Source: Repurposing and Reclaiming tools
As a jeweller, repairing, repurposing, designing and making tools is an invaluable skill.
I have had my old peg for about three years, and after a series of intricate cuts, it had worn down a fair bit.
If you’re new to sawing, you may wonder how that happened. All the tutorials tell you to hold your saw steady and move the metal to ensure straight rather than bevel cuts, save your peg, and so on…
True, but to cut a long story short, after a while that becomes a load of
cack (Sorry, I couldn’t think of another word)! Moving the saw around, as well as, or in some cases, instead of the metal, can actually provide better control, and certainly saves plenty of time – especially on those tight corners. The price for that speed, and unbroken flow is a that a bit of the peg is often sacrificed. Well, worth it in my opinion.
Now that ramble’s out of the way, today’s fix.
Although a new peg arrived a few months ago, it’s been stuck at the bottom of my drawer because it just doesn’t feel right. At the same time, the chasm between both ‘legs’ of my peg made it increasingly difficult to cut those tiny 5 – 10 mm pieces in a reasonable amount of time.
Enter the redesign. Here is my peg pre interference. The plastic bag is my makeshift bin.
The green lines represent the redesign I had in mind. The steps on the left serve no real purpose but I rationalised them as providing some kind of rest when I need to cut jump rings.
The hole in the centre helps when making internal cuts in large pieces, because they can be centred better.
The heroes of this story are my 4 in saw frame, a 21tpi saw blade for the scroll saw, some cut lube, engineering files, 150 grit sandpaper and renaissance wax.
Here is the saw doing its thing. At this point, the ‘hold the saw perpendicular to the floor’ rule applies. Last thing you want is a bezel cut, because it will have an impact on how you cut blanks too.
By the time I got to the circle, my bicep was a little tired, and the discomfort of the dust mask was beginning to grate. The circle thus became a semi teardrop – large enough for my saw to move around freely but small enough that internal cuts in the smallest pieces would still be a breeze.
The engineering files made quick work of the sharp edges and a little renaissance wax on 150 sand paper ensured a smooth finish.
Just as I was about to walk away, I decided to add a groove to support tube. I have designed a series of etched tube pendants but as they are still at the trial stage, the expense on a tube cutting jig cannot be justified.
I forgot to take a photo but I started with two parallel lines about 8mm apart. I started with the line closest to me, and slanted the saw as I gradually cut, increasing the gradient until I got to the centre, and a depth of about 4mm, then reduced it until I got to the second line.
One last file and polish, and the new repaired and repurposed peg is good to
Next tooling post will hopefully cover designing and making some steel punches.
See you soon 🙂 xx
If there’s one thing jewellers know, it’s that there are lots of us out there. And by lots, I mean hundreds of thousands, possibly millions… No one knows really.
One of the biggest challenges of running a business is how to stand out from the crowd – finding that one thing that is so unique that people would want to buy from you. Is it the expertise/range of skills you offer? Commercial value/monetary savings? Exclusivity of design? Customer service?
With the exception of stamp engraved items which are largely similar wherever you go, all of the jewellery I make is designed by me, and inspired by a variety of ideas. And because there are so many people out there doing the same thing, it is not unusual to come across and idea you had, or some variation of it. A lot of my time is spent on research to ensure that my idea has not been created before, and so would not breach another artist’s copyright.
As a result, I think Vijoux offers a degree of exclusivity, value, and, if the feedback I receive is anything to go by, great customer service. Well, it should be – that was my job for 10 years, on and off. Plus, I’m a a nice person, generally. 🙂
Even then, over the last few weeks, I have been thinking about what extra value I can offer my customers. Different things matter to different people, and it would be lovely to get an idea of what you are looking for, as this will enable me offer a service that is relevant to your needs.
So, here goes:
What makes you choose to buy from one business but not another?
What would you like to see more of?
What would you like to see less of?
What is most important to you – customer service, packaging, exclusivity, bespoke design, after sales service: cleaning, repairs, etc.? How would you feel about distance repairs rather than going to the high street?
Let me know what you think in the comments.
If you run a business, you know the joy it brings, each time you receive a new order. Actually, forget that. You don’t need to own a business – I know when I was an employee, I would almost always check my account at midnight on pay day. Being rewarded for my effort was always something to look forward to. It didn’t matter that most of my wage would soon be gone on bills, bills, bills…
Fast forward a few years and the same excitement abounds… except when it doesn’t. Take two weeks ago for example. In one evening, I got two orders and three messages about custom requests at about 11pm.
It was exciting for about half a second and then I felt dismay. It had been a long day and I was just beginning to wind down. Now, I had to get back into work mode, thinking up new ways to solve my customers’ problems, and manage to sound helpful and excited about it.
Truth is, I was excited. Only, I was exhausted too, and that got me thinking about the ways in which consumers now shop. We are all so busy in long day jobs that many of us – myself included, can only manage our personal responsibilities in the dead of night. With this change in dynamics and the proliferation of online market platforms, it really is no wonder that midnight sales have seen year on year increases.
I could have waited until morning to respond to the messages but I was awake, aware of them, and would drive myself crazy, knowing that I had left customers waiting.
So there I was, crafting responses, doing some math and cursing my rude vibro-alert on my phone. Thankfully, two of the messages resulted in further sales within 24 hours. A 66.6% conversion rate at 11pm? More of that, please!
Anyway, the point of this post really, is to simultaneously have a moan about some of the slight negatives of being in business, and on the other hand, profess my gratefulness for all of my customers; the good and the bad. Because of you, I feel grateful and happy that my creations have enriched lives in a small (or big) way. Because of you, I am able to make a living. And because of you, I am growing into just the kind of artist that I want to be.
Finally, I would love to thank the Etsy developers. My fellow etsy sellers know what I mean when I talk about the ecstasy that flows when we get a notification of a sale – that joyous sound of a till ringing up a sale: KERCHING!!!
So, be it morning, afternoon, evening, or dead of night, long may the Kerching’s reign.
Until next time…
A few months ago, someone asked me what kind of jewellery I make.
To my utter horror, I began to babble about how my journey started with wire wrap, progressed to wire crochet, morphed into sheet work and miraculously ended up with base metal stamp engraving…
I mean, if I had confused myself, surely, I had confused them too?
In the aftermath of that abysmal performance, I went back to my facebook page and decided to look at my work critically. It didn’t take long to see where things had begun to go wrong.
You see, as creative minds, the ideas just never stop coming. We are inspired by nature, architecture, people, found objects, and other artists. There is so much we want to do and so little time to do it in. While it may seem like the best thing spiritually, it is the worst possible thing that can happen to a business – to lose focus. And that’s what happened to me!
I had transitioned through so many styles that my customers no longer knew what to expect from me. That meant engagement was down, sales suffered and life was generally a confused mess. And just like an ostrich, I had buried my head in the sand.
So, the real question was: How to fix it?
There was no easy answer to that. It was back to the drawing board.
I took a long hard look at the work I had done over the last three years, and in spite of the many faces of Vijoux, there was a core idea I had always stuck to.
For me, jewellery is much more than adornment. It is an integral part of the being. It is an expression of one’s self and style, an intrinsic part of our identity, and by jove, it’s the way in which we tell our story and celebrate life!
So, I got my books out, scoured the internet, visited museums and walked everywhere, in the hope of regaining the vision I had lost. There is no doubt that I love many different styles of jewellery. From the more structured, classical pieces found on every high street, to the out of the way genius of young fresh designers working with new alloys and materials that traditionally would have been frowned upon, I love them all.
But while I love the intricacies of fine, gem encrusted jewellery and will no doubt build my repertoire to include them one day, my soul is truly that of an introvert. This is reflected in a lot of the work I do. There probably isn’t a name for it – sitting as it does, somewhere between geometric, bohemian, and the classic fluidity of pearl jewellery; inspired by stories in nature, and intertwined with ethnic symbolism. Whatever it is, that is where I have returned and will hopefully remain, with the stubbornness of a Leo.
As I thought about writing this post, I imagined telling a story that would build to such an explosive climax, as to leave you clamouring for more. Rather, I find my words woefully inadequate to describe what truly lies in my heart. What I will do, is leave a bit of my soul in each piece, in the hope that it inspires you to be the best version of you.
See you on the next few posts, one of which will introduce the Spring Summer 2016 collection: Renaissance
Until then… 😉 xx
This post is slightly late – but you know how I roll 😀
A couple of months ago, I made the decision to merge my facebook business pages. There were four of them in all – one for crochet jewellery, one for handstamped jewellery, another for art and the last for metal stamping shape supplies. It was a struggle trying to market and keep updated four different pages and corresponding stores.
To cut a long story short, there are only two pages now (3 technically, because facebook ‘forgot’ to merge the art page into the jewellery pages). One page caters for the supply business and its etsy shop, and one for the jewellery and art, and their corresponding shops. Life is so much better but lots of room for improvement still 🙂
Anyhoo – does any one still say that? – Vijoux has become the umbrella name for all of the businesses and the jewellery now trades as Perlite Noir, which means black pearl. The name was inspired by the black volcanic sand beaches, in the little town where I grew up, and their pearly reflection in the moonlight.
The new page can be found here, with a link to the etsy shop. The website is still under contruction, as I keep changing my mind about its layout but I am determined that it will launch in the new year – new beginnings and all that…
I hope to see you on the page, and when you visit, it’ll be great to read from you, so drop a line on the wall.
See you soon 🙂 xx
A little while ago – okay, maybe a long while – I wrote a blog post about my journey into jewellery making and my dreams for the future, one of which was my fervent wish and hope to positively impact the lives of children.
A few hours after posting my new snowflake pendant on the facebook page, I came across a post on the Make Jewellery page about the #snowflakeappeal.
Backed by homemade goddess, Kirstly Allsop, the snowflake appeal is an initiative by Home Start, an organisation of local collectives working to improve the lives of children and their families within their communities.
It seems the perfect opportunity to kick start my endeavours. After all, charity does begin at home, and with 92% of the funds raised going directly to what they do, it’s a no-brainer for me.
To do my bit of fundraising, I have designed this gorgeous, limited edition snowflake pendant with a blue zircon crystal set in its centre.
20% of all proceeds from their sale will be donated to the snowflake appeal. The snowflake pendant is now available from the etsy shop, and links will be posted on all of our social media accounts.
With all the will in the world, I cannot do this on my own, and this is where you lovely people come in.
I mean, wouldn’t it be great that as well as receiving a beautifully handcrafted piece, you would have made a contribution towards improving the lives of thousands of children? I think so!
It would also be absolutely fantastic and very much appreciated, if you would help spread the word by liking and sharing this message on your social media accounts. Don’t forget to tell your family and friends too.
To read more about Home Start, the Snowflake Appeal, how to donate, fundraise and others ways of getting involved, please click here
Not one to be told what to do, I almost set my home alight with resin gone wrong this week.
Lately, there hasn’t been much time to do anything outside of jewellery work but I was determined to do something a little different so I thought I might make a paperweight or two.
Got the resin out, measured, mixed and left to sit, so the bubbles could dissipate. 6 minutes later, there are noxious fumes rising from the plastic cup. I lift the cup and it burns my fingers, but I’ll be darned if 80ml of resin goes to waste. In goes my wooden stick and I quickly discover the problem. The reaction between resin and hardener has sped up considerably and a curing process which normally takes 24 hours is about done in 10 minutes.
Not to be beaten by a bit of gloop, out comes the wax sheet and the still burning and hardening masses of resin. I form two seperate lumps using my wooden stirrer and then mount them on each other. I kind of like this clear rock they seem to be forming. A few minutes in the air and the resin has cooled enough to handle with some parts still soft enough to form. I examine the shape and immediately think of arctic caves.
With a little manipulation, I end with the gorgeous, gorgeous ball below. It will be mounted on a pieces of metal and fresh resin will be coloured and added to form a little polar scene. I am also having a tiny polar bear made to place inside the ‘cave’.
Very excited about this one. Can’t wait to see how it turns out.
Oh. After the disaster, I read the instructions on the box and it said not to use resin which had been opened longer than 6 months. This batch was more like 14 months old. Don’t know if that caused the problem… All I know is I love the result but PLEASE don’t try this at home! I’ll post poctures of the finished work in upcoming posts. x
It’s a crazy year with all my plans being up ended by work and life but if I’m honest, I am absolutely loving it.
Things have been better than I imagined they would be and it’s great to finally feel like I may be getting somewhere.
Over the last few months, I have cracked soldering, enamelling and many other skills I so desperately wanted to add to my repertoire. Stone setting is my next goal but until then, here are a few pics of what I have been working on, now available in the Etsy storehttp://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/lushnmine
Next time, I’ll share a pic of the stacking charm bangles currently sat half finished on my desk. Until then,
Just a quick post to share a few makes for Easter. You can only give or receive so many eggs for Easter, so I figured I’d help out by providing a few options. Hehehe.
All of the pieces are made from sterling silver and Swarovski crystals but there is an aluminium option available.
If you’d like any of the pieces, please drop me a line via the facebook page here
Quilted Egg pendant £55
Bunny In An Egg pendant £45
Bunny pendant £45
Chick Studs £15. One as pendant £18.
Bunny Studs £15. One as pendant £18