The Disneyland of Jewellery Makers

Christmas Party at the London Jewellery School? Super in!

LJS are renowned for the wide range of courses and qualifications.

I wanted to take a closer look and, just as well, received a notification for their December Annual Christmas Party… and was I impressed! Based near Liverpool Street/Aldgate (see details here), the school and staff are veryย  welcoming and, right away, I could tell that they’re everything I can see online and more!

The evening was filled with activities from beginning to end, all of them around, of course jewellery making. Many prizes were given with games and competitions. I met really interesting people, from staff to students and people who, just like me, were visiting the school for the first time. Some have online shops, some were trying to figure out whether they want to get into it and I even met someone who sells her pieces at a local shop in her area!

As for the school, I cannot wait to start doing some of the courses. They really do have lots to choose from and as soon as I saw all their class list, I started making plans in my head. Take a look at their 2016 prospectus here, it’s great and the feedback from the other students was really positive (I met a particular lady who, since retirement, has done a number of courses with them; the necklace she was wearing on the day was made by herself using Fused Glass).

And for you, WordPress fans… guess what they also have?! That’s right! Here is their blog, full of super interesting posts!

What about you? Are you thinking about paying them a little visit? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Briana

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Coiling Gizmo

I decided to try out a tool I bought some time ago: the Coiling Gizmo. This is a great and fun way to coil wire, regardless of the colour, length or diameter.

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Econo Gizmo parts

I started by trying it out myself, based on the instructions that came with it, and then looked around for ideas and more information – and to ensure I’m making the best of it!

The idea is that you keep on turning it around and voilร ! It’s not extensively laborious and it doesn’t necessarily leave you with arm muscles like The Rock’s! ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s literally a matter of turning it again and again… and as always, a bit of practice!

You can buy the version I have – the Econo Gizmo, or a more recent version, the Deluxe Gizmo, which contains a few more bits and pieces. Both will give you great results in no time and the possibilities are endless.

I will be giving a few recommendations at the end of the post but for now, here is my how my experience was.

As said, practice makes perfection and you will see below that my first few attempts show two things: The basics of coiling are effortless; easy-to-make mistakes are also easy to avoid!

When coiling, the wire will acquire the new form easily but if there is a kink you may not be able to remove it. Therefore you want to ensure the wire is smooth before you start, by using a nylon jaw flat nose pliers.

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Coiled wire with kinks

One other thing I found is that there is no need to wrap the wire around the curve in the crank rod ten times… one to two is enough! This way, once you’re finished coiling, you unwrap the wire rather that cut it, making it easier to slide it out the rod.

page3And yes, you can easily coil thicker wire too!

20151009_223726Here are the first pieces I created using this technique:

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Of course there is more to it so once I started researching, I found that coiled wire can be coiled a second time, resulting in lovely pieces that can be used as pendants, earrings, bracelets and necklaces. I have yet to try most of those but if here is one of my attempts (and the best so far) at it:

20151010_11564320151010_120742ย  Here are a couple of videos I found very useful as they explain the technique in detail:

Artistic Wire Coiling Gizmo – all you need to know about the Econo Gizmo by Artistic Wire.

Professional Deluxe Coiling Gizmothis video is for you if you’ve purchased the Deluxe Gizmo. Artistic Wire show how to use it in detail.

The official Gizmo website contains a variety of projects with instructions for pieces made out of coiled wire.

In YouTube there can also be found a number of projects and ideas.

Have fun in Gizmo world! I know I did! ๐Ÿ™‚

Pendants and Charms

So, after taking some time to redefine priorities… here we are! While, of course, I need to create new items and advertise my shop to get it out there, I feel that the blog is becoming a very important part of the whole process; it allows me to share my experiences and it also helps me think outside the box. Due to the nature of the blog, I figured that while some posts will be generic and short, a big part of them will be based on research, new techniques, my shop, etc. So, as part of it, I’ve decided to post less, so I can make this blog more relevant and interesting for myself and, more importantly, you!

Today I want to keep it simple… let’s talk about pendants and charms! I love the diversity out there. Necklaces, earrings, bracelets… you can really use your imagination to expand on the ideas!

So what is the difference between both? Of course, as most concepts, these too can vary but after some research (I’ve always wondered myself) I settled for the idea that pendants are usually bigger and primarily used for necklaces whereas charms are generally smaller, great for bracelets and earrings. Here is a concise explanation by the GEMaffair diaries.

At the end of the day, no matter the definition, the possibilities are endless and will probably suit you whether you’re a beginner or you have a lot of experience. Here are some examples of pieces I have done:

Fairy earrings – for these earrings I used cute little fairy charms. Due to their size, they are great for bracelets too.

Bronze earrings – I’d be tempted to call these pendants! One would look pretty good in a simple bronze necklace… but let’s follow the definitions, here are my circular flower charms!

Silver chain necklace and chain earrings – A little different as the charms were beads to start with. These were then attached with silver wire and jump rings (I also used a bit of chain to complete the earrings).

These ideas really are like the tinniest needle in an enormous stack. For now, here are some of my favourite shops (online and off):

– Hobbycraft (this goes without saying!) – pendants and charms

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DIY Time

Later on today, I plan to visit a new bead and jewellery supplies store (well, new to me, they’ve been in the business for almost 50 years) and I suspect the challenge will be to spend less that 5 hours in there. I will let you know how that goes… ๐Ÿ˜‰

Get creative!

Right! Now you have your starter kit and any additional materials and tools that you might want… time to crack on!

How it usually happens in my world:

Stage 1 – “I love making new pieces and can create anything I want!”

Stage 2 – “I’m SO OVERWHELMED and I never ever ever want anything to do with jewellery making EVER again!”

Stage 3 – “Woossaaaaaa. Let’s regain control. I’ve got this!”

Let’s try to skip stage 2 and break things down a little. If you have no clue what you want to do to start with, you can, based on your materials, look around to get some ideas or, as I usually prefer, you can switch it around and do a bit of research first to then incorporate your materials.

Check local libraries for books on jewellery making, use Pinterest to look for tutorials or visit some shops for ideas. Let’s focus on some online suggestions:

Blogs: just as this one, there are many blogs out there with tutorials and ideas. Hobbycraft (of course) have some ideas of their own they want to share (take a look here).

Pinterest: starting the search will take you no more than a few seconds but I should warn you: IT IS MASSIVELY ADDICTIVE! ๐Ÿ™‚ Here is a very generic search you can do… or you can be more specific.

Google: yes, our lovely friend Google had to be here! Not only it can direct you to specific tutorials or just images of something you will know how to replicate with your own touch, but it can actually give you numerous official websites with classes, tutorials and much more. Many of these websites actually belong to suppliers who you can buy materials from. Personally, I quite like PandaHall. I bought from them in a Jewellery Fair in 2013 and started following their work online. Not only they sell many nice findings, beads, etc., they also have quite interesting tutorials. Beadaholique also has a great range of ideas!!

Videos: if you’re a fan of video tutorials then Youtube really can get you started. Just like Pinterest, you can tailor the search to exactly what you need or just look around and browse. Also, with all the research I did back when I started, I found a very cool website with a huge number of classes with techniques that originate beautiful pieces – Beaducation.

From experience, I can tell you that with some new techniques and certain pieces, it can all get a bit frustrating. If needed, put this piece to the side and make something you’re more confident with instead, but don’t hesitate to come back to it later. You’d be surprised how much a technique can improve when you try it over and over… and over… and over… and over again! Practice makes (less and less imperfect im-) perfection!