Friday, 30 November 2007

Cunning plan, Part 2

It seems to be working! In a previous post I described my plan to fold-form a, very slightly, different shape. Each of the pictures above was taken after a hammering stint, before annealing. Click on the image to enlarge. I've done all the hammering now. Next step will be to open the shape up a bit.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Thrifting silver

Until recently I had thought that the only way to reuse the silver in this old bracelet (at the back of the picture) would be to melt it down and use it for casting. However, with my recent experience in forming, it occurred to me that the components could be recycled by forming techniques, which would also wipe out the surface pattern. The two shiny bits of silver in the front of the picture were each generated by annealing a link from the bracelet, and planishing it on a steel stake.

The process has made the links grow from 22 mm long to 25 mm long. They were each annealed twice and the pattern, which is now on the side not shown in the picture, has gone completely.

Altogether I have six links to work with. I'm going to planish the concave side of one to mount on a ring. I need to think about what to do with the rest, and would welcome any suggestions.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Cunning plan

This (you can click on the image for a larger view) is my idea for converting the fold formed earring project into a pendant. Instead of cutting two separate tapered pieces, I'll keep them joined together. I am planning to try option (a) rather than (b), as the wider part of the fold is then available for drilling holes for hanging the pendant. My main concern is that the curve will form quite differently than it did for two separate pieces. We'll see!

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Fold formed jewellery: three websites

John S Brana's Sea Cliff collection includes several dramatic and beautiful fold formed items. Use the menu link to the shop to see more. (

Charles Lewton-Brain is the pioneer of fold-forming. This page shows the incredible range of shapes that can be achieved. (

An image of a stunning fold-formed ring from Nick Grant Barnes. (

Friday, 23 November 2007

Silver fold formed earrings - WIP

These silver earrings are being made in exactly the same way as the first copper pair (I followed the project on p60 of Elizabeth Olver's Jewellery Making Techniques Book).

In this picture they have just been opened out a little, after annealing and pickling. Next step will be polishing. It is more difficult working with silver than with copper, but I'm still finding this technique appealing.

In spite of taking extra care to fold and cut the two bits of metal in the same way, I have again produced two pieces of different sizes. And I also discovered that it is important to concentrate the hammering on the folded part, or the curve disappears!

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Finished solder bowl

This shallow copper bowl was previously seen as a work in progress (in this post and in this post). I have now completed it by soldering a copper ring on the base so that it stands up properly. The bowl is about 6 cm long and stands about 1 cm high.

The idea is to use it to hold pallions of solder so that they are easy to pick up when soldering.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Oooooooh! I won a prize!

My entry was one of the winners in the Whiplash Challenge! Thank you! I'm really excited about this. Do go and see all the entries, via this link.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Fold forming: the process

In my last post I mentioned the thrill of seeing my first attempts at fold forming taking shape. This set of photos was taken at various points along the way. I had my mind on the hammering and annealing and not the photography, so my apologies for the deficiencies in exposure and the inconsistencies in layout and scale. Click on the image for a larger version.

1. Just starting to hammer the folded pieces

2. After the first round of hammering, before annealing again

3. After the second round of hammering, before annealing again

4. After the third round of hammering, before annealing again

The back of each piece (not seen in these photos) is flat. Note how the slight difference in size between the two pieces, which arose from my lack of precision in folding, was retained throughout.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Fold forming delight

These earrings are my very first attempt at fold forming and I am thrilled with the result. I followed the project on p60 of Elizabeth Olver's Jewellery Making Techniques Book. It was very satisfying when the tapered, folded metal began to form the promised curve! I shall include photos taken at different stages of the process in a later post. I used 0.5 mm copper sheet (instead of 0.4 mm) and changed the hoops to posts, but otherwise followed the instructions. The outer diameter of each semi-circle measures about 35 mm.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Seed heads

I found these seed heads by the roadside in East Lothian at the weekend. Of course they don't look quite like this in real life, as I had some fun tinting the picture to go with the blog! I think these would be good for casting. They are open at the top and I love the little crown around the edge.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

How not to chase

A quote from the Ganoskin article on repoussé:
"If [the tool] tilts too much it will hop along leaving spaces between points of contact and making a dotted line."
In this image (click for a larger view) you can see that I have managed to make not just one but several dotted lines that overlap! Ah, the learning process ...

Friday, 9 November 2007

From little acorns: a necklace for Whiplash

The idea for this necklace had its origins earlier this year. At my jewellery making evening class we were given the opportunity to have an object cast in silver. The object had to be one that would be burned away in the lost wax casting method, and I took along a cluster of three empty acorn cups.

The resulting silver piece was attractive, and I toyed with the idea of adding felt balls to the cups, but in the end decided the silver was just a little heavy for jewellery.

When autumn arrived I started to make a selection of felt balls in autumnal colours, some with patterns. I wanted to make something a little different from the plain bead strings I'd made before, and it was when I picked up some more acorn cups that I realised what to do. I would put felt balls into real acorn cups. These would require cold connections, so this would also give me more practice with tube riveting, with which I haven't had much success to date. The main part of the necklace (there's a photo right at the end of this post) is made up of felt balls strung on 0.46 mm 7 strand beading wire. The balls are made from merino tops. The basic shape of each one was made by needle felting. A few of the balls have patterns (spots and stripes) that were added by needle felting. All the balls were finished off by wet felting. The necklace has a wet-felted string, and fastens with a felted ball and loop. There are silver jumps rings included in various places to balance the appearance of the shiny rivets.

It is the pendant that involved the most work. It is made up of two acorn cups, complete with stalks, and bound together with 0.6 mm sterling silver wire. Each cup has a felt ball attached to it by a tube rivet. Here's how I did the riveting.

Step 1. Wash the acorn cups thoroughly. I collected mine in an area grazed by sheep so was very conscious of the need for this!

Step 2. Make the first hole in the side of the cup. I used a 1.2 mm bit in a small hand drill, and then enlarged the hole with a 1.5 mm drill (I am going to be using 1.6 mm outer diameter tubing for the riveting). I found that trying to bevel the outside of the hole to get a countersunk rivet led to me breaking the acorn cups. This is an option better left for riveting in metal.

Step 3. Start the second hole by first putting the drill through the first hole, so that the two holes will be well aligned. Make the second hole.

Step 4. Before cutting the tubing, push it through both holes. This will enlarge the hole to just the right size and you can mark the tube to show where to cut. Have only about 1 mm sticking out at each end. If the tube is too long it will bend when you try to form the rivet - I know, mine did!

Step 5. Cut the tube to length using a piercing saw, neaten the ends with a needle file.

Step 6. Place a felt ball in the cup. Run a large needle through the holes and through the ball. Repeat in the other direction. Then place the needle back in the channel you have just created and pull the needle back and forth, keeping it in the ball, so that you can remove the cup.

Step 7. Replace the needle with a round needle file or an awl and leave it in place. This will enlarge the channel ready to take the tubing, but it needs to stay in place as holes in felt balls are self healing, and the hole will have disappeared by the time you've picked up your tubing for the next step!

Step 8. Push the cut-to-length tube through the hole in the ball instead of the file/awl.

Step 9. Insert the ball and tube into the cup, pushing the ends of the tube through the holes in the cup.

Step 10. Fix the tube in place using standard tube riveting techniques, which I won't cover here. Tube riveting is described in most Jewellery Techniques books, and there's an online tutorial available here. You need to register to get access to the tutorial, but registration is free.

Step 11. Throw away your broken acorn cup, choose a new one and return to step 2! It was difficult to rivet the delicate acorn cups, and I broke five cups along the way to successfully riveting two for the pendant.

And here's the finished necklace:

It has both fibre and found objects and fits the Whiplash theme for October/November 2007, which is fibre & mixed media inspired jewellery.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Shiny but not quite square

These are the planished earrings previously posted in their unpolished state. Now, after tumble polishing, they are nice and shiny. It has been pointed out that they are not quite square, so I'll need to take a file to them. The side length is about 15 mm.
The planishing effect is subtle - I probably appreciate the appearance of these more now than I would have done before I knew about the technique!

Monday, 5 November 2007

New tools and a challenge

This repoussé hammer was on special offer, and I couldn't resist it. I think it will be suitable for planishing too. There is a shortage of undamaged tools at the class, so it will be great to have my own.

And the challenge? I've decided to enter the latest whiplash from whip up. The theme is fibre and mixed media inspired jewellery. You enter by posting a photo and a story or tutorial on your own blog. The closing date is 15 November - so my entry will be appearing here before then.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

More planishing

Carried on planishing the shallow copper bowl at the class this week. It is looking OK, but there are a few dents from the edge of the hammer. The two smaller pieces in the photo are also planished, from 0.5 mm copper sheet, but they'll need a stint in the tumble polisher to bring the finish back up again after pickling.