Jewellery and silversmithing photography

Wato wato all,

A lesson learned far too long to realise, presentation is sooooo important if you wish to appeal to the people who will allow your work to be presented to the purchasing public.

do not underestimate the value of professional images of your work. They will pay you back the cost many times over. It’s my experience,

an image taken on a phone just will not cut it next to studio images, such as these.

 

Until next time. Very best wishes.

Stuart G.

img_1941

What a dramatic result. Energy and movement with a juxtaposition of the pebbles on a stream theme

img_1953

Water and silver, smashing movement in this image. Attractive and interesting.

13267992_471241833075393_8443690730463992729_o

Wonderful example of a clean group shot. Websites love this sort of image.

img_1939

Opal ring commission

img_1943

Dark, still detailed. You try it!

img_1954

What a dramatic result. Energy and movement with a juxtaposition of the pebbles on a stream theme

13320408_472880899578153_5807238910066444344_o

Royston turquoise 

13268051_472880889578154_6118689757373882302_o

Another Royston Turquoise, not many left.

13235419_471241779742065_4841356247671294746_o

Experimenting with textures on this Amethyst dome ring.

Annealing and some modified ‘special’ tools

DSCF3584 DSCF3588 DSCF3585 DSCF3586 DSCF3583 DSCF3582 DSCF3581 DSCF3580

 

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 moon ring how to with home made tools. Part 2

DSCF3473

This is the nylon hammer I used. Wood or leather would have worked. 15mm doming punch used to refine after the doming block stage.

DSCF3441

Bolts used for forming, I used all three. Study the photographs, you can see the increased angles; the middle one first, the one in the foreground second, lastly the one on the right that I made in the metal lathe.

DSCF3479

Test fitting with line drawn in the middle as a guide for forming with the nylon hammer and the modified bolt stakes. I refined the design as I went along. The final version was more rounded, I also cut away the bulky shank. Compare this to the completed ring.

DSCF3480

Final rounding of the shank.

DSCF3481

I made this asymmetrical to give me a choice of profiles.

DSCF3486

Small hole drilled in shank to let gasses escape when soldering. I have never used easy solder before, I will in future. Use plenty of it.

DSCF3488

I’m not sure I fully recommend it; look at the top of the picture. The marks are left by the placing of the pallions of solder. I would normally turn the ring over and re apply solder to the other side. In this instance the solder ran clean to the other side, fully sealing the piece without additional soldering.

DSCF3490

Sawing off the unwanted parts of the shank.

DSCF3491

Savage beasty this, be careful, really fast though, saves lots of time roughing out. Notice I stopped just shy of being flush to the surrounding silver.

DSCF3492

Large half round file, almost but not quite nearly 😉

DSCF3493

Last of the files, small half round needle file, now nicely blended, ready for final polishing.

DSCF3478

Close fitting solder joint as I cut through both sided at the same time, making sure they would fit the shank.

DSCF3495

Photographed outside.

DSCF3502

Wato wato the end of the ring project.

This is a great example of wanting to make something but not having to hand the tools to realise it. As time goes by, I understand more and more why I’m not currently able to sustain myself in this craft. I spend far too long procrastinating on designs, making tools to realise far too many failed copper models before coming up with something I think will appeal. Only to discover I’ve barked up the wrong tree. At best a niche item, nowhere near commercially viable.

I now, with huge regret and not a little embarrassment, view my metalwork/silversmithing as a hobby only now. All ambitions of being able to support myself financially through my chosen craft showing as unrealistic at this time. I feel the clue here is in the realisation that I associate myself with the term craft, rather than designer or artist. As I become ever more bewildered as to what is marketed, I come to realise my place as fairly and squarely a maker in a world than no longer needs makers. Concept appears to be king. I feel its akin to being a computer, fantastic at maths; however it takes the genius of a mathematician to make beautiful equations. I aspire to be more conceptual in my approach to the craft. However my first love is the love of learning more about past masters and the techniques they employed to achieve wondrous constructions. The past machine age is pure romance to me. This is lost in a new era where, at the push of a button, designers/artists realise three dimensional objects, made by unseen operatives with mass production machines in such vast numbers as to make pretty much anything commercially viable. I have neglected to fully understand what is fashionable, wearable and viable. That’s the negative. The positive is that now I am no longer attempting to make a life for me and mine using just my hands. My resulting, more relaxed attitude towards this craft will, with luck, result in a positive re think. Trying to become a ‘mathematician’, not concerning myself as much with the mechanics, ‘computer’ aspect of creating wonderful objects. Working towards becoming a creative designer, rather than just as a solver of technical challanges. Watch this space 🙂

If you look at the bolts I modified for this job, I looked at stakes from established tool supply houses. Here in the U/K it is becoming ever rarer to source forming tools, the ones that are available are prohibitively expensive for a hobbiest. As we use very soft, non ferris metals, even a common or garden bolt will suffice for forming. If you wanted to make a more permanent, planishing stake from a bolt you can buy/salvage hardened steel bolts and fashion them to the shapes you desire. Cylinder head bolts work very well, you can look up through fastener suppliers, the hardness rating of a bolt, if you wish to purchase new.

I used a metal lathe to make these. I was thinking though that those of you without access to such a machine could use a drill and a hand file to create a similar stake. Chuck up a bolt that you have founded off best as you can in a vice, then spin it in the drill, rounding as you go with a file. Finish off with coarse to fine paper whilst still spinning in the drill. Be careful as the bolt will get hot. Try to use a drill stand so as to keep it all steady and have both hands free for proper filing. I also add chalk to the file and paper. This gives a better finish as it prevents the build up of metal particles in the ‘tooth’ of the file or paper.

My aim with the next post is to introduce you to my garage machine shop. Fair warning to those of you not interested in such things.

If you have any questions about the ring, or anything else, as always, please don’t hesitate to ask. Thank you for looking.

All my very best wishes.

Stu Art 😉

 

Sterling silver moon ring how to with home made tools. Part 1

DSCF3504

The completed, hallmarked sterling silver rings.

DSCF3508

The first, spiky example was my first attempt at a ring at my first year of College. I am drawn to this type of construction, though I wouldn’t recommend this ring. It was a good exercise on many levels, not least, how to make something totally unappealing 🙂 it taught me a lot about soldering though. The second was my first attempt to make a ring with repousse and chasing techniques to take advantage of the ‘skinned’ or two part hollow nature of these rings. The third is where this project takes off.

DSCF3424

To give you a flavour of the process, some experiments, drawn, paper mock ups and copper blanks ready for the next stage.

DSCF3422

This is not the final patter, though pretty close. If you do something similar I would recommend using graph paper, I did in the end. The reason is, when cut out you notice, especially in the following processes, that your pattern isn’t quite symmetrical. Graph paper makes this far more preventable.

DSCF3423

Some of the directions from the comfort of my drafting table,. Told you I couldn’t draw 🙂

DSCF3432

I can’t remember where I picked up this tip. Fabulous stuff this rubber cement for sticking paper patterns to metal. Cover the metal and the paper with the glue. Blow on the metal until it goes matt, slide the paper pattern and leave for a min or two. Saw up to the pattern, great stuff.

DSCF3434

Blank in copper domed in the block with a 15mm doming punch. Starting in a larger depression, moving down a size, four or five times. If you try too small too fast, it created nicks in the corners of the piece where it is trying to compress too quickly. Anneal if you feel the need.

DSCF3436

From a previous post. remember my, made from copper, filled with lead pitch bowl. This parcel tape fits the bill as a great stand for it. Some grippy cloth in-between keeps thins nice and stable.

DSCF3437

2mm and 3mm doming punches for repousse stage.

DSCF3438

Same again for the chasing part.

DSCF3440

Using a suitable sized doming punch, to fit the ring shank you need. Mark the overlap, cut through both layers (each side) to create a perfect soldering joint.

DSCF3441

Some of my miniature metalwork forming tools. See text.

DSCF3443

Showing how to round off the shank. Use a soft hammer, not metal as this will stretch the metal. Remember this if your outer is too tight to fit the shank. You can use a metal hammer to the stake to stretch it to fit.

DSCF3442

You can just see the air gap. I will go into more detain in the next post.

DSCF3469

The silver blanks ready.

 

Wato wato one and all.

This ‘moon ring’ was a request, I have no idea if it will sell, made a couple just in case.

This journey is in two parts, this one shows you a little background. Also the refinement of the design and the tools needed to realise it.

The references to looking to the text will be covered in detail in the next post. Hope you enjoy reading about it. Also I hope it inspires you to look at the things around you in a different way. You never know where the next tool is lurking, just keep looking.

Until next time. Very best wishes.

Stu Art.

Chasing and Repousse work; examples of work created with punches previously shown

Wato wato

I’m now bright eyed and bushy tailed back from my holiday to Dorset. Walking in the woods I saw three deer, two one day and one another. Such a treat, I’m truly amazed they were not spooked by the dogs, probably had more than a clue that they would not catch them if they tried. I am originally from Sussex and moved to Cornwall when I was fifteen. Cornwall is a fantastic and varied county, Sussex has some great ancient woodland that I very much wish Cornwall had more of. To be sure in the future I will be looking at ways to incorporate woodland elements into my own designs.

I live near Truro, the museum occasionally has exhibitions, sometimes very high profile. I went to see side by side edge to edge, a silversmiths exhibition; in fact I will mention this another time and introduce you to some of the silversmiths that were represented there who I really admired.

Back to the wood theme;

http://www.seamusmoran.com/

This fascinating and thoroughly nice chap had an exhibition of his work, I attended a lecture he kindly gave there and was blown away by his vision and technical expertise. Please look him up, I know some of his work is a little dark, gothic even, but you need grit to make a pearl right? To give you a brief introduction to his work he combs woodland looking for the last thing to rot when trees decay, the knots. He cleans them up, makes moulds and casts them, selecting the ones that best go together to make sculptures. Do yourself a favour and look him up. I can vouch for the fact he is someone who is looking to connect with others and will, I feel certain, not hesitate to answer any questions you may have. A quick disclaimer, I do not know him personally, mores the pity, I just like to think of more people getting to see his creations.

Well, I guess I better explain some of the images eh, I will try not to be too dry, here goes. The first image is of a test piece in copper I made into a brooch. The valleys are deep and abruptly up and down, as you can imagine a full bodied planishing punch will damage the opposite side as you work on the piece. If you look back to the first round punch you will, I hope perhaps better see what I was trying to communicate in the previous post.

The next picture shows an early experiment that led to the stirling silver cuff bracelet in the last pictures. I show it here to also show the added challenges present as you introduce curves into your designs. Imagine trying to planish all of this with a single tool, too big and you would damage the curved section, too small and it would be difficult not to make the finish more irregular. The next image is to show you that repousse work can be incorporated into rings by wrapping the work around a normally made ring shank.

The Celtic design here was used by me to help to create tool profiles that would work for most of the jewellery work I may wish to make in future. This is a bit of wishful thinking as the requirements for future jewelery designs can never be known, new challenges will always require a rethink regarding type of tool or different approaches to using existing ones. See, fantastic this game, you can never be bored you know. All the profiles were used here, look up close and you will see where the teardrop, rectangular and the rest will be used. The quality of this was not a concern, being as it was only a metal sketch to enable me to create tool profiles, hence I was not very precious about it, a little like the following.

This seed pod like design was arrived at through a College brief to design a piece of jewellery using seed pods as an inspiration. At this time we were trying our hand for the first time at hand raising a vessel, so what I hear you say. Well, when you raise (I will cover this in detail in future posts) you start with a square sheet, mark a circle and cut it out. What you are left with is four curved triangles. Most of my classmates were throwing these off cuts into the scrap pile. I thought they looked like a pod and forged a few to come up with this design. Some of you may have noticed that the work I have presented so far has very little by the way of soldering included in its fabrication. It was a concept that has crept up on me, in no small part by the process of chasing and repousse, inasmuch as I aim for most of my work to ‘grow’ if you will. This design was fashioned on an ancient technique of forging a fibula brooch, all from a single piece of metal. The pin and retainer were all forged and fashioned into the shapes you see here with the help of a rolling mill and hammers. The raised repousse vine that is both the pin and retainer means it has no beginning and no end, shame it broke then eh! I will make this again in silver as I liked the concept and realised where I went wrong. It is put here to show the combination of planishing and undercutting to raise the vine with liners and pushers, working from the front, before planishing with most all of the shapes I have introduced previously.

Last but not least and a bit of an unconscious theme here the circle of life cuff bracelet shown here. To this point I try not to use much by the way of abrasives to finish. I made this cuff, trying to give a flavour of moving water. I used large pushing and planishing punches to create the form I was looking to achieve, high into low and visa versa. When happy I used differing sizes of round and other shaped planishing punches to create a feel of ripples on water. Not everyone who has seen it is impressed with its finish, I mention it here so you take courage in your own work. Others think it is beautiful, you can’t please all the people, whatever you do someone will love it. Please don’t let critics steer you away from what you wish to create, if you do you will spent the rest of your journey never settled jumping from one foot to another trying to be accepted by people who don’t care if you succeed or fail.

I will show some other work next time with more examples of tools used. Again please do let me know if I am hitting a chord or perhaps there is something you think you would like me to mention.

Until next time, all my very best wishes.

Stu Art ; )