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Posts Tagged ‘silver’

I fell in love with a bought an antique Art Nouveau broken silver plated belt on eBay several years ago purely because of the Green Man masks on each section.

green man

I knew they would make gorgeous pendants/necklaces but I only got round to it the other day when I unearthed a damaged silver chain which was the perfect weight and patina to work with the panels.

There was just enough chain to make two necklaces.  The loops at the top of the panel were perfect to attach the chain, but that still left the loops at the bottom, which looked a bit odd without anything attached, so to the first one I added a drop with green cat’s eye beads, silver colour leaf beads and a central silver and abalone shell pendant from an odd earring, all threaded onto a length of silver wire.

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For the second one I used an odd labradorite earring drop, two labradorite beads on oxidised silver wire and a tiny length of silver chain to make the drop.

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They were a delight to make and can be found here and here in my Etsy shop.

Then only a few days later, I was looking for something else when I found some vintage embroidered linens in the back of a cupboard. Among them were two napkins, one quite badly holed and inspiration struck again! I cut them into sections for brooches or pendants and added to each one a hoop from various bits of odd vintage jewellery – bangles and earrings. The result…

 

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…three brooches: large Daisy Spray, medium Daisy Wreath and small Golden Daisy

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…and two pendants: Red Bellflower on the left and Brown Daisy on the right.

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For each one, I laminated two circles of buckram together and gathered the embroidered piece of fabric over it to stiffen it and did the same with a plain piece for the back. Then I hand stitched the circles together with the assorted hoops/bangles sandwiched in between to give the whole thing stability. I used a variety of stitches including herringbone stitch, ladder stitch, beaded ladder stitch and chain band (below) to give an attractive finish to the edges.

DSCN8948.JPGIt then depended on whether the hoop I used already had an integral loop or not whether the finished piece became a pendant or brooch.  Lots of fun but not appreciably more space in that cupboard – two napkins go a long way!

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Back in May we had a goldwork initial workshop with Brenda Scarman and I started to work a letter ‘O’ for a birthday card for my mother. As it was her birthday a couple of weeks ago I can finally reveal something I’ve finished!

At the end of the workshop I had got this far:

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I simplified the scrolls in the middle due to the thickness of the double couching thread and added more chips of silver purl, silver seed beads, turquoise bugle beads and french knots to the border.

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Not happy with the squashed spiral on the lower left, so I restitched that.

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Carried on beading and french knotting…

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…until it was finally finished.

And then I decided I preferred it up the other way!

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Simply framed with grey card to become a special birthday card. And a finish!!

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I’ve also upcycled an odd clip on earring front to make a beaded brooch

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…and turned some of my huge collection of sea glass and china into rings.

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Loads more projects still to get stuck into though!

 

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Our last Embroiderers’ Guild meeting was an all day workshop with Brenda Scarman on goldwork. Our aim was to transfer into fabric and then stitch an ornate letter using different goldwork techniques. For me this was an ideal opportunity to use up some of the goldwork threads I’ve accumulated through eBay over the last few years! Just as very small selection…!

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I chose the letter O not because it was an easy shape, but  because I hope to stitch this for a birthday card for my mum, whose name is Olwen. And as it was an easy shape I lazily copied it free hand onto this gorgeous hand dyed silk.

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Couching some sort of thread I had round the outside of the outline.

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And the inside.

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Then the silver leather. There is a single layer of felt underneath to give it a slightly raised feel but I wanted it to stay inside the outline.

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The next technique we were shown was chip work. That was fun! I started with dense chip work leading away from the leather, and then started to gradually add silvery clear beads and the odd french knot in turquoise.

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Gradually I lessened the silver and increased the turquoise, introducing more french knots and bugle beads.

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It was my first attempt at goldwork (I don’t count the pearl purl work I did on some of my hand made jewellery a couple of years ago) and I really enjoyed it. Now all I have to do is to get it finished for my mum’s birthday.

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My next upcycled jewellery project is this stunning vintage necklace.

Green quartz necklace 1

It probably dates from the 1950s or early 1960s and is in lovely condition, professionally strung, with gimp loops over the ends of the thread to protect it from rubbing through on the sterling silver catch. The gently graduated green beads are some kind of (probably dyed) quartz and feel cool and smooth. In between them are little crystal bicones. Well, apart from the one that was missing.

I had two choices: to take the necklace apart and restring it, replacing the missing spacer bead, (and I really didn’t want to mess with the quality of the original work) or as the missing bead was to the right of the central bead, I could remove the spacer on the other side and add something of my own silversmithing to hang below/frame the central bead and fit over the thread on either side. So I gently removed another spacer bead…

Green quartz necklace 2

…and began to doodle possible ideas. My first was an organic drop, possibly with some piercing, so I made a paper mock up – silver sheet is far too expensive to cut unless I’m positive the idea is going to work!

Green quartz necklace 3

I liked that, but when I showed it to my middle one, she pointed out that the spacers were angular and didn’t feel the organic flowing shape fitted the necklace design. I took this on board and Mock Up 2, a more angular, crystalline shape, followed:

Green quartz necklace 4

Actually, I quite liked that too, so I showed my husband. He was dead set against both of them and felt the drop should echo the main bead. Like this, possibly with a pierced centre:

Green quartz necklace 5

I also offered this alternative, with the possibility of a bead hanging from the tip:

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And also this one, using diagonals rather than vertical lines and with the disc having a hammered texture – actually, I’ll probably hammer all of them.

Green quartz necklace 7

The problem now is that I’ve got so many that I’m really not sure which design works best. Every family member has a different opinion so I’m asking for blog help. Here are the five designs I’ve outlined:

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Which design (if any) do you think works best to complement the original necklace so I end up with a happy marriage of quality vintage and contemporary hand made?

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Some time ago I cast a very flat acorn cup in silver with the intention of using it to hold embroidery as the bezel of a ring.
Silver acorn cup ring 1

Silver acorn cup ring 2

I turned the rest of my scrap silver into a flat sheet and cut a section for the shank of the ring which I textured with lace before cutting out the shape I’d designed for the shank.

Silver acorn cup ring 3

The shank formed and soldered.

Silver acorn cup ring 4

I don’t know if it’s me, but the silver seemes more ready to melt and reticulate than the brass I’ve used for most of my work and the solder joint actually fused and reticulated slightly.

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So there was a fair amount of cleaning up to do…

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…before I could get to this point.

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I managed to clean up the mess at the back fairly successfully so was extra careful when soldering the cup onto the shank. It was looking like a textbook solder…when the back of the shank suddenly slumped and I ended up with another fused reticulated mess, and one that is going to be less easy to sort than the back. :o(

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It was literally half a second and by the time I’d pulled the torch off, the damage was done.

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Luckily I’d always intended that this was to be for me and the ring still fits nicely, the fusing being hidden when it’s worn.

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A learning experience and the end result, although flawed, is still unusual and wearable.

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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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My tutor is keen for me to start working in silver but at the moment, as I’m not selling any of my jewellery, the cost is a bit of a worry. However, I do want to move into silver and also take advantage of the opportunity to try different techniques on my course so the other week I gathered up some scrap silver (broken jewellery) I’d got and decided to try some casting.

Some while ago I picked up these wonderful flat acorn cups…

Acorn cups

…and inspired by their flat frame like shapes, made some tiny embroideries to put into them.

Acorn cup spiral embroidery

What if…I could cast one in silver to become a bezel for a ring with embroidery inside it?

It took most of the evening, learning how to hammer the Delft clay solidly into the mould and make channels to let the silver in and the air out, marvelling at how incredibly the clay, which is more like a mouldable sand, holds the finest details of the acorn cup.

Then melting oddments of silver in a crucible on the hearth with the biggest blowtorch. Fighting the blinding afterglow in the centre of my vision to swiftly tip the contents of the crucible into the mould with everything mentally crossed that after two hours work setting the mould up that it would work when we opened it. It was pretty intense.

And the delight when my perfect silver acorn cup emerged from the charred clay was worth it all.

Silver acorn cup 1

With the original. I can’t believe the fine detail inside the cup.

Silver acorn cup 2

All that’s been done is I’ve cut off the excess silver from the back and it’s been polished in the barreller.

Silver acorn cup 3

Trouble is, I’m not sure I want to put some embroidery into the cup and hide all that fine detail now.

Silver acorn cup 4

Oh well, another one for the creative subconscious to work on while I get stuck into all the other projects clamouring for attention.

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