How is it made?

Tools and jewellery work-in-progress on the bench

Handmade means different things to different people.

This is how it’s made…

Cast from nature

I’m often inspired by nature, but sometimes nature defies imitation. There’s just no way that I could capture its shapes and its detail. It’s perfect just as it is and I don’t want to interpret it. That’s when I get it cast in silver.

I am forever picking up seed pods, acorns, twigs, leaves, all sorts! If they are dry, or will dry without losing their shape, and they are reasonably robust and not too hollow then (after weeks of deliberation over which is the absolute best one!) I will pop them in a box and send them to be cast.

If they are more delicate or tricky shapes, like the thinner-than-paper vacated butterfly chrysalis, then I will fill the shape with resin so that it will be robust enough to cast. I will also fill deep hollows and thicken particularly thin sections that could cause problems with casting.

Sometimes I make my own moulds, especially where an item will shrink or wrinkle in the time it would take to get to the caster. I fill these with resin to make a master to send to be cast.

When the cast pieces are returned to me I need to saw or file away what remains of the sprue, and sometimes re-texture the surface in that area. Then I need to decide what to do with it. Sometimes it is as simple as soldering on earring posts or a ring for a chain. More often more work is required before the casting. or castings, become a finished piece.

Fabricated pieces

Not made up, but made by hand. This is where the piece starts out as sterling silver sheet, wire, or tube. I saw, file, shape, texture, solder and assemble using a variety of hand tools, and a few powered tools like my pendant drill.

Serendipity

This comes in when I do things like water casting. Any scrap silver that I haven’t managed to make into even smaller jewellery I melt down either into tiny silver balls or to use for water casting. This is simply pouring molten silver into water.

The silver cools rapidly and forms random organic shapes. Sometimes they are beautiful and usable. Sometimes they go back in the scrap pot for re-melting.

Nothing is wasted.

Chains and findings

I buy chains by the metre, cut them to length and solder on jump rings and catches. Sometimes I use bought catches but more often I use handmade S hook catches.

Other things I buy pre-made are findings like smaller jump rings, earrings posts and butterfly backs, and some ear wires. I don’t use pre-made charms or similar finished elements.