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jewellery

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You know when something makes you so happy that you want to tell everybody about it? I’m not entirely sure that, given my single figure page views, everyone reads this blog, but anyway, here goes…

Elderflowers, picked from wherever I spotted them, Hampshire, Kent, Clapham Common, a lovely activity in itself has resulted in bottles and bottles of cordial and champagne. The cordial tastes so wonderful compared to the shop bought stuff that it’s like comparing an oozing Christmas Vacherin to rubbery cheese strings. And I’ve cooked up a real alcoholic fizzy drink, which tastes absolutely delicious and has made me slightly tiddly on a couple of occasions.  There’s something deeply satisfying about creating something so exciting out of almost nothing. I feel like an alchemist.

This week I’ve finally finished my acorn brooch, which will no doubt eventually make it into its own post eventually.  Very rarely have I made something that’s turned out EXACTLY how I wanted it to.  The fastening is discreet but in keeping, and the soldering is just so.  The pin is beautifully sharp and springy. The gold plating worked and glistens like gold should, and in contrast with the outside which I’ve oxidised, looks really beautiful. Usually when I’ve finished something, I’m pleased that I’ve done it, but I wish that I’d done this that or the other better. This time I’m just happy. I know it’s not very British to show off, but I think it looks lovely.

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Yesterday we went for a long, rambly walk in Hampshire. An hour from London on the train and we crossed one road and saw four other people all day.  This alone is enough to make me feel joyful.  Meadows humming with bees and butterflies, hedgerows entwined with wild roses, streams for paddling and woods for just well being woods, which are possibly my favourite things.  But the best thing of all was walking barefoot. I’m not sure who started it or why, but early on in the day, one of the children took off their shoes and started walking barefoot. So we all had a go, and it was truly wonderful. The grass was cool and comfortable underfoot, the mud beautifully squishy and the stream freezing but lovely. I don’t know why I don’t do it every time we go for a walk. Putting shoes on at the end felt odd and stuffy.

Life is often wonderful, isn’t it?

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Do you fancy trying something new? How would you like to make yourself a lovely necklace like this?

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I’m running a silversmithing workshop this month, and you could join me! Together we will make sterling silver tags using traditional silversmithing techniques and tools. We’ll drink tea, eat homemade cake and you’ll go home with a beautiful finished necklace.

“Today was brilliant. My creative brain loves me!”

When – Saturday 28th June, 2014, 1-4pm

Where – Alfriston Road, London (nearest tube: Clapham Junction/Clapham South)

How much – £65 including silver for the tags, sterling silver snake chains £10 extra. Book directly through me or using the Eventbrite website.

Contact – Victoria Wallop vwallop@gmail.com

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I’ve always been drawn to art created from everyday objects, something that has no intrinsic value other than that imbued by the artist, so I love the Confiscation Cabinets exhibition at the Museum of Childhood. In the earlier cabinets, many of the items confiscated relate to crazes, which sweep through communities of children. I was inspired to make a necklace using my own children’s toys, a collection of some of the many crazes they’ve gone through over the years; a small, portable museum of their childhood.

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Each of the toys is attached to a sterling silver ring using a tube rivet, then hung from a 70cm silver snake chain, so it sits half way down the torso. It’s easy for the wearer to play with the toys, making it a tactile piece of jewellery. The rings the toys are attached to can be taken off the chain and switched around or worn on the finger, so it’s very versatile.  The clasp is a ring and bar fastening with a mini ring attached.  A tiny toy baby bottle is riveted to this mini ring to echo the larger rings on the necklace.

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I’ve entered it into a competition, so fingers crossed!

On Saturday, I did something completely new; I taught other people how to make things from silver. And it was a lovely and productive afternoon. I had three willing and able pupils who learnt how to saw, drill, file, sand and punch. They were fast learners, who didn’t break a single saw blade, which is very impressive for first timers.

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You teach really well. I love the way you explained the origins of tools or the reasons behind certain skills.

They enjoyed a peaceful afternoon learning new skills, chatting and eating homemade cake.

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My boys were all thoroughly impressed with my tags

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Today was brilliant. My creative brain loves me!

Their finished results are beautiful, as I think you’ll agree.

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It went so well that I’m going to do it again! I’ve decided to try doing two, one on Friday 28th March 10-1 and the second on Saturday 29th 1-4, keeping them small, with a maximum of four people each.  If you’re interested in these or future dates, leave a comment and I’ll send you a bit more info.

Exciting times!

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After a certain amount of umming and ahhing, I’ve pulled my finger out and organised this.   So on Saturday 8th February, I shall be teaching a workshop at my home in Battersea from 1-4pm.  Together we will make tags like these using traditional silversmithing techniques and tools.  We shall drink tea and eat homemade cake.  The cost, including sterling silver for the tags, is £65, plus £10 for a sterling silver snake chain, if you wish.  Want to join in?

 

 

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I made this for myself, back when I was just starting out on this making jewellery lark, and I love it.  It’s very simple, just three sterling silver tags, rounded edges, stamped with my children’s names in two millimetre high capital letters.  I wear it most days and I’m happy to say that I’ve made a few for other people now.

Someone asked me the other day if I’d teach them how to make their own name tag necklace, they wanted to have their own, but also wanted to learn some new skills and for it to be extra special, because they’d had a hand in it.  So this is what I came up with…

Silver tag necklace workshop

Would you like to learn some traditional silversmithing skills and make your own lovely personalised name tag necklace?

I will teach you how to:

  • cut your silver tags using a piercing saw
  • drill holes with a handheld bow drill
  • file and sand your tags to make them smooth
  • stamp names using metal letter punches

You’ll come away with the satisfaction of having made a beautiful piece of jewellery for yourself, or a brilliant present for someone else.

The workshop will last for three and a half hours, including a break for coffee and homemade cake.  Cost £90 including a ready made sterling silver snake chain and all materials.  Dates to be confirmed and it would be in London.

Interested?

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As well as not blogging, I’ve not been paying much attention to my fledgling jewellery business.  I’ve made a few things when people have asked me to, including cute little Cairn Terrier necklace and some dolphin earrings for my neighbour’s mum, but I’ve not updated my Etsy shop or even made much new.  After a lovely summer break spent romping on hillsides, it’s been hard to get back into it. Plus there always seems to be something more urgent to do, like take the dog to the vet or the children to the dentist.

A few weeks ago, friends started asking me if I was going to take a stall at the school Christmas shopping evening again. I was quite successful last year, sold a couple of things, got some commissions and outed myself to the school community as a jewellery maker.  But I think I was maybe selling the wrong stuff, everything was expensive.  You don’t go to a Christmas shopping fair expecting to spend lots on jewellery for yourself.  And I don’t know about you, but I don’t spend £60 or £80 a pop on presents for friends.

So I decided that I would take a table at the event, but sell cheaper stuff.  And to do that, I have starting thinking differently.  I can’t sell what I’ve made in the past more cheaply, because the hours that I put into each individual piece make that untenable.  But what I can do is design something and get copies made.  Which is where Mr. Fox comes in.

I made him from scratch.  Spent ages perfecting a drawing of him first.  I gave up art before I got to O’Level stage, and drawing isn’t my forte, but I usually get there in the end. Then I stuck a tracing of that drawing directly onto the silver and cut him out by hand, using a fret saw and such a tiny blade that you need very good eyesight to see the teeth.  I made a pretty little flat ring from a thin as anything strip of sheet silver and soldered the two together. Much filing, sanding and polishing later and you end up with one of the above.  If I sold it as is, I’d have to charge at least £60.

But I’m not going to do that.  I’m going to take him to a casting place and get a mould made.  They can then make exact copies, incorporating every single feature and imperfection, and all I’ll have to do is tidy them up and polish them.  I’ll spend maybe an hour on each one instead of five.  And I can bring the price right down to £25.  What do you reckon?