For the love of silver…for the love of life!!

Archive for April, 2009

Shiny, shiny….

Just a quick update of yesterdays pmc experiment.  I have added 2 more layers of pmc slip to the ceramic beads and then fired them again.  They look so much better now with no gaps and a much deeper silvery look to them.  I have put them in the tumbler this time to get a bit more of a shine on them and I am really pleased with the way they have turned out.  They are a little bit knobbly and have a rather rustic look about them  but I think that adds to their charm…and they were only experimental pieces after all.  I will make some lovely smooth slip next time round and try to get a smoother finish…and now I know it works I might try a more exciting bit of decoration!!

Cross my Palm with Silver…..

I finally managed to get a little pmc (precious metal clay) experiment up and running today – I’ve nearly got my pmc ‘workcupboard’ finished now so I thought I would christen it!  It is quite a comfortable space to work in although it is a very small area and I have my back to the door (which I don’t like) so I have rigged up a mirror in front of me so that I can see what is going on behind me…I think it’s a Feng Shui thing but it makes me feel more comfortable!

Anyway – back to the experiment….

I bought some ceramic beads, some glazed and some not.  Figuring that ceramic beads have already been through a kiln firing they won’t mind going through another one, and the temperature needed for pmc is lower than that used to biscuit fire or glaze fire clay, it should be a ‘walk in the park’ for them!!

So I have coated the beads with layers of pmc slip, drying each layer before adding another one.  After several coats I added a simple decoration using a syringe of pmc.   This is only the second time I have tried a syringe for pmc and I used a larger tip this time making it easier to push the pmc out.  It was very similar to piping with royal icing so I was quite comfortable doing it this time!

After they were thoroughly dry I popped them into the kiln nestled on a bed of vermiculite.  I cranked the temperture up slowly this time so as not to shock the ceramic beads and then fired them for rather longer than usual before allowing the kiln to cool slowly.

They looked to be in one piece although there were obviously areas on the large glazed bead where the bead was shining through the silver layer so something had gone wrong there…whether it was because the pmc doesn’t stick too well to glazed ceramics or because I hadn’t put it on thickly enough in those spots I’m not sure.  The unglazed bead seemed to be fine as were the little glazed beads.

I haven’t had time to tumble these in my machine to polish them up but I have given them a quick brush with a brass brush which has given them a ‘satin’ look.  It also put a lot of friction stress on the large glazed bead which surprisingly didn’t seem to suffer any more silver damage so perhaps it was just that I had put the pmc  on too thinly.

Generally, I think these look rather good considering it was a first attempt.  I think I might try painting another few layers of pmc onto the fired layer and then fire it again…I’m not too sure how well this will work but it is worth a try.  I might be able to build up a more substantial layer of silver doing it like that….I’ll have to give it a go!!

I’d love to have your comments on my stripy ceramic bead experiments…

Hot Stones!!!

In the last week I have discovered that I am getting old…  On the 6th of April I started a DIY project that I expected to get finished by Easter – OK, it was a bit of an ambitious plan to totally rearrange my son’s bedroom – with old furniture shipped out and new ‘minimalist’ self assembly furniture shipped in;  and turning a large cupboard into a dedicated PMC (precious metal clay) workroom and storage area for me – but I felt sure it was ‘doable’!!  Sixteen days on and the project is still going …my body isn’t!!  Talk about aches and pains!!  I am definitely on the home run now, so it’s not so bad….I have to admit though, there were times of complete panic when I thought I’d bitten off more than I could chew.  I’m sure I will be really pleased when it is all up and running….

So with aches and pains and knotted muscles I had a treat at the hands of my lovely daughter.  She is a Holistic Therapist, and treated me to a ‘Hot Stones’ Massage.  Oh joy!  OH BLISS!!

It is a bit bizarre going into a holistic therapy salon where the ambiance is calm and the background music serene to see they have a slow cooker on the boil and the therapist is clad in a blue rubber glove!  The ‘crock pot’ is warming up large, smooth basalt stones in water ( which is the reason for the elegant rubber glove!!).  When these were at the appropriate temperature they were placed at strategic points on my towel draped, prone body – a bit of a weird feeling but pleasant nevertheless.  Small, warm stones were inserted between my toes – really weird and rather ticklish but still OK and then the massage began with my daughter (the therapist) massaging my knotted arms, legs and back with the warm stones covered in a lovely smelling essential oil mix.  Indescribable!! …but just so good!!…and I have to say that I feel wonderful now!!  OK, I don’t feel 10 years younger…but I feel pretty darn good for the age I am!! …and all my aches and pains have been ‘ironed’ away.  Fantastic!!

So, my workroom nearly finished, I should be able to get back to doing some jewellery work in the very near future – and I have bought some semi precious stones, that I just love, which I am really keen to design  some jewellery around.

This is a chrysocolla stone.  I’ve tried to do it justice but I just can’t get the colours right.  It has a beautiful mix of turquoise and green colours along with deep black/brown markings.  So, for the light blue bits read ‘turquoise’ and the green bits read ‘malachite’ green.  I have bought 2 sizes of rectangle and one size of teardrop – all big enough to use as ‘focal’ stones….and the colours go so beautifully with silver!!

So, all the time I am hard at work rebuilding my house(!!) I am thinking and planning just what I can do with these lovely stones.  I can’t wait!!

Apart from being totally beautiful to look at chrysocolla stones are said to have a variety of healing and metaphysical properties attributed to them, for example:-

Chrysocolla is generally associated with peace and tranquility, as well as intuition, patience and unconditional love.  It is often thought to offer gentle and soothing qualities, it is believed to be a powerful source of life-force energy, as well as a stone for feminine empowerment; helping to build feminine energies and calm emotions.  (www.shimmerlings.com)  Chrysocolla  promotes level headedness and clear thinking. Often used by public speakers to decrease nervousness.  Helps with infections, fever, and cramps.  Chrysocolla can lower blood pressure and detoxify the liver.   Helps with ulcers and arthritis.  (Read more about chrysocolla at http://www.beadage.net/glossary/index.php?term=chrysocolla;  http://www.sobrietystones.com/resources/GemBook/Stones/meanings_gemstones_chrysocolla).

So that is 2 kinds of really ‘HOT’ stones that have entered and enriched my life this week…and hopefully will remain part of my life from now on!!

I know it has been a long time since my last post so I hope my condron.us visitors are still viewing!!

A Perfect Sunny Sunday

What a beautiful sunny Sunday we have had here in the North West of the UK!!  I spent a lovely afternoon at Norton Priory Museum and Gardens in glorious sunshine and not a breath of wind.  The flowers are all beginning to burst forth – grand and glorious!  I couldn’t resist sharing some of my photographs with you.  I have spent most of the week doing major redecorating work at home and my walk through this wonderful, peaceful garden was just the kind of relaxation I needed!  I hope you like my photos!  I will get back to making some jewellery next week…promise!!

Thank you condron.us for sending so many visitors my way!

A Charming Way to Spend a Weekend!

I had an idea this morning (Saturday) to make a sort of charm bracelet using one of my fine (pure) silver chains and the little pmc (precious metal clay) letter discs I made last Sunday ( see Sunday Playtime).  I have a fairly large immediate family and thought it would be a great idea to have the initial letter from each of their names on my ‘experimental’ charm bracelet.

Cast pmc charms before firing

I am rather taken with the idea of having jewellery that moves a bit so I thought I would mount the discs on rings that would slide up and down on the bracelet chain.  However, because there are so many of these discs on the bracelet they tended to get all clustered up in a clump!…so here’s my great idea…I have wired semi precious gemstone beads (relevant to the individuals whose initials are on my bracelet) onto the jumprings that connect the twisted elements of the chain together.  As I went along I ‘trapped’ a slider into the spaces between the wired gemstones.  This meant that they could still slide but only within their own little bay.

Finished bracelet with discs mounted on large decorative rings

The bracelet is surprisingly heavy and makes a fantastic changling ( my newly invented word to mean a rather subtle jingling!) noise as all the rings slither around on the chain.

I think I would probably like to add a few more charms and/or beads to it as it is a rather ‘inbetween’ design…it certainly isn’t minimalist (!!) and yet it is not sufficiently ‘filled out’ to be dramatic.  That is for another day however…

**************************************************************************************

Well, I left it overnight to think about it and first thing this morning (Sunday) I took the whole thing apart again!  I decided to cut down the size of the rings the charms were mounted on – which meant that they only just had the clearance to slide about but made the whole bracelet more streamlined.

Bracelet denuded of beads and with smaller attaching rings.

Then I reattached the semi precious gemstone beads and one of my pmc chunky heart charms at the ‘bar’ end of the chain to fill up what was a bit of a gap.  I am a whole lot happier with this bracelet – it is more balanced and far more comfortable to wear.  Before I put the beads back on I weighed the silver components of the bracelet and found it to be over 13 grams…so you know you have it on!!  There is still plenty of room to add more charms if I decide to but I think I will wear it like this for a while and give it a ‘test drive’!.

Finished bracelet ready for a ‘test drive’!

I am really pleased with these little letter discs.  In fact – I might take a temporary break from making flower based designs to have a go at some ‘wordy’ ones!

I’m having a day out tomorrow to go to the British Craft Trade Fair at Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England.  I really am terrifically excited and hope to get a real buzz from looking at the amazing craftwork people are making now…who knows – one day I might find myself exhibiting Solunar Silver Studio jewelelry there!!  I’ll let you know what kind of day I have later in the week.

By the way… for anyone reading my blog on condron.us – Yorkshire is another fantastic place to visit in the UK!!

Life is a Rich Tapestry…

I know this is not exactly ‘up to the minute reporting’ but I want to let you all know about what I did on Sunday!  As any regular readers will know, I am a sucker for a bit of sunshine…( so long as it is not too hot!)…as soon as there is a bit of blue sky and sunshine my spirits lift and I want to enjoy a few minutes in the ‘great outdoors’.  Well, Sunday was one of those days and in the afternoon I was drawn back to our local visitor attraction, Norton Priory Museum and Gardens.  Last time I visited on the 19th of March (see What a BEE…uty!) most of the plants (except the daffs) were still in winter mode with just a couple of promising buds on display, well, on Sunday spring was definitely on the way as you can see from these photos of the magnolia and camelia…so beautiful against the blue sky!

The other delightful surprise I had when I got there was an invitation to watch a fascinating music recital given by ‘Tapestry of Music’, who, dressed in period costumes, led us through a display of musical instruments and music from the 12th century onwards.  They were a lovely couple, full of fun and very skilled.  The instruments were amazing and very beautifully constructed, and the sounds they made were quite enchanting.  A truly unexpected and delightful afternoon!  If ever you have a chance to go to one of these recitals – I thoroughly recommend it!  I have put a link to their website under my ‘Great Art’ category- in the CDs section of their website you get a chance to hear some snippets of the music played on lutes, harps, hurdy-gurdys, crumhorns, shawns and many other mediaeval instruments.  Fascinating!

Once again I would like to thank condron.us for continuing to send visitors my way!  (Blog lovers go visit!)  And if anyone from America (or anywhere else for that matter!) is planning a trip to England – come and visit the North West, there is a lot of historical interest up here and some truly beautiful countryside!

Tag Cloud