stand) to personalise your leather bracelet, and even make it different every time you wear it, should you wish (and have time!).  It's a nice touch that would allow people to buy charms for you in the way they can with Pandora charms, and also with the charms you add to a simple chain bracelet.

I can imagine this bracelet being very popular, especially around Christmas and Valentine's Day. It's simple but has style and its flexibility of design means it can literally suit anyone. The quality and detail of the jewellery, the packaging and the idea behind it all are all sound. Yes, it's not hand-made but should you wish to indulge in something a little more 'off-the-peg', but with the opportunity for an individual streak, then I can recommend this style of bracelet and charms. All I would say is, especially if you're buying for someone else, be careful with the sizes.


Please note, the jewellery in this post has been provided to me for free from Endless Jewelry in return for a review. My views are always my own and my reviews are always honest.

Wednesday 1 July 2015

Jewelled Web - July 2015 - Link Love

Summer is here...and it really has arrived for the end of June and the start of July. The sky may be overcast at times, a decent breeze may be pushing my hair around but still, all the same, the heat is nearly overwhelming. It's tiring and heavy but also so wonderful to be really warm in the UK.

Despite the warmth I've been hurtling around the net and here are a few things I've read and liked this past month, and a few I've bookmarked to keep me busy should the sun fail this coming month.

~jewellery links~

Ever fancied learning how to crochet a bracelet? I've seen silver crocheted to beautiful effect so this is something I'd like to try myself.

Interviews with jewellers Charlotte De Syllas, by the V&A... and Milena Kovanovic.

I adore these little hand-crafted horse beads!

Also on an animal theme, I think these personalised dog charms are very sweet - I'm hoping to invest in some letter stamps myself soon...

Another tutorial, this time for making a neckwire for pendants.

Resin jewellery is something else I've been meaning to try making for a while now, so I've bookmarked this tutorial to come back to.

~non-jewellery links~

Going away by plane this summer? Then these packing posts may be worth a read. This one is about taking carry-on bags only, and this one is about just making everything really tiny.

Staying at home and working out a marketing strategy? I'll be reading part two as well, even if I never do anything suggested...

And I'll also read this about blog design...

I wouldn't mind living here, but ideally it would be here...

The days are long but the decades are short - worth reading, whatever your age.

Hope your July is good, even if the fall of rain outweighs the shining of the sun.

Thursday 25 June 2015

Book Review - Compendium of Jewellery Making Techniques by Xuella Arnold and Sara Withers

Compendium of Jewellery Making Techniques - 350 tips, techniques and trade secrets
by Xuella Arnold and Sara Withers

Search Press 2013

I found this book in the library. Jewellery-making books seem quite copious in quantity at the moment (yay), but given the breadth of the topic and the myriad of techniques within it at its widest compass, not all books with ‘jewellery’ in the title are suitable for every kind of jewellery maker. I’ve found it pretty handy to be able to check books out before committing to buying them and, as great as flicking through a few pages on Amazon is (via their Look Inside feature), sometimes you just need a little more information, and time, to work out if a book fits what you need.

Search Press are reliable when it comes to jewellery books, so I was attracted to this edition on the shelves, hidden away in the crafting section, down one of the back aisles in the library. Not that I’m complaining at the placement; an excuse to browse amongst hundreds of books, any of which you can borrow, is quite a treat in anyone’s book. Get the pun…?

As shown in the photo here, the cover itself is enticing, showcasing a variety of different styles of jewellery – including images of metal-work -  and the sub-heading of “tips” and “trade secrets” really spoke to me – I have another book promising tips and I think these are really handy if you know a little bit about the subject in question and want to find ways to expand your skills and further your knowledge.

The book is ideal for leafing through, and would work well as a reference guide, meaning it's a good one to have on your book shelf for helping you along in certain projects, if you get stuck or need some inspiration. But it's also good to just read, taking you through projects and techniques, with hints and explanations, and those wonderful tips dotted liberally around, courtesy of two jewellers who really know their stuff, and who share the writing of the book by covering different chapters dependent on their own fields of expertise.

In terms of contents, this book covers everything from working with beads and wire, to metalwork basics and techniques, how to design, and even has a chapter covering less traditional forms of jewellery such as polymer clay, resin, plastics, and found items. Each different idea is numbered, so you know the book fills its quota as shown in the title, of 350 pieces of information.

The focus displayed is interesting – that the book covered both simply stringing beads, and then later the complexity of setting up a workshop for working with metals (and rather handily, included details about permanent workshops for those with the space, and temporary ones for those who have to fit their jewellery making, however complex, into the limitations of their home without recourse to a spare room). Sometimes books about jewellery try and cover too wide a field – the basics of creating a simple loop in wire are a long way from casting silver, after all. But I think this book manages to pull it off, to make it seem either like potentially a natural progression for the jeweller, or to make it feel that whatever your interest in jewellery making, this book has enough detail to make it worth your while reading, even if you have little or no interest in other areas.

The book is perhaps most successful as a detailed and helpful introduction to various ways of making jewellery, without dumbing down, and with enough information that you can expand on the basics, using it as your guide. So if you have worked only with beads and wire before and fancy a move into metal working, then this book should see you through that, with ample information on both subjects. And if you wish to go the other way, from working with metal to learning how to crochet with wire, then the book covers that also.

Although this book is a library book, and so must be returned, it's one that may well appear on my (mostly) annual Christmas jewellery book wish list a little later this year, as it's a book I could see myself happily using as one of my favoured reference books for jewellery, the ones you just go back to time and time again. I think it's that good.

Please note, this post contains affiliate links, which cost you nothing if you click through but may make me a few coppers if the stars are right for me that day... For more info check out my about page.

Monday 1 June 2015

Jewelled Web - June 2015 - Link Love

Jewelled Web Link Love June 2015 - Silver Moss

June... month of sunshine... it's often the real month of summer, where the days are the longest and the hayfever is at its worst... oh well...

Hope you enjoy the links...

~jewellery links~

What does it mean to be a jeweller?

A couple of simple and handy earring tutorials - how to make ear wires from head pins; and how to make hoop earrings.

I've never used shrink plastic but am intrigued by it, and the kinds of effects you can get from it, as with these earrings.

A simple DIY idea for jewellery display that would also look great at craft fairs...

A wonderfully detailed tutorial on making lockets.

I must get some letter stamps...

How to make a beautiful eclipse jump link chain.

From the same site as the above tutorial - sometimes it's good to go back to basics and revise how to solder.

~non-jewellery links~

I've only skim-read this post so far but it looks fascinating - 29 top Altucher truisms to help us be better free agents.

Should we smile more, marry outside our wealth, and get tired to get creative? Reading to expand the mind.

How to talk nicer to yourself.

Free education from around the world. Online. Yes, free.

Photo editing apps for apple and android.

Every Shakespearean insult you could ever need, all in a handy infographic.

How to lego your laptop.

A great post to read (and reread) when you're feeling a bit down/blue/bleurgh.

Have yourself a sunny June :)

Thursday 7 May 2015

Holiday by Bracelet - 'Jewellery Maker' Kit

You know the saying, a change is as good as a holiday? That was part of my reason for deciding to try a jewellery making kit. I‘d not used one before, so the idea of indulging in some pre-prepared creativity was appealing. When I began making jewellery it was as part of a silver-smithing course, where the emphasis was on using the metal in ways that didn’t necessarily mean crafting jewellery. In essence, I began making jewellery as a side effect of working with silver. And every now and then, something simpler, not involving hammers and a soldering torch, makes a nice change...

Also, by way of a coincidence, a friend of mine has recently asked me for some advice on jewellery kits as she wants to start creating but is bewildered by the choices available. A lot of people seem to start making jewellery through kits, little collections of (nearly) everything you need that result in a finished piece of gorgeousness that you can also wear. It’s a good place to start and ideal if you want to experiment before committing to buying packets of beads, rolls of wire, and heaps of tools.

Bracelet Kit

So with the idea of a 'holiday' for me, and a bit of research for a good friend, I took up a kind offer by Jewellery Maker to try one of their kits.

The jewellery kit arrived swiftly in the post, well packaged in a jiffy bag and bubble wrap, around a strong cardboard box that contained instructions and ever component of the bracelet I was going to make, carefully separated into tiny plastic pouches. A simple instruction leaflet was included. The bracelet itself, made from silver plated copper, was sturdy and easy to put on and remove, and had an intriguing one-and-a-half wrap design, separated with jump rings - see photos to understand exactly what I mean here. While I used the image on the box as inspiration, it would have been possible to use any of the different parts of the bracelet, or all of them, to fix the gemstones onto; this is a nice touch, the ability to customise and personalise a kit.

Along with the bracelet came a bag of silver plated jump rings, which were used to attach the gemstones, all carefully separated into different bags for the different gems; moonstone, peridot, amethyst and iolite - a great selection of colours that complemented each other beautifully. Every bead was already on a head pin, looped at the top so it could be fixed to the bracelet itself with a jump ring.

Bracelet Kit

Please note that if you are a beginner then this kit, and I suspect many (if not all) others, assume that you have some basic tools like snips and pliers. This particular kit needs a couple of pairs of pliers to open and close the jump rings, and I found a small round-nosed pair handy for straightening some of the loops on the head pins as well. The only downside of the kit was here - a few of the headpin loops were a little too small to fit a jump ring through, and while most of them were easy enough to adjust with the round nose pliers and then use, a couple remained just that bit too small - these were on the smallest beads as well, so I guess that was why. It certainly didn’t detract from the overall effect of the bracelet when finished though, and only added a fine layer of frustration when constructing it - and I could have removed the supplied head pins and added my own to make the beads work.

I found the kit fun to make; mixing the different colours of the beads to suit myself, and slowly attaching them to the bangle was a fun way to spend an afternoon on a rainy weekend. The end result is pretty, full of colour and sparkle, and fun to wear.

If you’re an advanced jewellery maker, then you may find this kit a little too simple - although it is very effective. If you’re only just starting out then the kit couldn’t fail to inspire you when you see what you can make, and how easily. It should encourage you to carry on creating.


Please note - I was given the jewellery kit in return for a blog post about it, but my views are my own and have been given honestly.

Friday 1 May 2015

Jewelled Web - May 2015 - Link Love

Jewelled Web Link Love May 2015 - Silver Moss

The weather certainly softened and warmed everything up in April and so, hopefully, it will continue into May. Okay, some parts of the UK have had snow last month but nothing is perfect and spring often has its (very cold) hurdles... But just now blossom seems to be everywhere and bluebells are starting to show their haze in the woods by the road.

Here's some links for the month ahead.

~jewellery links~

Sculpting jewellery...

Interviews with jewellers - one about chasing; one about re-purposing, and one about colour.

Polymer clay - more real than the real thing.

A post about cabochons, just because they're beautiful...

I am not alone in my inability to size rings... the post includes this link about how to work all those tricky measurements out...

Inspiring post by Silver Pebble about inspiring businesses in an inspiring booklet... along with a giveaway :)

Another interview, this time with a polymer clay jewellery artist.

A week in the life of a mixed media jeweller.

An A-Z post by Cinnamon Jewellery.

~non-jewellery links~

If you've got a small garden - or no garden at all - then the net is full of tiny ideas to use whatever space you have. This is a great selection of tiny garden ideas to make you think... and then experiment! I love number eight especially...

Fancy trying to make your own soap? This post - the first of four - should hopefully point you in the right direction.

How blogging can change your life.

I was fortunate enough to have clear skies on the 21st of April, and a view of the moon, Venus and Aldebaran a little like this one...

Spring makes me think of cleaning and throwing out the dust of winter. I'm increasingly using natural products to clean with (who would have though vinegar and bicarbonate of soda could clean a bath so well?!) and this looks like a great post full of ideas about the subject.

Know someone who just can't communicate without emojis now? Point them in the direction of this emoji bag.

I love this print - unfortunately, my home wifi/broadband is intermittent and often not working at all of late... but it does make you appreciate it all the more when it is up to speed ;)

How to email anyone in a better way.

Have a great May.

Wednesday 1 April 2015

Jewelled Web - April 2015 - Link Love

Jewelled Web Link Love April 2015 - Silver Moss

March has brought flowers, thankfully. I know, I know, some hardy blooms carry on regardless throughout the winter but so many don't really do anything until the earth warms, just a little. March also saw a solar eclipse - well, for many in the UK a sighting was on hand, but unfortunately it was thick cloud with me and all I noticed was a slightly eerie darkening of the day...

Either way, here's to a brighter April. Hope you enjoy the links!

~jewellery links~

I love this post by Cinnamon Jewellery about soldering blocks - I too had read that to rejuvenate one (ie, to get all the molten and then dried flux off) you needed a paving slab/rough surface/road and some elbow grease, but had never had much joy with that (yes, I did try in the back garden). So I shall be hunting down some heavy duty sandpaper and seeing how that goes... stay tuned... (I must confess to 'borrowing' the flux that's already on the block when I solder - if you've not used enough, or are trying to get something to just hold still, then all that melted flux starts to flow again when the torch is on it and can be quite handy... so perhaps I shall rub down just one side of my trusty block...)

Crocheted necklaces, wonderful and jazzy.

Some simple jewellery DIYs on a theme of gold.

How to make shell beads from polymer clay.

Riveting silver when soldering isn't suitable is a handy skill to have - this tutorial has a lot of good advice. From the same site, a great tutorial on texturing metal.

Bead and thread bracelet tutorial.

Do you call it repousse or chasing? Check this bracelet out too.

~non-jewellery links~

These paintings by Katte Geneta are so atmospheric and so beautiful.

Giant flower sculptures made from glass.

Biscuits/cookies made from just three ingredients... not including embellishments. I've not made these yet but they are on my list to try.

I could happily live in any of these calm and stylish Scandinavian rooms...

Tips for Success with Long-Term Projects - some great advice.

Photos of the eclipse that I didn't get to see...not that I'm bitter...

Book carving. Amazing art. Am a little sad for the books though...

I don't normally post anything that could be deemed as political, or even controversial, but this article, and the photo that goes along with it, deserves to be read and seen by as many people as possible.


Hope your April is a good one.

Monday 16 March 2015

Half a moon and a whole Pearl

Silver half-moon and pearl pendant - SilverMoss Designs
The moon often seems a little bigger in the winter months... when it's not obscured by clouds or fog, that is. I suspect this has much to do with leafless trees and the coldness that descends on clear, dark nights. It's inspired me. The big moon, either full or waxing or waning, and my sooper dooper ever-increasing mandrel selection, got me thinking and experimenting, and this is one of the items that I came up with...

The pearl is such a lunar colour, and it also reminds me of those evenings when the moon has just risen and so has Venus, small but bright on the horizon. It can look a little like the moon also has its own satellite and so is a little less lonely in the massive evening sky...

This necklace is now, with a little regret, in my Folksy shop.

Sunday 1 March 2015

Jewelled Web - March 2015 - Link Love

Jewelled Web March 2015 SilverMoss

Oh, February does seem to have been a long month this year; despite noticing the days getting longer and the nights shorter, the days have insisted on being mostly sunless and the nights heavy, if you know what I mean. I'm looking forward to March and the promise of spring starting to kick in, the green shoots becoming flowers and the sun burning the cloud away... hopefully.

And hopefully too, you'll enjoy the links I've rounded up for the coming month. Do let me know!

~jewellery links~

A great selection of ideas from Kernocraft for when you're stumped as to what to do next. Includes inspiration for bead, metal and clay.

From the same site, a handy and simple list of the different gauges of wire that are suited to different pieces of jewellery.

Measuring for bracelets made easy.

Nice and simple recipe for pickling copper after soldering - I also like the idea of just putting the pickle in the microwave, rather than the old slow cooker pot I use. Which is massive. And slow.

Bezels for square or rectangular stones.

The basics of using stamp on metal. A simple idea for getting the stamping straight.

I have been thinking about clouds a lot lately... none quite as elaborate as this one though.

Ever get complaints about how much noise you make when hammering? Or do you even put off doing it for the sake of other people? This blog post comes up with ideas to minimise the noise.

Wooden jewellery is just so beautiful.

Spare zips? Spare hours? One amazing necklace.

~non-jewellery links~

You may have heard about #thisdress lately... I love this page of Amazon reviews for whatever the colour it is (I saw very pale blue and gold).

The most amazing bird house, made from copper.

I love this blog, nearly as much as I love the Moomin mug.

How to credit images on your blog - a simple guide to doing it right.

Amazing photographers - squirrels playing in the snow and just seeing the world through different, and magical, eyes.

'Easy' ways to start decluttering. Hmm...

Perhaps the miserable weather and the long nights have helped, but I've been reading more this last month, an indulgence that feels like it has a lot of value as well. My own personal 'book of the month' has been David Mitchell's The Bone Clocks which was engrossing, sweeping and a wonderful combination of make-you-think and just-enjoy-the-ride. I read it on Kindle, but read it on whatever - it's worth it.

Speaking of books I have never read - a huge pile, it has to be said, I found this great page of quotes from Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (of course, I'm not suggesting it's better/easier/more helpful to read quotes pages rather than read the book itself ;) but it is interesting to give you an insight into the book as a whole. Given the quotes run to 20 pages on the Good Reads site it might be quicker to just read the book anyway...).

Yes, I do love books/reading and yes, I can identify with many things in this post...


 Enjoy the links and have a good month :)

(Please note - this post contains an affiliate link - which means if you click on it and then buy something Amazon will give me three pence or something. It might be four pence. They can afford it ;) For more info about me and affiliate links, please click here, and scroll to the bottom of the page.)

Monday 2 February 2015

Jewelled Web - February 2015 - Link Love

Jewelled Web February 2015 SilverMoss

January has been a cold month and February has started just as cold. I've not had much snow in my part of the world but this last weekend the skies opened and were full with it, for an hour anyway. Photographic proof above.

The sun may be out now, as I type this, but I'm still having to resist the urge to retreat into hibernation and emerge again when the daffs do. Or sometime after that, just to be sure.

Here's some of what I've been reading lately, and some things I've found and bookmarked to read later this month.

~jewellery links~

Such beautiful and romantic colours and designs, for this month especially, from Samantha Braund ...

Not many insects to be found outside right now, but for a colourful fix take a look at this page of jewelled delights.

Ancient jewellery techniques on video.

If you've ever wondered how to make your own jewellery stamps, this this post is very helpful.

Those exquisite curved triangular stones are officially called a trillion cut and this shows you how to create a setting for them.

Confused about the difference between rolled gold and gold vermeil? Check this out for some guidance.

Slightly tongue in cheek, but it's always handy to know your soldering torch has a multitude of uses ;)

~non-jewellery links~

The Design Seeds website is full of beautiful images and colours - this is one of my (latest) favourites, but to be honest, I can't find many I don't like...

Everyone must have some kind of morning routine - this site allows you to look at how other people wake and get going each day.

How not to lose things in your computer. Wise words. Just need to follow them now...

Underwater photography as you've never seen it before.

A fascinating review of one of the books in the School of Life series - how to be alone.

I adore seeing how creative people work so this series of studio tours is a wonderful indulgence.


Keep warm and keep looking for signs of spring!

Thursday 29 January 2015

Christmas was saved...

Gifts are not always fun to make. They can be a challenge, trying to match your skills and tastes to that of someone you know well, and, as with any gift, it's always a balance between something you know you like, and something you hope they'll love...

silver curl earrings - silver moss designs

I think I hit the mark with these earrings that I made for a loved one this past Christmas. They were an elaboration of this design, adding a little more of a Celtic twist I thought. It took a few soldering disasters before I eventually created two that resembled each other enough (always an issue with earrings...) or hadn't melted under the torch.

silver curl earrings - silver moss designs

I plan to make some more of these, with the caveat that if they don't match then I'll turn them into pendants or bracelet charms, and if they start to melt too much then I may just stop...

Anything you've made lately where you've only just grabbed victory from the jaws of defeat - and with a looming deadline too?!

Monday 26 January 2015

Jewellery, History, and all that Silver

lois jewellery infographic - silver moss designs

As a bit of a history buff, I've always found the connection between jewellery and the past to be fascinating.

Many of the techniques jewellers use today are the same methods that someone would have used hundreds of years ago to gain the same result.

It intrigues me when I'm using a hammer to add texture to silver, or a saw to pierce out a design, that the tools work on the same principles now as they did in the past. 

And I'm very aware of how much easier it is now to use those tools when I'm soldering with a flame that comes from a simple gas-fed torch, rather than having to control the heat output by using a mouth blowpipe, as shown in some of the images in this article.

Creating jewellery provides a living connection to the past, and it always increases my respect for the makers of ancient pieces of jewellery, dug out of fields (and here) or from underneath car parks.

Browsing through images of jewellery, from all eras of history, provides ideas for things I can (attempt to) create myself. It also means I can easily justify watching costume dramas on film and TV, like Wolf Hall, on the basis they're useful for inspiration and not just self-indulgent escapism for a history-junkie...

So this infographic, create by Lois Jewellery, caught my eye and imagination. It handily summarises the main eras of Western history and the jewellery that was created in them. Hope you enjoy reading it!

Throughout human history, jewellery has existed as a form of expression, wealth and social status. Take a look at this visual and take a trip through the history of Jewellery, starting with the evolution of jewellery in the ancient world, all the way through to modern day jewellery tof today.

Credit to Lois Jewellery for creating this visual.

Sunday 18 January 2015

Interview with Cinnamon Jewellery

cinnamon jewellery photo - silver moss blog Welcome to the latest of my interviews with fellow jewellery makers.

Cinnamon Jewellery has always struck me as aptly named - the jewellery is vibrantly designed, with extra zing being added by enamel and oxidization effects - see the photo (left) of this graduated orange enamel pendant as an example.

Tracy, who is Cinnamon Jewellery, creates wonderful pieces in silver and copper, often oxidised to add character and always beautiful. I hope you enjoy reading her interview and seeing some of her stunning work.

When and how did you start making jewellery?

I started making basic bead jewellery in 2004 after looking at handmade jewellery on ebay and thinking that I could probably do that, so I did! I bought some tools and supplies and researched how to do things like wrapped loops and took it from there. I remember I practiced my first loops using fuse wire! I sold my jewellery on ebay for a few years then started selling sterling silver findings too.

Where do your design ideas come from and what is the process that sees them through to the finished product? Do you doodle on paper or take photos for inspiration? Do your designs then evolve on paper or in your hand as you make them? Do you experiment with the metal you create finished designs in, or do you use a base/cheaper metal for experimentation?

Design ideas come from lots of sources: a shape I like might be the starting point or an idea will pop into my head sometimes or it will be a continuation of an existing design that I have already made and can see the possibilities of developing it further. I will often make a quick sketch so I don't forget it but most of the time the idea is in my head which will then be transferred via my hands and tools to the piece of metal.....hopefully!

Ideas don't always work successfully though and can end up being chucked in the bin. In moments of frustration things have been known to go sailing across the room occasionally too! I use a lot of copper in my jewellery and will always make a copper version of a new design to test it before making it in sterling silver.

Where do you create your jewellery; do you have your own studio or use a kitchen table? Does your physical space affect how you work and what you create?

Earlier this year I moved into my own jewellery "studio" - a garden shed with electricity and insulation which I absolutely love! Before the "shed of wonders" {as my friend calls it} I worked on the dining room table and in the kitchen. I still enamelled and soldered when I worked in the house before the shed but having my own space now means I don't have to keep putting everything away, it's bliss! The shed means I can have everything in it's own place where it can stay and I can work more efficiently and quickly. I can solder and enamel whenever I want instead of having to wait til I can get into the kitchen. I can leave something part-way through and go back to it the next day. It's lovely in the summer with the door open and in the winter I have a heater so I can still work out there. With the radio on and a cup of tea I'm completely happy and absorbed in my world of metal and fire.

cinnamon jewellery photo - silver moss blog

How do you motivate yourself to keep on creating?

I'm still at the stage where I have a lot to learn and new techniques to try so I'm never at a loss at what to do next. I do get days when I just don't feel like doing any jewellery making or the inspiration to make something new has deserted me so I'll have a day off and do chores and maybe catch up with paperwork. I love trying new jewellery mediums {the latest is using epoxy resin in my jewellery} so there's always something that will spark off a new idea.

I find if I have a problem with something I've made where it just hasn't worked that will motivate me to get it right. I get quite annoyed at myself when I do something wrong and cannot rest until I've tried again and got it right. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing but it certainly spurs me on rather than makes me want to give up!

What jewellery making tools could you just not do without, and what tool/item is on your wish list?

I make and sell copper and sterling silver findings so would be lost without my tumbler. It polishes and work hardens the findings saving me a lot of time that I would otherwise have to spend polishing each individual piece.

Another tool I wouldn't want to be without now is my rolling mill. I use it for adding textures to metal, flattening wire, thinning solder strip, rolling out nuggets of melted scrap into sheet and making cups of tea {not really!}

Until recently I looked longingly at pictures of Foredom flexshafts really wanting one but persuading myself that I could manage just fine with my Dremel. As it was my 50th birthday recently I gave in and decided to treat myself to a Foredom and I can honestly say it's worth every penny. I use it several times a day and am so glad I decided to splash out and buy one.

I also recently bought a mitre jig which for such a small piece of metal is a great addition to my tool collection. No more will I have wonky sheet metal and tube edges and if I ever feel like making something that needs a 45 degree angle I'll know what to do!

As for my tool wish list - a kiln would be useful for enamelling but I don't have the space so it's unlikely. A set of Fretz hammers would be very nice too.

cinnamon jewellery photo - silver moss blog

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

I do take my own photos and it's probably my least favourite part of the whole making and selling online process!

My main tip would be to read your camera manual and experiment with settings, don't just rely on the Auto setting when you take photos.

Try lots of different backgrounds until you find the one that suits your items. Using white as a background is great and generally seen as the most desirable background but only if it really is white! I can't master a white background and my jewellery just doesn't work against white which is why I use slate. I have however experimented with lots of different background looks over the years and nearly driven myself mad doing it before settling on my current background.

Another tip is to get close to your item using the macro setting and take photos at a low angle to show off colours and detail. And never, ever use the flash!

How much time do you spend online promoting your work and how do you balance making with selling?

Being honest I don't do a lot of promoting. I disabled my Facebook page a long time ago and closed my Twitter account after a week! It hasn't affected my sales at all. Maybe it's my age but I don't really like social media very much for "selling". I personally would never go shopping for anything on Facebook.....If I had lots of time to really interact with other people on Facebook which is what I think you have to do on there for it to be worth it then maybe I would use it again but for now I stick to my blog and Pinterest.

I usually blog once a week with a post about what I've been making - not a hard sell post but more of a record of how I've got on with a new technique and what I've managed to make with a few step by step photos which a lot of people like to look at. I love looking at other peoples' work too and how they've made it.

I do also have a Pinterest business account which I use when I remember {!} The only other form of "promoting" I do is to refresh my listing titles and tags occasionally in my Etsy shop.

I get a lot of made to order sales for findings and bangles which at times keeps me stupidly busy so when I not doing that I like to spend my free time making new jewellery rather than promoting.

I do like to spend time "researching" on Pinterest though :D

cinnamon jewellery photo - silver moss blog

Thank you very much for your interview, Tracy, I really enjoyed reading though it.
All photographs in this post ©Cinnamon Jewellery

If you want to check out more of Tracy's work then click on some (or all) of these links -

Thursday 8 January 2015

Jewelled Web - January 2015 - Link Love

Jewelled Web - January 2015 - silver moss jewellery

How odd it is to write 2015 in the title to this post, a little belatedly too... the last year has dashed by on winged heels... But it's the start of another year and some people are making vague new resolutions, and others are creating detailed plans of how their lives will unfold, and yet others are just winging it, as per usual... I'll leave it to you to figure out which category I'm in and which I'd rather be in sometimes...

I hope your Christmas and New Year celebrations were what you wanted them to be. Mine were that seemingly perpetual combination of quiet and incredibly busy, but I enjoyed them all the same. I'll do a post soon on some of the goodies I received from those I love but, for now, here's what I've been looking at on the net last month (when the online shopping wasn't going so well) and the month to come (when I'm so glad the shopping is done for another year...).

~jewellery links~

Concrete heart necklaces DIY - so sweet and simple. If you have some concrete handy, of course.

A handy visual guide to different types of chain and their names - not sure the names are identical on this side of the Atlantic but this is a good place to start.

Making a simple toggle clasp in silver - lots of photos to make it easier. I love making my variations on this theme.

If you love to collect jewellery as much as you love to make it then one of these ideas for storing your jewels may come in handy: this idea is great for bracelets; this one is for necklaces; and this one is ideal for rings and earrings.

A neat and simple trick for removing bits of fluff from polymer or precious metal clay when it's still soft.

Simple wire gauge chart, listing the gauges and what size the wire is in mm and inches. V handy and always impossible to find when you need to know.

A new year (and new fashion seasons) are always good hunting ground for inspiration and this visual list of trends for the coming year has some beautiful examples.

~non-jewellery links~

I'm not one for 'defacing' books as a rule but these creations are simply works of art, created around the books they're based upon. Beautiful.

Fancy an educational new year's resolution? Try a free course via edx or the OU. Genuine education, included with your internet.

For the first time in over 60 years, a new cloud type has been (nearly) announced...

Some wise words from Zen Habits about fear, overwhelm, and how to get the best out of 2015.

Also about 2015 - if you're trying to plan your life (!) for the next year then this is my favourite free e-guidebook about just that.

Some round-ups of the best book covers of 2014 - yes, I have judged (and bought) a book by its cover and many of these are equally hard to resist.

Some free printable calendars for the next year; this one, this one, and this one are top of my list to print.

Decluttering seems a natural thing to turn to after the excess of Christmas so these articles are on my to-read list - this one, this one, and this one too.


Do hope your January is filled with fun and is a great start to your new year :)