Amelia’s Magazine | Review: An evening class at the London Jewellery School

London Jewellery School 2011 -photography by Amelia Gregory
All photography by Amelia Gregory.

A couple of weeks ago I went along to the London Jewellery School for a night of cupcakes and cocktail rings, otherwise known as a lesson in how to make wire wrap beaded jewellery.

London Jewellery School 2011 -photography by Amelia Gregory
At the work table each seat was laid with an individual jewellery kit but all attention was immediately drawn to the twinkling assortment of glass beads in the centre of the table. I am sure that anyone with a magpie mind can appreciate the lure…

London Jewellery School 2011 -photography by Amelia Gregory
We were soon dipping into the beads, pulling out our desired options to start the first project, a wire wrap bracelet made on bouncy pre-shaped wire. This was extremely simple, with the most taxing part choosing the right combination of beads, not too small and not too heavy, to produce the right look. Many of the others settled on tasteful monochrome pieces, but as usual I could not resist something a bit more colourful, a heathery palette of purples, blues, deep reds and greens.

London Jewellery School 2011 -photography by Amelia Gregory
Our tutor was Chu-Mei, who runs Grace & Firefly. She was super helpful and funny, immediately on hand to help with out any problems or advise on design decisions.

London Jewellery School 2011 -photography by Amelia Gregory
Once we had all managed to create a bracelet it was straight on to the next project, a blingy wire wrap ring. This required a more concentrated mind, as the rings were constructed from wire to fit our fingers perfectly and then clusters of beads were piled on top of each other to create the final cocktail ring. I managed to produce three different over the top creations that featured an assortment of brightly coloured, gold and pearlised beads.

London Jewellery School 2011 -photography by Amelia Gregory
London Jewellery School 2011 -photography by Amelia Gregory
London Jewellery School 2011 -photography by Amelia Gregory
Who needs Accessorise when you can create something utterly unique in under half an hour, and so much satisfaction comes from the creation process itself? I think that we were all quite pleased and pleasantly surprised with the amount of booty that we each managed to produce during the class. And one of the best things about the evening? The chance to meet other talented jewellers and find out a bit more about the London Jewellery School.

Afro deco upcycled watch pendant
Natasha Williams is Afro Deco, a jeweller who specialises in upcycling jewellery with added resin details – beautiful and unusual.

London Jewellery School 2011 -photography by Amelia Gregory
Another lady was an expert in polymer clay, the far classier descendent of Fimo. Remember Fimo? The new stuff is streets ahead, just check out the beautiful necklace above. Mary Ann of Zarafa Designs was also very helpful when I ran into trouble with my designs.

London Jewellery School 2011 -photography by Amelia Gregory
The London Jewellery School fits into a surprisingly compact room in Hatton Garden. Classes are incredibly diverse, in everything from perspex to gold – you an even make your own wedding bands (what a lovely idea!) I even learnt about the charms of Dichroic Glass, which can do all sorts of fabulous things (see below).

London Jewellery School 2011 -photography by Amelia Gregory
Coming up before Christmas the London Jewellery School is running a few classes where you can make bespoke Crimbo presents, and they have just announced news of a Set up your own Jewellery Business Distance Learning Course. In another life I quit this internet malarkey and concentrate on making things myself, so if you, like me, have always wondered whether you can make something you love into a career then this course could be just the ticket for you. The London Jewellery School was set up by young entrepreneur Jessica Rose who herself learnt the trade by doing short courses, so she is well equipped to talk about these kind of things.

Whether you have plans for a small pocket-money operation, a full time job or an even larger business employing others, the course is designed to guide you through all the basics of running a successful jewellery business. The course pack contains a 50-page glossy workbook, supporting case study booklet and more than 80 minutes of video footage with advice from jewellery business expert and course tutor Jessica Rose. ‘ If you pre-order this comprehensive course before the official release date on Friday 9th December then you can get the whole kit for just £99.

Categories ,Accessorise, ,Afro Deco, ,Beading, ,Bling, ,Bracelet, ,Christmas, ,Chu-Mei, ,Classes, ,Cocktail Rings, ,cupcakes, ,Dichroic Glass, ,Fimo, ,Gold, ,Grace & Firefly, ,Hatton Garden, ,Jessica Rose, ,London Jewellery School, ,Mary Ann, ,Natasha Williams, ,Perspex, ,Polymer Clay, ,Resin, ,review, ,Set up your own Jewellery Business Distance Learning Course, ,Short Courses, ,Silver, ,Upcyled, ,Wedding Rings, ,Wire Wrap, ,Zarafa Designs

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Amelia’s Magazine | Review: Silver Metal Clay Jewellery Class with Sima Vaziry at the London Jewellery School

Silver Metal Clay necklace small
Silver metal clay has intrigued me since I did silversmithing classes a few years ago, simply because it promises so much: all the gleam and precious feel of silver and… well… about a quarter of the work to achieve it. What’s not to intrigue? But my then teacher scared me off with stories of how difficult it is to work with, and its purported inferior quality.

Well, now I’ve worked with the stuff and I’m a convert. It’s a very different material to manipulate than sterling silver, which requires large amounts of heating and hammering. Working with silver metal clay is more like working with ceramic clay, in that you have to work fast or it dries out. It is also a lot like working with a polymer clay such as Fimo – you push it around with your fingers to achieve the effects you want.

Sima Vaziry London Jewellery School
At my London Jewellery School class we were taught by silver clay enthusiast and expert Sima Vaziry, whose upbringing has clearly influenced her love of all things Persian and Afghan. A trained graphic designer, she’s been silver smithing for years, etching her own calligraphy onto jewellery and increasingly struggling to achieve her desired finish. That is until she discovered silver metal clay – and this beguiling material is now used to create her bestselling collection, which is available to buy at the British Museum. Describing why she decided to make the move from graphic design to jewellery design she made the very good point that in the former you rarely get pure praise: no one ever says ‘wow, that’s beautiful’ which they do when they fall in love with a stunning piece of jewellery. The perfect advocate for the London Jewellery School, Sima turned her love of jewellery into a serious career by taking a number of short courses over two years. And there’s me dreaming of another career…

Our class was small, which was perfect since it turned out to be quite intensive – there’s a lot to fit in if you want to create a fully formed piece of jewellery in just two and a half hours. But it turns out that it is possible! And whilst I had some moments of frustration (damn, that stuff dries fast, you need to have your design ready planned and all the materials close at hand) by the end I was happy as a pig in muck. There’s nothing like holding that weighty bit of silver in your hand, and thinking – blimey, just a few moments ago that was no more than a slab of white clay. Whilst I might not have achieved a final design that was fully to my liking, for a quick process with eminently satisfying results you really can’t beat this medium – and I’d love to give it another go, only next time with better design preparation and planning.

Sima Vaziry Bloom gold necklace silver clay metal
Sima Vaziry‘s Bloom necklace made out of silver metal clay. She was wearing one at the class and I can testify that it was beautiful. I’d like to have these kind of skills, but I guess they take time (you can see my first efforts at the top of the blog)!

The London Jewellery School offers all sorts of interesting courses so their website is well worth checking out: how about a taster class for just £35 as a unique and thoughtful present? If you fancy learning more about how to work with silver metal clay then you can still join the second pre-christmas offering next week, listed here. You can find jewellery by Sima Vaziry at the Grenville Shop in the British Museum or online. She will be giving a talk about her designs to friends of the British Museum on March 19th, at 18.30 & 20.00 in the Lecture Theatre, titled ‘A journey into jewellery – Hajj range designer Sima Vaziry talks about her life and her story-telling pieces‘.

Categories ,Afghan, ,British Museum, ,Class, ,Fimo, ,Graphic Design, ,jewellery, ,London Jewellery School, ,Persian, ,Polymer Clay, ,Precious Metal Clay, ,review, ,Silver, ,Silver Metal Clay, ,Silversmithing, ,Sima Vaziry, ,Taster Classes

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Amelia’s Magazine | Great ideas for homemade Christmas Decorations for 2013

Christmas snowflake ornament polymer clay cane blue

I’ve been collecting Christmas decorations for as long as I can remember, so it’s not like there is a shortage of baubles and other pretty objects with which to decorate the house: in fact this year we’ve been quite minimal since we only have a small oriental fir tree in a pot (hopeful that it won’t drop, and that we can pot it out in my parent’s garden and use it again next year) and the house is full to bursting with colourful things against which decorations must compete. And yet, I would like to make some decorations: for in my mind nothing can beat that handmade touch in the home, and Christmas is the perfect time to make something frivolous and pretty for no reason other than it looks good.

Christmas tree

It is at this time of year especially that I really feel the lack of my own creativity, having spent the rest of the year discovering, marvelling over and writing about others who are busy designing and making. And all the time I mourn the lack of making in my own life, and determine to do something about it. I’ve always been more of a maker than a shopper (and having Snarfle makes me even less inclined to join the masses in a frenzy of consumerism) but this year I have had better intentions than usual to make my own Christmas decorations and gifts. Maybe it’s having a toddler with burgeoning creative talents to entertain and remembering that some of the best moments in my childhood were when I made things with my parents, which always seemed to reach a frenzied height at yuletide. Or maybe it’s my constant aspirational trawling of Pinterest. Like so many pinners, I spend an inordinate amount of time looking for ideas rather than actually getting on with anything: the act of pinning being so much more simple to organise than gathering crafty bits together in one place to embark on a project.

Spicy christmas biscuits

A lot of ideas on Pinterest are unbearably naff, but the gems really are worth stumbling upon. So far we have managed to make some snowflake decorations out of polymer clay (at the top of this post) and some spicy Christmas biscuits, both of which were inspired by things I found online, but actually made in my own style (the decorations) and to a recipe from a good old-fashioned book (the biscuits). And yes, Snarfle did ‘help’, though he’s probably still a bit young to be very involved. But I have plans to do much more in the next week, so here is my wish list of things to make for Christmas. And if I don’t manage them this year, one year, I hope, some of these will happen.

Woven Swedish Christmas Star Tutorial - House Revivals

Paper Stars
We lived in Sweden when I was a small child and my family retained many Swedish Christmas traditions as I grew up, so naturally I am drawn to Scandinavian style decorations, particularly those involving candles, paper stars, hearts and Dala horses. There are loads and loads of great paper star tutorials on the internet, so picking out the best is no easy trick. This woven star on House Revivals is very similar to the wooden one my parents hang in our window during the festive season: a bare bulb in the middle gives it a super cosy glow in the winter. I think you could adapt this tutorial to any foldable medium so I might just give it a go one year.

Paper lantern star tutorial by Whimsylane blog

Here is another version of a paper star: this one created in pretty decorated origami papers by Whimsy Lane.

danish-paperstar wreath

Another way to use folded origami stars would be in a wreath. I’ve never got into these, my mother having associated them with funerals and thus instilled in me a distance from their Christmas potential. But I think looking at this beauty (found on the Hello Lucky blog) I may just have to reconsider. There is a very comprehensive tutorial on how to make German paper stars here.

pompom garland in the trees

Christmas tree pom poms tutorial from Creativity and Chocolate

Pom Poms
Pom poms may be frivolous but they are mighty fun and bang on trend this year, especially if they are oversized, colourful and abundant. I don’t think I’d have the patience to make anything as extravagant as this garland without one of the special pom pom making machines you can buy, but if you fancy turning your hand to something simple then these big wool beauties from Creativity and Chocolate would be perfect.

Christmas pompom wreath, photo by Danielle Thompson

Once you’ve got your pom pom mojo on you might venture further into the land of woolly balls: how about this wreath as found on Design Sponge, for a cheery look on a winter’s door?

Pom-Pom-Wreath for Christmas by Nest of Posies

Over on Nest of Posies this pretty pom pom wreath features the addition of pompom ricrac and flowers.

Wooden clothes pegs stars for Christmas from Shirley Goode

Wooden Clothes Pegs
I have fond memories of making a rocking chair pincushion with wooden pegs at infant school: in fact I bet my mother still has it somewhere. On my hunt for Christmassy things to do with pegs (the ones with the springs, since they are cheap and easily available) I have found that very chair on a blog by Shirley Goode, where she reminisces about crafting with clothespins. I love her scanned photographs, which were obviously taken a good few decades ago; wouldn’t these wooden clothes pegs stars be a great place to start?

Lilla a Design clothespeg christmas tree decorations

Elsewhere I have yet to discover anything which comes close to these little brightly painted wooden men, complete with squiggly faces. Aren’t these just the best? You can discover how to make these on Lilla a Design: definitely something to knock up in the future with Snarfle.


Cardboard Reindeer Head
If we did not already have so many cut out reindeer heads in the house (my partner Tim simply cannot resist, apparently) then I would be very tempted to give this little chap a go: all made out of recycled cardboard, and with a cheery red nose. You can find a template for Recycling Meets Rudolph on the Good Housekeeping website.

Wooden Stick Christmas Trees by Michele Made Me

Christmas Tree Decorations for the Tree
There are many different versions of tiered Christmas tree decorations, but I like these ones in wood by Michele Made Me. I am in awe of anyone who thinks about Christmas in July, though, well, come to think of it, the PRs are always plugging it my way at that time of year so maybe I could get into it in summer too? I will just have to remember to collect interesting sticks when we are out in the woods.

paper roll and bead Christmas tree shaped decoration by Crafts by Jen

This version, using rolled paper and beads, is also very cute. Pinned from Crafts by Jen.

Recycled paper and bead christmas tree ornaments by Thrifty Fun

This one from Thrifty Fun piles scrap paper into appealing staggered tiers, and is splashed with glitter for a festive touch.

Heart House Ornament matrix by Michele Made Me

Folded Cut Out Paper Decorations
I also love Michele Made Me‘s Heart House, a simple cut, fold and glue paper ornament, inspired by her feelings of love for her home and family. It’s a little house with a heart running through the middle, and can be made out of recycled Christmas cards, or in fact any oddments of pretty paper you have lying around the house. Yup, I’ve got plenty of that.

Recycled Christmas Card Garland by Freshy Hatched Studio

Another way to reuse old Christmas cards would be to turn them into this garland from Freshly Hatched Studio, which uses a simpler version of the technique above with a piece of brown string run through… I can already see this being pimped up with some glittery tinsel thread. I find it hard to stay too tasteful for long.

Felt Folk Christmas Decorations by McCalls

Felt Tree Ornaments
These pretty felt folk ornaments come in fab bright colours and are made by following a pattern from McCall’s, but I’m all for heading out on your own with things like this if you can.

Imagine Our Life polar bear felt christmas ornament

Stephanie from Imagine Our Life makes the best things out of felt, including these cute animal ornaments for Christmas – visit her blog for a free pattern if you like to have help in making your own felt designs. As well as an impressive creative output she home schools her little fella as well as continuing to freelance as a graphic designer. She’s an inspiration.

Felt heart cut out ornaments for Christmas

These stylish patterned felt hearts were found on the Better Homes and Gardens website: another thing to aspire to in future years, I feel.

Polymer clay fimo christmas ornament snowflake millefiori

Polymer clay ornaments
Finally, I don’t think I’ve touched polymer clay since the early 90s, but it turns out that things have come on in the world of Fimo since then, and I’ve suddenly discovered what fun ‘canes‘ are. Not that I have the patience to produce anything too complex and perfect, so mine are fairly chaotic. When I started reading about canes I discovered this tutorial on how to create snowflake canes: which I combined in a messy millefiori design to get the above results. I have realised that it is slightly hard to get a slick effect when you have a toddler crawling all over you but I kind of like it anyway.

Polymer Clay christmas ornament heart tutorial from The Crafty Network

Instead the image above is closest to what I was hoping to achieve, although this version employs the services of an extruder. The result is totally psychedelic, but the tutorial on The Crafty Network is very clear and you could definitely adapt it into something a bit more low key.

White clay embossed heart christmas tree ornament

Having introduced you to the most complex of polymer clay work I have to add that I think simple works best for most polymer clay ornaments. I need to buy some paper doilies so I can try embossing cut out shapes such as hearts, which can easily be made using cookie cutters.

Reindeer antler clay christmas ornaments from thistinder

These stylish reindeer antler white clay ornaments could easily be made out of polymer clay, coloured thread and wire. The photograph comes from This Tinder, but the original blog has vanished.

Christmas snowflake ornament polymer clay cane

Anyway, I could go on and on hunting down fun things to make, but now I want to go and do actual creative stuff myself. It’s unlikely I will get many of these ideas done this year, but maybe by Christmas 2014 I will have figured out a proper schedule like all those organised stay at home working and making mums (hmm, I fear this may go the way of my plans to get my taxes done well in advance). But I do really believe that a better balance between work and creativity is what makes us happy; that’s why we’re all rediscovering craft and baking with a vengeance – it’s the way we’ve always been. Using our hands to do so much more than just type.

You can follow me on Pinterest here, if you like that kind of thing.

Categories ,Better Homes and Gardens, ,Cardboard Reindeer Head, ,Christmas biscuits, ,Christmas Tree Decorations, ,Crafts by Jen, ,Creativity and Chocolate, ,Cut Out, ,Dala horses, ,Design Sponge, ,Felt Tree Ornaments, ,Fimo, ,Folded, ,Freshly Hatched Studio, ,Garland, ,Good Housekeeping, ,Heart House, ,Hello Lucky, ,House Revivals, ,Imagine Our Life, ,Lilla a Design, ,McCall’s, ,Michele Made Me, ,millefiori, ,Nest of Posies, ,Paper Decorations, ,Paper Stars, ,Pinterest, ,Polymer Clay, ,pom-poms, ,recycled, ,Recycling Meets Rudolph, ,Scandinavian, ,Shirley Goode, ,Snarfle, ,Snowflake canes, ,sweden, ,Swedish Christmas, ,The Crafty Network, ,This Tinder, ,Thrifty Fun, ,Whimsy Lane, ,Wooden Clothes Pegs, ,Wreath

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