Pantone – 2017 Autumn Colours

The ever wonderful colour gurus Pantone have changed things up a little with their 2017 Autumn fashion colour palette. They’ve made a New York AND a London release! As I’m more of a London girl, I’ve found some fabulous matches for you in my gemstone collection for these great London colours.



If you see a gemstone you like the look of and you’d like me to create you a custom piece, let me know!

Mount Eliza Art and Design Show – 2017

I was pleased to be invited to participate in the 2017 Mount Eliza Art and Design Show, and I mailed a large box of goodies down to Victoria, including pieces from my Spirals collection.

I also sent down a selection of earrings, including various pairs of my popular bubble earrings.

I also sent some large bubble hoop earrings like these ones. These larger earrings are not yet available in my shop, but if you’d like a pair get in touch and I can let you know what colours I have still available.

It’s always a pleasure to have my work on show around the place, so a big thanks to the Mt Eliza Design and Arts Show team for all their efforts!

Cleaning Silver

Have you ever wondered how to keep your Silver Forge pieces at their sparkling best? Well, the first place to start is with a silver polishing cloth. These are available at most jewellers, and provide a soft and gentle way to clean your silver.

What if your piece is quite tarnished? This happens to me quite a lot. (Perhaps it’s a touch of ‘the shoemaker’s children are never shod?’) Here’s what silver repairer and restorer Jeffrey Harman has to say about tarnish:

“Tarnish, in regards to silver, is a thin layer of corrosion that forms from a chemical reaction on the surface of an object. This layer consists mainly of black silver sulfide caused by the silver’s reaction with sulfur-containing compounds such as hydrogen sulfide in the air. Tarnish appears as a yellow, gray, or black film on objects. After tarnish forms, the corrosion process slows as the silver sulfide layer thickens.

Any sulfur-containing compound with the sulfur in a reduced oxidation state (e.g., hydrogen sulfide, sulfur, carbonyl sulfide) will cause silver to tarnish. Moisture also plays a role. The higher the relative humidity, the faster silver tarnishes (if sulfur-containing compounds are present). However, even if there is no moisture in the air but it is contaminated with hydrogen sulfide, the silver will still tarnish because there is a direct reaction (water not involved) between the silver and the hydrogen sulfide. So it is not good enough to remove only the moisture because the silver will still tarnish if there is hydrogen sulfide present (or other tarnishing gases). Clean silver will form tarnish more quickly than will tarnished silver.”

A note to say that humans have sulfur in our bodies, which contributes to our jewellery tarnishing!

If you have a plain silver piece, or some of my Czech glass earrings, you can use the old-fashioned method of lining a bowl with tin-foil, placing the pieces in the bowl and sprinkling some bi-carb soda on them, then covering them with boiling water. This really works – just make sure your pieces are all touching the tin-foil.

WARNING: A very few pairs of the Czech glass beads in my earrings (like the pairs below) do NOT like to be cleaned this way – if you’re in any doubt, email me and I can tell you if it’s safe or not.

Hagerty’s Silver Foam was recommended to me by my goldsmithing teachers, and I use that as my next stop.

Easy to use, it will clean your piece in no time, with a minimum of fuss!

There are other methods employed to clean silver, some of which you can read about on  Jeffrey Harman‘s most excellent website, but these three are the ones that I stick with.

A note about gemstones – some gemstones do not take kindly to cleaning methods – check before you clean a gemstone piece. There’s a handy guide to gemstone cleaning from the International Gem Society here.

Lastly, if you have a Silver Forge piece that needs some TLC and you’re not wanting to take on the task, please contact me – I’d be happy to help restore it to its former glory!

Be My Valentine

Legend has it that Valentine was a third century Roman priest who was caught marrying Christian couples. He was arrested and imprisoned because assisting Christians was a crime at the time. The Emperor Claudius took a liking to his prisoner, until Valentine tried to convert him to Christianity whereupon the priest was condemned to death. He was beaten with clubs and stones, and when that failed to kill him, he was beheaded and he was later martyred for his troubles. Poor old St Valentine!

Twin Hearts Sterling Silver Pendant

It wasn’t until the fourteenth century that Valentine’s Day as we know it was born. The famous poet Geoffrey Chaucer wrote ‘The Parliament of Fowls’, which included the popular notion that birds paired off to mate on 14 February each year; it also made reference to some Valentine’s Day traditions such as sending anonymous love letters and exchanging token gifts with your lover.

As well as love, young people and happy marriages, Valentine is also feted as the patron saint of beekeeping and epilepsy. So Happy Valentine’s Day!

Botryoidal Carnelian Ring

Botryoidal Carnelian Ring

I love all the cabochons I source, and it is a bit of an obsession with me! I’d love to keep them all, but that’s just silly – so one of the many joys of being a silversmith is sharing these gorgeous finds with nice people.

Botryoidal Carnelian Ring

Once in a while, though, I come across a cabochon that I just can’t part with. This botroidal carnelian is one of those.

Botryoidal Carnelian Ring

It’s a great ring to wear with earth tones, which I’ve been more drawn to lately.

Botryoidal Carnelian Ring

If you’d like a custom made gemstone ring of your own, check out my gemstone collection, and let me know which one you’d like to wear!

St Dunstan

St Dunstan’s College in Catford, London, is a school attended by various members of my family since the early 1900s. Recently my Granny told me that St Dunstan was the patron saint of silversmiths. I hadn’t known that!

St. Dunstan was born 909 and died 19 May 988 AD. There is a full story about him on Wikipedia, which tells us that Dunstan became patron saint of English goldsmiths and silversmiths because he worked as a silversmith making church plate while he was living as a monk at Glastonbury Abbey, where he took holy orders in 943 AD. He is also the patron saint of blacksmiths, locksmiths and musicians.

His Feast Day is 19 May, which is why, before the restoration, the yearly span of London Assay Office hallmarks ran from 19 May one year to 18 May the next, not the calendar year. This was changed at the restoration of Charles II in 1660 so that the hallmarking year began on the King’s birthday, 29 May.

There is a story that Dunstan nailed a horseshoe to the Devil’s hoof when he was asked to re-shoe the Devil’s horse. This caused the Devil great pain, and Dunstan only agreed to remove the shoe and release the Devil after he promised never to enter a place where a horseshoe is over the door. This is claimed as the origin of the lucky horseshoe.

Also, according to a late 11th-century legend, the Devil is said to have tempted Dunstan and to have been held by the face with Dunstan’s tongs; hence blacksmith’s tongs have become a symbol of St Dunstan.

Thanks to my little granny for bringing this interesting fact to my attention. I wonder what her dad (my great grandfather), who was a blacksmith, made of all that!

Three Gemstone Earrings Creation 3

smithing – creation of a pair of gemstone and sterling silver earrings

Lots of people like to know the process behind the creations I produce, and I sometimes forget – just because I know how I do this, doesn’t mean everyone does! These lovely dangly gemstone earrings were a wedding gift from my friend and client Natasha to a dear friend of hers.

Natasha found these sparkly amethyst, Rose de France and aquamarine rose cut cabochons in my gemstone collection.

Three Gemstone Earrings Creation 1

First I shaped the bezels.  A bezel is the part that goes around the stone and holds it in place on the piece. I take a strip of silver, bend it into shape with my half round pliers, and solder the join. Once the bezels have been immersed in pickle (an acid solution) to remove the buildup of borax and the oxidisation, I rinse and dry them and hammer them into shape with a mallet on my ring mandrel.

Three Gemstone Earrings Creation 2

I solder the bezels onto a silver backing plate. After I pickle, file and emery the bezel settings, I check that the stones all fit nicely into their little housings.

Three Gemstone Earrings Creation 4

Then it’s time to add some links to join the bezels together. I create the links, line them up and solder them on.

Three Gemstone Earrings Creation 5

I add the ear wires. As always, I am amazed that something that looks so unappealing will soon become something beautiful!

Three Gemstone Earrings Creation 6

After some more cleaning up, I mount the earrings in sealing wax to hold them still while I set the stones with my engraving ball and chasing hammer.

Three Gemstone Earrings Creation 7

After yet more emerying and finishing, the earrings are ready to go off to their new home!

Amethyst, Rose de France and Aquamarine Sterling Silver Earrings

In case you want more, I have written before herehere here and here about my processes. Happy reading!

Shadow Box Pendant Collection

Mount Eliza Art and Design Show – 2016

It was nice to be invited to participate in the Mount Eliza Art and Design Show again for 2016. I sent down a selection of pieces to the show, including my new shadow box pendants.

Fish Earrings Collection

Tube Earrings Collection
leaf-earrings-collection

saucer-earrings-collection

It looked as if there were some gorgeous exhibits there. My lovely friend Donna from Little Boubba Designs, is part of the Mt Eliza team, and very kindly took the time to send me some photos of my pieces on display. Thank you Donna, such a thoughtful person!

Mt Eliza 2016

Pantone – 2017 Spring Colours

Spring has sprung – and so have Pantone’s 2017 Spring colours. Find yourself some up to the moment fashionable stones in my gemstone collection!

Pantone Spring 2017

If you see a gemstone you like the look of and you’d like me to create you a custom piece, let me know.

Pantone-20th-century-in-colour

I bet this is a fabulous read!

KickArts Contemporary Arts Cairns

I’m very excited to tell you that I have been invited to stock some of my work in the lovely shop at KickArts Contemporary Arts in Cairns, here in Queensland.

KickArts Cairns

A little bit about the fabulous galleries and shop from the KickArts website:

“Located in the central business district of Cairns, in the Centre of Contemporary Arts, KickArts is a key destination for local and tourist visitors alike who wish to experience the vibrant contemporary visual culture of Tropical North Queensland. KickArts is dedicated to facilitating, presenting and promoting contemporary arts and extending the experience and cultural life of northern Australians and more than 2.2 million annual visitors to Cairns.

Delivering a dynamic and diverse exhibition program, KickArts welcomes more than 45,000 visitors annually. The KickArts Shop animates the Centre on a daily basis and is a focal point for viewing unique, high quality works of art, craft and design from Australian and international artists.”

Spiral Collection

Greek Ceramic Earring Collection - Small

The gorgeous staff at KickArts have chosen my Spirals and my Ceramics collections to showcase in the shop. If you are in the beautiful Cairns, lucky you! Make sure to stop in at the Centre of Contemporary Arts at 96 Abbott Street.

Greek Ceramic Earrings Collection

Pantone – 2016 Autumn Colours

Pantone’s  Autumn colours for 2016. are here. I love the idea of classifying and naming every colour in the world, and I also love to show you which stones in my gemstone collection match the latest in fashion choices!

Pantone Gemstones Fall 2016 (1)

Pantone Fashion Colours Autumn 2016

Pantone Gemstones Fall 2016 (2)

If you see a gemstone you like the look of, and you’d like me to create you a custom piece, let me know.

Pantone Board Books

Meanwhile, how cute are these Pantone board books? Gorgeous!

Style – Rings

In part one of a series of tips about the basics of jewellery wearing I looked at necklaces. Today I’m going to talk about my favourite pieces of jewellery – rings.

The Silver Forge Gemstone Rings

A ring is traditionally a circular, decorative or symbolic ornament worn on fingers, toes, arm or neck – however today’s understood meaning of the word ‘ring’ is one that is worn on the finger. Rings can be made of many materials, but are commonly made from metal. They can be plain, or ornate; simple, or set with many stones. They are made in many different styles, but I’ll be focusing on bezel set gemstone rings as that is what I make!

Pomegranate Red Drusy Agate and Sterling Silver Ring

First, let’s identify some of the basic parts of a ring. It’s good to know these terms, so that when discussing your ring, we’re on the same page:

Ring Terminology Guide

Next, sizing. When you’re trying to determine the right ring size for you, it is best to have your finger measured professionally by a jeweller. If all else fails, you can use my guide to ring sizing.

Ring Sizers

When deciding what material your ring should be made from, sterling silver is a good choice – as well as being beautiful, it is usually hypoallergenic, so you avoid allergic reactions and green skin (problems usually brought about by the nickel in inferior quality metal).

Tourmalinated Quartz and Sterling Silver Men's Ring

Check out this good Wiki article on ring styles which shows many different kinds of rings – I’d never heard of some of these, so I found it very interesting!

Variscite and Sterling Silver Ring

Although I am happy to make any size ring, my preference is for large statement pieces. Sometimes people say to me that they can’t wear big rings because they have small hands – I say not so! I’m only 5’2″, and have little hands, and I love wearing a big rock! I don’t find large rings impede my hand, either – as fingers only bend inwards, the ring sits on top of the hand and allows you to do most things as usual. Ring size is really a matter of comfort and personal preference of course. Tell me, what’s your favourite ring?

Fossilised Coral Ring

As always, I am happy to create you a made to measure silver ring from any of the gemstones in my collection. If you’re interested, you can contact me about that here! Meanwhile, enjoy a browse through my custom gallery.

Gemstone of the Month – Carnelian

Carnelian is a brownish red to orange, translucent to opaque variety of chalcedony. Carnelian is probably named after the the kornel cherry because of its colour. It is sometimes known as cornelian.

Carnelian has been used for decorative purposes by humans for thousands of years. Wikipedia tells us: “The bow drill was used to drill holes into carnelian in Mehrgarh between 4th-5th millennium BC. Carnelian was recovered from Bronze Age Minoan layers at Knossos on Crete in a form that demonstrated its use in decorative arts; this use dates to approximately 1800 BC. Carnelian was used widely during Roman times to make engraved gems for signet or seal rings for imprinting a seal with wax on correspondence or other important documents. Hot wax does not stick to carnelian. Sard was used for Assyrian cylinder seals, Egyptian and Phoenician scarabs, and early Greek and Etruscan gems. The Hebrew odem (translated sardius), the first stone in the High Priest’s breastplate, was a red stone, probably sard but perhaps red jasper.”

Carnelian is thought to aid with concentration, and by keeping one focused on the here and now and not on past experiences. Carnelian is believed to be calming and grounding, and  encourages initiative and determination.

Carnelian is understood to improve circulation, aid with problems of the liver, bladder, kidneys and spleen and with male impotency, and to increase appetite. It is believed to help with PMS as well as sexual anxiety.

Carnelian is thought to prevent accidents, and to protect the home from theft, fire and storm damage.

Carnelian is beautiful – the range of colour from reddish brown through to almost yellow is so vibrant!

I have some gorgeous carnelian available in my gemstone collection. If you find a stone that appeals to you and you’d like to have it set in a ring or a pendant, let me know – I’d love to create something beautiful for you.

Sterling Silver Spiral Seashell Necklace

Style – Necklaces

In part one of a series of tips about the basics of jewellery wearing, I’m looking at necklaces. A necklace is a piece of jewellery which (as the name would suggest!) is worn around the neck. If the necklace has a primary hanging feature, it is called a pendant. If the pendant is a small container, that is called a locket.

Black Onyx and Sterling Silver Statement Necklace

Necklaces come in various lengths to suit different styles and different occasions. Some standard lengths are:

Necklaces Length Guide

When you’re trying to determine the right length necklace for you, use a measuring tape to measure your neck. Standard necklace measurements as shown above assume a 35 cm (14 inch) neck, but of course we all vary wildly, so calculate accordingly! Add 5 cm (2 inches) to your neck measurement for a comfortable length for chokers; add 10 cm (4 inches) to it for princess length. Alternatively take a favourite necklace, or use a piece of string to measure around your neck from the desired level; then lay the string or necklace out straight and measure how long it is. That measurement will be the length you’re after.

Black Star Diopside and Stering Silver Extraterrestrial Pendant

Choker: suits a garment with a high neckline. Chokers can work well for people with long necks.

Princess: sits just below the throat at the collarbone. This is the most common necklace length, and is a good length for a pendant. This style works with most necklines as it can sit above or on top of the garment.

Matinee: sits below the collarbone and just above the bust. People with larger necks may choose this length for a pendant style necklace too. Matinee length draws attention to the center of the bust area, so bear that in mind when choosing this style. Women with larger busts may want to opt for a longer necklace to create a more balanced look.

Opera: hangs below the bust, and elongates the torso. This length works well with high necklines and evening wear. If you have a fuller bust, an opera length necklace can be an issue as it may not hang properly. You could try a necklace that sits slightly higher on the body, such as a princess length necklace.

Rope: can reach all the way to the waist. A versatile length, in that you can double and layer it, or wear a pendant on it. Looks great for business and evening wear.

Flat Coin Clear Handblown Glass Bubble and Sterling Silver Necklace

When deciding what material your necklace should be made from, sterling silver is a good choice – as well as being beautiful, it is usually hypoallergenic, so you avoid allergic reactions and green skin (problems usually brought about by the nickel in inferior quality metal). Stainless steel can also highlight your pendant choice. Leather or ‘pleather’ (pretend leather) is another good option.

Sea Glass and Sterling Silver Long Claw Set Pendant

If you are planning to wear a pendant on your necklace, take into account the size and weight of the piece you will be wearing when you choose the necklace you will be suspending it from. This is important both physically to support the weight; and aesthetically to balance the piece.

Sterling Silver Belcher Chain with Handmade ClaspBear in mind that in a similar way to sunglasses, a necklace helps to frame your face, so try out different lengths and see what they do for you.  A long necklace may flatter a taller frame where a smaller frame might need a shorter style. A good thing to consider is that people’s eyes will stop at the point where your necklace ends. And remember, really, a necklace is a personal choice – with a little trial and error you will work out what suits you and your wardrobe.

I am always happy to create you a made to measure silver necklace, whatever size you require. You can contact me here!

Charoite and Sterling Silver Ring Construction

smithing – creation of a freeform gemstone and sterling silver ring

I always love to see behind the scenes of manufacturing – maybe it all stems from that cool crayon factory clip that used to be on Sesame Street? One of my gorgeous clients, Natasha, asked me to use this charoite in a ring for her mum, and her mum was interested to see the work in progress.  I have written before herehere and here about my processes, and I thought you might like to see some more!

Charoite Cabochon

It started with this luscious piece of charoite which Natasha spotted in my gemstone collection.Charoite and Sterling Silver Ring Construction Using a strip of silver and my trusty half round pliers, I made a bezel for the stone.

Charoite and Sterling Silver Ring Construction

I fitted the stone to a piece of sheet silver.

Charoite and Sterling Silver Ring Construction

After sawing out the shape of the backing plate, I prepared to solder.

Charoite and Sterling Silver Ring Construction

After soldering, the silver becomes oxidised and it seems far-fetched that this will ever turn into something beautiful!

Charoite and Sterling Silver Ring Construction

Some careful measurement, and more bending with my half round pliers, and a ring shank is made.

Charoite and Sterling Silver Ring Construction

A quick check that the stone fits properly, then I’m ready to solder the shank to the top.

Charoite and Sterling Silver Ring Construction

The shank is lined up on the top, and soldered firmly in place.

Charoite and Sterling Silver Ring Construction

Time for lots of filing and emerying to get the silver ready for the stone to be set.

Charoite and Sterling Silver Ring

After plenty of time with my engraving ball and chasing hammer, the finished product!

Charoite and Sterling Silver Ring

 

Ball and Tentacle Ring

Sterling Silver Sphere Ring

Occasionally I do stop long enough to make myself something! I confess it was over a year ago that I made this ring, and it’s taken me this long to post it.

Ball and Tentacle Ring

As you can tell from it’s well worn appearance, I wear it all the time!

Ball and Tentacle Ring

Pantone – 2016 Spring Colours

Pantone have just released their Spring Colours for 2016. I’m ready with some divine gemstones to match this fashion report!

Pantone Spring 2016

If you see a gemstone you like the look of, and you’d like me to create you a custom piece, let me know.

Pantone Colour of the Year 2016

Pantone’s ‘‪‎Color Of The Year’‬ for 2016 is, for the first time ever, a blend of two shades: ‎Rose Quartz‬ & ‎Serenity‬, which you can see above. A serene and peaceful feel, just what the world needs right now. Imagine what gorgeous pieces you could have with a combination of these two!

Pantone Mugs

 

Inspiration – Munsell Colour System

Albert Henry Munsell was born in Boston Massachusetts on January 6, 1858 and died on June 28, 1918. He attended the Massachusetts Normal Art School in Boston, and was hired as an instructor in 1881 shortly after graduating. He was later appointed lecturer in Color Composition and Artistic Anatomy. Munsell taught at the institution for 37 years. He took a brief leave from 1885-1888 to study art in Paris at L’Ecole des Beaux Arts, where he won several awards for his work. (I feel Massachusetts must have been a magical place – my favourite Ralph Waldo Emerson was from there, as were Edgar Allan Poe and  the wonderful Theodor Seuss Geisel!)

{photograph of Munsell included in his 1905 book''A Color Notation''}

{photograph of Munsell included in his 1905 book”A Color Notation”}

Munsell is best known for his 1905 book ‘A Color Notation’, and his 1915 book (and precursor to today’s ‘Munsell Books of Color’), ‘Atlas of the Color Solid’. As well as being an artist and teacher, Munsell was also an inventor. He holds several patents for a color-sphere and mount; an artist’s easel, and a photometer. I love that he developed a range of crayons in 1906, which in 1926 were sold to the Binney & Smith Company (owner of Crayola) and were then referred to as ‘Munsell Crayola Crayons‘.

The Munsell color system is three-dimensional, and specifies colors based on three color dimensions: hue, value (lightness), and chroma (color purity). This evolving color science theory served as the basis for today’s color matching technology.

I was very taken with this system, as it seems to me to be able to pinpoint with ease every imaginable colour! The only place I feel it is lacking is in the romance department – colour is divine, but gorgeous names for colour make it even more so. It doesn’t matter at all – we can all see 5GY, and call it lime, apple, chartreuse. 5RP makes sense – and it can be known as magenta, fuchsia or mulberry.

To celebrate finding out about Munsell, I’ve re-organised the ‘filter by colour’ option in my shop to include some more of the wonderful hues (and I’ve named them, too.) Beautiful, wonderful, magnificent colour – where would we be without you!

Mandrels and Mallet

In My Jeweller’s Workshop IV

A day (or two) in the life of a jeweller! First some mandrels and my mallet. (I was creating a set of palm bracelets and I needed to make them uniform, hence the texta markings on the mandrels.)

Jeweller's Bench 15-09-23

A sneak peek at a very special birthday present in the making! More on that to come.

20150730_040746884_iOS

Me, setting a stone in a ring using my engraving ball.

Jeweller's Bench 15-10-15

The end of a productive session!

smithing – creation of a gemstone and sterling silver pendant

It’s always a joy to see other people’s creative techniques. I have written before here and here about the process of silversmithing, and I thought you might like another little insight into this world.

Emerald Green Drusy Agate Oval Cabochon

First, the drusy gemstone (from my never-ending collection!) and a rough design sketch. I’ve already created the bezel (the metal that wraps around the stone) in this picture, bending a straight strip of metal (like the one pictured) around the stone.

smithing - creation of a gemstone and sterling silver pendant

The next step is preparing the backing plate. He’s some sawing and filing in action.

After filing, comes emerying.

smithing - creation of a gemstone and sterling silver pendant

smithing - creation of a gemstone and sterling silver pendant

And laying out the component parts to see how it will look. The balls of silver are made by heating some little pieces of silver until they melt – the molten silver naturally gathers up into a sphere. It’s fun stuff!

smithing - creation of a gemstone and sterling silver pendant

I emery the back of the bezel flat, so that the join between the two pieces of metal will be exact and the solder will flow correctly.

smithing - creation of a gemstone and sterling silver pendant

Then it’s time for a bit of heat.

I love how from this dirty blackened thing comes an object of beauty!

smithing - creation of a gemstone and sterling silver pendant

Into a solution of sulphuric acid to remove all the oxidization etc.

smithing - creation of a gemstone and sterling silver pendant

While the piece is pickling, I create the bail (the part from which the pendant will hang), and a little plate stamped with my maker’s mark and ‘925’ to show the piece is made from sterling silver.

smithing - creation of a gemstone and sterling silver pendant

Those are soldered onto the piece, then it’s back in the pickle and after that, a rinse off.

smithing - creation of a gemstone and sterling silver pendant

smithing - creation of a gemstone and sterling silver pendant

After a good clean-up, with lots of emerying down to a fine grade, I mount the piece on a wax dop so that i can set the stone.

smithing - creation of a gemstone and sterling silver pendant

My engraving ball comes in super-handy here!

smithing - creation of a gemstone and sterling silver pendant

Some time with my chasing hammer, and the stone is set.

smithing - creation of a gemstone and sterling silver pendant

And finally, the finished piece!

Bright Green Drusy Agate and Granulation Sterling Silver Pendant

If you like this pendant, you can see more of it here in my shop.

Reticulated Sterling Silver Pendant

Flashback – Reticulated Pendant

Reticulation is a texturing which occurs when silver is heated almost to melting point. The surface of the silver shimmers and moves. It’s a fine balance between a molten surface and an unrecognisable lump! The process is very satisfying when you get it right. I created this pendant (and also the base of this ring) at the school I attended, starting with a flat straight rectangle of silver. I added the silver spheres and some stippling, with a chenier bail, et voila! 🙂

Reticulated Sterling Silver Pendant

Simple yet effective!

Sterling Silver Seashell

Inspiration ~ The Fibonacci Sequence

Because of my love of spirals, I got interested in the Fibonacci sequence. Now, I’m no mathematician, so don’t get too excited, but I did a bit of research, and this is what I found out.

Fibonacci

Leonardo Bonacci (c. 1170 – c. 1250), known as Fibonacci, was the son of a wealthy Italian merchant. During travels with his father, he came across the Hindu-Arabic numeral system in Algeria – this is the counting system we use today, with symbols 0-9 for numbers and positional notation (place values showing ones, tens, hundreds etc.). He promoted this system in 1202 in a book called Liber Abaci.

Liber Abaci also outlined a problem involving the hypothetical growth of a population of rabbits. The solution was a sequence of numbers which  were later named ‘Fibonacci sequence’ by the 19th-century number theorist Édouard Lucas. It should be noted that although Fibonacci’s Liber Abaci contains the earliest known description of the sequence outside of India, the sequence had been noted by Indian mathematicians as early as the sixth century. Good on you, Fibonacci (and Lucas), sorry ’bout that Indian mathematicians!

In the Fibonacci sequence of numbers, each number is the sum of the previous two numbers. Fibonacci’s problem considered the growth of an idealized rabbit population, assuming that: a newly born pair of rabbits, one male, one female, are put in a field; rabbits are able to mate at the age of one month so that at the end of its second month a female can produce another pair of rabbits; rabbits never die and a mating pair always produces one new pair (one male, one female) every month from the second month on. The puzzle that Fibonacci posed was: how many pairs will there be in one year?

OK, so that’s all sounding a bit like ‘two trains are heading in opposite directions at 53km per hour, at a gradient of 14 degrees – so, what is the driver’s name?” however:

At the end of the first month, they mate, but there is still only 1 pair.
At the end of the second month the female produces a new pair, so now there are 2 pairs of rabbits in the field.
At the end of the third month, the original female produces a second pair, making 3 pairs in all in the field.
At the end of the fourth month, the original female has produced yet another new pair, the female born two months ago produces her first pair also, making 5 pairs.
At the end of the nth month, the number of pairs of rabbits is equal to the number of new pairs (which is the number of pairs in month n − 2) plus the number of pairs alive last month (n − 1). This is the nth Fibonacci number.

So the sequence looks like this: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233 which can be shown in tiles in this fashion:

From this, comes the glorious Fibonacci spiral – which is an approximation of the ‘golden spiral‘ created by drawing circular arcs connecting the opposite corners of squares in the Fibonacci tiling.

 

Fibonacci sequences appear in nature –  branching in trees, the arrangement of leaves on a stem, the fruit sprouts of a pineapple, artichoke flowers, an uncurling fern all follow the sequence. Apparently some claims of Fibonacci numbers or ‘golden sections’ in nature (the breeding of rabbits in Fibonacci’s own unrealistic example, the seeds on a sunflower, the spirals of shells, and the curve of waves) are poorly substantiated – pretty sure the above looks just like a shell, though, so I’m running with it! And there, my friends, endeth the lesson – if you’d like to know more, a Google search will lead you down many rabbit warrens on the interesting Fibonacci spiral.

Mount Eliza Art and Design Show – 2015

I was happy to be invited to exhibit at the 2014 Mount Eliza Art and Design Show again this year! This time, I will be sharing my ~bubbles~ collection. A selection of the pieces you see here will be on display and available to buy at the show. 

Bubbles Collection Necklace Tile

This is the 36th annual show, and it will be hosted by Mt Eliza North Primary School, 6 Moseley Drive, Mt Eliza, Victoria from 23rd to 25th October. If you’re in that area, why not pop in for a visit?

Bubble Pendant Tile

 

Gemstone of the Month – Serpentine

Serpentine is the name given to various minerals found in serpentinite rocks. These are used as a source of magnesium and also in industry, and as a decorative stone. The Irish Connemara marble is a form of serpentine.

The name is thought to come from the Latin serpentinus, meaning ‘serpent rock’ – based on the mineral’s greenish color and smooth or scaly appearance.

Serpentine has been used since ancient times to guard against disease and sorcery. It is believed to provide protection against venomous creatures such as snakes and insects. It is thought to balance mood swings, and to promote the ability to solve conflicts peacefully.

Serpentine is beautifully offset by silver I think – it’s my current favourite stone!

Serpentine Rings

I have some serpentine in my gemstone collection. If you find a stone that appeals to you and you’d like to have it set in a ring or a pendant, get in touch – I’d love to create something beautiful for you.

Black Onyx and Sterling Silver 'Schnoerkel' Pendant

Flashback – Onyx ‘Schnoerkel’ Pendant

I made this piece when I was studying at the Goldsmith’s School under the supervision of my teachers. I found this black onyx cabochon at the annual Gem Show here in Brisbane, and designed this pendant to suit it.

Black Onyx and Sterling Silver 'Schnoerkel' Pendant

The spirally curlicues are known as ‘shnoerkels’ (having two German teachers had its interesting and educational side!) and the piece was set in dental plaster to solder.

Black Onyx and Sterling Silver 'Schnoerkel' Pendant As I was expecting any minute at the time, my kind teacher Sue was worried that I wouldn’t get back to class to do it, so she set the stone for me! 🙂

Worthy Cause – Beyond Blue

Butterfly No. 1 (image credit Allison Trentelman)

Butterfly No. 1 (image credit Allison Trentelman)

Three million Australians are living with depression or anxiety. Are you, or someone you know, one of these people? If so, beyondblue could help.

beyond-blue-charity-not-for-profit-graphic-design-marketing-adel

beyondblue is working to reduce the impact of depression and anxiety in the community by raising awareness and understanding, empowering people to seek help, and supporting recovery, management and resilience. They have plenty of information and resources available, so if you need ideas or help, visit their website now.

Elafonissi Pink Meander Greek Ceramic and Sterling Silver Earrings

I know the debilitation and pain of depression and anxiety first hand, so this month I’ll be donating 10% of The Silver Forge proceeds to this worthy cause. If you’d like to help and get yourself something fab at the same time, pop into my online shop.

In My Jeweller’s Workshop III

I know how much I love seeing people’s workspaces, so I’m pleased to show you a few more photos of my own little workshop!

15 May 2015

15 May 2015

I see in the photo above this rhodochrosite pendant, these seaglass and cuttlefish cast pendants, and this gorgeous custom moss agate ring. On the left is a box in which I keep all the gemstones that are works in progress – there are some that have been in there for some time, I know. I’ll get to them all eventually, promise.

29 May 2015

29 May 2015

Under my bench in this photo is the page I use to bend ring shanks to size when they are not going to be a complete ring, for example when they are going underneath a cabochon setting. I can see some of the pieces from my new extraterrestrial collection, and the work in progress on this divine custom chrysoprase set – one of my favourites, I confess!

30 Jun 2015

30 Jun 2015

There is a sheet of silver over on the right rear, and I see the beginnings of some drusy earrings and this lapis ring – and a few other goodies, too.

30 Jun 2015

30 Jun 2015

And here am I, working away. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy what I do!

14 Aug 2015

14 Aug 2015

A sneak peak at some upcoming treasures for you here – and as always, tea. A nice cup of tea’s what keeps me going sometimes. How about you?

Sterling Silver Hair Stick

Flashback – Sterling Silver Hair Stick

With help from one of my goldsmithing teachers, I created this hair stick not long after I started at the Goldsmith’s school.

Sterling Silver Hair Stick

It has become my favourite piece to use to represent The Silver Forge brand – in part because of the simplicity of the plain silver, and in part because of the spiral, which reflects in my logo. I am drawn in a huge way to spirals. Fibonacci sequence = fabulous – but instead of the golden ratio, I’m calling it the silver ratio!

Sterling Silver Hair Stick

I  based the design on a similar hairstick that I found whilst touring in China, so it has special meaning to me. I love my hair stick!

 

Pearl and Reticulated Sterling Silver Ring

Flashback – Pearl and Sterling Silver Ring

On a trip through China with my family in 2008, as part of a tour of Shanghai we visted the Jin Mao Tower (at the time the sixth tallest building in the world). Our tower entry tickets rather bizarrely entitled us to a free pearl each at the top of the tower (don’t ask, I still don’t know!), so we wandered past many vendors of tourist tat, and found a counter where a girl whisked out some big flat oysters, popped them open with a pair of pliers and a screwdriver, and offered us a choice of pearls!

Pearl and Reticulated Sterling Silver Ring

We each chose one, and I held onto them for some time, then decided to set them in a ring so that I could enjoy them.

The top of the ring is reticulated – a method that involves heating a sheet of silver to almost melting point, so the surface becomes textured. Fun stuff!

Pearl and Reticulated Sterling Silver Ring

As another addition to my family was on the way at the time, my very kind teacher Sue, gave me a little seed pearl to set in the top of the ring along with the other three. I treasure this ring, and still wear it today!

Worthy Cause – Share The Dignity

Angel McNall - Magnolias

Pink Magnolias (image credit Angel McNall)

Share The Dignity is an initiative run by two Queensland based women, Rochelle Courtenay and Heather Ranger. Their aim is to provide homeless and at-risk women across Australia with sanitary products to allow them a sense of dignity at a time when they need it most.

Share The Dignity Logo

Because no woman should suffer the indignity of choosing between eating or buying sanitary products, Share The Dignity have a network of homeless and domestic violence shelters who they supply the donations to and allow them to distribute the donations where they see the need.

To help, you can donate sanitary items at one of the many collection sites, or if you’re not close to one of those, through the Tsuno website. Tsuno  make environmentally friendly pads, and is also a social enterprise which exists to donate 50% of profits to charities helping women in the developing world.

Pink Handblown Glass Teardrop and Sterling Silver Earrings

Another way to help is to pop into my online shop – I will be donating 10% of all The Silver Forge proceeds from this month to this worthy cause!

Grey Drusy Agate and Sterling Silver Ring

Grey Drusy Agate Ring

Grey Drusy Agate and Sterling Silver Ring

I love all the cabochons I source, but once in a while I come across a cabochon that I just can’t part with. This grey drusy agate is one of those.

Grey Drusy Agate and Sterling Silver Ring

I love this ring, and I’ve been wearing it nearly every day!

Grey Drusy Agate and Sterling Silver Ring

If you’d like a custom made gemstone ring of your own, check out my gemstone collection, and let me know which one you love the most!

Jade and Sterling Silver Pendant

Flashback – Jade Pendant

Jade and Sterling Silver Pendant

Some years ago, my gorgeous husband came home from a work trip to Hong Kong with this beautiful piece of jade for me. Yes, I love him!

Jade and Sterling Silver Pendant

I created an elaborate design for the stone, and built that during my goldsmithing classes. Part of the component creation included making some chenier – which is hollow tubing, to go through the middle of the jade, which was cut in a donut shape. That was fun!

Jade and Sterling Silver Pendant

At the end of the day decided I didn’t like what I had made, so removed a good portion of the framework and left a simpler way to wear the jade. Sometimes, you have to modify your original idea to make the piece work!

Flex Drive

Tool of the Month – Flex Drive

Flex DriveThat long hanging thing in the middle of this picture? That’s my flex drive. The first flexible shaft was invented by the famous Scottish engineer James Hall Nasmyth (1808-1890), who is best known for his later development of the steam hammer.

Flex Drive

The motor is this part the top, which, through a long spiral shaft, drives the little piece at the end. If you’re thinking ‘dentist’, you’re absolutely right! These are used by dentists, too. They’re like a tiny drill at the end of a long hose.

Flex Drive

There are endless variations of bits you can use with your flex drive.

Flex Drive

My favourites are a particular diamond burr, kindly given to me by the lovely Bill from my Goldsmithing class (I use it all the time!) and my slotted mandrels (for emery paper – that’s one you see on the flex drive head in the picture above this one). I have so many other very useful attachments for this great device! I use my flex drive on just about every piece I make. Thanks, Mr Nasmyth!

 

Sterling Silver Sphere Ring

Flashback – Sterling Silver Sphere Ring

Sterling Silver Sphere Ring

At The Goldsmith’s School where I did my training, after learning to set a stone, I was taught how to create a hollow ball or sphere.

Sterling Silver Sphere Ring

There is some danger involved – once you have cut out two circles, domed them to be exactly half of the diameter that you require, you solder the two halves together, and because there is a hollow space in the middle of the ball that you are closing, the risk is that the ball explodes as you are soldering it. This hasn’t happened to me, but I always wear my protective glasses just in case!

Sterling Silver Sphere Ring

This ring was not born from my own idea, as I borrowed the concept from a beautiful piece I bought years ago from a jeweller who had a stand at the Brunswick Street Markets – I have seen this notion replicated in many places however, and it is a simple smithing concept. I try not to look at other people’s work these days, as I would hate to accidentally plagiarise someone’s original creation! There is nothing new under the sun they say, but I like ideas to grow organically inside my own imagination. And I do have plenty of them!

Worthy Cause – Assist A Sista

Echidna Art and Cards Blue Butterfly

Iridescent Butterfly (image credit Echidna Art and Cards)

Assist A Sista is a Gold Coast based group of community volunteers who work together to help survivors of domestic violence to rebuild and repair by bringing hope and restoring faith.

Assist A Sista Banner

Domestic violence affects nearly 500,000 Australian women per year. Although women are the majority, men can also be subjected to domestic violence. It does not discriminate; affecting every community regardless of class, culture or background, young or old.

Domestic violence is the misuse of power to gain control over another person. No one deserves to live in fear of domestic violence – especially not children. Assist A Sista strives to empower victims, with the aim of breaking the cycle and enabling victims and their children have a fresh start; a comfortable home with all the basics, whilst they continue to heal.

Assist A Sista provide support by bridging the gap, where government support falls short:, by meeting immediate crisis needs, by providing specific “Wish List” Items requested by survivors of domestic violence, and by creating “Assista Havens” for the women (and sometimes men) and their children, once they have exited a refuge and are commencing their journey towards a safe new life in a new home.

Grotto Blue Greek Ceramic and Sterling Silver Earrings

If you can help Assist A Sista, either with cash or a donation of household goods, head to their website, or if you’d like to help by making a purchase from The Silver Forge, head to my shop – 10% of this month’s proceeds will be donated to this very worthy cause!

Peridot and Sterling Silver Earrings

Flashback – Peridot and Sterling Silver Earrings

Peridot and Sterling Silver Earrings

Continuing my flashbacks to the first pieces I ever made, the next step I took at The Goldsmith’s School was to learn to set a stone. A round or oval shaped cabochon is the simplest to set (no corners to contend with!) and I chose one of my favourites, peridot.

Peridot and Sterling Silver Earrings

I have written about the stone setting process previously here and here – and as you can probably tell, it is one of my favourite ways to create!

Peridot and Sterling Silver Earrings

I’ve gotten faster and better at setting stones of course, but these earrings have stood the test of time – although I would design the ear hooks differently another time! I still love peridot, too – it and garnet are some of the few gemstones that are not treated in any way.