I’ve been casting solid silver ammonites for years – brooches, pendants, earrings, charms, rings, paperweights – and have a collection of fossils to cast from. However, I got myself into a complete muddle with descriptions of the various sizes, so I’ve developed a cunning plan.
All my fossil ammonites now have a number and I’ve added the number to the description. Below you can see images of the fossils and their silver equivalents. I’ve added approximate sizes and approximate weights of the silver pieces.
Hopefully this will make it easier when you order from my shop as I will be relisting all the brooches, cufflinks, pendants and rings with their ‘size number’.
The cuff closes over the wrist and the pin on the right secures it closed. The carabiner clasp then secures the pin. The chains are open link to allow charms to be added. My client said
‘Just to let you know the item arrived today as planned and also to say a big Thank You for taking the job on and creating a truely fantastic piece. Really pleased with how you converted my ideas into this.’
The client wanted something plain, but a little heavier and thicker than my normal bracelets. Bright shiny on the outside and satin inside – fully hallmarked. Not one of my more demanding jobs, but something not readily obtainable.
Unfortunately, my client has to carry an aerosol spray in case of medical emergency. Between us we came up with a design for a holder on a chain. The tube is about 30mm in diameter and weighs over 100g.
It was in use within minutes of it arriving!
The main hallmarks are on the base with part marks on the friction fit lid.
This bowl is 120cm across and is made from fine silver. It was commissioned as a silver wedding present and it has an inscription engraved on the opposite side to the hallmarks.
The hallmarks themselves are interesting in that in addition to the 999 mark, the piece has also been given the Britannia mark. Britannia fineness is 958 parts silver per 1000, so it clearly exceeds that.
A triangular six inch engineers ruler. An interesting exercise and more of a challenge than I anticipated. The front face has the recipient’s name, but I’ve removed that for this post. I designed all the engraving, but it was machine engraved locally.
As with other pictures, it’s difficult to get the lighting right! If I do something like this again, I will make the sides slightly concave.
As a leaving present for a member of staff, I was asked to make a pendant based on Croomes Tower.
My interpretation is about 5cm tall, the real thing – below – must be about 10 metres. Scaling down that much required some compromises on the level of detail. I had the assay marks placed over the door in lieu of an inscription.
Following the development of the yantra pendant posted earlier, I have now made some more full sized pendants in both silver and copper.
No one yantra is quite the same! The silver pendant is hallmarked, but the earrings are not. Please contact me if you would like to buy from this range. they are available now and will be on my website later in the year.
This latest collar improves on the previous solid version by having a hinge to make it easier to fit. Also, of the three ‘ sizing ‘ slots, only the outer was to be used, which simplified the design. The collar has a perimeter of 38 cm and weighs over 200g.
The padlock is a Tiffany one – I haven’t attempted one yet. The engraving was done by Sam James Ltd.
I’ve just completed two 1:1 sessions showing how I cast using delft clay and cuttlefish. This was spread over two sessions doing delft clay first, though with the benefit of hindsight, it would have been better to do cuttlefish first. Prepaing a cuttlefish mould is easier which gives more time to introduce the actual melting and pouring part.
We followed the same format as the basic class – I do a stage, the student does their stage and so on.
My delft clay castings are on the left and the student’s on the right. The bee is a little bigger than the ammonites.
This is a cuttlefish cast once finished and the amber stone mounted.
‘I had the pleasure of 2 casting lessons with John, delft clay and cuttlefish. I had the best learning experience. Prior to lesson John advised me on equipment etc so I could set up at home.
Hands on, informative and very inspiring. In 4 hours Johns vast knowledge and experience had taught me enough to go home and recreate, which I have been,non stop! Thank you’
A set of three ingots with ideograms engraved – health, happiness and success.
They were required for a special birthday early in 2018. To avoid stress, the engraving was done in 2017 (not by me!) and the assay done in 2018 so that the date letter was correct. However a normal stamped hallmark could damage the ideograms so they were laser hallmarked.
They have extra depth to ensure longevity.
Thank you so much for the beautifully finished necklaces I commissioned from you. You took time to understand what I was asking for and suggested how this could be created. The necklaces are wonderful. I am really finding it hard to find a description that does them justice. Thank you.
I’m ocasionally asked whether I work in gold. The answer is yes – but only on request. Here are two recent examples. The earrings are about 20mm in diameter. The ring was made to complement a similar silver ring.
I decided to make a lozenge or diamond shape this year rather than my normal rectangular shape. I have one available from my shop, but otherwise 2018 ingots – of whatever shape is required – can be made on request.
Today, I ran a day course for two friends who wanted to learn the basics of working with silver.
In the morning I went through the stages of making a silver ring – we made one each. In the afternoon, the two friends made motifs to go on a bracelet. We made up the design over lunchtime and implemented it in the afternoon.
They experienced soldering, using the piercing saw, doming, and polishing and learnt about the metal, assay and various other tools and techniques.
I understand this design is a very much simplified form of a thai tiger tattoo. It has a certain pleasing symmetry and simplicity.
The client and I discussed various permutations after I made a few copper test pieces – adding gemstones in the loops or having the shape on a backing sheet forming a further geometric shape, but we decided embellishments would not complement the basic shape.
Silver and copper versions are available in my shop here. Silver earrings are in my shop here.
The White Horses in this variant are the same size as the earlier pendant, but in this commission they were requested to be on a green background. Each horse is in a silver oval with the edge about the same height as the horse. The green, low temperature enamel provides the required colour, but only as a relatively thin layer so that the horse stands proud of the enamel – a reversal of the real thing where the white chalk layer is slightly below ground level (if I remember correctly). These pendants are Christmas gifts from a mother to three daughters. As ever when I make multiples, as each was hand cut separately, they have minor differences.
Jewellery and other siilverware based on the Uffington White Horse is available in my shop here.
This is my second pectoral cross – this time for Abbot Thomas of Mucknell Abbey. Mucknell Abbey is home to a Benedictine community of men and women within the Church of England.
Abbot Thomas had a clear idea of what he wanted and we worked together to finalise the design. The hand engraved groove was contracted out as this isn’t a skill I am comfortable with. The cross is about 70 cm wide and weighs about 50g. It is hallmarked on the rear.
This beautiful Roman coin stamped from gold sheet is in excellent condition. The sheet was probably hammered out from a small ball, hence its irregular shape. Though the die and punch are round, the sheet was not then trimmed after stamping. The mount I made for it is simple, so not as detract from the coin and is completely non destructive. The coin is gently pinched in place. A window in the back of the mount gives a good view of the reverse of the coin.
The horse is about 5cm long and at the limit of my skills to cut from silver sheet. For this commission, it was important that the horse was as realistic as possible and so it had to be on a backing as two legs are not connected to the body in reality. Also the mechanical strength of the silver would mean that a freestanding version would be too vulnerable to damage.
Jewellery and other siilverware based on the Uffington White Horse is available in my shop here.
2/6 – half a crown or 12.5d in new(! post 1971) money. This is will make a pendant of interest for someone. It is 50% silver so worth more than face value. The silver band is formed around the coin, so it is very secure, but does not damage the coin in any way so my method is safe for all sizes and value of coin. I have some Roman bronze coins mounted this way in my shop.
It’s the same lantern as the earrings in the post below, but here is one with a clear stone as a pendant. Also from this angle, you can just see the hallmark lasered on the base. The lantern is 12mm across and weighs about 5g.
It is available to buy from my shop, or contact me if you want a different stone.
These are a development from a recent commission – I like this design better. It reminds me of a lantern that someone might carry from the large ring. These are fitted with green and garnet cubic zirconia to represent navigation lights, but clear or other colour coould be used instead. The lanterns are hallmarked on the base. These are available from my shop.
Over the years, I’ve cast a range of nuts, fruit stones and seeds – walnuts, acorns, nectarines, dates, pecan….. Olives seeds and hazelnuts in the form of pendants or cufflinks have proved the most popular. I recently did a silver nutmeg and now I have just cast some apricot stones – because I haven’t done it before and ate some fresh apricots!
I’ve cast both whole stones and a half stone that has a chain loop added so that it can be used as a pendant.
The pendant is available from my shop. Should you want a full stone, please contact me.
I’ve made a few silver spanners over the years. The first one was in the early 1990s I think. They are cast in one or two cuttlefish bones depending on whether there is a flat side for engraving or not.
Casting always has some failures. In the case one half of the spanner wasn’t good enough, but there’s nothing wrong with the half you can see and I thought a key ring might be a good gift for a mechanic or engineer. You can buy this in my shop.
The blade is from an old wooden handled knife of my father. I think it’s a small paring knife – the blade is 5cm long. Whether it is a family heirloom or something he picked up for 5p in a car boot sale I will never know!
I decided to make a silver handle for it. This is a salt casting, with a tube beneath to take the knife tang.
The hallmark on the silver was new to me. I had included the blade when it was sent to the London Assay Office. They chose not to punch the marks as I expected, but lazered them on adding ‘+Metal’ to allow for the iron blade.
I’ve had stainless steel brooch pins stamped ‘METAL’ before, but never the base metal unscathed and the hallmark done like this. Not that I mind at all – it just wasn’t what I expected.
Hopefully everyone will find it easier to use and more up to date. Please let me know if there are any problems or errors.
The shop remains the same – that seems to work fine and ‘it ain’t broke, so why fix it?’, but the new website should surround the shop seamlessly.
It is also a more secure site now, you should see the little padlock on the browser bar most of the time. There are probably a few links I need to fix still. I still have some content I want to move over or update.
I’ve trimmed down the examples of my work to about 100, but there’s more in the shop and on the blog. Also you can sneak into the old website areas for further examples.
These were a commission for the birthday of the wife of a local boat owner and aimed to replicate the old style oil lantern type lamp. (Port is the on the left when facing the prow of a boat and is the red light.)
These rings are designed to fit around an engagement ring or other ring with a large stone. They are really example pieces to show what I can make – in silver or gold – but these two are available in my shop.
This necklace is a commissioned piece to substitute for one that went missing. The main links are 20 by 25 mm and the whole piece weighs 100g. It has a toggle bar clasp which allows some adjustment of the length to suit different clothes. The bar can go through any of link of the other end of the chain, though it does then get a little asymmetric if it is shortened too much.
This picture gives a closeup of the links and the assay markings.