Friday 24 February 2017

New Silver (and Bronze)

At any given time I normally need new findings (making jump rings by hand is NOT my favourite task) and often need new wire. And I really, really wanted precious metal clay, just a little bit, both in silver and bronze (I already have a small packet of copper tucked away), to persuade me and remind me that, this year, at last, I will open those sealed pouches and I will use the contents...

Friday 17 February 2017

Jeweller Interview with The Owl and the Pussycat

Owl and the Pussycat pewter jewellery photo - SilverMoss blogLast year I bought a gift of a pewter brooch, on the basis that I rarely make brooches and I've never worked in pewter, so the intended recipient wouldn't wonder why I hadn't made it myself.

When I received the brooch I had to persuade myself to still give it away as a present, and I immediately wanted to ask its creator, Christine from The Owl and the Pussycat, to do an interview (with lots of wonderful photos) to feature here. I'm pleased to say that she said yes and I hope you find her work as beautiful and inspiring as I do.

When and how did you start working with pewter and using it to make jewellery?

It was more than 20 years ago, when I spotted a crafts magazine that featured on the cover a rose wine bottle decorated with embossed metal sunflowers. I thought "Wow! I'd like to do that!". There were kits that you could send away for from a lady called Susannah Lucy. When I'd completed and polished up my basic floral brooch, I was amazed at the result, and all without needing any special equipment. I'd always produced drawings and paintings but was attracted to making 3-dimensional things that could be useful and decorative.

How did you think of your shop name and does it have a story behind it?

I really didn't think for long about the name of my shop. When I was a child I had a book with an illustration of The Owl and the Pussycat which I thought was the most magical thing I'd ever seen. I'd already made an Owl and Pussycat brooch and faced with entering a shop name (I set up shop quite impulsively), the name "The Owl and the Pussycat" just sprang into my mind.

Owl and the Pussycat pewter jewellery photo - SilverMoss blog

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

I get ideas from all over the place. If get an idea for an image in my head, I will doodle it actual size in a layout pad until I'm happy with it. Then I will trace it onto tracing paper. From there it is simple to transfer it to the metal. I don't do any experimentation- I've been doing this for so long I know what will work.

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 can create?

I work on a table in the bedroom. One of the reasons I love this craft is that you don't need a large space or special equipment.

What is your favourite part of working with pewter?

My favourite part is when I've finished! I still get a thrill when I look at something that's turned out well and think "I made that!"

Owl and the Pussycat pewter jewellery photo - SilverMoss blog

Do you use your drawing skills in your pewter work?

I've always had a very linear style of drawing, which suits pewter work quite well. I trained as an illustrator and most of my work is tiny illustrations.

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

I've always found photographing my work quite difficult as it is quite reflective and in shallow relief. With a lot of trial and error over the years, I think they are now quite a reasonable standard. I always need to make sure there is something coloured reflecting in the metal, otherwise the design doesn't show up.

How do you hope your work with pewter will evolve over time?

I have some plans to update my shop with some light-hearted and humorous designs, perhaps spending less time on making them and selling them at a lower price than my more intricate work. My designs haven't changed much over the last several years so perhaps it's time for a bit of a rethink to bring my shop up to date.

Owl and the Pussycat pewter jewellery photo - SilverMoss blog

Many thanks for the interview, Christine, and for sharing the photographs of your wonderful work.
All photographs in this post ©The Owl and the Pussycat 

If you want to see more of Christine's stunning pewter creations then do click through on these links -

Shop - The Owl and the Pussycat on Folksy and Etsy
Facebook - The Owl and the Pussycat
Pinterest - The Owl and the Pussycat

Friday 10 February 2017

Book Review - Making Jewellery with Gemstone Beads by Barbara Case

Making Jewellery with Gemstone Beads
by Barbara Case
Published by David & Charles in 2007
128 pages


First Impressions

The dramatic black cover of this book, adorned with gemstones of many shades (although with a strong bias towards green) caught my eye immediately, and on opening its pages many more beautiful photos are to be found inside. I’ve read this as a large but slim paperback, running to around 128 glossy pages, nearly all of them with colour photos.

At the Start

The book begins with an introduction into both gemstones and the projects that are included. After that comes a couple of pages on materials, and then a handy two-page chart on different gemstones, their shapes, their cost bracket (low, medium or high), and which star sign they are birthstones for, as well as attributes connected with the particular gem. A basic guide to 'Tools and Equipment' and 'Basic Techniques' cover a few more pages before the next section of the book starts.

In the Middle

The main content of the book is devoted to four pages on each gemstone it lists, and it lists a lot. From Agate to Turquoise, stopping off at Emerald, Jasper and Ruby in between, 28 different gemstones are included. Each gem has a write-up about its individual characteristics and history, a buyer’s guide and details such as where the gem originates. Then three different pieces of hand-made jewellery are shown, each featuring that particular gemstone, and some directions given on how to make them.

At the End

A glossary follows the main section on the beads themselves, and this is followed by a list of suppliers, a bibliography and some information about the author.

In Summary

The projects do not have extremely detailed instructions so a beginner might perhaps find them hard to follow for the beginner, but a more experienced beader should find the excellent photos easily sufficient as guides. Overall this is an excellent source of inspiration, giving ideas about colours and shapes, and providing a very good leaping off point for creating original pieces of jewellery.

(NB. It looks like this book is unfortunately out of print now, in the UK at least, but it's still worth keeping an eye out for in second hand bookshops and the like - I've found some of my best jewellery books that way! The book is available as a Kindle edition and if you have a colour reading device it might be worth buying - if you're reading in greyscale then you'll miss out of the wonderful colours and photography, both of which are a strong attraction in this book.)


If you fancy another jewellery book review then do take a look at this one on The Complete Jewellery Maker.


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

Friday 3 February 2017

Jewelled Web - February 2017 - Link Love

Frosted spider web - Jewelled Web February 2017 Silvermoss

Oh, but January has been cold. This last month I've seen a blizzard in the dark, defrosted the bird bath countless times, and woken to a hoar frost that reached the tops of the trees and sounded like tiny bells when it eventually began to melt and fell to the ground around me. Magical, but cold, so I can't help hoping February will be warmer and show some early signs of Spring...

To keep me warm and indoors until then, here's what I'm recommending or reading this month.

~jewellery links~

Fancy trying enamelling but not sure where to start? This tutorial looks a good place to begin.

Changing the colour of copper.

Simple tutorial for a bracelet made from rope and embroidery threads.

A Roman pendant made of silver and carnelian was discovered by a metal detectorist.

If you can't get to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London then this is a substitute, with wonderful photographs; a brief history of beautiful jewellery.

Interested in metal clay projects? I plan on checking out this list of PDF tutorials.

~non-jewellery links~

How tiny hummingbirds survive winter.

Wonderful photos of snow-clad Scotland.

Playing with colour online - Pictaculous lets you upload any photograph and get a custom colour scheme from the image. Colors on the Web lets you build a whole palette around one colour (knowledge of what hexadecimal colour codes mean is handy though - if you're not sure what I'm talking about, have a read of this). And if you're just looking for wonderful colours to inspire, then Design Seeds is always worth browsing.

Beautiful botanical art.

The web is full of 'handy hints', many of which aren't that handy. This list of things to do with an old mascara wand is pure gold though.

Crafting, creative and just downright fun-loving commuters, and how they fill their travel time.

Fantastic art, featuring zombies... and available on Folksy.

~latest reads~

Winter is wonderful for curling up and reading, reading, reading... I've just finished two great fiction books -

A Portable Shelter by Kirsty Logan (I read her earlier novel The Gracekeepers last year), which is a series of short stories tied up in a sweet plot  about waiting for a baby to arrive.

Phil Rickman's The Wine of Angels is suitably spooky and about wassailing, amongst other things. This in book one in the Merrily Watkins series, which has been recommended to me by more than one person. I inadvertently read book 2 first but I decided not to let that stop me starting where I should have started...

I'm also reading The Snow Child again, a beautiful book by Eowyn Ivey, and perfect when the ground is frozen outside and you're warm indoors with a mug of tea...


Hope you enjoy the links and hope your February is a good, if short, month.


If you want to pretend it's summer already then take a look at my Jewelled Web from June 2015.

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