Friday, 24 February 2012

A steep learning curve....

It's been on of those weeks! I've been contemplating, sketching and generally tiddling about with a commission from one of my favourite customers for a few months now, on and off of course. Harriet, my old tutor, suggested I try a technique called Keum-boo, which is Korean, and is a method of attaching pure gold leaf to silver. It's a strangely simple technique, but there are lots of individual steps, and missing one, or not doing it properly can result in a complete failure. Also, it is really difficult to find out much beyond the absolute basics of the process, and by the end of day one I had at least a dozen questions that weren't being answered by the few pages I'd found in my extensive collection of jewellery technique books. And more than a few unsuccessful attempts...

Luckily I have a friend who I was at college with, who was on hand to have her brain picked. And there's YouTube! Between the two of them, Day Two was rather more successful.

My customer came in today to take a peak at the testers and all systems are go for the final cuff. Gulp. One large hunk of silver, and only a few skinny test pieces to feel confident about. Double gulp. So Monday I will start again - a few more sample pieces I think for some jewellery Dutch courage and then I will have to go for it. Won't I? Sigh....

Sunday, 12 February 2012


It's all done - the pieces are made, the photos taken and the jewellery available to order on notonthehighstreet! I've got a favourite (it's the swallow) but it's the most pricey, as it's quite big, so obviously the material costs are higher. I'm hoping that some orders will come in for these, rather than for my old style name necklaces, which I'm now keen to do fewer of! But I always feel like that about new items - I'm dying to make loads of them for a short time, then I fancy something new. So, strangely it's back to the drawing board, well sketch book, and looking for a new idea. Though perhaps I'm not quite finished with tattoos....

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Step by step - making a word necklace

Recently an old friend came into see me at the shop, and was surprised to see me drawing some of the names that had been ordered as necklaces. She had assumed that that part of the 'job' was done on the computer. I was taken aback as I thought that she would somehow know that I did the whole things myself from start to finish, but then again, why should she! So below is a short step by step sequence to show how I go about making the necklaces - from pencil to tracing paper, to silver and finally to the finished piece.

This is the initial roughs and you can see I've tried two different styles of 'H' to see how best to connect it to the letter 'e'. These roughs are about 10cm wide - almost double the final necklace size.
I've settled on the H and e style and have worked up the thickness of the letters, and drawn in the circles above the first and last letters where the chain will connect.

Then I trace over the pencil on to tracing paper with a very thin and scratchy pen, so that I have a single, clear outline.
Here I have reduced the word on the photocopier to about 60% of it's original size, and traced over it again. It's at this point that I reconsider all the areas that connect letters to each other as these are the weak points. I might thicken up these parts. 

With double-sided tape, I attach the traced name to the sheet silver, which I have previously put through my rolling mill to get the texture and pattern on the silver. Then I drill holes in the small parts that need piercing out - the centre of the e's and a. I also drill holes in the connector circles.

You can see here that I've put the blade of my saw through a hole so that I can cut out the centre of the letter.

A view of more of the saw through the silver (and a little of my messy desk!). This is  rather a large saw for such a  fiddly job, and I'm not entirely sure why I had chosen this one!
Once the centres are cut out, I go around the outside, again being careful of the areas where letters connect, and sometimes increasing these parts further. Then I remove the tracing paper and clean off any sticky residue. I often rub the surfaces to get rid of any really sharp edges.

I file all the edges inside and out, mainly using watchmakers files, or escapement files to give them their proper title, and attach the chain using oval jump rings. I add a clasp and ring to the end of the chains, and solder all the open jump rings. Then it's into the pickle to clean off the blackening that occurs when you solder, and then into the polisher. Ta-dah!

Monday, 6 February 2012

Sometimes I just LOVE Monday's!

When I've got a new idea on the go, there's nothing better than a Monday morning to start it. Though, technically I didn't get going until the afternoon, as I had a couple of things that had to be done first so that they are ready for the post. But by the end of play (3.15pm on a Monday) I had made the first three of my new tattoo er... range? Collection? I need the collective noun for tattoos. A team of tattoos? I've looked it up - there isn't one. I feel a facebook post coming on.

Anyway, this weekend was spent drawing and sketching an idea that has been lurking around the periphery of my imagination for sometime. Tattoos - mainly those created by Sailor Jerry - have long been  something that has interested me, though I would never have one done to myself! But those vintage style, 1950's ones, I just love the imagery and simple shapes. So here are some early sketches....

And then some more worked up drawings...

 And finally, today's pieces, pierced and ready for filing tomorrow!

Also today, my interview with Folksy appeared here in Frankly magazine, and tomorrow (all things crossed and breath held) one of my name necklaces should appear in Heat magazine! Oooooo - I do hope it is in there - I've always wanted to appear in it's pages (preferably on the arm of Jonny Depp or David Tennant, but I'm that fussy) so I'm really, really excited (though very quietly, just in case).