Oops! I’m a bit late with this one – I could have sworn there were more days in April….


This month has been a busy one again, with lots of projects all jostling for attention. First off, I’m pleased to announce that I will be exhibiting at this year’s New Designers event in Islington, as part of One Year On  – an exclusive section for designers within their first year of business. New Designers is celebrating its 30th year of introducing new talent to the craft and design industries, and they’re pulling out all the stops! The show will run from 24th June to 4th July, and I will be exhibiting in Part 1. Find out more by clicking on the image below.


As part of the New Designers media campaign, all One Year On participants have a profile page on Arts Thread – please support me by having a quick look and ‘appreciating’ my projects!




Now, back to the workshop. The brooch project is ongoing despite everything else that’s going on, and here’s what has been happening…

The next step towards finishing the setting was to drill some tiny holes along the top and bottom edges. These will hold some equally tiny pins, which will be laser-welded in place to secure the stone and the decorative back plate. The pins themselves are made from granules of 18 carat yellow gold (to provide contrast against the white metal) with white gold posts, which will be cut off and filed flush after they have been welded in place.

I needed to drill holes in the granules in order to locate the posts for soldering, and after many failed attempts at holding them with pliers (and many lost granules shot across the room), I found they best way to accomplish this was to glue them to my bench peg before drilling! You can see them in the photo below – they were hard to remove!


These granules were then soldered on to their white gold posts, given a quick polish, and slotted in to place to check the fit… I hope I can get them out again! The back plate in the photo will soon be polished up and engraved with a design which echoes the front of the brooch.


Now to start making the frame. I had decided to use a traditional double pin fitting for the brooch, rather than the integrated pin in the original drawing, as I felt the frame would benefit aesthetically from a slightly thicker 1.2mm wire. This is too thick for a pin as it would damage some fabrics. Designs often end up being amended slightly during the making process, and it’s best to remain flexible in case changes need to be made. This change meant the frame would now need to be constructed from two identical wire circles with twelve supporting posts.

I straightened the white gold wire by pulling against a vice, and calculated the lengths I would need to make a circle that would fit round the setting (good old 2πr – making jewellery tests your maths sometimes). This length was soldered in to a hoop and formed in to a circle using a wooden bangle mandrel and a mallet…

C … until it was the perfect fit for the setting.


I repeated the process with another length of wire to make the base circle.

8To make the supports, I cut the remaining wire in to twelve 0.7mm lengths, and carefully filed grooves in to one end of each with a round needle file. This would help when assembling them with the base circle for soldering, and give a neater, stronger joint.


To mark the positions of the posts on to the base circle, I drew a diagram as a template and filed small grooves with a needle file. This would allow me to see the marks even after heating the metal and pickling – pen marks would have disappeared, and even scribe marks can be hard to see after repeated heating.

11Soldering the posts in place had to be done one at a time – a pain-staking process for which I used a ‘third-hand’ (a pair of tweezers attached to a base) to carefully position each post and to try and ensure they were vertical.

12Once all twelve had been soldered to the base circle, I checked all the posts were the same height and filed grooves in to the top ends with my needle file to help locate the top circle. With the help of copious amounts of binding wire, I managed to get all twelve posts soldered in place and the finished frame can be seen below.

E But would it fit the setting? Only one way to find out….


It fits! Check back next time to find out if I manage to get the whole lot soldered together…. Fingers crossed!