The Art of Living by Making Art

Jewellery inspired by nature and made by hand.
How I make it, why I make it, the challenges I face and the successes that come my way.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Let me admit to my love of leaves! What artist doesn't like leaves? The millions of variations, the colours and forms, the veining patterns, the translucence or the waxiness or the fuzziness, the serrated or the wavy edges. I'll never get tired of looking at leaves.

Yes I love to make leaf inspired jewellery and I know I'm not the only one, but it is an addiction I can't give up yet. Here's a pic of a pendant neckpiece I recently finished - three separate leaves in silver and enamel on a sterling chain. I've been working in enamel a lot lately and lucky for me all the shades of green enamel are some of the most satisfying to fire - luscious glossy colour that melts and flows beautifully.

What goes into a piece like this? Well cutting out the right amount of silver sheet first and then rolling it with the pattern from a leaf skeleton. Next cutting out the leaf shapes and giving them a mellow fold down the centre or a serrated edge. If I'm using fine silver (999) I'm ready to enamel now, but if I'm using sterling (925) I have to go through the time-consuming depletion gilding process - familiar to most studio jewellers. Sterling is stronger and better for structural pieces so there are many times when it has to be used.

Next comes prepping then enamel powders - cleaning them by washing and draining numerous times and then drying then back to powder form. Meanwhile I turn the kiln on and set the temperature for 1385 F. I fire two coats of enamel each side, checking for uneven areas and using a diamond grit stick to grind tha enamel so it is smooth and even. I never get tired of seeing a pieces come out of the kiln one colour and watching as it cools and turns to another shade altogether.

After the firing is done, the edges of each leaf are meticulously sanded and polished and then the jumps rings are threaded through and carefully soldered closed. Another piece finally finished and photographed. I wonder who will end up wearing it?

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