Welcome to my blog
A sneak peak into a creative jewellery workshop, the stories and work behind our commissions. #onthebenchtoday #myctrocks
By Claire Troughton, Jan 13 2017 12:32PM
You may not have heard of 'Gift of the Year' before or even The Giftware Association, but for those producing or marketing goods in the UK for the home and gift sector it's a big name. The GA have been around for 70 years offering help, advice and support to UK businesses. They run the industry's most prestigious award scheme, crowning the achievements of the most innovative products new to market each year. There are 22 categories covering most of the gift industry including fair trade products, best novelty, gifts under £10, kitchen and dining, home accessories, best pet product, cards and wrap and each receiving hundreds of entries. This year I was delighted to be nominated in the Fine jewellery category for my new 'Lovey Dovey' collection. This hasn't been launched on my site yet, but has been well received by a few key retailers and is set to launch on Not On The High Street in the next few weeks - watch this space! The collection features sentimental jewellery designed to be given at key moments in life, like the twin dove and heart pendant, a perfect gift for a bride on her wedding day. There are hearts that can be personalised with letters and birth stones and the gorgeous dove carrying a heart could denote the birth of a new baby. I'm hoping to upload the full collection soon, but for now here's a sneak preview. Please do leave a comment to let me know what you think.
On 3rd January I was delighted to be informed I had been shortlisted for 'Gift of the Year 2017' along with 6 other companies in the Fine Jewellery category. Samples of the collection then had to be posted off to GA headquarters for live judging. The judging panel consists of a broad cross section of the industry from the quirky local boutique to the UK's most respected department stores. During the rigorous, week long process of judging the judges forensically review and evaluate the submitted product constantly measuring against the criteria and standards. The secret judging room is a hive of activity, thought, discussion, hard work and of course fun! This year there are 27 judges, including a representative from John Lewis and The National Gallery, so even if I don't progress any further I'm delighted to get the chance to show them my work. Keep your fingers crossed for me all the same though! xx
By Claire Troughton, Nov 5 2016 04:36PM
Handmade 18ct white and yellow gold wedding ring with 6 floating diamonds.
This stunning wedding ring was made for a customer who had a couple of old-fashioned diamond rings that she didn't want to wear anymore. It was a shame to leave them lying in a drawer, so she commissioned a ring to incorporate all the diamonds into one contemporary wedding ring. The customer wanted a mix of yellow and white gold and so we chose to make the centre band in yellow gold incorporating a white gold setting and the outer 2 bands in white gold with yellow gold settings. This mix of metals meant the ring had to be entirely handmade, rather than constructing in silver and casting in one piece or using CAD. In total the ring had 17 solder joints, which lead to some pretty nervous moments. Firstly each band was made and soldered, then the 3 bands were soldered to each other, then I had to work out where each setting would sit and cut a piece out of the band exactly the right size to drop the setting into. Each setting then had to be soldered in place to join it at each side to the wire band. Soldering is achieved by heating the entire ring with a gas flame until the solder and metal to be joined are at the right temperature to let the solder flow into the gap between the two items, bonding them in place when cooled. Soldering so many joins so closely together meant there wasa risk each time the ring was heated that the other joins would also heat up and cause the settings to move or even worse melt! Thankfully all went to plan and the diamonds just look so stunning in their new home. The ring is approximately 9mm wide and can't fail to catch the eye - a real sparkler!
By Claire Troughton, Sep 28 2015 11:18AM
I often get asked how I make a piece and how long it takes. Well the answer is completely different each time, but I thought I'd share the story of one recent commission here.
One gallery I sell my work through was approached by a gentleman looking to commission a necklace for his wife. It particularly had to feature doves as the couple keep these birds. As the gallery didn't stock a jewellery designer who already makes dove jewellery they decided to approach me. The customer was impressed with the detail of my bees and dragonflies and thought that I would be able to capture the essence of the dove. It was important to him that they be a realistic representation rather than very stylised and also that they be shown flying and be 3D rather than flat. Quite a lot to fit into the piece!
The first stage was to produce some sketches for the customer. I sometimes produce images with CAD (computer aided design) if a very accurate representation is required, but I feel this works better for less organic pieces. Therefore I did a few quick pencil sketches for the customer to choose from and he picked this one.
I've never made a bird before never mind a dove, so the first stage was to work out how to make it. Some people like to carve from wax and then cast the piece, but I like to work with the metal itself, manipulating it into the shape I want using various techniques. I started with the body, using different thicknesses of wire, hammering them at points to get a basic form. Then I soldered pieces on to build up the form and filed bits away where more definition was needed. I kept on working like this until I was satisfied I had the basic form right.
I then moved onto making the wings, which were saw pierced from silver sheet. At this point I took photos and asked my daughter's opinion. She's only 7 and is the biggest fan of my jewellery, but also my harshest critic. Verdict "Well it could be a dove Mummy, but it could also be a duck!" I think you can see what she means from these pictures.
Dove commission necklace making a flying silver dove
So, the next stage was to add a tail, again made from saw pierced silver sheet and refine the form of the body. I also hand shaped the wings and engraved a feather pattern. When I was finally satisfied with the doves they had jump rings soldered on to attach to the chain. This was a particularly tricky stage since there were already several solder joins in a very small area, so getting too much heat on one part could cause the solder to run again and make a wing fall off. Soldering on precious metal is done with a torch with a small propane flame, not a soldering iron used on base metals. You need to heat the metal in the area you are soldering to allow the solder to flow without heating up old solder joins and when using silver the heat can spread very quickly, so you need a good eye and a steady hand.
The final stage was to polish the doves, to give them a nice shiny finish and attach to the chain. Here's the finished piece. What do you think? Please feel free to comment.