29 February 2012

Love is all you need

Probably ought to wait for a bit more polishing, and some decent light for the photos, but I just had to share this miniature tag and garnet necklace.

Today's job

Just before Christmas I had a handful of my birch twigs cast in silver, as I sold quite a few of the pieces with twigs in, in the run up to Christmas. I then ran out of time to make them into necklaces and bangles, and have just got round to doing a few. These need a final go on the bangle mandrel to make sure they are round, and then they need a polish. I tumble polish these as it also 'work hardens' the silver and makes them a little stronger and more able to resist getting dented. These are so delicate and I still love them, even though I originally made them a year ago.

27 February 2012

California bound

Nearly finished. Just waiting to hear about the finish of it from the person in LA who commissioned it. I so hope she will go for a brushed finish, as it looks so lovely with these stones.

Tuesday Lunch Club, at the Greyhound Kew

Next week, I am to be the guest speaker at a new lunch club in Kew, right next to Kew Gardens. Its a great idea - good food, sociable atmosphere, and some interesting speakers (!) I will be chatting about my jewellery designs and telling people a little bit about the processes involved from design to finished pieces.

The Club is going to be held monthly starting on March 6th.  It will consist of a two course set lunch with an arrival drink and followed by coffee with mints. "During coffee you will be able to enjoy a variety of speakers. This month we are starting with a local jewellery maker - Charlotte Bezzant - who is based in Teddington. She will give a short talk on herself and her jewellery and you will be able to browse her designs which will be on display. The cost is £25 per ticket and booking is essential to reserve your place." www.thegreyhoundkew.co.uk

See you there?

24 February 2012

The experiment continues

Yesterday's etch on the left - 50 minutes, today's etch on the right - 1 hr 20 minutes. You can see the difference. Shame all this wonderful experimenting is not exact; as the time taken varies depending on the age of your solution and the amount of silver that has already been etched in it.

Might try a bit of upside down etching tomorrow, as I now understand the feather thing is good for nitric acid, where it releases bubbles when etching, but the silver etched in ferric nitrate needs to be suspended upside down so residue can drop down.

Why hasn't anyone written a decent book on this?... Now there's an idea.

Just finished

Just had to share.... The colour of this chalcedony is just amazing. Its aqua ish and just reminds me of the sea in Thailand. I just finished this gorgeous bangle, and will post it in the Etsy shop soon. I have loved working with these stones, they have made me happy every time I have looked at them.

The bangle has a diameter of 6 cm, circumference of about 19 cm. Too small for my big hands, which is why it is sitting in the Spring sunshine and not on a wrist.

23 February 2012

The etching experiment continues

The photos in the previous post are silver etched with nitric acid for 20-30 mins. These photos show some of the etching that I did in my home studio later today with ferric nitrate. In this case the etch time was 50 mins, and the etch is more delicate - in this case very fine text. Ferric nitrate takes longer and is a more delicate etch compared to the aggressive bite of nitric acid. It is also a less dangerous substance, though still hazardous and (obviously) corrosive (not great when you have two young boys in the vicinity).

It will be interesting to see how these look after I have oxidised (darkened) the text. I think they will work well and retain their detail, but especially in the case of 'love is all you need' I think this will need to have a brushed finish, as any dramatic polishing might just remove the text! I'll have another play tomorrow and will try leaving them in longer. There is a always a worry that the protective film will peel off, the longer you leave them, and then the whole etch gets ruined.

Successful etching

Oh thank goodness. Today I have managed quite a few successful etches (after the first one of the day went wrong due to the acid leaking in under the protective film.) I went low tech, back to nitric acid and a feather (!) as I have had so many struggles with the ferric in the bubble tank these days.

As you can see from the below photo, I am using the wording 'the pale sunlight of the north rose across the wilderness' on one of my arctic hares.

I am looking forward to getting these finished and in the shop. I also took the opportunity to use the light box to expose a few more phrases onto the film I use when etching, so I am off to try my ferric with a feather now! (The etchers among you will understand what I'm going on about.)

Oh... and its a gorgeous warm and sunny spring day here. Glorious!

20 February 2012

Today I have...

... made some perfect little bezel cups for the commission for the US (plus an extra for the shop); and started the amethyst ring commission.

By the way... my parents are AMAZING.

Old Chalet in Abondance

Ancient, faded and beautiful. Enough said.

Once more in the Ice and Snow

How about this for a view when you wake up in the morning?

Once again I experienced the frozen and glittery kind of snow that is my very favourite.

It was amazing to look down from the ski lifts and see the animal tracks in the fresh snow. I didn't know what had made most of them, but you could definitely tell the lolloping feet of the hares. I definitely need some more moonstones to finish off the two arctic hares that I started working on before I went away. I've have come back from the French Alps, bursting with the need to get on.

8 February 2012

What do I see

I just love reading makers blogs; finding out what they are working on, reading about what inspires them. I realised that I love seeing little snippets of life, beyond the workbench, or studio, so today I am posting some pictures that I took yesterday, in the gorgeous Spring sunshine, of the things that I look at and love.

I live in a Victorian house, and in the morning, the sun streams into this room and lights up some of my favourite objects. They are:

'Between the Headlands' by Janet Bolton. Janet is a British folk artist who's work is known and collected around the world. She makes gorgeous pictures with old textiles and found objects. I attended one of her workshops over a long weekend at the amazing West Dean in Sussex. Her works were dotted around the studio as inspiration, and I couldn't help buying one after gazing at it for days. Janet is a generous and inspiring person to be with, and I am happy to say this purchase was worth the investment as it makes me happy when ever I look at it.

'Mabel and Mr Fox', by Julie Whitmore. Julie lives in the US. I found her work here in her Etsy shop. You can't help smiling when you see her style. This piece was commissioned after a nasty fox, caught Mabel my gorgeous light Sussex chicken. I am happy to report she survived the ordeal. The Victorian bell shaped glass dome, was a great find at the amazing (one of Europe's largest antique markets) Sunbury antiques market, which is just down the road from me in Kempton Park.

'Snowdrops' an original etching by my mum! And all the snowdrops are out in the garden right now.

A miniature wedding cake favour, from my wedding 10 years ago. You didn't used to be able to buy anything like this, but I am sure you could now. This was such a team effort. My brother made a mould and cast all the cakes out of plaster. My dad cut out and made all the perspex boxes, I printed all the labels, and my bridesmaid and I drank Champagne while we painted all the little silver hearts!

'Charlie and his red Gibson' another Etsy commission from a talented guy in the States. You can find Cory at his shop PalmerandJane here. Cory really did a great job on this, and it made my Charlie smile when he opened it on Christmas day.

Smile :-)

7 February 2012

Guilty pleasures

Now some people have a thing for outrageously expensive handbags, some people love shoes that cost as much as my annual food budget. Not me - I am positively frugal on that front. However, I thought I better just go look and see if I had a sketchbook that I could use for the ring project, and I found that I have this 'little' stash of unused ones. It was a surprise to me! I guess it was not helped by the fact that a certain art supply selling bookshop went into receivership, and they were nearly giving everything away. These things just call my name... "Charlotte, Charlotte, Charlotte"

I am sure this little addiction is not unique to me. There must be arty people around the world with the same problem, and cupboards full of secret stash that they know they will use ONE DAY.

A ring a week.

I'm not the first person to do it, and I won't be the last, but I have decided to get going on a 'ring a week' project. I love making rings, creating bezels and setting stones, and this seems a great way to keep challenging myself and also adding to my body of work. I am going to try and do a ring a week for... not quite sure how long, but I do have a timescale in mind that I won't share just now!

The thing about small pieces like rings is that you can try lots of new techniques with a small amount of precious metals (with silver being as expensive as it is). I can use my etching skills, my piercing skills, and my stone setting skills. There are lots of ways of setting stones that I don't often use. The big stones I use normally sit in bezels, but I will use some flush settings, tube settings, and claw settings through this project.

I am planning to take lots of pictures of the processes and the finished items, some of which I will share here.

Pass me a sketchbook, and - does anyone care to join me?

Talking of rings... Sold this lovely huge pink amethyst ring last week, but it flew off the customer's finger onto her kitchen floor with a disastrous result. The stone chipped like a flint (a conchordial fracture apparently - you learn something new everyday!) and the stone flew out. I am making her a new ring, as I was thinking how I would feel if the same thing had happened to me. If only everyone behaved this way (maker of ceramic angel knocked over by my infant take note!)   :-)

Nasty chemicals

Well technically 'salts' as opposed to nasty chemicals...

I am really buzzing today as I finally decided to order the dangerous stuff that I use for etching, for my home studio. Until now I have gone out to another studio to etch as I was so nervous about the combination of liquids that can eat through silver, and two small boys around the house.

I love etching and the results I can achieve with the photo etching process- wether this is images or just words. I also find that my etched pieces sell well. It is a fairly specialist skill, and perhaps there is not so much of it about, or perhaps it is the well thought out bits of wording that I use, that makes these items popular. I also like to etch the names and dates on commissioned pieces, where other makers might be 'stamping' into metal. I just feel it adds a little more craftsmanship to a piece.

Here is one of my earliest photo etched pieces. I love this image, but can't claim it as my own original artwork I am afraid. It was a design on a plate. As such this is something I enjoy wearing, but could never sell. Us designer / makers must respect other peoples work and images, although we may find after  we have designed something, that something similar already exists, it is important not to copy!

Old piece, old photo. Good to see I have improved at taking pictures of shiny objects!