Tuesday, 28 November 2017

It's my Folksy-versary this month, celebrating 8 years on Folksy

Well, there I was just looking back over some old blog posts and came across one from November 2010, celebrating my first year on Folksy, now here I am another 7 years on! where has that time gone?

I started out with my first shop Maxine Veronica Jewellery selling beaded jewellery and as time went on I expanded into other crafts including art and greeting cards, which actually started to take over so in 2013 I closed Maxine Veronica Jewellery and opened as Paper, Chains & Beads a name, I felt better reflected what I was doing. 

Some of my early and favourite makes for Paper, Chains & Beads

My little Folksy shop has done well over the past 4 years reaching more than 500 sales, and every sale still makes me do the Happy Dance!  In terms of overall sales since I started on Folksy, my total number of sales is 814, though some of those were for multiple items so it's probably closer to 900 items (Wow! I'm pretty amazed by that!)

As for me, over the 8 years I have continued to learn new skills and developed my own style and (almost) settled down to just a few crafts. Paper, Chains & Beads is still going strong but these days I mainly concentrate on memory books and art, jewellery though has moved on to Sterling Silver & Copper and earlier this year I opened a second shop Max Pring Jewellery, I know deja vue!

I can honestly say I have loved every minute, I won't deny it's been hard work, much harder than I thought it would be, there is so much competition out there now for handmade items that you have to work to promote your shops and social media is my main tool for this, time consuming but necessary. 

For anyone thinking of opening an on-line shop, I say go for it, but do be prepared to work at promoting and engaging with your customers. I spend a lot of time communicating with customers, especially on commission makes. I find it especially rewarding when my customers let me know how happy they are with an item and I'm humbled to be part of someones special day be it a Book for treasured memories or a piece of Jewellery with a special message.

It will be interesting to come back in another 7 years and see what's changed. 

Thanks for stopping by and it's a bit early but what the heck have a Merry Christmas!

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Dipping my Toes into Etching

Hello August, just 2 short years ago I was blogging about the 50 things I did before 50! No big list this year though just a quiet afternoon tea with family to look forward to later on today.

So this month I have been dipping my toes into etching, combining my artwork with copper to see how it works.  I researched all the options and with hubbys advice opted to try Ferric Chloride for which is also used for making pinted circuit boards. 

The first thing I did was to sketch a few pictures on my i-pad that I thought would work, this are two of them

I transferred these images to my scan n cut maching and cut them from vinyl.  There are lots of options to choose from for a 'resist' but so far I have only tried vinyl and sharpie pens. Vinyl worked the best for me out of those two, next on list to try is nail varnish.

Next I prepared the copper by cutting into small rectangles and cleaning with sandpaper, a nylon pad and then a wipe over with neat alcohol to make sure the surface was squeeky clean for the vinyl to stick properly.

Stick the vinyl to the copper and make sure it is well adhered with no edges lifted, you can fill in any missing bits with a sharpie pen

Before putting the copper into the chemicals you need to protect all of the bits you don't want etched by accident including around the sides of the work and the back.  I coloured around the edges with the sharpie marker and stuck the copper onto some packing tape to protect the back so the only bits of metal exposed were the bits I wanted etched (sorry I forgot to take a picture of that!)

I pre-prepared two plastic containers for the etch one with the Ferric Chloride which I bought ready diluted and one with Bicarbonate of Soda and water to use as a neutraliser to the acid, some gloves which are essential to protect your skin and I put all this on a tray and had plenty of paper towels on standby as it it messy!

Then I gently lowered the pieces into the Ferric Chloride and left them, I checked every half hour for progress, as the copper I used was pretty thin I only left them until the pattern was just visible, thicker materials will take longer.

Once you are happy with the etch take the pieces out wearing gloves I also used non metal tweezers and put the piece into the bicarbonate of soda solution to neutralise.  I gave them a final rinse in clean water then you can peel away the packing tape and vinyl.

Next step was to clean, I used a nylon pad to scrub then some ultra fine sandpaper to lightly polish. For the Unicorn I rounded the edges and added a rivet and turned it into a key ring.


The hare became a pendant with an added moonstone

So whats next, well I just ordered some thicker copper to try a few more designs and also some Ferric Nitrite to etch some silver, will blog about that when I have given it a go.  I hope you enjoyed my little foray into etching and pop back again to see what I get up to next. 

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Silversmithing - the Journey Continues with Bezels

Well hello, it's been a while!

I'm still loving the silversmithing, in fact it's kind of taken over everything else so not much going on in the way of  other crafts, but this is just too much fun!

So I have just finished my 10 week course and learnt so much about soldering, forging and generally how metal behaves. I have put that learning to good use in making heaps of bangles and rings, and just sent my first packet off to the London Assay Office - how exciting is that!

Meanwhile those who know me will know I wouldn't stop there, so next on my "what do I want to learn to do next list" was bezels.  I have a stash of gemstone beads that were just sitting there waiting to be used.  This was a challenge as most bezels are designed for flat back cabachons whereas I wanted to use beads, so mine had to be a little different.

I started out with a few fairly flat beads to make it a bit easier as this was the first time, I have some amazonite, jasper and bronzite pendant size beads and here's what I did:-

Sterling Silver Sheet, I used 0.4mm for the strip and 0.8mm for the base
Hard Solder
Medium Solder

Step 1

I cut a strip of silver (from the 0.4) that was wide enough to reach from the base of the bead to just above half way, then wrapped it around the bead to fit (I used fully annealed dead soft silver for this), then cut and soldered (I used hard solder for this).  Next I checked for fit around the bead I wanted it to be snug but not too tight to allow for 'setting' the bead once the strip was fixed to the back. I also made tiny pin marks where the bead holes were for later on.

Step 2

Once I was happy with the fit I soldered the strip to the base, taking care not to bend the strip in any way, especially as the beads were not all a uniform shape.  For this I used medium solder

Step 3

After cleaning pickling and checking for final fit I adjusted by sanding/filing the top edge until I was happy with the fit. Next I set my beads, I used a bezel pusher to do this, taking care not to scratch the surface of the beads. I used a burnisher to finish the setting which helps to get as smooth a finish as I could around the edge of the bead and make sure the bead was secured.

Step 4

Once I was happy that the bead was set I cut away the excess silver from the base with a piercing saw taking care to get as close to the bead shape as possible

Step 5

Using the marks I made earlier to find the bead hole I used a Bradawel tool to make the holes big enough to take some headpins, then I used files to smooth the cut marks around the edge and bead holes, then sanded everything smooth using various grades of sandpaper.

Step 6

Next I made some headpins to fit, I used 1mm silver wire for this and heated the end until the silver balled up, cleaned and fitted them.  These are in their 'almost finished' state as they are now at the Assay Office in London for hallmarking, I'll give them a final polish when they get back.  Not decided yet how to use them, I'm thinking maybe with a cluster of beads as a necklace, or perhaps just a plain chain with an elegant bail....

My next challenge is to find a way to use round beads other than just threading them or wire wrapping them.

I hope you enjoyed this little snapshot of my continuing journey with silver. This week I have been learning how to make findings and I am looking forward to designing pieces using these and eant to have a go at making my own chain next.

Take care and bye for now
Max x

Monday, 1 May 2017

Silversmithing, the beginning of something wonderful (I hope!)

Okay so it's been a while, life is just so busy at the moment between family, work and my latest passion Silversmithing.  I'm only just beginning to learn silversmithing, actually attending a class, which is something big for me as I usually prefer to self learn through practice, trial and error, but when playing with fire and expensive materials I thought it was probably best to go and learn how to do things properly.

So how is it going you may ask?, well I am only a few weeks in and still getting to understand the basics, building my tool kit and practicing what I have learnt so far, but I think this is definitely something that will grow and grow and I hope to carry on doing for a long time.  So today I thought I would show a step by step process for a new bird design I have been working on using some of the new techniques.  The plan was to take some basic shapes, oval and circles and create some bird designs keeping the 'waste' to a minimum, so this is how it went....

1. Cut an oval from copper.  I used a die for this.  Mark out an 'S' shape to create 2 bird'ish' shapes, then cut. I have used my trusty metal scissors but you could use a piercing saw (I haven't used one of those yet lol!)
2. Get to work with the files. I used small needle files to refine the shape and to create a small beak
3. I hammered one of them for some texture before refining and just sanded the other as I wanted to solder that one.
4. I then cut some wings, I used Sterling Silver 0.5 sheet for this and again used a die to cut the circle, marked up with an 'S' to create the wing shapes
5. I then sweat soldered the wing into place for one design.  I used tiny pieces of solder for this to try and keep it as clean as possible, then hammered this piece for texture after pickling and cleaning. For the second design I embossed the silver with a leaf design and used a sterling silver rivet to hold in place
6.  I next drilled some holes and used sterling jump rings to hang from sterling silver chain, then cleaned, polished and they are ready to go.

Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate your interest.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Soldering - Learning more every day

No idea what happened to February, I blinked and there it was gone! I almost missed my monthly blog and just scraped in by the skin of my teeth with 2 days left in the month!

So what has been happening here then.  Well I have continued my love affair with copper and solder and been teaching myself (with the help of my hubby) to solder.  Hubs used to repair video cameras before he retired so is a whiz at soldering, so when I asked him to teach me off he went up to the loft and brought down this beastie.
Needless to say it scared the heck out of me, but I pulled my big girl pants up and after watching him for a while I had a go.  Took several attempts to learn the technique without getting burnt, over melting the solder or making a big mess lol!.  and eventually we found that this kit was a bit overkill and instead swapped to his pyro pen which gives off a more gentle heat and you don't actually need to touch the metal with it. 

I used basic lead free solder with 4% silver for now, which is fine for what I am doing as it's not actually on the outside of the metal and only being used to fuse the pieces together.  I'm hoping to progress onto silver though once I'm actually brave enough to use the proper flame!  Once fused I just clean and take my hammer to it.

The top right hand square became some pretty components with linear hammer texture. After sanding cutting and drilling they were used in these earrings, paired with turquoise tube beads.


Being able to fuse metal together now has opened up a whole new world in terms of design so I have been busy drawing designs on my i-pad for future projects, this is one of my favourites that I made this weekend

Using the same basic design I also made this one, thinking of calling it the bubble collection as I can see me making several things in this design, already have another three things with this design on my sketch pad.

You can see these and other new designs at my new Folksy Shop Max Pring Jewellery (link is just up on the right hand side of the screen) which I set up last weekend.  Paper, Chains & Beads will continue to run but will be mainly for Scrapbooks and Art.

Thanks for stopping by, now what shall I try next?

Friday, 6 January 2017

My New Obsession, Copper, Silver & a Hammer

Happy New Year, may 2017 bring you health, happiness and contentment.  It is my New Years Resolution for 2017 to blog at least once a month, so here we go with the first one.

Santa aka my hubby gave me tools for Christmas, what a gem he is. I have been dying to try them out and finally got a full day at my workbench this week to see if I could create some of the things I have been sketching as ideas for 2017.

My current love is for anything made with metal and gemstones, so have been working with sheet copper and silver and lots of lovely and unusual gemstones, it feels great to be making something from scratch and every piece feels like a little work of art.

Here's a step by step look at one of my new pieces

Step 1 - cut out basic shapes for the design, Copper, Sterling Silver and those fab beads are Kyanite

Step 2 - drill some holes, I have an archemedes drill as I prefer to do this by hand

Step 3 - add some texture, I used a ball hammer on some, and embossing plates on others for a bit of variety, also slightly domed using a doming block to add interest
Step 4 - add some patina, these all took a bath in some liver of sulfer, then I polished them
Step 5 - Assembly.  I used Sterling Silver wire and jump rings and copper chain to finish, click the pic if you want to see more details.


Here's another I made shown alongside the sketch, click on the pic if you want to see more details


Thanks for stopping by and I hope you found it interesting to see the my making process, I will be back next month with another show and tell.