At the start of September I went on a jewellery adventure, part holiday, part learning. I spent two days in Glasgow at Vanilla Ink learning stone setting skills. We spent a day on Flush setting, starting with round stones (hard but the easiest of what we did!) before moving on to squares. With round stones you can buy special tools to make the job easier, sadly these don't exist for squares, so we had to carve out the metal by hand. My arms were aching!
My round flush setting attempt! As the name suggests, the top of the stone sits flush to the metal. The metal has to be thick enough to hold the stone, so it doesn't stick out of the back. It's a neat, minimalist style of setting that I think looks really sleek!
The next day was pave, which is a row or rows of stones quite close together. The stones are held in place by tiny beads of metal and like the square flush setting, there was a lot of cutting metal by hand using sharp tools called gravers. Again, tired arms! It's also surprisingly hard to drill in a straight line. We did a single row on a ring and then started a multiple pave on a flat sheet, this has come home with me to finish (and practise)
Vanilla Ink also has a sister school in Banff which is a lovely little town on the east coast of Scotland. My friend is currently their Jeweller in Residence, so I went to pay her a visit. We had lots of cake and ice cream and also did some work... I took my box of silver scrap with me and on the first day we did some casting. For this you make a mould of something in compacted Delft Clay, I carved out a shape from some blue wax. You cut in a channel called a sprue to allow you to pour in molten metal, melted using quite a powerful torch that I was a little bit scared of! Once the metal has poured and cooled, you removed the clay to find your cast. We made some excellent pendants before moving on to trying rings. Rings were a bit trickier and none of mine worked, Amy persevered and got some awesome results. I had other things I wanted to play with!
The next day I spent the morning preparing some shapes for enamelling, sawing them out and making sure they were super clean and then, most importantly, choosing what colours to use. We had a break to go to the beach and find some sea treasures - sea glass, pottery, claws... and grab some lunch (more cake) then back to the workshop to finish off the enamelling.
A fine powder is sifted across the metal and then fired in a kiln, you can build up layers and mix in colours or use stencils to add different shapes of colour. I love the effects and the bright pops of colour and now I desperately want a kiln of my own!
My last task was to melt the rest of my silver scarps into an ingot, a long piece of solid metal that I can then work with again. No silver goes to waste in the workshop and now it can be reworked into something new!