So... Selfish Sundays are a thing! I can hear the collective sigh of relief from friends and family...*finally*

Why a whole day? So I can get stuck in and get fully absorbed. Many of the things I want to make require time and dedication and I know from experience that these things won't happen if I don't put a solid block of time away. It's hard to get the sewing machine out just for an hour or two (as evidenced by the pile of repairs and half finished skirts waiting next to my sewing machine) or get all my silversmithing tools out for a minor job (as evidenced by the pile of repairs waiting in my tin).

I've been promising myself 'Me' days for a couple of years now and they haven't happened for several reasons. I've needed to be selfish, in the full strength of the word and adamantly put my needs first for one day of the week, to force myself. And starting this new habit before telling anyone has helped muchly - it's now a thing and there's no spotlight or failed promises to shy away from. Mary - I completely agree with your comment on my last post, that we shouldn't view putting our needs first as selfish, but I'm wanting to turn being selfish into something positive, into something healthy, instead of it being a negative thing.

 

 

Making the first cut was the biggest obstacle. Once I'd cut the circle from the sterling silver sheet I found my stride and found it hard to stop shaping and smoothing.

Marked out here are the next circles to be cut and holes to be drilled.

 

 

And cut! Looks pretty messy at this stage, especially as I realised after taking this photo that the two smaller circles at the bottom had been drilled the wrong size; thankfully I'd drilled them too small and it was an easy fix.

This took some time to get right and file neatly. Being my perfectionist self, especially when it comes to circles, the filing and perfecting of shape took a daft amount of time. But I'm pretty happy with the results, and I'm doing this for myself so I don't need to be time-efficient. The larger circle near the top will be hidden by the cabochon and will only be visible from the back, and is such less important than the others to get right. It's simply there to save on silver, and so that the pendant weighs less (it's pretty big and hefty) with the added bonus that you can see the back of the stone.

 

 

The image above is how the piece looked at the start of the 2nd Selfish Sunday - finished circles and ready to solder.

 

 

And this is the plan: 5 wire U-tabs as the mount, bent over to hold birdseye rhyolite cab; with 2 rear bails the the belcher will be fixed to. The cabochon is 36mm diameter and the pendant is 65mm diameter. After taking this shot I decided to move the position of the rear bails (nothing's soldered here; it's in position to demonstrate) so that the pendant hangs more off centre.

The chain is a fully hallmarked sterling silver belcher that I found at the bottom of a swimming pool as a kiddo. It's a decent weight and the right kind of chunky, and it's been waiting many, many years to have a few links repaired and be put to use. It's roughly 40cm/16in in length. The sterling silver sheet is 0.8mm gauge, and the wire is 1.5mm gauge.


 

And soldered! If you're not familiar with how silver looks immediately after soldering, this might look like a mess, yet for me it's a very reassuring thing. It's been a long time since I did something on this scale and it's pretty exciting.


 

Unfortunately, I tried to do a few more stages in the making and learnt that only 4 of the 10 soldered mount joints were strong enough, so the others came out. (it had been going perhaps a little too well up to this point). Here it is, post it's 2nd pickle (pickling makes it look white; it's part of the cleaning process)

Having made several more attempts to resolder these joints and the rear bails, I realised what I was doing wrong. Firstly, I was possibly trying to resolder into not perfectly clean joins, and solder doesn't like dirty joins (cleaning inside drilled holes is tricky, as you don't want to make the holes any bigger, and likewise whilst emering the wire to clean you don't want to make it less snug inside the hole by filing too much. I need to remember to pickle every time, and pickle properly).

Secondly, I was trying to solder lots of joins at the same time, which is do-able as I've done it before. But 'before' was almost 20 years ago, in a fully equipped workshop with a decent torch (I trained on oxy-acetylene). And that's the 3rd and final explanation for what went wrong - the two blowtorchs I have are not as powerful as I'm used to, and I'm out of practice at heating the metal. I was trying to be clever and save myself the job of buying different types of solder, whereas some joins where not getting sufficient heat for the solder to flow properly. 

So I caved and bought a further grade of silver solder, so that I can solder in stages and do a proper job of it. That won't be here by the next Selfish Sunday but that's OK, because I'm half inclined to make the U-tab posts into rivets for holding the cabochon... except I've never made rivets so I'm going to use some scrap and spend the day practicing. I know in theory how to do them, and I'm looking forward to trying it out.

And so we have 2 weeks of me things! And you know what? By taking a day off from work and doing something completely unrelated yet still as creative, I'm enjoying my Hat designing more (or rather; the non-designing bits of running a business are feeling less of a chore, as the designing bits are the best bits). Funny how that happens... sometimes we have to learn the hard way that taking time out is beneficial...

Posted
AuthorWoolly Wormhead
7 CommentsPost a comment

Xmas has come early for me this year!

You'll not be surprised to hear that I spent *months* looking online to find just the right pendant. Most ammonites come up a little too small for my liking, yet most of the larger ones I found lacked in the detail and colour department. Then I found this kiddy from this Etsy seller. I didn't buy immediately; a good few weeks were spent pondering, drawing to scale in my notebook, thinking about which way up it should hang (ok, it's no news that I'm a fussy shopper, right?) and eventually emailed to ask if they could remount it for me.

 

 

And it was ready earlier than expected! When I first opened it in my trailer I was a tad disappointed, but I should have realised that this beauty needs good light, and the light in my trailer is dull. Take it outside into the natural light and it gets to shine.

 

 

I love the way it reflects it's surroundings, as the colours adapt to the light. There really is rather a lot of detail in there, eh?

 

 

It's a Madagascan ammonite, and they are known for their beauty (or so I read). It measures 57mm/2.25in in depth, a pretty decent size, and wears perfectly. The mount is sterling silver. The heavy gauge sterling silver snake chain is 16in/40cm and was found earlier in the year, ready to hang just the right piece. They're a good match.

  

 

 

There won't be any other delights at xmas for me. And I'm totally OK with that - who wouldn't be when you have this! 

I haven't taken it off yet :D

Posted
AuthorWoolly Wormhead
6 CommentsPost a comment

Last year, on the same evening as the infamous 10-Hats-and-3-models-in-one-hour photoshoot for Hatopia, Silvia modelled a very special piece of knitwear for me.

 

 

'Il Fume' is a scarf designed and knitted by my very good friend BabyLongLegs - you can find the project Ravelled here and blogged here. It's a stunning design, and I feel very honoured to have had it made for me, for my birthday. I was more than a little blown away when I opened it and draped it around my neck for the first time, let me tell you!

I know BBL has reknit the scarf with the aim of releasing it as a pattern, and I don't doubt that she'll have everyone queuing for it. Isn't it beautiful? (please don't nag her all at once though, eh?)

And I reckon Silvia totally rocked it in this photoshoot!

(the stuffed toy rat you can see in there was to commemorate one of her pet rats that had died the night before. Someone's bound to ask if I don't mention it!)

 

 

Yesterday, after 7 years of living on the Yard, Silvia left for pastures and adventures new.

Leaving only with her camper, her dog and her rats, and the minimum of belongings, a life on the road awaits. Her reasons for leaving are numerous, except to say that it's time for a new chapter in life. And if I'm honest, I'm a little bit envious of her freedom. Travelling with your own bed always within reach, and living on the bare essentials, alone, isn't a life for everyone, but it's one I respect. 

 

 

Thank you, Silvia for always being willing to be the camera's subject, and for lending your distinctive style to my photographs. 

Safe travels, Silvia. May your adventures be many, and we hope to see you in the not too distant future, somewhere in northern Italy.

Posted
AuthorWoolly Wormhead
6 CommentsPost a comment

Knowing my want to dye lots of things different colours, especially black*, Tom nabbed these old washing machine dyes, left in the recycling/reuse area of our communal house, for me yesterday.

 

 

And, well.. they seem to have a bit of a novelty factor... being somewhat displaced from their place of origin..

 

 

* so yeah, the wearing black thing. Much as I get lots of flack about it, I like wearing black. It's no excessive goth tendency and perhaps there's a mild hint at the my depressive nature, but for the most part, it's practical. I like colour but I don't like to wear it. Colour complicates things. Black goes with everything. Clothes don't have to be separated at laundry time when it's all dark. I can grab whatever off the shelf and know that it goes with whatever else I pull off the shelf. Simples. Black is also a particularly good disguise and an incredible blank canvas.

I don't iron, either. Not a single thing. Life's too short.

And if I'm honest, sometimes I get tired of the digs & jokes. Sometimes even a little pissed off by them. And I've never really understood the need that some people have to tell you what to wear.. 

Posted
AuthorWoolly Wormhead
13 CommentsPost a comment

When myself and BabyLonglegs were spending a couple of quality days together last October, we found ourselves wandering the charity shops of Huddersfield. It's a fave past-time of mine and one I miss when I'm not in the UK. As we were rummaging around, BabyLongLegs found this Hat in the Oxfam and she graciously handed it over to me.

And I'm glad, as I was secretly hoping she wouldn't want it herself! I've always wanted a genuine Peruvian Hat and this was the first time the chance had presented itself.

 

 

Just look at the detail, the perfection of those tiny, tiny stitches...

 

 

I admire the mitre shaping in the garter stitch earflpaps - so well knitted! And the clever use of reflection and negatives in the motifs themselves. The gauge across the motifs is 44sts x 60 rows across 4in/10cm square, and 44sts x 88 rows across 10cm/4in. Ouch!

 

 

If you look closely, you can see the decreases for the crown shaping below, worked in and around the stranded motifs..

 

 

It's in excellent condition, with little need of repair. There's 2 holes, possibly 3; the one shown below at the tip of the crown is the largest point of damage and is likely to have been caused by being hung, rather than anything more sinister. These Hats are usually imported for decoration, rather than wear.

 

 

The earflaps are placed centrally, equidistant, so that the Hat can be worn either way around. Our ears aren't in the middle of our heads like this, they sit towards the back, but with such wide earflaps like these the positioning makes for a Hat that can be worn more than one way.

 

 

It's a childs size, and not really practical for any of us to wear. It's even a bit small for Aran (though, admittedly, he has a larger than average size head for his age). I just love having it; it's become one of my very favourite things.

 

Posted
AuthorWoolly Wormhead
8 CommentsPost a comment