Monday, 29 March 2010

Textures and Turquoise

I love playing with textures on plain silver. I think it's because it's such a forgiving technique. You can change the look of a piece completely by using different hammers, or by holding the hammer in different ways.

The two rings below were originally hammered with the ball end of my planishing hammer. Somehow they felt very "beginnerish", I felt I could have done more with them. So I threw them on my worktable and left them there for months. I was originally planning to melt them down, use them in my blob rings or something. But I felt guilty (silver's not cheap!), so one day I picked up a different hammer and went for it!

I'm so much happier with them as they are now. I used the same hammer for both rings, but by holding it at different angles I was able to achieve vastly different textures. Adding a patina and shining up the high spots really brings out the pattern. Now they're sitting on my worktable, waiting to be listed on Folksy!

I do seem to have a very bad habit of half making a piece and leaving it unfinished for ages. Maybe it's a good thing - making a piece when it doesn't feel right usually ends up with a pile of scrap and a bad tempered me. Waiting for my mojo to reappear is probably the right decision.

This first ring, again, has been sitting around for months, waiting for me to finish it. I've been setting stones for a while now, but was never satisfied with my bezels (that's the piece that holds the stone tight). Having invested in a graver, which is a little sharp steel tool that shaves tiny slivers of silver off the top of the bezel, I'm finally ready to reveal my settings to the public, with only the tiniest of cringes.

The second ring is one I made with the help of Jinks McGrath's "The Rings Book". Playing around with the shape of the shank is something I couldn't wrap my head around, but I think I may finally be getting somewhere. This one is contoured so it's a little thinner around the back, making for a more comfortable fit.

Now I'm all fired up and ready to attack my stash of stones. Maybe some earrings next? .....

Friday, 12 March 2010

Folksy Friday...

Ok, it's Friday again. This is my first attempt at a Folksy Friday treasury, so please be gentle with me!

Today it's all about my favourite colour - PURPLE!

Hand-cut Flowers by Wepocards
LOL Emoticon Mittens by Mouthy Mitts
My Cardboard Life Vol 4 by The Juzzard
Purple knitted flower purse by Sarah Elizabeth Designs
Hand felted flower corsage by Tamsyn Amber
Felt flower bowl by Gillian Chapman

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Behind the scenes...

I have a little pair of sterling silver stud earrings listed in my Folksy and Etsy shops. When I priced them up, they came to £12. I wondered if anyone would pay that for a pair of studs, then I thought about all the work that goes into creating them, and realised I couldn't charge any less.

Instead of trying to justify the price, I catalogued the process when I was making them. So, if you're interested in the work that goes into making this simple pair of earrings, read on.

Take a big box of scrap silver (yes, I know, I'm very wasteful!)...

Put little piles on your (cruddy) soldering sheet, and melt into balls... well, they're not really balls, as they have flattish bottoms - what would you call them?

When silver is heated oxidisation makes it turn a lovely blackened colour. Give it an acid bath in safety pickle and it looks so much better!

See? Almost pretty again!

Now for the bit that makes my neighbours hate me. Take a large flat headed hammer and BANG - a lot. Then take an aspirin or two.

Select a pair that look matched for size and shape. These ones will do nicely.

Solder the ear posts onto the back of the flattened studs. Hmmm, not shiny any more again. Back into the pickle you go.

Out of the pickle and sanded with two grades of wet and dry sandpaper and a little steel wool, all ready for the polishing wheel.

A thorough polishing with tripoli and then rouge turns them back into beautiful, shiny silver. Yummy! Next, a wash and brush up with good old soap and hot water and a toothbrush (an old toothbrush, I should add), and they're ready to be parceled up and sent out.

You can see the finished product in either of my shops. I'm off to wash my hands!