Friday, 19 May 2017

Seaside Inspiration for Jewellery Designs - May 2017


Earlier last month the sun was shining in its hazy early-spring way and I went down to the sea. The water was calm and gentle, the beach mostly empty except for a few fishermen. We sat on some rocks exposed by the low tide, and I took some photos of the colours and shapes we saw.

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The curl of the beach, where the sea was slowly moving the shingle, was a nice reminder of the curves I like to put in silver wire. The rhythm of the water moving along the shoreline was hypnotic and quite beautiful.


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The rocks we sat on to bask in the sunshine were, on closer examination, half covered with tiny limpets, waiting for the sea to return. The texture, and strength, of these tiny creatures was easily felt under my careful fingers. I'm pretty sure I didn't squash any although I only discovered them after we sat down...


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Simple shapes in jewellery often work the best, as in nature. The cone-shape of the limpets is both strong and elegant. The colours of the shells blended in with the rocks and seemed almost a part of them until we looked closer.

Simplicity equals strength seemed to be the design message from the seaside. Gentle curves and natural movements. Jewellery, like nature, doesn't need to shout to be noticed.

Do you find inspiration in simple shapes or do more complex ones challenge you? Do leave a comment if you like, I'd love to hear what you think.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Garnet Gems and Hammered Silver Circles Earrings


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I do enjoy making jewellery gifts for people I know. Matching colours and styles and preferences to the individual are some of the best joys of hand-crafting and when the choices you make as a designer work out well then that's a fantastic feeling.

These earrings were made for someone who only wears drop styles and whilst I looked at a few different colours of gemstone, I came back again and again to garnet. These small faceted ones are a deep but bright red and very rich in tone. When I saw them being worn I knew I'd made the right decision. The garnets were set with Wraptite settings, like I used on this necklace recently also.

The hammered circles were from a patch of time a while back when I made a lot of shapes and played around with textures and finishes on them. They looked just right in these earrings and the tiny silver beads, set on wire, finished things off nicely. The recipient seemed genuinely pleased with these - she's worn them nearly constantly since receiving them - so I feel content in feeling content...


Friday, 5 May 2017

Book Review - Stringing and Linking Jewelry Workshop by Sian Hamilton

Stringing and Linking Jewelry Workshop
by Sian Hamilton
Published by GMC Publications 2015
144 pages

book-review-jewellery-stringing-linking-jewelry-workshop-sian-hamilton-silvermossA lot of my older jewellery books are the work of one jeweller in particular, with the vast majority (if not all) the projects included designed by the author, and perhaps a few other jewellers being referenced in a 'Gallery' for extra inspiration. However I've notice a trend in some more recently published books to opt for a wider base of jewellers and their designs, as if the book were a kind of modern jewellery or craft magazine.

It's perhaps no surprise, then, to find that the Stringing and Linking Jewelry Workshop has been put together by the editor of Making Jewellery magazine, and that she has included several different jewellers, including herself, across the 30 projects that the book features. (A little disappointingly the book doesn't included a mini-biography of each of the jewellers, as I always find sections like that informative and fascinating.)

First Impressions

The book I'm reviewing is a large paperback edition, not dissimilar in look from a magazine. The front cover has a white background with different items of jewellery featured on it. The jewellery is all beaded and quite colourful and gives a good indication of the type of pieces you'll find in the projects themselves.

At The Start

The contents pages have a very handy visual guide to the projects, with each one pictured and numbered so anything that catches your eye can be found quickly by referencing the number against the written list and the corresponding page numbers. It's very handy to re-find a project using this, rather than flick through pages until you find what you're after on the last one you look at...

Next comes an introduction with a recommendation or two on how to adapt
designs and on how best to approach the book, which is perhaps more suited to beginners than more advanced beaders.

Two pages on tools and equipment follow, mainly devoted to different types of pliers and cutters and beading tools and sundries. This is followed by four pages about materials, ranging from different types of beads, stringing materials, and findings. All these pages are illustrated with good, clear photographs as are the next six pages covering techniques.


In the Middle

The projects cover the main part of the book and each has four pages devoted to it. The first page has a photo of the finished item and the second has a list of components needed and photos of ideas for adapting the project to make other pieces using similar materials. Instructions for all the pieces of jewellery shown are over the next two pages.

Most of the projects include three matching pieces, normally necklace, earrings and bracelet, and it's a nice touch that allows flexibility in how the reader can use the book. It's also useful in showing the beginner how easy it can be to adapt a design and make something different on a similar theme.


At the End

After the last of the projects the book concludes with a mainly UK-based page of suppliers and an index.


In Summary

As a silversmith primarily I found the book a little limiting in terms of projects.  But I always find some inspiration in every book on making jewellery, whether it's a way of combining materials that I've not thought of before, or a nudge in the direction of using more beads and more colour in my work.

If you're looking to begin beading then this book could be a good place to start. And if you've read the magazine Making Jewellery then that will give you an idea of the kinds of projects included and how they are laid out, and how well the instructions and photographs are done. If you're a more advanced beader then this book will probably work more as a source of inspiration and new ideas.


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If you fancy another jewellery book about beads then check my review out of Learn to Make Bead Jewellery.

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