Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Lifestyle Course: Learner's Work

We are coming to the end of the latest Lifestyle Course at Bedwas Adult Education Centre and so it is time to showcase some of the work carried out by the learners.
Most of the ladies attending the course were beginners in wire and basic jewellery making but all had craft or beading experience that helped develop their skills quickly.
Steph was the most experienced of the group and her jewellery shows how practising and adapting basic techniques to your own designs can produce stunning results.
Steph's brief was to produce an earring design that incorporated 3 different techniques we had covered. Creating a wrapped bead link and using coiling & spirals, she fulfilled this perfectly.
Taking the design further, she included delicate wire weaving too
Using her own designs and ideas, Steph has put her pliers and tools to great use to make a lovely toggle clasp and a kilt pin!
 We covered making wire rings using a  mandrel and wrapping free-form stones & sea glass to produce pendants like these two by Steph.
Hammering 1.5mm wire on a mandrel gave Steph this simple but effective finish to a simple ring.
Tobia is very interested in working with silver and has been practising wrapping a variety of stones in different styles. The 'plaiting' idea was her own and came from watching tutorials online. It was the  perfect choice for this uneven turquoise stone.

  Coiling wire on skewers has been used to excellent effect here for Tobia's earrings design and necklace.
Viv made a  lovely job of this wire ring design, combining the copper coloured 
wire with a  faceted black bead.
For the wire earring project, Viv experimented with thinner wire to create heart droppers. The pretty faceted, smoke beads give them a vintage look, which was another part of the brief.
Viv has embraced all aspects of jewellery making and has been busy making lots of designs away from class. A simple wire bangle has been transformed with black thread and beads.
Viv is currently working on  an elaborate animal wire brooch (could be an owl or may be a cat...she hasn't quite decided yet!) but she started with this lovely dragonfly design.

 Wire wrapped pendants by Viv and earrings showing the use of flat nosed pliers,
to create sharp corners in the wire and producing a triangle effect. 
When tackling a design like this, forward planning is essential so the bead placement is perfect.

For the upcycling project, Viv designed and made this fantastic necklace. Re-purposing a cotton reel, she painted and covered it with floral material then used the same to make her own rolled, tube beads. Pulling the design together by choosing a bead palette of pastel pinks and greens, she cleverly chose black metal findings and chain to give the necklace definition.
Laura came to the class a few weeks in and has worked really hard on mastering the basic techniques quickly before progressing to finished designs. She has been playing around with wire to create loops and swirls for links.
Laura's upcycling & vintage project design is gorgeous and  incorporates at least three of the basic techniques of looping, spirals and attaching links.
Despite never having lifted  a tool before the class, Kathy has shown a real talent for both the design and making of her jewellery. She has made a selection of wire wrapped pendants and rings using the techniques shown in class.
 Kathy's upcycling/vintage project piece is a fabulous mix of charms, beads, chain and pendants. She used books to research up-cycled jewellery and created a mood board of ideas before setting on her task.The layered look is a success and the colour choices ideal. By identifying areas she felt weren't working so well, Kathy thought the concerns through before re-working the button features.
Kelly made an elegant '20s style necklace for the upcycling/vintage project. The perfect placement of the pearls was a challenge at first but well worth the effort. The elongated diamond shapes, with three pearls suspended at their centres are striking. The extra detailing of handmade wire heart links and more pearls at the neckline, perfectly balance the black heart focal charm.
Kelly is an accomplished Kumihimo beader
 and has been combining her designs with wirework. The vibrant colours she uses are gorgeous and she very kindly demonstrated to the rest of us how to use the Kumihimo tool to produce this effect. I think her 
 friends and family are going to be happy with Santa's pressies this year!
Last week we covered basic stringing and how to finish off when using tigertail thread. 
Kelly has already been practising making designs in this style, as shown here in this lovely grey and silver set.
Multi stringing is difficult as you need to measure each string carefully so they all 'sit' in sequence on the wearer. Kelly has challenged herself even further by placing larger beads at equal intervals along the lengths. 
A design like this takes planning, careful measuring and lots of counting beads.... A job well done I say ! 
Everyone has worked hard to learn as many new techniques as possible over the last 10 weeks and  there's lots more jewellery they are working on.
It's been a pleasure getting to know all the ladies 
and see their designs and skills develop,
 I look forward to seeing what they all make next!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Making jewellery Magazine Issue 60

Lovely to see my latest creation for Making Jewellery Magazine mentioned on their Crafts Institute blog, (click here to view).
Making Jewellery Issue 60 out 17th October
Main project: Brooch & necklace
Extra project: Ring
Extra project: Sterling silver earrings
I really enjoyed making this design as red gerberas were my wedding flowers, all the way back in 2000. I even had my cake maker (Mum!) replicate them perfectly, in icing, for the cake.

When I saw a potted gerbera plant with the same deep red colour, I immediately bought it for my garden. It was the morning dew drops on the velvety petals that gave me the idea for the project.
They look bright pink here but in reality are a deep, lush red.

The wirework is much simpler to create than first appears, Start with a long length and bend it into  a wire 'petal' shape. 
All the steps to create the finished design are featured in the latest issue of Making Jewellery Magazine, along with lots more projects for you to be inspired.

Thursday, 10 October 2013


It's been ages since I posted any news on here but that doesn't mean I haven't been busy! Back in September, I was delighted to be asked to contribute to issue 57 for Making Jewellery magazine , this time for a designer profile. 
Jewellery really is my passion and it was nice to reminisce about where my enthusiasm for making my own pieces started. For me, my love affair with sparkly adornments really did start when I was a young child and I think was fuelled by having two older sisters who could wear pierced earrings! I wanted my ears pierced so bad when I was 7 years old. I'd spotted a pair of fan earrings on a stall at the open air market and had become obsessed...they actually opened and shut... "how fantastic" I thought, but they couldn't be mine, I had to make do with a  pair of old fashioned clip-on cameo studs...oh the shame!!

Look on ebay for similar designs
Well I nagged my Mum and after promising faithfully to be responsible for looking after my ears (the smell of TCP takes me right back), I was allowed to have gold studs rammed through my ear lobes on my eighth birthday. And the fan earrings became mine. Of course it wasn't long before I became bored of them and took them apart, one to be transformed into a necklace pendant and the other an accessory for my Sindy dolls. I'd already started making my own jewellery pieces by the age of 8 or 9 and was fascinated by how elaborate pieces were created and set out to see what I could do. My sister helped me make earrings with wire and neon bright coloured plastic shapes that were pretty ugly I'm sure, but I thought beautiful. I progressed to collecting old jewellery and breaking it up to make new things. Although I've (hopefully!) improved my skills over the years, I still love re-purposing old accessories and am loving the latest 'up-cycling' trend.

Up-cycling is a  much better word than re-cycling when it comes to jewellery, It's all about giving things a new lease of life, a new interpretation. There are some fantastic examples online (check out this fab site - Helen Makes Things) and I wholly recommend anyone who fancies giving jewellery making a go, starts with a bit of up-cycling.

We started our new LIFESTYLE class at Bedwas Adult Education Centre a few weeks ago and I welcomed four new students and one returner. I've set them an on-going task to create an up-cycled design of their choice. We also looked at how to create a Vintage effect and this style can be incorporated into their chosen item. Making a design using old parts or found objects is more challenging than using all new and I hope will give the learners a chance to apply their new, basic skills and meet problem solving head on. I'm interested to see the colour options they go for and how they mix the new components and findings with the old.

I trawled the charity shops myself recently for some inspiration and will be tackling my own examples as we go along. Here are a few ideas and some quick results.
Selection of charity shop jewellery & old buttons I've collected over the years

Chain, beads, buttons, ring and locket all up-cycled from old items.

Old brass bracelets sourced at charity shop combined with buttons and semi precious beads. Wire wrapped with gilt plated wire

These rings were great fun to make, simply use old earring parts, cut off stud backs and glue onto ring blanks with epoxy resin glue.
When you start planning an up-cycled design, gather everything you think may be useful and do various layouts before you begin. Don't get hung up on things being too symmetrical either. Part of an up-cycled design is the mix of items. Don't be afraid to incorporate unusual items too, such as old keys. Steampunk designs are popular now to and if you like the idea of using watch cogs and metal objects then get some inspiration from Jema Hewitt here

Wednesday, 17 July 2013


I am really pleased to say my website has had a temporary make over! It's been a bit neglected for a few years now and so while we are deciding on what direction to take with it (and I get my head around running an online site that can take payments!) the new design gives a taster of what is to come:

So many changes have taken place in the last few years that I feel the time has come to focus on exactly what I want to offer from Chilichic Jewellery and now I am teaching the basics of bead and wire designs to my students, I want to return to what is my first love, of working with silver. I've always incorporporated silver into my work as it is a lovely material to work with and I prefer to wear silver designs. I've made lots of my own silver pieces over the years but not necessarily offered them for general sale, concentrating instead on commissions and gifts. Now I have a new work area for machinary, I am expanding my tool base and practising techniques that I aim to develop into new collections ready for 2014.

 In the meantime, my beaded designs have always been popular and combining these with silver wire wrapping to create pendants has so far defined my style. I've been hoarding some special pieces ready for the website and am looking forward to sharing them soon. Many of these items incorporate handmade beads and buttons made by other designer/makers whose beautiful work has inspired me. These include glass beads by lamp work artisan Ray Skene,  Doris from Jewlls4U, wooden buttons and beads by Bernard Dite of Turn 'n' Burn Welsh Crafts  and ceramic buttons by Gill at Stone Hens Ceramics.

Designs featuring handmade wooden beads from Bernard

A recent commission design using handmade beads from Doris

A bespoke piece made for a  friend incorporating Gill's ceramic button and Bernard's wooden button

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Making Jewellery Magazine - Issue 54 OUT NOW!

The latest Making Jewellery magazine has hit the shops and is a special BUMPER issue for summer, packed with projects, info and giveaways. I am always thrilled to have anything printed in the magazine and following the 'Decades' design last month, in this edition, I have a 3 page 'Colourful Collar' tutorial  starting on page 12.

This issue also has something else that I'm very pleased and excited about....the star letter on the reader's page is from my good friend Stephanie Parry who has been attending workshops and courses with me for a while and whom I've seen develop and grow as a jewellery maker. She has found many of the tutorials in Making Jewellery magazine inspiring and has used them to produce some fantastic designs. well done Steph, keep up the good work.