Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Back at the Bench

Well after our little New Year hiccup I got back into the studio this week. First job of the year is always putting up the year planner and marking the dates of, most importantly, birthdays (husband has a head like a sieve) and the shows I'm doing for the year. Duly colour coded, I'm now ready to get on with the important stuff.
Mondays task list involved a repair I picked up on Friday. A few years ago there was much less repair work going on. When people are flush, they are much more likely, unless it is very expensive or of great sentimental value, to put a broken item in a drawer and buy something new in it's place.

As times have got harder people are less willing to treat themselves and look to revamp things they already have, hence the increase in repairs and restringing. I advertise my restringing service on the stall in Greenwich and people are constantly surprised, saying that they couldn't find anyone to do the work anymore. Being in the trade of course, I know of several other places that do so I guess we don't advertise as much as we should.....

Another source of restringing, is not necessarily a repair, but people looking at heirlooms to wear in a modern context. I have had 2 people recently bring handed down necklaces for reworking. The first was a much loved but very grotty looking clear faceted glass necklace that had belonged to the clients granny. It had been threaded on white string which was now black and almost worn through in places and the beads looked very dull, so the first thing to do was to give it a good clean. I rethreaded the beads onto clear line in order to put them through the ultrasonic and clean the holes. The set came out beautifully sparkly, catching the light at every angle and I took the descision to use clear line for the restring to maintain this clarity. The client was most pleased with the effect and it certainly made the necklace very wearable.

The second necklace was again a much loved, but very grotty looking necklace, this time of white ceramic beads, some of which were quite chipped, knotted onto what looked like copper spiral wound wire. The end had broken off and in other circumstances it may not have been worth fixing, but had great sentimental value for the client as it had been her mothers.

The wire was black in places, copper coloured in others and if you looked inside the bead hole, silver. The overall effect was like 3 threads covered in french wire - a thin coiled wire tube commonly used to protect stringing threads where they pass through the clasp or jump ring - knotted between each bead. Silver plated french wire is commonly available, but it is much wider than the type used in the necklace.
This called for a GKE (google knows everything) moment. Some research on t'interweb pointed me in the direction of a goldwork embroidery thread called Passing. Goldwork is the type of embroidery used on antique military uniforms. Whilst there are many suppliers of the thread in the US, there are only a couple here one of which was Golden Threads  who manufacture threads themselves. Although they had gold passing thread listed there was no mention of silver plated. An email and a phone call later the owner had agreed to specially make 4m of silver passing for me and dispatched it promptly. I finished the restring and the customer had her mothers necklace back looking good new!!!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011


Firstly  a belated Happy New Year to everyone, hope this one will be good.

Secondly, an apology to anyone trying to find me at Greenwich Market last Friday (7th). Unfortunately my Mother in Law had a fall and broke her hip last week (not ideal for a 90 year old). The good news is that she is now on the mend, but she is pretty much blind now which means she requires more care than her general mobility would suggest and we are having to make a number of adaptions to her home for when she returns.
I am hoping to return to the market this Friday, but please check the website just to make sure and if you do require me a little more urgently, please feel free to phone me or email on

In the meantime my head is buzzing with ideas for new pieces and even bigger plans for new ranges. Stay tuned to see them crystallize.......