Thursday, 1 October 2015

Jewelled Web - October 2015 - Link Love


September has left us with sunshine (and moonlit nights), despite the feeling that this summer has been the wettest I can remember for a good while. I am prepared to forgive that at the present, however, when moving into October the sun is still earth quite nicely and I've got blackberries, raspberries, and even some very confused strawberries fruiting in my garden.

Here's some links, although I do recommend reading them whilst basking in the autumn rays...

~jewellery links~

Ever find yourself with an 'essential' jewellery tool that used to be something else entirely...? At one point my entire collection of mandrels were 're-purposed'...

I've been making some jewellery with cord lately so this tutorial may save me some calculating headaches about how much cord I actually need.

If you do shows then this tutorial for a ring display stand could be very useful.

The 100 top selling jewellery makers on Etsy for 2014 - unless I missed it, not one from the UK.

How to make perfectly round loops in metal (you need to register (for free) on this site to access the tutorials).

These earrings are so, so pretty, beautifully detailed, and perfect for the autumn.

I'm rereading this tutorial on how to drill glass, after being requested to make a necklace in the same material - although I suspect I'll make a bezel instead...

~non-jewellery links~

I'm still giddy with the fact I was lucky enough to see the lunar eclipse - no clouds whatsoever for much of the event. I saw the start of it, missed a little bit, then watched from totality to totally normal again. It was a little like this, but without the sea, the island, or, thankfully, the lightning storm in the distance.

Also in the sky, the Northern Lights from space, and winning photographs of the skies...

Why is everyone succeeding except me? I've not read this yet but I must...

It's good to think outside the box, in every part of life, including home furnishing - so I like this idea of using outdoor light fixtures inside your house.

Fancy sleeping in the sea?

'Self-care' sounds a bit of a twee principle but it also kind of makes perfect sense...

Surprisingly sweet - a DIY pom pom wall hanging. Seriously.

My Own Personal Book Club ~ this month I've been reading...

Michel Faber's The Book of Strange New Things - science fiction but unlike any I've read before, no detailed explanation of space travel or space craft, just the minutia of human, and non-human, life. Makes you think and may make you cry.

Metal Clay Jewellery by Natalia Colman, full of good, clear images and inventive ideas (review to follow).

Half of the Human Race by Anthony Quinn, a book loaned to me and nearly finished now. Sweeping and dramatic, taking in women's suffrage, the First Word War and, yes, cricket, but also focused on the small details that make up a life. I'm still enjoying this and am glad it's a long one...

(affiliate links included in the books listed - please check details here.)

Hope the start of your October is as sunny as mine is - and long may it continue!

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Book Review - The Complete Jewellery Maker

The Complete Jewellery Maker - consultant editor Jinks McGrath
Published by Quantum 2012

Complete Jewellery Maker - book review by Silvermoss Complete Jewellery Maker - book review by Silvermoss

I was rather excited by this book. Firstly, it’s big and detailed, but also the spine is flexible enough to keep it open as a reference while at the work bench. Also, it’s by Jinks McGrath who is a jeweller, teacher, and writer I always have time for. However, it was only when I flicked through it that I noticed something of great importance if you’re an avid buyer of jewellery books, or even if you’ve just accumulated a few over the years you’ve been making and creating; it’s an amalgamation of a variety of other books. Some of the projects and some of the photos looked familiar; in fact one of the projects I adapted only last year to make a gift for a family member. When I looked at the inside front of this book I discovered that it consists of excerpts from half a dozen other books. I’ll list them here in case you’re wondering if you own one or more of them:

Basic Jewellery Making Techniques by Jinks McGrath - pub 1993 by Quintet
Jewellery Making Manual by Sylvia Wicks - pub 1985 by Quill
The Creative Jeweller by Claire C Davies - pub 2000 by Quarto
Jewellery (Two in One Manual) by Madeline Coles - pub 1999 by Quarto
Jewelry Making Techniques Book by Elizabeth Olver - pub 2001 by Quarto
The Art of Jewellery Design by Elizabeth Olver - pub 2002 by Quarto                                          

I also read the cover more closely and read that the book has Jinks McGrath as a ‘consultant editor’ rather than its writer.

If you own none of the above books then this edition can only be useful, covering everything from the basics of setting up a workshop, to working with different materials (although the emphasis is on working with metal), to techniques and projects, and an in-depth section on design. It’s comprehensive, well illustrated, and methodically set out. It might also be a lot easier buying this one edition, rather than buying six other books.

 Complete Jewellery Maker - book review by Silvermoss Complete Jewellery Maker - book review by Silvermoss

But if you do possess any of the above books then it might be a little frustrating when you come across pages that are familiar and already well-read. I own three from the above list and, especially because I did not know initially how this book was constructed, I was a little disappointed at first when I flicked through and found projects and photos that I already knew. However on looking more closely I also discovered information that I hadn’t read before, and, thankfully, a good proportion of the book was new to me, most notably the chapter on design.

The fewer of the books above that you already own, the greater your enjoyment of this book will be. I wouldn’t say not to buy it if you already own some of the books it’s been created from, but I will say approach with caution, try and get a hold of a copy to look through, either via a library or a book shop, rather than buying online and hoping for the best. That way you can make sure that it still contains enough new information to make it worth your time and money.

Please note, this post contains affiliate links, which cost you nothing if you click through but may make me a few coppers if the stars are right for me that day... For more info check out my about page.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Jewelled Web - September 2015 - Link Love

Jewelled Web September 2015 Silver Moss photo Jewelled_Web-September_2015-Silver_Moss.jpg

It's been a long summer, not that I'm implying summer is over, and I'm glad of that. Summer, and sunshine, feels like a respite from the colder, darker parts of the year; it's the reward for getting through the trickier bits. Having written that, I'm aware it makes me sound like I dislike the colder months and I don't. I like the drama of seasons, but I find the warmth of summer easier. Although this summer we've also had our share of rainy weather too in the UK, and the really hot days could probably be counted on both hands. But not feet.

This Jewelled Web is a little delayed, in some ways; despite my best intentions I missed August's edition and although I was going to upload it late, events conspired and all that, and it instead turned into September's Link Love.

I hope your summer has been long and warm and really rather nice. I hope it lasts a little bit longer too.

~jewellery links~

Making jewellery = a bad back. I'll be reading this feature over a few times, looking for some hints.

I do love the idea of keeping a kiln in a fireplace...

Soldering tips? No, you can't have too many - parts one, two and three from Art Jewelry Elements.

A tutorial for adding some thread tassels to jewellery. This could be adapted even if you don't work with beads.

A beautiful cross-over between painting and jewellery.

How to make a slide bracelet.

Cold connections, for when you don't want to solder.

From eBay, a handy guide to gauges, and the ideal size for different jewellery projects.

A video on how to get your hand-made ear wires to be matching sizes.

~non-jewellery links~

Reading is good for you. I knew it.

Such amazing photographs from the winners of the Ecology Image Competition, but Waterlilies in Madagascar in my favourite.

Still amazed by the images sent back from Pluto in July, planet or not...

Drinking customs around the world; how to drink alcohol in Uzbekistan.

And look here for amazing images of tribes from all over the globe.

How many facial expressions do horses have? Do sheep really recognise each other?

How many everyday items are actually easier to use than we think?

Heard of Myers-Briggs but not sure what it is? It seems it applies to London tube lines...

I'm going to start adding a taste of what I'm reading, have been reading, and perhaps even hope to read very soon to my Jewelled Web posts. Links will, most likely, mainly be to Amazon, and may well be affiliate ones, but don't let you put that off; whether you click them or not, buy something or nothing, it won't cost you a thing. For more info, check my affiliate info here.

My Own Personal Book Club ~ this month I've been reading...

Oh Sugar by Katherine Bassford which is about how we just eat too much sugar that we don't need and it's actually bad for us. It's a little unnerving, but if you start viewing food as medicine, why would you take something that makes you ill...It's also wonderfully sane about trying to cut sugar down, and how everything bit you avoid really can help.

Queen Mab by Kate Danley, a retelling of the Romeo and Juliet story. It took me a couple of chapters to get into it, but the more I read the more I love it. Yes, chances are you know the tale but this is one of the kost refreshing versions of it I've read (still reading!)

The Complete Jewellery Maker edited by Jinks McGrath - a more detailed review will follow soon, but this large and well-illustrated compendium is giving me lots of food for though - sugar-free of course...

Have a good start to September!

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

An Endlessly Charming Bracelet...

When I started making jewellery, I stopped buying jewellery. It seemed the right thing to do, even if I was turning down something that I couldn't actually make myself. I mean, how much jewellery does one person need that they can afford to be fussy about what type it is? I made jewellery with silver so surely not indulging in a beaded bracelet (that I might learn how to make one day (and I have done so)) wouldn't be denying myself too much. Over time I've relaxed about this a little, letting myself enjoy jewellery that I haven't made, can't make, or probably won't ever learn how to make. This has helped my family at Christmastime no end... And while I have a soft spot for artisan made pieces, I am not beyond seeing the good points in a machine-cut ring from a high street shop, ever so occasionally...

So on receiving an email from Endless Jewelry asking me to review some of their jewellery, I hesitated at first. My blog is about  hand-crafted jewellery, mostly designed by individual makers, often in their spare room. Endless Jewelry is made by a large company, perhaps involving some expensive machinery, most probably not by the designer, and also had a promotional campaign fronted by Jennifer Lopez. Not so much in common really...

Endless Jewelry Bracelet in packaging

But a love of jewellery is a love of jewellery and  curiosity got the better of me, so I said 'yes'. I was told I would be sent a bracelet, and I was asked for the size and colour I would like it in. I chose 36cm (double-length that wraps twice around the wrist) and grey. Well, the grey looked like silver so what else could I choose really.

Parcelled up, all the way from Germany, came a nicely designed box finished with coloured elastic ribbons. Inside was a jewellery stand and the bracelet itself. The first thing I noticed was that the attention to detail in the packaging was carried through into the jewellery also. The bracelet consists of a piece of leather, sewed to make a tube, and finished at both ends with a magnetic clasp. Threaded onto the leather tube was a small silver charm, in the shape of a four-leaved clover. The leather bracelet itself is well made, carefully finished with no loose threads, and the clasp is strong and seems reliable. The Stirling silver four-leaf clover is small, sweet and charming and  while most likely made by casting is, again, nicely finished.

The only issue I found with the bracelet is that it's a little too snug fitting - despite having skinny wrists my feeling is that this size is either suitable for models or children. One of the downsides of ordering online, affecting any jewellery who sells in that space, is that people don't have an opportunity to try things on. Less of an issue with necklaces and earrings, but quite awkward with bracelets (as in this case) and rings especially.

Endless Jewelry Bracelet in packaging

Sizing issues aside the bracelet is very wearable, casual enough for any time, and dressy enough for an evening out. The selling point of this jewellery is a little along the Pandora charm idea, where you can add silver charms, or gemstone or enamel beads to your collection (and store them on your stand) to personalise your leather bracelet, and even make it different every time you wear it, should you wish (and have time!).  It's a nice touch that would allow people to buy charms for you in the way they can with Pandora charms, and also with the charms you add to a simple chain bracelet.

I can imagine this bracelet being very popular, especially around Christmas and Valentine's Day. It's simple but has style and its flexibility of design means it can literally suit anyone. The quality and detail of the jewellery, the packaging and the idea behind it all are all sound. Yes, it's not hand-made but should you wish to indulge in something a little more 'off-the-peg', but with the opportunity for an individual streak, then I can recommend this style of bracelet and charms. All I would say is, especially if you're buying for someone else, be careful with the sizes.


Please note, the jewellery in this post has been provided to me for free from Endless Jewelry in return for a review. My views are always my own and my reviews are always honest.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Jewelled Web - July 2015 - Link Love

Summer is here...and it really has arrived for the end of June and the start of July. The sky may be overcast at times, a decent breeze may be pushing my hair around but still, all the same, the heat is nearly overwhelming. It's tiring and heavy but also so wonderful to be really warm in the UK.

Despite the warmth I've been hurtling around the net and here are a few things I've read and liked this past month, and a few I've bookmarked to keep me busy should the sun fail this coming month.

~jewellery links~

Ever fancied learning how to crochet a bracelet? I've seen silver crocheted to beautiful effect so this is something I'd like to try myself.

Interviews with jewellers Charlotte De Syllas, by the V&A... and Milena Kovanovic.

I adore these little hand-crafted horse beads!

Also on an animal theme, I think these personalised dog charms are very sweet - I'm hoping to invest in some letter stamps myself soon...

Another tutorial, this time for making a neckwire for pendants.

Resin jewellery is something else I've been meaning to try making for a while now, so I've bookmarked this tutorial to come back to.

~non-jewellery links~

Going away by plane this summer? Then these packing posts may be worth a read. This one is about taking carry-on bags only, and this one is about just making everything really tiny.

Staying at home and working out a marketing strategy? I'll be reading part two as well, even if I never do anything suggested...

And I'll also read this about blog design...

I wouldn't mind living here, but ideally it would be here...

The days are long but the decades are short - worth reading, whatever your age.

Hope your July is good, even if the fall of rain outweighs the shining of the sun.