Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Torch Enamel Earrings - More Poppies!

I do seem to have a bit of a poppy thing going on at the moment. My poppy bangle sets are proving to be quite popular - I had several made to order sets and singles to make last week and I sold the silver poppy studs I made too! 

So to carry on the theme because I like the shape I made a couple of pairs of simple enamel poppy earrings too. They are pretty easy to make once the enamelling is done. The balled sterling wire is threaded through the hole in the centre of the poppy then bent at a right angle before being bent up over itself to form a loop at the back that stops the enamelled poppies from flopping forward when the earrings are worn. The wire is then curved into an ear hook and finished.

I made the poppies in minty green and mauve and another concave disc pair in bitter green...

I was thrilled to see my new order of decals arrive today. The designs look really sweet and a bit clearer than the last lot so I'm hoping to have another go with them tomorrow

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Decals And Torch Enamelling

I love adding designs to things so when I discovered you could combine enamel decals with torch enamelling I had to have a go. I ordered the decals a while ago and after a quick go which left me decidedly underwhelmed with the result I kind of lost interest in it and left the decals in a drawer for a while. I thought I'd better have another go last weekend so dug them out again.
I don't have my first attempt but I did discover that colours don't work too well. The bright designs I uploaded to be transformed into decals came back decidedly dull looking which looked equally dull after being fired onto the enamel.

Here's part of one sheet of decals ......

The photo is a bit deceptive as the decal sheets have a blue tint to them in real life due to the layer of varnish on top of the enamel decal which burns away during firing which isn't showing up in this photo. The colours are also a lot duller! {Damn you camera for making something look white just when I don't want you to!}
I thought I'd try using one of the black three ball flower decals this time and you can see the results in the top photo.

I was pleased with how they looked but bear in mind this was just a quick experiment. The colour of the decal changes to a sepia tone which is quite nice. I fired a layer of clear transparent on top of the round discs as the decals can sink a bit during firing.
The bullet shaped earrings had a harder time of it! I tried a coloured decal on them first and followed some advice I found online about applying the decal, letting it dry then sifting a layer of clear enamel on top before firing. The result was the varnish covering the decal ignited briefly and the already dull colours in the decal faded badly. I wasn't going to give up though so then added another layer of mint opaque enamel on top to cover it up and had another go with the black ball flower design this time.

This worked ok and also produced the interesting effect you can see around the edges where the clear enamel is pushing up through the mint opaque layer above it. I really like the effect and will be experimenting with it again soon  
I'm going to leave these two pairs of earrings for a while to see if any cracking or other weirdness happens before I do anything with them.

Here's another experiment with one of the coloured decals. This is the original design....nice and colourful....

and this is the result after firing the decal.....

The colours are very dull. I'm sure you've noticed that the enamel is badly cracked too. I didn't bother to counter enamel the back as it was a quick experiment. So after two layers of enamel and three firings the difference in expansion and contraction rates of the enamel and copper caused the enamel to crack the day after firing. I used 24g {0.5mm} copper sheet.
So for all those who torch enamel and think you can get away without enamelling the back on thinner gauges of metal, this is what can and probably will happen if you don't!

I have some more decals on order {no colours this time!} so as soon as they arrive I'll be experimenting again and will take photos of the process so I can post another one of these slightly rambling posts with much better results hopefully!

Thursday, 28 August 2014

New Copper Bangles - Flowers, Beads, Twists And Linked Designs!

My recent holiday gave me a chance to come up with a few new copper bangle designs. They are a good seller in my Etsy shop and website so I figure expanding the range makes good sense.
I started by making an intertwined set using 2.6mm round copper wire. It's very simple to link the bangles - it just consists of an extra step once you've soldered, shaped and textured them. Two of the bangles need to be cut open again at the solder join and one of them linked with the remaining soldered bangle and the other bangle linked through the first two before they are soldered closed again and finished. I made the bangles slightly bigger than normal to allow for the space taken up by the bangles being linked. I then had a bit of a brain freeze moment about it all and thought they were still going to be too small but opening them out fully and measuring the inside diameter reassured me they were the right size {does that make sense? I hope so!}

Next I made a set using some lovely etched lampwork glass beads made by Su Bagley of Pixel Pyro Lampwork on Folksy. She made the beads with a larger hole than normal so they would fit on thicker copper wire. I made a set of three bangles with a hammered and line texture with one of the bangles having two of the etched lampwork beads threaded onto it before being soldered closed. 

The beads are in four lovely colours.

Next are two sets of poppy bangles - one with a copper poppy and one with a sterling silver poppy. I enjoyed making these even thought the soldering was a bit tricky to begin with {things moved!} However, now I know to make sure the flower has good contact with the bangle before I start soldering.
The poppy is formed then a balled piece of copper/sterling silver wire is threaded through the centre and the flower wire wrapped onto the bangle. I then added another wrap of wire on the other side. It's all soldered in place and the ends of the wire smoothed for comfortable wearing. 

I am slightly biased but these are my favourite of all the bangles I've made so far

The last new design is a set of three with one bangle with a single twist. Deceptively easy to make by folding the wire into a U shape, flattening the top section of the U with a hammer or rolling mill then annealing and pulling the ends in opposite directions. Then just cut to length and make as normal. 

I think that's enough bangletastic-ness for now!

'Til next time......

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

My First Torch Enamel Project In Making Jewellery Magazine!

Issue 71 of Making Jewellery magazine comes out today {21st Aug} featuring lots of fab projects including my first torch enamel project for a magazine. I've done several wirework step-by-steps for Bead magazine in the past but never anything involving enamel so it was a treat to do it.

I was emailed by Sian the editior of Making Jewellery a few months ago asking if I'd like to contribute a project. I said yes {of course!} then immediately wondered if I was going to be asked to make a wirework piece. I don't make much wirework jewellery these days so was really pleased to be told I could do a project using torch enamelling as they hadn't had any torch enamelling projects in the magazine before.  

After finding out the theme for the issue was going to be "autumn" I decided to go for a copper leaf enamelled in a blend of lovely autumn-ish colours and made a pendant as the main piece and a pair of earrings and bangle charm as the two "extras".

That isn't a photograph of me by the way! {I think it's Abby Clancy, I was busy that day.....}

I took some photos of the pieces I made before sending them off to the magazine to be photographed and made a collage......... because I like making collages :D

I was pleased to see Kristen, a fellow jewellery maker whose blog K S Jewellery Designs I follow, also has a project in this issue! She went with the leaf theme too and made a very pretty silver and bead wirework necklace and pendant.
It's nice to be in good company!

Friday, 15 August 2014

Enamel Experimenting And Gold!!

This week I have mostly been playing with enamel. 
I've been wanting to try using wire to create "cells" along the lines of cloisonne but nowhere near as exact {or skilled}.... no, I went for a slightly more rustic approach and used 16g {1.2mm} copper wire which I formed into jump rings then placed onto the partly fired second layer of opaque enamel and fired until the rings were fused into the enamel.

I pickled the copper rings beforehand to make sure they were nice and clean before placing on the enamel. I wanted them to stand a bit proud as I was then going to fill them with wet enamel.

I filled the rings with wet enamel then let the enamel dry naturally before firing.

They worked ok. There was some firescale on the surface of the enamel that pinged off the copper wire as it cooled but I think that adds to the rustic style. Next time I might try a thinner gauge wire but I do like the texture it gives the enamel in my first attempts.

I also spent some time teaching my friend Nicki how to torch enamel. She enjoyed herself and a few hours later went home with these pretties.

No, I haven't gone all Spandau Ballet on you, I'm referring to the simple gold studs I made recently after an order for gold ball earwires didn't go quite as planned. A customer asked if I could make her some gold ball earwires and I said yes of course I can and ordered the 9ct yellow gold wire. When I started to ball up the wire I discovered that it doesn't like balling up very much and quite a bit of it just shrivelled and turned black. I managed to get three out of the ordered five pairs of earwires made which my customer was happy with and then refunded the difference for the missing two pairs. 
Which left me with lots of mangled looking gold wire and a slightly annoyed feeling because I was quite a lot out of pocket..........until my brain clicked into gear and I remembered I have a rolling mill! Meaning I can melt the gold wire and put it through the rolling mill to make a small piece of gold sheet that I can then do things with!
So that's what I did and after adding a leaf vein texture to the gold sheet I made three pairs of simple studs.....

The studs have sterling silver posts and scrolls as I wasn't going to go as far as buy gold versions and gold solder. I'm very much still a silver girl at heart  
I still have a tiny amount of gold left so watch out for a silver pendant with a small gold ball somewhere about its person coming soon{ish}!

Friday, 8 August 2014

New Etched Copper Findings

I decided to put my shops on holiday last Saturday for two weeks which obviously means I'm on holiday too! It's nice to have a break from made to order findings and bangles and just have time to potter and to relax and think about all the stuff I need to do without having anything that must to be done by a certain date for posting.

I do have lots of things I want to do jewellery and shops/website wise and I am slowly getting round to them. I'm also spending some time doing another thing I enjoy - buying things online! I saw some Ball mason jars on Etsy and just had to have one of them. They were looking so nice as vases, candle containers and painted in pastel colours then sanded for a vintage look that I completely bought into the "I need one but I don't really know why, they're just glass jars...but they're so pretty!" reasoning..... After lots of searching {all part of the fun} I found a UK site called where you can buy the mason jars in singles for £4.99. And so I bought three of the blue version...........


I haven't filled them with an artistic arrangement of wild flowers/stuck a tealight in them or painted them with eggshell paint yet. They are just sitting in my shed, but looking very sweet as they do it, waiting for me to have a "I know what I can do with them!" moment.....

Apart from internet shopping I did also get some copper etching done. I was out of etched copper findings in my Etsy shop so I spent a pretty sweaty afternoon in the shed getting annoyed because my black Stazon ink had dried up and the brown one I had was too wet. I left it uncovered in the sun for a while and it's fine now. The results of my labour in a shed that felt like a sauna it was so hot are in the photo at the top. I used a swirly detailed Indian style stamp on most of the shapes and a leaf design on some copper oval shapes I had which I love the look of :D

Medium and small size etched copper discs

Small leaf shapes with the same Indian pattern stamp design

Handmade copper washers with slightly off centre holes {still good for dangling though!} with the same Indian style design

And my favourites - the leaf stamp design on copper ovals. 
It was nice to get that job done. I have some new earrings designs in the making including some gold {yes gold!} stud earrings and I'm going to do some experimenting with enamelling too.
'Til next time.....