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.)