I often get asked "How do you make your jewellery?" and "How long does it take to make?", as you can imagine each design is different so today I'll show you my handmade silver flowers and explain what goes into making them; the stages, the processes and the tools.
Each flower begins as a flat sheet of silver, or copper, which I then saw into a circle or use a shaped punch to cut it out. I mark around the circumference of the circle at equally spaced points and then saw out a small V shaped notch, using a needle file I then shape this notch in to the rounded edges and spaces between the petals, filing over the edges as I go to smooth out any roughness.
Having now my basic shape the next step is to add the texture to the petals. Using a cross pein hammer I strike the petals whilst turning the flower around so the lines radiate around from the centre point, avoiding my fingers....mostly! To get the cupped shape of the flower I use a brass doming block and wooden dapper, the brass is harder than the metal I am using to it easily forces the silver into shape, the wooden dapper is softer than the metal I'm using so it does not flatten the texture I have just created with the hammer whilst still being strong enough to shape the silver into the cup in the doming block.
Next I handmake the silver centres to the flowers. These are most fun to make and also recycle some of the silver off cuts I have from other pieces. Taking some scrap silver I place it onto my charcoal block and use my torch to melt it, when sterling silver reaches 893°C, its melting point, it turns into a liquid. Liquid metal does not behave like water though running across a surface, rather it pulls up together into a ball. When it has cooled slightly to hold its shape I quench it into cold water and the silver ball is ready to become a flower centre. I do tend to make these silver pebbles in small batches so when I make flowers I can pick the best sizes, I judge that part by eye bringing a non uniform feel to keep the natural feel of the flowers. I solder the centres into the middle of each flower taking care not to melt the thinner metal of the flowers before the denser centre ball has come up to temperature, then when soldered I quench the whole flower and put it into a jewellers pickle to remove any firescale.
Then when it has been cleaned up and polished it is ready to become a flower ring, earrings, necklace or charm for a bangle, each piece has its additional making stages, tools and timescales to get to the final piece.