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Sketchbook challenge – April’s piece

I found it really tricky to resolve the design for this month’s sketchbook challenge. There’s a lot to be said for drawing out your idea and sticking to it rather than chopping and changing as it progresses. I had a rough plan of what I wanted and scribbled it down on a scrap of paper, but as I fitted the pieces together it somehow just didn’t look *right*

Anyway, after a lot of playing about and a good dose of procrastination it’s finally finished.  I was inspired by some sketches of tribal necklaces as well as an amazing Marni neckpiece that I saw in a magazine some years ago.  As I was working on it I realised that I find it almost impossible to move away from producing work with bold shapes and geometric forms!

The central stone is a lovely black banded agate with a small malachite stone set above and two oval lapis lazuli cabochons on either side.  I used rubber tubing instead of chain for the necklet which I think adds to its statement feel.

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Sketchbook challenge – April

For April’s sketchbook challenge I’ve been revisiting some drawings from my sketchbook for statement necklaces with a strong tribal feel. I have a cutting from an old magazine of a Marni necklace that I love and which combined semi precious stones and copper shapes with a ribbon necktie.

I’ve already started work on my piece which will have a large cabachon set within a semi circular bib and a couple of other stones set further up along the collar bone. I’m not totally sure where I’m going with this one as I’ve only made a rough sketch so I’m letting it develop slowly to see where it takes me.

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Sketchbook challenge – March’s piece

In March I decided to set myself the challenge of using my old sketchbook ideas and drawings to produce one new piece of jewellery each month.  Last month’s design was influenced by a Luybov Popov painting and Wendy Ramshaw’s ‘Drawings in Gold’ exhibition.

Above is my finished brooch in sterling silver with oxidised silver accents.  I’ve posted a picture of it being worn to give you an idea of scale – it’s not a small piece! I didn’t want a shiny finish so brushed back the surface with wire wool.  I also used the wire wool over the oxide to give it a graduated, slightly blurry appearance.

I originally intended the piece to have a visible pin which would form one of the strong lines that run through it.  However, when I played around with the positioning I realised that it wouldn’t provide enough support to stop the whole brooch tipping forward.  I settled on a standard pin catch, but placed it so as to be completely hidden from the front.

What do you think?

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Sketchbook challenge

Recently whilst leafing through some old sketchbooks, I hit upon the idea of setting myself a monthly making challenge.  I have lots of drawings of jewellery that have never seen the light of day so, as of March, each month I’m going to be taking one of these ideas and working it up into a finished piece.

This month I’m taking my inspiration from the Luybov Popova painting ‘Space Force Construction no.80′ (see above pic) and some Wendy Ramshaw brooches that formed part of her ‘Drawings in Gold’ exhibition about 10 years ago.  I’ve decided that my finished piece will also be a brooch and I want to try and capture the strong lines and energy in Popova’s work as best I can whilst also ensuring that the end result is actually wearable!

I’ll be posting regular progress updates over on my Instagram account @elinhorgan so join me there to see how I’m getting on.

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New year, new ideas

Now that the Christmas madness is over, my mind has turned to new designs and I’ve been experimenting with some teardrop shapes made from my favourite 1mm square silver wire.  I originally used the shape for a pendant with a tube set sapphire ‘balanced’ on the side, but I really liked it and so have been trying to use it in other ways too.

Above is a necklace with five of the teardrop shapes in different sizes.  It can be worn with the drops hanging up or down or a combination of both.  When they’re all layered on top of one another they have a distinctly deco feel and I love the fact that they move around freely so look different each time the necklace is worn.

Below is a pair of simple double teardrop earrings.  As with a lot of my other work, I’d like to add some movement into these, but I’m still playing around with ideas at the moment.  I’ll share them once I’ve made a bit more progress.

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Top Drawer S/S 17

As well as the usual rush of making in the run up to Christmas, this year I’m making time to get organised for January’s Top Drawer show at Olympia.  Top Drawer is a leading curated trade show for buyers across home, gift, fashion and craft sectors and takes places twice a year – in January and September.

I’m really excited about being chosen to exhibit, but as it’s my first ever trade show I want to make sure I’m fully prepared.  I’ve been reading lots of useful advice on the Design Trust’s website and talking to other makers as much as possible to find out what to expect.  At the moment I’m in the process of planning my stand and working out what will go where.  I’ve already got the basic structure and display blocks, but I need to work out how I’m going to use the wall space to full effect.  I also need to give the stand surround a lick of paint as it’s been well used this year and is showing signs of wear!

Anyone else exhibiting at Top Drawer this year?  Or any veterans of the trade show circuit have some tips to share?!


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Emerald engagement ring

I was recently asked to make a secret engagement ring commission. Secret in the sense that the bride-to-be didn’t know it was being made, but also secret in that the design incorporated secret stones hidden on the inside of the band.

The client’s original idea was for an emerald and two diamonds to be set inside a gold ring so that only the tiniest glimpse was visible to anyone but the wearer. However, having chosen a beautiful stone from Ward Gemstones in Hatton Garden, we both decided that it would be a shame not to show it off.

We agreed on a quite organic, uneven setting with the emerald cabochon reverse set so that it was also visible, along with the diamonds, when the ring was taken off.  I wax carved the ring shank itself, making a tapered hole all the way through so that the stone sat comfortably within it.  Taking the opening all the way through meant that lots of light could shine through it, showing off the gorgeous greeny-blue colour of the emerald to best effect.  The wax model was cast in 9ct gold and I lightly hammered the band around the stone to give it a dimpled finish which catches the light beautifully.

The result was a bit of a departure from my normal more minimal work, but I really like the slightly vintage look of the finished piece.  And the recipient obviously liked it too because she said yes – hooray!

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Valentine’s Day gift edit part 2

Following on from my previous post, here are some more ideas for Valentine’s Day gifts from my Modern Deco collection.

The collection wears its influence on its sleeve, taking its cue from Art Deco architectural details, but  with a modern take on the rectilinear style of the period.  All the pieces are made from sterling silver and oxidised sterling silver.

Clockwise from top right they are: 1. Louise bib necklace in oxidised silver, £95;  ;  2. Dolores pendant in silver, £70;  3. Tallulah drop earrings in oxidised silver, £60; and Blanche stud earrings in silver, £48.

Don’t forget that I’m still running a special Valentine’s Day promotion to get 10% off all online purchases + free standard P&P (usually £4.50).  Simply enter the code LOVE10 at the checkout and your discount will be automatically applied.

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Valentine’s Day gift edit part 1

I can’t be the only person thinking ‘where on earth did January go?!’  However, now that February is upon us it’s not long until that big jewellery-buying moment of the year…Valentine’s Day.

This year I’ve put together a selection of some of my best selling pieces to give you some ideas for the big day.  First up are four items from my Geometrics collection, all available from my website  Clockwise from top right they are as follows 1. Multi triangle bracelet, £79:  2. Circle/triangle earrings £54;  3. Multi rectangle necklace, £98; and 4. Triangle/rectangle earrings, £54

What’s more, I’m currently running a special Valentine’s Day promotion to get 10% off all online purchases + free standard P&P (usually £4.50) so there’s no better time to treat your loved one (or yourself – why not?!).  Simply enter the code LOVE10 at the checkout and your discount will be automatically applied.

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Wax carving course

You may remember from one of my previous blog posts that my New Year’s resolutions for 2016 included putting time aside to improve my making skills. So, striking whilst the iron was hot I booked myself onto a introductory course in wax carving at the London Jewellery School

This one day course was designed for people with little or no experience and so really focused on the basics.  I had done a little bit of experimenting with wax in the past, but it was really helpful to have the tutor talk us through the process of creating a wax model and understand more about what was achievable.

She encouraged us to try and produce a piece that wasn’t too challenging so that we ended up with something that could be sent for casting rather than becoming frustrated with an overly complicated design.

I arrived with a few ideas in mind and worked on a couple of designs throughout the day – one very simple and one a little bit more complicated.  We cut the wax using special spiral saw blades and then used a variety of tools heated over a flame to shape and apply texture.

I have been a bit skeptical about using wax molds in the past as you tend to get slightly softer edges and I want to retain clean crisp lines in my work, but I could really see the benefits of working with this material, particularly for producing component parts.  I’ve bought myself a wax carving kit from Cooksons so that I can have a bit more of a play around at home and who knows, you might be seeing some cast pieces becoming part of my collections in the future.

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