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

Posts tagged ‘bracelet’

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!)

Fit for Anything!!

For those of you who have been kind enough to keep popping back to my blog – even though I seem to have abandoned it for so long…thank you so much!!  I thought my stats would have flatlined but they have kept gently bobbing along so thank you again!  Hopefully I am back now…and in almost full working order!

I caught something during the first week of September which really laid me low…perhaps it was the dreaded Swine Flu – I don’t know – but I have rarely in my life felt quite so rotten.  It seemed to affect my balance long term and made me feel really woozy and shaky.  I started to feel a bit more able by the end of September – and just as I started to get going again I caught a cold!  Not a particularly bad one, as colds go, but it has gone straight to my sinuses and has got me reeling and shaking again!  I very rarely resort to pills – but I have gone through a packet of decongestants now!  I’m still not right but I’m beginning to see the end of the tunnel now…fingers crossed!!

Anyway – by way of therapy – (as I daren’t trust myself with a flaming torch at the moment!!)  I’ve been having a go at wire weaving and I am really pleased with the results.

I have been posting my efforts on the UK forum run by and thought using my blog would be a good way of showing them all what I am doing as I can post lots of photos on here – and everyone else can have a peek too!!

So – this was my first attempt – using 0.8mm silver plated wire…

And here is how I did it (but using 4 groups of 2 wires this time).

I started by cutting my wires and taping the ends together – making sure they were all tight and parallel (1)..  and then I clamped this taped bundle into a ring clamp to hold it firm.  I then pushed 2 wires alternately to the back and front of the clamp making sure the working section was kept straight and parallel at all times (2).

The wires on the right are lifted up and then bent over the other sets of wires – keeping the wires flat and parallel (3).  Then the wires that are laying against the clamp are lifted up and over this set of wires (4).

The wires that are now sticking out to the left of the clamp are carefully bent upwards – keeping them flat and side by side.  I do this by bending them against my fingernail to get a nice tight bend close to the woven wires (5).  The clamp is then opened and the work pressed downwards so that the weave you have just created is now clamped inside the ring clamp.  The set of wires to the left are now very carefully laid into a weaving position (6) and a new set of wires to the right of the work are lifted up before being bent over the other sets of wires as in picture 3 above …and then the process repeats over and over!!  It is as easy as that!!

As the work progresses you will begin to see that the taped end is slowly working its way out of the right side of the clamp.  This is just as it should be as the weave is added to in a diagonal fashion.

And this is what is going on inside the clamp!

I really do love things that are so simple and yet effective!!

Obviously this technique could be used with any number of wires, with 2, 3, 4 or more wires in each group and as many groups as you want – and any length of wire!  But PLEASE remember to wear safety glasses though as we don’t want any eyeballs jiggling about on the end of the wires…!!!  The only thing to remember is that you need to have an equal number of wires to the back and the front of the work.

There is so much scope with this technique and since I have only just found out how to do it I have a lot of experimenting to do!!  ….starting this week-end…. ‘cos I’m fit for anything now!!!  (fingers crossed!!).

If At First You Don’t Succeed….Do It 120 Times!!!

I have learnt a lot of different techniques for making jewellery over the past year or so, but the one thing I still enjoy more than anything else is making fine silver chains, using pure silver wire.  It just relaxes me so much and I can go into my own little world and make beautiful bracelets and necklaces.  But as people keep telling me..nice as they are…a chain is just a chain – there is no WOW factor…even if it has a really decorative design…it is still just a silver chain.  I know they are right.

Last Christmas, I sold quite a lot of chains that I had wired semi precious stone beads onto.  Many people think that these stones have healing powers and this made them more attractive to buyers.  I hated wiring those beads on last year.  It is one of those techniques that I just couldn’t get to grips with.   It was great to get commissions – until they said they wanted semi precious stone beads!…that really knocked the shine of it!!

Not long ago I developed a new design for a chain that I knew would make a really great basis for a beaded bracelet and it incorporates my favourite twisted link which is rapidly becomming a feature of my most popular chains.  I knew I would have to face the hated bead wiring to really make the best of this chain.  So this weekend I decided that I would do nothing else until I had made 4 beaded bracelets.

I had to make a batch of ballpins – fine silver wires with a little bead of silver fused onto one end – as it is these that the beads are wired on with.  As I planned to use around 30 beads for each bracelet that meant I needed at least 120 pins….I could put off the beading for a little bit longer!!  But inevitably – I had to face it.

I chose a range of beads that were colour co ordinated…a range of red/pink; a range of turquoise/blue; a range of greens; and a mix of blacks an reds.  Most of the beads were semi precious stones but I added some glass ones as well to add a bit of sparkle and add a variety of shapes and sizes.

The first bracelet was a trial…I was all fingers and thumbs!!  Some of the wires had to be cut off because I had not done them right but I kept on and a little over an hour later I had a beaded bracelet!!  and it looked really good!!  And you know – there is nothing that spurs you on like success!  The second one came a little easier and looked just as beautiful!  I was definitely getting into this, I had developed a technique that worked for me and it was getting easier and easier with each bead I wired.  My fourth bracelet took about 40 minutes to complete the beading…still a rather long time – but it was no longer a challenge – more an exercise.

I was actually rather upset that I had only done enough pins for four bracelets because I wanted to try a freshwater pearl and swarovski crystal one too!  I have had other commitments today and so I still haven’t had a chance to get another one done…but just try and stop me tomorrow!!  I have an idea for a necklace too!!

I have shown a few people these new bracelets and have had nothing but positive reactions…so I am really quite excited!!  Why, oh why did I put it off for so long??  If I had faced my demons back in January, after the Christmas rush, I could have had loads of lovely colourful fine silver and semi precious stone bracelets and necklaces for sale on my website ages ago!!  What a silly woman I am!!

I’d love to hear your comments on what you think of my new beaded collection of bracelets!

Sorry – I got a little sidetracked…

I can’t believe how long it has been since I last put a post on here…I am so sorry – I got a little sidetracked!!

One of the suppliers I use in the UK to get my fine silver sheet, precious metal clay (pmc) and Argentium silver – – has just started a forum.  That may not sound too exciting – certainly not to many of you in the US as you seem to have so many of them (which we have looked at with envy from afar) but it is pretty much the only one devoted to jewellery (as far as I know) in the UK.  It has opened up a whole new world to me!!  I have had the chance to talk to people that know what I am talking about – and have experienced the same problems we have as jewellery makers in the UK – and talk about places and businesses that I have heard of and can access!!  It all seems so friendly…and yes…I have to admit it…I am just a bit addicted…no….majorly addicted!!  I am finding it really hard to drag myself away from the computer in order to make some jewellery…not just talk about it!!

Then on Friday lunchtime I got a commission – a bit of a rush job – to make a pmc (precious metal clay) charm to go on a bracelet – to be ready for Saturday lunchtime!  Well, that stressed me a bit I can tell you!  But I got it finished, packaged and delivered in time!

This is the front and back of ‘Kerry’s 30th birthday charm’ with a peridot swarovski crystal and a black freshwater pearl.

So then I decided to take the rest of the week-end off…to re evaluate…and sort myself out a timetable!

As I have said many times before – my favourite ‘chill-out zone’ is our local visitor attraction – Norton Priory Museum and Gardens – so this is where I went to unwind.

When I got there it was to discover that they had a special display on.  Sir John Myddelton’s Companie of Artisans and Merchants…a historical (Medieval) re-enactment group…were encamped there for the weekend – treating us to a very entertaining display of what life in Middle Age Britain was all about.  They were all very knowledgeable and very willing to talk about and demonstrate the ancient skills and trades they had mastered.  All their clothing was an accurate reproduction of what people wore back in the 1470s.  It was a totally fascinating and entertaining day.

I have photographs here of the 2 women who were preparing the dinner for the whole ‘Companie’ that evening – baking bread rolls and preparing a mutton stew and a baked fish….a selection of ‘oyles, tinctures and ointments’ prepared by the Herbalist and some of the amazing colours of wool produced by the Dyer all made from natural vegetable dyes.  There was also a Blacksmith, Furniture Maker, Silk Worker, Higgler and Candle Maker and many others.  It really was so interesting!

The weather was pretty lousy but that didn’t really matter – I had a lovely afternoon!

So having had a relaxing weekend, hopefully I will approach next week with a rather more balanced timetable – so that I can make a little bit of jewellery…and have a little bit of interaction on the forum… and have a whole lot of fun!!…now that’s what I call balance!!

Getting a Grip

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I have had to delay the date that I officially start my new business – Solunar Silver Studio – until the first of July.  This has given me time to get to grips with building a website and doing all the other advertising paraphernalia that I feel I will need to get a good launch.  I was hoping to be able to pass this responsibility over to someone who has more IT skills than I will ever have but that has never quite happened and so I have been working at it …a little bit here…and a little bit there…   I am slowly getting the idea…and today I finally worked out how to get my Solunar Silver Studio logo incorporated into a repeat design that I could use as a wallpaper for my website!  I am inordinately pleased with myself!!  The image above is an enlarged section – just to give you an idea…and a preview…because, of course, you will all come visit my website when I get it going… won’t you!!!

I still have a way to go yet but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel – and believe me – it has been a long time coming!

I have also had the time to build up quite a stock in decorative silver chains (mainly bracelets) which is my main interest and delight when it comes to making fine (pure) silver jewellery.  This is just a small section (about a third) of the chains I am about to send off to the Edinburgh Assay Office to get my personal hallmark applied to the little heart shaped tags I attach to  all of my handmade chains.

So – I think I can be forgiven for leaving a bit of a gap between this and my previous post…and anyway – people seemed to be interested in my ‘Rose Nose’ post as there has been a pretty constant number of visitors each day over the past week.  And, for the record…for anyone wanting to know how the  hay fever remedy is working – I have had a couple of days when I was wondering if the effect was wearing off as my nose was itching (but not intolerably) and needed blowing a few times but that was when the pollen count was really high.  I have not yet had to resort to any other type of medicine to control the symptoms – I have just continued to use the device as indicated and I have been fine.  I’m still reluctant to say it is ‘cured’ but I am having a much more comfortable summer that I usually do!

Well, I must get back to doing a bit more on my website building.  I’ll let you know when I ‘open the doors’ to Solunar Silver Studio’s on-line presence and look forward to getting some feedback from you all!

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 – Yorkshire is another fantastic place to visit in the UK!!

Floral Display

Last week was one of those weeks where nothing much got done but there was a lot going on…rather a case of ‘ever decreasing circles’!  Anyway – it might be a little bit late but I thought I would do a delayed post from the end of last week and try to catch up with myself.

My daughter wanted me to do a little display of the jewellery I am currently making at her ‘birthday bash’ on Saturday – not so much a jewellery sale but more a sort of look what is on offer! – the only problem was that she hasn’t got any sort of table that I could display my jewellery on – except in the kitchen, which is not quite what I was after!  So I decided to make myself a simple, portable display case.

I was able to buy a long narrow aluminium (silver) framed picture frame which was a good size for displaying my jewellery in and replaced the glass with clear acrylic sheet (perspex).  I replaced the back with a piece of MDF onto which I attached a suedette covered pad which fitted neatly inside the picture frame, giving me a few millimetres of clearance for my jewellery to be positioned.

I then made a box out of MDF which would be big enough to take the folded up legs of a ‘butler’ style tray/table.  The idea being that I could transport the box, with the folded up legs inside it in the car with the display case on top – then when I get to the venue I can carry the whole thing into the house, open up the legs, invert the box to make the table top and put the display case on top…voila…instant tabletop display case!!

Anyway – it worked very well and everyone was able to have a good look at what I had put into the display case and asked a lot of questions and showed a lot of interest…which was good, because they said they will be willing to hold jewellery sale parties in their homes for me when I get enough stock together to get started later on in the year.  Excellent!!

Having finally got my new batch of precious metal clay delivered at the beginning of the week I continued with my quest to incorporate my little silver flowers into as many different kinds of designs I could think of!  Everybody I have met so far likes my floral bracelet (see my entry for March 14th, Happy Hippy Bracelet), but I found it really hard to get the joining links to fuse closed so I thought I would try a similar effect with just one row of connecting links which would be easier to accomplish!  I decided that this idea would hang well around the neck.  I have made 2 sizes of square silver ‘frames’ so, for one of the designs, I used a mix of large and small squares to mount the flowers on.  Both designs work really well and I am very happy with them.  I have added the squares to 18 inches of my fine twisted link chain and added a toggle fastener.

Personally, I prefer the design with the 2 different square sizes…what do you think??  Do let me know!!  The necklaces can be seen on the right hand side of my display case (above).

Many thanks again to who are still sending me lots of lovely viewers to my blog!  If you enjoy viewing lots of blogs look them up!!

Sunday Play Time

This Sunday had the potential for being a really depressing one.  I have had ‘the dreaded lurgy’ for the past couple of days and have been feeling very sorry for myself.  I only had one and a half grams of precious metal clay left to work with (as my new order hasn’t been delivered yet) and I have a pot with some liquid pmc or slip and a pot with a few dried up crumbs of pmc (that I could turn into ‘poor man’s pmc ‘ with the addition of a few drops of water) as well…what could I do that would cheer me up with these meagre ingredients?

Time for some of those ‘I wonder what would happen if I…..’ moments.

I have had an idea to introduce a bit of pmc slip to some of the jumprings that I use in my chains to see if I could fuse the chains into a rigid shape – a bit bizarre I know…and I have no idea what I will use it for, but it seemed like an idea so I went ahead and filled a small (4mm) jump ring in a piece of chain with pmc slip, allowed it to dry and popped it into the kiln.  Lo and behold the result was a chain with a section that was rigid, but the silver blob in the jumpring was a bit on the rough side.  As pmc is so forgiving, I was able to smooth on a bit more of the slip and prepare to put it back in the kiln…however, before it dried I remembered that I had bought a few tiny cubic zirconia that I have never used before, so perhaps today was a good day to see how it worked.  So I made an indentation in the pmc, added a little more slip and embedded the tiny stone into the centre of the blob.  When it had all dried I put it back in the kiln.

Well, I’m quite pleased with the way the whole thing worked…it was a bit on the rough side but the idea has some mileage.

The second thing I have been waiting to do was to make little moulds of letters of the alphabet on discs that could be put onto chains to make name bracelets.  I have had the letters made for a while (see Thing-a-Day, day 15,  Letters for Everyone) but haven’t found any discs suitable to put them on until yesterday, when I found some little mother of pearl discs that were just the right size.  So I have made a mould of each letter placed on a disc so I can produce any name or word in precious metal clay ‘charms’ whenever I need to.  I used some of my one and a half grams of pmc to try one out.

This worked really well and I am sure I will be using them a lot in the future.

The rest of my pmc went when I tried out a tiny little leaf cutter that I bought on Ebay a while back.  I rolled out the tiny blob of clay and cut out the shape before marking in some vein lines.  When it was dry, I cleaned it up with a file and drilled a hole in it to take the jumpring.

This was very sweet and will make a nice little charm on any summery bracelet or pendant.

I now only had a little bit of ‘poor man’s pmc’ left to play with, so I chose a button from my recent purchase (see Flower Madness, March 12th) which had a highly textured border around it and made a mould from it.  I then pushed the pmc into the mould and took a cast of the border.  I allowed this to dry before tidying it up with a file and putting it in the kiln.

All in all, I don’t think today has worked out so badly after all – and  I have a whole new range of ideas that I can start putting into designs over the next few weeks.  Hopefully, my pmc order will come tomorrow and I can get started on something more substantial!!

Happy Day ‘Hippy’ Bracelet

Today has been a great day!!  My son came home from his 3 week holiday in Thailand – where he had a motorbike accident on day 3.  I was so relieved to see him in much better condition than I expected.  He still has stitches that need removing and is missing a tooth but otherwise he is fine and I am so relieved and happy to have him home!!

Secondly,  I have managed to get the bracelet that I wanted to make from my pmc (precious metal clay) squares and flowers more or less done.  I have one and a half grams of pmc left so it was a close run thing.  I would like to put a catch on that is sympathetic to the design but I don’t have enough pmc left for that so for now I will have to put one of my usual toggles on it and swap it over when I get my new supply of pmc in.

I am very pleased with it although it has been a real trial to put together.  There is so much silver in it and the jumprings pass quite tightly through the holes I drilled in the pmc that it has been almost impossible to get the jumprings up to melting temperture with my torch…the rest of the bracelet has been acting as a sort of ‘heat sink’ and preventing the joining rings from fusing.  I have learned a lot from doing it and have decided to modify the design when I do it again to see if it makes any difference,  I must find a way round it because I really love the design idea.  I think the random numbers of flowers and the random arrangement on the bracelet ‘links’ works really well.  It has a lovely open look and would look brilliant as a piece of summer jewellery….and has a sort of ‘hippy’ look to it.

Well – I like it…do you??

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