A while ago my Mum had her engagement ring repaired, and was given back the old broken ring shank. She was going to throw it away (18ct gold – oh my!!!) Luckily I stopped her, and instead made some earrings for her using the broken ring shank. Well, if anyone comments on her earrings she does the proud Mum thing (thanks Mum! x) and tells them about how I make jewellery – this is how I got my latest commission.
A lady inherited her Father’s wedding ring when he passed away. As with many pieces that we inherit we can’t wear them either because they don’t fit, or they’re not a style that we would choose, so the piece languishes in a drawer. We keep them because of the sentimental value, but it would be so much nicer to wear them and have that reminder with us all the time. Having had the story from my Mum about the earrings (!) she asked me to make a pair of cube shaped earrings for her Mum’s birthday using the gold from the wedding ring. I duly melted the ring down, and cast it into a square section wire.
The process takes a lot of time as it involves making a mould and casting the metal, in addition to a lot of cleaning up and filing of the gold to be done after casting, so it’s not a cheap way of getting gold jewellery, but it is an excellent way of recycling the memories from a piece of unworn gold.
So recycling memories and gold together have made a very special piece of jewellery with so much sentimental value – what a beautiful gift from a daughter to her Mum.
Handmade Silver Jewellery – carving silver animals! This blog describes how I hand-carve wax into tiny animals before casting into silver jewellery
Over the last week or so I have been *slightly* obsessed with making tiny silver animals. Rather than hand piercing them from silver sheet I wanted them to be more realistic, and a bit more 3d so I decided to have a go!
All too often nowadays people think it’s okay to simply make a mould from an item they’ve bought, and cast a piece from it – which is very simple since the invention of silver clay. Apart from all the copyright issues, where is the skill in that? I decided that my animals were to be made from scratch, all handmade silver, 100% by me.
First off, I started with a sketch of the animal before moving on to make a Fimo model (other polymer clays are available!) Here are the first stages of my silver moongazing hare:
The final silver casting was still quite rough, so I spent many hours filing and sanding to get the contours and appearance right, then after a bit of polishing here’s the final result!
I’ve also added a cute little silver cat to the collection, made in the same way – she’ll make a fabulous pin or pendant.
Any requests for more handmade silver animals? I’d love to hear what you think! Jo x
If you’re interested in how I make my silver jewellery you might like these blogs:
Chasing and repousse is an ancient method of shaping metal into contoured forms using hammers and punches to move the metal.
I was lucky enough to attend a workshop with Il Maestro- Fabrizio Aquafresca at In The Studio last October. Fabrizio is a world renowned master having learnt studied the art himself from the age of 13, and producing commissions for an illustrious selection of clients including The Vatican. Il Maestro travels to the UK a couple of times a year to teach so I was delighted to secure a place.
The metal is attached to a block of pitch where the design is pushed into the reverse of the piece using hammers and punches. We practised on copper to begin with before moving onto precious metals!
The next stage is to flip over the piece and add the detail and outlining – this is the “chasing” part. Given my obsession with hares, it was only natural that I would choose to make a tiny silver moongazing hare picture!
After many hours of burning pitch, hammering and other things I will not bore you with the finished piece was ready, plus a bonus piece made for me by Il Maestro! Now I have silver moongazing hare twins!
Since the course I’ve made several more pieces of handmade silver jewellery using this time consuming and skilled technique, but think that the results are definitely worth all the effort !
A lot of people don’t know their ring size – not surprising really, we don’t buy as many rings as we do clothes, and while we may know one finger size, what about the others?
The best way to make sure a ring will fit is to have the finger properly sized at a jewellers using the ring sizer guides, or using one of the disposable plastic ring sizing guides that you can buy.
If you want to buy someone a ring as a surprise and are not sure of their size and asking them is not an option then all is not lost! First of all make sure the jeweller you’re buying from says they can adjust it if it doesn’t fit…….it’s likely that if the ring contains a stone the jeweller may have to remove the stone in order to resize the ring, and this can be difficult.
If you still want to go ahead with your secret squirrel mission (and you’re very brave!) then go ahead and try some of the methods mentioned above, I can’t promise they’ll work but perhaps worth a try? Remember – the best way is to have the finger properly sized. Good Luck!
So, if the scandal of horsemeat masquerading as beef in recent weeks has taught us anything it is that what we buy may not always be what it claims to be…… The idea of testing and guaranteeing the quality of a product is not a new idea – it has been around since 1300 in the form of hallmarking! The Goldsmiths’ Company have been testing and guaranteeing the purity of gold and silver in London for the last 700 years. The name hallmarking derives from the practice of taking the items to Goldsmiths’ Hall for marking. I have my handmade silver jewellery hallmarked at Goldsmiths’ Company Assay Office, and there are a further 3 Assay Offices in the UK which do this work – Birmingham, Sheffield, and Edinburgh, each with their own unique mark.
Any item of silver weighing over 7.78g needs to be hallmarked by law, if it is being described and sold as a precious metal. 7.78 g is not very much – as a guide, a small sachet of baking yeast weighs 7g. A full hallmark comprises of: • The maker’s unique mark usually 2 or 3 initials • The metal fineness –sterling silver is 925 • The assay office’s mark – Goldsmiths’ mark is a leopards head • The optional date stamp letter to indicate which year it was hallmarked. The picture below shows my hallmark on a pair of handmade silver cufflinks– this one has 2 extra marks – a lion which is the traditional mark for sterling silver, and the Queen in an oversized crown which was a limited edition mark to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Year.
Lucylou Designs’ Hallmark
These marks are only applied after rigorous testing of the metal by the Assay Office. These are not to be confused with items stamped with 925. The 925 stamp without the Assay Office marks does not mean it is necessarily sterling silver – it just means that someone has stamped it!
Fully hallmarked handmade silver bangle by Lucylou Designs
I was interested to see an online seller offering handmade sterling silver bangles for sale – they were quite cheap and I was wondering how he could even buy the silver and hallmark it for that price – then I noticed they were only stamped with 925 and his makers mark– he was offering “full hallmarking” as an optional £20 extra! Both naughty and illegal! I only routinely hallmark silver jewellery that is over 7.78g in order to keep the costs down for the customer, this generally means that silver earrings and silver rings, and some smaller silver pendants do not need hallmarking by law, but can be if a customer requests it. The Assay Office even offer an engraving service, so personal messages can be added to special handmade pieces. If you would like to know more about the hallmarking process there is a really good article on it at The Goldsmiths’ Company website. Related Blogs Is it really silver?Making the bangle with rings
As 2020 has spiralled into something unrecognisable, following the rapid spread of Covid-19, I just wanted to update you on the changes I have made to the business to help keep us all safe.
As I already work alone in my home studio, I have no issues with social distancing, but as many suppliers are closed, I can only work with the gold and silver I already have in stock. This means that I may not be able to make some custom orders.
The London Assay Office is currently closed, meaning that new work can not be hallmarked. It is illegal to sell unhallmarked work which is over the minimum weight (7.78g for silver and 1g for gold) if described as gold or silver. This means that any new pieces I make weighing over this amount can only be described as white metal or yellow metal if I am to sell them legally.
All my jewellery is cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner before being packaged onto a jewellery card, and sealed into a cello bag along with an anti tarnish tab. From the moment it comes out of the ultrasonic bath it is only handled by my gloved hands.
The packaging that I am currently using does not include my usual presentation boxes to make my orders “letterbox-friendly”. Instead your jewellery will be secured to a jewellery card, to ensure it arrives untangled. It will come wrapped in tissue paper, then packaged in a mailing box which will fit through most letterboxes. Please note that I am using First Class postage rather than Special Delivery, so that your order can be posted without queuing in a Post Office. It also means that you won’t need to collect any undelivered items from a sorting office. As such I will be offering free postage for all items posted to the UK .
If you are sending the jewellery as a gift, just drop me a note at checkout if you would like it gift wrapped, and I can send it direct at no extra charge. I can also include a hand written message in a card if this is helpful, please just ask!
Finally, please note that post is a lot slower to arrive than normal. My Postie tells me that it is busy just like Christmas, but with more sunshine!
Wishing you all the best, stay safe and stay well. Jo x
For those of you who, like me, are self employed running their own small business, you know how much hard work goes into setting up. There’s all the “glamorous” paperwork side to do, notifying the Inland Revenue, arranging insurance, etc. but there’s also the fun bits that let you stamp your own personality on your business – choosing your business name!
For those who don’t already know, I named my business in memory of my beloved furry soulmate Lucylou. It seemed like a great way to remember a good friend, and so Lucylou Designs was born.
When you’re several years down the line and trading happily, what do you do if you discover someone else has subsequently set up a business under a similar name? First step is don’t panic! If they are selling an entirely different product to you, then there is probably no need to worry, customers will realise you are not the same. However, if they are selling the same category of goods as you, then that is when things get tricky.
You don’t want your customers buying from them in error, and you may not want your brand “diluted” by association with their goods if they are not of the same standard as your own. That is where a trademark comes in to protect your business brand. Your business name is classed as your trademark whether you have registered it with the Intellectual Property Office or not, but registered trade marks give you more rights under law, and make it easier to prevent others from using your name.
I read lots of scare stories about how you really have to use a solicitor to register your trademark, but ignored them and did my research online, then completed the process myself online through the .GOV website for a fraction of the cost of a solicitor. It was straightforward if a little slow. After 4 months I was the owner of a shiny new certificate to prove that Lucylou Designs is my registered trademark for the next 10 years. This means that I am able to stop anyone from using that name to sell jewellery items, or a name that is confusingly or deceptively similar which may misdirect customers.
If you’re sitting there thinking it is not worth the effort or expense, just consider what would you do if after 5 years of running the business you had built up from scratch, someone else came along and started using a really similar name. So similar that their customers were calling and emailing you by mistake. That’s what happened to me, and I can’t begin to tell you how pleased I am that I took those steps to protect my brand, my business, and my years of hard work! A simple cease and desist letter along with proof of registered trademark is all that was required to resolve what could have otherwise been a huge setback to my business brand. What a difference a little ® can make!
So, what is the best way to break a true creative’s heart?
That’s simple, a guaranteed way to break any creative’s heart is to say that their claim to their designs is a falsehood. That they are copies. That all they represent is fake.
Not to say it to their face, not to lay your concerns at their door, not to even entertain for a moment that you could be mistaken only compounds the pain. Yet this is what happened to me, and why my heart is broken.
When I saw the post on your page saying that you were being copied, I felt truly sorry for you. Your designs are always beautifully executed, and I felt your pain. It was only after I shared a design of mine, that your indirect response over your “original design” made the penny drop that you were talking about me! I was shocked, upset, devastated, and then I did the stupidest thing I could have done – I went back to your page and read the comments and accusations about me. It left me feeling sick to my stomach. No, my name wasn’t mentioned, but the attack on my character and my life (because yes, what I create here is part of my life) was so far from the truth I could have wept.
Against my better judgement, a few days later, I read another post. This time it was about how some people will never understand jewellery design. Once again it seemed aimed at me, an effort to diminish what I create, another arrow that found its target.
So as you don’t know me, let me tell you who I really am.
I don’t have a degree in jewellery design, what I do is intuitive and comes from my soul. It is created with love, passion and meaning and I wouldn’t change that for the world.
I’m a sensitive soul, I feel others emotions, I worry about how they feel, and what they feel about me. I’m doing something I love. I create pieces that all have great meaning to me. I even name each hare because they all have characters and personalities that evolve during the design process – they are like my children.
My style of design is recognisable through all my pieces: the progression and process is there for all to see, so if I were plagiarising you and others as stated, then this continuity could not exist.
Jewellery is 80% design, and 20% engineering, an idea can only be constructed in a limited number of ways, so on occasions things may be appear similar. This doesn’t mean they were copied. Perhaps if you’d addressed me directly I could have put your mind at rest that my designs are all my own, but that didn’t happen. So since we had no opportunity for an open and honest private dialogue, I have responded in this way.
I’m guessing that you must have felt hurt and angry and set out to say things that would make you feel better. I’m not sure if it worked, but I hope it did, because I have no wish for you or anyone else to feel upset. As a good friend said to me, there is already enough pain in this world , and I have no wish to add to it. I still think your work is beautiful, but I have a feeling I won’t be able to see it now without feeling that stab of pain in my soul. So from one creative to another, I hope you can understand why my heart is broken.
IMPORTANT! PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU DO NOT CLAIM GIFT AID ON THIS. IT IS NOT CLASSED AS ELIGIBLE UNDER HMRC RULES BECAUSE THERE IS A PRIZE INVOLVED.
I am currently raffling this original solid silver mini picture of a moon gazing hare to raise funds for the DEC Gaza Appeal. The appeal is to raise funds for families who have lost everything and currently have no shelter, food, or access to basic life essentials and are living in intolerable conditions. It is not a political statement it is a humanitarian appeal.
The picture measures approximately 80 x 50 mm and weighs in at over 40g of sterling silver.
I made it using the traditional technique of chasing and repousse, which employs hammers and punches to stretch and shape the metal to form the detail of the picture. It’s usual retail price is £225 but you could be the lucky owner by winning the raffle!
For a donation of £5 to my Justgiving page you get a “virtual raffle ticket” entered into the draw, £10 gets you 2 entries and so on. The draw will be held on 31st August.
If you do donate then please be sure to leave your name on your donation at Justgiving, and also email me on [email protected] so I can get in touch with you if you’re the lucky winner!
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