The Art of Living by Making Art

Jewellery inspired by nature and made by hand.
How I make it, why I make it, the challenges I face and the successes that come my way.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I know that everyone makes mistakes and does thoughtless things in the studio but sometimes when you are on your own and make a doozy of a blunder you have the feeling that no-one else would be as stupid. Here is what I did over the weekend so you all can learn from my disaster...

By the end of Friday I had completed five new necklaces in silver and enamel. All that remained to do was to add a sterling silver jump ring to each piece and to carefully solder it closed. I have done this before quite a few times and using extra-easy solder and a very small torch flame have been successful. I have also briefly pickled the pieces to clean up the jump ring with no problems.

Saturday morning: I went ahead with the process as described but as I took the pieces out of the pickle pot I noticed the enamel was matte not glossy and pitted looking on each piece. Eventually I figured out that the pickle I was using was stronger than normal - I recalled I had made up a strong batch some time before and it was much evaporated and so even stronger. So there I was holding a bunch of ruined pendants.

I spent all saturday removing jump rings, stoning down enamel and refiring and re-soldering rings. As for re-pickling, I just poured some pickle into a small container and held the pendat upside down so only the jump ring was submerged - worked fine.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Organised Randomness

My most recent commission was an exercise in organised randomness. How to creatively arrange a group of stones so that they looked pleasingly random on top of the ring? I could have spent weeks just re-arranging the stones within the circle endlessly, never quite satisfied that they looked really random. Obviously there was a limit to how long I could spend so what did I do?
I started with 16 stones. I took out two, one was badly chipped and the other was a very strange uneven cut. Of the remainder I found two matching ones, one to go on each shoulder of the shank which I put aside. That was the easy part. I was left with one big stone, three medium big stones and eight very very small stones.
I played around with the composition of these stones for several days! I was aiming for a casual looking arrangement whereby the stones looked easily spaced out but not evenly spaced. I put aside one of the tiny stones to give me an odd number, this helped. In the end I never did really resolve the arrangement to my complete satisfaction but I had to stop and actually make the ring so that is what I forced myself to do. Even after I had soldered all the bezels in place I was still tempted to add the last little stone but I knew it would only make the design slightly different, not better, so I resisted the temptation.