Jewellery Designing · Jewellery Tips

5 Ways To Care For Your Handmade Silver Jewellery

hammered silver hoops pendant

One question I’m often asked is ‘how do I care for my handmade jewellery?’ Well, I’d like to share my top tips with you for keeping your jewellery in great condition. I use Sterling silver in my jewellery designs. One of the problems with Sterling silver is that it tarnishes (goes black) when exposed to the air. Below are my top tips for keeping your jewellery super shiny!

  • Wear your jewellery regularly! The oils in your skin help to clean your jewellery.
  • Avoid contact with chemicals and always remove before swimming and showering.
  • When getting dressed, always put your jewellery on last of all. Perfume, cosmetics and hairspray all increase the risk of tarnishing.
  • When not in use, store your jewellery in a zip lock plastic bag or other air tight container. I will be posting out these little bags with my online orders, they’re just the right size to pop in your jewellery box!
  • If your jewellery does become tarnished, a quick gentle polish with a silver cleaning cloth will leave it looking sparkly and new again.

These silver cleaning cloths are now available to order from my Folksy shop

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The two Sterling silver hammered pendants pictured above are available to order now from my Folksy shop, why not pop over and take a look!

Out & About in Kent · photography

Bluebell Magic in The Woods

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It’s that time of year again. Each spring I have to go to the woods and visit the bluebells.  As I was driving through the country lanes one afternoon, I spied a few bluebells nodding their heads by the edge of the hedgerow and it reminded me that it must be bluebell time again. We’re so lucky to be living in rural Kent where there are many ancient woodlands carpeted with bluebells. I took a short detour home through the lanes to my favourite bluebell woodland and I wasn’t disappointed!

Each year the mass of blue flowers seems even more vibrant than the last.  This year the wild garlic was in abundance, its pungent but not unpleasant scent, mingling in with the perfumed bluebells.

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All was quiet in the lane. I had parked my car and switched off the engine. I couldn’t resist jumping out and taking some photos to share with you here, then stayed a moment longer to breathe in the beauty of the woodland bluebells until next year.

Jewellery Designing

Handmade in Kent – An Exciting New Online Shop

Silver wire twist birds nest pendant artisan jewellery

Earlier this Spring I was thrilled to be invited to showcase my handmade jewellery with an exciting new website Handmade in Kent. This is an online shop devoted to sharing the very best of handmade products made in the lovely county of Kent! Of course I was delighted to be accepted, alongside many other talented Kent-based designers and makers, many who are personal friends.

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Handmade in Kent are also planning to organise regular events so people can meet the makers and see their products in the flesh. I really love the idea of a fresh new online shop where you can find the best of Kentish made products, with networking; so important when you work by yourself!

handcrafted leaf pattern eco silver dangle earrings
eco silver leaf pattern earrings

Why not take a look for yourself? Enjoy having a browse and let me know what you think of my collection of handmade jewellery at Handmade in Kent.

If you are a Kent based creative, you can find out more by emailing hello@handmadeinkent.shop

photography

Instagram Challenge #marchmeethemaker 2017

If you follow my blog, you may remember last year I took part in this fun and engaging Instagram photo challenge. Devised by illustrator and fellow Etsy seller, Joanne Hawker, the idea is to post a daily photo based on a theme that Joanne has selected focusing on life as maker. Each photo is tagged with #marchmeetthemaker and I really enjoyed searching for new, interesting designers and makers to follow.

It was a real challenge to plan, select and take photos which fitted the chosen theme of the day, whilst still fitting in with the overal style of my gallery.  I enjoyed using the Boomerang app to create a fun effect on day 5.

Here’s a selection of my favourite photos I took for the challenge. I’m already looking forward to next year’s Marchmeetthemaker!

If you’ve enjoyed looking at these photos, please visit my Instagram feed to see all my #marchmeetthemaker posts!

Craft Fairs · Out & About in Kent

Kentish Made – Celebrating Local and Handmade

Last November, I was lucky enough to be involved in an exciting pop- up shop held in the village where I live. Katie, the owner of luxury handmade accessories brand Marmaduke Scarlet lives in a beautiful beamed house situated right at the top of the hill. This lovely old house used to be a grocery shop decades ago ( I still remember it from my childhood!) So once again, for a few weeks in November, Katie’s front room was converted back into a shop, albeit this time the groceries were exchanged for gorgeous handmade goodies!

I was excited to be showcasing my handmade jewellery, alongside a selection of talented local makers, including Polly had a Dolly; Ginkgo Floristry; tatty tess and Ddesignmakebake. The shop and Starlight shopping evening event were a runaway success and lots of fun was had and friendships made as a result.

When I heard that Katie was opening Kentish Made this winter for a special Starlight Shopping event, I was thrilled to be invited along! I will be selling a lovely selection of handmade silver and copper jewellery which will make perfect Christmas gifts and stocking fillers.

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This year the Starlight Shopping event will feature some familiar faces and new people too, including local home-roasted coffee company StApple Hurst Roast and gorgeous handmade candle company The Hazel Tree. I’m really looking forward to buying some Christmas gifts myself!

If you’re local to Staplehurst, please do pop in and enjoy Kentish Made’s Starlight Shopping event, this Thursday 1st December,  7pm-10pm or if you can’t make the evening, why not drop into our open morning the following day Friday 9.30am -2.30pm

Looking forward to seeing you there!

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Why not check out the Kentish Made Facebook page for updates on the event and lots of information about the makers, and their lovely products!

Jewellery Designing · Special Offers

Star Earrings Giveaway!

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The time is certainly flying by; I’ve blinked and suddenly we’re into November! In our house, the autumn so far has been a blur of school settling in and frequent illness. I do hope things have run a little smoother in your households?

To cheer us all up, I’m running a giveaway over on my Facebook page.  Please like the post pinned to the top of the page and comment with your favourite firework, for a chance to win a pair of these cute star stud earrings.

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They’re handmade from brass sheet, hand -stamped with a little star motif and feature Sterling silver posts and scroll backs. Perfect for the approaching festive season.

The winner of these star earrings will be drawn at random at 10pm, Saturday November 5th. So be sure to check my Facebook page then!

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Good luck!

Copper and Sterling silver versions of these star stud earrings are available from my Folksy and Etsy shops.

Giveaway is in no way affiliated with Facebook etc.

Jewellery Designing

Autumn Inspiration

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Orange coloured quartz (looks like amber) & Sterling silver earrings.

After a glorious Summer, with hot sunshine continuing well into September, we’re only just beginning to feel the chill of Autumn. Although I dread the return of dark mornings and even darker nights as the evenings draw in, I do love the Autumn for the creative inspiration it provides.

As you know, I love using copper in my jewellery designs and what better time of year than autumn to create some new autumn inspired pieces!

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Textured copper bar pendant, Sterling silver chain.

Leaves feature heavily in my jewellery designs, my favourites being my eco silver leaf range. I’ve recently been experimenting with a product called Copper Clay. It’s handled in the same way as Silver Clay,  when fired in a kiln, you’re left with a product that’s pure copper. Copper Clay produces a more organic, grainy texture than jewellery made with sheet copper. Pictured below are some examples.

 

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Hammered copper bangle with oxidised silver detail
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Abstract floral pattern copper pendant
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Photo credit:Yeshen Venema for Folksy
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copper handmade pumpkin stud earrings

My favourite autumn inspired piece of jewellery has to be these cute copper pumpkin stud earrings, fully handmade from sheet copper and perfect for Halloween!

You can take a look at all my copper jewellery by visiting my Folksy and Etsy shops.

 

Craft Fairs · Out & About in Kent

A Wedding Fayre in Staplehurst

Last Saturday I attended a Wedding Fayre in my home village of Staplehurst. The fayre was organised by Donna from Bombalicious who makes gorgeous bath bombs and soaps that make perfect wedding favours!

Staplehurst has a beautiful Norman church and it was a lovely idea for the wedding fayre to be held there.

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All Saints Church, Staplehurst

 

It was really inspiring to be in such a beautiful setting (which also happens to be the church we got married in!)

I make a range of freshwater pearl, Swarovski crystal and Sterling silver jewellery, all of which are suitable for bridal wear. I made sure to have available images of my previous commissions, as many of these pieces were personalised bridesmaid pendants. Please take a look at the commissions photo album on my Facebook page for ideas.

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A selection of commissioned pieces of jewellery

As well as my handmade silver and copper jewellery, there were a good variety of stalls, all selling different items and services essential to prospective brides (and grooms!) Most were local business too.

Bombalicious and Dippydesign, both based in Staplehurst.

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Pre-loved wedding dresses for sale-one careful owner!
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Lorna Green’s beautiful handmade tiaras
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Eco silver pendants, earrings and silver stacking rings from The Little Red Hen Jewellery
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Freshwater pearl and Swarovski crystal drop earrings, perfect for brides!
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Adjustable hand – knitted  wire bracelets with pearls and Swarovski crystals
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Me and my stall; photograph courtesy of Stephen Barker Photography
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Sterling silver personalised bridesmaid’s pendants by The Little Red Hen

It was a really good day and I met lots of lovely new people too! Thank you to Donna for arranging the Fayre.

If you’re interested in ordering a bespoke item of jewellery for your wedding, please feel free to email me: redhenjewellery@gmail.com

 

 

Jewellery Designing · photography

Vintage Lace and Roses

Fine silver teardrop vintage lace pendant handmade

Everyone who knows me knows that I love roses. My love for these beautiful flowers borders on obsession! I just wish my garden was big enough to grow all the varieties which catch my eye.

We moved house a few years ago and were only able to take two of our rose bushes with us. One of them was the lovely Felicite – Perpetue. As its name suggests, it was bought for us as a gift to celebrate the happy times past and those yet to come. It was a lovely gift to give us hope during a really tough time. Of course, with this rose being so special, we just had to take it with us.

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Felicite –  Perpetue happily blooming in our garden.

Felicite – Perpetue is a rambling rose, so is really robust and vigorous and once planted, was soon happily scrambling up a cherry tree in our new garden.

The rosebuds are a dark cerise pink and once they open, this pink fades to almost white. The blooms remind me of paint splattered ballerina’s tutus. The rich green foliage stays green all year round, so it’s a fantastic rose for covering an old unsightly shed or ugly tree stump.

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I’ve recently made some recycled silver pendants with a vintage lace pattern and I wanted to find a suitable prop to photograph them with before I listed them in my Folksy and Etsy shops.

I have an antique handmade lace handkerchief that was given to me by grandmother and I was pleased with the results using this in my images. However, I felt I needed a flower or two to compliment the delicate prettiness of the lace pattern.

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Fortunately, my Felicite – Perpetue was flowering at just the right time and I had lots of fun adding these gorgeous rose blooms to my photographs. Why not pop over to my  Folksy shop and take a look at the finished results. I’d love to know what you think?

 

Jewellery Designing

Making Eco Silver Leaf Pattern Pendants

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Leaves, recycled silver & lots of elbow grease! That’s what is involved in creating my eco silver leaf pattern pendants.

These pendants are one of my favourite things to make. They are always popular, as being simple and elegant they can be worn for a variety of occasions, if not everyday!

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My leaf pattern pendants are handmade from Precious Metal Clay, a fantastic material which incorporates fine silver particles in a non-toxic binder. There are lots of different products available, I like to use Art Clay Silver which has a slower drying time and less shrinkage than other metal clay products I’ve tried.

Another reason I use Art Clay Silver is it’s a great eco-friendly product.  It uses silver recycled from items such as circuit boards, dentistry and photographic processes and mixes them with an organic, non-toxic binder. This binder burns off when fired in a kiln (it can also be torch fired) to leave behind a piece of jewellery that is 99.9% pure silver.

Circle silver clay leaf pattern pendant

First the clay is rolled and shaped (a bit like play dough), then I use a leaf from the garden (a skeleton leaf from craft shops works well too) to make an impression on the clay.  I have a collection of clay cutters, which are a bit like miniature pastry cutters, to cut out the desired shape of the pendants. My favourites are the heart and teardrop and these always seem to be popular with my customers too!

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Rolled soft clay and craft shop skeleton leaf.

I like to use a cocktail stick to make a hole for the pendant jump ring to go through, being very careful not to disturb the delicate design before it’s dried.  Then comes the drying, which can be done at room temperature over twenty-four hours, or in a cool oven within an hour. There’s always drying instructions included in the Metal Clay packet and I’ve found oven drying to be the best and speediest method for me.

It’s important for the clay to be completely bone dry before it is fired in the kiln, as any residual moisture can cause the silver to crack. Any little imperfections can be sanded away at this stage, however this has to be done with extreme care as the dry clay will be very fragile! I’m afraid I’ve had a few casualties in the past, so have learnt the hard way to be very careful.

Following the instructions on my clay packet, I then fire my dry pendants in my table top kiln. This little kiln is one of my favourite tools as it’s so versatile and easy to use.  I always look forward to hearing the timer ping and seeing what the pendants look like, once they are cooled down.

Fine silver heart pendant leaf pattern elegant

I like to burnish my fired pendants with a brass brush; this brings the fine silver to the surface and gives them a subdued, satin finish.  I tidy up the edges and reverse side with polishing papers, this is where the elbow grease comes in! Then give them a quick spin in the tumble polisher too if they need it.  All that’s left is to buff and shine with a silver cloth and then the finished pendants are ready to be boxed up awaiting their new homes.

I love wearing these pendants as they go with everything and suit every occasion, but are really special too. They are available to order from my Folksy Shop and Etsy Shop

Why not take a look and let me know what you think!