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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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
go.

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Next tooling post will hopefully cover designing and making some steel punches.

See you soon ๐Ÿ™‚ xx

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Merry Christmas

It’s 8 pm and in my head was a write up about my journey since launching ViJouX in March of this year. The body has other ideas. You know that feeling you get once you reach the end of an epic journey, that one; yes! Months of late nights followed by early mornings and busy days have suddenly caught up with me; I feel physically sick with exhaustion so we’ll forget that.

It’s been a great 10 months and I am thankful for all that I have learned and achieved. There have been some huge challenges along the way but the lessons learned will no doubt serve me well in the years to come. New skills, loyal customers and planned collections until Autumn 2015 are but a few of the highlights, and the philosophy I started with and departed from has now been re-established. I feel excited about the new year and the plans for ViJouX but I’ll tell you all about that later.

For now what I really want to do is say THANK YOU. To everyone who has made this year what is has been. Lovely people I have met and gotten to know along the way, the customers whose business keeps me going and whose kind words inspired me, friends who let me cry on their shoulders and pushed me forward when it seemed all hope was lost, and complete strangers who have smiled just when I needed a human connection; you have all contributed to making this a great year for me. Ok, that’s about as much mush as I can manage ๐Ÿ™‚

Have yourself a very merry Christmas and a fabulously, successful new year.

Manyi ๐Ÿ˜€ xx

From Vietnam to Manchester: The THAM THEU story.

BELOVED tassel necklace

BELOVED tassel necklace

I had just returned from a Christmas trip to Cameroon and we all (we are a group of four women I affectionately call ‘Hulme Mummies’) decided to meet up. It was our first catch up since the holidays and we were keen to find out what everyone had been up to. Several hours of chat, food and drink later, my friend, Lien, owner of HairbowsWonderworld, dug out the goodies she had returned with. Amongst them, some PROPER green tea – Of course, I asked for some – and a beautiful red piece of tapestry.

Lien, like me, had returned home keen to find inspiration for her expanding wedding accessories business. Deep in the mountains of Vietnam, far off the beaten path, lie small but enterprising villages known locally for their master weavers and embroiderers and it was during one of her walks through the mountain villages that an old rug being used as a foot mat caught her eye. Beneath the layers of mud and dust, the unusual design and pristine condition of the piece beckoned to her. After convincing the rug’s owner to part with it, the 80-year-old masterpiece received a thorough wash and boarded a flight to Manchester.

I fell in love instantly. I asked Lien if it would be okay for me to take a few pictures and use the design for my jewellery and she said yes. It was late when we got home but for the first time in a long time, I couldn’t wait for morning to put my designs on paper. It took 48 hours to design the first draft of the entire collection which included other Eastern symbols.

Then it was time to choose what materials would be best for showing off the design and the palette to work with. Originally, I wanted gold-plated jewellery but for some reason, it just didn’t feel right. A little research into metals ended with two standing head and shoulder above the rest.

The THAM THEU collection was a celebration of family, love, hope, wealth and longevity. Underlying these emotions and dreams were two very important factors, health and strength, a fitting continuum to the design series.

Copper, with its warm red glow was a perfect vehicle for transmitting the subliminal passion and warmth of the calm, sure love that exists within the bond of family. Added to this, was copper’s antimicrobial properties which meant the wearer wasn’t just connected to the designs and emotions they celebrated and evoked; there was also a very direct link to the ability to remain present and healthy during this celebration.

Stainless steel is one of the strongest metals we know. It’s ability to withstand abuse is unmatched, and in many ways, humans are the same. It never ceases to amaze me, the human capacity for pain and the resilience to come out on top, against all odds. Steel was therefore another excellent choice of material with which to celebrate strength, one of the core philosophies of the collection.

Once the materials had been chosen, it was time to figure out what designs were best suited to each material and get hunting. It took a few weeks of searching and tweaking the designs to make them suitable for production – ideas are not always cost/technique/material friendly – and then it was all done! Three months from start to finish!

What I love best about this collection is that it is as dynamic as the relationships we have. Having all these loose elements means I can continue to play around with the designs and come up with different uses and combinations. A the collection continues to evolve, you will notice some designs being retired and new ones coming in on the website. Probably not this side of Christmas though… And for those who are interested, attached below is a clip from Lien’s visit (made by her cousin) and list of all my designs and what they mean.

So, now you know what was going on in my mind as I designed the collection ๐Ÿ™‚
I guess that’s it. Enjoy!

Manyi xx

PS: If you do have any questions or requests, do drop me a line. I’d be more than happy to help.

Shop the Current THAM THEU collection here

Check out Lien’s upcoming range here

Video:

Thu cong from Nam Ngo on Vimeo.

Tham Theu; the story

Tham Theu; the story

Welcome to ViJouX UK

Finally got around to creating an into video for ViJouX’s youtube channel. Very excited and looking forward to creating some full lemgth PRO videos.

Have a gander and please let me know what you think.

๐Ÿ™‚ xx

Welcome to ViJouX UK.

Press Release: THAM THEU, the Autumn/Winter 2013-14 Collection from ViJouX

BELOVED Necklace. THAM THEU - AW13

BELOVED Necklace. THAM THEU – AW13

Winter jewellery just landed a touch of the orient in the form of Manchester based ViJouX’s Autumn/Winter 2013 collection.
Inspired by the story of an 80 year old Vietnamese rug, Chinese symbols and Eastern architecture, the THAM THEU collection is a beauty to behold. ViJouX designer and founder, Manyi Takor, has managed to turn the concept of designer jewellery on its head, and beautifully so, with a collection that takes the idea of complexity and strips back to beautiful minimalism.

Enamelled copper, steel, silk and crystals provide a refreshing alternative for women who buck the trend and want to stand out. Named for the dreams, hopes and emotions they evoke, the classy etched collection beckons its wearers to connect with the innermost desires of their heart through the interplay of symbolism and colour. The collection also incorporates statement pieces in ViJouX’s break-out style of hand crocheted gold filled wire and these sumptuous and delicate beauties would not be out of place on any red carpet

With each piece customisable with different coloured enamels, silk tassels and swarovski crystals, the possibilities for personalisation are infinite.

Shop the AW13 Collection here.

For more information on ViJouX jewellery, high resolution images or to request pieces for editorial shoots, please contact Manyi Takor on +44 (0) 7960 895306 or email Manyi@vijoux.co.uk

Soul Musings

This post is going to stray slightly from the focus of this blog. However, because all of me comes from the same place deep within, it is just as much a part of my journey. If you do take anything from this, let it be that we all have a talent, we can all use our talents for good, we all face difficulties and if we resist the urge to panic, more often that not, things turn out okay. And if they don’t, we must stand up, dust ourselves off and keep ploughing along.

Omni medallion - from the AW13 Collection, THAM THEU

Omni medallion – from the AW13 Collection, THAM THEU

It is not unusual to wake up some mornings, feeling completely lost and unmotivated but it is especially difficult if you are self-employed in the creative industry. You don’t have a boss to please, so finding the zeal to get up and moving can be quite a challenge. Over the last few weeks, as I have tried to rev up marketing for the holiday season while streamlining and expanding ViJouX’s product base, I have noticed an increasing lack of focus and drive.

When I woke this morning to a gloomy day and feelings of loss and inadequacy, there was only ever going to be one place I turned to; my Bible. My faith is a big part of who I am even though I am not religious. Too many denominations have used dogma to try to win psychological and political control and that just doesn’t feel right – but that is a topic for another blog. I go to Church often but my faith lies in the quiet and unshakeable trust and belief in God, deep in my soul. I have done and been through enough to be convinced of His existence and bow to His superiority but lately, I have felt dissatisfied.

I want to wake up full of joy and laughter but all I feel is loneliness and sadness. Church is good but just doesn’t seem to reach the corners. I had not read my Bible in a while and figured it would be a good place to start. I said a prayer and then dug out an old Church dairy and got stuck into three readings.

The first said, if you do something in doubt or something that causes your brother to sin, it is a sin. You must live right and help your brother to live right. It doesn’t hurt to forego something you think is right, if it isn’t too important. That was okay. There are a couple of relationships that need to be tweaked and I can do that.

The second said, you must be still and have faith. Know that I am God and that I will bring you through whatever I bring you to. This hit home because as hard as I work, I do not see the return I expect, yet! But if my difficulties in life have taught me anything, it is patience.

The third said, as a child of God, you have been chosen to bring His word to others and win souls for him. This scared me so much, I began to cry. I am not an evangelist or a speaker. I do not want to talk to thousands of people I don’t know and be persecuted for my beliefs. That’s not me, I told God. And then I was reminded of the second lesson. Be still and have faith.

Next, I went on to facebook and found a clip by Croix Sather, posted by the Female Entrepreneurs Association. In it, Sather talks about living your purpose without fear and aiming for the big time, rather than sitting in the cheap seats. And then it hit me. God wasn’t saying I needed to ‘start a Church’; He was saying I needed to use what he gave me to his Glory. I needed to work hard, rest enough, live right, trust Him and stay humble and my life would be a beacon to others.

I have come a long way from where I used to be, physically and mentally, a few years ago. The road has not always been easy but there is no doubt that I am moving forward. The right people have come into my life to teach, help and push me in the right direction but lately, as the pressure piles on, I have forgotten to stop, take a step back and review so that’s where I am going to start; give myself permission to take a break and simply enjoy being, recharge my batteries, gather my thoughts and inspiration, and then power up to go again.

I must tell you, I feel so much better ๐Ÿ™‚

To watch the excerpt from Croix Sather’s address, click on the link below:
http://femaleentrepreneurassociation.com/2013/10/do-the-impossible/

We’re on Poppito.com!!!

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Maybe I don’t love myself enough. Maybe I love myself too much…

This morning, my to-do list included finishing up on the zodiac range and a few midi rings – then I got on twitter.
I happened by a tweet from Poppito, whom I have been following for a little while, and that triggered the memory of a promise to check them out sometime.

Only, with the new collection, new website, dodgy health, stores on Folksy, Etsy (shut now), dealing with all the social media accounts, designing, crafting, sending out orders, being a mom… I’m breathless. Are you yet? Needless to say, it never happened.

Next thing I know, their website’s loaded on my phone, the terms are read, and signed up, ViJouX is! Next, took a few pictures of some things I have been working on and BAM!!

Anyhoo, the whole point of this rambling post, like the title says, is that ViJouX can now be found on Poppito.
Why you should go on there, you ask. Well, because most of the pieces will be one-offs and other designs you will not find on the website ๐Ÿ™‚

Good? Well, head on down and I’ll see you there!!

๐Ÿ˜‰ xx

Visit the ViJouX @ Poppito shop here.

My First Official Photoshoot

Horn bead and copper necklace

Horn bead and copper necklace

Everyday, we see and are enchanted by beautiful pictures on the internet and gracing the covers and pages of our favourite publications but many, like me, do not appreciate the amount of work that goes into creating many of these masterpieces.

After months of taking pictures on my cybershot with results ranging from very good to scary, I decided it was time to take the plunge and spend a little cash.
Enter my friend and publisher of FabAfriq magazine – Adeline, the amazing ClickJones photography, amazing MUA – Rahila, models – Amelia, Elisabeth and Davide and the coordinator genie, Hailie.

All I did was set a budget and show up on the day with some jewellery. The shoot produced about 350 photographs, many of which will be discarded and took 6 hours to complete. Needless to say, I now have a healthy respect for commercial photography and all involved.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching everyone do their thing and even managed to capture a handful of images. I was so in awe at the transformations, I remember asking if the pieces on the models really were mine.

When I design stuff, it looks good to me. When I make it and place it on a bust, it looks even better. When pieces sell, they go off to their new homes and you wonder how that person feels and what they look like, wearing your creations. NOTHING could have prepared me for the pure joy of seeing my creations on living breathing people, up close and personal. And the photographs… Oh ClickJones, I think I love you (their work, that is :D)

Enough of my rambling. Here are a few pictures, more to come later.

Enjoy!!

Mel, Liz, Rahila and Hailie doing and getting done

Mel, Liz, Rahila and Hailie doing and getting done

Mel looking fierce

Mel looking fierce

Mel and Liz, doing their thing

Mel and Liz, doing their thing

Davide in the hematite and black onyx necklace and customisable pendant

Davide in the hematite and black onyx necklace and customisable pendant

Davide and Mel, looking fierce together

Davide and Mel, looking fierce together

Davide in the horn bead necklace and customisable bracelets

Davide in the horn bead necklace and customisable bracelets

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Even baby was part of it :)

Even baby was part of it ๐Ÿ™‚

Vijoux Tutorial: Earring and Necklace Set – free

Hello and welcome to my first tutorial! Yay!!!

To kick off this section of my blog, I’d like to show you how to make a pair of very simple but elegant earring and necklace set. I started out wanting to make a pair of earrings but had so much fun that I ended up with a necklace too.
The cost of creating this pair are minimal in terms of cash, tools and time.
For this project, you will need:

18 gauge (1mm) copper wire – 15 cm length
A pair of a matching set of beads (I used a 10mm, 8mm and 5mm bead for each earring)
Wire cutter
Small hammer
Round nose pliers
Flat nose pliers
Nylon jaw pliers
2 jump rings
Chain – optional (I used 16 inch gold-plated)
Earring fish hooks
Hammering block or hard durable surface
Metal file (An emery board will do too)

1. Use your Nylon jaw pliers to straighten a length of wire, if required. Cut a 5cm length and make a mark 5mm from one end of the wire. Use your hammer to create a paddle by hammering the end (avoid hammering above the mark) on the hammering block. File off any burrs (sharp bits) with the file. Repeat two more times.
Tip: Adjust the length and size of the wire to match the overall size of and hole in your bead, for a secure fit. Check the size of the paddles for approximate uniformity. Fix any differences by hammering to widen or filing off excess

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2. Slide the beads unto the wire (biggest first, then medium, then small) until they are automatically stopped by the paddle. Make a mark 6mm from the unfinished end of the wire. Hold the wire so that the paddle is adjacent to your finger and create and another paddle by hammering below the mark. Finish the paddle by filing down any excesses or sharp bits.
Tip: After this step, check both paddles for uniformity. Failing to hold the wire the right way will result in mismatched paddles. You could always turn that into a design feature though!

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3. Holding the wire upright with the paddle facing you, and place your round-nose pliers 2mm above the smallest (top) bead. Bend the wire backwards, away from you. Bend the wire again, around the top jaw and towards you, until the paddle lies flush against the top bead, creating a loop. Tug on the pliers gently to straighten the loop.
Tip: Avoid gripping the wire too hard with the pliers as even round nose pliers can leave a mark on the metal.

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4. Place a jump ring between the jaws of the flat nose pliers and use the round nose pliers to open it by pulling sideways. Add the beaded shank and fish-hook wires, taking care to ensure they are facing the right way. Close up the jump ring.
Warning: Opening the jump ring by pulling the ends apart is more likely to distort its shape and/or break the wire.

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5. For the necklace, ignore step four and simply pass the chain through the loop and fix the clasp.

Voila!! Your first (or not) handmade set!!

Congratulations!!

Ps: Don’t be afraid to try variations of beads and finding for a more individualised look.

Have fun!! ๐Ÿ™‚

I’d love to see your creations based on this tutorial so please share your successes and failures so we can all learn and be inspired. Comments and suggestions on this and future posts welcome too ๐Ÿ™‚

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