Friday, 16 December 2011

sweet little rose

there you go... another month has passed, yet it seems like only yesterday that i last posted.

meanwhile, we are nearing the end of the year, and i ve been busy trying to get the last little things that need to get done, well... done, before we welcome 2012.

which also means Christmas presents.

handmade is always nice ofcourse. yet sometimes that isn t always possible.

however, this time, i had found a little project in the january 2012 issue of Beads & Beyond and i thought it would make a perfect gift for my long-time girlfriend, oh, we ve been friends since kindergarten..., and even though we don t see each other enough, she s always been there for me.

so she deserves this one:

i started off by punching out different sized circles out of 8mm silver sheet

which i then gave an organic feel by doming them

after giving them a sanding, pre-polish and texturizing, i then stacked them ready for soldering

here they are, soldered

and after pickling, it was easy to leave them in the polishing tumbler for a while, which actually gave them both a matte and a high-shine finish (depending on where those metal spheres could reach).

remember that 4 in 1 half Persian bracelet i made at the beginning of this schoolyear? well, that rose box-clasp (shop-bought, ready-made...) wasn t quite working, it tended to release at the most inopportune moments, and i didn t want to lose the bracelet... so i replaced it with this little number.


and back

still have to decide what i m going to make to show off this clasp for my girlfriend, but now that the hard work is done, i still have a few days to ponder.

oh dear, i hope she doesn t read this before... nah, she s probably busier than i am right now...

so, that s all folks! at least for 2011... in the meantime may i wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Wonderful and Happy New Year!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

freeze frame

some time ago i made a square ring.

there s a long story behind that, which i m not going to divulge here...

well, actually, yes, i am.


because i made that square ring as a challenge.

during the summer we visited a market where young, as yet 'unknown', entrepreneurs were selling their products/wares... and most were either jewellers or fashion designers, but one jeweller s work jumped out at me.

now, before i go on, you must know, at the school where i m following my goldsmithing course, we are encouraged to share ideas and techniques. and, come on, ever since the first man or woman decided to hang a wild animal tooth on a leather string around his/her neck as a talisman or just to show off, humankind has been making things to beautify, to mystify, to show off wealth... and when a new concept, or a new technique was discovered, everybody was free to elaborate and make something better or more beautiful or useful...

anyway, so this jeweller s work stood out. it was a square ring, and i was intrigued. i loved that it fit snugly and comfortably, and i asked him how he had done it.

me and my mouth.

i won t even write what his girlfriend said.

on my way home i was already thinking how i could make one. and the next day i did.

using my bench-vice, i pulled and folded the strip of silver, turned it, pulled it again into a 90° corner, soldered, sanded and polished the thing, and it worked.

so there.

but then i found me a square mandrel! YES!

perfect corners.

freeze frame

best of all is not the fact that i now know i can make a square ring.

best is that i know there are other people, like my classmates, who enjoy making new pieces and discovering new techniques, and who don t mind at all about sharing ideas.

like this one; you might think this ring has been hammered, but it hasn t. oh yes, i did start out by hammering, but the effect was almost unnoticeable, because the metal would tend to spread out more and if i had continued, the ring would have become wider and thinner, which wasn t the objective.

so my teacher showed me how to get that hammered effect, by using a very small round burr and a very tiny sanding wheel...

time to test that technique out on something else now, hmmmm.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

message on a scroll... ?

i have finally found the courage to start using a bit of gold in my work. not much, mind you, and (unfortunately) not even new gold.

somewhere in the back of my jewellery box i still had a gold ring from way back when, but i never wore it, well not often enough. so why not? melt it i mean. make something new and wearable out of it, combine it with silver, give it a little something extra, like a ray of light on the moon (jeez, that just sounds corny, but i m gonna say it anyway, there s a crazy poet inside me too)

i also like the idea of something symbolic, little messages on the inside of a piece of jewellery, not to be seen by anyone but the owner who knows it s there.

i had seen something similar to this piece in a magazine some time ago, tried to figure out how it could ve been made and came up with this:

a ribbon of silver, rolled up, kept together with a golden band.

now, how many turns should i give this?

7, nice, but too thick

here s that old gold ring, melted and pulled

then made into half-round wire

hmmm, now to solder that together (which was loads easier than soldering silver, wow!)

mattified the silver ring

after a final polish and clean

this prototype has no message except for the one in my head... but there could ve been, yes?

Saturday, 24 September 2011

half Persian 4 in 1 (or just another bracelet?)

i can t help it, i am fascinated by the fact that little jump-rings can be combined in all these different ways to make all these different weaves.

isn t it just amazing?

last year i made 5 chains; 4 bracelets and one necklace, all with another weave.

i knew i was going to get some comments from my classmates: 'are you at it again, Aiko?' 'you can t seem to stop!'

well... no, i can t stop ;-)

this half-Persian weave i first saw in the Art Jewelry magazine september 2011 issue. the article was on how to jump-start the weave and it all looked very easy.

(boy oh boy, was i mistaken!)

anyway, i was intrigued, so i made my jump-rings, i used 1 mm silver wire with a 5 mm ID (inside diameter) and tried to begin the weave...

uh-oh, this is not working!

hellooooh! why isn t this working?

the rings jumped aside, then flipped over, and i just couldn t seem to get the hang of it. no wonder someone tried make a starter tool, but that wasn t working for me either.

but i mentioned all this in my earlier post.

here s what it became, like it?

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

post - 'kwakkelzomer'

finally, the summer s over.

well, whatever you wanted to call that... i can t even quite remember whether we actually had any warm and sunny days in august. it was raining more often than not.

i guess we had our summer in april and may when we were almost pining for a few drops of rain.

once again, nature is something mankind will never be able to control, it will always do whatever well it pleases. and so it should.

so, this 'kwakkelzomer' is over.

and a new schoolyear has started.

i decided this year to do a repeat course of jewellery repair. i still have so much to learn and i m not yet ready to go into stone-setting nor engraving (i trust other people to do that for me, hehehe).

recently i found another super chainmail weave; a half-Persian 4-in-1 which looks so fluid and pretty, i just had make one.

the start of the weave, however, proved extremely frustrating. i had looked in magazines, on different tutorial sites on the net, on YouTube, all were confusing!
but then i found this tutorial by Nicole Hill on her blog and i knew that was it... YAY!

so half-way there now... i have a little rose-shaped clasp that i think will work nicely...

and as for my other plans this year, you ll just have to wait and see!

Friday, 29 July 2011

my little 'Antwerps handje'

there was once a giant named Druon Antigoon, who guarded a bridge on the river Scheldt and exacted a toll from any sailor who wanted to pass. anyone who refused to pay this tax would have his hand cut off by the giant, who would then throw it into the river. but then a man named Silvius Brabo fought Antigoon, and won, and also cut off the giant s hand, which he then threw into the Scheldt.

and thus Antwerp got its name: hand(hand)-werpen(throwing), Antwerpen.

or so it is told.

Antwerp is and always has been a multicultural city. due to its ideal location right on the river Scheldt, easily reached from the sea as well as the land, there have always been merchants and traders from all over Europe and even further away.

here s a quote from a book written in 1567 by Ludovico Guicciardini: Descrittione di Lodovico Guicciardini patritio fiorentino di tutti i Paesi Bassi altrimenti detti Germania inferiore (1567; The Description of the Low Countreys)

(...) "Nowhere else in the world are strangers more free in their commerce and life as in Antwerp, and in the whole Netherlands, resulting in the wonderful mix, people of all walks of life and nationalities, and that one hears an incredible amount of different languages being spoken. (...)
Above all, due to the many foreigners living in Antwerp, one is constantly kept up to date on world happenings." (...)

this also meant, and it still does, that all religions are represented here in this little but grand place.

having grown up amongst many other 'internationals', and being half Belgian and half Japanese myself, this city also speaks to me.

so i had to make this hand.

some call it the 'hamsa' or 'khamsa', a symbol to ward off the evil eye, the Hand of Fatima or the Hand of Myriam, some believe it stands for the five pillars of Islam, for others it may bring good luck, and then for still some others it may even represent a 'mudra'...

i am not a particularly religious person. but i believe there is something that is more than us, and brings out the best in us.

i may be wrong, or just an idealist.

first i made a template

which i then cut out and used to saw and pierce a piece of silver

(i had been a little too quick to saw the hand and forgot to saw out the eye for the bail, which i then had to fabricate separately and solder on, but that worked out fine)

i then made this necklace, and i liked the red. but the beads had been tinted and that wasn t a nice sight.

so this is what it has become.

i quite like this symbol though.

it represents humanity to me.

oh, and on a serious note, Antwerpse handjes, also available as chocolates and cookies.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

summer holidays

hello fellow jewellers and jewellery aficionados.

i haven t posted something for a while, and the only reason is that i haven t had much time since classes ended for the summer holidays in the beginning of june.

been spending most of my time concentrating on my day-job, where it s been extremely busy, and enjoying the free time that i do have by pottering around in my kitchen. yes, i love to cook as well, and it relaxes me.

however, that doesn t mean that i haven t been thinking about new pieces of jewellery. and now that i really do have a week off work, i hope to complete another necklace.

meanwhile, i ve also made another ring, a square one. there s a little story behind that, which i will talk about next time.

so, i ll soon be back, with some pictures too.

enjoy your summer, wherever you are!

Monday, 13 June 2011

a hollow ring bis

two weeks ago, with a lot of help from both my teachers, Ms. LariviƩre and Mr. Faes, i was able to finish the third and last school project: a hollow ring. actually, it was an excercise on forming and soldering different plates to make one piece of jewellery.

sawing the different plates and soldering them together was not so much of a problem as was the actual forming and shaping them to make one whole.

i started by making a basic ring and a larger one which had to be then shaped to form the top the final work as you can see in my earlier post.

and then i tried to keep track of the process by also taking pictures:

and here s a short video of Mr. Faes helping me to shape the top part of the ring.

it s turned out to be a very striking piece, if i may say so myself, but i m not quite sure yet if i ll be making this one again...

yesterday i went to a little market downtown, where beginning jewellers and artists showed some of their work. some of it was quite inspiring, and at the moment, i know that, instead of sitting here behind my laptop, i should be at my workbench!

and since our course finished last wednesday, i will have time now to work out some new ideas (must admit tho, i will miss the ambiance of the classroom, even if it is only for a few months). still... YAY!