Earthy beads

Today I have been working on new beads for a necklace. They are all earthy, swirls of opaque glass in a grey-brown.

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Here they are in the kiln and the annealing schedule has begun. They will be fully annealed overnight and then need to be cleaned (reamed) before being threaded together to make a necklace. It is my intention to make an enamelled focal bead to go with these and I am hoping to finish it before North Yorkshire Open Studios in June.

The road from Egton to Glaisdale is going to be closed near Beggars Bridge for three weeks during the period of Open Studios. To get to Glaisdale you will have to approach via Lealholm or Rosedale. This affects anyone intending to visit – but it will be worth the trip to see my wonderful new studio and buy something from my new ranges of work.

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There will be a wide variety of work for sale including new enamelled panels; new silver cored glass charm beads and new silver jewellery including a variety of pendants and rings. I will be taking bookings for classes in metal clay, art clay silver, enamelling and traditional silver jewellery making.
For more information on classes see my website or email me to book a place.

More cloisonné pendants

Today I have had another fun day teaching Steph a bit about cloisonné enamel on silver. The workshop was a present from her husband so she didn’t really know what to expect although she had done some basic enamelling on copper a few years ago, so knew a little about enamel.

We began by selecting shapes and sketching a little pattern each for the wires before cutting and fixing them into place. We then prepared some enamel colours by grinding and washing them (although, as usual, I had some prepared ready for us to use). Steph decided she liked one of my little bird pendant samples so explained how to break the pattern down to make the fine silver wire shapes in sections.

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This is my piece – that is supposed to be a fish in the bird’s beak! It is approximately 18mm in diameter – a bit of a contrast with yesterday’s panels that are 250mm x 250mm.

At the end of the day Steph had made a little bird pendant; a pendant with an abstract pattern and earrings to match it and here she is wearing all her beautiful work.

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She had really enjoyed her day – well done to her and to her husband I think!

If you would like to make your own unique piece of enamelled jewellery then please email me or see my class schedule

Whitby Abbey and moths

I have spent the day working on three enamel panels. I had made a sketch and had ideas for these some time ago but needed some free time to work on them.

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These images are built up in layers of different colours, firing each layer and allowing it to cool before continuing.

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I used a combination of techniques, making a stencil in paper of the outline of the abbey and stippling, painting and wet laying enamels.

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It is the first time I have had the big kiln running for ages and it is hot and tiring work lifting these panels in and out. It was an interesting project to work on and I think the next thing I need to do are some paintings of moths and butterflies.

An introduction to cloisonné enamel

Today I have been teaching an introduction to cloisonné enamelling techniques. My student Nicky already has experience in making silver jewellery and bezel setting stones so rather than using pre-made silver blanks I suggested she texture some small pieces of silver sheet to enamel onto. She cut out, annealed, pickled and textured some silver and then learned to apply enamel by the wet packing method.

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I showed her how to grind and wash her enamel and she prepared the first of her colours and then I did some more while she made her little shapes in fine silver wire. For one of her pieces she packed the enamel into a deep recess she had made using the rolling mill and then dried and fired it. For the second piece she used fine silver wire flattened into a thin ribbon and shaped it and laid it onto the surface of her silver before wet packing the first coat of enamel around it. For the third piece she attached fine silver round wire shapes to the surface of her piece using Art Clay Silver overlay paste, firing then in the kiln to secure them. She then wet packed her enamels around them and said that this was easier to enamel although the preparation of the silver attaching the wires takes a bit longer. After applying a few coats of enamel and counter enamel she ground the surface smooth, washed and brushed them before giving them a quick final final to get the gloss surface back.

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Here are her pieces and you can see she achieved great accuracy and really good transparency of her enamels, showing the textured surfaces of the silver through. She worked very hard during the day but has learned a lot and I am confident that she will enjoy taking this further.

If you would like to learn something about enamelling then make a date during May as quite a few members of the Guild of Enamellers are running workshops to promote the craft. I also have classes listed or you can email me for bookings or more information.