This month I’ve launched lots of new pieces for my Honeycomb Jewellery range, so I thought it might be interesting (hopefully) to take you through the process of how I make the pieces. Here goes!
Everything starts out as a doodle or sketch in a notebook. I might have a spark of an idea or see a nice material or colour palette somewhere which I’ll jot down until I come back to it at another time to work it up. Once I’ve got a few ideas I think might work, I turn the ideas into vector shapes on my computer using Illustrator so that I can send them to my lovely lasercutters for them to cut the shape out of wood. The wood I use is 3mm sustainable ply wood, I get it cut by a small company in Brighton where I know the people so I can talk to them about what I want and how different ideas might work.
At this stage I’m still not 100% sure of any of the designs, so I get a few of each thing cut so I can play around with them a bit more, and try painting or wearing them. Once I’m happy, I’ll order a load more of the correct shapes. Here’s what they look like when I receive them from the laser cutters.
Then I can start turning them into jewellery! I try and make in batches as its a lot quicker – I sand each piece using 2 grades of sand paper to get a really smooth finish. Then I give every piece a base coat of slightly watered down white paint, which once its dry, I sand back again. I use a water-based acrylic paint, so its not full of nasty toxic chemicals. Once the base coat is sanded back, I can start doing the proper colours! I like to mix up a batch of each colour to the shade I want and then store it in small jam jars so I don’t have to mix every time I need to paint. This keeps the colours consistent, and its a lot quicker. I use a wide, flat brush to apply the paint neatly up against all the straight edges. I apply two coats of each colour – this is why painting in batches is good, by the time I’ve finished the last piece of a certain colour, the first pieces are dry and ready to be painted again! The necklace pendants can take quite a while as they have 5 different colours, and each colour needs two coats.
Once all the colour is done and thoroughly dried, I apply some satin varnish using a foam brush (to avoid any bristle marks).
Once the varnish is dry, I can attach all the findings. This involves either gluing earring backs or rings onto the small hexagonal pieces, or attaching the jump rings and chain to the pendants.
My sterling silver rings and *brand new* brass honeycomb pendants are made by my wonderful friend Ali of Metal Dove – she sells butterflies, dinosaurs and birds in all manor of beautiful metals as necklaces, brooches and rings, you MUST check out her shop. I’d decided I wanted to sell rings, but not wanting to buy those cheap ring bases that turn your finger green (you know the ones I mean…) I realised I could team up with a fellow maker! So here is a ring in production on Ali’s workbench (check out those tools!!):
Then they are all ready to be packaged up and shipped out to lovely customers! I always send a postcard out with any jewellery order telling you about the honey bee and how we can help stop its severely declining numbers, and from March – June every order also gets some free wildflower seeds, so its even easier to help your local bees.
And then I have some more ideas in my sketchbook, and the whole process starts again…!