Tuesday, 21 October 2014

juiter ring 2 photo jupiter_ring3.jpg
Sometimes it’s the simple things that capture your attention and fire your inspiration. I’ve always been attracted to shape-making in silver wire, and have loved creating leaves and hearts and getting them to look as sweet on the eye as I possibly can. But geometric shapes are something I’d not really explored that much in their own right yet.

So with my new mandrels to hand I came up with a simple ring design, a circle set on a circle, both made from round wire, and I then added a tiny semi-spherical silver button I’d created. And voila...

jupiter ring 1 photo jupiter_ring2.jpg

Although I say so myself, I do love the simplicity of this, the circle of the body of the ring, interrupted by the open circle of the top of the ring, interrupted by the small, solid circle, offset to one side...

The solid circle addition may well have been inspired by seeing the moons of Jupiter surrounding the planet earlier this year through a small telescope in a back garden on a chilly night, very tiny circles of bright light circling a slightly larger one; I chose to place the tiny circle within its 'planet' rather than without though.

I like the fact the ring can be worn either way, tiny circle top or bottom, to create a bit of variety.

jupiter ring 3 photo jupiter_ring1.jpg

This is a personal favourite of mine but I hope to make some more soon, as well as explore other shapes... well, I do have those mandrels now...

Friday, 10 October 2014

New Tools for a New Season

Shiny new tools are one of the strangest things you develop a fascination for when you fall in love with making metal jewellery…The arrival of tool catalogues was always received with joy at my silversmithing classes, along with much disappointment if we didn’t have enough for everyone…

Not that tools are particularly indulgent. It may well seem that way when you find a bargain set of pliers on a market stall for a couple of quid, and yet a top of the range pair can easily cost well over fifty pounds. And I’ve been told that you really can notice the difference, both in terms of the quality of the tool and also the way it treats your work.

My own pliers are, on the whole, a motley collection assembled piecemeal over the years (and all have different coloured handles, which is such an unlooked-for bonus) - I have used high quality tools and can verify that the difference often isn’t in how damaged your bank balance looks but in the marks, intentional and not, that are left on the precious metals you're working with…

But I also have some super-cheap tools that really are super. A set of reverse angle pliers, one straight and one angled, are truly excellent and have done me great service for many years now - they came into my hands for around a pound each. I’ll happily seek out some of a similar calibre (and price) when these finally succumb to time but, looking at them, it won’t be for a while yet.

My latest tools aren’t not of the expensive kind but are decent quality and do a wonderful job. Plus, they were gifts, which makes them even sweeter.

The first is a set of two tiny mandrels, perfect for rounding up jump-rings ranging from pretty small to, well, far smaller than would fit on a typical ring mandrel.

tools-metal mandrels

Having used a variety of ‘home-made’ mandrels for such tasks in the past, it feels rather indulgent – and yet so much easier – to now have a metal tool that can tolerate a little more hammering than a leaky Biro.

The second tool is another mandrel, this one most certainly plastic (and so needing of slightly more careful treatment) but also made for the job and, so far, pretty sturdy.

tools - beadsmith plastic mandrels
The Beadsmith multi-mandrel consists of a handle and four interchangeable mandrel heads – in round, oval, square and triangular shapes. So far, oval and round have got the most use, but I’ve long been intrigued by the idea of softly curving triangles and hope the mandrel for this will prove helpful in future experimentations.

These are the first new tools I've had in a while now and I've been pleased at how they seem to expand not only what I can do (and the ease I can do with it) but also ideas and inspirations seem to flow more easily...anyone else experience that, and does anyone have ideas for tools that I should add to my wish-list?

{NB. The link to the Beadmsith mandrel from this post is an Amazon  UK affiliate link. This means that if you click through to the mandrel and then go on to buy it on Amazon, the nice people who run the company will give me money. From their own stash! And it will cost you nothing!! If I ever earn enough to qualify for payment, the money will go to my very needy rolling machine fund which currently contains only copper coins. For more info on my affiliate links, take a look at the bottom of my about page. Ta muchly.}

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Jewelled Web - October 2014 - Link Love

I hope you've had a good September. Mine has been full of sun and mists, not too bad a combination really, although I do prefer the sun far more than the mists...

I'm not looking forward to the long and cold nights of winter, so am hoping the mellow (and currently mild!) early autumn days stretch out as long as possible.

Hope you enjoy catching up on what I've discovered this month on the net...

~jewellery links~

On my list of things-I-really-should-try-doing-one-day is how to make a hinge from silver. This tutorial looked very helpful.

A wonderfully simple way to hold/display/just show off your jewellery.

How to make safety ear wires.

Problems with solder not flowing? Check out this long and detailed forum post from Etsy. So much good advice and help.

A hint of autumn is in the air so how about making jewellery inspired by it -
an acorn pendant from an acorn,
leaf earrings from polymer clay (and eyeshadow!),
and a ring from (imitation) gold leaf (ahem)...

And something else in gold leaf, a wooden pendant tutorial.

More autumn-y jewellery items, already created, and this time with a hedgehog theme -
I love this brooch in polymer clay and paint,
this pendant in broken china,
and this brooch in felt.

~non-jewellery links~

Inspiring art for your desktop (or to print) showing up in your inbox once a month? Yes, please!

I adore these DIY vases; copper and glass is such a wonderful combination.

Social media tips from the Folksy blog.

How to speed clean your home. Seriously. I always change the duvets to music...

Great ideas from the Design Trust about selling online.

Gorgeous shoes... here and here. And amazing slippers...

This may come in handy if you spend too long every day hunched over a desk making jewellery... three simple exercises to improve posture... I personally would be lost without Pilates.

Make your own foaming facewash - I've yet to try this but I love the idea!

I also fancy making my own lip balm, so have bookmarked this page of links.

And I can't help feeling this wonderfully sweet way of storing flowers seeds would make a special gift for quite a few people in the upcoming festival of Chr- erm, giving presents (it's just too soon to say the c-word yet...).

Hope you enjoy exploring the links and have a good month online and off...

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Jewelled Web - September 2014 - Link Love

jewelled web september 2014 link love by silvermoss

August has been a month of highs and lows, many of them weather related. I was fortunate enough to enjoy some wonderful summer sunshine, and then I also experienced the tail-end of Hurricane Bertha...which was certainly an experience...!

I have a pile of silver close at hand (a very small pile, admittedly!) and am hoping September will also involve some solder, a pickle pot and near-endless tumble polishing. And no hurricanes of any kind.

Here's some discoveries from the net to peruse as the leaves start, just a little bit, to think of changing their colour... yes, I've already noticed this happening...)

~jewellery links~

This must be one of my favouite ever Pinterest pages - I see jewelry  - a wonderful board of those little things you spy that spark some jewellery inspiration.

A collection of DIY jewellery tutorials - I know these might be a little simple for some jewellery makers but I love to look at these...either you gain some knowledge you didn't have before, or you at the very least gain some inspiration.

Despite not having done a craft fair for a good long while now I still love ideas for creative displays like these here and here. Both links from a neat American site about crafting businesses.

A couple of free tutorials on working with polymer clay. I've not experimented with clay for ages but I'm very tempted by translucent clay when I see designs like this, this and this.

Two of my favourite jewellery bloggers have both been featured in Making Jewellery magazine this month - well done to both Cinnamon Jewellery and KS Jewellery!

Have a magpie's collection of pretty stones and sea glass, and not sure how to turn them into jewellery? Take a look at these hints about drilling holes in them, here and here.

~non-jewellery links~

Such stunning photographs and a beautiful, honest explanation behind them... my favourite might be this one...or perhaps this one...

More beautiful photographs, full of imagination and wit.

Free tutorials covering everything from Photoshop to painting to sewing.

I sign up to far too many interesting and free web apps designed to make your life easier, which I then forget to use, but, still, I'm intrigued by Trello. I've not signed up just yet though...

I love how generous the net is, and full of tiny pieces of useful information that people are so willing to share - like when to use an 'a' and when to use an 'an'.

Someone forwarded me this quiz - ten simple questions reveal whether you're in the right career or not... erm...

For a more ordered life, organise like a chef. Seriously. 

Enjoy the links and have yourself a good September :)

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Jewelled Web - August 2014 - Link Love

jewelled web august 2014 - silvermoss
It's the middle of summer, weather permitting as always, and it feels like the perfect time for all things flowers, hence my favourite photo of my favourite flower (this week anyway!), a simple poppy.

The light shining through its delicate petals kind of sums up how fragile and fleeting summer can be, how we should enjoy it while we can... If you know anything about poppy flowers, you'll know how brief their life is, their paper-thin petals falling to the ground within days of blooming... but they're beautiful all the same.

Hope you enjoy the links I've collected from my travels on the web lately.

~jewellery links~

Easily made mistakes that are made when photographing your own jewellery. And how to avoid them.

This applies to any small business type set up, but also to selling jewellery - (deep breath) how to create a simple and streamlined order processing system. This is a long one so worth bookmarking and giving it time and thought.

How to get somewhere fast with your jewellery.

From horticultural supplies to faux gold jewellery - a how-to necklace in leaves.

More faux gold, more leaves, but this time with an owl as well. Seriously.

If you're doing any shows this summer then this list of different ways to display your wares may come in handy.

46 simple DIY jewellery makes. Enough to keep anyone busy through the holidays. Also nicely inspiring even if you're a dab hand. This is one of my favouites as the matt muted colours are just gorgeous...

A Folksy blog guide to customer service - not just for jewellers...

~non-jewellery links~

Paper-cutting as you've never seen it before.

Very scary images from the 70s as photographer Arthur Tress brings children's nightmares to life - I'm so glad he didn't do mine...

Speaking of photos, share your own images this August on Susannah's Summer Break

Have a coffee break to fill and fancy some ultimately pointless online quizzes? Check these out:

Can playbuzz website guess your age? Well, they failed to guess mine, but since they shaved well over a decade from my real number, I'm not complaining ;)

Which generation do you belong to? They got me right on this one...

If you were a classic children's book describes your life? I know, slightly unlikely question, but it turns out I'm Pat the Bunny. No, I've not heard of it either...

And another time-waster/article of irrelevance - famous people who look like historical famous people, or just historical unknown people...

Get your brain back into gear and discover why we like to name things we own or use.

Do enjoy and savour the rest of your summer...