Sunday, 18 January 2015

Interview with Cinnamon Jewellery

cinnamon jewellery photo - silver moss blog Welcome to the latest of my interviews with fellow jewellery makers.

Cinnamon Jewellery has always struck me as aptly named - the jewellery is vibrantly designed, with extra zing being added by enamel and oxidization effects - see the photo (left) of this graduated orange enamel pendant as an example.

Tracy, who is Cinnamon Jewellery, creates wonderful pieces in silver and copper, often oxidised to add character and always beautiful. I hope you enjoy reading her interview and seeing some of her stunning work.

When and how did you start making jewellery? 

I started making basic bead jewellery in 2004 after looking at handmade jewellery on ebay and thinking that I could probably do that, so I did! I bought some tools and supplies and researched how to do things like wrapped loops and took it from there. I remember I practiced my first loops using fuse wire! I sold my jewellery on ebay for a few years then started selling sterling silver findings too.

Where do your design ideas come from and what is the process that sees them through to the finished product? Do you doodle on paper or take photos for inspiration? Do your designs then evolve on paper or in your hand as you make them? Do you experiment with the metal you create finished designs in, or do you use a base/cheaper metal for experimentation?

Design ideas come from lots of sources: a shape I like might be the starting point or an idea will pop into my head sometimes or it will be a continuation of an existing design that I have already made and can see the possibilities of developing it further. I will often make a quick sketch so I don't forget it but most of the time the idea is in my head which will then be transferred via my hands and tools to the piece of metal.....hopefully!

Ideas don't always work successfully though and can end up being chucked in the bin. In moments of frustration things have been known to go sailing across the room occasionally too! I use a lot of copper in my jewellery and will always make a copper version of a new design to test it before making it in sterling silver.

Where do you create your jewellery; do you have your own studio or use a kitchen table? Does your physical space affect how you work and what you create?

Earlier this year I moved into my own jewellery "studio" - a garden shed with electricity and insulation which I absolutely love! Before the "shed of wonders" {as my friend calls it} I worked on the dining room table and in the kitchen. I still enamelled and soldered when I worked in the house before the shed but having my own space now means I don't have to keep putting everything away, it's bliss! The shed means I can have everything in it's own place where it can stay and I can work more efficiently and quickly. I can solder and enamel whenever I want instead of having to wait til I can get into the kitchen. I can leave something part-way through and go back to it the next day. It's lovely in the summer with the door open and in the winter I have a heater so I can still work out there. With the radio on and a cup of tea I'm completely happy and absorbed in my world of metal and fire.

cinnamon jewellery photo - silver moss blog

How do you motivate yourself to keep on creating?

I'm still at the stage where I have a lot to learn and new techniques to try so I'm never at a loss at what to do next. I do get days when I just don't feel like doing any jewellery making or the inspiration to make something new has deserted me so I'll have a day off and do chores and maybe catch up with paperwork. I love trying new jewellery mediums {the latest is using epoxy resin in my jewellery} so there's always something that will spark off a new idea.

I find if I have a problem with something I've made where it just hasn't worked that will motivate me to get it right. I get quite annoyed at myself when I do something wrong and cannot rest until I've tried again and got it right. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing but it certainly spurs me on rather than makes me want to give up!

What jewellery making tools could you just not do without, and what tool/item is on your wish list?

I make and sell copper and sterling silver findings so would be lost without my tumbler. It polishes and work hardens the findings saving me a lot of time that I would otherwise have to spend polishing each individual piece.

Another tool I wouldn't want to be without now is my rolling mill. I use it for adding textures to metal, flattening wire, thinning solder strip, rolling out nuggets of melted scrap into sheet and making cups of tea {not really!}

Until recently I looked longingly at pictures of Foredom flexshafts really wanting one but persuading myself that I could manage just fine with my Dremel. As it was my 50th birthday recently I gave in and decided to treat myself to a Foredom and I can honestly say it's worth every penny. I use it several times a day and am so glad I decided to splash out and buy one.

I also recently bought a mitre jig which for such a small piece of metal is a great addition to my tool collection. No more will I have wonky sheet metal and tube edges and if I ever feel like making something that needs a 45 degree angle I'll know what to do!

As for my tool wish list - a kiln would be useful for enamelling but I don't have the space so it's unlikely. A set of Fretz hammers would be very nice too.

Do you take your own photos, and if so do you have any photography hints?

I do take my own photos and it's probably my least favourite part of the whole making and selling online process!

My main tip would be to read your camera manual and experiment with settings, don't just rely on the Auto setting when you take photos.

Try lots of different backgrounds until you find the one that suits your items. Using white as a background is great and generally seen as the most desirable background but only if it really is white! I can't master a white background and my jewellery just doesn't work against white which is why I use slate. I have however experimented with lots of different background looks over the years and nearly driven myself mad doing it before settling on my current background.

Another tip is to get close to your item using the macro setting and take photos at a low angle to show off colours and detail. And never, ever use the flash!

How much time do you spend online promoting your work and how do you balance making with selling?

Being honest I don't do a lot of promoting. I disabled my Facebook page a long time ago and closed my Twitter account after a week! It hasn't affected my sales at all. Maybe it's my age but I don't really like social media very much for "selling". I personally would never go shopping for anything on Facebook.....If I had lots of time to really interact with other people on Facebook which is what I think you have to do on there for it to be worth it then maybe I would use it again but for now I stick to my blog and Pinterest.

I usually blog once a week with a post about what I've been making - not a hard sell post but more of a record of how I've got on with a new technique and what I've managed to make with a few step by step photos which a lot of people like to look at. I love looking at other peoples' work too and how they've made it.

I do also have a Pinterest business account which I use when I remember {!} The only other form of "promoting" I do is to refresh my listing titles and tags occasionally in my Etsy shop.

I get a lot of made to order sales for findings and bangles which at times keeps me stupidly busy so when I not doing that I like to spend my free time making new jewellery rather than promoting.

I do like to spend time "researching" on Pinterest though :D

cinnamon jewellery photo - silver moss blog

Thank you very much for your interview, Tracy, I really enjoyed reading though it.
All photographs in this post ©Cinnamon Jewellery

If you want to check out more of Tracy's work then click on some (or all) of these links -

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Jewelled Web - January 2015 - Link Love

Jewelled Web - January 2015 - silver moss jewellery

How odd it is to write 2015 in the title to this post, a little belatedly too... the last year has dashed by on winged heels... But it's the start of another year and some people are making vague new resolutions, and others are creating detailed plans of how their lives will unfold, and yet others are just winging it, as per usual... I'll leave it to you to figure out which category I'm in and which I'd rather be in sometimes...

I hope your Christmas and New Year celebrations were what you wanted them to be. Mine were that seemingly perpetual combination of quiet and incredibly busy, but I enjoyed them all the same. I'll do a post soon on some of the goodies I received from those I love but, for now, here's what I've been looking at on the net last month (when the online shopping wasn't going so well) and the month to come (when I'm so glad the shopping is done for another year...).

~jewellery links~

Concrete heart necklaces DIY - so sweet and simple. If you have some concrete handy, of course.

A handy visual guide to different types of chain and their names - not sure the names are identical on this side of the Atlantic but this is a good place to start.

Making a simple toggle clasp in silver - lots of photos to make it easier. I love making my variations on this theme.

If you love to collect jewellery as much as you love to make it then one of these ideas for storing your jewels may come in handy: this idea is great for bracelets; this one is for necklaces; and this one is ideal for rings and earrings.

A neat and simple trick for removing bits of fluff from polymer or precious metal clay when it's still soft.

Simple wire gauge chart, listing the gauges and what size the wire is in mm and inches. V handy and always impossible to find when you need to know.

A new year (and new fashion seasons) are always good hunting ground for inspiration and this visual list of trends for the coming year has some beautiful examples.

~non-jewellery links~

I'm not one for 'defacing' books as a rule but these creations are simply works of art, created around the books they're based upon. Beautiful.

Fancy an educational new year's resolution? Try a free course via edx or the OU. Genuine education, included with your internet.

For the first time in over 60 years, a new cloud type has been (nearly) announced...

Some wise words from Zen Habits about fear, overwhelm, and how to get the best out of 2015.

Also about 2015 - if you're trying to plan your life (!) for the next year then this is my favourite free e-guidebook about just that.

Some round-ups of the best book covers of 2014 - yes, I have judged (and bought) a book by its cover and many of these are equally hard to resist.

Some free printable calendars for the next year; this one, this one, and this one are top of my list to print.

Decluttering seems a natural thing to turn to after the excess of Christmas so these articles are on my to-read list - this one, this one, and this one too.


Do hope your January is filled with fun and is a great start to your new year :)

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Jewelled Web - December 2014 - Link Love

Jewelled Web - December 2014 - silver moss jewellery

As you can tell by the tardiness of this post, December/Christmas/the end of the world year has caught me a little on the hop this time around. It feels like everything I do is pretty much playing catch up. But I figured a little respite through blogging would serve me well, if only in creating the (entirely false) impression that I really am on on top of things...

So, if you're feeling a little like me, put aside the online shopping, cast away the pile of Christmas cards to write and post, and entirely ignore the pile of bags that contain numerous gifts that needed wrapping... and take a look at some of these links instead...

~jewellery links~

A wonderful collection of stunning rings. (Be careful with the Bored Panda site as it's addictive. It's also got the kind of name that makes people wonder just how bored you were to find it...)

Searching for a genesis moment to define what you make?

A couple of great photographing jewellery posts, here and here.

Beautiful bird earrings!

It make feel quite wintery now (i.e. cold, dark, grey) but the thought of making sea glass jewellery takes me straight to the summer again...

I also must must must make one of these wrapped bead rings - I just love them.

~non-jewellery links~

Every year I get out a small plastic bag which contains a knitting pattern, wool, and a pair of needles. And every year I am yet again bested by yarn crafts. If I could knit, and well, I would knit these beautiful Mermaid gloves.

See how dangerous Bored Panda is? Check out these video-camera-toting squirrels. Also, fantastic DIY Christmas trees. Also, amazing photos that look like dreams. Also, the memories this little boy will wonder why he hasn't got when he looks at these photos in twenty years time. Also - okay, I'm stopping now.

What would your four-year-old self do?

Such a pretty notebook.

How to keep your arms warm in winter (and feel like an elf!).

Too many choices can be worse than not enough?

And, finally, I shall be listening to my wonderful digital radio this month, mainly tuned to Smooth Christmas - well worth a listen if you love Christmas music.


Enjoy your December as best you can - I will try to do the same! Now, where are those Christmas cards...?

Thursday, 27 November 2014

The Round The World Blog Hop - Silver Moss Jewellery

baroque earrings - silver moss jewellery I must confess that when I was first contacted about being involved in the Round The World Blog Hop, I'd not heard of it before. Perhaps part of the reason why it hadn’t crossed my notice is that no one seems to know where it was started or by whom... (if you do know, then do share the information please!)

So, if like I did, you need bringing up to date then let me tell you that the idea behind the Blog Hop is for creative bloggers, of any kind, to write a post based around four simple questions. The answers they provide gives an insight into their creative thoughts and processes. The blog ‘baton’ is then passed on to another artisan and so the trip around the globe continues.

Emma from Little Cherry Hill has passed this baton to me. Her blog centres around her wonderful jewellery, consisting of silver and gemstones, put together with heaps of inspiration and imagination to create stunningly beautiful jewellery. It's well worth checking out as her her own great Round The World post here.

Here are the four questions, and my answers, along with a few photos as well. Hope you enjoy.

1. What am I working on?

I've just finished making a gift this very day, but aside from that I've been working on creating silver leaves from wire (which I love to do) and developing an idea I had earlier in the year for simple circles of wire combined with circles of melted silver.

jupiter trio - silver moss jewellery

Heart shapes have apeared on my work bench lately (another design I love to make), as has a little copper wire. My stash of gemstones is a little neglected at the moment, as is my copper clay, but I'm hoping to at least utilise the former very soon as I've been playing around with some 'charm' ideas to use with them.

I've also been making some silver leaves as I find they tend to inspire at any time of year, whether it’s when they fall to the ground in the breeze and pool in stunning colours, when they start to shrivel and hide under snow, when they begin to bud and are so fresh and new, or when they’re in their prime, rich with summer colour and life.

new leaves - silver moss jewellery 

2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?

My work tends to be quite personal and led by the materials I have at hand - I don't tend to order supplies in very often and like to find inspiration in what I find in front of me when I open my box of wire, sheet and remnants from previous projects.

Much of what I create is very delicate-looking, a style I've always enjoyed working in. Whilst silver sheet has many uses, the way wire can be moulded and manipulated with pliers (and fingers!) allows me to express designs in a satisfying manner most of the time anyway. I also enjoy the challenge of making sure the finished piece is far tougher than it looks by work-hardening it with hammers and polishing.

citrine and silver - silver moss jewellery

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

I create silver jewellery because I love to do so. I find it frustrating, difficult and even painful at times, and yet the joy of a finished piece is pretty wonderful. I'm often tempted by the thought of dabbling in other crafts, but have built up years of experience working with silver and find that is so valuable in helping me create when I have in my mind's eye. I also believe that focus is very important and that concentrating on one craft will allow that focus to become ever more sharp and honed. I also know that I need to keep reminding myself of this as it’s too easy to get distracted!

dragonfly - silver moss jewellery

I love being inspired by the natural world, as in the dragonfly pendant I made (above) and enjoy creating variations on what I originally make - the wings of the dragonfly 'evolved' from the designs of the earrings shown in the photo right at the top of this post. I enjoy developing style ideas, especially in my wire leaves and hearts; they both lend themselves to this as it’s far easier to make them different than to make them alike!

4. How does my writing/creating process work?

Much of my inspiration comes from nature, seeing the lines and curves that exist in trees and leaves and plants has a big impact on me. Once I have an idea the best way to hold it so I can work on it later (because, of course, inspiration strikes when you're nowhere near a workbench) is to do a very rough scribble of it in a notebook. That allows me to return to the idea and elaborate upon it which I normally do by working in the material I want to create it in.

jupiter earrings - silver moss jewellery

This allows me to know whether the piece of jewellery will actaully work in its finished form and whether I have to tools to create it how I want to make it look. Then, once I have a prototype made up I can develop the style to add flourishes and refinements.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading through my responses to the questions. It’s been an interesting process answering them; although they seem quite simple queries, you can mine them fairly deeply to find things that clarify why we do what we do.

I'm passing the Round The World Blog Hop baton onto Heather from Moon River Jewellery who works in silver clay and creates the most beautiful leaves and butterflies, as well as special 'fingerprint' jewellery amongst other wonderful items.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Instant fame

As I mentioned in my last Jewelled Web, I've been featured in a magazine this month, the December (I know! I never understand magazine dates either...) issue of Make and Sell Jewellery, which is a very nice magazine even if I do say so myself, and am slightly biased this month at the very least...

I often have a bit of trouble finding the magazine but, this month, eventually spotted a copy tucked away at the back of the shelf at WH Smiths, who obviously don't appreciate how important jewellery mags really are.

make & sell jewellery magazine dec 14 - silver moss blogmake and sell jewellery magazine dec 14 - silver moss blog

Rather nervously (how odd to feel that) flicking through the issue (too impatient to check the contents...well, I did try but realised I wasn’t sure what subject heading I’d be under) I found myself (so to speak) on page 18, (subject heading - Bookmark This! (sub-heading - Blog of the Month)) along with several photos of my work and a link to this very blog.

It was a slightly awkward feeling... I've noticed many jewellery makers seem to be very much behind-the-scenes type of people, letting the jewellery they create do the talking, and I guess I'm no different, so being in a magazine, even in a small way, feels a little... revealing.

Anyway, do let me know if you pick up a copy and check out my mini-interview and my moment of glory!