I’ve never really taken an interest in jewellery. I used to really love making it when I was a kid, like funny bracelets for my mum but it never really got any further than that. The most my adult self wears is a necklace which I keep trinket memories on. It started out with a little silver heart with pink sapphires in that my dad bought me when I turned 18, and my mum closely followed by getting me a little red glass heart from Finland. Both meant a lot so I put both on the same chain, and I’ve worn it since then only adding the odd thing when it seems right. So far I have a locket I bought myself (also a heart) to remind myself to have confidence in myself, I have a little blue rabbit which I’ve had since I was a child to remind me of the limitless imagination you have at that age and to never forget it, and an origami crane – after having folded a zillion of them – that charm reminds me that perseverance and patience pay off.
Those of you who used to look at Canvas Shoes Are Silly In The Rain or who know me in person will know that my little dog Biff died in April, two days after my birthday. I was heart broken afterward and really wanted to find something to add to the necklace that reminded me off him. The closest thing that I could find were things that looked like foxes and nothing ever felt right so I kind of just forgot about it until recently.
I was very kindly invited by StreetHub to take part in a Silver Necklace making workshop at The Turpentine in Brixton, a creative hub launched by three lovely talented ladies. The space has been open since may and it brings art and design into people’s lives, whether that is by purchasing something unique and handmade or helping them get a little more creative through learning new skills.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect, having never looked into it before but I accepted and off I went on Wednesday after work down to where one of my favourite music venues lives. To spend a couple of hours making a pendant – and of course, my decided subject was little old Biff – I didn’t mind that it could potentially look like a blob, it would still be a Biffy blob.
I have to say the evening was brilliant and I really enjoyed myself. The Turpentine has such a great space full of cool, creative things that you just want to buy everything and be poor. I must admit I came away with a giant sausage dog teacup and saucer by Dash&Found – I really want one of the jugs from the same people too which you can see above. I think I have a problem and need an actual dog in my life.
Anyway, we started the evening by sketching our designs out. I couldn’t get the shape to look right forward facing so I decided to attempt a profile which looked vaguely achievable. While Jude the teacher explained how they’d come to set up shop in May after three years of touring craft fairs and then deciding to bite the bullet and set up their own creative place where they host workshops and act as a hub for emerging crafty peoples awesome work. One of the other workshops that sounds fun is their drink and draw which I might have to convince some friends to go along to.
After we’d decided on what we were going to do, Jude showed us the next step – how to set up and use the piercing saw, something she’d spent a whole term on while she was at uni at Central Saint Martins, and here we were learning it in two mins. And then it was tool time! After the oddly difficult task of getting the blade into the saw the correct way up, it was surprisingly easy to cut the metal – following the shape of the design which was now stuck to the piece of silver.
I spoke to the lovely girls who were also attending. Em, above, runs a blog called Catch52 – where she’s tried to do something new every week for 52 weeks straight and to post about it everything she’s been up to, which is such a brilliant idea. Shelley, below, has been writing a crafty blog called Shelley Makes since the beginning of the year where she creates some really lovely stuff, and is always attempting new processes.
We were shown how to use the drill to get through the metal so we could either cut into the metal some more or create a hole for the jump rings to go through to attach the pendant to the necklace. I used the drill to make Biff’s eye, and the pop a hole where his ear should be which would then have the jump ring run through it, and this is pretty much what he looks like.
We sanded down our pieces, smoothing the edges and preparing them to either look brushed or so they could be put through the polishing machine. I decided to use the uber scratchy sandpaper to give the lil doggy face a hairy look, which made more sense to me than keeping him smooth.
The other two lovely girls there were Saima (in the red jumper below) who writes LDNShopaholic, a fashion and lifestyle blog based in London, and Shoshana, above, an illustrator (you can find her work here)and youtuber who runs a channel called Shosh and Mer with her wife Meredith.
If you ever find yourself in Brixton do pop along, it’s super close to the market so it’s easy to visit or even make a trip out of if you want to treat yourself to some delicious food. If you find yourself interested in the workshops I’d really recommend it, it was interesting, fun, and I got to come out with something super special while meeting some awesome new people with similar interests. Everyone came up with such nice pieces in the end too, two geometric shapes – quite hard to do as it’s difficult to cut in straight lines, an arrow, a bow tie, a bird in a flame and little Biff. I will certainly be going back when I’m down in Brixton.