Friday, 24 September 2010

The start of a new year for me ...for silversmithing

At last after such a long summer break my silversmithing class has returned. It was time to get out the trusty tool box. Yes it really is quite heavy and full of my precious tools.Jewellers are very protective of their tools and I am no exception!
I have a heavy tool box where I keep everything.

Here is a peep inside.

One of my most recent birthday presents from my husband was a beautiful planishing  hammer. 

To protect its mirror finish head it even has it's own made to measure stripey sock!

Our last class was at the end of June so it really was a long time ago. Every year the funding at the local council changes and every year I wonder if the class will be stopped but so far it has continued running.

I started my silversmithing classes in 2002 so this will  be my 9th year. Many people have come and gone. It is always good to see some of the old faces return and also to welcome some new.

I was unable to quite finish my last term's project which was to make a hinged locket. Hmmmm it really was as challenging as it sounds and took many, many weeks from its beginnings as a piece of flat sheet silver into a locket.
I also tried the process of etching for the first time so the lid on my locket has a 1930s art deco feel to it. To finish the locket I have to pass a 0.4mm piece of wire through the hand made 2 part hinge and then flatten the ends to keep the wire in. That way the locket will open.I will come back to my locket in a future blog and show some photos.

I thought you may be interested to see some photos here of some of my creations over the last 8years......

This is my very first creation, a ring, which I made in 2002. It really is very basic but I treasure it. It is a bezel set lapis lazuli cabochon. It took me a whole term to make it from a piece of flat silver!

This is the very 1st pair of earrings I made in 2003, again very basic.

 I sketched my idea onto paper and transferred the design to silver sheet and then sawed them out. I then added the pattern by running the pieces through the mill with a piece of  bag that oranges are sold in! The design gets transferred onto the metal as so much pressure is applied through the mill. I then made fittings to put them together so that they would hang properly.

Here is a chain I made in 2005. It was very time consuming to make as all the links have to be wound, cut and soldered from 1mm round silver wire but I love this necklace and I wear it a lot.

In 2006 we leaned how to cast using delft clay. I had such fun casting real shells in solid silver. I then made a chain and made my own seashell charm bracelet. This piece took a whole term to make, each shell took nearly 3 lessons to complete.

This is a forged bangle made in 2007, I made my daughter a similar one and it is one of her most worn pieces.

In 2008 one project was to design and make a spoon. At home we love having pickled onions at family parties/Christmas etc and we always find it difficult to get the onions out of the jar. So I made a pickled onion spoon complete with a cut out pickled onion on the top. The plaited handle was really fun to make.

There is a little onion on the top and I made feature at the back of the spoon where the handle met the bowl.
Doming the bowl and piercing it was tricky as I needed to keep the holes as I shaped it in a doming block.

This spoon has pride of place on our table when we have family tea/birthday/christmas celebrations. My husband jokes that it the family heirloom!

 I had a dabble with enamelling last year. Now there is another whole world to go to.... I made a flower  necklace and although my enamelling is a little basic it really is a delightful piece. I have it on a short silver chain and really enjoy wearing it.

I designed the flower and leaves which were  cut out of silver sheet. You can see the cloisonne wires between the colours, it was tricky keeping them in place in the kiln. The layers of powdered enamel are built up very slowly and each layer is fired in a kiln which melts them to glass. This piece had several firings and at any time there is the risk of burning  the enamel and ruining the piece. Thankfully that did not happen.

I hope that you enjoyed looking at some of my older pieces. My silversmithing gives me a great deal of pleasure although there are times when it would test the patience of a saint. One year I made a claw setting for a beautiful amethyst stone. I was soldering on the last claw and concentrating so hard that I managed to melt 2 of the claws I had already hand made and attached. Needless to say I put that project away for a couple of years but I did actually eventually finish it. I think that was my most challenging piece.

I will update you during the year as my projects develop. At class this week it was the usual health and safety, fire drill etc. Not a lot of hands on work was started but our 1st project is going to be press forming shapes...should be interesting!

Bye for now,

Jane x


  1. Wow Jane, I am impressed!!
    You have made some very beautiful pieces. I especially like the seashell bracelet and the ring is gorgeous.
    I hope you have fun this coming year and look forward to seeing some of your work.
    Enjoy your weekend. :)
    Vivienne x

  2. I am very impressed too, you are so talented Jane! I love silver (actually never wear anything else) and your pieces are stunning. I would die for a ring like that with a pink stone - ah... With my patience (zero) I couldn't get any jewelry done, ever. But yours are true heirlooms!!!

    Have a wonderful weekend and kiss to Billy!


  3. Thanks for you kind comments Vivienne. The seashell bracelet is one that I think my daughter "has her eye on". At some point it will be hers!
    It's blowing a gale here tonight and SO much colder.
    Enjoy your weekend too, our plasterer is finally due to come tomorrow :0)
    Jane X

  4. Hi Mia thanks so much for the compliment, very kind. I also love silver and it really is extra special to wear something that I have made from either silver wire or sheet.(My daughter also loves her pieces made with love by her Mum).
    I know how much you like pink-LOL!
    Billy is sensibly sitting on a chair at the moment as a storm seems to be building up and its really cold out. He sends you a very loud purr and like me wishes you a happy weekend,

    Love Jane x

  5. Wow! Although I do agree and adore the ring, favoring your heirloom piece of the onion spoon is truly so unbelievably unique. Beautiful!

    Have a great weekend. Can't wait to see your new project.

    Dani x

  6. Hi Dani,thanks for your comment. I must admit the onion spoon is great fun. It was actually on display as part of a creative crafts exhibition at the library that year. I was most anxious that it did not get lost when the show closed but thankfully there was no problem and it came safely home.
    Have a good weekend,
    Jane x

  7. Wow, Jane! I'm so impressed with your silversmithing abilities. All of your pieces are beautiful - I especially love the lapis lazuli cabuchon and the bracelet..gorgeous pieces! Wishing you well as you endeavor further with this - you definitely have a talent for this!

    It is a delight getting to know you and your world!

  8. PS - I love your "family heirloom" : ) That is one fantastic spoon with a purpose!!

  9. Thanks so much Shirley, such kind comments :0) We always smile when the "pickled onion spoon" comes out. I should think the next outing now will be Christmas!

    I love it that you are enjoying seeing life this side of the pond!! Enjoy - you are so welcome.

    Have a creative week! Love Jane x

  10. Lovely, lovely pieces Jane. That pickle spoon is especially fabulous and I also love the shell bracelet.

    Might need to add another thing I'd love to learn more about to my ever extending list!


  11. Thanks Beth,there are just so many wonderful crafts around! A new medium I am also interested in having a "play" with is PMC (precious metal clay). When dried in a kiln it changes from a mouldable clay to purer silver than sterling silver! They have also brought out bronze and copper versions. Watch this space. Oh how I wish there were more hours in day..LOL! Jx

  12. they are all beautiful Jane, i love the stripey sock idea too xx

  13. Thanks Nicola, there are all sorts of socks/covers fellow silversmiths at our class use to cover their hammers but my stripey one is my fave!! Jane x

  14. Oh wow! You have such a really pretty jewellery pieces! :)

  15. Hi Nattie, welcome to my blog, great to see you here and thanks for such a kind comment!


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Jane x