Friday 29 December 2017

The Last Hurrah...

Happy New Year sign set among pine leaves and red berries

It's very close to the end of the year now. It's so easy to add Christmas and New Year together but I think it's a little more interesting to separate them out and keep them apart, and to make the most of those days that nestle between those two celebrations.

It's often a time for family and friends and also for reflection - where has the year gone and what mistakes have I made, that kind of negative talk that we all tend to do. This year I'm trying to be aware of that and to look back and find the good things the year contained, the days that were special and the people that contributed to them. And that way I can see with more clarity just what made those special times and work out how I can try and get more of them in my life; and I can also focus on the people who were part of them too, the people in my life who mean a lot and whom I'd like to spend time with in the coming year.

However this post isn't about unpicking my last year, or my hopes for the coming one. It's really about thanking you if you've read and enjoyed my blog this year and wishing you all good things for the coming twelve months (and beyond).

Friday 22 December 2017

A Simple Wish

Candles, pine cones, chestnuts and a tiny wooden house as a wintery scene

Wishing everyone a peaceful and beautiful Christmas. Here's hoping you have a very special time, however you chose to spend these short, winter days.

Friday 15 December 2017


It's all so quiet, the frost is deep and the shortest day of the year is close at hand...

frosty leaves

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 their eyes in disdain or nod their 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

Friday 3 November 2017

Jewelled Web - November 2017 - Link Love

Reflections in Water - Jewelled Web November 2017 by SilverMoss Jewellery

Despite the surprising warmth that hit parts of the UK in the middle of last month, and the high winds that came along with it in some places, the weather is resolutely autumnal now November is here. Some days the leaves fall like gold snow, they come down so fast...

Now Hallowe'en is past and Bonfire Night is over and the headlong rush to Christmas feels as though it's starting to get underway and, obviously, I'm still not prepared this year, despite having, as always, had months and months to be so.

But I am still going to try to get myself a little more organised, and so this month (and next month too) I'm devoting my Jewelled Web to discoveries I've made while creating my Jeweller Interviews series and to finds I've made on Folksy while looking for gifts and inspiration - hope you enjoy!

~jewellery links~

When it comes to looking for gifts and finding things you'd actually like to keep for yourself, then this bronze clay oak leaf bracelet by the very talented Sycamoon jewellery (interview with her here) pulls me in both directions.

I bought a wonderful pewter brooch from The Owl and the Pussycat (and then interviewed Chrissie here) and wouldn't hesitate to recommend her creations, like this Mackintosh brooch set with lapis lazuli.

One of the most beautiful feather pendants I've seen, made by Heather of MoonRiver Jewellery, who gave me one of my earlier interviews here.

The colour of the aquamarine in these earrings is so vibrant and I love the simplicity of the design and yet how striking and unusual it looks - interview with the extremely talented creator, Becky Pearce, is here.

My very first interview was with Kristin from KS Jewellery Designs and she survived the experience and is still making amazing work, like this citrine and silver ring.

~non-jewellery links~

These plant markers by Charlotte Hupfield Ceramics are simple and beautiful and I don't have pots nice enough for them!

Although these stylish pots, by Kerry Day, at Botanical Prints and Textiles, are very, very tempting...

Teodora at Teodora Paintings creates wonderful art, like this beautiful autumnal image of a deer.

I have recently pulled my embroidery threads from their hiding places and long to make something as seasonal and stunning as this winter landscape scene, created by Nicola at ndm handmade.

However given I've never done any felting at all, I suspect I'm even further away from creating a puffin as adorable as this felted version by Feltmeupdesigns.

~latest reads~

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern really is a magical read and I've enjoyed every word in it. I've had it on my bookshelf for a long time and I'm so pleased I decided to take it down and read it. It's not often you find something that really does seem worth the hype.

Another modern classic that I've had a while is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. And it's another one I'm glad I read, despite how horrendously sad it is. Thankfully it's also quite beautiful and both brutal and gentle in how it depicts war and the way if affects people.


I hope your November is full of golden leaves and magic.


If you fancy a few more links then do check out my Jewelled Web for November 2016.

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

Friday 27 October 2017

The Slow Making of a Fluorite and Silver Ring

fluorite gemstone cabochon

This fluorite gemstone has been in my jewellery-making stash for a long, long time. I bought it years ago and I loved it straight away, the colours in it, the richness of them and yet also its wonderful transparency, the way the light rushed through it and altered the depth of those purples. And I think I always knew that I'd end up making it into a ring just for myself, it was merely a matter of time and opportunity and all those little things coming together...

purple fluorite gemstone cabochon next to a handcrafted sterling silver ring setting

Last year I set a gemstone of the same size into a necklace for a loved one, and as I did so I experimented a little with settings. I made up a few, and one of them just wasn't quite right, certainly not good enough to use for a piece of jewellery that wouldn't be mine - I don't know whether other makers are like this, but I'm happy enough to wear my own 'seconds', pieces that I would cringe if someone else wore for but, on me, I'm more than happy with.

And so, when a little serendipity brought both the fluorite gem and the setting onto my work bench at the same time, I knew I could find a home for both of them with each other, and with me.

handcrafted sterling silver ring set with a purple fluorite gemstone

I did a little more experimenting as I went, adding some tiny silver balls onto the edge of the bezel setting and, while I know the ring is a long way from shop-perfect, it's perfect enough for me. In fact, I rather like the look of it, and I enjoyed making it up, knowing I only had myself to please. With hindsight, I'd have set the silver balls at an angle, rather than at top (or bottom) of the setting as they are now, but, that aside, I'm more than happy to be able to wear that beautiful fluorite at last.

Friday 20 October 2017

Jeweller Interview with Leisa Howes Jewellery

One of the things I love about Folksy is that it can be easier to find new gems than on some of the bigger online craft platforms.This was how I discovered Leisa Howes' wonderful work; just as I browsed around Folksy one day, it was waiting for me to find...

Silver Mermaid Pendant by Leisa Howes Jewellery

Scattered with natural and mythological imagery, all created in sterling silver, the work is both detailed and simple, striking and yet subtle - it has an artisan feel to it, the jewellery is well crafted and yet also hand-crafted, individual and special.

I do hope you enjoy this interview with Leisa, learning more about her inspiration and techniques and her plans for the future.

How long ago did you begin making jewellery and what prompted you to start? Are you self-taught or have you attended classes?

I started a jewellery making evening class at Hull College in 2007. My youngest was only a few months old at the time and I was still on maternity leave. I have always loved art and wanted to find something creative to do. I became hooked very quickly and as the course progressed I had the chance to study for a degree in 3D Metal Craft. I was really pleased to graduate with a first class honours.

Where do find ideas for your designs and how do you develop them into the finished piece of jewellery?

I try to research my designs but with time constraints I'm not always very good at doing this! I am drawn to nature, British wildlife and looking deep into our past. I'm really drawn to the mystery that surrounds our ancestors especially around the neolithic period and I love ancient landscapes and standing stones. I am also drawn to medieval art which inspire some of the animals which feature in my work. I try to draw my designs but they also develop as I make them too. I love to work in silver for jewellery although I will use copper and brass in brooches and other objects such as boxes.

Three Silver Hare Rings by Leisa Howes Jewellery

What is your workspace like? Is it set up exactly the way you want, a work in progress or a kitchen table?

My workspace is a converted 10 x 8 foot shed. My husband insulated it for me and I have electricity which is essential. If I had to improve it I would have a sink but as it is, it works fine, even in winter I am warm and cozy. It's my space and I love it.

One of your key design themes is nature (especially hares!) and the sea - when did you decide to focus on this?

I have always loved hares and worked on them as a theme at college. They are beautiful creatures and I love all the mythology that surrounds them - I never tire of incorporating them in my work. My love of the sea comes from holidays in Cornwall and days spent on the North Yorkshire coast. I love tales of mermaids, the beautiful blues and greens of the water and whenever I'm on a beach I'm always on the lookout for little pieces of treasure, sea glass, driftwood and other found objects. At college I studied the work of Barbara Hepworth and looked at patinas on metal, I find the way the sea weathers objects and metal over time quite beautiful.

Silver Hares Gemstone Pendant by Leisa Howes Jewellery

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

I love working with my hand engravers and use them in most of my work and so I would have to say I couldn't do without them. I'm lucky in that I have built up my tools over time but I would probably like to get back into etching metal and maybe experimenting with sand casting.

On Folksy you talk about your degree in 3D metal craft (congratulations!) - how has studying for this affected your approach to making jewellery, both in terms of the design and the physical construction of your pieces?

As part of my degree I had to research my pieces in-depth and create thorough designs as part of my work book thinking not only about if a piece would be aesthetically pleasing but also how it would work. My studies really helped me to find and develop my style of work. At college I made the engraving tools I still use now and the course allowed me to experiment with etching metals, creating patinas and working with mixed media such as incorporating found objects from beaches.

Silver Badger Pendant by Leisa Howes Jewellery

What is your favourite part of making jewellery?

My favourite part of making jewellery is working with my engravers to breathe life into the metal, be it a hare or a tree!

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

I have a decent camera and I have recently bought a simple light box but I still find my best photo's are taken in the garden in natural daylight using the camera on my phone! I tend to photograph against pieces of driftwood and sometimes pick some flowers and pop those in too.

Do you use any social media sites to help promote your work? If so which one is your favourite?

I use facebook and have recently set up on Instagram after being told I should be my daughter! I don't really have a favourite but I wish I had set up on Instagram ages ago.

Silver Hares Pendant by Leisa Howes Jewellery

How do you find the balance between making your jewellery and marketing and selling it?

I really enjoy the making process and don't spend nearly enough time marketing my pieces. I think in time this will change but for now I am always so busy I just do what I can.

How do you see your jewellery evolving over time? Do you feel happy with what you're creating or do you hanker after new styles or materials to experiment with?

I want to incorporate etching, patina's and more mixed media into my work. I have lots of ideas! I think my work will naturally develop over time but my style will not change too much.

What is the best tip or advice you've been given, in jewellery making or life in general?!

The best tip I've been given was during my studies when I interviewed a lady who has enjoyed a successful career in jewellery and sculpture. She told me to be true to myself and not to follow fashion. With family commitments and a day job, I have also learned that patience is essential and things will grow and develop naturally in time, the main thing is that I enjoy creating what I do.

All photographs in this post ©Leisa Howes Jewellery

Many thanks to you, Leisa, for this interview - and for answering all the questions I asked! It makes for a really interesting read and I hope everyone else enjoys it as much as I did.

Do check out more of Leisa's jewellery at the links below:


You might also like to read some more jeweller interviews - click here for more

Friday 13 October 2017

Book Review - Start Making Jewellery by Nicola Hurst

Start Making Jewellery
by Nicola Hurst
Published by Apple Press 2008
128 pages

Book Review of Start Making Jewellery Workshop by Nicola Hurst

One Line Review

An excellent silver jewellery book, suited for those starting out and those looking to develop their techniques and skills.

First Impressions

In common with a lot of jewellery making books, the title is a little vague about the particular type of jewellery it means, but the cover photographs make it clear that it involves metal, heat, and tools. A brief look through the book shows a lot of photos and a lot of instructions, broken down into convenient steps.

At The Start

The Contents page is followed by a Foreword by the author, and then a couple of pages about the book itself, explaining its layout and commenting on health and safety issues.

Chapter 1 is called Getting Started and has details on Tools, covering pliers, hammers and files, and a small section on Materials, detailing that those used on projects in the book are brass, copper, and silver. It then includes information about creating an ideal work space.

The chapter also includes a very useful section on Inspiration and Design, as well as one on Planning and Design. This topics of ideas and how to develop them is often touched upon far too briefly in jewellery books, so it's good to see them covered in a little more detail here over 8 pages. This section also details methods of copying designs onto the metal itself, which is a very handy skill to have.

(Just as a side note; in the Contents page of the edition of the book I was reading, these two latter sections are both shown as being part of Chapter 2. In fact, they are here included in Chapter 1. This causes no problem at all in terms of using the book and I may not have even noticed if I hadn't been looking closely to write this review.)


In the Middle

Chapter 2 deals with Techniques and Projects and takes up much of the book, at 90 pages. It includes eighteen techniques, ranging from piercing, filing, and soldering, to texturing, doming, and riveting, as well as thirteen projects. The projects are mainly focussed on using metal, with a couple of beadwork ones included near the end.

The techniques are dealt with one at a time and are covered in detail, with handy hints included. They are clear and well illustrated with quality photographs and text instructions.

The projects are interspersed throughout the techniques, and include a list of tools and materials needed for each one, as well as an easy to follow sequence of steps to make each piece and excellent photos that also include extra close-up images to increase clarity at certain crucial points. These close-up photos also appear within the techniques as well and are a really helpful way to ensure particular details are well understood.

At the End

The last chapter deals with Resources. It includes a section on ideas for shapes for ring, earrings, necklaces and pendants, as well as brooches, bangles and bracelets, and cufflinks. A section on the most commonly used gemstones follows, along with some guidance on buying them. Next comes a few charts on topics such as ring sizes and melting temperatures of metals, and some notes on metal properties.

After this is a Glossary, then a page on further reading, detailing magazines and books, and only a few websites (this edition of the book was published in 2008). The book finishes with an Index and some photo credits.


In Summary

This is a very useful book, both for beginners to the topic and anyone with more experience who wishes to refine their skills and perhaps learn a few things via the hints and knowledge of an excellent jeweller. The photographs are excellent, both in clarity and composition, and the close-up photos are particularly valuable. A very good resource book that is worth having on your shelf if you work with metal and solder, or wish to do so.


If you'd like to read another of my book reviews, then check out this one of Stephen O'Keeffe's Practical Jewellery Making Techniques.

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   that day... For more info check out my about page.

Friday 6 October 2017

Green Marble Gems from Scotland

Even when you're buying gemstones for other people it still feels like a treat for yourself. Perhaps that's just me. But I always feel a thrill of excitement when a package arrives in the post and I get to unwrap it and see the gems for the first time... Oddly enough, it's not quite as exciting in a shop - maybe because it isn't until you get them home that you can really indulge in really looking at and feeling the texture (so important - or again, perhaps that's just me...) of your new gems.

Green Marble Gemstones

The new gems in question here are rather special as they're from the UK. The UK doesn't seem to have masses of gemstones, perhaps partly due to the relatively small size of the country. And the colours of those we most often see from here tend to be more muted rather than some of the brighter hues gathered from overseas. I know part of the glory of gems is that they can be from anywhere all around the world, and that in itself can feel special, to be able to hold a tiny piece of rock from thousands of miles away. But it's also nice, when you're from a small place, to feel that connection to something a little closer.

Sourced from the Highlands of Scotland the islands on the west coast, the stones I bought were a small collection of green marble. The greens are subtle and hint at their origins, from the plants they once were. The veining is as beautiful as you would expect from marble, and the marble itself is in gentle off-white shades, nothing stark at all.

The smallest stone is around 17 mm and the largest 40 mm and I've not yet decided what to do with any of them, although I have started working on settings for a couple of the gems. But they're so wonderful to look at that I want to try and do my best by them, to make sure the silver around them doesn't detract from the stones, and only enhances them.

Green Marble Gemstones

I found the stones on Etsy, from a shop called Two Skies Rocks. They collect and shape stone from around the world but with an emphasis on that which comes from Scotland, which is where they're based. Their shop is well worth a look and, if you do buy from them, you'll find your parcel carefully packaged (with a lot of tartan!) and the gems thoughtfully chosen.

Now I'm away to ponder over the stones some more and figure out which one I can find a good enough reason for to keep for myself...

Friday 29 September 2017

Jewelled Web - October 2017 - Link Love

Boats in the Bay - Jewelled Web October 2017 by SilverMoss Jewellery

It does seem as though Autumn is here now. The air is crisper, as are the falling leaves, and the days are noticeably shorter, and cooler. The seasons have shrugged although, to be honest, they're moving all the time, just so slowly that we don't notice so much unless we're really looking.

The last month has been windy and a little rainy, interspersed with glorious sunshine that makes the growing autumnal colours glow. It may not be summer but it's not all bad...

Hope your new season is mellow and beautiful - enjoy the links.

~jewellery links~

Wonder Woman jewellery - what more do I need to say?

Tutorial on making an adjustable bangle, via Cooksongold.

Gorgeous images in this post about jeweller Lies Wambacq.

If, like me, you love watching film and TV to see the jewellery, especially in period pieces, then you might like this post on a jeweller who made jewellery for films.

This site isn't in English but scroll down for a series of photos (with English captions!) explaining how some extraordinary wooden rings were created.

Excellent article and inspiring photographs on enamelling.

I've been looking for information like this for ages - a detailed article on polishing metals with a Dremel (although I would say the tips will work on any Dremel-like tool).

~non-jewellery links~

I love that phone camera photography is taken so seriously now that the Saatchi gallery has run a competition and the winner is beautiful.

Ever been frustrated by a modern-day Victorian who thinks only men invent things? Memorise this list of women who've come up with ideas ranging from windscreen wipers to bullet-proof vests.

If you've ever felt you'd like to sit on a laptop in a coffee shop and be extraordinarily productive then try this web site for authentic ambient background noise...

Or if you fancy working a more natural environment then try a birdsong soundtrack - here, here, here, or here.

Amazing photos from the old Wild West in the USA...

~latest reads~

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren, a wonderful autobiography about one woman's love affair with life, science, and plants.

Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler - if you've not read anything by Anne Tyler yet then please, please do so soon. She is always utterly wonderful, creating real characters with flaws who move through seemingly normal lives - a little like all of us. Ladder of Years is both honest, beautiful and sad.


Hope you have a wonderful October.


For more links then do visit my Jewelled Web for October 2014.

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

Friday 22 September 2017

Rose-Cut Cabochon Gemstones - a discovery

Confession time - I'm not a person who has their finger on the pulse. Films, TV series, books, music and, jewellery as well, I tend to come to things late. Which I don't mind as such, apart from the feeling that I've been missing something that everyone else knew about...

Rose Cut Cabochon Gemstones of Lapis lazuli, Labradorite, Iolite and Sky Blue Topaz in a circle

So it's fitting that only very recently have I discovered rose cut gemstones. Perhaps I didn't notice them whenever they arrived on the online retail scene, as keen as I've been to only deal with flat-backed cabochons. Or perhaps I missed them when I assumed that if I wanted a faceted gemstone then I had to have a pointed back to it to contend with (and it has always felt like those angled backs are something to contend with, never something to get along with).

Given a little research has shown that rose cut stones have been around for at least 500 years it's obvious I'm later than normal, even for me, on this scene. I do know that they weren't available where I was looking when I first started working with gems and was hunting for just such a thing, and can only assume they've become more accessible in the intervening years.

But recently, spending a while perusing gemstones on line and searching, searching, searching, I was rather excited to discover rose cut gems, which, to my mind at least, are the best of both worlds - the beautiful facets that catch the light with the more practical (for me, anyway) flat back.

Rose Cut Cabochon Gemstones of Lapis lazuli, Labradorite, Iolite and Sky Blue Topaz in a line

I've indulged in some recently, and have started finding ways to use them in my jewellery making (photos to follow!). I also hope to buy some more, in different stone types, and find uses for them too.

The stones in the picture are labradorite, lapis lazuli, sky blue topaz and iolite. The largest is 5mm, the smallest 3mm, so they're all rather neat and delicate-looking, but all utterly beautiful, although I do have a personal soft spot for iolite... what's your favourite gemstone and how do you use it? Do share in the comments below.

Friday 15 September 2017

Jeweller Interview with Sasha Garrett

Sasha Garrett's jewellery is incredibly striking. When you see it, first it catches your eye. Then you notice how beautiful and professional it looks. And then you wonder just what gem those amazingly coloured stones actually are made from...

Fordite Pendants set in Silver by Sasha Garrett, against a fordite backdrop

The bold and beguiling colours are set into artfully simple silver settings and are dazzling examples of bold jewellery. But, still, just what are those gemstones?

If you're similarly intrigued then do read on as in this interview, Sasha will explain everything including just who Jacques and Gibby are...

How long ago did you begin making jewellery and what prompted you to start? Are you self-taught or have you attended classes?

I've made jewellery since I was young (I love sparkly things and my personality type is very much a doer) but got into it properly in 2005ish when I did several terms of evening classes in silversmithing at a local college. That covered the basics and had much more of a club feel to it rather than taught course with objectives - we could turn up, use the equipment and bounce ideas (and problems) off each other, if we got stuck the tutor was there to help. Since then I've used blogs and youtube videos to fill in the knowledge gaps as required.

Where do find ideas for your designs and how do you develop them into the finished piece of jewellery?

I tend to be lead by the colours and patterns of the stones I use so there is normally lots of laying combinations out together to see if they work and shuffling them about until I get it right. At the moment my computer desk has disappeared under beads whilst I work out which murano beads from the stash go better with tanzanite and which with apatite. When I've made my mind up it will get moved round to the work bench for construction.

I love to travel and my boyfriend has many stories of me pouring over trays of gems and haggling in markets for cabochons and beads (he prefers it when I buy the already cut and polished stuff rather than the heavier rough slices as he has to carry it!). So I tend to buy when I find something interesting and figure out what to use them in later rather than designing first. This does mean I have quite a stash but I have sold pieces 'off plan' when people have chosen their stone and asked me to set it like something I've already got made up.

Fordite Cufflinks, finished and a work in progress, set in Silver by Sasha Garrett

What is your workspace like? Is it set up exactly the way you want, a work in progress or a kitchen table?

I share my workspace with Jacques the faux taxidermy cow head and Gibby the zombie gibbon (aka 'the artistic directors') and other mementos so its very much a reflection of me and if I'm being honest its a bit of mess (an organised mess with not an inch to spare but a mess none the less) so I'll go with a work in progress. I have a dedicated work room but would love some more space to have a photography area with proper lighting and a lapidary zone (screened off to keep the muck under control).

Where did you discover fordite and why did you decide to incorporate it into your jewellery?

For those who have never come across fordite it is layers of cured car paint that built up as a by-product of old spray painting processes which are no longer used.

I fell in love with it about a decade ago when I read an article in The Times. Its not just the colours and patterns but also how it reflects the changing fashions of when it was made, it's a little bit of social history. Back then the jewellery making was just a hobby but I knew I wanted some for me so made a chunky ring and some cufflinks for the other half and then thought nothing more of it.

When the jewellery became a business I went back through the stash and found the few cabs I had left from doing that and made another pair of cufflinks, they were much admired (and sold pretty quickly) and I started getting questions about whether I could do rings or pendants. I realised that I wasn't the only one who appreciated its uniqueness and set about finding more so that I could produce a whole range of pieces.

Fordite is quite rare here in the UK (we stopped producing the rough material by the mid 80's but I have a dwindling stash of what is known as Dagenham agate) so I buy the rough from the USA and cut and polish it myself. I'm stockpiling at the moment as supplies will run out at some point (it's already been described as rarer than diamonds) and prices are creeping up.

Fordite set on a Sterling Silver Hollow Ring Pendants by Sasha Garrett

How does working with fordite differ from working with traditional gemstones? And which is your favourite to work with?

I do love some of the more traditional stones, I have a soft spot for malachite and opals but fordite is definitely my favourite. In terms of handling it is similar to softer stones like opals but it comes with a couple of drawbacks; with traditional stones you can normally be certain of getting a standard range of shapes and sizes whereas with fordite the cabochons are free-form and you have to buy what you can get rather than being able to shop around for what you want. If you go wrong you can't phone up a supplier and get a replacement! Every setting has to be made to fit the piece's unique undulations and getting pairs for things like earrings and cufflinks is unusual and one of the reasons I learnt how to cut it myself.

The other drawback compared to the traditional stones is that not many people know about fordite - I'm working on changing that - I sound like a broken record at craft fairs explaining about it but it pays off and I have converted many people to its charms. That is much harder to do online which is reflected in the rate of sales.

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

I wouldn't be without my P1000 autobody wet and dry paper; I shape the fordite by hand with saws and files but its not until I get to this stuff, used wet, that the colours and patterns really start to appear and I know if it has been worth the effort.

My wish list consists of buying the end of my neighbour's garden and putting a work-shed on it (shed is a bit of a misnomer I have visions of solar panels, lots of insulation, storage shelves, veranda for sitting out on, a hedgehog box, tea on tap). And more fordite, always more fordite.

Fordite Earrings set in Sterling Silver by Sasha Garrett, against a fordite backdrop

What is your favourite part of making jewellery?

I still get a kick out of seeing people wearing my work and was recently told a story of someone showing off a 'specially commissioned ring by a local jeweller' at a party and someone else looked at it and asked it if was 'a Sasha Garrett?' (it was). I don't like to think of my work languishing in jewellery boxes.

What is the best tip or advice you've been given, in jewellery making or life in general?

I'm always worried that I'll sound like a fortune cookie if I go giving advice. Life has thrown me rather a lot of curve balls over the years and I've always landed on my feet so I work on the principle of 'never be afraid to try something new'. It's working well for me with both the jewellery and life.

All photographs in this post ©Sasha Garrett

Thanks so much for answering those questions, Sasha; I really enjoyed reading your replies and I hope other people did too.

Do check out more of Sasha's jewellery at the links below:

Shop - Folksy
Facebook - Sasha Garrett
Pinterest - Sasha Garrett


Click here for other jeweller interviews.

Friday 8 September 2017

Book Review - How to Make Jewellery by Mary Helt

How to Make Jewellery - Easy Techniques and over 25 Great Projects
by Mary Helt
published by Pavillion Books, 2017
160 pages

Book Review - How to Make Jewellery by Mary Helt - SilverMoss Jewellery Blog

One Line Review

A wide-ranging introduction to making jewellery with beads of various materials is a little let down by a lack of photographed instructions.

First Impressions

The cover of this book is rather excellent and easily persuaded me to pick it up. It's bright and fresh with muted colours of turquoise, terracotta, and white and a well-designed title graphic that is nicely integrated with the photo used. This led me to feel the book was modern and vibrant and the layout and designs within would, hopefully, be the same. On picking the book up and flicking through its pages the layout looked pretty traditional for this kind of project book but the vibrancy seemed carried through into the photography and the designs themselves.

At The Start

The Contents page is simple and text-based, and shows that the book contains designs based around sections on Stringing, Wire Wrapping, Polymer Clay, Textiles and Advanced Techniques. Each section contains five different designs.

Following this is a brief Introduction from the author and then a section on Tools and Materials, which covers Basic Equipment and includes information on and photos of the tools needed for each section of jewellery making covered in the book. The photos are a nice touch but would be more helpful if the individual tools pictured were numbered and related more clearly to the text.

In the Middle

Each section has a few pages of techniques at the start of it. For example, the section on Wire Wrapping has photos and instructions on making different types of loops, and the section on Textiles goes into detail on needle felting, embellishing, and making crocheted-covered beads.

The projects that follow are labelled as easy, intermediate or advanced and a mixture of all are included in each section.

A list of materials required is clear and simple to follow. The instructions for each project are in the text and, whilst these are detailed, they are hampered by having no photos displaying what is being described for each stage. Instead the only photograph for each project is one or two showing the finished piece. This is a little unfortunate especially if the book is being used by a beginner, but I always find photos or images of the 'making of' stages of individual projects are exceedingly useful.

It's worth saying that this lack of images isn't carried through into either the techniques pages near the start of each section, or into the section on Advanced Techniques, where photos accompany the instructions for each of the projects - this seems to me to be the most successful section by reason of these extra images; although the projects are more advanced the photographed steps are also easier to follow and understand.

At the End

The book finishes with a glossary and index and a very nice page or two on resources, with details of mainly UK suppliers, and also some web site addresses for learning resources.

In Summary

Covering a wide range of different techniques and styles of jewellery making this book is a good introduction and I particularly enjoyed learning more about fabric jewellery, as well as the advanced techniques section. The techniques displayed at the start of each section were helpful and often included handy hints, which are often a good source of more specific information.

However the lack of photographs to go with the instructions for each project left me feeling that the book could have been far better than it was, just by their inclusion. This absence of photos would dissuade me from recommending the book to a beginner beader jeweller. If you're a little more experienced then you might gain a lot more from its pages.

How to Make Jewellery - Easy Techniques and over 25 Great Projects by Mary Helt


For another jewellery book review, check out my thoughts and feelings on Practical Jewellery-Making Techniques: Problem Solving by Stephen O'Keeffe


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 that day... For more info check out my about page.

Friday 1 September 2017

Jewelled Web - September 2017 - Link Love

September is still summer. No, really, it is. It is summer until October. That's how it works with me. And if you say 'Well, the weather's not so good now, so summer is over...' then my reply is 'Well, the weather hasn't been good for much of summer anyway. What's the difference? None.' Sorted.

But I can't deny that the seasons do seem to be shifting a little around the edges - a few leaves have fallen already (mostly green, but falling all the same), the flowers are showing up less, and spiders are (nearly) everywhere!

Links below are guaranteed spider-free...

~jewellery links~

I love this challenge! Jeweller Kim Thomson is recycling one piece of silver for 100 days and making it into something new every single day... see the items she's making on Instagram.

Speaking of recycling silver, here's some handy hints on what to do with your offcuts.

Being a professional jewellery designer - an interview with Josephine Tournebize.

A couple of years back I followed this tutorial to make a wire prong setting for a faceted gemstone. My own attempt involved an unfortunate incidence of silver melting where it shouldn't, but this is still a detailed guide for an effective setting. I shall return one day...

I've been watching some You Tube jewellery videos lately - I've come to these quite late as I've always preferred being able to see all the steps, and images of each step, before I decide to commit the time to following something through. And, as you probably know, some You Tube videos are very long because much of the information you want is hidden away after a long and frustrating preamble. But this three minute clip is extremely useful and to the point and if you want to know how to set corners on a gemstone bezel - as I did - then I highly recommend it.

A handy page of downloadable conversion charts covering such topics as saw blade sizes and cleaning gemstones to the ever-useful wire gauge sizes chart...

I adore looking at other jeweller's workspaces. Mine is, at present, an old kitchen table that is too small and in a very awkward position. It's also often shared, which isn't ideal. But when I see other workspaces then I get to dreaming of what might be some day... so here is Tracy from Cinnamon Jewellery's wonderful workspace.

~non-jewellery links~

An excellent Etsy interview with Carol from Kabinshop who makes beautiful ceramics (and a little jewellery too).

A whale playing with dolphins, video taken by a drone.

Different photo file formats and when you should use them.

You may have seen Jodi from One Million Lovely Letters in the media recently, if you're in the UK. Her project, which basically is sending love and support by way of hand-written letters (remember those?) is really quite wonderful.

Flying in the high winds - no wings required.

We may not have had the kind of total solar eclipse experience the USA has had last month but these space travel posters are still quite wonderful wherever you are.

The robots that are changing the world - or may do, anyway (video).

A binman in Bogota collects books thrown out as rubbish, has set up a library in his own home, and loans the books to children.

~latest reads~

Moving on from binge-watching box sets, I've discovered binge-reading and have just finished the second book in the Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children series, Hollow City. The first, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, was great fun. Library of Souls (book three) is next... If you know nothing about them, the books are full of (genuinely) old photographs of slightly peculiar people and are as fascinating as the text.

The Rings Book by Jinks McGrath has proved very useful to me of late and is an excellent resource.


Here's hoping that September really is still summer...but have a good one whatever the clouds are doing.


Sand dunes, grass and sea photo taken by me - it was warmer than it looks!


If you're looking for more links, jewellery or otherwise, then take a look at my Jewelled Web from October 2015.

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