Friday, 2 October 2015

A DIY Revolving Soldering Board And Some New Enamel Earrings

So, it's been a while. My last blog post was the end of August. I decided to take a few weeks off in September to just have a break and to get over the "bangle-burnout" I was suffering from. July and August were very busy in my shops for bangles especially and everything else {ironing mostly} was just not getting done... plus I just felt like a break. 

I had a long list of things I had to do during my break which included doing some decorating, make new stock, make some new silver bangles for hallmarking, do the ironing {!}, tidy kitchen cupboards, clean my shed and varnish my jewellery bench, register on Amazon Handmade, update my website and mourn my sweet cat Tuppence. Hang on! That last bit wasn't part of the plan but sadly old age caught up with her and she was put to sleep on Sept 2nd.

So I spent a couple of days feeling sad and missing a cat who had become my constant companion for the last few years. She liked to sit on my knee when I was at my computer and would stare intently at the screen as I attempted to type and quite often would help me to type too, adding a long line of 0000000000000000's to my text when I least expected it. 

I did get quite a lot of the things on my list done despite feeling a bit down. I made some new stock, including the enamel earrings above, which I'll post about next week plus I came up with a really cheap alternative to the shockingly expensive revolving soldering stand that Cookson Gold sell for £43! Ok, the Cookson Gold stand is made of cast iron and it's a lovely shade of blue. Mine cost me just over £2 and bit of Super Glue.

I bought some lazy susan bearings from which are very cheap - £2.19 and free delivery - took an old soldering board and some Super Glue and glued the bearings onto the board.

I was going to screw the bearings onto the board but it just started to crumble when I tried drilling a hole in it so I tried attaching it with the glue and it worked fine.
I then put another soldering board on top and ta da! A revolving soldering board!

The board sits quite safely on top of the bearings and I can raise the height of it if I need to by just sitting it on top of a few more boards. I'm sure a slightly bigger board would work ok on it too. I've used it a couple of times and it's great! It's really useful for the type of bangles I make with a length of wire coiled and twisted round the bangle as I like to solder the wire in place around the bangle.

Being able to turn the soldering board as I pick solder the wire in place makes life a bit easier and I'm all for anything that makes soldering easier :D

Copyright © 2015 Cinnamon Jewellery. All rights reserved.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Featured In Making Jewellery Designer Profile!

Issue 84 of Making Jewellery magazine came out last week and as a MJ contributor it's my turn to be featured in the Designer Profile section!
I had to answer 8 questions asking things such as - What made me take the plunge to start selling my jewellery/What are the challenges of working with enamel and If I wasn't a designer I would be...
There's some nice photos of my jewellery too.

I look a bit hot and bothered in my photo - for some reason I thought it would be in black and white so didn't worry about editing the rosy cheek thing I had going on before I sent it off :D

Copyright © 2015 Cinnamon Jewellery. All rights reserved.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Liquid Enamel Abstract Scribble Earrings

I've had an idea floating around in my head this last week or so to make some enamel earrings using liquid enamel over a black base with an abstract and simple {very!} scratched design. 
My previously mixed liquid enamel colours had sat on the shelf for a few months since I last used them and had dried up so I needed to add some distilled water to them and stir like a mad thing to get them mixed and smooth again before I could start.

I decided to create a couple of new colours from two existing liquid enamel shades so added some more yellow and green to a boring green colour I had to produce the bright green shade in the middle. I also added more blue and green to another mix to produce the greeny-blue shade on the right. That's the great thing with liquid enamels - you can mix them and create new colours.

To begin I enamelled some copper shapes on both sides with an opaque black then applied a layer of liquid enamel.

On my first attempt the liquid enamel was too thick and when I scratched the design most of it flaked off in big chunks. So after a bit of swearing, I washed it all off, then added more distilled water to my liquid enamel colours and started again...

Liquid enamel layer too thick - you can see the bumps in it as it's drying.

Second attempt - much smoother. I've found the liquid enamel needs to be thick enough to cover the enamel/metal base properly but liquid enough to flow and find it's own level, especially if you need to add a bit more.

Now I did forget to take a photo of the scratching the design bit in my excitement but this is what I used.

It's a tool used in metal clay work and it should have a metal ball at the end. I have no idea what I did to it to make the ball fall off but filed and sanded the end was ideal to use to scratch through the liquid enamel layer!

The green-blue earring just after firing. The colour gets brighter as the copper and enamel cools. The scratched design was experimental and quite "loose" as you can see :D I think I'll call it "abstract"...
 I find it hard to be very precise with sgraffito designs!

The finished earrings. 

I got some crackling effects going on too which was unexpected but I quite like the look.
 I'm hoping my next attempts will be better. I think I'll add a bit more water to the liquid enamel so it's a bit thinner in the hope that will avoid the larger chunks coming off as I scratch the design.
As ever, working with enamel is a learning curve but it's fun to experiment :D

Copyright © 2015 Cinnamon Jewellery. All rights reserved.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

New Hoops, New Bangles And A Small Soldering Obstacle Overcome

After a frenzy of bangle making recently I had a couple of slow days so I grabbed the chance the make some new stuff. I have a long list of "things to make" but decided to go for a few pairs of hoop earrings with post fitting. I've sold a few pairs recently so they needed replacing.

I started with a couple of pairs in silver - a simple hammered pair and a flattened design with embossed pattern...

I oxidized both pairs but I think the embossed pair might have looked nicer left shiny... {will do that next time}. They do look lighter in real life than they appear in this photo.

I also made a pair of hammered texture hoops in bronze and copper. I'm liking bronze more and more these days. Grappling with the thicker gauges can be a challenge as it's a harder metal than copper but the lovely golden brown tones you get when you oxidize it then clean it up with wire wool are lovely.

The more golden brown tones of bronze.

The slightly more red tones of copper.

I made some "new" bangle designs too. I say new but it's not really new it's just a hammered texture that I haven't done before on a bangle. And I got to use my lovely Fretz goldsmiths hammer for the first time. I now know why they cost a lot more than some other hammers and why they are totally worth it.

And A Small Soldering Obstacle Overcome.....
Anyone who solders knows it can be tricky and especially tricky when you want to solder a tiny thing to a much bigger thing. Things melt. Up to now I have used stud post fittings that are attached to a pad. They make it easier to solder to the earring and can add more stability. You can still melt them though but I haven't done that in a long time. The last hoop earrings with post fittings I made had the post and pad fittings that I then trimmed as they were bigger than the end of the hoop wire. This time I decided I needed to just get over it and learn to solder the tiny posts to my hoops instead.

The tiny piece of wire that makes a stud post compared to the post and pad version.

Learning to solder the posts onto my hoops would be quicker, I'd have less finishing, if any, to do and it would also be cheaper. So I melted some solder onto the end of the post, positioned the hoop so nothing would move {very important} and held the post in my tweezers while I heated the hoop. Once the hoop was at the right temperature I touched the post to it and the solder flowed. It worked and the post soldered securely to the hoop. I just have to remember to move the flame away once the solder has flowed! I didn't melt anything so it was a success and another little soldering hurdle overcome. Yay!

Copyright © 2015 Cinnamon Jewellery. All rights reserved.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Claiming A Refund For A Customs Fee Paid On A Returned Item

Up until a couple of weeks ago this was a new one on me....yes having to pay a Customs fee on a returned item, in other words having to pay import VAT on my own item to get it back!

I'm totally aware of the Customs charge that has to be paid on items imported into the UK from outside the EU that have a value of more than £15 but when a customer from the US asked if she could return a silver bangle recently as it was too large and she wanted a smaller size of course I said yes that's fine, just send it back and I'll get a smaller size made. She was happy to pay another shipping charge for the replacement so all I had to do was wait for it to arrive...

It wasn't until the postman left a card informing me there was a customs charge to pay on something - I wasn't sure what it was at that point and thought maybe I'd forgotten I'd bought something lovely.....then it suddenly dawned on me what it was for. The returned bangle! So after feeling quite annoyed and thinking the profit on this bangle is slowly disappearing, I then thought that surely you shouldn't have to pay a Customs charge on a returned item. I decided to investigate....

After a quick bit of Googling I found a form to download on the GOV.UK website. The form is BOR286 and can be used if you believe that "Customs Duty or import VAT has been incorrectly calculated on your imported item" or if like me you've paid a charge on a returned item.

It's just a one page form and you need to send all the labels attached to the package by Customs {I just sent the whole packaging!}, plus proof of the sale and that the item is a return.
I sent the form and all the proof they asked for to the Border Force address and had a reply about a week later to tell me they would refund the Customs charge - great! The don't refund the Royal Mail £8.00 handling charge however which is understandable as that isn't anything to do with them and was actually more than the Customs fee I paid {how annoying!} Still at least I'll get something back.

So what could I have done to avoid this? Asking my customer to mark the customs form she attached to the package as "returned goods" which obviously never occurred to me. But now I know and if it ever happens again I'll make sure I do just that.

Copyright © 2015 Cinnamon Jewellery. All rights reserved.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

New Designs - Enamel Earrings And Copper Bangles

I've been trying out some new designs with my enamel earrings recently by combining a layer of etched copper and a layer of enamel beneath it. The copper layer has pierced out sections which allow the enamel colour to show through as the earrings are worn. I've made just two pairs for now in orange and blue and it's possible the design idea may evolve if I think hard enough about it....... :D

I've also made a few new copper bangle designs partly as a result of a custom order for two bangles in sterling silver. Having copper wire meant I could try out what my customer was asking for using a less expensive metal first until a decision was made.
This inspired me to make a couple of new designs and an improved version of a recent addition to my bangle-ing enterprises.
The first is a hammered copper bangle made from 4mm round wire.

I kept the round shape by hammering the texture before the bangle was soldered {which was quite a lot of hammering!} instead of what I normally do which is to solder the wire then hammer the texture when the bangle is on the bangle mandrel which results in the wire being flattened slightly. The result is a lovely chunky, substantial bangle.

The second new design is a triple set of textured bangles with three rounded square shape rings linking them together.

I also made another loopy bangle this time making sure I had enough wire to form 7 loops instead of the 6 loops I made with the first attempt. The loops are also more upright than the first bangle.
I think it looks like a little copper tiara.......

Having an odd number of loops in the new version means the straight part of the wire is at the same level at either end of the loops rather than at opposite points as it was with the first attempt you can see in the photos here...

I'm very tempted to make a bangle that is almost entirely loops with a small section of straight wire for the join. I think that idea might need a bit of tweaking and the copper wire a lot of annealing but I'm sure it will be do-able!

Copyright © 2015 Cinnamon Jewellery. All rights reserved.