The Silversmith Diaries

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The Liebster Award nomination

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What a wonderful surprise to be nominated for the Liebster Award by blogger Amanda Preston at My Crazy Life

I am still very new to blogging, and it is a little out of my comfort zone. However, I have really enjoyed writing my previous posts and I will be pushing myself to continue my blogging journey.

Amanda’s blog gives you an honest and in depth look into her life roles of an Adoptive / Foster parent and social worker. Her warm writing style makes reading about difficult subject matter accessible to all. I’m sure her words have been helpful and comforting to others going through similar situations. (Plus her website is beautiful!)

Thanks Amanda!

To start with I would have to say one of my favorite blogs (although technically it is mainly a podcast sorry!) is Tough Girl Challenges

Sarah Williams’ blog highlights female role models from all walks of life, be they; explorers, ultra runners, climbers etc.. In an attempt to inspire other women to challenge themselves in a physical and mental way.  When I started reading and listening I didnt think it was the right thing for me. Sitting in my little workshop, I was overwhelmed by all of these incredible women and what they have achieved.  Once I got stuck in however, I was hooked. All of these women have had to start somewhere and have built up to their achievements over time. Listening to what they have had to overcome and how they reached their goals can be applied to anyone’s situation.

My nomination has also included these questions, so you can get to learn a bit more about me, Michelle at Peak Jewellery.

Why Did you Start Blogging?

The main reason I started blogging was for people to get a real in depth look into what goes on behind the scenes.

I feel a lot of jewellery production is hidden or brushed under the carpet, maybe to keep its magic and luxurious allure. However, I wanted people to see how much goes into each piece, the inspiration, technique and time. My heart and soul is poured into my jewellery and from sharing this with customers, they tell me that they love hearing about the ‘Behind the scenes processes’ as it makes it more special for them. So here’s to many more hopefully!

What Inspires You Most of All?

If you have browsed through my jewellery pages on this site, it should be easy to see (I hope!) that my biggest inspirations are the mountains. Not only their natural beauty and incredible shapes but the memories and experiences taken from adventuring amoungst them. It may have been your first time hiking up a mountain, or the first time you base jumped from the top of one! The memories and feelings experienced from these moments are so special and will be remembered forever. My aim is, for whoever is wearing a piece of my jewellery, to be reminded of a special moment or experience when looking at the shapes and structures.

One Extraordinary Thing I have Done In My Life?

It feels so long ago now and pretty much is! I took myself of to America for a month of exploring and to live out my dream of being a cowgirl. It may not sound extraordinary, but sitting on the back of an amazing horse, herding 1200 head of cattle through the most beautiful part of the Rockies in Colorado, was pretty extraordinary to me. I would never have left if I didn’t have to ( my now husband breathed a sigh of relief upon my return!)

It was actually harder then I would have ever thought ‘Living your dream’ It was incredibly special but left me in a really weird “what next” scenario. I really struggled afterwards to find my next path and happily landed in the workshop, at the bottom of my garden making jewellery.

If I Could Have Anything I Want What Would It Be?

This was incredibly difficult to answer! If I ever make a wish over a birthday cake candle, or on a shooting star, it is always, simply for ‘Happiness.’ I am not difficult to please I think, so I spend most of my days pretty darn happy with husband, puppy and jewellery workshop combo. If I could have anything, maybe it would be to ‘Live in the moment more’ Or maybe ill just settle for a ranch in Colorado?!

What is your favorite part of blogging?

Simply put, just showing and sharing the process of how I make pieces with others. I love knowing how things are made, and when I show people my work, they are interested as well. Share the knowledge!

What three goals do you have for your blog?

I would love to be more disciplined and post more regularly.

Have a larger audience and reach a variety of people.

Write more with other people and do collaborative projects.

 

My Nominees!

Four amazing blogs from all different kinds of writer / artist. I recommend them to anyone to read!

Life Brew Blog

Laura Trinder Illustrator

Carly Slade Wild Yoga

True Highlands Blog

TO THE NOMINEES:

Here are the official rules to accepting your nomination (based on the nomination I received):

  1. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog. Try to include a little promotion for the person who nominated you. They will thank you for it and those who you nominate will also help you out as well.
  2. Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”.
  3. Write a post about your favorite blog that is not your own. Explain why you like the blog, provide links. Answer the questions from the person who nominated you.
  4. Nominate blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 200 followers or are newer blogs.
  5. List these rules in your post
  6. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post. (They might not have ever heard of it!)
  7. Post a comment in the comments of the award post so your post and blog can be viewed.

The Liebster Award at https://theglobalaussie.com/blog/liebster-award-2017/

Thank you everyone for reading, I hope you have enjoyed this insight into Peak jewellery and the wonderful work of The Liebster Award.

Michelle

2016; The year of the wedding… Part two!

Well, This blog maybe slightly delayed, just over a year in fact. I am especially ashamed as this blog concerns my own wedding jewellery!

Our wedding had a woodland theme at a beautiful venue in Bedfordshire called Tofte Manor.  We wanted to incorporate traditional aspects such as; a sit down wedding breakfast, speeches, cutting of the cake and first dance. However, we offset some of the traditions with elements personal to us. Post ceremony we had stunning owls and hawks from The British School of Falconry for the guests to enjoy handling. Sharing our love for these creatures with our friends was just wonderful.

We also carried out an evening ceremony for guests that we could not fit in during the day! It is always frustrating when you cant invite everyone you want, and we were desperate for them to be part of our celebrations. Tofte manor has a magical Labyrinth in the grounds with a natural spring which runs underneath. Guests surrounded us while we weaved our way hand in hand, listening to poems read aloud by friends. A truly special moment.

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Anyway, I could carry on recalling our wedding day for hours, so lets get down to the important stuff- The rings!

The Engagement ring.

I do not not remember saying this at all, but apparently when we met, my husband said that I professed a desire to make my own engagement ring. (I totally believe he just made that up to take the pressure off! But I can definitely imagine myself saying something that mad.)

After years working in a bespoke jewellers, I lived for the moments when I could sit with couples and design their special pieces of jewellery together. Now it was my turn, I felt completely lost, What do I actually like?

I treated the process as I would discussing a design with a customer, narrowing down decisions; What metal, what stones, what shape etc…

I love the strength and endurance of Platinum so that was easy.

A brilliant (Round) cut diamond was a must as I am a traditional girl at heart, but i just had the desire for a little something extra…

My favorite gem by far is the Tsavorite garnet, a rich, luminous stone, with a deep leafy green. If I am presented with a selection of green stones, the one that catches my eye is always a Tsavorite, so it was meant to be.

Now for the shape. Pear shape stones always look so elegant to me with the points giving a definite finish to the lines of the design. When it came to thinking of the setting of the stones, I looked at the pros and cons of each style as I would when describing them to a customer. There was only one that appealed, the Cheneer or Rub set style. I love the smooth edges and how the edges highlight the overall shape of the stone.

Before I realised it , The design was there..

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Little daydreamy sketches.

The Wedding Rings.

Getting nearer to the big day, my stress levels were through the roof, as any bride to be usually is!

I had spent so much time thinking about my husband to be’s wedding ring I had neglected my own.  However, I had heard that making your own wedding band was thought to be terribly bad luck! So with a huge sigh of relief I handed over the responsibility to a close friend and old colleague.

I had decided upon a simple 2.5mm wide platinum band with a slight twist to fit snugly against my engagement ring. As a special little addition, I had previously made two platinum oak leaves which I initially had wanted to fit onto my engagement ring. The leaves ended up making the ring look too busy, but as luck would have it, there were two perfect spaces either side of the twist for the leaves to sit.

Oak trees are very special to us, one of our favorite trees and a recurring theme throughout our relationship. Husband proposed in an ancient oak forest and we were surrounded by them at our wedding venue, the mighty Oak as a symbol of strength.

The Husband.

I am incredibly lucky in the fact that he is so laid back. I basically said to him “I have always wanted to try this jewellery technique, im going to make your wedding band like this….” He quickly agreed as soon as I mentioned the technique ‘Mokume Gane’ which is the method used to make a type of Samurai sword, he was sold on the idea straight away.

I love a challenge and after having tested this technique briefly during my training I jumped in feet first. The fact that I did not have any of the correct tools, skill or experience with this technique using precious metals, should have put me off, but it didn’t.

After a stressful evening planning exactly the amount of metal I needed, I clicked purchase and there was no looking back. Mokume Gane is a technique where varying metals are bonded together to make a big sandwich. The official technique is to bind them in a vice with heat or, to hammer and twist them, in a more blacksmith method.

As I didn’t have the correct tools, I decided instead to weld the layers together instead and then using a large blowtorch, melt them together into one block. I cannot rememeber the last time i put myself under this much pressure and sweated as much! If this process didnt work, I would pretty much be melting hundreds of £££s and the materials would be useless and unusable. Luckily by keeping a cool head and using a methodical approach i ended up with a beautiful (to me) block of laminated layers.

The above image displays the initial stages of welding layers of Rose gold and Palladium. I cannot find an image of the final block, I must have been too stressed to take the picture!

This stage the ring has had segments filed to reveal the layers, and forged into the ring shape.

The finished result!

Thank you for reading, and keeping with me through to the end!

I hope you have enjoyed reading.

If you have any questions regarding my process, or if you would like to discuss a special jewellery project.

Please contact me on info@peakjewellery.com

Michelle

Image 2 and 6 courtesy of Kate Davies Photography.

2016; The year of the wedding! Part one… The Wildgeese

2016 may go down in history as a year to forget for most, but for me (although it had its sad moments) it will be a year I will never forget.

2016 was officially the year of the weddings!

This blog was originally going to capture the three weddings of 2016 in one go, however I did get slightly carried away and i have now split it into parts for easier reading! This is part one of three.

It was a hectic year! As well as my own wedding in June, our day was sandwiched wonderfully in between some of my best friends special days; Mr and Mrs Wildgoose and Mr and Mrs Bambrook.

Starting off with the Wildgeese in the springtime with the glorious marriage of Laura and Christian. You can see in a previous blog, an in depth look into the brides wedding necklace. These two are such a perfect pair, and they had the perfect wedding day to match. Located at South Farm in Cambridgeshire the day was filled with pastel blooms and the perfect lace dress. I was lucky to be even closer to the special day, by being one of the Bridesmaids.

Just look at them! Too gorgeous!

I was honored to be asked by the groom to be apart of designing the engagement ring, which trying to keep secret from the bride was near impossible, as she is one of my closets friends. He casually dropped in conversation over a Chinese buffet, that he was planning to ask Laura to be his bride and i had to stifle a scream of utter joy to not alert the bride to be!

It was wonderful to work together on a project with the brief of “Something natural, as though the diamond has been overgrown by ivy…” After some sketches and secret, under cover emails we decided on the below design.

The Ivy Ring. A stunning Oval diamond, bezel set in 18ct white gold, surrounded by vines and hand engraved ivy leaves. The engagement ring is made from 10 individual parts, a design and construction challenge! It is still one of my all time favorites.

Wildgeese Wedding Rings.

The couple wanted to have rings that were in keeping with the Ivy theme. The bride wanted a very simple band that curved around her engagement ring and complimented it in an understated fashion. After a few different trials with plaited and twisted bands, a decision was made to keep it simple and use a plain 2mm white gold band which sits snugly against the diamond ring.

For the grooms wedding band we were more adventurous. He approached me with some sketches of what idea he had in mind and we discussed the plausibility of the design versus what is comfortable to wear everyday. I love to work closely with clients designs to try and make their ideas a reality. It is really interesting to see how each person approaches the design process, i can then take their design and adjust it to make it suitable to wear.  Adjustments could be; an unrealistic thickness to a wedding band, the stone being too high or a design which is too fine and would not withstand heavy wear.

After some final tweaks we had decided on a chunky 6mm white gold band with a concave profile. Inset into this profile was a wrapping of vines and three ivy leaves replicating the ones one the engagement ring, the three leaves representing the past, present and future. I loved creating the undulating and wrapping of these vines, trying to replicate nature is never easy, nature is too perfect!

What an absolutely wonderful experience it has been to work with these two through out the whole process start to finish. Watching two best friends declare their love and promise to stick with each other, such an emotional day!

I hope you have enjoyed reading, please feel free to email me at info@peakjewellery.com regarding any questions you may have.

Watch this space for part two!

Thank you!

*Top image courtesy of Lucy Nobel Photography.

*Title image courtesy of Enchanting Wood photography.

From Start to Finish.

My process of making a piece of jewellery from the very beginning.

Jewellery is such a personal thing, from the people that make it through to the lucky people that end up wearing it. Everyone has so many different techniques and likes and dislikes, This is what i find so interesting about the jewellery industry. I have been very fortunate to learn and work alongside so many different goldsmiths. Leaning from them and watching their methods, it is amazing that an end result can be reached from using so many different methods.

It would be so incredibly dull and boring if we all did things the same and liked the same jewellery. So this is an insight into my personal method.

Step one.

If i am designing a piece around a certain stone, I will research all i can about the stone to get a better understanding and feel from it. Where is it mined? Who discovered it? How is it formed? Any mythology or meanings connected with it?

I then feel like I have a better grasp of the stone and can therefore design a piece that I feel is relevant to it.

The drawing board.

The Bumble Bee Jasper above is a sedimentary rock combination of volcanic ash and other sedimentary layers that collect during an eruption of lava.

I then brainstorm around scale sketches of the stone, ideas that spring to mind. This particular stone had unusual silver coloured layer formations, which looked to me like the soaring peaks of the Dolomite mountain range in Italy. This then inspired me to replicate that onto the top of the pendant.

Step 2.

When I am happy with the loose design I want to go for, I sketch it on graph paper to scale. By doing this I am ensuring that I know how much material I will need and also that the design will be practical as a piece of jewellery.

Step 3.

At the work bench! The best bit.

Now I am confident with the design I begin the making process.

First is to create the ‘Bezel’ surround which holds the stone in place. This can be a time consuming task as the bezel needs to be tight against the stone, with no gaping to ensure the fit is secure and neat.

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This K2 stone shows from the underneath, a snug fit from the bezel.

Once the bezel is perfect, the next stage is to shape the base plate for the stone to sit on. The stone will need to rest on the base plate and against the sides of the bezel to ensure it will stay secure.

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This shows the bezel soldered closed and the base plate, shaped correctly prior to soldering.

Personally I like to see the back of the stone and for the base plate to run parallel around it, to give a finished look that is pleasing to the eye. I drive myself mad, spending ages trying to get this look perfect. It is so rewarding when you have finished however to see that the extra time and patience is worth it!

Step 4.

Soldering!

To complete the setting, the bezel and base plate need to be welded together. To ensure that this is done as cleanly as possible,  I sand the bottom of the bezel and the top of the base plate. This connection will now weld together tightly as there will be no gaps.

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Welded together, I have also welded the decorative trio of mountains onto the top of the pendant.

Using a lower melting point solder will leave previous welds unaffected.

This shows the parallel width of the base plate, with the welded addition of the Jump ring for the chain.

 

 

Step 5.

Preparing to set the stone.

I find the more preparation you put into this last stage the easier the setting process will be.

I start by ensuring the bezel height is correct for the stone, just enough to pinch the edges of the stone. Sometimes I feel I have not left enough height, but setting the stone securely gives it a sleek and slimline finish.

The next stage is to chamfer the edges of the top of the bezel. I do this by filing at a 45 degree angle, this thins out the metal to be pushed over and also gives a nice uniformed finish. Once this is complete, I sand and polish the entire pendant until I am happy with the result.

The final setting stage is to place the stone into the setting and start gently pushing the bezel edges onto the stone.

I start at the top and work my way around, swapping to opposite ends after each push to even out the process.

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The tools above are;

A flat ended pusher to start the initial setting process. They can be very severe so it is best to start slowly.

A re curved burnisher. Once i am happy the stone is secure I file the setting smooth and then use this in a quick sliding motion to harden and shine the chamfer of the bezel.

The final tool is a pointed engraver. When the setting is finished I use this on the touching edge between the setting and stone to smooth and shape.

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The piece is now finished!

I hope you have enjoyed reading through my making methods. I would love to hear about yours and to answer and questions you may have.

For the love of Hedgehogs!

For everyone that knows me, knows my adoration for our prickly friends the hedgehog. For those that didn’t know, they will defiantly be aware by the end of this post!

Last year my husband and I fostered three baby hogs from a local rescue center. What went from a simple collect and release, ended up a six month rehabilitation in our house with lessons on nest building and worm foraging. They were absolutely incredible creatures to watch and no matter how incredibly bad they smelt, seeing them grow and learn was so rewarding. Release day was more emotional then expected!

Aptly named ‘Queen Latifa’ loved exercising in the wheel!

After falling in love with these unusual beasts I researched their unfortunate decline in the wild. Before taking these little hogs on I was completely unaware of the trouble the species was in. Due to a decline in suitable habitat and particular food specialities the familiar sight of a hedgehog is becoming rarer and rarer. If you would like to know more on this issue the following link to the british hedgehog preservation society will fill you in.

http://www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk/pdf/SoBH_2015.pdf

With this in mind I decided to make a fun Hedgehog themed set of silver jewellery, with 20% of the proceeds being donated to the British Hedgehog Preservation society. The donations go towards creating a public awareness of how to care for hedgehogs that are found sick or injured and also to fund research into their behavioral habits.

The jewellery is hand made from Sterling silver and is finished with a contrasting polished/matte texture to highlight the fluffy face from the prickly back. .

The pendant measures 28mm nose to tail and 18mm high which comes on a silver snake style chain. The stud earrings measure 10mm and can be brought separatly from the necklace.

The jewellery can be brought from the above ‘Collections’ Tab or the following link;

peakjewellery.com/portfolio-item/hedgehog-donation-jewellery/

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Recycling Precious Metals

The life of Silver in the workshop.

An important practice in the workshop that I have always been keen to follow is: to be meticulous about keeping all work waste of precious metals. All of the trimmings, fillings and odd shaped off-cuts that are discarded when making each different piece are swept into a small tub for a rainy day.

I find that this practice is now more important than ever in my time of jewellery production.

Rewind to the summer, after returning from an incredible honeymoon I re opened my shop and excitedly ordered some pieces of silver sheet, however when the invoice arrived I was shocked at the price!

Our honeymoon coincided with the unfortunately coined ‘Brexit’ vote. We both voted then left the country and access to the news for 3 weeks. When I looked back through the past months precious metal prices after the specific date when the ‘Brexit’ vote results were released, precious metals alongside a myriad of other commodities had experienced a huge spike in price. Silver in particular having almost doubled in price per Kilo. (You can now see my shock at the invoice from the silver purchase)

This graph shows the dramatic leap in price in the large ugly blue area of the graph.

Where political instability or changes occur precious metals as well as many other commodities are  hugely effected. Not forgetting the massive drop in the strength of the pound in currency. This as you can imagine has not only been frustrating for me to buy silver but also for selling my finished pieces. Having spent time carefully pricing each piece accordingly, all of the prices were now completely wrong. I was really happy with the final prices that i had managed to achieve which i found to be quite fair. I now had to increase my prices in order to continue to cover my costs. Very annoying!

I always try to be as thrifty as possible, so the little pot of silver scraps was looking more appealing by the second. So this is my method of turning otherwise useless pieces of scrap silver into beautiful sheets, good as new.

Ensure all metal is clean and free of any other bench filings;

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Using oxy acetalene torch melt metal until it is free flowing around the crucible and poor quickly in the awaiting ingot.

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I unfortunately did not have anyone or a spare hand to document this part so this image is borrowed. However i use exactly the same set up.

(Image courtesy of https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Melting_silver_scraps..JPGfg)

Once the metal is cooled, file all burrs from the edges and ensure the surface is clean.

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Begin rolling the metal to the desired thicknesses, annealing every third time or so to soften the metal.

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Final result! I needed lots of different thickness for my workshop from 0.8- 2.6mm so I have varied shapes to maximize the amount of metal salvaged from this process.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about my metal recycling process, if you have any questions or would like to share how you recycle your metals I would love to hear them.

Thanks for reading!

*Title image courtesy of  http://custommasonicrings.com/?tag=melting+old+gold

An adventure back in time.

Visiting the Historic Birmingham Jewellery Quarter.

With a day in Birmingham to fill while the husband takes part in a group phone based game called ‘Ingress’ i know exactly the first palace i want to visit, The Jewellery Quarter.

I have walked the bustling streets of London’s Jewellery Quarter, Hatton Garden many times before Searching for the best plating companies and refiners however, Birmingham Jewellery Quarter is completely new to me. I use various companies form the area and recognise street and company names as i am getting closer to my destination of the ‘Museum of the Jewellery Quarter.’

Located in a beautiful terraced building along Vyse Street is the original factory of ‘Smith & Pepper’ a family run jewellery business. Unassuming form the outside the expansive , multi tiered building soon revealed its secrets…

The tour begins by learning all about the family members who built this empire and the individual personalities that were wonderfully brought to life by our guide. From the original meeting room where clients would have haggled over prices through to the beautiful and untouched long office. It felt as thought the workers have never left. I am taken aback by the sheer amount of items left in their original places. When the proprietors of the Smith & Pepper jewellery manufacturing firm retired in 1981 they simply ceased trading and locked the door, leaving behind a snapshot in time beautifully preserved. 20160827_113208

I can feel the hustle and bustle of orders being written up and finishing by being packaged in the stiff cardboard boxes still stacked neatly at one end of the room. A small shelf is perilously laden with pretty teacups and a jar of Marmite ready for break time. The room is filled with an amazing musty sent of old papers and hand written receipts in beautiful script, browned and brittle by the passage of time. One of the most brilliant pieces of the office which made me smile was a handmade ‘Dumb Waiter.’ The office girls would place the handwritten order in a tray and lower it down to the workshop beneath. After a few weeks of production a tray of gleaming gold jewellery would appear in its place. Simplicity at its very best, something i truly love.

I was fizzing with anticipation, desperate to descend the stairs in to the underbelly of the building and my most beloved area, the workshop!

Having starved myself of research and the temptation of looking at photographs prior to my visit, the workshop was truly a sight to behold. The first thing i spotted which made my jaw drop was an entire wall with shelves buckling under the weight of hundreds, if not thousands of pattern making dies.  Every possible pattern and shape, categorized and dusty just waiting on the shelf. Due to the nature of mass production that comes part and parcel with increased demand, Smith & Peppers workshop used a method of stamping out shapes using these patterns and Fly Presses. This allowed hundreds of pieces could be made in a day rather then merely a handful.

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The instruction of ‘Do not touch’ was just unbearable, i desperately wanted to try every single punch and die, to make wonderful pieces of jewellery.

We were moved onto the next section of the workshop where the jewellers assembled the pressed patterns. I passed wonderful machinery that i recognised from previous workshops, yet that existed 100 years previously, huge rolling mills and drawing benches for making wire . All of them i can see resembled the perfect, shiny, electric powered machines of today.

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What surprised me most was how little space the jewellers were given to work in. An oval bench was segmented out so they sat shoulder to shoulder. I cant imagine it, i demand so much space, i am far too messy! There was even a section with a piece of wood nailed up in between it as two jewellers had a bad falling out and couldn’t bare to look at each other! Again the workshop had been left as the jewellers were coming back to work the next day, tobacco tins littered the benches and teacups were stored next to the Potasium Nitrate plating solution. Certainly a lower level of health and safety then i am used to. However, we were informed that they lady who undertook the dangerous and noxious task of plating the metals worked here until her late 80’s where she retired and got a new job around the corner, so it cant be that bad! i complain about my creaky chair let alone happily working in those conditions for so long. That is just the way it was they say.

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People worked there their entire lives, sometimes even finding their life partners working at another bench, a few love stories like this existed at this particular factory.

After absorbing the sights of every well used tool and the smell of tool oil and polishing dust i can say i am positively brimming with inspiration. I unwillingly step back onto the busy street wishing that i could have witnessed this amazing business in its heyday.

I must keep close in my mind those feelings, the absolute dedication to their craft and perseverance. On days when things aren’t going quite right in my workshop, I need to look across at my beautiful Micro-welder and matching sets of pliers and think how easy i have it in comparison.

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Thanks for reading and i defiantly recommend a visit.

Tools of the Trade.

The basics

Repousse Hammer, Shears, ½ Round File, Parallel Pliers and a Piercing Saw frame.

You can travel to Africa to see Lions and Rhinos to complete the ‘Big 5’ but come to my workshop and these are my version of the big 5. 5 basic tools to start with and to me are essentials. There is rarely a piece of jewellery I create that won’t use all of these tools to create it.

First of these beauties is the Piercing Saw Frame, Something I don’t know how I would live without. The blades come in 6 different grades or thicknesses which start at a miniscule 0.18mm. It is a temperamental tool and that I find has taught me many lessons. The saw does not like to be rushed, tipped, twisted or forced. The blade will break immediately and i would have to re load the frame.

This means that I cannot sit in a foul mood and manically tey to complete a piece. I snap a blade and I am reminded to take a breath, slow down, relax and it will go a whole lot smoother. I get transported to a bubble of calm, forgetting whatever it was I was stressed about.

Lesson learnt from the saw frame; Rush me and I will make life hard for you, Use me properly and we will be a great team.

Half Round File.

To me no tool is as rewarding, watching shapes come to life in the metal. The file is aptly named, one edge being flat and the other having a semi-circle profile. Stage two after sawing is to ensure all lines and shapes are smooth and exact. If I have cut a circle shape for instance, it will have to be a perfect circle. I will not be able to put the piece down until I am satisfied. I believe in ‘If I am going to do it, im going to do it right.’ The idea of leaving something unfinished and not th=o the finish I am happy with it will niggle my mind until it is just right.

Repousse Hammer.

A beautiful name for a beautiful hammer. The word Repousse comes from the French ‘To push back’ It is a technique used for forming shapes from sheet metal. I have to admit that I may have a slight obsession with hammers and one day I wish to have an entire matching set hanging on my workshop wall- but that dream is for another day! This beast is my go to tool for; flattening, thinning, bending and generally whacking. This tool is always within arm’s reach. I love how one small tap to an almost finished piece or section of wire can finish it and make it perfect. Very satisfying indeed. I can look at piece I am working on and think that it is looking good, but i know that what it is missing is a sharp tap with the hammer against the anvil to make an edge crisper or an area perfectly flat.

Parallel Pliers.

For when your hands just won’t do. Having been practicing jewellery for a number of years, I pride myself on having a frighteningly strong grip. Years of working on the bench have given me a vice like hands. However, there does come a time when these pliers are just better at a job then I ever could be. Unlike most pliers, the opening and closing of the jaws, as the name would suggest, open parallel to each other rather than the 45 degree most of the others in the tool box. This makes them ideal grabbers. When holding onto the smallest piece of metal whilst piercing out an intricate shape or precise filling, the parallels unrelinquishing grip is what you need.

I curse the day they arrived in the post as I stupidly didn’t order the spring action version, but now after much use they are just right.

Last but not least are the Shears.

Although they look ungainly and vicious they do the most delicate of jobs, although I limit my use of them to keep their sharpness intact and they perform their task perfectly. When welding pieces of jewellery work they are used to trim minute pieces of the solder panel ready for the perfect soldering moment. However, they are never to be found at the time of a mass panic when that tiny bit of solder goes awry.

One of the greatest lessons I have learnt while training was of their over use. I was being taught how to make delicate rings of wire to make a handmade chain. I was instructed to wrap wire around a cylinder and then using the saw frame, cut along the rings to create individual wire rings.  In my inventive state of mind I saw this as a ridiculous and time wasting method, instead I grabbed the shears and cut directly through them, and seconds later I was done. Pleased that I had just revolutionised an aged old technique, my teacher shook her head and said “Now try to solder them into perfect closed circles with no visible join.” I was stumped, I had completely destroyed the ends of the wire by crushing then when closing the jaws of the shears, there was no way I could recover the wire now.

This was one of my biggest lessons and something I always have to remind myself; there are absolutely, positively no shortcuts in jewellery making. If you rush or skip a step, you might as well start from the beginning because the end result will never be as perfect as it could have been. If you put down good foundations and complete each step with exacting care, you know that the final result will be exactly as it should be.

Well that is the tools of trade round up for you now. I hope you have enjoyed reading about them and have either learnt something or gained a snapshot into my workshop. I thoroughly enjoy talking about tools and it is defiantly a guilty pleasure of mine.

Thank you for reading, there will defiantly be more on tools in the future, watch this space.

Welcome to Peak Jewellery

Welcome and thank you for visiting Peak Jewellery.

Peak jewellery is an expression of my pure love and excitement for the great outdoors and this is just the very beginning of my journey.

My Story so far…

 I have always had a passion for design and craft, a constant need to keep my hands and mind busy by making or inventing new ideas.

After studying Product Design at college I undertook a three year degree in Applied Arts where i fell in love with metal working, in particular, jewellery making. I loved the precision and focus on the attention to detail that was needed. When working on each piece of jewellery I am always transported to a small bubble of peace and concentration, where all that matters is the task at hand. After graduation I worked through a three year apprenticeship as a goldsmith resulting in a career in the jewellery industry.

What was the next step?

Screenshot (09-05PM, Oct 22, 2015)

After six years working as a professional goldsmith, i felt it was time to spread my wings.
I have always wanted my own workshop space to create and express myself through jewellery making and finally this dream has come true!

A combination of blood, sweat and tears and help from an incredibly patient fiancéó has culminated in a dream becoming a reality. With a lot of D.I.Y and every waking moment spent working towards it, i finally have my own workshop space, located perfectly at the end of my garden. I love to lock myself in and listen to the rain falling on the roof while busily soldering, although i am secretly desperate for summer to come around so i can work without the heater on!

Thank you for taking the time for reading my first ever blog post.

This is just the beginning of my story and i cant wait for my jewellery to become a part of someone else’s story.

Get in Touch

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