Today I finished a cute little ring in argentium silver. Don't know if you are familiar with argentium, but due to the absence of copper, Argentium has no firescale and it resists tarnish. Result.
The stone is a square citrine. Now citrines can range from the insipid pale yellow to the richest of ambers, and this one is the colour of pure sunshine.
I cut out a dainty little heart shape on each side of the bezel to let more light into the back of the stone.
I seem to be having a run on square shapes of late. The last ring I finished was a lab created alexandrite. I don't usually go for lab created stones but this one even has the same colour change properties found in the natural stones. It changes between green and pink depending on the type of light.
It's a sure sign that summer's here when the Elder bushes are clothed in umbels of frothy white flowers. The fragrance of which is so heady and sweet, even the most olfactorily challenged of us cannot fail to be moved. This is my favourite of all the hedgerow.
Each year, I pick a bag of these prized blooms and head home in anticipation to make something wonderful.
In previous years I've made cordial which tastes divine and evokes memories of picnics in the English countryside.
This year I was determined that I would make elderflower jelly, inspired by the dandelion jelly making of my daughters with Alison, the owner of French gites in the normandy countryside.
Check out the fruits of their labour at this blog
Now that I knew what i was making, next was finding the recipe. I've never made jelly before so felt better with a recipe. The internet proved useless, nowhere was there a recipe for the jelly without added apples, strawberries or gooseberries. The only thing to do was to adapt one which was for a muscat jelly (thanks Nigella)
All things considered, this recipe was a great success, the jelly is so fragrant and sweet, tastes like honey and looks like nectar
This morning my other half had to be half way across the country before 9am this morning, which meant that we were up rather early. 5am is probably no big deal to all you hardened souls out there, but it has thrown me right out of kilter all day.
I had plenty of time for a leisurely bath to help pull it all together. I looked at the clock and to my horror realised that it was almost time for the kids to get to school.
We were out of the house and across to the school in about 5 mins flat. At this point I have to point out to you that we live almost directly opposite the school gate.
As the girls entered the gate, we waved, I turned for home.
A few seconds later they were beside me again. The door into school was locked, there was no one around.
They thought they were so late.
I laughed so hard. The girls were looking puzzled. I could hardly explain ,
the people who were terminally late for everything had made it to school an hour early!!
This is a one time only occurence.
At least the earliness is. The crapness is here to stay.
Don't you always look forward to the post arriving, especially if you know that shiny baubles may be dropping onto your doormat at any time? Yesterday saw the arrival of some beautiful round agate beads, all different shades of red, purple, yellow, green and blue finished with a matte, almost sugary texture. They came as a graduated strand- you know, the biggest at the front, getting smaller and smaller as you get around to the back. They remind me of the boiled sweets we used to have as children, they look good enough to eat.
I wondered if I should use them as nature intended, as a graduated necklace or go with my heart and mix the beads into a totally random bracelet.
I went with random, and in my opinion, they look TOO good to eat now.
This is definitely a product for all of us girlies who like sweeties but don't need the extra calories. lol
It was always something we'd intended to do, Mr Lemur and myself, we had always promised ourselves a hallmark of our own. We have been doing jewellery as a hobby for eighteen years, in fact , that's where we met, on a course in Birmingham's famous Jewellery Quarter.
It's easy enough to do. You select the initials you would like, decide what shape you would like them to take and if there's no-one with that mark already, it's yours. Simple.
This week saw the first batch of hallmarked items return from the Assay Office, and very good they looked too.
Before they hallmark your item, they have to test the metal to make sure that the metal is pure enough to carry a hallmark. This involves taking a small sample out of your item, usually from the place you tell them to....somewhere un-noticable. Well I thought it was going to be a scraping from the inside of my bezel.
The locket I had sent was to be set with a large heart shaped cabochon, held by a scalloped bezel.
I was more than a little shocked to find that they had taken a notch out of the centre front scallop. Not from the inside, or from the outside, but a snip from the edge.
I could get rid of the evidence and no-one would know but that hardly seemed the point.
Anyway, it's done. Our names are listed and there they stay. Years from now when Great Great grandchild Lemur goes to the Antiques Roadshow clutching a handful of bashed and blackened trinkets, Mr Expert will be able to tell little Lemur the names of the people who made these items.
After the initial thrill had left me of being chosen by my client. I could put it off no longer and started work.
I retreated into my workshop armed with plans and drawings, excited to start.
Then I discovered the full horror of what is platinum. When we planned the piece, I didn't point out that I was a platinum virgin, assuming that it would be like working with 18ct gold.
Well now I understand that it's like no metal I've ever worked.
Harder than phospher bronze, which, for the record is the material used to make church bells.
It's impossible to solder.
This metal needs to be welded. The melting point is so high that the French blow pipe that I normally work with only warms it through. No, this is a job for oxy-propane.
The metal used to join platinum to itself is not called solder like it is usually is in metalsmithing, it's called filler. It doesn't flow as solder does, it needs to be coaxed around the join with the aid of a pick.
Maybe you can see by this point that this wasn't a piece that I enjoyed making.
With perseverance and a google search I managed to make this ring, and surprisingly it looked rather good.
Then began the mammoth task of cleaning and polishing. As I mentioned earlier, this alloy is HARD.
Never have I had to work so hard and so long just to get a shine. The first attempt to create that legendary platinum lustre ended in tears-metaphorically if not physically. I filed, and filed some more, then sanded, finer and finer. Then I reached that smooth satin finish which normally polishes so well. This time I find it covered in fine marks which are not smoothed by the polishing mop.
If I had a tumbler, this would have been a perfect job for it. With the absence of one I was left with just one thing to do. Burnish it.
Burnishing is the act of smoothing out one piece of metal by stroking with pressure with a piece of polished steel.
I never mind working hard and working long, but it makes it so much easier to do if the results are satisfactory. And this really was worth the pain. The high shine was mindblowing, second to no kind of gold I've seen.
I am the kind of person who likes to think they can draw lessons from things like this.
The lesson for me at this point in my life is simple. Leave platinum alone.