Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Mum's birthday present

Yesterday was my mum's official birthday.  Today is her real birthday.  The Queen isn't the only person with 2 birthdays.  In case you're confused, the family has been confused for the last 85 years because my grandad got a little distracted when he went to register her birth and, as a result, her official birthday according to her birth certificate is a day before her actual birth date.

My mum is now 85 and it's getting harder and harder to find something for her birthday.  I would NEVER buy her clothes as I just wouldn't trust myself to get it right so I'd have to keep the receipt so she could change whatever I bought.  She doesn't want ornaments as that would be "just something else for her to dust".  She doens't want the responsibility of plants because she would feel bad if she killed them.  She doesn't drive.  She doesn't really have hobbies.  She does have a very active social life.  She's always out and about with her friends.  They go shopping, go for coffee, go for lunch, go to the theatre.

I was really struggling to think of something to give her for her birthday.  A couple of weeks ago I booked some workshops to learn new jewellery making techniques and it just so happened that I had a workshop on Sunday.  I had already been to the shop that was running the workshop and saw the necklace we'd be making on display and I knew what mum would be getting for her birthday. :o)

There was a shopping list of ingredients for the necklace so I chose colours that I knew my mum tended to wear.  I already had some gold chain so I bought knitted wire mesh in pale gold, copper and green.  I bought Swarovski pearls in green, copper and pale gold as well.  When I started to put it all together I was really pleased with the way it looked.  I tried it on but because my hair is long, it hid most of the necklace but Mum's hair is short, so ideal.  I wore it home to make sure it wouldn't fall apart.

When I got home I changed the clasp.  The original one was fiddly little lobster claw so I replaced it with a lovely gold toggle clasp with a lily decoration on it.

The 'model' is quite small so you can't see it all properly in the photo above.  This one shows the rest of it properly, including the clasp:

Mum seemed to be really happy with it when I gave it to her and went off to put it on.  She was still wearing it when I left.  Shortly after getting home she phoned to say that it went perfectly with the outfit she plans to wear tomorrow to go to lunch with her friends.  Fantastic!  I wasn't 100% sure how she would react to it but it looks like I got it right. :D

Friday, 27 August 2010

The mystery revealed at last

If you've read my previous posts you'll know that a couple of weeks ago I decided to investigate some jewellery making workshops to try and learn some new technicques.  I saw a basic necklace making workshop advertised at The Bead Shop Scotland and, although I've been making all sorts of necklaces for a while, I thought it would do no harm to go along and see if there was a better way to do things as I've learned everything from books.

I'm so glad I went.  Calottes have always been a bit of a trial for me.  Everything I knew about them I'd learned from books and they never quite went into enough detail.  As a result I developed a deep mistrust of calottes as a way of finishing off a piece of jewellery.  They looked pretty but I never quite trusted them to stay put without filling them with superglue.  All that changed last night.  Louise, the lady taking the workshop, gave us our calottes and our round nose pliers and showed us the correct way to use them.  She added some details the books didn't mention, like the fact that you should crimp the hinges and turn the loop into a full circle so that it can't unravel.

So here were are, my creation from last night, complete with secure calottes:
I won't be selling this as I'm not happy with the crimps.  I haven't decided whether to dismantle it and start again with tubes crimps (which have a nicer finish) or whether to just keep it for myself in it's current state.


I dismantled my 'class' effort and started again. Admittedly the only bits from the original are the calottes (yay!) and fasteners but I think it's improved slightly:

The beads that look grey in the photo are actually almost silver.  Silly camera! Reflect reality why don't you?

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

By special request - for missbaah

You wanted silver and green so here is silver and green.  Is it what you had in mind?

The square coils are made from 1.5mm aluminium wire as I didn't have any decent 0.8mm silver plated wire left so these are slightly chunkier than the copper / gold / red ones.

Did I do good? Huh?

Monday, 23 August 2010

Inspiration is a peculiar animal

I've probably touched on this before in previous posts but it never ceases to amaze me.  If you've read my posts from the last few days you'll know that I have new toys. If  you haven't, then go read for goodness sake.  Keep up.  Anyway, I wanted to play with my new toys so I started browsing through old magasines looking for something easy that I could make to try out the Thing-a-ma-jig and the anvil.

I saw this:

No obvious opportunity for anvil work here but definite potential for playing with the Thing-a-ma-jig.  Being me, I didn't particulary read the instructions.  I looked at the picture.  Then I looked at my copper wire collection.  I've recently decided I like copper much more than gold or silver so it has to be copper.  I fiddled with the pegs on the Thing-a-ma-jig and experimented with a couple of pieces of wire.  Then I put my creations on the anvil and did a bit of gentle tapping with a chase hammer to see what happened.  I looked at the picture again, rummaged through my wire... and ended up making these:

Apologies for the quality of the photo.  They do actually look much better in the flesh but the weather has been far too wet to think about venturing outdoors to my photographic studio (the back garden) so I had to make do with an organza wrap laid over the seat of one of the livingroom chairs.  You can see the similarities between my inspriation and the finished article though can't you?  No?  Oh well, back to the drawing board.  BTW, I didn't use the Thing-a-ma-jig at all for these earrings but I did get to use the anvil.

One of these days the jewellery I make will actually bear more than a passing resemblance to my original concept.

UPDATE:  I manged to take slightly better photos so these are now listed on Etsy:

Copper and gold square coiled earrings

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Adventures with Fimo

OK, so I've seen all of these lovely things on the internet that have been made with Fimo clay.  It looks like it's very versatile and comes in all sorts of colours these days.  Some colours even have added sparkles. :)  When I saw that TheBeadShopScotland was running a workshop showing how to make a Mokume Gane style Fimo clay pendant I had to try it.

I bought the raw materials, 12 block of different coloured clay, on eBay.  So I really only needed 3 but I was indecisive, OK?  On arriving at the workshop I discovered that a half block of black and white were being provided.  2 of my 12 down, 10 more to choose 3 from.  Decisions, decisions!  In the end I went for metallic copper, raspberry and glitter purple (cos I'm a glitter kind of girl).

Tools supplied included a pasta machine, some seriously sharp blades (count your digits before and after) a big, shiny, ceramic tile to roll things out on and a hollow plastic tube as a roller.  We were asked to bring a potato peeler along.  Typically I chose the wrong kind.  I took this one:

Note the clay still stuck to it.  It wasn't very good!  The lady sitting next to me had brought one like this:

This type was SO much better.  It shaved off slices of clay much more effieciently and without the blade getting clogged.

It got a bit interesting with 8 of us plus an instructor sitting around a table trying to use pasta machines and weilding blades and rollers but there was only one minor casualty and it wasn't me (surprise surprise).  Naturally, being me, when it came to the time to choose what shape to make the pendant and what cutter(s) to use, I had to be different.  As I have just bought some square copper frames, I decided I'd make a patching pendant, square with a hole in the middle. :o)

We were shown some other techniques so I have a variety of creations currently cooking in the oven.  Here is the pre-cooked version:

The instructions say cook them in the oven at 110 degrees celsius / 230 degrees fahrenheit.  My oven only seems to go down as low as 250 F so my fingers are crossed.  I may keep the jewelery I make from these for myself so that I can stress test it :o) and make sure it's fit for selling on .

I also have all these bits of clay left over to play with at home:

Sausages-R-Us, LOL.  I will think of something pretty to make with these once I've had dinner.

So, my verdict on Fimo clay?  Yes, it's fun.  Yes, it's messy.  Yes, it also has the potential to get complicated when you have no idea what you're doing.  I guess it comes with practice.  It does seem that you need to have a lot of space to work while you're being creative and space isn't something readily available in my house.  Not when I'm competing with my husband's collection of indoor mountain bikes, wake boards, tool kits and the like.  He collects tools like some women collect shoes (Imelda Marcos springs to mind).  I think I will probably use up the Fimo clay I already have and leave it at that until I can afford a bigger house.

My oven timer has just beeped and I've taken my creations out of the oven.  They don't look a whole lot different to when they went in so that sets my mind at ease about possible shrinkage.  I still need a bigger house though.  I have high hopes for the National Lottery. :o)

Thursday, 19 August 2010

New toys and they're not for the boys

Yesterday the postman brought me a parcel and it had toys in it. :D  There have been so many techniques I'd like to try but I didn't have the right tools.  So... I now have new toys:

In case, like my daughter, you don't recognise them immediately, on the left is a tiny anvil that I can use for hardening wire creations.  On the right is a Thing-a-ma-jig which I will use to make interesting components from wire.  I also bought some aluminium wire in different colours to try it out:

 I also have a pile of Fimo clay in an assortment of colours that I'm desperate to get my hands on and make things with.

I can feel the creativity inside me just BURSTING to get out! LOL  I like to be a hands-on, techie kind of girl so this appeals to my techie side. I have bandages and sticking plasters at the ready in case any bits of me somehow manage to get in between the hammer and the anvil, cos it's a dead cert.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Something for the boys

For a few months now The Boy has been suggesting rather heavily (I hesitate to say nagging) that I should make him something.  He's not big into jewellery so we agreed I'd make him a pair of cuff links.  I've spent many an hour on the web looking for suitable components:

Metal toggles / bars / treasury tags
Buttons or charms to use as the focal point

I had actually bought a pack of silver plated toggle clasps so that I could steal the toggle part to make the cuff links with as I had been unable to find the toggle bars for sale on their own.  Then The Boy says "we're going to a charity ceilidh with the scuba club so why don't you make me cuff links with scuba divers on them?"  I explained my difficulties in finding single toggle bars to use as a backing for the cufflinks.

"Google it." he says.

"I did." I say.

"But did you Google 'cuff link bars'?" he says.

"No" I say "because that's not what they're normally called."

"Try it." he says.

So I did ..... and what did I find?  Bona fide sterling silver cufflink bars.  Trust The Boy to be right!  He also found some sterling silver scuba diver charms on eBay that were of a suitable quality to meet his exacting standards.  So I ordered everything and last night I sat and made my first pair of cuff links.  Cute are they not?  They should be! The parts cost a small fortune.  He had better wear them more than once!

So do I now have a future making cuff links?  That really depends on how much I can buy decent components for.  If they are all as expensive as the parts for the scuba diver ones no-one would ever want to buy them.  So ... the search continues.  Wish me luck.