Tuesday 3 September 2013

Gems and Junk YouTube Channel

Just a quick post to introduce the new YouTube channel of Gems and Junk. I have already posted the first video which is a tutorial on how to create a simple wire wrapped loop. I'll be posting more simple techniques like this for people who are new to wire wrapping and to help me understand more as an amateur creator.

I also have plans to post other videos such as reviews for tools, craft and supplies websites, gemstones and to show how to create some jewellery pieces, such as the bracelets that can be seen here on my Facebook page.

Watch the new tutorial below and let me know what you think. I'm also open to suggestions on what to make a video for next.

Friday 30 August 2013

Laser Engraved Wooden Business Cards

I'm a big fan of Kickstarter, which has led me to back a few projects both big (Pebble watch, OUYA) and small (handmade exotic wooden wands). One of these projects I backed was to create wooden business cards that had been laser engraved with your business details. Luckily I managed to get 1 of 10 personalised cards that could include my own design, so I thought what better to use than the Gems and Junk logo and details.

I finally received the cards and I'm very impressed with the final product:

The detail of the letters, especially when you get to the very small writing on the bottom, is perfect and does not stand up too much off the wood that may have caused them to chip away.

My favourite part however, has to be how the logo has turned out. It really contrasts with the wood and makes these business cards very unique to give away, and therefore will hopefully make more of an impact with whoever receives them.
Credit goes to the creator of the cards and the person who started the Kickstarter campaign, John Taikhyung Kim. He is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University in Industrial Design and has a variety of design experience in different cultures. Check out his website at

After now moving into the world of postgraduate study with my PhD, I'm finding it harder to get time to be creative. All is not lost though, as I have recently create a new YouTube channel that I will be posting jewellery making techniques such as wire wrapped loops, work with beads, choosing the right gemstones and any videos where I get suggestions on what to talk about. I look forward to posting some new content.

Friday 15 June 2012

Watch Movement Pendants - Timeless

After a small hiatus to finish university, I managed to get some extra stuff sourced from the the rock gem and bead show at Event City in Manchester, such as new beads, findings and general knowledge from the vendors.

My main find and interest though has been the internal workings of watches. This would preferably be pocket watches but for my first find I bought some rather dainty and lovely wrist watch internals from Timemill here on Etsy.

I immediately turned one into a pendant and put the picture online on my Facebook page, and I already got two of my friends buying two of similar style straight away. So I have decided to put the one below and another two on Etsy very soon.

Now I know my work should be based around gemstones, but using these old watch movements caught my eye and drew me in so much that I had to make something with them. Oh, and technically, the real or synthetic rubies that allow the gears to move with little friction are the gemstones part to the work. These small jewels also add a subtle drop of colour to the mainly metal body of the naked wrist watch.

Finally, the name. I have yet to give a name to any collection of items I've made yet, but I had to with these. I've chosen 'Timeless' because these watches no longer work, and are void of any time that they once had.
Visit my Etsy page here to buy one of (or all if you're feeling nice) the 3 remaining pendants. Use code 'timelessoffer' to get 10% off!

I'm going to strip down some larger pocket watches that I have bought recently from online and antiques fairs and use these parts to create something new to the collection. Let me know what you think of the pendant above and the name of the collection.

Sunday 1 April 2012

Wire Weave Dreamcatcher

Two posts in the same week?! Yes it is true, and not an April Fools. I made the following for Beth, my girlfriend, for her birthday.

I had an idea to create a dreamcatcher using wire and a few gemstones, and also thought this idea was not around on the Internet in any form. However I was wrong. Camille and her YouTube channel full of great ideas on jewellery making, using wire wrapping and weaving techniques, had already made one. So I decided to follow her guide and create my own:

I need to collect a few more supplies that I didn't have, such as 2mm thick copper from Fred Aldous for the main loop, and green satin ribbon to wrap around it. I also bought a bit more 4mm copper-silver wire to do the weaving, however I think after struggling to weave this wire perfectly, I will be getting thinner (3mm) for the next time. The main issue is due to the 'knots' made when weaving and the fact that they do not want to behave and wrap around properly if the wire is too thick.

After adding a couple of amethyst chip beads and a rose quartz inner round bead, I made sure to keep a small hole in the centre like a normal dreamcatcher.

I am almost fully content with this first attempt, but would like to make the weave cleaner by using thinner wire in the future. I'll showcase these when I have made them.

What the dreamcatcher can be used for is up in the air to be honest. It could be a pendant, but may be too big for some and could be hung up in a bedroom as an actual 'above bed' dreamcatcher.

Let me know what you think in the comments below and tell me what you would use the dreamcatcher for.

Wednesday 28 March 2012

And I'm Back

Well first I must apologise for the absolute silence over the past few months. Anyone that knows me personally will know that University has been a mini hell on earth, and so that had to be over before I could do ANYTHING else.

But, as of the 23rd March, I have pretty much finished! I'm now ready to set off a new 2012 post with something quite different to my usual handmade experiments.

One of the first things I did when setting up Gems and Junk was to create a logo that was simple and modern. In the end I figured I'm not very good at that so asked for the help of my friend Katie. She created the logo you see above, on Etsy and the Facebook page.

During University, I wanted to make sure I didn't go insane and had a break from coding and turned to 3D modelling (technically still coding). One of my units is 3D virtual modelling, and I thought I could use it to create a new piece of jewellery and then get it 3D printed at Shapeways.

Seems like a lengthy process? Well take a look below:

I took my knowledge of 3D modelling and applied it to the logo. After adding a little hoop at the top myself to be able to create an actual pendant, I sent it off to Shapeways for verification and printing in stainless steel. I'm pretty pleased with the result except for the roughness of the metal. However this couldn't really be avoided as the print was too small for the medium that Shapeways uses to smooth rough metal.

I want to do more in the future of my own designs to either become jewellery, ornaments or other things that I could use as part of a gemstone creation.

The blog will be updated more regularly now I have more time. I hope that myself and Belle Femme Jewellery (see my review of them here) will soon be able to go to a craft fair for the first time. Keep an eye out for updates.

Monday 7 November 2011

Review: Belle Femme Jewellery

While on holiday I met with an extremely talented handmade jewellery maker named Victoria Allman. She is the founder and crafter of Belle Femme Jewellery, who I felt could do with a review.

First of all Belle Femme create a huge array of jewellery from bracelets to necklaces, pendants and technically, anything you want under their bespoke, personalised jewellery making service.
The main focus on most of the jewellery at Belle Femme is the use of a variety of beads (plastic, stone or glass) to create a perfect harmony of handmade perfection. Vicky manages to use her talent as a jewellery designer to ensure that the combination of beads are arranged in such a way that would look as if it should have a designer label attached to it.

The elegance of the designs is really what stands out to me and makes me love every inch of the creations. The level of detail that goes into some of the pieces can really be seen as true dedication to make sure her style is embedded within every part of the piece.

Another point that makes Belle Femme stand out to me is it's ability to reach a variety of audiences, and to great effect by means of bespoke items. The customer simply gives an idea, and Belle Femme will create it to a standard that the customer will love and tell their friends.

Overall Belle Femme is only young, yet has the potential to grow as big as it wants. I would love to work with them in the future, and hope to collaborate on designs. Currently they only have a Facebook page (links below) which has all their images of the current designs and work that has gone on to be purchased. Hopefully we will see a full site in the coming months or maybe even a blog to really hear from the great crafter herself, so she can impart valuable wisdom.

Facebook link: Belle Femme Jewellery.

I'll leave you with my favourite piece by Belle Femme. Wonder if you can tell me why this might have a special place in my jewellery fondness?

Thursday 29 September 2011

A Nested Statement

Yes, being a programmer calls for pun-intended headlines.

A very unexpected post today about an idea from the dear Lisa Martinelli to create a pendant based on a bird nest. As soon as I saw it I wanted to make it. So I did. My first attempt below is quite a small pendant using 5mm rose quartz beads, and wrapped in silver-plated copper wire (22 Ga). I think I can do better with a bit of practice and bigger, more egg shaped beads.

Quite easy to create, but hard to master the effect of the nest. I think you have to make sure you use enough wire to get the nest effect. Not too little wire that you have no nest, but not too much so it looks like a bunched up wire ball hiding a stone (sounds like a possible experiment though).

I must thank Sarah Ortega for the inspiration to create the pendant from her tutorial here -
Very simple instructions and easy to follow with some amazing examples of her bird nests.

I think I'll start selling these with a first commission possibly from another co-worker, Emma Lawson (Thank you!)

A quick note also - I'm back at university now so I am still planning on creating when I can and completing some tutorials soon, however my work may get in the way of updates at times so I apologise in advance for long delays on posting.