Scarlett Willow Designs

Jewellery is like a biography ~ a story that tells the many chapters of our life

On The Bench!

On The Bench!

On The Bench!, Workshop WednesdayScarlett Willow DesignsComment

It’s been a long time since I wrote about what I’m working on so here we are!

One of my newer designs are the “Reed” rings. These rings feature beautiful faceted gemstones surrounded by individually handcrafted “reeds”, inspired by the banks of the river.

“Reed” rings featuring smokey quartz, aquamarine and citrine.

“Reed” rings featuring smokey quartz, aquamarine and citrine.

I’m adding a couple of different gemstones to this collection ~ pretty Amethysts…….

Such a delicate colour….

Such a delicate colour….

And, of course, lovely Labradorite with such fabulous flashes of blue…..I can’t resist a Labradorite, I may have to keep one of these for myself!

Once complete, these will be heading off to the Assay Office for hallmarking then off to my lovely photographer for some stunning images.

I’ll be adding to this collection this year, what gemstones would you like to see?

On The Bench!

On The Bench!Scarlett Willow DesignsComment

This coming Sunday will be my first event of 2018, I will be at the beautiful Chateau Impney for The West Midlands Luxury Wedding Show! 

This week on the bench you will find samples for some new pieces, including two new necklets.  These are quite simple, one with a little texture that I think I might show with a selection of simple pendants that can be inter-changed. I will, of course, be taking my "Entwined" necklace which always gets A LOT of attention, along with the matching earrings and cuff.

The show is on from 10am til 4pm and I hope to see some of you there! 

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On The Bench!

On The Bench!Scarlett Willow DesignsComment

It's finished!!!!!

The egg cup that my husband challenged me to make for his birthday/Christmas is complete!  I don't normally take THIS long to finish a piece but with working on shows and commission pieces, I'm afraid this had to be worked on in my "spare" (!) time.  

I really enjoyed this process, learning new techniques that I can transfer to my jewellery and seeing how much work goes into a piece like this. If we think back to a time, many many moons ago, where pretty much everything was made by hand, those silversmiths have my utmost respect.

Here are the photos from start......

A disc of fine silver being hollowed by numerous strikes of a wooden hammer

A disc of fine silver being hollowed by numerous strikes of a wooden hammer

Here we are shallow dish shape......

Here we are shallow dish shape......

Doesn't quite look like en egg cup yet....

Doesn't quite look like en egg cup yet....

Getting there.....

Getting there.....

I've ruined it! Only joking, new technique called raising which brings up the sides to close up the top to hold the egg.  Does  NOT  look good at this point!

I've ruined it! Only joking, new technique called raising which brings up the sides to close up the top to hold the egg.  Does NOT look good at this point!

Using a metal stake to strike against......

Using a metal stake to strike against......

Using a different type of hammer for this part.  All those tiny dimples on the silver are created by the strikes of this hammer......

Using a different type of hammer for this part.  All those tiny dimples on the silver are created by the strikes of this hammer......

Now that looks like it could hold an egg!

Now that looks like it could hold an egg!

And now a maths lesson! I decided on a cone shaped base for the egg cup to sit on so this was how I worked out the dimensions....

And now a maths lesson! I decided on a cone shaped base for the egg cup to sit on so this was how I worked out the dimensions....

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....to finish! TA DA!!!!  I left the texture left by all those thousands of hammer strikes as I love the effect on the cup and kept the base plain as a contrast, polishing the outside and giving the inside a matt finish.

Will I ever make an egg cup again? Unlikely, but never say never!  I will definitely be using the techniques I've learnt to create new pieces of jewellery though.

Hope he likes it :-)

On The Bench!

On The Bench!Scarlett Willow DesignsComment

The challenge set by my husband continues!  (Click here to read last weeks blog about this if you have no idea what I'm on about!)

The technique I used last week to get to the this.......

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.....is called hollowing or sinking.....hammering in a circular pattern from the centre and moving outwards, causing the silver to sink down.

To bring those edges up further and go from a dish to and egg cup, I needed to learn anther technique called raising.  This is the opposite to sinking although it looks like you're doing the exact same thing!  Raising brings up the sides by hammering the outside this time and forming it on a stake.  Hollowing, or sinking, was done with a wooden pear shaped hammer, raising is done with a metal hammer with a rectangular face with rounded edges.

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It's not easy holding something this small!  I really enjoyed this part, it happens so quickly. It looks like I've ruined it at this point! You can see from the picture above though that the diameter of the silver is getting smaller, working from the bottom up, and therefore gets taller too.

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Now that looks more like an egg cup! I love the texture from all those hammer blows but I need to smooth them out.  Next new technique is planishing!  A planishing hammer has a flat face and again, working in a circular motion from the centre of the base, these light taps of the hammer gently smooths the silver, each one overlapping the one before.

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I now need to decide on the base, finish smoothing and polishing the silver and it'll be finished!  More next week!

Workshop Wednesday....Just a Couple of Days Late!

On The Bench!, Workshop WednesdayScarlett Willow DesignsComment

So this week I have taken on a challenge set by my lovely husband! His birthday falls within days of Christmas so thinking of presents to cover both can be really tricky.  Husband has always loved a boiled egg or two for breakfast so has tasked me with making him an egg cup for birthday/Christmas.  This involves using skills that I don't yet possess so I have enlisted the help of someone who does!

And so we begin with a 75mm diameter disc of fine silver......fine silver is 99.9% pure and is softer than Sterling Silver (which is 92.5%) and therefore easier to shape.  My two tools for the job are a wooden bossing hammer, this looks like a wooden pear, and numerous blocks of wood that have a circular bowl shape set into them of various sizes and depths.  The silver disc is then hammered so the edges are bought up.  It's a bit difficult to describe so hopefully the pictures below will help!

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.......and this is where we're at so far! It doesn't look quite like an egg cup yet but it's getting there! I'll update again next week :-)

On The Bench!

On The Bench!Scarlett Willow DesignsComment

Over the past few weeks, I've been working on a new collection, comprising of a statement neckline piece (there's always has to be one!), a simpler pendant, earrings and a ring.  Inspired once again by the forest, these drops remind me of a simple leaf shape......or maybe raindrops.

All in sterling silver and made by hand, these pieces are very tactile.  They are now ready for my amazing photographer Alex (www.alexsharp.co.uk) to work her magic so they can appear on the online shop.  In the meantime, you'll just have to make do with my efforts using my phone!

I now have a little production line going, ready for their debut at the Autumn Show in Malvern (23-24 September), hope to see you there.

I've still got to come with a name for this collection, if you have any ideas then don't hesitate to get in touch!

On The Bench!!

On The Bench!Scarlett Willow DesignsComment

On the bench this week is something a little different for me.  

It's a gift for a family member who has a very special birthday this month and thought I would create a keepsake that is crafted from sterling silver but isn't a piece of jewellery.  

I've decided to make a small silver marquise-shaped trinket box!  Quite different to anything I've ever made before and involves a few new skills for me.  It is definitely a challenge but I'm really enjoying it...just hope the lid fits!

Pictures to follow once the box has been gifted :-)

On The Bench!

On The Bench!Scarlett Willow DesignsComment

It's only a little over a couple of weeks until the British Craft Trade Fair in Harrogate and there still seems to be a lot to do!  My lighting arrived yesterday so I'll be testing those out today.  The final pieces will be going to be hallmarked at the end of this week and I'm finishing what seems to be a mountain of paperwork - press releases, catalogues, order forms, artist statement etc.

I'm so excited to be meeting people who have a passion for all things handmade.  So many things are created by machines, it seems that we're losing skills that have been passed on over thousands of years.  

So the next time you're looking to buy a piece of jewellery , or something a little bit special, whether for yourself or as a gift, consider buying a handmade piece. Handmade means a little piece of the artist in each piece, you don't get that with a machine. Buy a little piece of the artist...a little bit of their passion...a little bit of the skill that produces such wonderful pieces.

If you're a gallery or shop owner who is looking to stock handmade items, visit BCTF this year....I'm on stand N65 by the way!

On The Bench!

On The Bench!Scarlett Willow DesignsComment

The workbench has been a bit neglected of late.  Apart from commission pieces, not much has been happening.  All of my time has been taken up with preparation for the British Craft Trade Fair next month.  I've had to learn to do things I have never done before and this wouldn't have been possible without friends and other people within the trade giving their time for free.

A journalist friend has helped me write a press release (much harder than it seems!), my wonderful photographer Alex Sharp (www.alexsharp.co.uk) has helped with digital images queries and people I've met who exhibited at this trade fair before have given me some very useful hints and tips.

I'm always pleasantly surprised by how happy people are to share their time and expertise for nothing.  I only hope I can return the favour in the near future!

Right, back to it! Have a great weekend everyone :-) 

On The Bench!

On The Bench!Scarlett Willow DesignsComment

It's been  bit of a manic week!  My poor bench has been a little neglected while I've been been preparing for BCTF but with more commissions coming in, it gives me a good reason to be sat there rather than in front of the laptop!

I love creating and will very often procrastinate about the paperwork/PR side of it because the bench is my comfort zone!  I know what I'm doing when I'm sat there and, I don't know if this is true for all creatives (if it is, please let me know!) but I feel I HAVE to sit at the bench pretty much every day, I need to create or work on something every day.  It doesn't have to be a huge amount but I have to get my "fix"!

On top of the commissions and BCTF and social media etc etc, I'm trying to buy a new house!  At the moment my workshop is in the attic (with the spiders, ugh!) but my new house has a ready built workshop....with a log burner....ON THE GROUND FLOOR!!!  The house buying process never seems to be a swift one but I am looking forward to sharing photos of my new space in the coming months!

Right, I'm off to get my "fix"!

On The Bench!

On The Bench!Scarlett Willow DesignsComment

This week I'm working with red gold as well as silver on a new design.  I really like the contrast between the metals and this will work perfectly when conveying the story of the design.

I also have a new commission that I'm working on today.  It is a large statement neckline piece that will suit it's new owner down to a "T"!  All pieces tend to reflect the wearer's personality but this one more so than others.  I've been given the brief that it needs to include a beautiful spiral and the rest is down to me - being given free rein is exciting but can be nerve-wracking too!

I'm still frantically preparing for BCTF in April in Harrogate.  This will be my first trade show so the learning curve is steep and the to-do list is getting longer!  Better get back to it :-)