Posts Tagged ‘gilding metal’

Sometimes things stall so close to completion that you wonder later how and why you ran out of steam when so little more effort was needed to get a finish. This pendant is a case in point. When I finished my silversmithing course last year it was at this stage:

Pierced impressed pendant 1


All it needed was a piece of drilled sea glass to go in the hole and it was finished. It was at that point that I learned that drilling sea glass is an art and trying to drill a nugget the size of a very scrawny pea is an art currently beyond me. After a morning and several pieces of sea glass wasted, I gave up and decided that a bead would do fine.

But it wasn’t until last week that I actually bothered to go in search of a suitable bead and found some vintage faux pearls which graduate from a shade very close to the colour of the gilding metal to a soft verdigris green.

Pierced impressed pendant 2

It took all of 5 minutes to mount the bead on a headpin and then into the pendant. Another 5 minutes to find the hand-dyed ribbon I’d planned to go with it and 15 more to list it here in my Etsy shop.

Impressed pierced pendant 3

And the rest of the day wondering why I hadn’t done it months ago!

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This piece of gilding metal was stuck with round stickers and then run through the rolling mill to impress the pattern into it. They turned out oval, but I love the effect; like a scattering of bubbles.

Bubbles book charm 1

Halved, drilled, corners smoothed round and polished into book boards.

Bubbles book charm 2

A tiny book…

Bubbles book charm 3

…with hand dyed silk pages…

Bubble book charm 8

…and coptic stitch binding in hand-dyed orange silk thread.

Bubbles book charm 4

Then the closure.

Bubbles book charm 5

A pop of bright blue from a coco shell disc bead held in place with a striped seed bead and finished with a gold coloured jump ring as a bale.

Bubbles book charm 6

And in comparison with a penny (same size as a cent).

Bubbles book charm 7

I also started the grid book charm with pages of a very loose hand dyed cheesecloth cotton in purple and green.

Grid book charm mk 1 a

Unfortunately the very loose nature of the fabric made it really difficult to get the tension of the binding right, the fabric pulled into holes in places and the stitching inside was really untidy.

Grid book charm mk 1 b

So despite the beauty of the fabric, back to the drawing board for this one. Indigo dyed cotton I think, for mark 2.

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Some while ago I bought some dyed silk cocoons just because I fell madly in love with the colour.

Silk cocoons

It occurred to me a couple of months ago that they would be wonderful combined with something in the brass line to become jewellery of some sort.  Perhaps with the hole fitted with a cap of domed brass…? I scribbled some preliminary ideas but didn’t actually get round to doing anything until last week, when I had some time to spare waiting for something to finish steeping in the pickle.

I was introduced to a doming block and doming punches and after cutting myself a piece of brass, rather tentatively began. Wow! It was a lot easier than I’d thought it was going to be, and I quickly produced this cute little cap.

Brass dome 1

I then hammered it all over the convex side to give it a lovely finish… and found it was fractionally too small for the cocoons!

Brass dome 2

But it’s lovely, I’m sure I can find something to do with it and now I know how to dome the metal, I’ll be cutting out some slightly bigger circles during the week to have a blitz on making them on Wednesday!

I also used my favourite lace to do a bit more impressing with the rollers. On gilding metal:

Lace texture on gilding metal

Lace texture on gilding metal 2

I love this pattern, especially the bright shiny areas where the larger holes were in the lace. It’s like bark or snakeskin, really organic.

Lace texture on gilding metal 3

same lace on brass – this has been tumble-polished.

Lace texture on brass

And on silver, for something very special. 🙂

Lace texture on sterling silver

More of that later…

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Only two weeks of my course left which has sent me into a frenzy of starting and stockpiling pieces of impressed and reticulated metal so I have something to work on through the summer! So nothing finished but loads to inspire.

The bubbles and grid book charms in gilding metal have both been drilled, polished and sealed and are awaiting their pages.

Bubbles book charm

Grid book charm

Another pierced and impressed piece of gilding metal is ready for the sea glass centre.

Chenille sea glass pendant 1

A blue fragment from Seaham – the perfect shape.

Chenille sea glass pendant 2


These are tiny offcut circles from another piece which I couldn’t resist reticulating. They need polishing in the barreller but they remind me of cornflakes!


I love to include text in my work and I experimented with leaving spaces in a piece of reticulated metal which could be engraved. 

Reticulation with spaces 1

A section of the larger piece cut for a pendant. This needs annealing again to get rid of the pink oxide in the folds of the reticulation.

Reticulation with spaces 2

Another piece reticulated into holes to cover a failed attempt to impress the brass with some embroidered fabric.

Reticulation 2

And more successful impressing:

Impressed brass 1

The same diamond grid fabric as above but over a failed impression and with less pressure from the rollers.

Impressed brass 2

Layering impressions of lace and a lacy fabric.

Impressed brass 3

I’m going to have to plan my remaining two sessions very carefully to get the maximum out of them.

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Only three weeks of my jewellery making and silversmithing course left and so much I’m desperate to do! I have lists everywhere; ideas and sketches of things I want to try in my sketchbook, jobs I can do at home with my small selection of tools, and things I can only do in the fully equipped workshop at the college.

So lots of things have been started this week, both at home to be finished/continued at college, and in the workshop, to be finished or continued at home!

Another scrap of reticulated brass to make another brooch like my goldwork spirals on the blue silk.

Beginnings - brooch

Turning this piece of gilding metal impressed with some sticky circles…

Beginnings bubbles book charm 1

…into a set of covers for another book charm.

Beginnings bubbles book charm 2

Impressing more brass with embroidered fabric.

Beginnings impressed brass 1

I put this one through the rollers on a slightly too small setting, which distorted the imprint of the embroidery but the crispness of the weave comes out so well at the sides.

Beginnings impressed brass 2

And some wide leafy lace, which being dark green, is a bit difficult to see at the top of the photo.

Beginnings - impressed brass 3

Beginnings - impressed brass 4

I have plans for this off cut of reticulated brass now it’s been barrelled.

Beginnings 2

And these reticulated shisha shapes.

Beginnings - shishas

And that’s not everything! Now all I need is about another 12 hours in the day. 🙂

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Right back at the beginning of my jewellery making course we impressed some gilding metal with various textured items. I had some success using a heavily stitched commercial fabric, ending up with these three pieces.

Silk and gilding metal book locket 1

I decided to try and make the two smaller pieces into covers for some sort of book locket or charm and started drilling holes (not very evenly!) in one edge of each for the stitching.

Silk and gilding metal book locket 2

Having enjoyed using fabric for the pages of the books I made at the start of the year, I opted for three fragments of pure silk; two in coppery tones and one bright turquoise blue, with the stitching thread to tone.

Silk and gilding metal book locket 3

Once the holes were drilled, including one for a bead closure, I filed the corners round and put the boards in the barreller to polish them up.

Silk and gilding metal book locket 4

Knowing how quickly any copper based alloy dulls, I gave them both a coat of clear nail varnish – not very orthodox, but it works! Then I could start constructing the book. Not easy when you compare the size of the finished item to a penny.

Silk and gilding metal book locket 5

I used a coptic stitch for the binding and really enjoyed the way it worked up, with little chains of hand dyed waxed silk thread across the spine…

Silk and gilding metal book locket 6

Silk and gilding metal book locket 7

…and neat rows of back stitch in the centre of the pages.

Silk and gilding metal book locket 8

Silk and gilding metal book locket 9

The closure is a natural turquoise bead held with a gold seed bead and a tail of the same thread as I used to stitch the binding…

Silk and gilding metal book locket 10

…which simply wraps around the book and winds around the turquoise nugget to hold it closed.

Silk and gilding metal book locket 11

Silk and gilding metal book locket 12

It really is a dear little thing and the coptic stitch works perfectly. I just need to drill a hole in the top back corner and add a jump ring so it can be added to a chain or bracelet.

And don’t forget, there is still time to enter my blog anniversary giveaway


                                          to win my lilac sea glass piece here

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The Easter break is over and it’s back to my jewellery making and silver smithing course. Before the holiday I created three elements for a linked pendant – three hammered teardrops of brass, gilding metal and copper.

Linked hammered pendant 1

Last night I finished it.

Linked hammered pendant 2

I used a hacksaw to cut slots between the holes I’d drilled and bent the tips of the two larger teardrops through the holes to link them.

Linked hammered pendant 3

After a great deal of bad language and only after being introduced to a tool I wish I’d been told about in the first place, I successfully soldered a brass bale onto the back of the largest teardrop…

Bale close up

… and polished the whole thing.

Linked hammered pendant 4

I am inordinately proud of it, despite the wonkiness of the slots and therefore the slightly crooked way it hangs, the fact the bale is slightly off centre and the smallest teardrop is not as symmetrical as the others.

But as a design, a technical response to our challenge to create a piece of jewellery utilising a linkage system, I’m very pleased. It came together pretty much as I’d envisaged it and that’s a rare and precious thing!

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This is my third ring.  I wanted to make a punched design which actually worked this time and found a stylised fan shaped punch which impressed beautifully.

Fan punch ring 1

This time I had to cut the rectangle of gilding metal myself and therein lie some lessons. The piece I cut was not quite even, so when I came to bend it round to meet, I had a lot of filing to do, as you can see on the right.

Fan punch ring 2

 Also, the metal itself wasn’t quite as thin as the metal I’d been provided with for the other two rings, so in hindsight I should have rolled it, which might have made it easier to get the ends to join. The soldering was fine, but the join, as you can see, is not!

Fan punch ring 3

But it’s all learning, and these are mistakes I won’t be making again – hopefully!

I’m going to work on my silk stitched reticulated bracelet at home over the Easter break as most of the next part of the process involves drilling lots of holes. Now I have my own bow drill and some more drill bits (I managed to break both the first two I’d bought in one evening…) it’s something I can do outside of the workshop, thereby maximising my chance to use tools and techniques in the workshop that I can’t at home.

So I decided to make an articulated pendant as part of the linkage system idea. Each of the rolled (I’d learned that lesson!), hand cut and hammered shapes is made from a different metal – from left to right – brass, gilding metal and copper.

Hammered linked pendant 1

The two smaller elements have two holes drilled in the top edge.

Hammered linked pendant 2

My next step when we return after Easter is to use a piercing saw to cut a slot between the holes. Then the pointed tip of the previous element will go through the slot and be folded back on itself behind to make a link. The finished pendant will look something like this:

Hammered linked pendant 3

I haven’t given up on the sewing/embroidery and hopefully will have some more rusting stitching to show soon.

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As well as oxidising and reticulation we also experimented with putting pieces of annealed gilding metal through rollers and by placing textured items such as fabric, snakeskin, feathers etc on top, impressing the surface of the metal with the imprint of the item.

A grid like jute ‘ribbon’ that came round a bunch of flowers. This went through about three times, with the ‘ribbon’ moved slightly each time.

Impressed patterns 1

Chenille thread, wound round the gilding metal rectangle before I ran it through the rollers. Patterned on both sides but the chenille turned to dust as it came through.

Impressed patterns 2

Impressed patterns 3

Stick-on round dots, the sort of thing you get to decorate hand made cards, turned into ovals by the pressure. I love this – it’s like bubbles.

Impressed patterns 4

The night I did the bubbles I really wasn’t getting anywhere at all. Other stickers that I used just crumpled into a mess, the reticulation wasn’t working and I felt I was getting nowhere.

I had hoped to imprint some gilding metal with a lovely piece of antique crocheted lace, but it had turned to dust under the rollers and left a splodgy mess in the metal. I annealed it again, ran it through the rollers like home made pasta to stretch the metal out and then tried a piece of silk carrier rod. It didn’t make much of a pattern, just faint lines…

Impressed patterns 5

…but importantly, it the silk didn’t crumble like the cotton had, not even after several trips through the rollers. Silk. High tensile strength. I went home and hunted out samples of textured, embroidered or woven fabric in either silk or purely man-made fibres.  

The first piece I tried was a motif of concentric circles in pure polyester.

Impressed patterns 6

Not only did it imprint brilliantly, it was also strong enough to do two more pieces before the pressure of the rollers started to destroy the fabric.

You can see the central shape, which was a circle with no stitching, starting to distort through the three pieces, but it proved that my theory was a good one.

Impressed patterns 7

I want to make a tiny book locket/pendant with the two bottom pieces, another one with fabric (probably very fine silk) pages, hence the piercing you can see starting along one edge.

Impressed patterns 7

It has to be fabric and metal. Silk and metal for preference but textiles have to be in there somewhere. Now I know how I can combine them it feels like a weight has lifted.

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I adore jewellery and just before Christmas I signed up for a jewellery making and silversmithing course at one of the Sheffield colleges. It’s a six month course with no big qualification attached, just a college certificate, but I wanted to do something  unusual, something that would be a challenge and something where I could explore another creative medium. Quite a jump from needle and thread – not that I’m abandoning my textile work, just widening my skill base.

Like many British women, my opportunities for experiences with resistant materials at school were very limited. I’m familiar with a range of tools because I was allowed to poke around in my dad’s workshops/sheds as a child, but metalworking was all very new. And scary. And fascinating.

The first week we were thrown into the world of pickling, hammering, annealing, shaping and soldering and given a piece of gilding metal (copper zinc alloy) to turn into a ring. To my amazement I not only made one, I went home wearing it.

First hammered ring 1

It has a simple hammered texture that I love and that came up like rose gold on the polishing wheel. The join is wonky where I didn’t cut straight because I was concentrating on not snapping the fine blade of the hacksaw and also not cutting  into the opposite side of the ring.

First hammered ring 2

The gap was too wide and the soldering is blotchy and obvious, but as a first attempt, well out of my comfort zone, I was very satisfied.

First hammered ring 3

The next week our first task was to come in and make another ring straight off, remembering the techniques from the first week. I decided to use a punch to texture my metal but it wasn’t a success, giving only a partial shape which I had to go with. I hammered it as well, just to try to salvage the mess. This is how the metal looks before polishing. A much better cut and join this time, so I am improving.

Punched and hammered ring 1

After polishing. I quite like the partial marks from the punch now; almost like hieroglyphs.

Punched and hammered ring 2

And a much better soldered join.

Punched and hammered ring 3

The second week we also looked at other techniques for altering the metal including oxidising copper to get a wonderful range of magentas and purples. It seems a bit hit and miss – well certainly for me as a novice. I just heated the copper, quenched it and had a look at what I’d got. if I didn’t like it I stuck it into the acid bath and tried again, but this I did like.

Oxidised copper 1

I love the colours and the ringed spots remind me of Kaffe Fassett textiles. And yes, I guess even working with metal, for me, it all comes back to textiles at some point.

Oxidised copper 2

At the end of the evening, the tutor told us to start thinking about ways we could take some of our pieces of altered metal and finish them into items of jewellery. It’s a long drive home from Sheffield with plenty of time for thinking and by the time I got home I had ideas…

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