Tag Archives: wax carving

Advanced Jewellery Diploma review – back to school again!

Back in September 2015, after a year of jewellery making in an evening class, I took the plunge and decided to use up a good chunk of annual leave on a two-week Advanced Diploma in Creative Jewellery Course at London Jewellery School.

Real school wasn’t easy peasy for me. As it turns out, I am a stealth dyslexic who muddled through, mildly stressed-out, until a lecturer found me out through the help of a particularly nonsensical essay. So I was slightly nervous rather than excited going into my two-week staycation learning holiday. I already knew I really enjoyed making jewellery, but had been making my first pieces in a very excited, thankful-it-was-going-well kind of way and was a little undisciplined when it came to perfecting techniques. I still work a little in this manner, cracking on with each new idea, as it’s what I enjoy about making. The structure of this course, with specific days for designing and the various methods of making (and focussing on the different techniques within this), really helped to control my natural inclination to work in a scattered way. Although this course was ideal to rein in and consolidate ideas, I feel it would be equally beneficial to students approaching these weeks looking for creative inspiration.

Having whole days devoted to making was such a treat, I felt like a proper jeweller. All the tutors are practising, exhibiting and selling their work, so the conversations in the classes were often helpful beyond the subject being covered and I felt genuinely encouraged by people who knew their onions.

Speaking of onions… One of the areas where I had little formal training and had practiced at home the least was wax carving and so in that way that it felt that it was stretching me to learn – these two days of designing and making were a little like going back to school. I love the products (or should I say produce) of these days. These bad boys are perfect for me, they are heavy, ridiculous and pun-tastic. The expertise of the tutors was there to make the heavy and ridiculous aspects non-essential qualities of this design. This advice always assumes that you may want to start your own business; these pieces could be made lighter and more wearable and it considers the cost of casting as well as the customer experience of the piece.  I also could not have managed to create such spheres without the patient help of an expert.

Onions

Another thing that attracted me to sign up for this particular course was the prospect of the work placement, usually a week long, that staff will help you to arrange within an area that is of interest to you. I did mine with JC (Just Castings in Hatton Garden) and it was an invaluable insight into the process of casting, CAD design, plating, 3D printing and finishing jewellery to professional standards –but this is another story in itself. I wear the silver ‘haribo’ ring I made there every day. Along with many other pieces from my happy little jewellery holiday.

I would recommend (and have recommended) treating yourself to this course, I signed up after a quick visit to the studios but there are taster classes and you can visit on an exhibition day (next one is 7th July 6.30-8pm, no need to book). Essentially I left the course feeling like I had achieved real goals I didn’t even realise I had at the beginning and with a certificate to prove it!  It also led to the potential to sell my work, something that I have mostly kept in my back pocket until the opportunity to sell through an immersive art show last December presented itself.

Polishing up your potential

The small class sizes at the London Jewellery School means that you get a lot of expert tuition in the classes, making it possible to cover a range of techniques in these weeks. The course description gives a really good idea of what you will learn but here is a quick run through of my experience on the course.

The course starts with a design day, a great chance to think about what you want to make and ways to go about making pieces for the projects ahead. As we were a very small group, we also had time to start experimenting with resin.

Day two was for learning cold connections, truly riveting stuff! This involves looking at ways to join materials without soldering, a great technique for moving pieces or mixed media. I made a decorative hinge that I later used for an oyster card holder, various animal shapes as testers to hold metal pieces together, a technique I later used on a Perspex and sea glass silver ring.

Fold forming was next, a really fun and loud technique for creating shapes and textures through excessive hammering. We made silver origami frogs amongst other experiments (I attempted my usual crane but a simpler design that another student knew was more effective), seen here with the squashed frog necklace. When fold forming goes wrong it can still be pretty interesting (I love this piece but would recommend a simple boat as a fail-safe alternative.)

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The two days of mixed media jewellery making were a total dream of experimenting and resolving ideas through different techniques. Making a sea glass, silver and perspex ring with rivets, a wooden neckpiece with a tube of multi-coloured macramé and perspex fastenings to hang from, some ‘Banana handbag’ earrings and a spirit level cuff. So not a bad haul at all. This was so useful as a chance to explore different materials and how to work with them. Great for exploring colour, shape and using bits and pieces you may not have considered using before.

The two days of stone setting were honing specific techniques that could be employed in any piece after the course and also resulted in 3 wearable items. Each of these techniques was challenging in its own way and I felt that each was improving my making skills in a recognisable way. These were channel, collet and claw settings and pictures of these 3 pieces were posted on the Schools’ Instagram account, a small gesture that was really encouraging, as probably only friends would have seen my work before.

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Bean ring (magic beans for growth)

The last day of the taught course was recycling silver. I had done a little bit of silver recycling before so didn’t expect that going through the process in a structured manner would shed that much light on a technique. However, melting my silver scraps in the crucible on this day produced a really fun ‘Bean’ ring, a product of the natural shape and texture that can be achieved with this technique. I had already made some cast vegetable jewellery so it fits into my little collection nicely and its smoothness makes it distinctly more wearable than my Romanesco Cauliflower ring. One of the tutors recently reminded me to follow up the ‘food jewellery’ and get selling my work. This really illustrated to me how much they genuinely care about nurturing any ambitions you might be trying to shy away from and keep you making jewellery! Magic beans indeed!

Interested in finding out more about the Advanced Diploma in Creative Jewellery? Our next intake is Monday 4th September 2017. Take a look at our website for more information. Have questions? Give us a call on 0203 176 0546

Lil Adams is the London Jewellery School Sundays Studio Manager. Lil studied Fine Art in Leeds and lived in Melbourne before travelling about and settling in London. She now works at the British Architectural Library and enjoys making jewellery with found and natural objects and is shamelessly addicted to casting.

 

 

What can you learn in an evening?

Here at the London Jewellery School, we have classes of different lengths but which do you choose if you’d just like to try out a new technique? Tutor Anna Campbell gives you the lowdown on our taster classes

 

What are taster classes?
Our taster classes are short evening classes designed to get you started with a new technique. What’s great is that by the end of the class you will have made at least one piece of jewellery and will have a good idea about whether you would like to take a longer or more advanced class in that technique.

 

When are taster classes run?
Our taster classes are run on weekday evenings from 6.30-9pm so are perfect for those who work in London to attend. You can see the complete list of all our taster classes here along with the scheduled dates for the year.

 

What can I learn?

Our expert tutors teach taster classes in a wide variety of subjects including

Beading

Cocktail rings

Silver clay

Soutache

Perspex jewellery

Make a fascinator

Hand stamped silver

Silver stacked rings

Wax carving

Polymer clay

Introduction to gemstones

 

And more!

 

Here are a few of the classes that are coming up

 

Wax carving

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Next available date: Tuesday 23rd May 6.30-9pm

Learn to make a simple but beautiful wax carved ring in just one evening! And your ring will be totally unique!

This class is a great introduction to wax carving and is often taken before doing our Beginners Wax Carving course and is a great one to do with friends as a fun evening out.  

Throughout the evening our experienced tutor will guide you through the process of sizing, shaping and carving the wax using hand tools and heat, adding a texture to your ring if you like.

By the end of the class you will have created your unique wax carved ring which we will then arrange to be cast into your choice of metal (silver, copper or bronze), and it will be completely polished and finished for you ready to wear. Your ring will be posted out to you within 3 weeks of the class or you are welcome to collect it from the School. Best of all this is included in the cost of the course!

 

Perspex taster class

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Next available date: Wednesday 24th May 6.30-9pm

Perspex is a hugely versatile material that can be used for small subtle piece of jewellery as well as large fashion pieces.

Perspex is a brand of acrylic plastic that is often used as a substitute for glass. It comes in a rigid sheet and can be sawn or laser cut and bent using heat. It is available in a wide variety of colours and finishes and there’s almost no limit to what you can make. Also, with a little thought and preparation perspex jewellery can be made from home as it needs minimal equipment.

Techniques covered in this class include:

  • Sawing and cutting perspex from a template
  • Filing, sanding and polishing
  • Drilling
  • Attaching stones  

 

Cocktail rings taster class

party jewellery

You can find a range of ring projects in this tutorial – and make one to match every outfit.

Next available date: Thursday 25th May 6.30-9pm

Come along for a few hours make a beautiful cocktail ring (or two).This is a fun-filled, creative class (non-creatives are very welcome!)

Throughout the evening our expert tutor will guide you through the full process of making your own ring from scratch. We use a mixture of colourful beads combined with silver or gold-plated wire to make your bling statement ring.

Once you know how to make them you will have lots of orders pouring in from friends and family for their very own rings – you have been warned! 

 

Silver clay taster class

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Next available date: Wednesday 7th June 6.30-9pm

Learn to make your own personalised silver pendant in just one evening…

You will be using a great material called metal clay. Metal clay is a clay-based substance containing millions of tiny silver particles when you fire the clay under a torch or in a kiln all of the clay burns away and you are left with a solid silver piece – it’s like magic!

This is an excellent class to take if you have limited space at home and would like to make silver jewellery.

An expert tutor will guide you through the whole process from making the piece, through to firing and polishing.

Absolutely no experience is necessary as this is a beginners level class and complete beginners are welcome.

What would you like to make in a taster class? Let us know in the comments below

Adventures in wax carving – Week 3!

So if you have been following my weekly diary of my 5 week Wax Carving Evening Class at the London Jewellery School you will know that after week 1 and week 2 we are getting close to finishing our first projects and spent most of week 3 refining and finishing our designs so our waxes were as perfect as possible before being cast!  Apparently it takes 3 times as long to fix any imperfections in silver as it does in wax so tutor, Sophie Arnott, spent a lot of time this week checking our waxes and helping us make those minor improvements that would save us precious time later!

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There were lots of busy hands this week! 

In the case of my design – I had to burr out some of the wax underneath to reduce the weight of the final piece.  That was pretty hairy as I was using a burr in a pendant motor.  Now whilst I have used a pendant motor many times before over the years, I have only ever scooped out the underside of waxes by hand (and I typically use burrs in a pin vice and do by hand too) so using burrs in a motor was a new experience for me and it was very easy to slip!  I was worried about burring out too much wax but Sophie assured me you can usually take away lots more than you think.

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My 1st Finished Wax

Once I had finished burring out the wax it was time to refine the finish of the wax so it was nice and smooth.  To do this we used many grades of sandpaper (haven’t met anyone who enjoys sanding yet and this class is no exception but it is necessary!) to smooth the surface and remove any scratches or imperfections.  I then finished off the surface with steel wool for a really nice smooth finish.  Finally, as I had a few curls of wax left on my piece that I couldn’t quite reach with the sandpaper or steel wool I wafted my piece over a flame which melted the excess and left a lovely smooth finish!  It is easy to overdo it and you do need to watch that you don’t melt your piece (or burn your fingers) but boy does it make a difference!

And as promised, here are some shots of my fellow students amazing waxes!

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Aren’t their designs stunning!?  Quite extraordinary that 7 people taking the same course are using the techniques learned in such different ways!  I just can’t wait to see what everybody does for their second project!

Until next time!

Author: Karen Young

London Jewellery School Blog_Karen Young Bio

Adventures in wax carving – Week 2!

So last week I posted about week 1 of my 5 week Wax Carving Evening Class at the London Jewellery School.  We have now had our second week of our class and it is fair to say that we were all getting into the swing of things and powering forward with our designs!  Some of us made some changes to our designs this week as we had had the chance to think about our pieces and how we would realise them in wax!

So it was pretty much straight to business this week!  We all worked hard shaping the wax and scraping away and refining the waxes.  It was a very quiet class as we were all concentrating so hard!

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Everybody hard at work on their designs! 

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Our lovely tutor, Sophie Arnott, putting us through our paces 🙂

My own design is coming on.  I pretty much have the organic shape carved out and am just refining the surface with sandpaper and steel wool to make sure it is nice and smooth as any flaws in the wax will be picked up in silver (and are much harder to sort out once cast!).  I will waft my piece under some heat to remove any little curls of wax remaining so it is completely nice and smooth for casting.

Next week I will start burring out the underside of the ring to make the ring lighter (as it would be very heavy in solid silver, not to mention expensive to cast!) to make it nice and comfortable to wear using a ball burr in a pendant motor.  And I will hopefully make a start on my second design.

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My wax carved ring – almost finished 🙂 

I am really enjoying the course so far and although I still love fabricating pieces completely by hand from sheet metal, wire and tubing, I can see how this technique could be incorporated into my designs and collections.  Plus it is incredibly therapeutic peeling away layers of wax!

I can’t wait for week 3 and seeing some of the finished waxes of my fellow students!  Have a great week and will post pictures of how everyone is getting on next week!

 

Author: Karen Young

London Jewellery School Blog_Karen Young Bio

 

Adventures in wax carving…Week 1

I have been a silversmith for almost 7 years now, and have learned my trade exclusively through short courses including many of the London Jewellery School’s courses.  I love the fact that there is always a new skill or technique to learn in jewellery making as it is such a vast subject, and try and get into the classroom a couple of times a year to expand my skill set and try something new.  I always find that some time in the classroom rejuvenates my enthusiasm for this wonderful (but sometimes frustrating craft), and always pushes forward my designs and inspiration.

I largely hand-forge my jewellery and love the process of taking sheet metal and wire and transforming it into something that people will treasure forever.  However recently I have struggled to realise some of my design ideas using traditional silversmithing methods and began to wonder if carving my designs in wax might be the answer.  I decided to sign up for the 5-week wax carving evening class at the London Jewellery School, so sorted my childcare out on Tuesday evenings in October and November and started to look forward to the class!

I thought it might be interesting for you to see how I get on!  So over the next 5 weeks I will be sharing my wax carving diary with you!

Last Tuesday was week 1 of class!  The class is full and there are 7 of us so will be nice to get to know everybody over the course of the 5 weeks.  Interestingly there are only a couple of us with jewellery making experience – the vast majority are complete beginners so it will be nice to see their jewellery making journeys and watch them catch the jewellery making bug!

The evening class I am taking is taught by our silver and wax carving tutor, Sophie Arnott who has her own UK jewellery brand Anvil and Ivy and is also the founder of Carved Workshops which runs short wax carving course near her home in Essex.  A trained silversmith, Sophie now almost exclusively carves her jewellery designs out of wax.  I have known Sophie for a couple of years now after meeting her on a stone setting evening class at LJS, and know how passionate she is about wax carving so was very excited to be taking this class with her.

So, after making our introductions Sophie spent some time taking us through the different types of materials and tools we would be using over the next 5 weeks.  The great thing about wax carving is that the tools required are actually quite minimal compared to the likes of silversmithing, so my husband will be relieved that the scope for new tools is limited!

We also started to talk about the type of projects we could work on and what it is possible to achieve in the 5 weeks.  Sophie worked with each of us to establish what we wanted to work on during the course and helped us tweak designs to make sure they were realistic.

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The first task was to learn how to load the special spiral wax saw blades into a saw frame and then Sophie spend some time teaching us how to choose our wax ‘profile’, mark out and cut our ring slice ready to start on our design next week.  And then it was over to us!  We spent a bit of time playing with wax offcuts to get used to sawing the wax (it is pretty different from cutting metal!) and filling the wax flat before moving on to cut out and prep our slice of wax that we would be using for our 1st project.

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Before we knew it the 2.5 hours were up and we had to pack up – I think we all could have kept going as we were all having fun!  I am just itching to start working on my design next week (and might do a bit of practicing at home this week).  I can’t wait for week 2!

Author: Karen Young

London Jewellery School Blog_Karen Young Bio

Why I work in wax…

Some of you may have already seen me sitting behind the desk typing away in the LJS office.  I’m the Deputy Manager at the LJS studios and I also make my own jewellery, under the name of ‘Anvil and Ivy’.  Juggling a jewellery business and a job can be tricky, but I wouldn’t change a thing!

Before I discovered wax carving as a technique, a lot of my work was very heavily inspired by geometry and architectural structures.  I would make three or four component parts and then create a collection using various combinations of them. I love constructing pieces using sheet and wire but have always felt that there are certain restrictions when it comes to design.

Sophie Arnott - Anvil and Ivy Geometric Jewellery Collection 1Pieces from Sophie’s hand fabricated geometric collection by Anvil and Ivy.

I was bought a wax carving class a couple of years ago for a birthday treat.  From the first session I knew I had found my ‘thing’.  The freedom of being able to create literally anything really excited me and before the end of the three day course…I was hooked.

As a result of this new medium, my work has become a lot more organic and sculptural.  Wax carving is essentially the removal of waste material in order to leave behind the desired shape.  I must admit, it was tough for me to get my head around the whole process at first.  I spent a lot of time at the start carving away too much material and cutting off bits that weren’t meant to be cut off…oops!  Like everything, it got easier with practise and an awful lot of experimentation.

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Sophie creating some new wax carved pieces for her collection.

Wax as a material is really fabulous to work with.   Sawing is a breeze, filing is easy on the hands (it’s also a lot of quicker to remove material than in metal, which is really rewarding) and the fact that you can melt, shape and carve a small block of wax into something totally wearable still amazes me every time I get my castings back.  Obviously the castings still need to be finished and polished, so traditional metalwork techniques come into play in order to achieve the desired finish.

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A selection of Sophie’s pieces ready for casting.

As a whole I generally enjoy the process of jewellery making so much more now that I use wax to create my designs.  I’m an advocate of wax carving and will always encourage LJS students to give it a go!

If you are inspired by Sophie’s story and want to learn more about this fascinating technique do have a look at our day and evening wax carving courses.

Author: Sophie Arnott

London Jewellery School Blog - Sophie Arnott Bio

Diploma in Silver Jewellery launching in June

A number of students and would-be students have told us they are looking for a long course focusing only on silver – so we are very pleased to announce that London Jewellery School is launching a Diploma in Silver Jewellery.

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We already offer a wide range of one day workshops and week-long courses in silver but the team believes there is demand for longer courses giving students who have ambitions in silver jewellery to develop silversmithing and bench skills.

The 26 week course (one day a week over two terms) will take would-be silver jewellers from basic techniques through to being able to design and produce their own silver collections. They will also learn to work with other materials such as wood and Perpsex as well as wax carving to create designs that can be cast in silver or other metals.

Course fees include all materials, tuition by professional jewellers in a group no larger than seven, and work bench days in the London Jewellery School studios.

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The course kicks off for the first time on Tuseday 23 June and you can find all details of the Diploma in Silver Jewellery here.