Jewellery Making Cornwall Students, stones and smashing work

Wato everyone,

Eight months of starting Jewellery Making Cornwall, here are just a few of the successes. The following are pictures of participants in the six week beginners course held here in the beautiful surroundings at Perranarworthal, between Truro and Falmouth in sunny Cornwall.

I will post more of the activities here in future posts. For now, like me, for sure you are all impressed with this fine snapshot of the work completed by people, most of who have never made a thing before. The more intricate are from some who have continued to be a part of this creative hub, joining the weekly three hour sessions for improvers.

I will post more pictures of the site and exciting opals and other stones shortly through my friend Stuart Wheeler who is joined next door.

Jewellery Supply South West is on Facebook if you wish to look beforehand

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A week three beginner!!!!! As you see, a real talent for sawing. As you can imagine, this lady was super proud of her achievements. This is the ladies name in Arabic cut out and sweat soldered to the pierced pendant.

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A first attempt for a lady to make a chunky signet ring for her sweetheart.

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Clay casting with my specially made half’s specifically for making rings easier to cast, rather than the more usual round rings.

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The downside is not as accurate as ‘proper’ casting. However, its only a bit of elbow grease to clean up.

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img_0217 A pretty nice result, for sure you will agree. The chap never takes it off. Awwww.

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The level of creativity some people come up with is astonishing.

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Wonderfully simple with unique one off fitting.

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A smashing lady made this tie clip for her fathers birthday.

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He was in tears upon receiving it. Amazing the effect our handiwork can have. giving work so much more meaning that its utilitarian face value.

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A Disney princess had this idea for a bracelet. What a result don’t you think. Everything made from scratch, down to the individual ball ends.

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Some of the abstract forms are truly wonderful.

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A lady made this for her daughters birthday. Turquoise being a favourite stone.

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Lady came in with an idea. Can we make this. Yes, you can, and she did.

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Another request made real by the person who thought it here in the workshop.

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Another birthday present for a daughter. Ruby flower designed by Mum.

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Contemporary clean and very sophisticated and exacting. Zara is now promoting her own brand, starting out on her jewellery making adventures after completing the beginners six week workshops.

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The final project for Zara. Pretty awesome you will agree.

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Check this out. The killer clown. A very creative lady who is a photography whizz. As you can see, a massive undertaking for a first personalised project. Bloody brilliant bracelet eh.

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Another final project, flower ring, designed and made here by a young lady with a strong will and the determination to back it up. Wonderful achievement.

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A 15 year old young man came with his grandmother who is already an improver. This is what he made never having touched a tool before. As you can imagine, his Mum was over the moon.

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Loving the layers and three dimensions.

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Whats to add!!!!

I will post more pictures of students work from time to time.

Until the next time, not eight months.

All my very best wishes.

Stu.

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Annealing and some modified ‘special’ tools

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Wato wato one and all.

I trust all is tickety boo with you and yours, back to the making part of the journey, my favourite. Who thinks the business and marketing side is favourite for them? I need to party with you if you are that person 🙂 For the rest of us, lets talk tools.

I had a question regarding the set up I use for annealing. The first picture shows my trusty Sievert set up. This is a very old set I purchased second hand on Ebay. Beware if you do similarly, this one leaked like a basket. On closer inspection the handle cracked and I had to modify/make new parts to make it gas tight. As far as I’m aware, Sievert no longer make this kit. However if you wish to have a set up like it for a fraction of the price, Machine Mart in the U/K have a comparable system, not Seivert, that looks very interesting and equally, if not more versatile than mine.

The first picture highlights the three nozzles I use most. The smallest one (part number 3937) is great for small work, think jump rings and the like. For general soldering and annealing of larger jewellery pieces, cuffs, large wire bangles ect, the one in the middle laying on the handle is great (part number 3941). For annealing vessels, quite large ones at that, in a shielded (firebrick) enclosure I have annealed a ten inch sheet with the nozzle shown attached to the handle in the first picture (part number 2943). The third and fourth picture show the smallest, with the needed small neck, and the largest in the kit. The largest nozzle I have (part number 3944) is shown lit on a very low setting. I show it here for you to see a soft flame is possible with this massive nozzle. I like that the flame given off is huge, it sounds just like a jet engine in the workshop, roaring away and bathing a very large surface area in a moderate to high heat. I find this creates an enveloping environment that is less likely to produce hot spots that more fierce and directed flames used by some twin pack set ups, like Oxy Acetylene for example. MAPP gas is hugely expensive. For large sheets I shudder to think of the cost. To my mind its overkill as the temperatures these systems are capable of are never needed if you stick to silver, copper and the like. The twin pack gasses are really best suited to precious metals where very much higher temperatures are required to anneal and solder. I appreciate this is my opinion derived through my experience. Please do comment if you have anything to add.

I use common garden Propane. The second picture shows my additional step down regulator. If you choose to have a, do everything set up, like mine, best you invest in one of these. Great for toning down when using the smaller nozzles with a simple tap, as you can see. I can’t speak for countries other than the U/K. The Propane I use comes in a red bottle of various sizes. Its very reasonably priced, if you do a lot of annealing then you have the option of a 47KG bottle that will last along time. I have the smallest bottle in the workshop, and a couple of larger ones for annealing larger work under my carport, I have another handle and hose, just needing to swap the nozzles, you can see the spanner in the 3rd picture.

I understand that Butane is calorifically higher, hotter, more bang for your buck. I have not felt the need to try it, besides I would need to purchase a new regulator if I did. If you must mix. Sievert, and other handles are available that will allow you to add air if you wish. This will make a very much hotter flame, I guess you could hook it up to a compressor if you wished to keep cost to a minimum. If anyone uses such a set up, I, we indeed, would be very interested to learn of your experiences with it. Butane is sold in blue containers with similar sizes, though I don’t think you can get the giant 47KG ones as you can with Propane. Again I am ready to stand corrected should anyone enlighten.

I have been asked to make a necklace with forged to undulating round/ovalish shapes. The rub is, the chap wants it to be really weighty and asked for 5mm wire to start!!! I managed to talk him out of 6mm which was what he contemplated. These links are to be forged once turned into rings, soldered and shaped. Have you tried to make small rings with 5mm sterling silver wire! Man alive, it is tough to work into bends that small, getting the ends to meet for soldering is also a nightmare as it is soooo hard. The other conspiring difficulty is, the 83mm lengths to start with are a bugger to hold whilst you try to form them around a mandrel. The vibration is enough to rattle a chaps fillings, also keeping it still, trying not to hammer fingers, preventing it taking an aerial journey across the workshop was also challenging.

After fighting with the first one, bruised fingers and all, I decided to try something else, I share it with you here in the hope you may find the following tips helpful as they can be used on all sizes of wire if you wish.

I bent each end approximately 45 degrees and then put them in the contraption you see in picture 4. I only thought to photograph it afterwards, so the link you see is complete.

These ‘pliers’ were purchased on Ebay a while ago after I came across them in one of my second hand tool hunts. They are old pig ringing pliers. Used to attach nose rings into pigs. As you see, you have the option of two sizes. I was not strong enough to form them with my hands, resting one handle on a rubber block and tapping the other closed with a leather mallet. Fantastic and painless result, as shown. Ring forming pliers are nothing new, look on any jewellery supply site. However these are quite a bit larger than the ‘proper’ jobs. Also, who wants pig pliers, cost conscious farmers thats who. Not ‘oh its for working precious metal therefore its and arm and a leg please’ of the tool suppliers. Look up a set for yourself. These are aluminium, thats a bonus as they will be far less likely to mark your material, a danger with steel ones. Also, should you so wish, you could mirror polish them and use them for making production runs of perfect, unmarked larger jump rings ready for soldering.

Soldering is where the next challenge presented. The spring in heavy gauge wire is considerable. After getting the ends as close as possible it was still a gnats doo dah too large for soldering. Anneal the link to give some softness after getting it almost to meet then onto the next beauty I managed to think of. I tried to use binding wire. No way could I get enough tension, after trying I was also worried that if I could, this would bite into the link, scarring the silver.

When people know you make things, the best of intentions come out, though sometimes misguided. My mum found these e.p.n.s. sugar tongs at a boot sale. ‘thought of you Stuie, any good to you’?  You don’t like to say no when the thought was so nice and well intended do you. Off they popped into my dead, damaged and what the hell is this for, tool graveyard.

As you see in the final two pictures; brilliant for this job, the spoon end ‘cups’ of the tongs cradle the link and stop it skidding about. Wrapping binding wire around the handles, exploiting the natural spring in the tongs gave just the right amount of pressure required to close the gap, whilst giving the smallest of footprint to prevent too much heat loss through the heat sinking effect of having another metal object in contact. Also as the tongs are very much thinner than the link, this really helped to get the heat where it was needed.

I hope you come away from this post refreshed from the horrid last couple of navel gazing business oriented ones. If you get something from this post, please do let me know. I will share other tools I have made or modified in future posts. Until then, as always thank you very much for sharing the journey.

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

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 😉

Raised Britannia silver bowl

wato wato,

This is the completed Britannia silver bowl that I started to cover in the previous post. It was a very pleasurable and satisfying piece that has taught me a lot of valuable lessons I will share with you over the coming weeks, warts and all!

The eagle eyed among you will notice that the rim is nowhere near as thick as I intended. This was because I fractured the rim and had to cut off my hard fought for peened and caulked rim.

I chose Britannia silver as it is a little like a half way house between stirling and fine silver. I have much more experience of stirling and a little with fine silver. Later, if anyone would welcome an introduction to forging, hammer forging that is 🙂 I will show examples of rings I made from round and square fine silver lengths. Another time I will give more information about the different types, for now, suffice to say, fine silver is lush to work with, to a point. It work hardens quite quickly and goes from a soft clay like feel, accompanied by a dull thud of the hammer blow to a shrill metallic clang and subsequent shattering once work hardened.

Stirling silver is more forgiving due to its higher copper content, it is also more resistant, harder if you will, to move than the other types.

Britannia was my choice for a first silver bowl for two reasons. First the colour is, in my opinion, nicer. Being deeper, less chrome like; again this is just my opinion, not a fact. The other reason was that fine, my favourite, would be too tricky to start with as a first attempt, being far less forgiving of overworking, something I am guilty of at this point. I know coward. As the saying goes, better to be a live chicken than a dead hero, or something like that 🙂

The fact I broke the Britannia silver rim, I shudder to think of the mess I would have made if I started with fine, I’m glad I chose as I did. Yes, I would likely have not had the same challenge had I started with Stirling. But I wanted to push myself a little bit and try something I haven’t done before, perhaps not a total coward then eh!

I hope to be able to get some better pictures. I just thought, as I started the thread about the build process it would be helpful for those interested to go back to images of the completed bowl to see how the progress goes.

Until the next time, please keep your thoughts coming. Is this blog useful to you, does it help you, are my explanations helpful and clear, is there anything I missed, anything else you would like to see covered.

All my very best wishes.

Stu Art.

Welcome to this silversmithing and jewellery blog

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Thank you for visiting, I was inspired to start a blog by looking at others, only to find that few in this field either exist, or keep up to date.

The attached PDF is to introduce myself, showing what I display with some of my work to inform potential customers browsing in a shop or gallery.

I have made a commitment to keep this blog going for a year to see if the reason is lack of interest, or perhaps something is missing that people, such as yourself, would like to see more of.

Over the coming weeks and months I will post some personal content as well as more craft specific topics. It is my hope that you will feel more inclined to interact if you know a little more about me and my approaches to solving the many and varied challenges, with a sprinkling of my own personality to boot.

On this subject I feel bound to say that as a person my outlook mirrors my approach to making. I started out on this path as an escape from everyday workplace experiences and took the decision that I wanted to be a craftsman first and a financial success second. To this end I have no desire to appeal to everyone, both my general outlook as well as my designs are quite selfish insofar as I want to love them first. The methods I choose, and time it takes to create makes many of my pieces unsuitable for mass production; fantastic as they are as unique as you are as a result.

Later on I will introduce you to Chasing and Repousse, some forging, and a particular favourite, sinking and hand raising of vessels. I will give examples of raising, making and finishing stakes, as well as tool making to enable you to realise your own beautiful results.

For the ones among you who are poor at communicating your ideas on paper, we are kindred spirits. I am constantly practicing my art skills, when I post a picture you will understand that I am no natural talant. However I am continually striving to improve. I mention it here as it has been a real hinderance in an educational setting. If you look at my facebook page, the work I have made is in spite of not being a natural, so now you can go for it as well, safe in this example that you do not need to be great with a pencil or brush to make good quality work in metal.

http://www.facebook.com/StuartJewellery?ref=hl

Please do not think this a celebration of ignorance, I have to work harder as a result and I am pushing harder to be better. I mention it here only to give some encouragement to someone who thinks you can’t have one without the other, again just go for it.

It is my belief that through a disciplined and structured approach to the craft, truly awesome results can and do happen. It is my sincere hope that you are able to experience something of the feelings I get when I have completed a piece that may have taken many hours, both in conception and completion, to make. I still get such a thrill as I turn the completed work in my hand all the while giggling to myself thinking, I did that, truly a fantastic feeling that is yours for the taking if you spend the time realising your ideas in glorious three dimensional creations.

You know you want to, you can and will, just apply yourself.