This week I attended the ‘Make Your Mark’ event at the London Assay Office at Goldsmith’s Hall. The main focus of the event was to promote having your work hall marked. This is a legal requirement in the UK for items produced in precious metals over a certain weight. The weight varies depending on the type of metal. The talk was full of interesting facts about the history of hall marking and the London Assay Office itself. The speakers also went through the different parts that the mark is made up of; the maker’s individual sign usually made up of initials inside a shape, the type and quality of the metal, the place where it is stamped and the date. The mark can either be applied via laser or traditional stamp hammered into the metal. I’m looking forward to creating my mark and taking my first piece of jewellery to be stamped.
As I mentioned in my last blog post, I decided to give wax carving a try. I ordered the materials I needed as a kit and waited several weeks for it to arrive. I phoned up a couple of times and was told that the items were out of stock and the date kept moving further and further back which was frustrating, especially as I had been using the time to design some pieces and wanted to create them in real life. In the end I cancelled the order of the kit and reordered the items individually and they turned up the very next day! I’ve already started carving a ring and it’s taking shape nicely. I should be able to finish it off next week and move on to my next design.
I’m very excited as this week I received my first commission! A recommendation through my sister, one of her colleagues has asked me to make Christmas presents for her daughters. So this week I am going to have to get my thinking cap on to get some designs done based on the brief she has given me to get them made in time. Luckily we still have a few weeks to go but it is creeping ever closer. I can’t believe that we are into November already.
Anyway, I’m off to register for a hall mark and then put pen to paper!
Week four has been full of variety including a lot of new techniques I have never tried before.
Monday was our school trip to the jewellery gallery at the Victoria & Albert museum in London. The jewellery in there is absolutely stunning and from a huge range of eras. Firstly I spent time having a look at all the displays and then focussed on pieces I was drawn to which I sketched as case studies. I was particularly drawn to the Art Deco and Art Nouveau eras. I really like the shapes and lines they use and the blocks of colour. After we had spent time in the gallery we went for coffee and cake to discuss what we had seen. It was really interesting how all of us had picked out completely different things to look at. I found it really helpful to talk about my ideas and influences and to start thinking about my collection for the final exhibition.
Next we did technical drawing... I have to say I haven't used a protractor since school! It was good to get an idea of how to map out a design, especially if you are going to be following it closely like we did the following day in wax carving, however I did feel like I had a bit of a clash of creativity and mathematics!
Wax carving was really great. After we designed our pieces (and did a bit more technical drawing) we started to work on the wax model. It was really easy to whittle and file away to create the desired shape and then we had to sand and polish it to achieve a smooth finish. Once we had finished it was taken away to the casters where it will be melted away and replaced with silver. I'm really looking forward to getting the finished ring back and seeing what it looks like. Hopefully I will have done enough work on the wax version that I won't have to do too much to the silver one.
The last two days of the week have been all about resin. It comes in two parts, the resin itself and the hardener which you have to mix together in precise ratios otherwise it won't set properly. You can then pour it into different shape molds and once it is set it becomes like plastic. The first day we did lots of experimenting with different colours and metallic powders, setting things into it like buttons, glitter, sequins, patterned paper...anything you can think of really! A little goes a long way as well, once I had mixed up a colour I found myself making so many bits with it. Day two was all about finishing. Once the resin has set it's really easy to pop them out of the molds. They then needed any rough bits filing off and sanding down. We used the polishing machines to give them a great shine and finally attached rings, brooch backs, chains and fastenings to turn them into wearable pieces of jewellery.
I feel like I learned a lot this week and it was nice to try loads of different techniques, rather than focussing on just one. I also feel like I made lots of progress with my designs for the final exhibition and have already put some ideas down on paper.
Next week we are returning to wax carving and also to silver with two days of stone setting, but we are going to try out fused glass and enameling, which I think will add some variety and colour to the week.
Jewellery enthusiast embarking on an exciting new adventure to set up my own business.