Chasing and repousse´bowl, new German red pitch used for completing sterling silver ‘Lawrence cuff’

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See text for explanation of hot air/paint stripper gun.

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Because of the hight required for the ‘runes’, also the definition/separation from the background I wanted to achieve; you can clearly see the material ‘gathered’ from the surrounding ares of each stone to push more silver where thinning will inevitably occur.

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German red pitch, I now have experienced, is very much more supportive. To get this flatness with my normal green would have meant transferring from the pitch to a flat plate, using planishing punches to push back surrounding areas.

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To cover up the marks made whilst gathering material, starting to use different curved liners to give the impression of flowing water.

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Not shown, look at the slightly raised areas made by turning the piece over in the pitch to repousse´ small water eddie type effect.

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Close up of the water eddie effect I was shooting for

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After all the water flowing decoration was applied I planished each rune as best as possible with planishing punches. From the pictures of runes I have seen, many appear to be smooth and shining. Not my normal approach, I much prefer the planishing marks, however for the effect I was looking to create, polishing was next.

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After polishing came the application of the name Lawrence in the rune alphabet.

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All done 🙂

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From a previous post, remember the copper ‘sketch’?

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Another bonus with the German red pitch. Look at the impressions left after removing. It releases much easier, is a lot less messy and so much easier to clean up.

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Fingers crossed Lawrence likes it

Wato wato one and all.

The German red pitch is brilliant, I’m a convert. The green pine based pitch will still have a place in my workshop, I wont be throwing it out anytime soon, horses for courses as the saying goes. For rapid ‘puffing’ or the repousse´ stage, it still has a lot to offer, being as it is far softer than the red. At this time I feel confident in stating I will in all probability not use green pitch ever again for chasing. After using the red, it just isn’t supportive enough. When I made the copper model, yes I know its softer to start with, however I had to, after each course, return to a steel flat plate and return the surrounding areas to flat with mallets and punches. Not once did I have to using the red.

You will perhaps remember when I attempted to put in ‘Lawrence’ into the copper runes, they pretty much all collapsed. I feel very confident that would not have been the case if I had used the red, rather than the green pitch. Yes, the silver is stronger, remember though the amount of raising required to get the hight will have thinned the silver quite a bit, so perhaps not as strong as we may be lead to assume.

In conclusion, green for rapid and less precise repousse´ stages. Red for chasing and more refined lines, less planishing and more support. I hope this is helpful to some of you who, like me, wanted to know the difference. I still haven’t found anywhere on the web where comparisons are made, probably not looking hard enough, please let me know if you find such a site.

A very nice lady, check out her blog  http://patriciacarlson.wordpress.com/  told me of a workshop she attended with a master craftsman, David Bigazzi:-  http://www.dbcollection.net/

She very kindly passed on a tip she picked up whilst there. I show, in the first picture, a heat gun that I have always used for softening my pitch. I find the thought of playing a flame over it and all the associated soot, not good. My Dad is a heating engineer and he has a supper dooper programmable digital heat gun used to check out thermostats. I couldn’t afford one of those, but I got the idea this one. Its great for the job and has a variable heat setting that I find very controllable. Patricia also says DB uses such a gun for annealing!! How cool is that. I must confess I haven’t tried it yet, I will though. Could it be a better way, less risk of overheating and firestain. I will let you know, Thank you again Partricia.

Thank you all again for looking at this blog. Remember if you wish to see something, don’t hesitate to let me know, I love a challenge. I hope to show you next time some ring projects I have in the pipeline. A lady likes my moon series, but wants a ring made. I have done a copper model (no really 🙂 this will be a hollow design needing stakes that I made out of old bolts to create, I’ll show you how. Reen had been asking for me to do a moonstone ring, aaarrrrhhh stones, colour, get behind me Satan. I pays to get out of your comfort zone once in a whilr – right ;\

Until next time all my very best wishes.

Stu Art 🙂

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Chasing and repousse´bowl to take new German red pitch for sterling silver ‘Lawrence cuff’

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Wato wato all

How the jolly well are you, I trust all is tickety boo with you and yours. If not, look on the bright side; this time next year you wont remember least alone care eh :/

It has been a while since I have tried to make something, back to regular work now, night shifts are such a bore. My own fault, should be better at this by now. The good news is that I now have some cash coming in to purchase things like the German red pitch you see here. Not a huge amount, I got it from Amazon U/K as postage from abroad to import it was shocking. I also wanted to see if it was any good before committing to buying larger quantities.

The cost of a new pitch bowl, combined with the postal charges – they are heavy cast iron after all – was, again prohibitive. The solution was to turn to my trusty supply of copper hot water tanks, sink a spherical bowl and use that. At approx 0.6mm thick, the copper was way too light on its own. Also the amount of pitch I ordered would not fill the 10cm bowl I made to accommodate it. A solution to kill two birds, as it were, was to 3\4 fill the bowl with some scrap lead I had given to me. The pictures show the block in mole grips, held over the bowl. Using a propane torch I dripped the molten lead into the bowl.

The bowl is now heavy enough to prevent it skidding about as I use it. I know the lead is not a great idea, health and safety and all that, so I decided to contain it with a disc of copper. To secure the disc I chose to use body filler as it will not get hot enough in use to cause an issue. The low melting point of the lead makes it, to my mind anyway, impossible to solder, so this was a solution. The beauty of the body filler is that it will fill the gaps, making a permanent barrier against the contamination of the pitch with lead.

As you see, Lawrence does want a silver version of the copper cuff of a previous post. I have ‘puffed out’ the ‘runes’ as far as I can on the plaster scene at this time. Next job is to fill the new bowl with the German red pitch and see how it goes.

Thank you again for joining me on the never ending journey. Until next time, don’t let the bounders grind you down.

All my very best wishes

Stu Art 🙂

 

copper leaf brooches

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Sunk copper brooch

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Single wire bent to make two pins that spring against a ‘moustache’ looking retainer

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First one with rounded pin showing planished underside

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Here we go with number two. Into the pitch to chase outlines

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A view of underside of leaf before shaping and soldering the back on.

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Sinking hammer, also punches used on sandbag to create curve.

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I raised this one to make a flatter base. I’m bound to say, far too much trouble for this project.

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Shape O/K, now to add hinge, bearer and retainer before final planish.

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PLEASE SEE TEXT DO NOT SOLDER HALVES TOGETHER WITHOUT ‘BREATHING” HOLES SHOWN HERE.

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As you see, this is what you will see when the two halves come together, nothing, no trace of the holes, good oh eh 🙂

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I hope you can make out the zig zag of the wire to give the pin spring. Let me know if not.

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Mark two with the thicker veins.

Wato wato, a very happy and productive new year to you all.

Well I feel sure I’m not alone in carrying a little- well O/K a lot more weight after the festive season, when will we ever learn eh 😉

As promised, the copper brooches, made from my trusty supply of copper hot water tank. Not too much longer, I hope, before I’m back in work, the administration train runs sooo slooowww, then I will purchase more silver.

Being boracic lint, (cockney rhyming slang for skint, no money). I thought I was to receive some money before Christmas, alas it didn’t materialise, I was forced to improvise for cost effective prezzies. My poor long suffering mum was the recipient of one of these for Christmas.

I have explained alongside the pictures as best as I can the dry construction notes, I do feel bound to point out the one showing the small holes I drilled in the tube that acted to release pressure when soldering the two halves together. If you look at some closed forms you will see a little hole, this is for safety, the piece can explode whilst soldering if no allowance is given for the gasses to escape. Now the little boy in me would love to see this in action, however I have kept down this mischievous side of me and made my holes invisible. I really dislike seeing the hole that is drilled in pieces I have seen, so I opted to cut the slot deep enough to go through the underside/skin to allow me to drill two holes in the soldered bearer tube, this becomes invisible once the brooch is constructed and the pin added.

I chose to make the leaf in two halves for three reasons; The copper is quite thin, approximately 0.6mm, just under in fact, this makes any construction very weak. By soldering two halves together the strength increases. Also it adds weight, both visually and actually, making the piece more tactile. It also gave me the opportunity to use three different finishes, chased design for the veins, burnished edge to attract reflective light, helping to accentuate the curve in all directions, and finally a contrasting planished back.

The pin was made from florists stainless steel wire 1.0mm thick. If you notice the first one I put a curve to follow the back, the second I bent a zig zag to act as a spring, enabling me to keep the pins straight, either will do, I could not express a favourite.

Of the two, I think I prefer the first one. The veins were chased with a narrower liner, I attempted to make bigger veins with the second, perhaps too thick?

I like to flame patinate copper and seal it with a clear coat of acrylic. I should have been braver and gone for some more purples and reds, oh well, another time perhaps.

I hope these will give you some ideas of your own, please do let me know, I would be thrilled to hear from you.

Until next time, all my very best wishes.

Stu Art

Silversmithing one off pieces, how do we make our work sellable when pitched against mass market goods?

 

Wato wato happy new year.

I have been compelled to re print a section from my final dissertation regarding some of the challenges of selling completed work. The following is a bit of a heavy read, I do hope you take the time to plough through it, let me know if it chimes with you. Better still, have you anything to say, add or repudiate? It would be fantastic to hear from you.

It is my hope that we can start a discussion to help to square the circle that is getting a craftspersons work ‘out there’ as it were.

Challenging perceptions of value Some considerations and experiences for selling

At this time of plenty, people in this country have abundant choice, vast quantities of consumable goods in many and varied marketplaces both real and virtual exist. The relative low cost of buying very complicated, beautiful machines and objects presents challenges for the aspiring small scale producer. The public perception of higher cost, time consuming, low volume, or one off pieces gives incentives to obtain greater understandings. These will help to better understand potential mind sets, working towards formulating more effective sales approaches. The following quote gives an insight into what is a commercial reality for many well connected businesses. A new maker will not enjoy the same economies of scale, nor can they afford to be so dismissive of their customers, dealing as they will, to start at the very least, on a face to face standing.

http://www.newstalk.ie/2012/programmes/all-programmes/down-to-business/on-

this-weeks-show-33/ (2) Gerald Ratner, businessperson famous for his quotes about Ratner Jewellery “People say, ‘How can you sell this for such a low price?’ I say, because it’s total crap.”

This famous quote makes it fair to suppose that the great majority of the buying public are not very aware, nor particularly concerned as to the Providence, or quality of the jewellery they buy from his shops. As Mr Ratner was,and still is, with his new company, a very successful jewellery retailer. Without going into the whys and wherefores of Mr Ratners fall and rise, it is presented here as illustrative of a point regarding cost and value.

Reference was given previously to a blog written for the on line retailer

http://www.tworedtrees. In this blog one question was asked; Who would you most like to wear your jewellery? The following was the authors response;

A thoughtful person who considers my work and appreciates the time taken to make it. I was drawn to make jewellery for individuals, I have no desire to make jewellery for everyone. I feel that many people just wear some items because they were gifts or they were bargains, the wearer having little or no connection to the piece. A little like the feeling of having to have, say a diamond solitaire, because ‘thats what you do’, the wearer having no idea, interest or appreciation of the design, workmanship and trouble taken to realise it, seeing it only as a generic object to be ticked off of a wish list rather than an individuals potential masterpiece that they are the custodian of.

I want people to really desire one of my pieces and cherish it, continually exploring the service both visually and physically, someone who stands out from the crowd and ploughs their own path seeing the hidden beauty that is all around for everyone to see if they take the time to look. Someone who knows the

difference between cost and value as they will need to if they desire to own one of my larger pieces.

This would not be on Mr. Rattners mind, merely maximizing of profits, much else being of little consideration. To many a re seller with no connection, or intreats in obtaining a connection to the things sold in their outlets, economies of scale make this a commercially sound practice.

A maker, living in a very different reality, will have a huge amount of themselves invested in the work they produce. It may become very easy to loose confidence when faced with selling work in a marketplace that is predominately highly cost conscious.

This nation has been evolved from much suffering, enduring great hardship and exploitation to get to this moment. As the workshop of the world, the hub of the industrial revolution, we have progressed to the relatively privileged positions most here enjoy. We are all enjoying the fruits of our ancestors toil, the sacrifices they made, the continuing struggle with the owners of capital for the realisation of a life for living, rather than a working life for little living. All have benefited from the security of a childhood free from exploitation from unscrupulous business interests and all benefited by state provided schools and healthcare systems.

If a company were to set up in this country and employ children and people the way they are recruited in developing countries, as conditions were once here. Justifiable public outrage would result, these business owners would be likely be jailed, held up as an example to all of unacceptable, greedy and unscrupulous persons. These are the realities many people are not aware of, like the air breathed, cheap goods just happen. Would buying attitudes change if consumers were more aware?

As a nation we blindly buy ʻcrapʼ like Mr Ratner provided, safe in our ignorance of the sacrifices made by unseen people who have to suffer so we can have cheap goods. This is justified by the business community in the name of giving them the opportunity to grow as we did. How many of us would watch blindly as a person suffered a debilitating fall that we may have made, smug in the knowledge that they have to learn and experience it for themselves rather than speak up and guide them around the avoidable obstacle.

By thoughtful It was meant to imply a person who is aware and cares about their fellow citizen, having an awareness of the truth behind many businesses. Many consumers may not care, value always being associated with cost in their paradigm, possibly nothing could, or would change that. Others may take a different, more considered stance if presented with the realities highlighted previously. Many people may not be aware, some perhaps may change their perception as this perspective is better understood. A maker may find it productive, appealing to potential customers, perhaps, higher reasoning. The points raised are to give food for thought, this is to enable a reasoned debate with people, less a defense of ʻhigherʼ prices having to be realised to thrive rather than merely survive.

Goods perhaps have become a right if you will. Little thought as to need, rather want driven by avarice or entitlement rather than a true desire or appreciation of an item. The mass production of things that were once the domain of the craftsperson has distorted the equation of cost verses value. As a maker it is very important to make your offerings something other than a thoughtless product. Far more rewarding to elevate your work, making it special, helping to add value, perhaps even exclusivity to your brand. Be mindful that no one can produce high volume repousse work, that is special, customers may have to be better informed of this for enable improved sales success.

From the authors firsthand experience of selling a high ticket price piece to a woman accompanied by her husband, a new understanding that some peoples perception of value is altered when a fuller understanding was appreciated when discovered. The woman in question, at first, dismissed the bracelet saying she would buy the item if it were half the ticket price. After the woman and her husband came to understand the design process, experimentation, prototype model leading to the finished article, they were both genuinely astonished. So much so that they bought the item for the full asking price, both shaking their heads, saying that they would not put in so much effort for so little financial reward. The spouse congratulated the maker and now called it a piece of art, quite a turn around, the piece was the same, only the perception in the buyers mind had changed. It is mentioned in the context of a challenge highlighting this issue, one a maker is often presented with when handmade U/K work is compared with mass produced overseas offerings. In this instance the

ʻexpensiveʼ item the people were viewing was completely turned around after a full understanding of the process was realised.

Just as the point make about the diamond solitaire being little more than a tick box item for many people, perhaps an equal but opposite way of looking at the perception of value could be that a relatively low cost diamond can be viewed as highly desirable as it ʻlooksʼ expensive. Is this what many consumers may want, to look expensive whilst spending as little as is possible? In many instances it would appear so. It would be perhaps be less realistic attempting to appeal to sell such a person a piece such as this, it would not necessary look as though it required as much of an investment when casually looked at.

The ʻexpensiveʼ item was now viewed as cheap as the people framed the cost against the time taken to create it in their own point of reference. As working people in this country they, as we all do, face financial challenges that mean, metaphorically speaking, people in this country canʼt live on a bowl of rice a day, or less than a dollar as others have to enabling them basic survival in less fortunate countries.

Thankfully they connected, realised that the piece was unique, special and a one off that may be re made, but will still be unique as no two will be the same. This presented them with another reason for desiring this piece.

I could be suggested that, due to their being able to discuss the process with the maker, they will always view this item as special and it will likely be something to be cherished for years to come, one of the authors goals.

On a slight tangent, mentioned here in the context of giving hope to the new maker, wishing for a better informed, more understanding consumer. At this time an awakening in the conciseness of a great swathe of the public is taking place. The realisation, for example, that prices paid to farmers verses the profits made by supermarkets is unacceptable. Large faceless corporations are increasingly sourcing our produce from abroad where welfare for animals is largely ignored for the sake of higher profitability, this is being made more aware to the public. Large companies and super farms have been pushing out the smaller farmers by unfair subsides or tactical business strategies. Many have been farming for generations leading to less home grown choice in the high street due to cost being the overriding factor in production rather than the multifaceted value that diversity the smaller concerns present. Many consumers are starting to voice concerns, some no longer blindly buying food without first looking for assurances. Businesses are starting to cater, increasingly for a growing minority of more conscientious, discerning people.

As a maker, it is hoped to hitch a ride on this new awareness. As was written previously no plans exist to make jewellery for everyone. A hope is fostered that a way can be found to better communicate value against the overwhelming weight of hidden cost low price products carry.

These costs, when made apparent to some people, may make a difference to how homegrown handmade work is perceived, perhaps leading to more appreciative customers who now, hopefully make positive connections towards work offered.

Watching the internet grow from its start, seeing how it has transformed peoples attitudes to shopping some observations are worth being mindful of if the maker wishes to peruse this avenue. Engaging with, or overhearing conversations with consumers, when talking of an internet purchase they inevitably insert a phrase something like; and it was cheeper. This is a challenge for unbranded higher ticket items on two fronts. First the choice that this presents to the potential purchaser of products is truly mind numbing. It is very hard to make a piece stand out when many sites have price filters and people will inevitably compare a higher price ʻpictureʼ with a cheap one. This leaves the maker at a distinct disadvantage, a person, ideally, has to wear the item, the full effect being hard to imagine from an image on screen. If a makers reputation is good then this will not present as much of a challenge, providing the potential purchaser is familiar with the makers wares. An extreme example could be perhaps a Rolex watch, the same bought on the internet form Penzance or Paris. Not being in this instantly

recognisable category puts the new maker at a disadvantage that leads onto the challenge of finding the person who will invest in an unknown makers offerings in this environment.

An advantage of the internet not to be overlooked is the ability to use it as a means to show, or promote work. This can be useful as a kind of on line catalogue of the artists achievements, giving pictorial examples of the kind of work produced. Working towards perhaps engaging a persons interest enough for them to contact the maker to purchase or make enquiries for a personal commission.

Social media is also an effective means of promoting work, unpredictable it can also aid creativity by the visiting of others sites and gaining new perspectives. Other people can engage with the maker, perhaps not buying work, but leading the maker to discover many more things than would unlikely on a solitary journey looking to find information. Used as a new type of business card it is also great to be able to send your on line address to perspective outlets or clients, letting them browse at their leisure. The creation of a website is now becoming ever easier, cost effective and normal to expect from outlets that the newcomer may approach to represent them by displaying work produced.

Good representation is perhaps the most productive and the main approach that is invaluable to the new maker of low volume work looking to establish themselves in this diverse marketplace. One of the places to seek this is a gallery of some description. Consumers who visit such establishments are already

primed to expect prices that reflect the exclusivity of bespoke or low volume produced work. Upon entering a gallery many are more accepting of higher asking prices for often unique works. This being perhaps a reason for them to visit to be able to find one off special pieces, rather than a cheeper items available most anywhere from a branded high street retailer. Careful selection of the gallery is important as the makers work must be able to be seen in a like context with competing makers. Not much good selecting a gallery that are specialists in unrelated disciplines, or very much lower price point work that may make yours look expensive by association.

Going back briefly to the woman mentioned previously who bought a costly bracelet after speaking to the author. That piece was in a shop that predominately sells low priced items. This set the context for the person before they started as the pieces leading up to this piece were many times cheeper. One can only imagine the shock when the price is realised after browsing the items next to it. Perhaps this set the mindset that led to the comment by her ʻhalf price.ʼ

This would have been, in the shop owners opinion, most unlikely to have been the result had the maker not been there. The customer, perhaps, would not have been able to re think their first opinion that it was one hundred percent too expensive. In the context of that shop, perhaps she was right, It was very fortunate for the author to be able to connect with their values face to face on that day. This is presented to illustrate that even surrounded by less expensive work,

some people will understand and still buy. However it would not be wise to rely upon these chance occurrences for future success in selling work. Actively seeking out outlets that will support and promote you as a maker is invaluable. With this in mind Galleries were looked at to discover what they had to offer.

It pays to be very mindful of the effect that a strong personality can have upon the buying decisions of a potential purchaser. It is a fine line between informing and bulling that is a real skill few posses. Watching with fascination as a woman at a gallery selling various types of work engaged with potential purchasers. Her whole persona was professional yet warm, friendly and approachable. A middle aged woman of immaculate dress and a warm smile she was able to seamlessly guide conversation from the mundane polite chit chat towards finding out a little about people who entered the gallery. Asking questions that were never probing, although giving her an insight into the taste of the strangers before her. Her ability to engage eye contact and gently lead people to specific works was inspiring. The way she talked about the artists she represented was warm and very informed leaving the person in no doubt that this person could answer any question they may have about an individual artist, or would be untroubled to find out if she did not. The reason this is mention here is the obvious effect this has upon potential customers. A person representing a particular artists work of this caliber and dedication is priceless, they attempt to convey their enthusiasm for that persons work every bit as well as the creators of the pieces themselves.

 

 

I hope you managed to stay awake to read this, as always please do share your thoughts.

Very best wishes.

Stu Art 🙂

Sterling silver forged wire bangles

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Wato wato, my last post of 2013.

As you know I am a huge fan of chasing and repousse´, given the opportunity, would do little else. The cold fact is, in no small part due to the time it takes to complete a piece, I am struggling to…. No lets tell it as it is, I can’t sell anything at this time. I feel sure I have put the cart before the horse, so to speak, concentrating on this type of work without a reputation and grounding that comes about by making and selling more mainstream and faster to create work.

My earliest introduction to metalwork was whilst I was still at school, my less than possitive experience made me not a huge fan of this institution. I found the majority of my educators not warming to a child who sought validation and further explanation rather than accepting what is told. I was not inclined to get on with what was set without question, many teachers were seemingly not comfortable outside of their scripts. This clash of ideals inevitably leading to me to be farmed out to the more practical parts of the schools I attended. I had a great careers officer in my last who knew of a farrier and gave me the chance to do work experience. Revelation, freed from people who talk, to experiencing first hand craftsmen who do. It was a huge thrill for me and, fair to say has been the biggest influence upon my attitude to work that I can think of. It has, albeit indirectly, led me to the point I find myself now. Namely the wish to be a craftsperson, rather than a desk jockey.

I loved making horse shoes, forming shapes and objects like toasting forks from old worn out shoes. Now that I have a better understanding of what is likely to sell, I have decided to resurrect the joy of forging to make it far more prominent in my repertoire for the coming year.

Living by the sea and understanding customers wish to relate to work, I have come up with the wave bangle. Bit of a challenge to photograph, I will, providing I can sell enough to warrant it, return to Paul Mountsy photography who will be better able to highlight the effect, hopefully in the near future.

I continued forging all the way over and created the faceted one also, this was the result of a successful experiment whilst shaping stakes to make the wave.

Coming soon I will post pictures of two copper leaf brooches, along with abridged construction photographs. I am trying to gain a greater influence by nature and shapes formed as a result of movement. This movement, albeit fleeting, as in the patterns in flowing water, to the more solid and slower creations, say in the bark or grain of wood, to name but two. Man cannot live by his own vision alone, unless it is shared by others of course.  As mine isn’t, its time for me to look seriously at what others like, rather than just hope eh. Be careful what you wish for. At the start of my making journey I was very keen to connect with people on an individual level. I come to realise that however much people say they want something different, it still has to conform, be safe if you like, to associate with something more mainstream. Lesson learned. I said I didn’t want to make jewellery for everyone. What I didn’t expect, or want, was that so few associate with it that it became a curiosity, seen as something perhaps clever, well made even, though not desirable. I love to explore new possibilities, and will continue to do so. I thought of an example of how I feel this process has crept up on me, the following is a kind of analogy to better explain it as I see it.

Near where I live is a beautiful place called St. Agnes. On favourable days it attracts hang gliders and paragliders. When the sky is clear and the sea is welcoming people will notice from the road the sight of the colourful sails as they play on the natural thermals and updrafts from the sea. Curious onlookers will drive down to get a closer look, some even have picnics and make a day of it with the children. On summer days holidaymakers will swell the numbers, cameras scanning the skyline capturing the action. As I walk around the people gathered, all shapes and sizes, ages and creeds. The one thing that I notice is the common response that even will induce strangers to talk to one another, united in their assertions that, fantastic though it is, ‘there is no way you would get me up there on one of those things.’ Another topic of conversation that I have noticed strangers talk about, after where are you from, what do you do is, where did you go on holiday last. The result will often be far flung destinations that will involve flying.

Whats my point? Well, as I see it, people are generally not afraid of flying. Even if they are mildly so, they will control it, looking to the goal of the beautiful destination they have saved hard for all year to reach. How they fly is important, they don’t necessarily wish to enjoy the flying experience, just the getting there. Think – must have a diamond solitaire for example. It’s not the ring, but what it represents that appears to be important. The design is a classic, a must have to be ticked off of life’s check list. The piece is invariably judged by the size and sparkle of the stone, the setting being largely ignored.

This is a long winded way of saying I need to be in contact with more lovers of flying if you will, as opposed to destination seekers. My narrow focus on making at the expense of design has led me to a point where I am not able to find a sympathetic audience for my work. All is not lost, I hope the wire bangles will be the start of more mainstream work that will enable me to continue making, whilst searching for outlets that attract people who really do want something different.

I do find myself drawn more to vessels, so 2014 will see me exploring more possibilities for these, both chased and plain alongside, hopefully :\ a more commercially acceptable line of jewellery to help fund it

Until next time.

All my very best wishes for the coming new year.

Stu Art

Repousse´ and chased flame patinated copper sunk leaf bowl

Wato wato all,

Hope you’re all looking forward to the festive season.

I have mentioned before, Reen is the membership secretary for the Cornwall association of wood turners. I have relented to her request to join, but not for turning, one turner is enough for any household I think. I have had a go at carving quite some time ago and so I enrolled on the woodcarving beginners class to see how I would get on. As you are aware silver requires quite a hefty investment before you can start something larger, as a result I go back to my trusty copper.

I have struggled since leaving College to establish myself so I am soon to be back on the hamster wheel of regular employment, helping to fund my further attempts at making objects that people may wish to purchase. I think this also pushed me to try the carving, a welcome distraction from my failures, perhaps it would give me a different view, some inspiration as to a new, hopefully more commercial aesthetic that other people may better relate to.

The leaf you see here is a direct copy of the template given to us by Johnny, our tutor. It was great to be involved in another craft, meeting up with others with a passion for what they do, comparable to mine in my craft. For what its worth, I would recommend that this is an approach that may help others, as it has helped me, it is very easy to become insular, seeing things from a singular perspective. Great if you are bang on target with the market you wish to attract, pretty poor if, like me, you are so far short that a shot of outside inspiration can be like a refreshing cold shower.

Once a month the woodturning club has a social evening, inviting a guest speaker to present to the group. Reen put me forward to give a talk! What do you talk about to people who work in wood? How do I engage an audience that is wedded to colour and grain patterns? Make a leaf to compliment the carving thought I, so this is the result. The main body was first repousse´ then filled with pitch to chase before finally sinking the rest away from the veins. The copper lent itself to being more colourful and random, a little like grain or blotchy colours in wood. All good eh, well almost but not quite!

I am terrible at remembering dates and times, Reen told me the date, no worries thinks I. The Wednesday morning before the Friday talk Reen asks me how things are coming along. No worries I will have it completed by next Friday no problem, picture the scene, cheesy grin and self satisfied, smug expression. Now imaging the ensuing unraveling of this confident exterior as she informed me, this Friday you wally. Oh sh-1-2, why me :

I hope this goes some way to explain, though not excuse of course, the damage you see on the completed piece. I finished this leaf at approximately 3:30pm on the Friday of the talk, I had to be there to set up at 06:00pm.

The good news is that the nice bunch at the club enjoyed the talk and even offered excuses for my poor finishing, and ham fisted ness by saying it gave the piece character. Nice to have a sympathetic audience eh.

The pictures are not a complete time line, fair to say you will all have an idea of how this sort of project progresses along. As always, please do ask any questions if I have not been clear.

Reen is also a member of a quilting group, though I will not be attempting that anytime soon, the patterns and geometry employed have my very much more engaged. Who knows what I may come up with. Now I’m off to read this months edition of Magic Patch for quilters 😉

I hope you will be encouraged by my experience to give other crafts a look to see if you can become better inspired.

Happy Christmas to you all, just in case this is the last post this year, a very happy and creative 2014.

All my very best wishes.

Stu Art

Repousse chased copper model of a custom cuff bracelet from conception to completion in pictures

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The drawing given to me with the rune alphabet and the caption as wanted. My interpretations at the bottom with the copper blank ready for lining

 

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Without annealing, turn the lined piece over and use a rounded punch. Follow the outline, as made by the liner in previous stage, working towards the middle.

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Turned over, on the plaster scene from previous stage, you can see the ‘runes’ taking shape. The surrounding material needs to be straightened out now.

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You can see this was an allen key, most of my tools start as allen keys, great cheep tool steel. The face, as most all of my chasing and repousse tools are, is mirror polished to prevent scarring of the material whilst working. The background is gently pushed down, again use the largest planishing punch as you can to minimise the overlapping tool marks that can lead to an unwanted planished effect. You are just ‘placing’ the material back, not forming it, just be gentle as you will need to repeat this again later.

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First annealing stage, pickled ready for more working.

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Because the material was work hardened in the previous stage this would likely not have been successful before this annealing. This takes the last stage to its conclusion, making the ‘runes’ return to the same level as the surrounding material. This allows you to separate the elements better later and allows you to see how high you have come, more importantly how much further you need to go.

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The underside after outlining the individual runes from the front, notice the clean edged as they have been encouraged back to the steel plate.

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A more focussed push tool is used for the second puffing out round. Same again, start from the outline and work towards the middle of each separate element.

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Compair this with the previous annealing, I need to start to think about making the runes look like separate elements rather than the balloon like appearance they have now.

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I will repeat this later. You will no way get this amount of height this early on working in any type of silver. You need to think about that as you may end up becoming despondent not being able when you try. Ask how I know 🙂

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Ready for undercutting now to make the runes look separate from the surrounding sheet.

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This is the sort of angle to use to give some material for undercutting when the piece is the right way up.

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Two sizes of planishing punch, smallest one for the tighter gaps between the elements.

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Annealed and pickled, round three.

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Lined onto the metal plate again. Please be careful, too heavy hammering on this repeated process thins the material and a real risk of breaking through exists if you are a little exuberant at this stage. Guess how I found out : \

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Straighter sides ready for undercutting, helping to further shape the illusion of separate pieces.

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This type of tool with a rounded blunt profile is used at this kind of angle.

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The shiny parts show where the tool has contacted. A little imagination is needed to envisage how you wish the elements to look from the front. This will dictate the profile, as well as the angle you choose to employ

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Much more defined and starting to look more like separate elements. Its over to the pitch now as the final shaping requires more support than the plaster scene can provide.

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A Victoria Lansford tip here, cooking oil applied to the side you are adhering to the pitch will aid its removal when completed.

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Sorry to say, imagination will have to guide you better than my words here. Study the two tool profiles, the blunt one is driven into the side to undercut each element. The other tool I made up from previous attempts to ‘lift’ elements. I made this type of tool for ‘wear your heart on your sleeve’ cuff when I was having trouble making the veins stand proud of the surrounding material. I find it effective, good luck if you wish to try your own. Better still, do you have any profiles you may wish to share?

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Another view of the two tools. The ‘lift’ tool shows the ‘belly’ I shape into it. Picture the effect this has when struck. The belly forces the tool to follow the rocker profile, the scoop profile then shapes and tucks in the element as it is described around each one.

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Just like the plaster scene stage, this is for making crisper definition that the more supportive pitch allows.

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Playing with the runes theme, elements and the like, I thought water flowing around would give a greater visual impact. Back in the pitch, face down, this blunt rounded tool is used to create raised ripple like effects as seen from the front.

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Off the pitch, from the front on a steel plate.

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Chasing the flowing patterns, this is one of the curved liners I used, more in following pictures.

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All the ‘flowing’ chased detail applied, shown are all the liners I used to attain this pattern.

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A blunt tool was used to mark out the rune letters that were requested. This is an example of spoiling the effect trying to rush. If you do this, remember to fill each element with pitch BEFORE you attach the whole piece. As you see some of the runes are sunken. This is due to be omitting this stage and having to contend with air pockets that do not support, leading to a collapse, shown here.

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Cleaned up and fresh from the barrel polishing machine.

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For illustrating options I chose to present this model half patinated to allow the chap to express a choice. I use a cotton bud as I find the solution wrecks brushes. The fine steel wool is used to take the black off the higher elements.

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One half patinated, the rest shiny, decisions decisions.

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Close up of shiny, clearly showing the ‘reward’ for lack of patience, the rune squashed, what a twit eh.

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Patinated and high spots removed with the wire wool.

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In 0.6mm copper, not very durable, nonetheless a good example of what could be if the chap decides he wishes it made in silver. This is a great example of my approach to ‘sketching’. I could not draw this, no problem making it though, it is a communication tool that allows me to have a dialogue with a person as they finger the surface and are able to better communicate what they want through seeing a representative model first.

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I have added this image of a packet of Plasticine. If you go to an art shop and ask for the generic equivalent , you get much more for your money.
As a thought for the people who wish to dip their toe in the repousse and chasing water, without going to the expense of purchasing pitch and the associated equipment needed to use it, I have had a thought. If you push the plasticise firmly into the depression you wish to add detail to, perhaps experiment by putting it in the fridge of freezer, this will stiffen up the plasticine, obviously you will have to work out how much support this will give, making allowances and decisions when to return the piece to the cold as it warms.
The pitch is very much more supportive, better to use for limited amounts of puffing that traditional low relief chasing and repousse require. The higher relief style I like, I find the plasticine saves time by yielding more, giving me more bang for the annealing buck as it were. Also the pitch will give a pretty accurate indentation for the tool used. Imagine poking your finger up inside a stretched piece of fabric. Your finger will make an impression of a tent as the material around is also pushed up. Depending on the pitch mix/hardness this effect can be, to a greater or lesser degree, avoided, making for crisper definitions of elements. The plasticine will drag material from further around the initial tool impression making ‘hills’ if you like.
If anyone does experiment with cold plasticine, I would be very interested to hear how you get on.

Wato wato

I thought this example of a commission I have received will help to better understand the chasing and repousse methods I use. Better still I sincerely hope it will encourage you to have a go, please do ask me for any further clarification should you need it. I would also be thrilled to see anyone else’s work if they would care to share it.

Lawerence is a fantastic chap who is into shamanism, ooooookkkayyyy I hear you say. I know I know, perhaps a little eccentric, better that than the abundance of dullness I say. A thoroughly decent and nice chap to boot as well and someone who I am very glad to say I now call friend.

Lawrence saw Clairs bangle, you know the pebble one, look back or go to my Facebook page if you need reminding. He came up with the idea of having his name in runes, the drawing in the first photograph will give you the gist.

I will let the pictures do the talking, well they do have some explanations attached, as I say, please do ask if I have not been clear.

As for the silver final piece, well I will have to wait as I have you to show this to him for his opinion. Rest assured if he does decide I will post a picture when I have completed it. As I state in the pictures this model was made in very thin, ex copper water tank, 0.6mm. Sterling silver will be the material of choice for the ‘real’ one. It will take, if I’m lucky twice as many annealings as it took to realise the model working as I do in 0.9mm stirling silver sheet. Please bear this in mind if you jump right in with your own projects, it takes very much longer and is much harder to move than the copper shown here.

As many of you already know I’m no artist and find drawing skills frustratingly illusive at this time, though I am still working on it. To my mind this approach is not much more time consuming than a fine rendering in different aspects that a silversmith or jeweller may need to satisfy a client. As a bonus my ‘handicap’ means I am continually learning in my chosen medium by practicing in it most of the time through necessity. Thin gauge models work for me, go on try it, you may like it.

I hope you enjoyed the photographic journey to the end and it encourages you to have a go for yourself.

All my very best wishes.

Stu Art

Cornwall Crafts association – accepted good oh :)

Wato wato,

Fantastic news for me, I have been accepted by the Cornwall Crafts Association to have my work represented by them. The following is a link to ‘my’ page.

http://www.cornwallcrafts.co.uk/view-craftsmaker/221

Here in the U/K we have The National trust that looks after large parts of the countryside, including much of the coast path, and beautiful historic buildings and gardens. I have two of the silliest dogs in all of Christendom. Reen and I like to take them out to the beach or countryside to inflict them upon the innocent from time to time. Trelissick gardens, National Trust, is one such place overlooking the water with great walks and a garden to explore, is one such place we enjoy very much.

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/trelissick-garden/

Cornwall Crafts Association has a gallery there, my work is now offered for sale alongside a diverse range of makers from ceramics, fine woodworking, woodturning, fabrics and paintings to name a small section, all handmade in Cornwall. Have a look, I feel sure you will gain much inspiration from the different makers, not only silversmiths and jewellery makers, presented as it is, in this exciting and vey attractive building in a sublime setting.

Fingers crossed that this will be the progression I need to take my craft to the next level, being as it is very important to sell so as to fund other ideas. As I feel sure you realise, materials are an expense that cannot be ignored. Without the outlets, sales are very difficult to realise.

When I started this blog I wanted to share my journey towards becoming a practicing, read productive and self funding, art metal practitioner. I am bound to say this is still somewhat of an ambition, rather than a reality at this time of writing. I found, indeed I still do find information and direction still very elusive, regarding how best to square the circle of finding outlets that best suit ones way of working. This is the start of a challenge that leads onto how best to present your wares to said outlets, making you stand out above the many other people wanting the same as you, to be represented and given the opportunity to support yourself in a chosen creative field.

To date not many have come forward with suggestions, or pointers, that can be shared with everyone as to how best to maximise your chances, I hope that will change. I wish to, eventually, be able to pass on, through experience, better still a combination input from readers and other craftspeople I meet up with along the way, better strategies. Helping to avoid the soul destroying hours of wasted time that are a result of, effectively, groping in the dark, looking for answers to questions that are only partly understood to start with.

I say this to the point of being repetitive and boring to the people who are unfortunate enough to know me personally. Practice does not make perfect, whatever people tell you this is not true. Think about it, if you do the wrong thing over and over, you will just get better at doing the wrong thing. You will perhaps become adept with a way that works for you. You may even be able to wear you ‘achievement’ like a badge, ‘thats the way I do it’.

I feel like I have become good at the wrong way, no need I feel. The trick is, like all learnable skills, finding the right place to gain the knowledge you need. I reiterate, I wanted to receive feedback that would enable be to ‘practice’ more productively , be it through the metalworking skills, or indeed the ability to ‘put yourself out there’ as it were.

I feel the professional images I had taken of my work really made the difference. I am pretty sure that had the photographs not been up to scratch, then I would not have been invited to submit a sample of my work for consideration.

Once I was invited I gave a broad range of my offerings to the panel. Bit of a panic as I was overjoyed to be invited, I was at a low point at the time and did not expect it. The application was borne out of desperation after a rather salty setback regarding my future as a maker. A lesson to all that beastliness by individuals should not be endorsed by capitulation. SOMEONE WILL LIKE WHAT YOU DO, if your approach is a little left field, you too may be unfortunate enough to suffer humiliation. Please think of it at their problem, not yours. To destroy takes little thought, why would you dwell on thoughtless people, stick to your goal and forge ahead I say.

I had some forged wire bangles that I have not photographed yet. They were not hallmarked at the time. I sent them anyway with a note explaining that I had just made them. I sent these to show that I could work in a different style to ensure that, should I be rejected, I could have asked for feedback as to how better to attract the panel. If I had not sent them and been rejected, then an opportunity to learn would have been missed. I still don’t know if it was perhaps the forged style that swayed them, perhaps they were more drawn to them rather than my repousse´ and chasing work, I will let you know!

So after all my ‘fishing’ I put in an application just days before they closed consideration for new makers for the remainder of the year. I did not try too hard, just sent off the form with the minimum of writing (no really!), the result was a fantastic achievement for me and one I hope you don’t mind me sharing. I have every bit as many hang ups about the desirability and validity of my work as the next person. In a sea of 360 degree landless horizons, if you stay floating long enough the sea will eventually lead you to land. A bit new age I know, however I feel it is a relevant thing to say in my situation up to this point. To embellish it a little more, the people who are in ships who throw things at you, trying to make you go under are cursing in that sea. Rest content in the assumption that they are lost also, but will not get off their boat.

All my very best wishes.

Stu Art 😉

New website

http://www.stuartjewellery.com/index.html

Wato wato I have been a bit busy of late, I also look forward to sharing some great news in the not too distant future, just waiting to finalise before I post about it.

The link above will take you to my updated and vastly improved website, constructed with customary, patience, meticulous care and attention to detail, that is an altogether very welcome trademark of Mike at;

http://www.digitalimagery.biz/

I feel it is very important to point out to anyone looking to expand their possibilities, regarding making a living as a jeweller and or a silversmith. A website is, I would venture to suggest, not a luxury but a necessity today. I don’t have to point out the obvious of the ‘smallness’ of the world of e-commerce. What is not so obvious is the knock on effect it has in the early stages of a making journey today.

The world is awash with makers and outlets, Etsy and Ebay to name just two. Imagine, if your goal is to attract the attention of, say galleries. A professional website can, and does, highlight you out as a person who takes their craft seriously, less someone who is ‘dipping their toe in the water’ as it were. It is a banner, a personal calling card that says, I invest in myself and I believe in what I do enough to present it professionally. Presenting a standard that says to potential outlets, you can rely on my professionalism and a pride in work created to be a great option for them to represent you. This gives them less to concern themselves about regarding how well you will work together, as your professionalism and quality is on display for all to see.

Whilst attending College it is easy to loose sight of the end goal of supporting yourself, also how to best promote your work, I know I did. For those of you attending courses, with an eye on the future I would respectfully suggest you line yourself up as a priority, as when you leave education, that it, your on your own.

I know what your thinking ‘when I get better, when I have a defined style, when I have stock, its too much money’ ect. I will try to address some of the issues as I see them, I would be fascinated and grateful if anyone would care to comment, please do.

Mike at Digital solutions could reasonably be called a philanthropist. A man who was at the start of the internet and could so easily retire. He chooses to continue, as I see it, pretty much for the love of it. It will cost you nothing to enquire, if you are local then the one on one meetings, highlighting options and possible revisions, are invaluable. Mike also has clients from overseas, so distance is not a problem. Being a musician and artist himself, he has a great understanding of us temperamental creative types, his endless patience is a great confidence booster.

If you look at my site, don’t get hung up on the style. I’m sure you would have done it differently, that is nothing to do with Mike, it is my choice. The beauty is that you can show him examples of what you see as great practice and he can create a site using the examples you give him. I encourage you to drop him a line, people with such business skill and experience are rarely this approachable and understanding. You will not find a trace of sarcasm or arrogance, just a seamless flow of ideas, born, as it is, of real world vast and varied experience, priceless. Another advantage is he has experience of making sites to cater for jewellery.

http://www.clairscollection.co.uk/

If you look at the above link for my very great friends Clair and Paul Pennington, who incidentally introduced me to Mike, you will have some idea of the scope of his skills as a web designer.

When I get better? I now know that presenting and promoting work is a skill on its own. I feel bound to say I neglected this, wrongly assuming that work would stand out by itself. I shudder to think now how lazy my thinking was in light of what I now have seen to this point. Like any skill it needs to be worked upon, having the commitment to a website early on will encourage you to continually improve on both fronts. The marriage of the two vital disciplines will enable your creative process to gain at a pace less hindered by the commercial realities of making your work attractive to a variety of buyers. Your journey should be far more linear than I have experienced. Without the exposure you can’t sell. Materials are expensive, what will you do, keep making, borrowing money to make a mound of work no one sees. Please think about it, your website should grow with you, giving you a timeline that will be far more comforting to potential purchasers of your work.

Making a recognisable style is very difficult, I would respectfully suggest that having a website early on will focus your attention, making you more aware of how you will be viewed by continually facing the realities of comparing your presentations with other similar sites.

I dont want this post to sound too preachy, however I don’t want others to fall into similar, avoidable, holes that I have found myself, up to, and including this point in my journey. I am over the moon with my new site, I don’t see anyone as a competitor, rosy spectacled as I am deep down, if someone chooses your work over mine, great, they didn’t think that much of mine to begin with. As with most things I seek to make genuine connections in a world of superficial saccharine sweet processes. All these things taking away much of the joy of great honest and open company. I had a hope of a better life, a dream if you will. Along the way it has been my experience that many of those who could help, for whatever reason, choose not to. If I can, I will always try to pass on any tips to prevent anyone else suffering similar poor outcomes at the hands of the ever present, and numerous dream destroyers.

If you choose a path of making for a living the setbacks are numerous and oftentimes soul destroying. When I look at the professional photography, this awesome new website and  view my work, open as it is to the whole world. I am very glad I took this path and strongly encourage anyone else to,  ‘see the doughnut, forget the hole’.

There is a world of fantastic people out there in a sea of mediocrity and conformity that would appear to take a jaded view of dreamers such as us. Where possible I will share them with you, as and when I am fortunate enough to meet them. Go on, step it up a gear, give Mike a call.

I would also welcome any comments about my new site, suggestions, negative,  as well as anything else you may wish to say.

All my very best wishes.

Stu Art

P.S. I feel it appropriate to point out that neither do I seek, nor do I receive any payment from Mile personally or from his company Digital Solutions.

Raised Britannia silver bowl the start of planishing and problems encountered

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Wato wato, summer has been great here, hope you are all enjoying a holiday, well hopefully anyway.

Starting to part planish the Britannia silver bowl before the rest of the shaping is carried out. I do this because planishing is a tricky skill to master. On the face of it, what could be simpler, just overlap the blows with a polished faced planishing hammer on a polished stake, no worries eh!

Stake selection is critical if you wish to achieve good results, also planishing is not a one shot deal, it happens over successive courses and becomes ever finer and gentler towards the end result of the finish you wish to create. I will go into a little more detail in the next post as I also wanted to highlight a massive boob I made in selecting a raising stake, in this case my cows tongue stake.

I turned it from its concave gentle curve the other side to a rather more aggressive convex curve. In the past I have managed to ‘bully’ copper into this slight depression, creating the wrinkles that I used to shrink the material, creating the narrowing mouth of the entrance as I wanted. In silversmithing this is perhaps a little misguided on my part, silver being altogether more resilient to hammer blows than copper.

Looking at the pictures you will notice that things were going quite nicely up to the 18th course. I keep things tidy after each round by truing up with a mallet on the stake to help me to keep track of where things are going, as well as cutting down on the time taken to planish at a later stage.

The next picture shows the stake with the convex curve that I tried to drive the silver into to help shrink the mouth and bring the shape in. The following pictures up to the 25th course will show the sorry result of the assumptions that I made, comparing my results with the copper vessels I had made previously.

The silver resisted the force of the hammer blows far more than the copper. This meant that as I landed my blows from my raising hammer, the stake acted like a kind of, equal and opposite hammer. This pushed the silver into the bulge you see up to this point. I am embarrassed to see the pictures and feel a little foolish for not noticing this effect earlier, correcting it sooner by going back to the concave side of the cows tongue stake.

Round 29 shows you the bowl after I took this action and went back to the ‘propper’ side of the stake. I tried to bring the sides in too fast and this was the result. Perhaps this was part of the reason the rim cracked, more of this in another post.

I have been made aware that I write, not to mention talk, too much making it difficult for people to keep attention to what I’m trying to convey. With this in mind I will leave this post for you to ponder, going into more depth with planishing, and the cracked rim in another post.

Thank you again for your kind messages, I very much appreciate them. Until next time.

All my very best wishes.

Stu Art 🙂