Spent a lovely afternoon collecting sea glass along our Whitstable shores. I have been trying to keep an eye out for particular shapes and colouring for a commissioned piece but was unlucky today... hopefully I'll have more success within the week. For now, we shall see what I can to do with the pieces I found today.
Spaniels are meant to be good at sniffing out and searching but I am yet to find out why Digby is no good as searching for sea glass with me! Fish, crabs and shell crunching is more his forte. However, he clearly enjoys a beach walk!
This was my first more theoretically challenging piece that dad asked me to complete; making a cascade bracelet and necklace that required me to solder a silver hollow bead with a single hole in its base to a solid silver curved peg. He explained that when soldering you have to be aware of other parts of the item that can get heated and damaged by soldering without care. This means you need to understand where the heat can travel and try to reduce that risk as much as possible by positioning the items to take the tension out.
Therefore, the challenge to this task was to keep the heat on the peg and only touch the base of the hollow bead. This is because when putting the peg into the hole it traps air and creates some sort of vacuum. Getting the vacuum hot would cause the trapped air to expand and the ball to either shoot off or possibly explode.
I’d like to say I was successful throughout the soldering process, however, it’s rare for anyone to do everything right first time. Thankfully nothing exploded, neither did a burning ball of silver shoot off in the direction of dad’s bench, but I did have to add more solder or re-solder the pieces that I could see hadn’t gone completely around the circumference where the peg met the bead.
I’m yet to polish the completed bracelets and necklace, as I reckon I’ll need a bit more guidance for these pieces compared to the rings and other bracelets I’ve put on the polishing mop. Fingers crossed it goes to plan!
The polishing procedure was kindly demonstrated by dad and I timidly followed, because he explained that if I were to lose my grip on the bracelet or necklace then I need to move out the way quickly as the motor could rip the item from my hands and fling it around, leaving it needing to be discarded and perhaps a nice trip to A&E! Luckily, I didn't have to make an emergency exit from the polishing room. However, it was difficult to get all parts of the bracelet and necklace polished to a high standard whilst making sure that no additional parts touched the metal spindle of the polishing mop. As this would result in bracelet and necklace being scratched and needing further attention.
However, both pieces are now brightly shining in the workshop waiting to be put on our Etsy page for someone to love them as much as we do!
Our seaside town of Whitstable is most known for its wild and native oysters. Their popularity dates back to the Roman period, where there is evidence that oysters would be sent back to Rome. However, since the 11th Century oysters have been celebrated and blessed in Whitstable to safeguard an abundant harvest for the next year. Today the festival begins with a religious ceremony and the Native Sea Scouts landing the oysters. The oysters are then paraded and blessed through the town and given to restaurants, inns and bars along the way.
The knot range was created after I wanted to craft a gift for a close friend of mine. I wanted something simple, as that is her taste, and wanted the gift to have meaning. Being in a working harbour for half the week, knots seem a constant feature in my life, as well as being symbols of strength and never-ending bonds.
I began creating the single friendship knot, trying it first out of copper to get the material length correct and subsequently when I came round to making it properly, I would get as little silver wastage as possible. To bend and form a knot into itself, the silver wire needs to be double the length of the final ring circumference; because the wire has to be drawn down when the knot is first created which leaves the two clamped ends marked and therefore they needed to be sawn off before making the ring into a circle.
The second addition to the knot range was a complimenting reef knot ring. My dad had previously made reef knot bracelets and necklaces for the shop and so it made sense to add a ring that reflected his existing jewellery items.
Both item are accompanied by a thoughtful note for the person who receives the knot ring gift to reflect the strong friendship tie the ring carries. With a little notice these inserts can be personalised to specify peoples names, and similarly for other items in the hut if anyone wishes for a particular thoughtful message to accompany the gift in the box, then this is possible within one working day.
My hope is for me to try setting stones into the centre of both knot rings for special gifts as well as try accompanying the pieces in the hut with a square knot bangle. So keep a look out for new items in our hut over the next coming month.
Over the last few weeks we've been asked to make a variety of different pieces for clients wanting that unique and special something.
The first of two being, a Miniature Sterling Silver Roofers/Slaters Rip and Axe.
The second, a pair of overlapping hearts pendant set with an Amethyst in one and a Diamond in the other. Essentially resembling the close bond between two life-long friends.
'Tiny pieces of treasure tumbled by each wave, from mythical shores afar to our Whitstable bay'
We moved to the seaside town of Whitstable over a decade ago and ever since our relocation we’ve spent many days enjoying our lovely pebbly beaches. It’s been a sanctuary during the lockdown period, and we’ve found ourselves scouring the beaches for treasures like sea glass as we walk the dog. I love the idea that these colourful treasures could have come from anywhere, been a part of something really obscure and after years of tumbling it finishes its ocean voyage onto our local shores.
I had seen a few pieces being made into jewellery previously and I wanted to practice making jump rings, which are used for most pieces of jewellery, and get familiar with techniques in how to use a pendant motor. Therefore, after an afternoon of research and quizzing my dad on how well he expected glass to cope under easy silver soldering temperature, I decided to begin making small and large sea glass charms to go into our redecorated harbour shop.
From my research I discovered that the friction from diamond drilling risks the sea glass shattering because of the temperature it could reach, therefore the glass is required to be submerged in water to keep it at a constant low temperature. Additionally, because of the temperature risk I decided to begin making them with our new arc welder to join the jump rings, as it uses an electrode to join all types of metal without heating the surrounding materials too much. However, after making a few over the last few weeks I’ve begun to solder them with the normal micro welder torch whilst being mindful about not heating the glass.
After a little bit of trial and error, we now have a new sea glass range in the hut, with hopes to make earrings and play around with different compositions and styles to create some really exclusive one-off pieces sourced from our local coastline.
Along with the change of name, we both thought our harbour shop could benefit from some attention and upgrading. So, a repaint, a redesign and a wonderfully built desk later and we finally have our harbour shop up and running again. Going forward, we hope to offer a few more services and variety of products to our customers, and so as the year continues we hope to improve our hut for you all. Before...
I’d like to begin by sending you all well wishes, this year hasn’t been the easiest for many people and I really hope that you’ve all managed to find a bit of hope and happiness as the year begins its last leg.
During such time together, we have taken the opportunity for me, his daughter, to join him in his workshop as an apprentice. As I experience my silversmith training I’d like to share with you some new pieces we are developing, how some of our existing products are made, and how we go about our daily workshop life as a father, daughter and dog trio. So please follow us on here, as we start this new journey into training me to join the, now, family business of silversmithing, warmly welcoming the the new Randalls of Whitstable.