Sunday, 30 December 2007

Brief number 2: Bringing techniques together

We were given our latest brief at the last evening class before the break. The brief title is Combining materials and advanced techniques. This is the second brief at Level 3.

Here's an extract: ... Think about designing a piece of jewellery that uses at least two of the following techniques: repousse, forming, casting, enamelling, working with mixed media, a variety of metals or stone setting ...

This is the eighth brief since I started the evening classes in 2005, so it is probably a good time to start to consolidate techniques and try and get beyond the obvious learner pieces that I usually create.

Monday, 24 December 2007

Frosty leaves, tree rings and felt sausages

These photos were taken about 10 days ago at another of my favourite haunts, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, West Yorkshire. There had been a heavy overnight frost, but it was melting a little by the afternoon. I very much like the shapes of the leaves, and the way they are arranged on the plants (especially the red ones). However, I suspect the picture that will lead to the first item of jewellery is the one showing where a branch has been cut from a tree.

The mixture of textures is very appealing, and I was also struck by the similarity of the tree rings to some wool felt beads I made recently at a felt making workshop. In the picture you can see some simple earrings made from the beads, together with the sausage of wool from which the beads are cut.

The beads are made by the wet felting technique: layers of different colours are rolled up like a swiss roll, and then wet felted for a considerable time until the wool sausage is really hard. The beads are sliced from the sausage. This tutorial with pictures shows the principles. And there are some great tips from the Funky Felter about felt beads here.

My preliminary thoughts involve setting the felt in a wide wire frame, and then surrounding that with something with concentric crinkles.

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Hammered silver ring - WIP

The basis for this ring is 3 mm round wire. I wasn't too keen on the plain round profile, so decided to hammer the surface with a ball hammer. The result is quite pleasing. It is in wearable condition at present, but I will finish off the inside more neatly.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Christmas jewellery gift boxes

These little boxes are made from old Christmas cards. The middle-sized one is about 55 mm x 55 mm x 25 mm. There are many online tutorials for making boxes like these. The one I used is here.

I made a few minor adjustments:
  • I used old cards instead of paper. These are thicker than paper and you need a folding tool to help you make reasonably sharp creases. I used the case of an old pen.

  • For the box base, I found that a square with a side length 1 cm less than the square used for the box top worked well (except for very, very high quality card)

  • To avoid having folds across the top of the box, I ensured that my card was square by measuring instead of folding.

  • For the same reason, I also marked the centre of the square on the back in pencil, instead of the folding done in steps 3, 4 and 5. This means that one of the folds expected at step 12 is missing, but I found that it formed naturally at that point, so this wasn't a problem.

  • I used a little bit of sticky tape to hold the edges of the card together inside the box. This should help make it less likely that the recipient will unfold the box to discover who sent you the card! A felt, cotton wool or similar lining also neatens up the inside.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Silver fold formed earrings - completed

These are the earrings that appeared in two previous posts (1, 2). They have now been completed by soldering the wire hoop inside the fold formed shape, which wasn't too difficult. The easy solder melted very quickly and the main hazard was melting the wire hoop or the fold-formed piece itself.

The earring at the front of the photo turned out very well and I am pleased with it. The one carefully hidden away and out of focus at the back isn't so neat. It has the appearance of crumpled silver paper! If I want to wear these I think I'll need to make another one.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

The verdict

Here's the follow up to my post about putting a patterned surface inside a concave shape. Method A is my preference. The sample attached to the ring on the right of these photos is the Method A result. Each sample is about 25 mm long.

Method A involved hammering with a ball hammer inside the shape. This has given a stronger pattern than the inside-out planishing from Method B.

The planished back side on piece A is slightly less shiny than it was before hammering, but it still looks quite interesting. The plain back side of piece B is, I think, just a little too plain.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Patterned surface inside a concave shape

These are the pieces of silver that I recycled from an old bracelet. I sought advice about how to get an attractive planished surface on the inside of the form and tried two different approaches. The results are shown here, but as they haven't been polished yet, it isn't clear which one is the winner.

Method A. Protect the planished outside of the piece with masking tape. Place convex side down in largest indentation in doming block (i.e. so the curves fit), and hammer inside the form with a ball hammer.

Method B. Protect both sides of the piece with masking tape. Place convex side up in the largest indentation in doming block (i.e. so the curves don't fit, this is not shown in the picture), and use a wooden punch to dome it (turn it inside out).

The verdict on the results will appear in a future post.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Harlow Carr in December

I took these inspirational photos today at the Royal Horticultural Society Garden Harlow Carr, in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Cunning plan, Part 3

Here is the silver fold-formed shape previously seen in planning and during forming. I had some rather unambitious ideas about hanging it as a pendant from a cord of some sort, but my tutor has persuaded me that it deserves to be hung from a bespoke silver wire. It is the last class before the Christmas break next week, so I'll need to plan ahead to get it neatly finished.