Friday, 28 April 2017

Jewelled Web - May 2017 - Link Love


Mayflower blossom - Jewelled Web May 2017 Silvermoss


April is nearly done, taking with it a quixotic mix of weather... I've seen snow, hail, sleet and sunshine in the last week alone.

For a few years now May has often seemed a little like an early summer, with sunshine-filled days and flower-filled vistas. I'm learning not to take this for granted, as we've also had some summers filled with rain and cool winds after a warmer spring. This year I'm hoping both spring and summer will be sunny and bright...

(By the way, only on publishing this post have I spotted I've used 'April' instead of 'May' on the graphics in my photo... Oh dear...)

Here's what I've been reading and bookmarking for later reading. I hope you enjoy.



~jewellery links~

Amazing what you can do with some old coins, some copper and a large hammer.

A very handy tip about how to protect gemstones when soldering.

You can never know enough about annealing silver - a useful and succinct page.

If you fancy doing some forging then these earrings look a good place to start.

More forging here, along with other ways to move metal and some great ideas for bangles.

A wonderful guide to making a wire and gemstone pendant - no soldering required!

Tools for texturing metal, including household objects and a clever use for a wooden clothes peg... also has great images of the effects of each tool on the metal.

How to do you identify your different solders? I use a marker pen in a strategic spot (ie, in the middle of the strip) but this article contains an interesting idea if your solder comes in sheets.



~non-jewellery links~

Monsters dreamt up by children and interpreted by artists... (video)

An amazing artist who (legally) copies work by the masters.

Sweet illustrations of creatures from the natural world who also really enjoy a good cocktail. (More from the artist here.) And more wonderful illustrations here, this time from someone who also helps create The Simpsons.

Are you a fan of Instagram? Then you may have heard about the artist who used it as a platform for an elaborate project.

The effects of smog in Beijing via time-lapse footage...

and a fire rainbow cloud in Singapore.

An artist who paints on extraordinary canvases to wonderful effect.



~latest reads~

I've had a quiet time fiction-wise this last month and have been looking to factual books generally, and jewellery books particularly, more.

Wing Mun Devenny's The Complete Guide to Making Wire Jewellery has been reminding me of what I love about working with wire and inspiring me to try new things.

Stringing and Linking Jewelry Workshop by Sian Hamilton is full of projects by a wide variety of jewellers, always good ground for fascinating ideas, and lots of examples of great use of colour.

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Let's hope this May is sun-filled and gentle. Do enjoy your month

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Photo taken by me on the Saxon Shore Way, a surprise walk on a beautiful spring day.

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If you like more links to while some time away then check out my collection in the Jewelled Web from June 2014.


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

Friday, 21 April 2017

Circles in Square Wire Pendant


circles-necklace-aquamarine-silvermoss

Made for a March birthday, this pendant also served to remind me how square wire is so effective, and also exceedingly nice to work with. Round wire is used more often in jewellery making, probably partly because it's easily available in so many thicknesses. It's easy to forget about square wire but I find it delivers a certain satisfaction during the making process, and also looks sleek and subtle in the finished piece.

circles-necklace-aquamarine-silvermoss

I set the tiny aquamarine gemstone using a sterling silver Wraptite setting. This wasn't quite as easy to work with as the video I watched had led me to believe (mainly due to the 'fiddliness' of such a small gem (4mm) and a nearly equally small setting), but looked good in the end, and also provided what feels like a strong and secure setting for a faceted gemstone.

Aquamarine is one of the most popular gemstones for March and the stone I bought was really quite beautiful, full of vibrancy that bounced light around. It reminded me how well colour works with sterling silver.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Floral Inspiration for Jewellery Designs - April 2017

Whilst I don't make 'flower jewellery' as such (in other words, direct silver representations of flowers) at present I do find the shapes, textures and colours of flowers in particular inspiring in terms of design. I also find leaves and even bark equally fascinating in these terms but less noticeable, something you have to look past the more obvious flowers for. And flowers are extra obvious at this time of year, as nature throws off dull winter clothing and plants regrow with vigour and vibrancy.

floral-inspiration-chiondoxa-april-2017-silvermoss

Pictured above is Glory of the Snow (or Chiondoxa), flowering a little late for its name really (I'm kind of hoping we're not getting snowfall this April...) but it is glorious, especially up close. The petals are vivid blue - yes, you can imagine how even more vibrant they'd be against snow - and the stamens are rich daffodil-yellow. The blue makes me think of porcelain, China-blue hues on delicate pottery, perhaps something that could be recreated with polymer clay or enamel colours. The frills and subtle twists of the petals would be a challenge to represent in metal, but if done well would look organic and natural.

floral-inspiration-april-2017-silvermoss

After some extensive searching online - and much scratching of head in frustration - I managed to find the name of the flower in the photo above - it's Brunnera Macrophylla Starry Eyes. The plant is small and the leaves fairly unimpressive, but the tiny flowers shine brightly white and, up close, the outer edges look hand-painted in blue. Again, I think of porcelain and delicacy, and yet also strength in the robustness of the flower shape and structure itself - they are found on the floor after they fall, nearly as sturdy as when they are in place on the plant.

Looking closely at these images and considering why they inspire me has allowed me think more about how to translate that inspiration into designs of all kinds. My earlier Vantage Point blog post was part of this current train of thought and I'm hoping it will continue to be valuable and helpful.

Do share in the comments below any floral (or generally botanic) inspirations you've found lately.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Book Review - Metal Clay Animal Jewellery by Natalia Colman


Metal Clay Animal Jewellery 20 Striking Projects in Silver, Copper and Bronze 
by Natalia Colman
Published by Search Press 2015
176 pages

book-review-metal-clay-animal-jewellery-natalia-colman-silvermoss


First Impressions 

This book deals with, as the title says, animal jewellery. Now, I can;t deny, this did make me hesitate. Animal jewellery isn't really my thing either to wear or to make; I tend towards hearts and leaves and geometric shapes. And the cover didn't inspire me in that respect either, as I wasn't taken by the main image of the coloured parrot (although the smaller image of the silver urchin ring did intrigue). But the fact the book covered silver, copper and bronze clay interested me and when I flicked through the book I was far more intrigued, not just by the wide range of types of animal and styles of jewellery, but at the depth of the techniques covered and the realisation that animal jewellery may not be so corny after all.

As I've also read (and reviewed) another book by the same author and was impressed by that, it made sense to give this one a try as well.



At the Start

After an introduction, the first section of the deals extensively with the properties of the different clays themselves and covers four pages; two on silver, and two on copper and bronze. This is followed by six pages on basic equipment and a great couple of pages entitled 'Turning your clay into jewellery'. The Techniques section is extensive and as comprehensive as it really needs to be for dealing with three different types of metal clay



In the Middle

The categories of jewellery range from the usual rings, earrings, pendants and bracelets. Interspersed amongst the individual project instructions are yet more techniques particular to specific designs; these include setting stones and using crystals, applying gold leaf, making moulds and, my favourite, combining different metal clays in one piece.

The animal subjects range from cats and dogs to elephants and swans, sea life and butterflies, with a unicorn and dragon for good measure. My particular favourite was the swallow ring, detailed in the way that metal clay can be, and very effective.

The number of pages devoted to each project varies depending on how simple or complex it is, and I liked this approach of providing what it needed rather than a set amount of pages regardless of the difficulty of the particular piece.



At the End

At the back of the book several pages are devoted to a glossary, an index and some template patterns. Also included is information on firing times for each project (which also disappointed me a little by highlighting the fact that most of the items in the book need a kiln rather than a torch to be fired).

Also included is the results of experiments into which natural gemstones and what colours in cubic zirconia survived being kiln or torch fired. Similar information also features at the back of the other Natalia Colman book that I've reviewed, Metal Clay Jewellery.



In Summary

If you're interested in ideas about making animal jewellery in metal clay then this book is a must have. The project instructions are helpful and the photos that accompany them are clear and detailed. And if, like me, you're open to being persuaded by animal jewellery then this book has a lot to offer.

It might be worth finding a copy to leaf through before buying however, if you're not sure, like I was, that this is your thing - it really is just animals. Whilst that is undeniably a niche part of jewellery making, it certainly doesn't negate the excellent instructions and ideas the book contains and if you work in metal clays and are looking to expand your repertoire then you may well find some inspiration here.



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