Tuesday, 28 February 2017

I Have A Kiln!

I've been enamelling with a torch for a few years now and always thought getting a kiln was out of the question. There were several reasons for this... my work shed is very small and I didn't have a place where the kiln could sit....I was worried about the heat from it...and of course the cost.

Then I started thinking that the end of the financial year is getting nearer and that I'd like to spend some of my profit on equipment for my jewellery business rather than giving it to the taxman :D
That combined with the dawning that I didn't need a permanent home for a kiln, just somewhere safe to put it while I was using it, started to change my mind.

I researched kilns and decided the Prometheus Pro 1 would be perfect. It's small - less than 12" in width, height and depth and light enough to move easily. It's also small enough to sit under my jewellery bench when I'm not using it and not get in the way of my feet. The firing chamber is small though - just 7cm high and 11.5cm wide by 13cm deep. Although a larger firing chamber would be nice it's big enough for what I want to do. It's not programmable but there are various options on the digital display. It's simple enough to set the temperature you want using the arrows and the mode button but as for the AL1, AL2 {which I assume are alarms}, OUT, AT and another set of letters that I can't remember now, unfortunately the instructions don't explain what they are and how to use them..........
Luckily for enamelling I just need to be able to set the temperature so I'm not too worried about them.
I already had trivets from enamelling with a torch but I have had to buy some other equipment specifically for using in a kiln. A kiln shelf to go on the bottom of the kiln, reducing that 7cm height by a bit more {!}, trivets with bases that you can slide a kiln fork or pallet knife underneath to lift it into and out of the kiln, kiln goggles to protect my eyes from the infrared rays put out by the kiln and some leather gloves to protect my hand from the heat. I also bought a cheap builders trowel for lifting the trivets with but it was a bit wide so I've since bought something more suitable.
The trivet on the right is one I've used for torch enamelling and the one on the left is a new one for using in the kiln.
Counter enamelling an earring using the new trivet.
It is possible to fit two of the other style trivets in the kiln using a pair of pliers to grip one of the "wings" of the trivet to move it but even with a glove on it is very hot and probably not the best thing to do. I do now have a double trivet with a base so that will let me fire two items at once and get it in and out of the kiln more safely.

When I'm using the kiln it sits where I normally solder ontop of a tile and a soldering board on my bench. As for the heat you can feel on the outside body of kiln - the top does get hot and the sides and back get warm to the touch. I guess the bottom gets hot too but obviously I can't check that. Once I've finished using it I turn it off and leave it there to cool down until the next morning then I shift it out of the way if I need to do some soldering.

Using a kiln for enamelling is definitely a learning curve! Whereas the firing temperatures of enamels didn't matter when I used a torch as you can see what is happening and stop when you reach the right stage of firing now they are very important. I need to know what temperature to fire something at and for how long. There is a ventilation hole in the kiln door you can look through but with small items you can't really see much so it's a case of trial and error - opening the door and checking.

When I'm using a torch I normally don't fire a piece fully until the last enamel layer and I will do the same with the kiln. That's when I get a bit better at temperatures and timings and things..... :D
As I'm planning on doing a lot more enamelling with ideas for little enamelled copper trinket dishes and small bowls in the future I decided to give my enamels pride of place on the shelf. They were previously kept in tins and plastic boxes, then they moved to three drawers where I was having to do a lot of scrabbling about to find what I wanted so now having them on one of my shelves makes life a lot easier.

I've already moved some of the enamels in this photo onto the top shelf and have another shopping list of enamels to get from WG Ball very soon. I've ordered quite a lot of stuff from WG Ball recently and although I want to order the enamels right now I'm waiting a while so they don't think I'm a bit odd keep ordering stuff every few days :D
Not that there's anything wrong with being a bit odd.

I have made a few pairs of enamelled earrings so far in the kiln but I became so engrossed in it all and didn't take many photos. I do want to blog about making earrings in the kiln so next time I will remember and take the photos.

Copyright © 2017 Cinnamon Jewellery. All rights reserved.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

New Jewellery For 2017

handmade metalwork and enamel earrings - cinnamon jewellery

Ok, so it is slightly late as it's already February but...... after the mad Christmas rush I closed my shops for a few weeks for a break and to give me time to make some new stock. I spend most of my time making bangles as the majority of my bangle designs are made to order so when I have the chance I make earrings, as many earrings as I can!

I do have a fairly quick turn around with my made to order bangles {3 - 4 days} as I work better under pressure when it's busy but it was lovely to have the time to just play without having to think about getting anything else finished to post for a certain day. I managed to get a few pairs of earrings in silver, copper, bronze and enamel made. I get bored pretty quickly and sticking to just one metal or design type doesn't work for me which is why I produce stuff that is quite varied.

handmade earrings - emamel, copper and silver - cinnamon jewellery

The green speckle enamel earrings are copper sheet I cut into these cool Moroccan/Moorish style tile shapes which is my favourite shape at the mo. I also developed a thing for small silver discs formed into a concave shape and used as a contrasting detail on textured metal.

I also love layered designs.

No reason to show the backs of these earrings other than I like the hanging loop :D

Another layered style - pebble earrings that I originally made from scrap silver that I balled up with the torch then flattened with the rolling mill. This produced "pebbles" of varying shapes and sizes that I would then try and match as best I could to make a pair. Then I realized that making a template from a pair I was in the middle of making and using the template with silver sheet was a bit easier and quicker to do.

I do have an idea for all those different size pebble shapes I've made with the rolling mill which is still in the "thinking about it" stage but may well appear in a blog post in the future.....

I also used a couple of pearl cabs in these paddle shape sterling silver earrings.

I have no idea why I don't make more bezel set cab earrings as I have such a lot of lovely semi-precious cabochons. I really am going to try and use some more of them in earrings this year.

I also made a few pairs of bronze and copper studs which usually sell quite quickly and a pair of bronze hoops with a single twist design.

I still have lots of ideas in my head for new earrings so the next time I have a spare day or two I'll get cracking again {and get my many, many cabochons out!}

Copyright © 2017 Cinnamon Jewellery. All rights reserved.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Meet Pixie

This is my new kitten Pixie. She's almost 5 months old now and adorable. After losing two of my three cats over the past couple of years I've been meaning to get another cat for a while but left it over a year before actually getting round to it!

I was hoping to get a kitten from the local Cat's Protection place but they deemed where I live to be too near a busy road to be able to have anything other than an adult female indoor cat. They had to Google my address as they admitted they didn't know the area but did seem to know the road in question was "too busy" {it's not}.

So knowing an adult female cat probably wouldn't be able to handle my adult male cat Eddie who loves a fight and has bullying tendencies if he senses any weakness in other cats I found a kitten in the local ads.

The first photo I took of Pixie in a rare moment of stillness - she looks very serious here - it didn't last long.

Pixie came from a stables and she smelt very strongly of horses for the first couple of weeks {very strongly!} Her mother was black and her father may have been a Maine Coon...the owner of the stables wasn't too sure. The rest of the litter were a mix of colours and she is a funny mix of grey, light ginger, sand, tabby stripes and spots and a spot of ginger on the top of her head. The bottom of the feet are mostly black too. I suppose she could be described as a tortoiseshell but without any white.

She's a very sweet, affectionate kitten and has no fear of Eddie. She was very keen to get to know him but it took him about a week to get used to this furry bundle of energy rushing up to sniff him and make friends. They now wrestle regularly, usually instigated by Pixie who keeps coming back for more even when Eddie nearly flattens her :D

She prefers to drink running water rather than from a bowl. She hasn't tried drinking from the toilet yet like Eddie used to when he was a kitten. Give it time.... 

Pixie doing pre-liver of sulphur checks....yes, go ahead that bowl doesn't contain anything I could possibly eat. She likes to make sure everything is ok for me before I start oxidizing jewellery. 

 She also likes to get behind things. Electrical things with lots of wires. A squirty water bottle and orange oil help persuade her this isn't a good idea. She seems to have got over her running up the curtains phase but plant eating is still very popular. So is chewing my hair.

She's escaped outside once when the bathroom window was left open too wide one day. Luckily she didn't go far - the backyard of the house next door but one. It's empty at the mo so I had to climb over their high fence to get her back as she was too petrified to move. Let just say I found out I'm a lot more supple than I realized :D

She also came into season a week before she was due to be spayed {about 3 weeks ago} which was before she was even 5 months old. This is really young to be on heat and I wondered what was wrong with her to begin with. With all the noise she was making, rolling around on her back and squirming in front of Eddie {who wasn't the slightest but interested}, I soon worked out what was going on. I'm glad that isn't going to happen again now she's been spayed.

The only decent photos I can get of her are a) when she's about to go to sleep as above, b) when she is asleep and c) when she's just woken up. The rest of the time any photos I take of her are mostly blurred, action shots.

Here's a couple more photos then I promise I'll stop with the waffle about the {adorable} kitten......

Here's an old photo of Eddie just to even things out a bit...

                       Copyright © 2017 Cinnamon Jewellery. All rights reserved.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

What's New - Earrings and Bangles

In the last couple of weeks I've been busy making new pieces which was a nice change from made to order bangles which take up most of my time these days!

I've had chance to make 12 new sterling silver bangles that needed sending off to London for hallmarking. These are now back, photographed and starting to be listed and appear in my Etsy shop.

I've also been using some more of the texture cards from Rolling Mill Resource on Etsy. I'm so pleased with how well the new designs work on copper and silver. I sometimes had a problem with getting a good imprint on silver but this latest order are working really well.
I also used some twisted copper wire I'd had hanging around for a while to make some open hoop earrings.

Sterling silver studs always sell well so I used some small pieces of embossed sheet to create some simple disc studs.
 I also made a couple of pairs of silver open hoops too.
All my new stuff is already up on my website and I'm in the middle of tweaking and updating things there. I love a good tweak and of course always feel the need to do it approaching the busiest time of the year for orders... :D

Copyright © 2016 Cinnamon Jewellery. All rights reserved.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Using A Bead Reamer

A while ago I bought a set of diamond coated bead reamers and thought it was about time I tried them out.

I got them from Cooksongold for just under £9 and they arrived in a plastic pouch. There are four bead reamers in the set: two thin round reamers - like a smaller version of a round needle file - and two conical shapes - one with a barrel shaped body. 

So, what do you do with a bead reamer? They are designed to be used to enlarge a hole in a bead and can also be used to smooth the area around the hole. Back when I used to make a lot of bead and wire jewellery, every now and then I would come across a couple of stone beads from a string with "wonky" holes. By that I mean when the hole was drilled in the bead it didn't meet properly in the middle causing a narrow area that stopped the wire going through to the other side. 

I thought I'd try out the bead reamer on a stone bead with this problem.

The 20g copper wire will only go about halfway through the bead because the hole isn't straight.

I used one of the round reamers and twisted it inside the hole a few times before doing the same at the other end. I checked it with the wire and it went through nicely.

It was really easy to do as the diamond particles on the reamer grind the inside of the stone away making the hole bigger.

Another use for the reamers is to enlarge the hole in a pearl. I have quite a lot of pearls......

.... and some of the smaller sizes have pretty small holes. Sometimes I like to use a thicker gauge wire especially for pearl dangles so being able to make the hole in the pearl bigger is very useful.

This potato pearl is about 5mm and the hole will take 22g/0.6mm wire.

I wanted to be able to use 20g/0.8mm with it so I used the thin round bead reamer.

I did the same as before and twisted the reamer in the hole a few times before doing the same at the other end and it very quickly enlarged the hole. You can see the dust from the inside of the pearl on my finger in the photo.

The hole was soon large enough to take the 20g/0.8mm wire. Some of the coloured coating/dye {not sure what they do to these pearls to colour them!} did come off around the hole but not enough to spoil the pearl.

If the bead was used as a dangle or bead link the wire wrap would cover the small amount of "damage" to the hole.

I also tried the reamer with a ceramic bead. I occasionally make bangles with a ceramic bead threaded onto them. The hole in the ceramic bead obviously needs to be bigger than the bangle wire.

The reamer did the job but it did take a bit more effort than the pearl and stone bead.

Here's the before and after photos of the hole and you can see it is bigger after using the reamer.

I did try using the conical shaped reamers with the ceramic bead but found they weren't as succesful as the thin round reamers. When I put any pressure on them they pushed down into the handle and the handle moved but the reamer stayed still when I twisted them.

Pulling them out again and adding a bit of super glue would no doubt sort that problem out.

On the whole I'm glad I bought them as they make it very easy to sort out any problems you might come across with rogue bead holes.

Copyright © 2016 Cinnamon Jewellery. All rights reserved.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Turning My 9ct Gold Scrap Into A Pair Of Earrings

For someone who's loved silver forever I seem to have an awful lot of scrap 9ct gold! Some of it is from gold chains and a ring I had when I was younger and some of it I was given by my Mum as she wasn't a big gold jewellery person either. She preferred wearing my early bead creations bless her!

There's also a couple of scrap pebbles from previous projects.
I started by melting it into as large a pebble as I could manage with my torch.

I ended up with a slightly saggy looking black lump. As I thought gold wasn't supposed to oxidize I decided to look up exactly what 9ct gold contains and found out it's made up of 37.5% pure gold and the rest is made up of silver, copper and zinc. That's explains the oxidation........

This is the 9ct gold after pickling - still a bit grubby and you can see some of the copper on the surface.
I then ran it through the rolling mill, annealing several times as I did so.

This is the result. It started to split on one edge and the copper content is very evident from the annealing before it was pickled.

I chose this design to imprint onto the gold as it fit the size of the sheet the best.

The patterned gold after pickling. I think the copper is drawn to the surface of the gold during annealing but I wasn't too worried about it as I have the means to remove it with...........

Super pickle is a 50/50 mix of clean pickle and hydrogen peroxide and is fabulous for removing copper from where it shouldn't be.

As you can see the super pickle did it's job.

After tidying the edges of the two gold pieces I added a satin texture to two pieces of silver sheet and soldered the gold pieces onto them.

I wasn't sure what I was going to do with the earrings yet so I used fairly large pieces of silver sheet.
Then I started trimming them...

I still didn't know what I was going to do at the top of the earrings so left it a bit longer.
Then I decided to trim that off too.............:D

 And add a jump ring for the earwire. 
{I think my design mojo had nipped out that day}

I soaked the earrings in the super pickle again to remove the copper that had appeared on the surface from soldering then added sterling silver earwires.

After tumbling the earrings to clean them up and polish them I decided to oxidize them in liver of sulphur to add a bit of depth around the join where the gold part meets the silver and also because I like the contrast of oxidized silver with the shiny gold.

I cleaned them up with wire wool and tumbled them again and here they are all finished...

I really enjoyed making something different and as I have some scrap 9ct gold left will most likely be making something else of the golden persuasion soon.

Copyright © 2016 Cinnamon Jewellery. All rights reserved.