Monday, 30 September 2013

Miley Cyrus M Necklace

I was asked by a customer if I could make her a gold initial M necklace, like the one Miley Cyrus wears.  I confess, dear readers, that I did have to take to Google to find out who Miley Cyrus was.  I am so not up to date with popular culture - I mainly listen to Radio 5 and shouty punk music!  In my defence, this was also a couple of weeks before Miley's somewhat infamous VMA performance...

Anyway, this is her necklace:

And my version:

I cut it from thick silver sheet, carved all the edges into nice curves, then sanded and polished it.  It was then sent off for hallmarking and gold plating.
Apologies for the iPhone photography, I didn't get a chance to photograph the necklace properly after it had been plated.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Silver Beard Necklace

I was recently asked to make a beard necklace from sterling silver.  It's definitely one of the more unusual custom requests I've had, but I really loved the idea.

The customer emailed me a picture of what the beard should look like:

I carved it out of wax:

Beard necklace work in progressBeard necklace work in progress

 Then cast into silver, after which the sideburns and joining rings were carved, as the wax was too fragile to carve any further before casting.

Sterling silver beard necklace

Chain soldered on, hallmarked, polished and ready to go!

Sterling silver beard necklace

Sterling silver beard necklace

Custom Skate Necklace

I am getting better at taking pictures of custom work before I send it off, even if they're not my best photography work!

This is another custom roller derby skate necklace I did recently with semi-precious gemstones for the skater's team colours.

Silver custom roller derby necklace with garnet gemstone

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Custom Jammer Helmet with Skate Numbers

More little skate numbers!

This jammer helmet necklace was customised with the skater's colours and skate number, 03.  Threes are one of my favourites to cut out.  Not sure why really, there's just something pleasing about the shape of them...

Silver custom jammer helmet necklace

Also, I have been promising some new roller derby jewellery for a really long time now.  I keep getting distracted by all the other new ideas floating around my little head, but it's really, really, nearly finished now!  I'm just finishing off my prototypes ready to be moulded and cast.   Watch this space, roller derby fans!

Monday, 26 August 2013

Custom Wedding Rings for Emerald Cut Stone

I was recently asked to make a pair of complimentary wedding rings from silver, with a hammered texture.

So far, so right up my street - I love hitting stuff with hammers.  The slightly tricky part was that the bride's ring had to fit around her engagement ring, which had a large, emerald cut stone.  Having done some googling on shaped wedding rings for emerald cut stones, I drew a bit of a blank, as most wedding rings for this rectangular shape of stone are flat bands that fit under the stone, rather than going around it.

Carving the band so the setting fitted perfectly into it was definitely a challenge, but it turned out really well I think.

Emerald cut gemstone shaped wedding ring
Emerald cut engagement ring shaped wedding ring

The rectangular shape and squared off style looks quite art deco, and would look great with a matching shaped diamond eternity ring on the top.

Emerald cut rectangular shaped wedding ring

The groom's ring was much easier!

Silver wedding rings hammered texture

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Look at the New Tools!

I discovered the marvelousness that is the GRS Benchmate system on my diamond setting course and have been coveting one ever since.  Unfortunately they are very much on the expensive side, so didn’t think it was something I’d be able to have any time soon.

But look!

GRS Benchmate tool-2

Thanks to the amazing generosity of a jeweller that I’ve never even met in real life, I now have my beautiful Benchmate. Sometimes people really are just brilliant!

I’ve ordered a bench peg and a couple of extra bits to go with it, then it can be mounted on to my bench ready for me to do all the stone setting I’ve been saving up.


Thursday, 1 August 2013

Silver Khanda Charm

I was asked to make a small silver Khanda pendant recently, and here it is.

Small sterling silver khanda pendant necklace

It was hand cut and carved from sheet silver, before being sanded, finished and polished.

Small silver khanda pendant close up

Other than that, I've been mainly making skate necklaces and faffing about with ideas for tiny silver biscuits.  All will be revealed...

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Silver Angel Fish Charm

I went home last weekend to see my family, do some skating with the newly formed Jersey Royal Rollers roller derby league and go to my godmother's birthday party.

I've been promising her a little fish charm for her sea-themed charm bracelet for so long now, so finally sat down and got the design finished.


Sterling silver hand made angel fish charm

The charm was cut from solid sterling silver sheet, then filed, polished and lines engraved with one of my exciting new GRS gravers.  I then soldered tubing through for the eyes (there's one on each side) and set two tiny 1.5mm sapphires.  This reminded me I really need to by a magnifying visor!

I was really happy with the little angel fish - sadly I didn't have tine to make a mould of it though, but I might make another when I have some spare time.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Stone Setting Course - Whitney Jewellery School

I've been dithering for ages now about doing a stone setting course.  My stone setting is all self-taught, which means I don't do it in the most logical or time-efficient manner.  It also usually results in more swearing than is strictly ladylike.

I've been looking at different courses for so long, but options seemed limited to the super-basic, which would have been a bit of a waste of time and the advanced, incorporating pave and channel setting.  What I really wanted to learn was the correct way to do tube, round claw, V-claw and flush setting.

So, I started looking into private tuition.  Options in London seemed limited to Holts (probably amazing, but well outside my budget) and the London Jewellery school, who could only offer me two separate days some months apart and weren't able to give me the name of the tutor I would have.  I just wasn't comfortable signing up for something without being able to see the tutor's previous stone setting work beforehand.

Eventually, some extensive googling led me to Guy Whitney and the Whitney Jewellery School.  It's in Brigg, a small village just outside of Scunthorpe, which was obviously a bit of a trek from London, especially as part of the train journey was by way of replacement bus.  I emailed Guy and spoke to him on the telephone, told him what I wanted to learn and booked three days tuition.  He was very friendly and helpful right from the start.

The cost of the tuition is £95 per day, which I think is brilliant value given that I was the only student there for those three days and for stone setting courses he only teaches a maximum of two students at any one time.  On top of that is the cost of the metal and stones that you use - all the castings and stones are provided by Guy based on what you want to cover so you don't have to worry about taking anything with you - and any tools you want to purchase (which you will!).

The Whitney Jewellery School workshop is a great place to learn - full of light and amazing tools and equipment.  Guy's lovely daughter, Emma (also a jeweller) helps run the school and very kindly came to get me when my sense of direction failure kicked in and I couldn't find the place!
Here it is:

Whitney Jewellery School gemstone setting course - workshop-3
 Whitney Jewellery School stone setting course  - workshop

We started off with a pear shaped setting, as this was one of the shapes I really struggle with and want to perfect so I can add little raindrops to some new rings I've designed for my Rain or Shine range.

Work in progress:

Whitney Jewellery School stone setting course 1
 And finished, together with the tube setting, which it turns out I was doing entirely wrong!

Whitney Jewellery School stone setting course 2

I found Guy's teaching style great - he shows you in detail how to do each thing to start and then has you do exactly the same thing, checking in on you frequently.  I have a few books on stone setting that have detailed diagrams of technique, but really nothing beats watching a master craftsman at work!

Learning how to use the correct tools was also a bit of a revelation.  My stone setting tools are ones I bought at college and were all entirely wrong for my little hands.  Guy makes his own setting tools, and uses GRS quick change gravers (not cheap but so worth it for the elimination of graver-related faffing) and you can buy a little kit at the end of the course to take away with you, which I'd thoroughly recommend doing.

GRS graver tools

The Whitney Jewellery School also uses the GRS Benchmate system, which I'd never heard of before, but found an absolute game changer for jewellery work.  It's difficult to describe, so if you want more information on it check out the GRS website, but basically it looks a bit like this, with interchangable parts (bench pin etc) for different tasks.

GRS Benchmate - stone setting

Another couple of different shaped settings as work in progress, and a couple of shots of all my finished rings.

Stone setting course - oval faceted work in progress
Stone setting course - princess cut work in progress
Whitney Jewellery School stone setting course 3 Whitney Jewellery School Stone setting course trillion

I also had a go at learning a couple of more complicated settings, pave and flush set.  I struggled a bit with the pave - raising and shaping the grains I was fine with, but cutting around them in the different shapes is going to require a LOT more practice!  I shall persevere, however, and will probably go back to the jewellery school next year for a day to concentrate on the pave.

Stone setting course pave setting work in progress

The flush setting I thought I wasn't going to be able to do - it's always been a bit of a mystery to me how the stones are fixed into the surface of the metal.  However, this one I managed to pick up far easier than the pave.  Some various attempts at both:

Stone setting course pave work in progress

And my little flush set stone.  I'll definitely be using this technique more!

Stone setting course pave work in progress-2

In conclusion, I would thoroughly recommend the Whitney Jewellery school for stone setting tuition.  I felt like I learned so much over the course of the three days.  I also had a lovely time, as Guy and Emma are both friendly and professional, and Guy also has loads of useful tips on goldsmithing techniques and tools.

I've been saving up a whole bunch of stuff that need stones set in until after I'd done this course, so I'll be sharing them with you shortly.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

More Custom Skate Numbers

Been doing some more custom roller derby necklaces in the past few weeks - the skate numbers are becoming quite popular!

We have a skate charm with the number 67:

Silver roller derby custom skate number necklace 67

And a jammer helmet necklace with the number 153.

Custom silver skate number 153

Silver custom jammer helmet necklace 153

I'm also working on some prototypes of some new roller derby jewellery, which is going to be really cute, so watch this space...

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Learning New Stuff

I have been dithering for over a year now about doing some formal stone setting training.  My stone setting is pretty much all self-taught, which mainly means that I set stones in probably the most cack-handed way imaginable! 

So, I've finally booked myself on a diamond setting course at the Whitney Jewellery School in Brigg in May.  Sadly I have to leave to travel there on the same day that the boy returns from 10 days in China, but they were the only dates I could get.  My work has implemented an exciting new holiday policy which appears designed to ensure that no-one can actually take any!

Anyway, very excited about learning new things.  I'll let you know how it goes...

Monday, 1 April 2013

Am Still Baking Genius by the Way

The boy and I decided to make some hot cross buns this weekend.  Yes, actually make them.  From scratch.  Eek!

Inspired by Paul Hollywood (isn't he lovely?), we mixed up all the stuff and did the kneady thing to get our initial lump of dough...

 ...then left it near the heater to rise for an hour (the rest of the flat is freezing!)

Mix in fruit and spices, leave to rise for another hour.

Then weigh the dough and divide into equal balls of dough.  Very precise this dough making thing.

Leave to rise for ANOTHER hour!  This did end up taking all day to do.  Totally buying them from M&S next year.

Put the crosses on:

And look!  Behold my buns!

 All in all, it was a bit of a faff and I'm not sure I'd do it again, but they were very yummy. 

Sunday, 24 March 2013

On the Workbench

On the workbench today are more custom skate numbers:

Custom skate numbers work in progress  Roller derby skate number 67 work in progress

They are cut (with REALLY tiny sawblades) from solid silver sheet, then curves are filed on the edges.  After that, I engrave lines to separate the two numbers.  Like so:

Silver derby skate number 67 work in progress 2 Silver roller deby skate number 67 reverse

Next step, sanding, soldering on the jump ring, more sanding, then polishing.

I’m also doing a custom Khanda pendant at the moment. It’s only little, so quite fiddly, but me and my tiny sawblades do like a challenge!

Khanda pendant work in progress Silver Khanda pendant work in progress 2

I’ve just started to file the edges off, so it’s got a fair bit of work to go yet…

Saturday, 23 March 2013


So, I’ve not posted anything for a while, huh?  Trying to keep up with orders and new custom enquiries sadly leaves very little time to write about them!

But anyway, been designing loads of new stuff recently.  I’ve been trying to carve a teeny tiny 5 claw crown collet from wax, so I can give tiny crowns to my mini-bees, but have finally admitted defeat, as I can’t get all the claws aligned and get it perfectly round at such a tiny size. I’ve sent off my scribblings to a CAD company now to get a quote.  I’ve never used CAD before, as I’ve always felt it kind of “cheating”.  Even though I might have designed the tiny crown, I didn’t technically make it by hand, so it doesn’t feel quite right, but in this case is definitely necessary.  It’s supposed to look like this:

Crown collet 2

I’ll let you know how it goes…

I’ve also designed some new mini-weather – the moulds are currently with the caster and I should get them back on Thursday – exciting!  There will be more earrings, necklaces, and even some rings!  I know, I know, I hardly ever make rings, but I’m trying to start doing them more.  Because I just make jewellery that I love and want to wear, and I don’t wear rings, it never occurs to me to make them!  These are going to be awesome though.

I’ve also done another custom skate number necklace recently – I’ve been doing quite a few of these recently, but don’t always get time to photograph them before they’re posted out.
Custom roller derby skate number
Custom roller derby skate number 27   Silver roller derby skate number
Terrible pictures!  I just did a super-quick white background experiment with bright underlighting, but didn’t have time to set up the other lights, so the exposure is all out of whack.

I’ve also got some more custom work on the bench – more of which soon.