Friday, 29 March 2013

Happy 46th Birthday Kernowcraft!

This month we are celebrating our 46th year selling everything you need to make your own jewellery. Kernowcraft was one of the first companies in the UK to sell jewellery making and lapidary equipment.   Over the years there have been a few changes, but the thing that has remained continuous throughout this time is our insistence on offering a top quality personal service and a quality range of jewellery making products and huge range of semi precious gemstones.

At Kernowcraft we have always wanted to produce a free catalogue for our customers, as you can imagine styles have changed somewhat through the years if you would like to see all of the front covers of our catalogues through the 46 years then click here. Here are a few of Kernowcraft's earliest catalogues form the 1960's and 70's...
The sixties... where it all began...
Kernowcraft was established in 1967, after husband and wife William and Marion Wolfenden returned to England from a trip to Australia where lapidary and jewellery making was a thriving hobby. Although this was a popular hobby in Australia, it was very new to the UK and Kernowcraft became one of the first company's to offer hobbyists the tools and findings to make their own jewellery and tumble and cut their own gemstones.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

What is Reticulation?

Reticulation is a method of texturing the surface of silver through controlled heating to created a ripply texture. You can see an example of this on the flower pendant below, created by Kernowcraft's Jeweller Pete Hodge. This is a really nice technique to use but does take some careful torch work and some practice to refine! The ridges and ripples create shadows and interesting surface texture which adds a nice organic look to designs. It also works well used with a patina like Liver of Sulphur which will darken the silver but particularly the deeper areas - you can always polish up the higher areas so that the patina sits only in the pits and sunken areas.

To reticulate silver you will need to repeatedly heat up a piece of silver sheet to annealing temperature and then quench and pickle. Repeatedly doing this about 8 times, strips the surface of its copper content and brings the pure silver up to the surface. Further heating will cause the surface to move and wrinkle up in a sea like appearance. You can influence the pattern and textures created with the direction of the torch, or introducing a second torch. Often though the results can be unpredictable, so it is a good idea to reticulate some silver and then cut out the area you want and base your design around that.

To find out more about reticulation we would recommend a book such as the wonderful jeweller Jinks McGrath's 'The Jewellers Directory of Decorative Finishes'  and practice! Jink's offers a clear step by step process plus lots of helpful tips that will help you achieve successful results quickly. You will find that serendipity will often govern designs using reticulation, so go with the flow and enjoy the process...

If you would prefer a more consistent effect but without any of the hassle we do have a clever metal that with a small amount of heat will instantly reticulate into a wonderful rippled texture. The crinkle metal is very easy to use and the way it is made means that unlike traditional reticulated silver it will hold its shape if you are wanting to form it into a shape - for example a dome. To find out more about this exciting new metal click here.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Ditch the plans & design with what you've got!

Sometimes it is nice to just go to the workshop and create something from the left over pieces of silver you have, rather than planning a design from start to finish and ordering the exact sized piece of silver sheet.

With this in mind we have put together an assorted pack of silver sheet - the thickness of the sheet varies as does the size and shape - but all pieces are nice and useable rectangles. So if you don't have a specific design in mind and would like a mixed pack of smaller pieces to pick and choose your way through then this is a great little pack.

This silver pendant made by Kernowcraft's Buyer Joanna Lobb, is created from quite a small piece of silver, like you might receive in the assorted pack. She has cut out a heart design using a piercing saw and then textured with a ball pain hammer. To see more of Jo's jewellery designs you can visit her website here.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Inspired by Olivia Wotton!

We know how great it can be to hear advice from fellow jewellery designers, so we decided to ask one of our lovely customers Olivia Wotton a few questions about her jewellery making experiences, her top tips, favourite products and her inspiration!

How did you get into making jewellery?
I started when I was 12, my mum would buy my sis & I plastic beads & I would mix them with shells I'd found, we would 'borrow' my dads pliers & soldering wire (much to his annoyance!) & sit in front of the fire making jewellery, I however never grew out of it! I decided at 16 I wanted to do 'something' creative so did a two year B-Tec National Diploma in Art & Design at the South Devon College of Art & Design, specialising in jewellery in my final year, I then did a three year BA (Hons) 3D Design in Metal & Jewellery Degree at The Surrey Institute of Art & Design. I haven't looked back since..mainly as I have some outstanding library books! ;)

Describe your workspace: One word; Matchbox! My workshop is in a 5 foot by 6 foot 'room', unfortunately our airing cupboard is also in that 'room'..taking up nearly half of space! There's just enough room for my beautiful bench where I beaver away making what I call my 'dirty work', all Silver & Gold work, filing, hammering, drilling, polishing etc. My 'clean work' i.e all beading & stringing etc is done in the corner of our lounge, not much room either but at least I have a sea view from here!

What inspires you? 

My main inspiration comes from the sea, beach & countryside around my home in South Devon. I finds inspiration from many thing such as the age lines in a piece of wood or tangled fishing tackle disregarded on a beach. I can't leave the house without getting inspired by something! When we go for walks I always come home with beach treasure or a twig that has inspire me. It's pretty much always natural stuff, shapes, textures, colours, & of course actual shells & other natural objects that I have cast in solid Silver or 9ct Gold to use within my jewellery, I love that they are 'living on' in my work.

What are your top 5 tools and why are they so good? 

1; Dremel Stylus, it's such a good small hand tool, cordless too & great for so many jobs, I would be lost without it! 

2; Barrel polish, he's seen better days & now my work spins round in a jam jar but he still works! Great tool for polishing Silver & Gold, takes hours off making time. 

3; Very old (I've had it since collage!) economy half roundhand file, I hardly use the hundreds of others I have as this one practically does it all!

4; Ottlite light, give's a 'natural light' so perfect for fine beading & stringing work, also works really well for photographing work too, love it.

5; Jump ring maker, quite a new addition to my tools & wish I'd bought one years ago! perfect if you use a lot of jump rings!

What’s your favorite gemstone and why? 

Ooo tough one! I'm a fan of Rose Quartz for the properties it has & always include a little Rose Quartz bead hanging from the back of my necklaces. Tourmaline, Emerald & Jade have to be my personal favorites though, you can get a fantastic rainbow of colours with them & I think they look stunning teamed with my Silver & Gold work.

What advice would you offer beginners wanted to start making their own jewellery? 

There's so much to help & teach people now, I would definitely say use You Tube to watch some of the thousands of jewellery making videos, they can give you some great tips & help if your unsure how to do something. Also subscribing to one of the jewellery making magazines is a good way to try doing different things as they have projects etc each month. I have to say I taught myself a lot from trial & error!! It can be painful (literally!) & expensive but it has led me to make & design in a way I may not have had I followed steps etc. 

What jewellery making technique do you use most often? 

I hammer & 'pattern' my Silver & Gold with different textured hammers. I like the 'handmade' look it gives my work & think it makes the metal look more organic, which due to where most of my inspiration comes from it isn't surprising I opt for this look for my work over other finishes.

Tell us about your shop/website/ or how you sell your creations: 

I sell on line through my own website & through Folksy too, I also use my business Facebook page & Twitter to promote my business. Other than that I sell in 8 lovely local galleries & shops, I also take part in a few select fairs & exhibitions each year.

What advice do you have for anyone wanting to start selling their own creations? 

I used to just make my jewellery & post it off to galleries in some city somewhere, & at the end of the exhibition receive a cheque back, or just my jewellery! It was so hard to gauge who was buying my work & what people thought of it. So, when I moved back to Devon 7 years ago I started selling from little local fairs & it was a real eye opener!! It is a great way to meet your customers & also a brilliant way to build your confidence in selling, that was the hard thing for me to begin with & it took years for me to be able to say 'this is beautiful & worth every penny!!' I would also say selling items on Folksy etc is also a great way to get on line sales without the cost & work of setting up your own website to begin with but would always suggest selling face to face as well.

Which other jewellery maker or designer do you admire? And why?

I've admired Malcolm Morris jewellery for years & if I wasn't a jeweller myself (I only wear my own work!) I would love a piece of his apple blossom range, his work is very organic & inspired by the natural world, much like mine. Philippa Hollands is someone I have recently found out about, she makes some super pretty bug, butterfly & plant jewellery that resonates with me, she say's she feels like she is wearing the woods when she wears her sycamore pod necklace...which is exactly how I feel/hope people feel when wearing my work, like you've got a little bit of nature with you.  

Why do you love Kernowcraft? 

I love Kernowcraft partly as it's a Cornish business & being a Devon girl I am slightly bias towards anything Devonian or Cornish! ;) & partly for a whole host of other reasons, their website is brilliant, very easy to use & the images are great. Their delivery charges are extremely reasonable & their delivery time is blooming brilliant! Kernowcraft is always my first port of call if I'm looking for a semi-precious stone I don't normally use, their beads & stones are of a great standard & they stock some beautiful semi-precious stones. They are also a very helpful & friendly company which is invaluable for repeat business.  

What item is on your Kernowcraft ‘wish list’? 

Ooo lots! But the Kitiki Magnetic Polisher Kit is top of the list!

Visit Olivia's website

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Inspiration at the Beach

We've been treated to some gorgeous blue sky sunny days this week in Cornwall. A great time to get outside and look for some inspiration to use for jewellery designs. A trip at the weekend down to Gwithian beach (where this shot was taken, looking across the bay to sunny St Ives) proved not only a great break from being tucked up inside in the warm & sheltering from the rain and hail, but inspiring and motivating. It's amazing what a bit of sunshine can do isn't it?!

Hopefully at some point I will be able to share some finished items of jewellery who's idea stemmed from what I saw at the beach that day... but for now I will share the starting point and what I am planning to do...

Textures on the rocks - Creatures like barnacles would make some awesome texture used on metal clay designs (metal clay is a fabulous clay material that once fired with a gas torch or kiln turns into pure silver). Looking a bit further at the rocks revealed lots of interesting little marks and textures left from limpets and other shells clinging onto the rocks.

The next stage in this little project is to take a trip back to capture some textures in silicon moulding compound. This is quick and mess free. All you have to do is take a piece of each colour and mix them together well in your hands so that it is a consistent colour. Then press it into the thing you want to capture the texture of - in this case the surface of the rock (it sets in about 15 minutes so no worries of being stuck on the rock after the tide has come in!). The finished result will be a rubbery solid mould which still has a bit of flex in it, which makes removing the metal clay that you press into it easy to remove.

Once back home in the workshop I can use these homemade moulds to texture Precious Metal Clay. 

If you fancy creating jewellery form found textures like this then have a look at our metal clay range - there are various types of clay available, plus ready made moulds if you feel like cheating a bit!

Monday, 18 March 2013

Creative Tips from an Artist

A friend recently set up Aggie Arts, a fantastic collection of crafty workshops  based in St Agnes, Cornwall - just down the road from Kernowcraft. This article from them is part of a series providing ten tips from their highly experienced tutors to help budding artists/crafts people along the way. Whilst not specific to jewellery making, I really enjoyed reading Caroline's tips and they made me want to get out into the workshop and start creating something, even just going out and drawing something from nature to create a design from at a later stage.

Take a read and see if it sparks some creativity in you as well!

Article 3 Tips: for artists from Caroline Pedler

1. Be true to yourself.

2. Just do it...don't over think, the blank page is a scary place so just make a mark, any mark to start.

3. Make mistakes and be open to making them.

4. Enjoy what you do. If you don’t enjoy it, change it.

5. Embrace the fear and realise that making art is not an easy ride. It takes patience, understanding and perseverance.

6. Use sketchbooks, draw daily without too much thought, fill them and then look back after a few weeks. See where your mind was at, it's great for understanding your process.

7. Don't look around too much at other artists. Comparing yourself to others can cripple you. Be inspired, but stop looking when you become jealous.

8. Surround yourself with people and things that inspire you. You become what you envisage yourself to be. Be positive.

9. ‘Never forget your beginners spirit' Yoshitimo Nara.
10. Work hard and keep creating. Nothing comes from giving up...keep at it, through rejections, doubt and lack of confidence. If you love what you do, your work will find it's place in the outside world. It has to come from within to have longevity.

Caroline Pedler is an Internationally published illustrator working and living in St Agnes, Cornwall and offers a number of art courses. She started her career in Bath in 1998, illustrating best selling cards for Hallmark, and various series of children’s books for Marks & Spencer. Along with creating illustration for publication, Caroline
also likes to create work for exhibition. After exhibiting in art collective shows in and around Bath in the late 90s, her first solo show in Bath was alongside Cornish artist, Terry Frost. From here she has gathered a number of collectors in the UK and further afield, and continues to exhibit in and around Cornwall. You can see Caroline’s work on her website:

Caroline is currently running the Children’s Book Illustration and Sketchbook workshops for Aggie Arts.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Ideas on how to set drusy...

We still have some stunning drusy (or druzy) stones left in stock and soon we will have many more in stock! Hooray! These stones are SO sparkly and pretty it is hard not to get excited about their arrival.

We have three styles of stone available at the moment: window drusy, flat drusy and chalcedony drusy rosettes (a natural freeform shape opposed to cabochons like the window and flat drusy). The rosette shapes take a little more imagination to set and we would suggest creating a claw setting to hold the stone in place. As you will see below from some of the designs we have seen other people create, this is a very effective design.

Are you on Pinterest too?
You might have noticed that we are on Pinterest, if you would like to follow our inspiring boards - pop over and follow us here: We have pinned lots of our favourite gemstones, beads & inspiring jewellery designs to get you in a creative mood. This is one stunning drusy design that we spotted on Pinterest... Ooh I can't wait until all those new stones arrive!

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Creating Jewellery Components with Silver Wire

I was having a look through some of our recent earring designs that we have made at Kernowcraft and thought that I'd share these simple earrings with you.
What I like about these earrings (apart from the twinkly midnight coloured Black Spinel Briolette Beads is the wobbly silver components. These were handmade and although if you are a beginner and have never attempted soldering before you might be thinking "....eek I couldn't do that" but you would be surprised how easy it is to create something simple like this and the new creative designs you can come up with just a little new skill under your belt!

How to make...
The silver components were made with some Sterling Silver Wire (I think I used 0.8mm or 1mm diameter and you won't need that much either so it isn't going to break the bank!). The large hoop uses about 8cm of wire and the small hoop only about 3cm. Bend the wire into a rough circle and make sure that the ends of the wire line up very neatly - either cut through with a saw or file to get a flat surface. Solder using solder paste (I prefer this as it is ready fluxed and easy to use)  using a small handheld gas torch like this:

Pickle using safety pickle to remove any fire stain. Before polishing I bent the large loop into a wobbly shape using round nose pliers and then hit it with the flat side of a ball pein hammer on a steel block to get some areas on it flat - which enhances the wobbly shape! To achieve the texture on the smallest loop above I hammered it using the rounded end of the ball pain hammer.

Then polish your silver loops using sand paper and polishing papers (if you don't own any polishing equipment like a Dremel Multitool). The polishing papers are great and give a great finish on this sort of project. Depending on the finish you want you might prefer to not use all of the finest polishing papers and keep a semi-matt or satin finish as opposed to a high sheen.

Thats the hard bit over! Then you simply have to put the earring together using some findings and your choice of Briolette Beads  (these are my favourite at the moment as they are so sparkly!). If you haven't already got findings for making earrings in your jewellery making box, then pop over to to stock up!

Monday, 11 March 2013

Super sparkly Drusy stones!

Drusy Stones

Click here to buy these stunning druzy gemstones!
We just can't believe how super sparkly our beautiful new Drusy stones are!
We were so excited to discover these beautiful Drusy stones recently! These Drusy cabochons and flat plates have such an unbelievable sparkle on them that they're sure to make a beautiful statement in your jewellery designs.

So, what is Drusy?
4533 Freeform Drusy Flat Plate
4534 Drusy Freeform Flat PlateDrusy (Druzy) comes from the German word 'druse' which means geode, a geode is a hollow space within a stone that contains lovely little crystals. Our new drusy stones are chalcedony or agate which have been carefully coated to give them their extra sparkle and colour. These drusy have been coated in the US by a world leading laboratory using a process called Vapour Desposition Coating which uses materials such as Titanium and Platinum to give them a coating that is not only gorgeous but is designed to be durable to withstand everyday wear.
The stunning coatings on these stones range from bright golds to gorgeous shimmering blues and purples that are quite honestly amazing! It's so hard to get across how beautiful these stones are in a photograph and we think that you just can't beat seeing them in real life, so we thought we'd show you all just how beautiful they are with a lovely video showcase.

Our Drusy cabochons and flat plates are all available in our cabochon section by clicking here!
Drusy Stones


Take a look at our project in this month's Making Jewellery Magazine!!

70's style necklace project Making Jewellery

We love Making Jewellery magazine so we were really flattered when they asked us to create a project for their April issue!
When we were given the theme of new trends for 2013 we couldn't wait to get started creating a lovely project for the readers of Making Jewellery to follow. We chose to create a design focused around the trend for all things 70's style and put together a real statement necklace inspired by the beautiful patterns of our orange agate large faceted coin beads. Their vibrant colours and patterns were just perfect for the 70's theme.
Pick up you April issue of Making Jewellery to see this project and much more!