Posts Tagged With: jewellery

And something from Sweden…..

Some of you might know that I’ve just come back from Sweden. I was on an exchange with our parish church – we have a link with a group of churches in Vasteras. I’ll apologise straight away for the bad Swedish names in this post – I have absolutely no idea how to get the accents over the letters (*hangs head in shame at being so English!*).

I had a wonderful time, meeting new friends and getting enthused, but if you ask my daughter what I did she’ll tell you that all I did was look at lots (and lots and lots) of churches. Clearly this isn’t her idea of fun!

So just for her I thought I’d post a photo of something I saw when I was over there. This is the altar from the medieval church in Karbo (spelling again):

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What I love about this is that if you look at the top left hand corner, you can see a depiction of the Ascension – but if you look even closer, tucked right up underneath the frame, you can see the feet of Jesus as he ascends:

Copy of Holiday and sweden 2013 279

 

I just loved that little detail!

I wasn’t going to put any of my jewellery in this post, but now I come to it, it seems quite fitting to show you the piece I finished just this afternoon.

In the pictures above we have the Ascension, the end of Jesus’ time on earth – my pendant today is the beginning of the story!

Nativity necklace 1

 

Thanks for reading x

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Autumn is definitely here!

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I went on a brief walk today, not far, just outside my door and along the road a little way, in search of a few leaves to work with. The sun was shining so I didn’t bother with a coat, but I hadn’t got very far before I wished I had!

Anyway I walked far enough to gather a selection of leaves – some hawthorn, silver birch and ash (complete with its keys) – which I’ve already started work with to create some new jewellery pieces. There will be some pendants and a couple of pairs of earrings too I think.

I also started work on some other new ideas – I can’t wait for the first stage of the clay to dry out so I can crack on! I just want to see how they turn out.

I love autumn – the colours of the turning leaves are inspiring and that lovely smell in the air puts a spring in my step. But sadly it means that the leaves will start to fall too – which in turn means no more leaves for my jewellery for a while! What will I do?!? Looking around today I noticed that the oak is still holding on to its leaves well whilst the silver birch is loosing them very fast indeed. If you’re after a piece of jewellery made from leaves at all – now is the time to speak up. At least I’ll still be able to use holly and ivy though:

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But then comes the spring and we can start all over again! But now I’m just wishing the time away xxx

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To mark or not to mark….. that is the question……

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Today’s blog is all about hallmarking. I’m sure most of you have seen those tiny little imprints on the inside of your ring bands – they’re the hallmarks and they have a purpose!

Hallmarking was first introduced in 1300 under Edward I – and the basic concept hasn’t really changed today. Can you tell by simply looking at a piece of jewellery whether it’s made of gold, or silver? Could you be sure that the gold piece was 18C or only 9C? And is that lovely piece of silver really sterling silver or only silver plated?

Hallmarking is there for the protection of customers. A hallmark can only be applied if the assay office have tested the piece to check that it is indeed made of what you’re claiming it to be made of. There is a legal requirement for hallmarking too! I’m going to talk about silver from now on as that is what I work with, but the hallmarking act applies to all precious metals.

Any piece of silver over 7.78grams MUST be hallmarked before sale if it is to be advertised and sold as being silver rather than white metal. Up until recently all my pieces came in under this weight so I didn’t need to comply, but lately I have been working on several larger pieces that needed to be hallmarked so I took the plunge and registered with the Birmingham Assay Office for my very own sponsor’s mark and recently received back my first batch of hallmarked items.

You’ll forgive me if I do a little excited dance here – it really is quite something to see your own mark applied to a piece of work! So my first batch of hallmarking came back marked like this:

hallmark 1

hallmark 2

It really is quite small and the camera hasn’t picked up the detail very well so I’ve done a little sketch for you all to see (don’t laugh!)

my maker's mark

For any of you who don’t know (and that included me until quite recently) a legal hallmark is made up of three parts. The sponsor’s mark, the fineness (or purity) mark and the assay office mark. The sponsor’s mark is a design containing the sponsor (or maker’s) initials which is registered with one of the four UK assay offices. It’s a bit like an artist signing a painting – any piece can be traced back to the maker from this mark. The fineness mark tells you what your piece is made of. For silver this can be 800, 925, 958 or 999. This tells you how pure the silver is; for example 999 is 99.9% silver and is known as fine silver, whereas 925 is only 92.5% silver and known as sterling silver. The assay office mark tells you which of the assay offices have tested and marked the piece.

uk-hallmarks

So here’s how it all works! I make my piece of jewellery and carefully pack it up ready to send to the Assay Office, filling in all the paperwork required and putting it into the parcel. I then post the package at my local post office. When the packet arrives at the Assay Office, it is checked in, tested and stamped before being re-packed and sent back to me.

Hallmarking isn’t an option for those of us making and selling our jewellery, it is a legal requiement, but that doesn’t stop people from flouting the regulation. So next time you are buying jewellery, ask the seller about hallmarking or look for the Dealer’s Notice in their shop or on their website. This is what you’re looking for:

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And you can see it on my own website at www.moonriverjewellery.co.uk/hallmarking

Hallmarking does add a cost to my jewellery, but I feel happier knowing that I am complying with the law. All of my heavier pieces will now be sent off to the Birmingham Assay Office for hallmarking and some of my smaller pieces as well.

You can find out more about hallmarking from the British Hallmarking Council at http://www.bis.gov.uk/britishhallmarkingcouncil/about/explained

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The story of a beech leaf………

Beech leaves

“A copse which had worn it’s firs all the year round seemed old and dowdy now beside the new green lace which the beeches had put on so prettily.” – A.A.Milne, Winnie the Pooh

It feels as though spring has finally sprung in my small corner of Gloucestershire. Everywhere the trees are bursting into leaf and almost overnight there is blossom everywhere. For those of you who know me, or have read any of my other blog posts, you’ll know that I have a thing for trees and leaves. And so it will come as no surprise to you all that I came over all creative when I saw my parent’s beech hedge just starting to throw open its new delicate buds in a vivid splash of almost lime green.

I took just a few leaves away with me to see if I could turn them into silver. I thought you all might be interested in the stages a leaf goes through from tree to a finished piece of jewellery – so here goes……..

Firstly it’s important to choose the right leaves for your purpose – I recently found a perfect heart-shaped ivy leaf that was just crying out to become a pendant – so I usually sort through them to choose the ones that will work best. I wanted to make a pendant and a set of earrings and so I chose three leaves.

The perfect shape for a pendant.

The perfect shape for a pendant.

After being washed, the leaves are painted with thin layers of a paste form of precious metal clay. I recycle all the left over clay in my workshop into paste I can use like this, so the end product is really rather green! Between each layer the leaves must be left to dry. How many layers depends on how thick I want the finished piece to be – usually around ten, but I always lose count!

How many layers? I've lost count.

How many layers? I’ve lost count.

When the last layer is dry I roll out a piece of silver clay and cut a rectangle to make a bail on the back of the pendant, I prefer this to drilling a hole through the finished leaf. Look at my glamorous piece of kit, the drinking straw! I always drill my earrings after firing as I find they work better this way.

A ball of clay about to be rolled out.

A ball of clay about to be rolled out.

This has to be left to dry overnight before sanding and smoothing and filling and finishing it to perfection.

Waiting to be sanded and filled to perfection.

Waiting to be sanded and filled to perfection.

Then I fire the piece by hand using a butane torch. The original leaf itself burns away leaving pure silver behind with the impression of the leaf print. The pieces are always white straight after firing – this is the pure silver in its unpolished form.

No - this isn't a leaf but there was no one around to hold the camera at the time!

No – this isn’t a leaf but there was no one around to hold the camera at the time!

I then brush the piece with my soft brass brush and polish and oxidize if I want, before finishing with a chain and earring wires!

So here they are:

Beech leaf jewellery by MoonRiver.

Beech leaf jewellery by MoonRiver.

Fine silver beech leaf pendant – £35 – Fine silver beech leaf earrings – £25

Ivy Leaf Pendant by MoonRiver.

Ivy Leaf Pendant by MoonRiver.

Fine silver ivy leaf pendant – £35

All prices excl. p+p – please contact me for details or to buy!

So there you are – now you know! I hope you enjoyed reading – I’m off to find some more leaves, I’ve spotted some lovely strawberry ones!

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The Butterfly Effect

Silver Fingerprint Butterfly Necklace by MoonRiver

Available from my Folksy Shop – http://www.moonriverjewellery.folksy.com 

Love is like a butterfly,it goes where it pleases and it pleases wherever it goes” 

“Love is like a butterfly, hold it too tight, it’ll crush, hold it too loose, it’ll fly.”

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Recently I designed this new piece of jewellery for my silver fingerprint range. I based it on the butterfly. Little did I know that butterflies had quite so many symbolic meanings! It had occurred to me that everyone likes butterflies (except my husband who will not go into a butterfly house) – what person can fail to smile as a butterfly flutters by in it’s ephemeral, here today, gone tomorrow existence. I have a wonderful memory of seeing my daughters face watching as a butterfly emerged from it’s chrysalis – like magic.

People have often remarked to me how butterflies have always turned up at significant moments in their lives and looking through the many associations with butterflies it doesn’t surprise me at all.

Butterflies have different associations in different cultures. In China they are a symbol of long life while in Japan they are associated with marital bliss. They are often considered to be a sign of good luck.

Butterflies are a great symbol of change – how many of you remember the fantastic ending of the Very Hungry Caterpillar? The butterfly’s life cycle consists of four stages: the egg, the caterpillar, chrysalis and butterfly. These have been compared with the life cycle of a human – in the womb, in life, in death and finally eternal rebirth. Butterflies are a symbol of the soul and resurrection in many cultures including Christianity.

Many cultures have associated butterflies with the souls of the departed. The Ancient Greeks called the butterfly, ‘Psyche’ which means soul and an Irish tradition holds that butterflies are the souls of the dead waiting to pass through purgatory. In Mexico, the migratory return of the monarch butterfly each year around the time of the Day of the Dead is seen as the souls of the departed returning.

Butterflies also symbolise change and transition, both inevitable and unexpected as we move through life.

When I designed my butterfly piece, I never imagined that it could be so symbolic. It certainly set me thinking about all the times a butterfly has appeared in my life. I wonder now what that butterfly was doing at my wedding! Indeed many people now choose to release a host of butterflies as a symbol at their wedding.

Whether you choose to think of butterflies as a symbol of the changes in life from child into adult, or as the souls of our dear departed, or just a wonderful sign of the beauty and variety of creation you can be sure you’re not alone!

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An Indian Butterfly Legend

If anyone desires a wish to come true they must
capture a butterfly and whisper that wish to it.

Since they make no sound, they can’t tell the wish
to anyone but the Great Spirit.

So by making the wish and releasing the butterfly
it will be taken to the heavens and be granted.

  

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Folksy Friday anyone?

I’m a fairly new Folksy Shop holder – I’d never really heard of Folksy before I started looking around for ways to sell my jewellery online. But now I’ve found it there is no holding me back! I simply can’t believe the sheer range and quality of the items on offer, not to mention the real individual nature of each piece. I hear-by vow never to buy mass-produced again!

For those of you who haven’t yet spotted the chocolate oval shapes dominating the shop shelves (along with the influx of cute bunnies), it really is fast approaching Easter – yes I know – in March?! So today I thought I’d share a few of my favourite Easter related Folksy finds – do please go and have a look at the sellers’ shops, they have so much more to offer than I could ever fit on here!

Hand knitted merino bunny rabbit

Hand knitted merino bunny rabbit
Designed by Jo Macgregor – Pickle-Lily
£10 plus p+p

Easter Rag Wreath

Easter Rag Wreath
Designed by Gillian Rumford – Bobbin Cottage Designs
£12 plus p+p

When you first look at Folksy – it’s really hard to know where to begin – just browsing the categories can be so interesting if you’re not looking for anything particular. If you have something in mind, you can always use the search box.

I’ve decided that since I now run my own small business specialising in handmade goods that I should show solidarity with my fellows artists and pledge to buy from small, independent outlets. I’ve always found this hard in the past – where I live, there aren’t so many of these sorts of shops and I haven’t always had the time to go elsewhere for presents. Now I need look no further – I’m fairly certain that I’ll be able to find something for everyone from now on.

Another great advantage of buying handmade is the amount of care and attention that has gone into each product at every stage. These items have been LOVED –  from the day they were designed, right through the development stage (and yes – that includes all the frustrating mistakes and mix-ups along the way), throughout the process of selecting the right materials and making, right up to the point where they are carefully packaged up and wing their way off to their new loving home.

Set of 4 Decorated Eggs

Set of 4 Decorated Eggs
Designed by Debbie Stevenson – Burley Beads
£10 plus p+p

Cute Easter Rabbit

Cute Easter Rabbit
Designed by Louise Alison Townley – Ellie May Designs
£18 plus p+p

Just recently I read somewhere that all handmakers suffer from a sense of un-worthiness at one time or another.  “I just don’t think people think they’re worth the money,” they cry. For anyone out there who makes and sells their creations, I’m sure this will ring true. The sad fact is that mass-production items can afford to be cheap BECAUSE they are mass-produced rather than the other way around. Each one of these items will have been hours and hours in the making and no other item produced by the same maker is ever likely to be completely identical.

Easter Bunnies

Easter Bunnies
Designed by Angela Wilkinson – Small Purple Hedgehog
£2.50 plus p+p

Golden magpie nest bowl with egg

Golden magpie nest bowl with egg
Designed by Jo Lucksted – Jo Lucksted Ceramics
£39 plus p+p

Really what I suppose I’m saying is that if you want a gift for a truly unique person that really says you care, then try and have a look around Folksy. And remember whilst you’re browsing just how much effort has gone into each and every piece.

Don’t forget that you could always buy yourself something too as a treat – after all YOU deserve it after all that hard work supporting independent artisans.

Find me on Folksy

MoonRiver Jewellery

And finally – a shameless little plug for my own Folksy shop (although I can’t pretend for a second that it’s Easter related)!

http://www.folksy.com/shops/MoonRiverJewellery

You can find some more fabulous folksy finds on my Pinterest board:

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Inspiration is all around for those who choose to find it.

Inspiration is all around for those who choose to find it.