Sterling silver forged bangles and a brooch that doubles as a pendant

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Wato wato all

Opportunity is a double edged sword isn’t it, my friend, also a survivor of ‘education’ from the previous year, Nicola Bottono

asked if I would drive her to see Paul Mountsey, the photographer who now takes all of Cornwall Crafts association pictures, as well as my previous professional pictures

You will love her work, dedicated as she is to her vessel pendents, go have a look and read about her inspiration, the pictures taken of her work are fantastic to see.

I have had a bit of a run on these forged bangles, the Jewellery Workshop has sold quite a few. I was in the fantastic position, for the first time, of having to pull my finger out and make some more to cope with demand, great stuff eh. The summer here in Cornwall is good at this time, the children have broken up from school and the tourists are flocking to Porthleven, and buying my work.

Never a great time, I wanted to spend more time on this batch to go to be photographed, Nicola, alas, had time constraints and had to be there on a day that suited her busy schedule. I had to complete my sample, just back from Assay, completed on the evening before. I am not 100% happy with the results. Proof positive that rushing is never a great idea in our chosen field. However they do convey something of the wave like appearance they present as they are twirled around ones wrist.

I also found another hammer at a second hand stall, modified it and had a play. The two finishes offered, one just lightly planished, great for refracting light. The other, with the aid of two hammers, are given a directional finnish to accentuate the curves as they spread out in the wider parts, compressing in the transitional parts of the forged design.

I also like the way, when looked at the opening, the directional way the four opposing waves present each side, give the impression the bangle is square. I’m bound to say I’m over the moon with these, all sizes have a subtle difference that is best seen up close as the pictures have a job conveying the way they are over the three widths. I started with 3mm, 4mm and 5mm sterling silver round wire, soldered into a round. I made a stake especially for these that gives me a consistent angle as the ‘waves’ are forged, four one side, then flipped over to do the other side. The smallest (narrow gauges) are able to be completed in one, sometimes two annealing stages. The 5mm ones are quite a grunt to get them to move and require more work than their appearance would at first suggest.

I received the pictures, then put in my application to sell through a web based retailer, I will tell you all about it when I get some feedback, don’t worry, warts and all 🙂

As many of you know, it has been a struggle for me to come up with more commercially viable work. I will continue to chase and repousse some work, however I intend to concentrate more the forged line as fewer people appear to be doing such work. Now I’m very aware, this is also the case with repousse, the difference here is the cost of completed work. This is very much more affordable due to my being able to make forged work very much more quickly.

Some may remember me mentioning, I started my working life as an assistant to a farrier, a blacksmith specialising in making and fitting horse shoes. When I attended College, silver prices were very much higher, I wanted to go back to forged work then, a mixture of ridicule and price made me re consider. This is not an issue now, bound to say I feel like, a little tongue in cheek, an adolescence is being re lived a little, great stuff.

I have had steady sales priced at £69.00 3mm, £129.00 4mm and the monster 5mm is £189.00. I will put these on my website ASAP to go with the other directions written about above.

Now to the pendant and brooch combination. I felt that it would be nice to give added value to some repousse work by making a pendant that can also, if chosen, be pressed into service as a brooch. This has been very well received and ameliorates some of the cost considerstion. A bit like buy one get one free if you like.

I have posted pictures I took alongside the professional ones to give you some idea of how I did it. The pin is made from dental grade 1mm stainless steel wire, I made the silver tube for the pin to pivot in. The catch incorporating the pendant loop was made from a single piece of Sterling silver wire, forging the pin retainers, bending them into loops before soldering. If you would like more information, please let me know, I’ll post more detail if you’re not clear.

I have a huge favour to ask of you all. I know most all of you are fellow makers, not buyers. When you see fit, please pass on my details to others who may be interested in purchasing, or selling on my work. Needless to say, I would be overwhelmingly grateful for any leads you are kind enough to share.

I havent forgotten the ‘dirty’ workshop piece that is to be shown, still later than planned. Bit of an embarrassment to share; being a lumbering, clumsy oaf of a chap. The door to the shop was sticking, I bumped my hip against it to secure its closure due to the swelling of the door, damp here you see. The resulting crash of broken glass and splintering of broken door meant I had to tarpaulin over the hole, sheltering my beloved lathe behind it. The resulting furniture needed to keep it waterproof whilst a replacement is made means the shop doesn’t look much like it should right now.

Now I have some funds, a replacement door should not be too long coming, then I will post pictures and explanations of the various bits and pieces I use.

Until next time, thank you again for keeping in touch.

Kindest regards and very best wishes.

Stu 🙂


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