Monday, 29 July 2013

The Jewelled Web - July 2013

seaside in summer the sea
It's been a little while since I've done a monthy round up of my web travels but here's another set of links, mainly jewellery and craft/selling based but with a few others thrown in, for you to peruse if you fancy...(and if you'd like to look through the others then check out this page on my blog devoted to them)

Why it's important to start thinking about Christmas in July... you know it makes sense - words of wisdom via Create and Thrive.

Need to be reminded, in a very attractive way, of what success looks like? The consider the merits of printing this out and hanging it up in your workspace.

I'm still a little nervous of the copper I've found myself with, both wire and sheet, and especially the clay. But I'm hoping starting with something relatively simple like this tutorial on creating colour in copper by using heat will help increase my confidence and get me using it, all of it, that much more.

The perfect wire gauge for hoop earrings by Cinnamon Jewellery.

Promoting an online shop is a combination of hard work and persistence, with a more than a little downright confusion thrown in. This is a great, detailed post about how to go about 'selling' your shop. Well worth a read.

Fascinating post about alternatives to pickle - I've never been a fan of the sulphuric acid based pickle, and certainly not for use at home, so am always on the look out for other substances to use. This post recommends...salt and vinegar... you make the decision about adding chips though!

Dreaming and rebranding, a great article with some excellent insights.

I think I'll take part in the August Break this year - can't see me posting photos everyday but it's pretty relaxed about such things and you can join up any time you like. A great way to find new blogs, and see some wonderful images.

And a bumper list of photography tutorials - reading through all these hints, and then trying them out, must make anyone a better photographer!

Do feel free to leave links in the comments to favourite posts, either one you've written or a gem you may have found. Hope your July was good, both on and off the web.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Jewellery benches, squeaky chairs, and how to sit

Jeweller's bench
Photo from Kotomi on Flickr

The perfect mental image of summer seems full of endless time, to be filled on light-filled evenings with jewellery making, blogging, finding new ideas and inspiration... the reality is a little different.

My lack of productivity on the jewellery making front, and the knock-on effect that has had on my inclination to blog about it (harder to do when you're not making much!) is, to a large part, down to the previously mentioned dodgy shoulder. Late last year a slight niggle turned into an awful couple of days of discomfort which has now settled down into a generalised state of unease. My lower back is a bit dodgy too. This isn't a great combinations.

It has brought into sharp focus for me the importance of having the right type of seating and table to work at. Yes, I know it's boring, and health-and-safety-ish, but when the lack of the right chair makes making hard, then you know that, sometimes, health-and-safety might just have a point. Sometimes...

For quite a while now (oh, okay, since forever), my jewellery making place has been an ergonomic nightmare. My work table is, well, a table, an old gateleg table my sister gave me when she last moved. Before that, my work table was another old table, a kitchen one with extendable sides. Neither of these look anything like an ideal silversmithing workbench. My chair is even worse, a hard plastic not-very-height-adjustable swivel chair, with awkward arms and an awful squeak when it moves. I put a cushion or blanket on it to make it more comfortable but it only does so much.

This really isn't sounding good, is it.

Even before my shoulder and back both decided they didn't like me anymore, I did not find either chair or table comfortable to work with. I just put up with them because they were what I had and, for now, that's what I'm still doing. This means making jewellery is slow, necessitating many more rests and breaks and back stretches and less full-on immersion in what I'm doing. I suspect that even with a bells and whistles workbench and a wonderfully designed chair, I'd still need the breaks. If it takes a long time to make a back and shoulder wonky then it takes a long time for them to heal.

I do know how I should be sitting, however, and where I should be sitting. It should be at a tall table or on a low stool - ideally, when working with your hands, those hands should be up close to your face so you can see what you're doing without having to bend, and not down closer to your lap, where your neck and shoulders will have to curl so your head can get close to your work. It's kind of logical and yet it's also easy to miss and/or ignore.

On my long list of silver smithing hopes and dreams is a workbench - you can buy a jeweller's bench, even a space saving one, but it's equally possible to make one (and try this one too, although you have to subscribe (for free) to access it) or to adapt one from a table - either of these latter ways means you can custom design the bench to fit you, so it's the right height and has space for all your tools.

As for me, without a nifty custom-made workbench creating is a slower process than I'd like at the moment but, thankfully, I've felt some inspiration returning to my addled jewellery mind, and by spending small pockets of time (literally a few minutes) at the workbench I've been able to make a couple of birthday gifts (a impending birthday is often a great destroyer of creative blocks of any kind, I've found!).

bracelet with gemstones and ribbon
Look, no silver...

PS. If you want to see a few more examples of workbenches, then check out the Ganoskin Bench Exchange on the subject -  59 pages of bench photos and endless inspiration!

Love this very simple, but wonderfully effective, description of how to DIY a jeweller's bench!

Not sure how practical this is for full-on smithing but if you're short of space, and have someone to store your larger tools, then this article and this tutorial look fascinating...

Also, take a look at this Pinterest page - it's not all jewellery benches, or even benchs, but is still worth browsing through.

Do share your own working space - does it work for you, or is it just tolerable? We can but dream of perfect crafting areas... 

Monday, 22 July 2013

Where I am...

It's been a quiet month for me, on the web at least. I've battled flu and am still battling general wonkiness of the back and neck. None of this in conducive to sitting down, bashing silver, and creating jewellery wonders. And it hasn't inclined me to spend much time on the net either, which doesn't help when that's where my jewellery, once made, lives. My Folksy shop has been a little quiet, although I am in the gentle process of remedying that...

But, thankfully, the sun has come out at last - it may make it even harder to do things in my studio (it's too hot, who wants to be stuck inside if you've got an opportunity to be outside, etc), but it feels such a relief after the wet non-summer of last year and the long, chilled winter the UK endured this last turn of the seasons. I love the warmth, how it seeps into your skin and bones, and makes you feel more alive. I hope, soon, I can try and translate some of that into my jewellery.

I've given myself a little summer treat (by way of Tesco Clubcard vouchers) and have signed myself up to a year's subscription of Making Jewellery magazine. I adore magazines (of many a subject) but have found the prices increasingly prohibitive, so this is a real indulgence for me - no many sneaky reads of this particular mag from the racks in the supermarket! For the other mags I'd love to peruse, well, for now it still won't be at my leisure, at home with a tall glass of lemonade... but hopefully a quick flick through can still reveal ideas and inspiration...

And because it's summer, and I love gardens, and gardening, and the blooms are just beautiful, I won't inflict a photo of the rubbish heap that is my work-table on you, but will instead share some wonderful flowers. I hope your summer is sunny and just the way you like it.