Next month’s giveaway is a pair of chartreuse Czech glass earrings. You’ll be automatically entered in each month’s draw as long as you are signed up to receive my newsletter – if you’d like to win some earrings, make sure you’re subscribed!
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!
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!
Next month’s giveaway is a pair of aqua Czech glass earrings. You’ll be automatically entered in each month’s draw as long as you are signed up to receive my newsletter – if you’d like some too, make sure you’re subscribed so you have a chance to win next time, won’t you?
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.
Once in a while, though, I come across a cabochon that I just can’t part with. This botroidal carnelian is one of those.
It’s a great ring to wear with earth tones, which I’ve been more drawn to lately.
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!
Congratulations to Ellen, who won the newsletter giveaway for last month. She has chosen these beautiful lavender drop earrings as her prize!
Next month’s giveaway is a pair of azure Czech glass earrings. You’ll be automatically entered in each month’s draw as long as you are signed up to receive my newsletter – and you’ll get news, discounts and eye candy galore!
Congratulations are due to Jane, who won the newsletter giveaway for last month. She has chosen these fabulous apple green tube earrings as her prize!
Next month’s giveaway is a pair of purple Czech glass earrings. You’ll be automatically entered in each month’s draw as long as you are signed up to receive my newsletter – and you’ll get to see news, pretties and discounts!
Stephanie was the winner of last month’s newsletter earring giveaway, so congrats to her!
Next month’s giveaway is a pair of green Czech glass earrings. Make sure you’re signed up to receive the newsletter – you’ll be automatically entered in each month’s draw as long as you are!
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.
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.
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.
Then it’s time to add some links to join the bezels together. I create the links, line them up and solder them on.
I add the ear wires. As always, I am amazed that something that looks so unappealing will soon become something beautiful!
After yet more emerying and finishing, the earrings are ready to go off to their new home!
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.
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!
Congratulations to Francek, who was the winner of last month’s newsletter earring giveaway.
Next month’s giveaway is a pair of blue Czech glass earrings. Make sure you’re signed up to receive the newsletter, that’s how you get a chance to win each month! Have a good one!
Congratulations to Nicole, who was the winner of the newsletter earring giveaway for last month.
Next month’s giveaway is a pair of celadon Czech glass earrings. Make sure you’re signed up to receive my newsletter so you are in the draw!
The newsletter earring giveaway for last month was won by Hazel – congratulations to her.
Next month’s giveaway is a pair of red Czech glass earrings. Make sure you’re signed up to receive my newsletter so you are in the draw!
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.
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.”
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.
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!
If you see a gemstone you like the look of, and you’d like me to create you a custom piece, let me know.
Meanwhile, how cute are these Pantone board books? Gorgeous!
Congratulations to Susan, who won my newsletter earring giveaway for last month. Susan chose these triangle earrings from my black Czech glass earring selection.
Next month’s giveaway is a pair of grey Czech glass earrings. Make sure you’re signed up to receive my newsletter – every subscriber gets a chance every month. Have a great July!
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.
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!
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:
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.
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).
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!
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?
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.
It was The Silver Forge’s 4th anniversary last month, and the winners of my anniversary giveaways were Luella, Mandy, Cori and Emma. They won a pair of earrings of their choice from those pictured below. I ‘m always so glad to do a giveaway, it brightens my day! The winner of the monthly newsletter giveaway for last month was Nari. A pair of these brown earrings are coming her way!
It was a lovely coincidence that three of these winners are fellow handcrafters. Mandy is co-owner at Ditto Crafts, who offer a variety of practical handmade gifts and accessories for all ages.
Hexo Design is Cori’s label, and although Cori is taking some time out at present, we have almost enough of her fabulous shorts here at my place to last us for a little while!
Nari creates under the name Nari Design Pot, and her felt fabric jewellery is the cutest!
Next month’s giveaway is a pair of black Czech glass earrings. Make sure you’re signed up to receive my newsletter, and you’ll automatically be in every draw!
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.
The Silver Forge is turning four this month. I can hardly believe it! It has been a beautiful, quirky and interesting journey so far; and one that I am only making thanks to the support from each and every one of you.
Silversmithing is wonderful – but to be creating pieces that bring joy to other people is a whole new level of fabulous. Thank you all so very much for being part of this little indie enterprise – to everyone who visits this website, browses, emails me, buys things; everyone who likes my FaceBook page, likes my posts, comments on them, shares them; everyone who follows me on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media; everyone who subscribes to my newsletter, new release update email, and blog updates; everyone who comes to me with their custom piece requests; everyone who makes donations to my worthy causes, and for all the other forms of love and support you’ve shown; I appreciate each and every one of you.
This month, I’ll be drawing four names from among my lovely newsletter subscribers – one for each year this business has been happening. The prize will be a pair of earrings – winner’s choice from the nine pairs pictured above! Which pair will you chose if you win? All you have to do is to be signed up to receive my monthly newsletter ~ and you can do that here if you’re not already subscribed!
Here’s to a fabulous month, and a really wonderful year. Thanks again, everyone!
Congratulations to Joanna, who won my newsletter earring giveaway for last month. Her prize is a pair of chartreuse Czech glass earrings of her choice.
Next month’s giveaway is a pair of brown Czech glass earrings. Make sure you’re signed up to receive my newsletter – May is The Silver Forge’s anniversary month, and there are some other giveaways that you might be interested in! Meanwhile, have a totally wonderful month!
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.
Necklaces come in various lengths to suit different styles and different occasions. Some standard lengths are:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bear 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!
Janet won my newsletter earring giveaway for last month, which was a pair of aqua Czech glass earrings of her choice. Congrats to her!
Next month’s giveaway is a pair of chartreuse Czech glass earrings. Make sure you’re signed up to receive my newsletter – there are plenty of giveaways to come! Good luck, and thank you as always.
Congratulations to Evonne, who won my newsletter earring giveaway for last month. Evonne chose herself a pair of these white peacock Czech glass and sterling silver earrings, which are in the mail to her as we speak.
Evonne makes the most lovely bears (and other creatures) – look! You can find these guys and their friends over at Vonne Bears. So cute!
Next month’s giveaway is a pair of aqua Czech glass earrings. Just make sure you’re signed up to receive my newsletter, and you are automatically entered into each month’s draw. Good luck, and thank you for your support!
Danielle was the winner of last month’s newsletter giveaway, so congrats to her! The prize was a pair of orange czech glass earrings.
Next month’s giveaway is a pair of white Czech glass earrings. All you have to do is make sure you’re signed up to receive my newsletter, and you are automatically entered into each month’s draw. Good luck, and thank you for your support!
The winner of last month’s newsletter giveaway was Jenny. The prize was a pair of azure Czech glass earrings, and Jenny chose this pair.
Next month’s giveaway is a pair of orange Czech glass earrings. If you’re subscribed to my newsletter, you are automatically entered into each month’s draw, so all you have to do is make sure you’re signed up. Fingers crossed!
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 here, here and here about my processes, and I thought you might like to see some more!
It started with this luscious piece of charoite which Natasha spotted in my gemstone collection. Using a strip of silver and my trusty half round pliers, I made a bezel for the stone.
I fitted the stone to a piece of sheet silver.
After sawing out the shape of the backing plate, I prepared to solder.
After soldering, the silver becomes oxidised and it seems far-fetched that this will ever turn into something beautiful!
Some careful measurement, and more bending with my half round pliers, and a ring shank is made.
A quick check that the stone fits properly, then I’m ready to solder the shank to the top.
The shank is lined up on the top, and soldered firmly in place.
Time for lots of filing and emerying to get the silver ready for the stone to be set.
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.
As you can tell from it’s well worn appearance, I wear it all the time!
Congratulations to Taran, the winner of last month’s newsletter giveaway. The prize was a pair of pink Czech glass earrings.
The giveaway next month will be a pair of azure Czech glass earrings. If you’re subscribed to my newsletter, you are automatically entered into each month’s draw, so all you have to do is make sure you’re signed up, and sit back!
Pantone have just released their Spring Colours for 2016. I’m ready with some divine gemstones to match this fashion report!
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’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!
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!)
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!
A sneak peek at a very special birthday present in the making! More on that to come.
Me, setting a stone in a ring using my engraving ball.
The end of a productive session!
The winner of last month’s newsletter giveaway was Andy, so a big congratulations there! The prize is a pair of yellow Czech glass earrings.
If you’re subscribed to my newsletter, you are automatically entered into each month’s draw, and the giveaway next month will be a pair of pink Czech glass earrings. Make sure you’re signed up, and good luck!
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.
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.
The next step is preparing the backing plate. He’s some sawing and filing in action.
After filing, comes emerying.
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!
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.
Then it’s time for a bit of heat.
I love how from this dirty blackened thing comes an object of beauty!
Into a solution of sulphuric acid to remove all the oxidization etc.
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.
Those are soldered onto the piece, then it’s back in the pickle and after that, a rinse off.
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.
My engraving ball comes in super-handy here!
Some time with my chasing hammer, and the stone is set.
And finally, the finished piece!
If you like this pendant, you can see more of it here in my shop.
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! 🙂
Simple yet effective!