An Amazing Find
Julia Coombes (student from the Oakwood centre, Woodley) did some fabulous detective work and here is the story she posted on the Facebook page Jewellery News, a page for my students past and present. It is in 3 parts and super that she shared her research.
An Intriguing Find (Part 1) – What is it? Sunday morning, returning from my local walk I encountered Janet Richardson picking up litter in Woosehill. Enjoying the unexpected and lovely chance to catch up, we chatted (mostly about jewellery!) and collected discarded bottles in the verge along the path. Then, Jan noticed something embedded in the ground- a flat piece of metal in a leaf shape! Reaching down to pick it up, she suggested I could press it into silver clay, which I thought might be fun, so Jan popped the find into a plastic bag and gave it to me to take home. Later, retrieving the piece, I washed it off, held it in my hand and had a look at it. The feel and appearance of it made me think it might be made of silver though I realised it could have been any kind of metal. Then, as I peered closer, I spotted what looked like a hallmark and I could see it included an anchor which from recent exploration of the different assay offices was, I realised, from the Birmingham Assay office! This I decided needed further investigation and has led me to some fascinating discoveries! What do you think from the photos? Have you any idea what it is/was or how old it might be? I will share more of what I found out with the group soon..
An Intriguing Find (Part 2) – Deciphering the hallmark So, the shaped piece of metal found by Jan on Sunday certainly awakened my curiosity. As it did for Jan (who encouraged me to share the story) and many of you yesterday! I decided my first mission from the hallmark was to figure out the year. The letter took a bit of deciphering – at first I wondered if it was a ‘j’ but then thought it was more like a ‘c’. Searching for ‘c’ on the Birmingham Assay Office website revealed that the ‘c’ that matched dated from 1877-1878! Back then (and until 1975) the date letter changed in July when the Guardians of the Assay Office have their annual meeting. I then set about finding out who the maker was and I discovered that this was George Unite and Sons. George Unite was a silversmith who lived and worked in Birmingham. He started out in 1825 in partnership with James Hilliard then from 1845 he carried on in his own name, having registered his own mark ‘GU’ in 1832. By 1865 the business changed to ‘George Unite and Sons’ and his eldest son George Richard Unite was one of the partners. How fascinating! The other interesting fact I discovered concerns the Sovereign Mark – in this case it was Queen Victoria. This was also known as the Duty Mark and was stamped on the piece to show that the required duty had been paid! As David (another student) and Janet noted, this was only up to 1890. After all that research, I was keen to find out what this fascinating piece of hallmarked silver was part of? I think I have sussed it out but before I tell you, I wonder if anyone would like to make a guess as to what it might have been? I have included screenshots of the information about the hallmark. Also an old advert for George Unite and Sons. I will reveal what I discovered about what I think it was soon!
An Intriguing find (Part 3) – the big reveal! Thank you to everyone for joining in the fun the past couple of days with your various comments. I certainly learned a lot from researching the hallmark and it has spurred me on with my plan to get my own sponsors mark registered with the London Assay Office. Well, the next piece of the puzzle was to try and figure out what the piece might have been part of! One or two of you made thoughtful guesses. Various searches led me to a listing of a sold item which I think matches what this intriguing find could have been part of – a silver caddy spoon! Here below is a link to the web page in case you want to have a look. I have also attached some screen shots. What is clear is that the handle is missing and what remains of the shell shaped bowl of the spoon has been flattened. This makes it at first seem a bit like a leaf – a ginkgo or a vine leaf perhaps. From what I have gleaned, these caddy shells would have been cast and the handle added. Looking at the handle on this design, (which must have been quite heavy in comparison with the shell shaped bowl) and the amount of soldier on the back it is perhaps not surprising that in time this bit broke off. (see the description on the web page I found). What do you think? https://www.antiquesilverspoons.co.uk/…/victorian… The big question of how it got to be on the verge where Jan picked it up remains a mystery, as indeed what happened to the handle! Perhaps it is still buried in the soil of Woosehill somewhere! Lastly, I plan to use the this as a design inspiration so I will post about that soon.
All posted with the permission of Julia Coombes
Until we get back to normal I thought jewellery surgeries might be helpful?
If you are making at home and have a problem you wish to solve I’m happy for you to Facetime me or set up a Zoom meeting and show me what you would like help with. I can talk with you about what it is you are having problems with or you wish to see to move your work forwards. Do heads up me with an email first about your request so we know it is mutually convenient and if I need to set something up in the workshop or sort examples.
Chain Making Tutorial
In class I lent a DVD with instructions on how to make the Byzantine chain/6 loop chain/Kings chain – all the same chain just different names. This is a lovely chain and only needs 2 pairs of pliers to make it if you buy the jump rings ready made. To make it use 5mm or 6mm heavy jump rings from Cookson. I can send you this tutorial by We Transfer. If anyone over the lockdown would like to give it a go email me and I can send the instructions to you.
If this whets your appetite I’m sure you’ll come up with other ways to link the jump rings to make different chains or maybe search a few styles on the internet. Don’t forget the wire wrap loops to add beads and stone chips to these. this means if you wish to you can still make at home with very little tools just pliers and maybe wire cutters if you start wire wrapping.
My techno head ooops…
I thought I’d sort out my address book so that when email addresses were in more than once it was not needed. I have since discovered, after deleting some of these, that it is because the email addresses are in my different contact lists and should be left repeated.
When I start organising one day classes again and you see them on my website, if you do not receive an email inviting you to book on the course and you have in the past please let me know. I might have deleted you from the one day contacts list folder. I’ll do all I can to work out how to remedy this in the meantime.
To stay in touch with my past and present students during lockdown I have created a Facebook page called Jewellery News. It has been a learning curve and great fun filming tutorials to go on this page. It is a safe place to go to for advice and sharing. It’s super to see what people are making in lockdown, answering questions and getting good tips.
Due to Covid-19 classes and exhibitions have been cancelled. To see all updates on these cancellations look at my classes and exhibitions pages. This is a changing situation and will be amended as guidance is given.
Writing a Book
Receiving the first copies of our book
Thanks to everyone who has bought a copy, please write a review on Amazon if you enjoy it. The book leads you through a tried and tested series of structured projects with a finished piece of jewellery at the end of each one.
The book is not only for beginners but for those already making jewellery who want to understand more the core skills and techniques used in making jewellery.
The projects are designed to be followed in succession, each one building on and adding to the skills learned previously. Whenever a new skill is introduced there is a Method Box
• Method Boxes go in depth about the new skill being introduced at that time. They are there to come back to once you have completed all the projects and start making your own designs.
• Handy Hints are additional to the Method Boxes and are the tricks and tips we have learned over the years and are keen to share.
• Troubleshooting solutions are included just in case things go wrong.
At the end of each project, there are suggested designs for you to make using the techniques you have mastered so far. We even include some pieces you can make from your silver scrap. (There will be some, however carefully you plan and buy)
A PRACTICAL APPROACH:
Before we introduce the projects, we give advice on buying the tools and materials you will need, as well as information to help you set up your own work station.
Our aim has not been to cover every possible technique in jewellery making. Instead we focus on the core jewellery making skills, going in depth to help you understand them better and enjoy them more. We also show you several ways of doing the same thing such as ring sizing. The right method is the one that works for you.
Finally, the last chapter on moving forward is to inspire you to start designing your own pieces.
MAKING A LASTING IMPACT:
Wherever you are on your journey into silver jewellery making, this book will be a resource you can keep returning to for guidance and advice. We hope the fundamental skills and confidence this book will give you will lead you to enjoy jewellery making as much as we do.
The Show at Goring
I was so uncertain if I could safely sell and exhibit my jewellery at a show but if there was one show that it would be possible and that I really wanted to do it was Artists at Goring. Sarah and the Goring Hall Committee pulled out all the stops to make it a safe event. I had my work behind glass doors for once so I could control handling and cleanse. It was a fabulous three days. We all loved the time together and learnt from each other and the public were so supportive and were happy to come see and buy.
Henley Standard did us proud
and here’s all of us at the end of the show tired but happy
On Show in the USA
My work is now part of the permanent collection of contemporary jewellery at
the Dallas Museum of Art
Electrum Gallery was a trail blazing gallery for
jewellery residing in
South Molton Street in London and run by jeweller Barbara Cartlidge.
The gallery has since closed and there is now a book written about her
and her jewellery world; she made a significant contribution to the
field of contemporary jewellery.
Whilst I exhibited at Electrum Gallery my work started to be collected
by Inge Asenbaum who ran the respected Galerie Am Graben in Vienna. I
recently found out that this collection has been gifted to the
Dallas Museum of Art and is now part of the permanent collection of
jewellery there demonstrating the museum’s commitment to the field of
contemporary jewellery. I am delighted to have two pieces in this
permanent collection .
I was tracked down as the maker of these two pieces because of
the hallmark on them. It was initially Sheffield Assay Office where I
am registered that first got in touch with me to confirm I was the maker
of these two pieces through the maker’s mark that is stamped on them as
part of the hallmark.