Lots of people ask me if I buy the shapes pre-cut and the answer is no. Each piece is hand cut from sheet silver using a hand saw with a special blade, this is a technique known as ‘piercing’.
After that, there is a lot of filing and polishing with various grades of polishing paper (a bit like sandpaper), next the piece might need shaping or for bits to be soldered together (such as earring backs). In order to shape the metal it needs to be made softer by heating it, this is called ‘annealing’ and is done with a blow torch as many times as you need so achieve the shape you want. After annealing, and sometimes throughout the making process, pieces are put into a very mild acid solution which cleans them ready for finishing. Finishing off a piece might involve more papering and then a final polish – for some pieces this is on the ‘scary polishing wheel’ which resides in the ‘dirty’ side of the basement. The ‘scary polishing wheel’ is scary indeed but it puts an amazing high shine finish on the larger pieces – although it usually takes off my fingertips in the process and the metal gets super hot whilst using it! The Other Half laughs a lot when I emerge from this activity as I often have hands and a face which look like I’ve been down the pits (with a clean goggle shape where I’ve had my eye protection!). For polishing smaller pieces I will use a barrel polisher which also gives a good finish.
So, there you have it, Jewellery making in a paragraph!