Thursday, 26 December 2013

Our top ten tools for making textures on metal

Experimenting with texture is a great way to bring new inspiration to your work and if you love working with texture we recommend our Metals Texturing Kit to give you a full range of tools to get started.However if you are in the mood to get your jewellery making bench a new tool, here are our top ten tools to make textures on metal:

 1. Crinkle Metal: If you love reticulation, this is an easy way to achieve the same effect. The metal reticulates as soon as it is brought up to temperature and can be formed first as it will hold its shape.
2. Charcoal Block: Great for granulation because of its super smooth surface meaning the little balls of metal you make won't stick to the block.
3. Ball Pein Hammer: Ideal for making a traditional hammered texture on metal. Use with a Steel Block.
4. Glass Fibre Scratch Brush: While useful for cleaning and preparing metals before polishing, it is also great for applying a matt or brushed finish to metals.
5. Cross Pein Hammer: A Ball Pein Hammer is great for creating a soft round hammered effect, but a Cross Pein Hammer is useful for creating a bark like texture on metal. Use with a Steel Block.
6. Satin Texture Wheels: Also known as flick mops or frosting wheels, these texture wheels will give your metal a wonderful, permanent satin finish. Available in fine and course.
7. Liver of Sulphur: Use it to achieve an antiqued, black or iridescent coloured patina on silver, copper, bronze, brass, gold and metal clays.
8. Patina Basics DVD: This super DVD is easy to follow and will take you through some great techniques using household products to achieve colour on metals.
9. Scriber: A good quality scriber is an essential tool for all silversmiths making score marks on sheet metal, but it is also great for making a dotted texture on metal when hammered gently. Marks are revealed with Liver of Sulphur.
10. Top Quality German Gravers. Available in different shapes, these gravers can be used for engraving pattern, marks and texture into metals. Make them more comfortable to hold with a Wooden Graver Handle.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

What is lapidary?

According to the Oxford Dictionary, lapidary (adjective) relates to the engraving, cutting or polishing of stones and gems. As a noun, a lapidaries is a person who cuts, polishes or engraves gems. The origin of the noun is Middle English, from Latin lapidarius (in late Latin 'stonecutter'), from lapis, lapid- 'stone'. The adjective dates from the early 18th century.

Diamond cutters are generally not referred to as lapidaries, due to the specialized techniques which are required to work diamond. Apart from figurative carving of gemstones, there are three broad categories of lapidary, the processes of tumbling, cabochon cutting, and faceting.
It is worth noting that many beads, cabochons and faceted stones are still cut by hand today and at Kernowcraft the majority of our gemstone beads will have hand drilled holes. This means that you need to be sympathetic to the type of bead you are using .As they are all supplied temporarily strung on thread it is very easy to overlook the size of the hole, especially when in the West it has become fashionable to thread them onto wire or headpins when they are not necessarily made with that use in mind in their country of origin. If you would like more information about working with beads with small holes, reads our detailed page here.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Last Minute Jewellery Makes

Don't forget that jewellery making doesn't need to take a lot of time - you can experiment with ready made settings for last minute gifts!

You can use easy to set settings such as Sterling Silver Snaptite Earstuds Settings also available in a pendant setting. You can make these in minutes as you simply need to push the stone into place and the claws will hold it tightly.

In the photo we used 5mm Round Sterling Silver Snaptite Earstud Settngs with a pair of 5mm Mystic Fire Topaz Faceted Stones.

Gallery Wire Settings are available in earring, pendant and ring settings and again can be made very quickly. You just need to choose your cabochons and use a Bezel Rocker to push the prongs of the gallery wire bezel over the edges of the stone.

Gallery Wire Settings are ever so versatile - we even used Sterling Silver Wire to add a White Head Drilled Teardrop Pearl bead.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Working with wire gives you a simple introduction to silversmithing

If you have been working with gemstone beads and want to take things a little further, consider making your own findings which gives you the opportunity to start working with metal.

We made these really simple earrings with some 0.6mm Sterling Silver Wire and two Cultured Freshwater White Pearl Beads:

With a length of 0.6mm Sterling Silver wire start by making the spiral in the end using a pair of Round Nose Pliers. Do the first turn using the pliers and then hold the spiral in between your fingers and wind the wire around another turn. Lay the spiral end down onto a Steel Block and using the flat side of a Ball Pein Hammer or Jewellers Hammer, tap the spiral to flatten it. You might find that you need to polish the spiral after hammering it, so use fine Wet and Dry Sanding Sheets and Polishing Papers to finish. Thread your Pearl Bead onto the wire and use Snipe Nose Pliers to form the shape of your ear wire, bending it around the widest part of the round nose pliers to ensure a uniform shape on both earrings.

You can customise this design by using thicker wire or a gemstone bead but remember that if using a thicker wire then you may need to use a Bead Reamer to make the hole in your bead larger.

If you want to buy everything you need to get started, then consider our Beginners Wire Working Kit. This kit contains the tools you need as well as a copy of The Encyclopedia of Wire Jewellery Techniques which takes you from wire wrapping, making chains and making your own findings right up to the basics of silversmithing towards making your first ring - a super book!

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

A Modern Pearl Necklace

A set of pearls is something every girl should own. Pearls are classic, pearls are ageless and you can choose your style with a string of pearls - they can be short or long multiple tumbling strands. You can can choose luxurious traditional white or dyed pearls in a range of colours that never loose their distinctive lustre.

We gave a string of Silver Sage Pearls a modern look but keeping with the tradition of knotting in between each pearl. Knotting serves a practical purpose as well as an aesthetic one, so that if the worst happened and they got broken then you don't loose all of your precious pearls. We love the look of knotted pearls and even love the process of handling each bead - a kind of therapy!

Once the strand was knotted using 0.45 Natural Silk Thread, we added Sterling Silver Necklet Ends (because they are ever so easy to use), securing the knots inside with a dab of C20 Devcon Epoxy Glue. Then we attached a 5mm Sterling Silver Jump Ring at one end and added a Sterling Silver Leaf Charm, finishing the necklace with a Sterling Silver Plain Flat Toggle Clasp.