Thursday, 7 May 2015

Holiday by Bracelet - 'Jewellery Maker' Kit

You know the saying, a change is as good as a holiday? That was part of my reason for deciding to try a jewellery making kit. I‘d not used one before, so the idea of indulging in some pre-prepared creativity was appealing. When I began making jewellery it was as part of a silver-smithing course, where the emphasis was on using the metal in ways that didn’t necessarily mean crafting jewellery. In essence, I began making jewellery as a side effect of working with silver. And every now and then, something simpler, not involving hammers and a soldering torch, makes a nice change...

Also, by way of a coincidence, a friend of mine has recently asked me for some advice on jewellery kits as she wants to start creating but is bewildered by the choices available. A lot of people seem to start making jewellery through kits, little collections of (nearly) everything you need that result in a finished piece of gorgeousness that you can also wear. It’s a good place to start and ideal if you want to experiment before committing to buying packets of beads, rolls of wire, and heaps of tools.

Bracelet Kit

So with the idea of a 'holiday' for me, and a bit of research for a good friend, I took up a kind offer by Jewellery Maker to try one of their kits.

The jewellery kit arrived swiftly in the post, well packaged in a jiffy bag and bubble wrap, around a strong cardboard box that contained instructions and ever component of the bracelet I was going to make, carefully separated into tiny plastic pouches. A simple instruction leaflet was included. The bracelet itself, made from silver plated copper, was sturdy and easy to put on and remove, and had an intriguing one-and-a-half wrap design, separated with jump rings - see photos to understand exactly what I mean here. While I used the image on the box as inspiration, it would have been possible to use any of the different parts of the bracelet, or all of them, to fix the gemstones onto; this is a nice touch, the ability to customise and personalise a kit.

Along with the bracelet came a bag of silver plated jump rings, which were used to attach the gemstones, all carefully separated into different bags for the different gems; moonstone, peridot, amethyst and iolite - a great selection of colours that complemented each other beautifully. Every bead was already on a head pin, looped at the top so it could be fixed to the bracelet itself with a jump ring.

Bracelet Kit

Please note that if you are a beginner then this kit, and I suspect many (if not all) others, assume that you have some basic tools like snips and pliers. This particular kit needs a couple of pairs of pliers to open and close the jump rings, and I found a small round-nosed pair handy for straightening some of the loops on the head pins as well. The only downside of the kit was here - a few of the headpin loops were a little too small to fit a jump ring through, and while most of them were easy enough to adjust with the round nose pliers and then use, a couple remained just that bit too small - these were on the smallest beads as well, so I guess that was why. It certainly didn’t detract from the overall effect of the bracelet when finished though, and only added a fine layer of frustration when constructing it - and I could have removed the supplied head pins and added my own to make the beads work.

I found the kit fun to make; mixing the different colours of the beads to suit myself, and slowly attaching them to the bangle was a fun way to spend an afternoon on a rainy weekend. The end result is pretty, full of colour and sparkle, and fun to wear.

If you’re an advanced jewellery maker, then you may find this kit a little too simple - although it is very effective. If you’re only just starting out then the kit couldn’t fail to inspire you when you see what you can make, and how easily. It should encourage you to carry on creating.


Please note - I was given the jewellery kit in return for a blog post about it, but my views are my own and have been given honestly.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Jewelled Web - May 2015 - Link Love

Jewelled Web Link Love May 2015 - Silver Moss

The weather certainly softened and warmed everything up in April and so, hopefully, it will continue into May. Okay, some parts of the UK have had snow last month but nothing is perfect and spring often has its (very cold) hurdles... But just now blossom seems to be everywhere and bluebells are starting to show their haze in the woods by the road.

Here's some links for the month ahead.

~jewellery links~

Sculpting jewellery...

Interviews with jewellers - one about chasing; one about re-purposing, and one about colour.

Polymer clay - more real than the real thing.

A post about cabochons, just because they're beautiful...

I am not alone in my inability to size rings... the post includes this link about how to work all those tricky measurements out...

Inspiring post by Silver Pebble about inspiring businesses in an inspiring booklet... along with a giveaway :)

Another interview, this time with a polymer clay jewellery artist.

A week in the life of a mixed media jeweller.

An A-Z post by Cinnamon Jewellery.

~non-jewellery links~

If you've got a small garden - or no garden at all - then the net is full of tiny ideas to use whatever space you have. This is a great selection of tiny garden ideas to make you think... and then experiment! I love number eight especially...

Fancy trying to make your own soap? This post - the first of four - should hopefully point you in the right direction.

How blogging can change your life.

I was fortunate enough to have clear skies on the 21st of April, and a view of the moon, Venus and Aldebaran a little like this one...

Spring makes me think of cleaning and throwing out the dust of winter. I'm increasingly using natural products to clean with (who would have though vinegar and bicarbonate of soda could clean a bath so well?!) and this looks like a great post full of ideas about the subject.

Know someone who just can't communicate without emojis now? Point them in the direction of this emoji bag.

I love this print - unfortunately, my home wifi/broadband is intermittent and often not working at all of late... but it does make you appreciate it all the more when it is up to speed ;)

How to email anyone in a better way.

Have a great May.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Jewelled Web - April 2015 - Link Love

Jewelled Web Link Love April 2015 - Silver Moss

March has brought flowers, thankfully. I know, I know, some hardy blooms carry on regardless throughout the winter but so many don't really do anything until the earth warms, just a little. March also saw a solar eclipse - well, for many in the UK a sighting was on hand, but unfortunately it was thick cloud with me and all I noticed was a slightly eerie darkening of the day...

Either way, here's to a brighter April. Hope you enjoy the links!

~jewellery links~

I love this post by Cinnamon Jewellery about soldering blocks - I too had read that to rejuvenate one (ie, to get all the molten and then dried flux off) you needed a paving slab/rough surface/road and some elbow grease, but had never had much joy with that (yes, I did try in the back garden). So I shall be hunting down some heavy duty sandpaper and seeing how that goes... stay tuned... (I must confess to 'borrowing' the flux that's already on the block when I solder - if you've not used enough, or are trying to get something to just hold still, then all that melted flux starts to flow again when the torch is on it and can be quite handy... so perhaps I shall rub down just one side of my trusty block...)

Crocheted necklaces, wonderful and jazzy.

Some simple jewellery DIYs on a theme of gold.

How to make shell beads from polymer clay.

Riveting silver when soldering isn't suitable is a handy skill to have - this tutorial has a lot of good advice. From the same site, a great tutorial on texturing metal.

Bead and thread bracelet tutorial.

Do you call it repousse or chasing? Check this bracelet out too.

~non-jewellery links~

These paintings by Katte Geneta are so atmospheric and so beautiful.

Giant flower sculptures made from glass.

Biscuits/cookies made from just three ingredients... not including embellishments. I've not made these yet but they are on my list to try.

I could happily live in any of these calm and stylish Scandinavian rooms...

Tips for Success with Long-Term Projects - some great advice.

Photos of the eclipse that I didn't get to see...not that I'm bitter...

Book carving. Amazing art. Am a little sad for the books though...

I don't normally post anything that could be deemed as political, or even controversial, but this article, and the photo that goes along with it, deserves to be read and seen by as many people as possible.


Hope your April is a good one.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Half a moon and a whole Pearl

Silver half-moon and pearl pendant - SilverMoss Designs
The moon often seems a little bigger in the winter months... when it's not obscured by clouds or fog, that is. I suspect this has much to do with leafless trees and the coldness that descends on clear, dark nights. It's inspired me. The big moon, either full or waxing or waning, and my sooper dooper ever-increasing mandrel selection, got me thinking and experimenting, and this is one of the items that I came up with...

The pearl is such a lunar colour, and it also reminds me of those evenings when the moon has just risen and so has Venus, small but bright on the horizon. It can look a little like the moon also has its own satellite and so is a little less lonely in the massive evening sky...

This necklace is now, with a little regret, in my Folksy shop.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Jewelled Web - March 2015 - Link Love

Jewelled Web March 2015 SilverMoss

Oh, February does seem to have been a long month this year; despite noticing the days getting longer and the nights shorter, the days have insisted on being mostly sunless and the nights heavy, if you know what I mean. I'm looking forward to March and the promise of spring starting to kick in, the green shoots becoming flowers and the sun burning the cloud away... hopefully.

And hopefully too, you'll enjoy the links I've rounded up for the coming month. Do let me know!

~jewellery links~

A great selection of ideas from Kernocraft for when you're stumped as to what to do next. Includes inspiration for bead, metal and clay.

From the same site, a handy and simple list of the different gauges of wire that are suited to different pieces of jewellery.

Measuring for bracelets made easy.

Nice and simple recipe for pickling copper after soldering - I also like the idea of just putting the pickle in the microwave, rather than the old slow cooker pot I use. Which is massive. And slow.

Bezels for square or rectangular stones.

The basics of using stamp on metal. A simple idea for getting the stamping straight.

I have been thinking about clouds a lot lately... none quite as elaborate as this one though.

Ever get complaints about how much noise you make when hammering? Or do you even put off doing it for the sake of other people? This blog post comes up with ideas to minimise the noise.

Wooden jewellery is just so beautiful.

Spare zips? Spare hours? One amazing necklace.

~non-jewellery links~

You may have heard about #thisdress lately... I love this page of Amazon reviews for whatever the colour it is (I saw very pale blue and gold).

The most amazing bird house, made from copper.

I love this blog, nearly as much as I love the Moomin mug.

How to credit images on your blog - a simple guide to doing it right.

Amazing photographers - squirrels playing in the snow and just seeing the world through different, and magical, eyes.

'Easy' ways to start decluttering. Hmm...

Perhaps the miserable weather and the long nights have helped, but I've been reading more this last month, an indulgence that feels like it has a lot of value as well. My own personal 'book of the month' has been David Mitchell's The Bone Clocks which was engrossing, sweeping and a wonderful combination of make-you-think and just-enjoy-the-ride. I read it on Kindle, but read it on whatever - it's worth it.

Speaking of books I have never read - a huge pile, it has to be said, I found this great page of quotes from Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (of course, I'm not suggesting it's better/easier/more helpful to read quotes pages rather than read the book itself ;) but it is interesting to give you an insight into the book as a whole. Given the quotes run to 20 pages on the Good Reads site it might be quicker to just read the book anyway...).

Yes, I do love books/reading and yes, I can identify with many things in this post...


 Enjoy the links and have a good month :)

(Please note - this post contains an affiliate link - which means if you click on it and then buy something Amazon will give me three pence or something. It might be four pence. They can afford it ;) For more info about me and affiliate links, please click here, and scroll to the bottom of the page.)