Brooch Project – Part 3

I’ve been playing around with samples. Below are some of the techniques I’ve been using. The main brooch frame is sterling silver which I have partly oxidised. I have created a domed top using copper which I have pierced out a geometric shape from. I reticulated pieces of silver on top of the copper and then domed it. I’ve used this top to place over the final samples.


Here, I have created enamelled panels which can be swapped out for different colours or patterns.


Score and Fold, Reticulation & Textures

Here, I have used the disc cutter to create the base circle. I used a ball pein hammer to create the texture before cutting out the circle (so not to distort the circular shape) then domed it to fit the brooch frame. I then cut out a square pattern from copper. I placed pieces of silver on top and melted them creating this reticulated effect. I then scored and folded them in different directions and soldered to the copper dome.


Stone Setting

Below I have set an unusually shaped, synthetic stone. I cut out the base circle using the disc cutter and copper, I then flooded some silver solder on top to give me an idea of how it all would look together in silver, although, I was also contemplating oxidising the base black. I cut some 3mm copper wire and sawed it into 3 equal lengths. I soldered these to the base disc assessing the distance between the 3 pillars by eye and using the stone to gauge how close they should be to hold the stone in place. This was surprisingly pretty easy. I used a triangle needle file to saw into the wires (all at an equal height), just enough to pop the stone into place. Using my flat nose pliers, I pulled back one of the prongs slightly to insert the stone into the grooves and then moved the prong back into place. The stone is nice and secure.

final 10

Score & Fold, Oxidising and Resin

I again, used the disc cutter to create the base of the brooch. I cut away a geometric shape to add detail to the back and also to allow the wearer to look through all the layers. I then pierced out a square pattern I’d created with a geometric shape attached. I used the score and fold method to bend these squares into the desired shape and soldered it to the circular base. I oxidised the inside of the square forms and then added a layer of resin which I gave a yellow pigment to onto the geometric shape.


Blog on final piece to follow.



Creating Rubber Moulds

Last year I created some 3D models using Rhino. These were then 3D printed in wax and then cast in silver. After getting them back this year I used them to create some rubber moulds in order to produce multiples of the same piece. The rubber mould, if made correctly, will produce wax replicas of the original metal master. When the rubber mould has been created successfully, I can use the wax injector to fill the rubber cavity with molten wax. After a few minutes the wax will solidify inside taking the shape of the original piece, that is, if enough wax was injected, to gauge the pressure right it can take a few goes. When the wax replica comes out correctly I can then sprue it up and cast multiples in one go.

  • The first step is to solder a brass sprue to an area on your cast piece, preferably a flat area so no detail of the original is obscured or damaged. If the piece is made of plastic or other material then it can be super-glued to the brass sprue (although, sometimes can drift from the piece). Add a brass ‘cone’ to the end of the sprue creating a channel for the wax to flow through later.


  • The college supplies two different sizes of moulding plates. The smaller one can hold up to 6 layers of rubber, whereas the larger one can hold 8 layers for thicker pieces.
  • I used the metal plate to trace on top of the rubber sheet enabling me to cut out 6 of the correct sized pieces of rubber. I would snip the corners off the rubber to create a snug fit into the rounded plate mould.


  • I’d peel off the protective film off the rubber and place it face up in the plate, I’d then repeat this with the second layer. With the third layer, I’d cut out a small triangle-like shape to fit round the metal cone. I’d also cut out areas of this layer to fit around the object or cut pieces out of some rubber to fill any open areas in a design. As the rubber needs to melt and form into the shape of the piece inside, all gaps need to be filled as much as possible. Again, I’d place this layer peeled side up.
  • The fourth layer would be placed peeled side down, with another triangle shape cut out to fit round the cone. The final two layers will also be placed face down.
  • The rubber and mould is then covered by some metal sheet and placed into the heat press and closed tight. For the 6 layer mould I leave it in the press for approx. 50 minutes with the temperature at 275 Degrees Celcius. With the 8 layer mould I would leave it in the press for approx. 1 hour.
  • After 50 minutes, using large tongs, carry the mould over to the sink and rinse under cold water until cool to touch.
  • Remove the metal plates and pop the rubber moulds out of the frame and secure in a vice.
  • Using a sharp scalpel, start slicing through the rubber from each side of the brass cone, keeping the cut down the centre until you get to the piece inside, taking care as the piece could still be hot inside the mould.
  • Continue slicing down the sides of the piece until you can free the object. Then continue slicing through where the object had been, not completely cutting the rubber mould in two.
  • Once the pieces from inside have been removed, create some slices through the rubber, creating vents for air to escape. It should look something like this:


  • Test out the mould using the wax injector. After a few minutes check the piece inside has worked. This can take a few attempts purely from trying to gauge how much wax to be injecting.
  • If you find lack of detail in the piece or bubbles it could need more vents sliced through the rubber before attempting again.



3D Printing

I recently won some funding through a competition that was set up by Bridge 2 Business and funded by the John Mather’s Trust. I’ve been working with Bridge 2 Business since I began my Jewellery course at City of Glasgow college when I found them at the Freshers’ Fair (good thing I went!). With some of the funding I planned to purchase a 3D printer and after doing a lot of research, emailing people and companies, I finally decided to make the purchase. I found the ‘Dremel 3D Idea Builder 3D20’ on cooksongold. I set up the printer, which was fairly quick and easy. I then gave it a test run. The video below is of a pre-setting of a large dice within the printer. This took 20 minutes to print which is good for the size I think. The bottom and top of the dice didn’t print properly due to the printing platform being slightly too high, however, after a little adjusting the printer prints fine now.


After then registering my printer to the website and downloading the software I was able to link up my own STL files from working in Rhino to see the quality of small scale, detailed as well as simple designs.

After some testing I found my small and detailed pieces didn’t come out that great, but this also allowed me to see just how big/small my pieces were going to be, which is what I seem to really need the help with! The printer worked great on some frames I’ve been working on and again, allows me to see the size of everything. I can now edit the designs in Rhino, save them as an STL file and send them over to the printer.

I’ll be printing many more concepts out in order to finalise designs; sizes, shape etc. This machine, despite the finish of smaller pieces not always being fantastic, can really help me get my bearings which is exactly what I wanted it for. I will save money in the long-term as now when I send a file off to shapeways I know exactly what I’m getting back. Exciting times ahead!






Inspirational Jewellers

Since beginning my jewellery studies at college 2 years ago, we have been reminded often to look at other jewellers’ and their work, how they work, what it is about them that inspires us and so on. I personally never took too much notice at other jewellers’ work, not thoroughly anyway as I was and still am finding my own feet and direction in the craft and didn’t want to be too heavily influenced by someone else’s style. I wanted to find my own first. However, it is hard not to notice the work of others. It does help with inspiration when I’m feeling a little stuck and now that I’ve found a few techniques, shapes and materials that I like to work with I’m going to look a little deeper into the work of a couple of jewellers I have come across to analyse what it is about their work that I’m drawn to and inspired by.


Ruth Hollywood

Ruth combines silver with resin and creates very intricate designs by 3D printing and casting. She also uses recycled silver and she tries to keep her work and packaging as eco-friendly as possible.

I love the shapes Ruth uses in her work. Her more recent collection has a lot of triangular shapes involved which is also beautiful, however, her hexagon-like work is my favourite. She doesn’t use a high polish finish in her work either and adds vibrant colour with the use of resin.

I’m drawn to her work because of what I have mentioned above. I began my personal jewellery journey using resin which is what pushed me towards studying jewellery and I’ve loved incorporating this material into my work when using silver. The way I work with resin has changed so much from when I began using the material 3 years ago thanks to the college course and I am now using Rhino software to create 3D pieces that will then be cast in silver and have tiny compartments to be filled with resin. This is a personal collection project I have been working on outside of college.

Ruth creates statement brooches as well as tiny stacking rings and studs. No matter what the size of the piece is, the bold colours and intricate designs really make the pieces stand out. She also hand mixes the colours, combining them to get new colours. I have been experimenting with resin pigments but am now looking into mixing pigments myself to get the ideal shades I want. Ruth’s work is truly inspiring. I have also discovered a few other jewellers’ with a similar style to Ruth in terms of using coloured resin, Quercussilver is one of them.


Misun Won

I discovered Misun’s jewellery originally in 2014 when our lecturer Eilidh took us to an exhibition in Edinburgh. I had noticed her work then but never looked into it further as I suppose it didn’t relate to my own work at that time. I recently attended the Elements exhibition in Edinburgh this month and found her work again where on this occasion it really stood out to me. She works with silver and 24ct gold foil. She works with soft, circular shapes and takes inspiration from Jogakbo, a traditional Korean patchwork.

Although originally I did not connect with her work, I have recently taken great interest in her minimalism which makes such a bold statement. The pieces are simple in design but really catch your eye and I love the three dimensional layering she has in her work which also looks really clean. She adds a tiny pop of colour (which I know is a complete contrast to Ruth Hollywood) using the gold foil and occasionally coloured cord.

I suppose her work has particularly caught my eye recently because I have been layering the same shape over one another trying to achieve a more three dimensional piece? Although my colour choice for my theme is yellow this can be adapted to a gold as I have been looking into goldlfeaf and gold foil. I also use goldleaf in my personal work now with some of my resin pieces. As much as I love small, clean pieces of jewellery, I do love a big, sculptural piece of jewellery too which I feel Misun achieves with her work. (Below left – pendant and earrings. Right – brooch).


In conclusion to this research, I feel between these two jewellers, Ruth and Misun, all the boxes are ticked for me; small and simple, big and bold, lots of colour and clean with not too much texture. In my own time I make a lot of random, spur of the moment pieces because my tastes in jewellery change dependant on my mood (also because I’m trying out something new), which I suppose is the case for most people. However, this is also why I think I’ve found it difficult to stick to a colour, shape etc for college as my tastes change quite rapidly. I am persevering with this though, as it’s something I want to be capable of achieving as I believe it’s vital to being a successful jeweller.


Experimental Techniques – Materials

Over the last few weeks I have been experimenting with a number of materials. Although I am not done yet as I still want to experiment with concrete, etching and water casting. My torch at home is great but doesn’t work so well when it comes to water casting (unless it’s tiny pieces of silver), so this is something I’m looking forward to attempt in class. I have also purchased a small amount of pewter to melt down and experiment this technique with.

Materials I’ve experimented with so far:

Enamelling – This is the main material I have been getting to grips with, mainly because it needs to be incorporated into the final pieces for the Street brief and secondly because I am not all that good at it. I’ve also come to the conclusion that although I love how enamel looks in other jewellers’ work, it is not something I like to use in my own. I am looking forward to saying “Sayonara!” to this one!


Resin – A fond favourite of mine. I recently discovered dyes to add to the clear resin I am used to working with and it allows for many options. I’m really enjoying sampling resin and have sketched out and played around with a few ideas so far. (below I have riveted a piece of resin onto a hammered, silver ring shank. The rivet has been neatened up since taking this picture. I created a cuboid shell using copper and then melted tiny chips of silver on all sides to achieve this look – a great way to use up scraps, add texture and is an inexpensive way to use silver. I filled the cuboid shell with dyed resin and let cure for 24hrs. Colin was then able to slice some thinner pieces off for me using the band saw).


Porcelain – I’m at the very early stages of using this material. So far I have only shaped little bits into my desired elements and I’m looking forward to adding colour to them and cleaning them up. I’m unsure as to how I could attach them to a piece, perhaps pins to hold in place or glue some of them together? I’ll experiment some more when these pieces have been fired and coloured. So far I really like this material and am very excited at the possibilities!


Wax Carving – I love wax carving. There is something very therapeutic about it and the way the technique works, going from a wax carving to a solid silver piece is so fascinating. I have carved out some pieces from scraps of a block I had stored away (how handy!) and will cast these as I think they could possibly make an interesting element to my final pieces. They need a little tidying up first!


I still have a lot of ideas to experiment with so continuing on in the sketchbook!


Enamelling – Part 2

I am starting to get the hang of the enamelling technique, still, I’ve decided I’m not a fan. As much as I love how it looks in others’ work; Rachel Brown, Steffi Gotze and Danielle Embry for example have such stunning enamel work (see below), I’m not sure I can do enamel justice. I know I cannot master a technique overnight but enamel needs to be used within these two final pieces for The Street brief so I’m lacking confidence as the deadline seems to be flying in!

I have made some progress this week though both with my enamel samples and sketchbook designs (as I was having a bit of a creative block the last couple of weeks!). I’m not over-firing the enamel anymore which is definitely progress! Below are some shots of enamel samples I’ve been doing (as we need 6 experimental enamel techniques I’ve been having a little play around). I’m not great when it comes to samples, possibly because I know it’s a ‘sample’ I don’t want to put in so much effort. The sampling stage for me is really just to work out the steps I will take and what does/doesn’t and change it so it does work or look right when the time comes to do the final piece, but now is the time to really put the samples together so this is something I am going to try hart to change.

For this quick sample I just out of copper a simple, geometric shape and domed it. I sprinkled some enamel powder inside the dome then broke up some enamel rods and dropped them inside, layering and crossing them over. This is the end result; a mess basically. I had attempted to create a grid type pattern with them on a flat piece of copper I had but they kept rolling off and out of place.

These are over fired, crinkle copper pieces. I used a very fine copper and put it through a corrugated roller to create the effect and then added enamel powder. Left these in a little too long, I suppose I forgot they were much thinner than the usual copper I use. Here I used a contrast of yellow and burgundy.

Another geometric cut out where I sprinkled enamel powder on top and then placed a blue enamel cube in the centre. The cube didn’t melt fully which has given some depth. I like the results achieved using these little cubes!

In the first image I have mixed a burgundy and yellow together and used some mesh wire to create a pattern on the piece. The middle is just a thinner piece of copper which I crumpled up. I sprinkled on the enamel powder and also dropped ‘blobs’ of enamel into the centre creating this effect. The last piece was a super quick sample of piercing and doming then enamelling.


These quick samples were all done with wet enamel. The first on binding wire which I tried to fold into square shapes then fan out, the second I applied a heavy layer of wet enamel to a piece of reticulated copper and the last two pieces of copper mesh has been dipped in the wet enamel. I don’t like the wet enamels at all.

Below, I am playing with some sketchbook design work. It is still to be adapted but I am liking the direction I am going in with this. I feel it could add a lot of depth to a piece.



Reticulating onto copper & Using Resin

A quick video demonstrating how I make a little series of pendants, earrings, rings e.t.c. Here I reticulate silver chips (not solder) onto copper and also use resin and dyes to colour it.

I wanted to pick up on a technique I  have been using since starting the NC course; Reticulation. This technique creates a texture I love however back in the NC I could only melt the silver, not actually reticulate it. Working with metal was completely new for me then so there was a lot of experimenting, learning and figuring things out. I ended up combining silver and copper, melting the silver over the copper, hiding the copper almost entirely with just a very small amount of silver being used and leaving a stunning reticulated finish. I fell in love with this technique and have continued to use this in my work throughout the last couple of years both in my college pieces, as well as my personal work.

Below are some close-ups of the results of this technique. I am contemplating whether this will become part of my final designs’ texture. It does seem to relate to a lot of textures I’ve found in stone walls and pavements so can easily relate to The Street brief. More development is needed in my designs first however before making any decisions.


Experimental Techniques – Shapes

I haven’t done much sampling as of yet as I was still trying to determine what my shapes/colours would be. I did have a look through my previous makes over the last couple of years (I talk about this in an earlier post here) and concluded that geometric, angular shapes was where I’d been heading towards the end of the course and I continued to play around with that concept over the summer. I also had a cube theme going in last years CAD class so I have decided to combine these shapes. So below are some rough samples and how I’ve been playing around with them. Looking forward to having correctly enamelled pieces to get a better idea of what different colours/textures work best together.

I spent last weekend creating resin-filled cubes and cuboids. I made the shells from copper and then melted and reticulated tiny chips of silver over the copper. I love reticulation and this is a technique I always use when I’m working with copper as I love the icy, silver texture it produces. Plus I don’t need to use a lot of silver to get this finish. I’m still to master this with silver by itself however. After the shells had been created, I filled them with resin which I’d mixed with a yellow dye and let them cure for 24 hours. (Last year, Colin showed me a bunch of coloured dyes where you only needed a tiny amount to colour the resin. I took away a tiny amount of a few colours to sample my favourites for my final piece which is when I fell in love with the yellow. I bought a small tub from Cooksons for about £7, but the tub will last a very long time)!

After bringing them into class this week, Colin sliced a thin cube from one of the pieces for me. (This could be a quick and efficient way to get many at one time, making a cuboid and slicing it up with the band saw). I’m loving these resin-filled pieces!


I have been making jewellery with resin for a few years now and out of all the alternative materials I have worked with resin is by far still my go to material. I love the idea of enamelling but as mentioned before, it does not love me. I love seeing what others can achieve using acrylic and wood but I cannot happily or skillfully use it in my own.

I am loving my shapes though. I’m looking into distorting the cubes a little but I don’t want a big clash of angular shapes, at the moment I feel a little cube detail is quite complimenting to the geometric shapes. Will be sharing sketchbook snapshots soon!






Experimental Techniques – Enamelling

Like CAD, enamelling and I have a love hate relationship; I love it but it does not love me! I did a tiny amount of enamelling last year on just a couple of copper squares which I ended up under-firing. They were dark in colour and rough textured. I also made a little ring sample with a domed, copper cup. I sprinkled some enamel powder inside and placed a little enamel cube in the middle also. The enamel melted nicely and the cube almost fully, however, I liked that it had some depth to it rather than the cube being completely melted in with the powder.

Ring sample below. I used purple and turquoise enamel powders and a pink cube.


As for this year I have attempted enamelling again. 6 samples are needed to pass the unit and it seems as though I am going to be here a while until something works as I am now just burning everything. 1 minute, 40 seconds, I am gaining the same, over-fired results. This is disappointing. (You shall not beat me enamel)! Well, I’m sure I’ll get my samples eventually, however, some relationships aren’t meant to be.

Below are my attempts this week; some squares were domed, I then sprinkled a ‘Pale Yellow’ over one and a ‘Violet’ over the larger one. As you can see in the pictures, all have been over-fired. I love the yellow tone but the violet is unfortunately non existent. I think the two colours would compliment each other well, although I’d rather not mix a lot of colour for any of my final pieces, it’s nice to just try out in some sampling.

Using very thin copper that Colin handed out, I cut out a square shape and two random geometric shapes. Colin was also kind enough to let the class try out his corrugated roller machine which works pretty much like a rolling mill. I placed the thin copper between the rollers and used the handle to push the copper through, creating the corrugated effect and distorting the shapes, which I quite like! These were also covered in the same enamel colours (over-fired!). I do love the ‘pop’ in the yellow though.


My poor cactus was slightly over done also.

Below are the colours I sampled. I used the little sieve to sprinkle on the powders and also did the process over a creased piece of card so that any excess colour could be poured back into the tube it came from before trying out another colour to prevent waste and contamination between colours.


Well I had a game plan in my mind which unfortunately did not go as I’d hoped and was set back a bit. I shall be more aware of the time the pieces are spending in the kiln. I’m still determined and hoping my next attempt will be much more successful!

Until next time,





Casting – Wax Injecting Practise

I’m really looking forward to having my own designs cast. Making the rubber mold for these pieces sounds pretty difficult but it will all be worth it for the end result and having a few molds that will last for some time!

I had a play around with injecting melted wax into some ready made rubber molds. The first couple of attempts were off, I hadn’t injected enough wax to fill the mold completely. However, after a few practice runs they turned out pretty well. Casting is one of my favourite techniques to use and I have a couple of ideas I want to get round to trying out including some organic things I’ve accumulated. Looking forward to this!