Sunday, 21 March 2010

Fossils Revisited

Long-time followers may remember my exitement at finding a tiny but perfect fossil on a trip to Charnmouth a couple of summers ago. This is it before I was brave enough to clean it up;

This fossil inspired my fossil bead series and I have been harbouring ideas of making some silver jewellery from my ammonite too. This weekend I finally got around to it. Silver clay is not my most favourite medium to work in as I am by no means a perfectionist with it, but I wanted an organic finish to the pieces, so my rougher style was for once an advantage!

First, I made a mould of my fossil from a flexible alginate-based compound.

Then I filled the mould with precious metal clay.

I popped the moulded ammonite out and left it to dry completely. Then I made another! I attached some fine silver earring posts to the back of the earrings with clay paste, and left them to dry again. Then I sanded the pieces to neaten the edges and fired them.

Once they had cooled I brushed them with a brass bristle brush to reveal the satiny silver surface. Then I burnished the earrings with an agate burnisher to bring out the shine and popped them in my tumbler for a couple of hours. Finally, I polished them with jeweller's rouge. This is the end result.

Then I decided to make an ammonite charm too, which I have used in a necklace I made for myself. I used some of my organic lampwork beads with some citrine, smoky quartz and crystal quartz briolettes, and hung them of a silver ring which I hammered to texturise. I don't often make jewellery for myself, so I'm realy pleased with my matching necklace and earring set. I've also made an extra charm which I've just turned into a simple pendant.

I'm off out to lunch today to celebrate my parents' Golden Wedding Anniversary, which is the perfect occasion to wear my new jewellery!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Elephant Fundraiser a Trumpeting Success!

You may remember that I was asked to make two pieces of jewellery to be auctioned at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust's Elephant Gala Fundraiser in New York.

The first one was dedicated to Turkwel. I made some lampwork beads with lots of silver in them and paired them up with some smoky quartz.

The second piece was dedicated to Chaimu. This time I made some organic cream and amethyst beads and wired them up with some amethyst briolettes.

I am pleased to report that the event itself was a resounding success, and the evening raised $70,000! The pieces I made sold for a total of $750, which I am really pleased with.

The picture below was taken by Beth Dietz, a DSWT supporter who attended the event, and has kindly allowed me to use her picture of the Turkwel piece as displayed in New York. Thank you Beth!

Kristin Davis, of Sex and the City fame, was the guest speaker for the evening.

Kristin gave a brilliant account of how she was involved in the rescue of little Chaimu when she was visiting Kenya. Kristin is a fabulous supporter of the Trust and has seen first hand the incredible difference that it makes to the lives of the elephants, who are orphaned often as a result of poaching or other human intervention.

By the wonders of modern technology you can watch Kristin's speech on Ustream.

I learned today that the person who bought the Chaimu necklace presented it to Kristin as a gift and I am told that she loves it! I hope it serves as a reminder of the part she played in Chaimu's rescue, and that she wears it often.

If you would like to support the work of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust you can foster your very own elephant orphan.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Moon Flowers look like this....

If there were flowers on the moon, maybe they would look like this;

I rarely combine silvered ivory with florals, but I quite like how my MoonFlower bead turned out.

The promise of spring has definitely affected my bead designs, and this is one of the many florals I have been making recently. I called this one 'Peace'.

And now a couple of sets. The first one is stepping stones over a babbling brook;

And the second sets inspired by a packet of lentils!

Inspiration can come from the oddest places...

Have a great week!

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Dad - this one's for you!

Having just got off the phone to my Dad, who has observed that I haven't updated my blog lately, I thought I had better rectify that!

Despite treating myself to two long weekends away from work specifically to make beads I managed a pitiful amount. The reason for this was two-fold.

On the first weekend I managed just three beads before, for some inexplicable reason, plunging my left index finger into the flame. Ouch!

My finger smoked, and my nail baked to a black crust and the smell of burning flesh filled the room. My head told me I needed to abandon the bead I had just spent the last 15 minutes on, and which was nearly finished, and head to the cold water tap. My heart told me to ignore the agony and finish the bead. Almost without exception my heart wins the day in these circumstances, but this time, because I could tell it was a big burn, I did the sensible thing and sacrificed my bead to save my finger.

So for the next 30 minutes I held my finger under running water, and for the rest of the day whenever the wave of agony resurfaced I ran to the freezer and grabbed the peas. Being sensible paid off, and I avoided a blister, but I wasn't able to feel the tip of my finger until Thursday when the hardened end of it finally fell off! Eew!

Other beadmakers will know that once you've had a burn there is little possibility of making beads for about a week, as every time the burn gets warm again it hurts like heck. So that was that for my first beadmaking weekend.

So it was with a significant amount of eagerness and expectation that I approached the following long weekend. I finished work on Wednesday evening and had an entire four days with nothing much planned except beadmaking. Imagine how fed up I was when I came down with the lurgy on Wednesday evening, only to feel human again in time to return to work the following Monday morning! Urgh! Why do these things always happen?!

Well, I did manage a brief session at the torch, and the two sets below are the result of that.

This first set is called 'Agateous' on account of it reminding me of Moss Agate. I've used a lovely, deep clay-red glass which I heated until it was soupy and blended with ivory, black and silver. The black has webbed through the other colours which gives the agatey feel.

The second set is called 'First Frost' and I've used a lovely opal glass in sky blue, which I've decorated with silvery fronds.

I have another day off work next Friday, but you know what? I'm not going to plan a beadmaking session at all, and I'll just see what happens.

This week I ran a couple of giveaways. So congratulations to Julie H-B and Janet (JayeSpangles) who both won a set of ring pellets to try out. If you would like to try these yourself take a look at my Etsy listing where you can read the full instructions on how to use these clever pellets to ensure your precious metal rings are a perfect fit.

Thats all for now. Have a great week.

(See you soon Dad - love you xx)