Trying New Things: Jewellery Making

Last night I tried Jewellery making for the very first time at the Sussex Jewellery School.  I didn’t even know we had a Jewellery school here in Eastbourne until a few weeks ago.  I found out about it via Facebook of all places!

The workshop was entitled: Gemstone Earrings Intensive 2-hour class (wire-rapping with a little basic silversmithing). The course is run by Sarah Jane Whittaker.  This class is suitable for the complete beginner and all materials are included in the price of the course.  At the time of booking, there was a special offer via Groupon which was promoted by Visit Eastbourne on Facebook.

Prior to the course, I was sent detailed information about the course, what to expect and what to wear.  On the evening of the course, all of our supplies and equipment were neatly laid out at our workstations.  Sarah took us through the details of the class for the evening and went through all of the Health and Safety issues.  A jewellery workshop is a potentially dangerous place.  Some of the tools are very sharp, there are chemicals, and you play with fire.

After making sure we understood the format of the evening and Heath and Safety issues, we were ready to make our earrings.  First we practiced on a pair of turquoise beads with copper wire.  Sarah explained the procedure and then showed us how to do it in stages.  The first stage was wrapping the wire around the bead.  If you haven’t done it before, it isn’t as easy as Sarah makes it look.  It isn’t complicated, just fiddly.  As with anything, it takes practice.  Fortunately, our wrapping wasn’t meant to be perfect.  We first used a thicker copper wire just to get the hang of wrapping, and then we tried it with a thinner wire to prepare us for using the silver.  The copper wire was then discarded and we were ready to wrap our gemstones with silver wire.

The gemstones given to us are semi-precious and I was allocated a pair of small yellow citrine beads which were chosen randomly.  The smaller the bead, the more challenging it can be to wrap as the holes drilled in the top are very small, and it can be quite easy to break the tips off.  Nice!  Actually, they are really pretty.  The silver wire needs careful handling as it is softer than the copper and can break off if too stressed.  I managed to wrap my stones nicely, but not too neatly as we were shown.

The next stage involved making the hooks.  This stage requires careful handling of thicker wire, pre-cut, that we had to straighten before creating a bobble at the end.  This is where we get to play with fire!  We used crème brûlée burners for this.  I never used one before.  Sarah demonstrated the procedure and then worked with us one at a time.  I have to say that this part was probably my favourite as I thought it was extremely cool how one can turn a straight piece of wire into a piece with a little ball on the end.   The heat of the flame makes the wire move up on itself to create a little ball.  I’m sure this part could lose its appeal after a while once you’ve made quite a few.

After we made our bobbles, we then soaked our hooks into an acid bath to remove the tarnishing that occurred through heating the metal.  The bath removes the tarnish and results in the silver having a white coat which is then brushed with a wire brush to bring up the shine of the silver again.

After brushing, we were ready to make our hooks.  Sarah demonstrated and we again followed her example.  This was very easy.  Afterwords, we were ready to file the ends and hammer the metal to strengthen the hooks.  Once the hooks were how we liked them we were able to put our beads on and finish them off.  This is what I made…

  I am actually quite pleased with them and they look very pretty on. 🙂

How do I rate the course and the tutor?  If you have never done any jewellery making before, this class is a very good one to start with.  It is only two hours.  There were only three of us this evening, so we received a lot of attention and the time passed quickly.  All materials are included in the price and you come away with something you can use.  The tutor is very organised and explains how to do everything prior to demonstration and why.  Sarah is very knowlegable, encouraging and positive.  I really like her.

What I liked about the course:  I liked everything about the course.  Being a hands-on, methodical person, I enjoyed the whole process of  learning a procedure with a finished product at the end.  I enjoy working with my hands and making things.

Would I do another course?  Yes!  I learned a new skill in just two hours.  The object of all the courses is to provide you with skills to make items at home.  If I wanted to, I could make hundreds of little pairs of dangly earrings to sell or give as gifts.  I will most likely do a course using silver clay, once I find a free weekend.

Tips:  Wear old clothes.  There are chemicals and fire.  Need I say any more?  Oh, and bring glasses if you need them for reading.  I realised that I need to upgrade my lenses on my glasses.  The photo of my earrings show more detail than what I can see at the moment.  Although there were plenty of light sources in the room, obviously working in daylight is best.

So, what new thing have you tried lately?


A Moment in Time/Day 25: Inspiration Wall

Inspiration Wall

Taken with a Canon Power Shot SX200 IS on Indoor Mode.  Specs:  1/13s, f/3.4, ISO: 320.

I don’t have an inspiration board, I have a wall instead.  And yes, it is that pink.  My study has one pink wall and the rest is cream.  I call it candy pink.  It is growing on me, but when I redecorate the wall will be a soothing turquoise.

My friend Sallycat set up a page on Facebook called Happy Hearts Quest.  One of the tasks was to write a Joy list.  I wrote a ‘Things that bring me joy and what I am grateful for!’ list.  (It is right up there between My Dream Job and Winning the Big Jackpot on the Lotto or Euromillions.) I do one or more of those things on that list every day.  By offering gratitude for what we already have, we allow the Universe to give us more.  If we think of what we want as a little spec inside the vast Universe, what we want doesn’t seem so huge or unattainable.

Going back to my Joy list, I used the computer to make my list as my handwriting is not that great and I didn’t have coloured pencils or pens to make it pretty.  I made a photo collage of my favourite photo collages to add at the bottom of my list, which are some of the things that bring me joy and what I am grateful for.  I could add more, but I would need a bigger printer for that!

The pictures of furniture are ones that are inspiring my decorating at the moment and what prompted me to go with my heart on ordering my fuchsia sofas.  In the sofa collage on the left, the lilac sofa in front of the bookcase is the style I ordered.  There is a photo of a California Poppy taken at my previous house which my daughter took on my camera and a photo someone took of me dancing Argentine Tango with my friend Alfredo at the very first River Tango in front of The Tate Modern.

I will most likely take more photos of my wall as and when things get added, removed or attained!

So, what’s on your Joy list?

A Moment in Time/Day 24: Letter from Santa?


Letter from Santa?


Taken with a Canon Power Shot SX200 IS on Indoor Mode with Macro Setting.  Specs:  1/30s, f/3.4, ISO: 320.

I finally received my package from the North Pole.  Well, North Pole, Alaska – ‘Where the spirit of Christmas lives all year round.

It wasn’t a present from Santa, but from one of his little helpers!  My cousin’s daughter lives in North Pole, Alaska on South Santa Claus Lane!  What a cool address is that?!  Apparently Santa lives in Santa Clause House!  I have never met my little second cousin and recently found her on Facebook, where I found a lot of my family I hadn’t seen for many years.  She sent me a lovely little ornament for my Christmas tree and I sent her one from the UK.  I have always wanted to visit Alaska, and now I have a really good reason to do so – to visit family.