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

Archive for the ‘Jewellery Making’ Category

Better Late than Never!

Day 22

During Thing-a-Day 2009, I promised my six year old granddaughter that I would make her a tiara if she helped me to sort out my bead box… Terrible woman that I am, I have not fulfilled that promise to her up until today!! Well, you know how it is…sometimes life gets in the way of the best intentions.

My granddaughter is a real girlie girl. She loves all things pink and sparkly – so predictably she focused on sorting out all the pink pearly beads and all the ‘diamonds’ in my box of beads from broken up jewellery. Nothing in the box is ‘real’ or of any intrinsic value – all the ‘good’ stuff is carefully stored – but I find these plastic and base metal beads have uses in all sorts of art and craft applications. So I was quite happy to use them in practicing the art of tiara making.

I have used the silver plated braided wire that I made earlier this month (Day 13) and added a selection of the beads that she sorted out for me. I have spent much of the afternoon grovelling on the floor trying to find all the beads I have dropped and, predictably, my fingers are rather sore but I think I have done a reasonable job in making a tiara fit for a little princess that will see rather more play times than royal occasions!

I hope she will like it – and forgive me for taking so long in making it for her!


In a Whirl.

Day 16

Now we are just past the halfway mark I am beginning to feel as if I am in a bit of a whirl! I have so much that needs doing apart from Thing-a-Day that I am beginning to struggle finding the time to fit it all in. Since I managed to do all 28 days last year I am determined not to fail this year!! …but it is not easy!!!

Today I have returned to the little drum shaped lampwork beads with their rustic rings and decided to make them up into a bracelet using pieces of one of my handmade fine silver chain designs. I did consider adding other dangly bits and pieces but decided to keep the lines plain and simple. (And the same can be said for my write-up today!)

(Day 15) I’ve Got You Surrounded!…

….but only just!

It has all been a bit of a rush today. I have baked 5 madeira sponge cakes today (all destined to be frozen and then turned into birthday cakes over the next few weeks) and I have fitted in my ‘thing’ for today while they were baking in the oven.

I have coated the ring I made yesterday with a layer of PMC (precious metal clay) slip (of which I always have copious amounts!) and embedded little fine silver wire scrolls (made from offcuts of wire from wire wrapping or similar activities). Another layer of slip ensures that all of the scrolls are surrounded with PMC and when dry the excess PMC can be sanded away to reveal the shiny wire scrolls again. As the PMC shrinks in the firing process it makes the scrolls seem to rise up even more from the surface.

This time a small crack has appeared in the layer of slip after it has been fired and will need patching up and refiring – but that will have to be tomorrow now. Just to get the effect, I have given the silver a bit of a shine with a brass brush and slipped the ring over the cabouchon bead….but the silver will be much shinier when it is all finished and has been tumble polished.

I love it!! Even though it has turned out exactly how I wanted it…seeing it in reality has given me a real buzz.

I’m still not quite sure what I am going to make with it as it is such a statement piece… Perhaps I will get inspiration during the night!!


Day 14

Whoever said that Sunday is the day of rest just hasn’t got a grip on the real world!! I seem to have been constantly on the move today and getting my ‘thing’ done has been squeezed between getting organised for dinner and visiting a friend. I would have liked to have done a bit more…but at least I managed to do something!

Today, I got a little closer to finishing off that super lampwork cabouchon bead! I have already decorated two drum shaped beads by making rings out of fine silver sheet which has then been embellished with PMC (precious metal clay) slip and tiny pieces of fine silver wire twisted into scroll shapes and embedded into the PMC. I have drilled little holes in the silver bands so that a piece of wire will fit through the rings and go through the hole in the bead – which holds everything in place. I can then wire these beads onto chunky chain to make quite a statement! I rather like the effect and think it makes the glass beads look like something from antiquity. So I want to do the same sort of technique with this bigger bead.

Having cut the strip of silver sheet I fused the two ends together to make a complete ring. A little gentle teasing with a ring mandrel and it was a perfect fit on the bead. It just needs the PMC treatment now – which I hope to be able to do tomorrow – and I might even get as far as finally creating a piece of jewellery out of it!

All Tied Up!

Day 13.

I’ve not had a chance to get down to any real work today as I have just done a 12 hour stint of babysitting…but I have had a few quiet moments. I have found that making these silver braids is something that you can easily put down and pick up again so I thought I would do one today. I do have a tiara to make and so I thought this would come in handy and I may be able to finish it off later this month.

It is a technique that I explained on my blog when I first learned how to do it and I’m afraid I am just too tired to explain it all again here!! So if you are interestedplease click on this link!

Well…Stone Me!

Day 12

Up until yesterday I had no idea how effective carborundum stone could be!  …What a revelation!!

So today – with very little time to spare for Thing-a-Day – I thought I would take the opportunity to prepare some bits and pieces for activities that I can carry out when I have a bit more time.
I have been given some lampwork beads by a friend of mine who is equally keen as me on experimenting.  I have a small collection of different shaped beads all with a similar abstract look and colour that I want to ‘make into something’ one day!  One of the beads was a sort of cabouchon shape that had been made on the mandrel and I have been trying to decide how best to use it.  I finally came up with an idea this morning!
Part of the problem was that the bead was rather irregular – it had a rather rippled ‘flat’ back and rounded edges(above left photo), so although I was thinking of trying to put it in a bezel of some kind it would have been rather challenging.  With the use of the carborundum stone I have been able to neaten things up and has given me rather more scope!
I was finding the straightening of the sides of the bead a bit of a problem so I made myself a very useful tool …if you could call it that!!  The problem was that it was really hard to keep the bead at a 90 degree angle to the carborundum stone and I was just ending up with an odd angle (top right photo).  So I cut myself a tiny little block of wood which I could hold against the cabouchon bead to keep it in the correct position.  As you can see from the photo above – it did the job very well!!
Sometimes the simplest of ideas are the best!!
Hopefully – I will be able to get a bit further on with this project tomorrow…although I have my grandson here all day so I might not get too much done.

Eat Your Heart Out Rene Lalique!.. ;)

Thing-a-Day  Day 11

The experimental piece I have been working on today has been really interesting. It has been something I have wanted to have a go at for nearly 2 decades but have never really been brave enough to risk ruining a piece of silver if things went horribly wrong!

When I had a go at making some filigree silver pieces from fine silver wire earlier in the year, I realised that this would be my opportunity to have a go at this technique of enamelling as the value of the silver in the filigree pieces was not very large and I could just about live with the possibility that the whole lot might be trashed!

So this is my journey through the plique-a-jour window!

Plique-a-jour enamel is a style of enamelling where transparent enamels are fired into individual cells without any metal backing – thus creating a stained glass window effect.

1. I purchased a piece of mica sheet to use as my ‘non-stick’ backing plate and put my filigree pieces onto it.
2. I then attempted to fill each of the little cells with wet enamel – although there was a little bit of bleeding underneath the wires due to the twisted nature of the filigree wire it was impossible to get good contact between the wire and the mica sheet.
3. This was the enamel after it had dried for a while on top of the kiln.
4. …and again after it had been fired for the first time! Quite a few holes to be filled there!!
5. More wet enamel was put on top and then fired again. When everything had cooled down a gentle lift with a fingernail behind the wire and the pieces just pinged off of the mica…brilliant!!!
6. The effect from the front is now fine.
7. …but the look from the back is pretty rough!!
8. I ground down the enamel from the back of the filigree using a carborundum stone.
9. A little better now – but not as tidy as I would like! The areas where I had reinforced the fragile joins with a dab of PMC slip had now been ground down into irregular shaped patches…not so pretty…

All in all – I think this has been very successful – as I have seen how well the mica backing sheet works and how easy it is to remove the enamelled pieces. I would try again using a lighter coloured enamel as the royal blue is a bit dark unless held up to the light. I also think it would work really well for pierced sheet silver – or PMC.

I have always loved Art Nouveau styles and this enamelling technique was used a lot by Rene Lalique…so I will definitely have another go later on!

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