On Wednesday night I was lucky enough to attend an intimate jewellery-making workshop for bloggers at the Turpentine in Brixton, a brand new creative hub on Coldharbour Lane.
Launched by three friends (Amber Rogers, Alice Waters and Jude de Berker), the Turpentine sells gorgeous hand-crafted wares from independent aritsts, designers and makers, as well as offering a range of evening workshops from jewellery making, life-drawing and Christmas wreath making.
Our class was led by qualified art teacher and Central St Martins Alumnus, Jude de Berker, who showed us how to cut, shape and finish our own necklace pendant from silver. I’ve only ever strung beads together to make a necklace in the past, so I was excited to learn how to cut my own.
Equipment: You will need – a piercing saw with spare blades, bench peg, drill, metal file, sheet of silver or brass, necklace chain, jump rings, nail and hammer, pliers and sandpaper (400 / 600 grit).
How to make your own necklace pendant:
Our first task was to sketch out potential pendant designs. With pencil and paper, we sought inspiration by doodling and Googling, until we settled on the shape that we wanted. This took a little longer than anticipated, as we were all distracted by the beautiful wares around us!
Whilst at first I was embarrased by my lack of drawing skills (being in the presence of graphic designers and all), I decided to stick to a simple yet striking geometric design. Once we were happy with our shapes, we cut them out and stuck them onto our sheet of silver / brass with tape.
Whilst jewellery designers usually try out a new design in brass, and then move to silver once they’re happy (as it’s cheaper), I really liked the colour of the brass, so I stuck to this. Apparently I just have to be careful that it doesn’t rest against bare skin, as otherwise I might turn a bit green.
Once taped on, Jude showed us how to thread and use our piercing saw to cut around the template on the bench press. The secret was to make sure the blade was nice and tight, and to use an upright sawing motion, trying not to apply too much pressure (so as not to break the blade).
To change sawing direction, Jude showed us how to maintain the sawing action whilst slowly turning the saw to create a small ‘hole’, so that you can continue in a new direction without getting stuck.
Once cut, we used metal files to neaten and straighten the edges, keeping the file at an angle, so that it travelled up the whole length of the edge (so as not to create unwanted indents).
Once smooth, we were shown how to drill holes, so that we could connect our pendant to our necklace chain. We used a nail and hammer to make a small indent where we wanted our holes to be. This was a tricky business, as the jump rings were quite small, so we had to stay close to the edge.
For the finish, we had two choices – either we could use sandpaper to create a brushed finish, or we could leave our pendant for a few hours in the polishing machine to give it a high shine. I decided to go for a brushed finish; Jude showed us how to drag our pendant along the sandpaper using either a straight or ‘figure of eight’ method, transforming it instantly.
Next, we grabbed our pliers, and split our jump rings so that we could connect them to our pendant. As my design was quite long, I used a jump ring at each end, and connected these to a gold chain.
Although it is a simple design, I am chuffed with my necklace, and amazed that I have made it myself. As well having my necklace to take away with me, it was also a wonderful evening in itself. I loved the mood lighting and Christmas songs, and Jude was a fantastic teacher.
Given that Turpentine is just 7 months old, I can’t wait to see where Jude, Alice and Amber take it. I had a thoroughly enjoyable time, and would definitely go again.
If you’re heading to this weekend’s Crafty Fox Market at The Dogstar in Brixton (6-7 December), do pop in to the Turpentine which is just a few doors down. You can also check out the Turpentine’s upcoming workshops here, and follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
I also had the privilege of meeting four other creative bloggers whose brilliant write-ups you can read here: Emilia Buggins (Graphic designer / illustrator) made a brilliant dog pendant. Shoshana of Shoshy Caboodle made a fancy bow-tie style pendant. Watch her YouTube video of the experience here.
All in all a fantastic evening, with fantastic company! See you next time, Turpentine. Thanks to StreetHub for organising the event. Check out their website to find more independent boutiques.