Friday, 17 April 2015

Dimensional thoughts and things

I have made a recent discovery. With so many things changing in the world of design and technology, as a designer one sometimes feels left out and left behind if one cannot add the latest technology to one's repertoire. 3-D printing, 3-D scanning, CAD, SLS … the list of acronyms is endless. And then you might even have to name- drop a popular CAD (computer aided design) program or 2 to seem convincing. As an independent jeweller who makes and designs her own work, I have not yet found the need, nor urgency (nor funds!) to invest thousands of pounds in training to use the best CAD tools. I have learned to do 3-D CAD independently years ago – but due to planned obsolescence of everything computer based, sadly my 10-year old 3-D package no longer works on my 2015 computer system. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the “old” 3-D package. It would still work had I kept a working old Windows 2005 computer (my own one crashed!). Sadly time moved on and the very useful and powerful CAD package now gathers dust among other defunct DVDs of the era. Is it fair to call a mere 10 years ago an “era”? (The answer is no, in case you were wondering … )

Has time improved CAD and the need for it? At the risk of revealing my age, I was taught 3-D Design while studying an Engineering Drawings module at university – by hand. I then privately studied 3-D CAD later on, but never really found the need to use it often, as my hand drawings were sufficient at the time. When I started jewellery design, I used my head, my hand, pen and paper. Designs were not always written down – they developed “organically”. Every designer who uses a notebook and pen (or the modern digital equivalent, although I am not sure if this works when the power runs out ... ), will understand that an idea, when you get it, has to be visualised in one way or another. I myself tend to draw in 2-D paper space with a pen in my trusty non- digital black book, and then develop the actual idea in 3-D manually, in the workshop. It is a small technicality that our vision is only 2-dimensional, and is also the way we transfer the written word / design. Yes, our spatial world (as many understand it today) is 3-dimensional, yet our perception of it is 2-dimensional – because of our eyes (for those of us with sight). Our eyes have light cones which collect light in a 2 dimensional array. Our brain interprets these signals and allows us to understand our 3-D space using the 2-D data our eyes have collected.

I don't want to mind- boggle anyone – just lay down the basics of my discovery. Explorers of the past “discovered” America, Africa, Australia, yet they already existed to the native people. In a similar way, I discovered 3-D writing. It exists perhaps as a standard tool for those who already know, but for me, it is a new find altogether.

3D pens are here! I was tempted a year ago to get one: a 3D pen. Last year it was too expensive. This year, you can get one for less than £40. So I took the plunge. I bought one. Why? Do I need one? Could a 3D pen have the ability to visualise my 2D ideas, and express them in 3D before I actually make them?

A 3D pen uses a plastic filament as the “ink”. The filament (“ink”) is a certain thickness (mine takes 1.75mm), and is supplied on rolls of a few metres. The concept works in a similar way to using a hot glue gun, but with better precision and finer scale, and a wide colour range. See photo below.

Excitedly I opened the packaging, read the instructions and loaded the filament. Yikes! This was not easy and not straight forward. However several hours later (and mindful of my limited supply of filament), I made 3 bracelets in ABS plastic (see photo). I used a simple repeat design based on a hexagon,with the following result after a few hours of play.  The crude finish shows it is clearly hand drawn, but this was not possible for me before now, so it is significant, if not exact.


Once the design has been made on the page, and the filament cooled sufficiently (a few seconds), you get such excitement by lifting the creation off the page. Your 2-D doodle is now in 3-D! It has a shadow, it has a thickness, and it has a certain amount of flexibility. It can be touched. You can really send words to someone now! Solid ones! The sense of creating something out of nothing can be slightly euphoric. Give it a go. I dare you!

It became so much clearer to me now why I need the 3D pen. It enables me to visualise a product design idea much sooner. It reduces the cost of incremental improvements, which many fellow designers can commiserate with me.

The best bit is that the molten filament sticks to the surface of the paper. It gives me a base from which to create. Tutorials abound on the Internet and many “how to's” regarding the 3-D pen concept. This invention definitely raised the barrier to 3-D design for many. Firstly, cost savings: The cheapest 3-D printer is at least 10 times or more the cost of my 3-D pen. I don't need to know a CAD package to use my 3-D pen effectively. Secondly, it adds another dimension to paper ideas. Magically, I can doodle away on the flat page, and then literally lift the design off the page, and it becomes a 3-D tangible object. The object might not be strong enough or durable enough yet for rigorous use, but it gives you a good start on an otherwise simple two dimensional route to design. The precision is not yet there based on my limited expertise, but I guess with lots more practise, I will achieve better results.

As a conceptual tool, the 3D pen will stay in my toolbox. I am excited about the prospect of using other filaments – there are ones that contain wood, elastic many other colours and other environmentally friendly plastics like PLA. Many say to me that it is just a toy. Who knows how far a toy like this can push boundaries, and change the way we see / make / do things?

I wish the 3-D pen was perhaps even more advanced than it is – that it could print my jewellery design directly in precious metal or a metallised powder that can be fired afterwards. Perhaps “they” have already done that? It would be a shame for a technology with lots of potential like this to become obsolete like my 2005 CAD DVD. Luckily, my 3-D pen is not digital nor needs a computer to control it. So there is still hope for it to be continuously useful. Now I just need to order some more filament …

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Wendy McLean Jewellery in London!

Wendy McLean Jewellery will debut in London from this Friday, 13 December 2013 till sunday, 15 December 2013, at the UK Handmade Christmas Show. The Show is at the O2 Arena, and will be open from 13:00 - 20:30 each day, with a 12:00 start on Saturday.

This quite exciting for me (Wendy) as it will challenge so many aspects of my life. Firstly, there's the long car travel to London (+ 2 hours; yes, long for the UK).  Negotiating the traffic, with a heavy reliance on GPS technology, with backup hardcopy maps, should be a doddle. Then the setting up in a huge venue. I have packed in extra thermal wear … keeping warm is important. Oh, and the thermos flask. Can't forget that. This reminds me of a camping trip. Setting off on the long journey, finding the camping site (the O2 Arena), finding my spot, stand 566, putting up the tent (my displays), and finding food, all in that order.

The most exciting bit will be setting up the stand for you, my lovely customers and followers. The stand outlay flows from left to right. The neutral backdrop is sprinkled with colours from both the coloured coiled wire designs and colourful gemstones. There are many sterling silver pieces too - in particular some elegant gemstone earrings : tanzanite, lapis lazuli, red coral, turquoise, amethysts, to name a few. Also, many new wire weaves, featuring my brand new creations, never before seen in London or south of Lincolnshire. You might notice the little token Christmas tree, indicating that this is the Season to buy something special for someone special (like yourself, or someone you know).  A card machine is also available, so really no excuses. If you like it, buy it!

Examples of the new Delphine range are scattered all over the exhibit. 
Delphine is the range of unique and limited edition jewellery designs by Wendy McLean. The symbol is the Greek capital letter delta and symbolises the Delphine range. The name Delphine has origins to describe women from Delphi, the site of the Greek Delphic Oracle. The name also relates to the womb, with the ancient Greeks believing Delphi was the womb of the earth. The name Delphine is associated with independence, assertiveness, creativity and pertains to leaders not followers. The name was aptly chosen for unique independent women who want to stand out and be noticed.

I am looking forward to this new adventure - many people will now see my jewellery who have never seen it before, and I hope the experience will expand their own perceptions of jewellery designs that are possible. If you have read this blog and visited my stand , ask me for a 5.23% discount. That way, I'll know you've  read it, and you'll get the discount! 

Please follow me on Facebook and  LinkedIn. Website:

Wendy McLean Jewellery

Stand 566
O2 Arena, UK Handmade Christmas
13-15 December 2013
Afternoon / evening

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Christmas is near : see Wendy at the O2 in London!

My silence has been deafening, I know! Blogging is something which I would love to do more, however (excuses, excuses) choosing what to say is a thoughtful process. It sometimes takes a while to formulate!

This Christmas time I will be at the Handmade Christmas event at the O2 in London from 13 December (Friday) till 15 December (Sunday) 2013. I would love to see new clients at the event - and you can get to see my work and myself in person. I have also started keeping a magnifier on the stand to view details, which helps me (!) and you.

My signature designs feature colour, gemstones, wire coils and woven wire. If you enjoy adding matching jewellery colour to your wardrobe, many of my designs will suit. This necklace below was commissioned for a client and accurately colour matched to her outfit for a wedding. She was very pleased with the result. She now also has matching earrings and bracelet! 

I am really looking forward to the show. It will be the largest event I have yet joined as a designer /maker, and I hope the target market will be spot on. To be safe, I have been making many new pieces to suit every pocket. I have the "Festival" fun range which is great for Christmas party fun.  For fellow crafters, I will also sell a kit which teaches how to make a woven wire ring (see blog 10 ). 

The Delphine range will see its official debut - the Sterling Silver range. This range includes a number of statement necklaces, earrings and bracelets designed and handcrafted by myself. The whitest metal will be embellished with precious gemstones and high quality freshwater pearls. Colour in this range will be provided by the choice of gemstone, and occasionally oxidised silver. 

Another development over the last year is my new logo. Finally, I have a design which is great to use (from a design point of view), elegant and "me".  Turn me upside down, and you will still have "me"! 

Some of the latest work can be followed on my Facebook page  .  

Here is a recent photo of my jewellery stand. This one was taken at one of the Doddington Hall (near Lincoln) Craft shows. The stand layout at the O2 show (which you will hopefully be attending) will be similar, with a few new graphics and new work. 

You will be glad to know that I will be continuing my design blogs regarding new ideas and thoughts on ideas. More recently I have been counting … Fibonacci style! Yes, I have a new weaving technique design which developed based on the formula of the Fibonacci sequence. More on this later. 

Please plan your London trip for the week ending 13 - 15 December 2013, and go to the O2 for the  Handmade Christmas event, open from 1pm till 8:30 pm. I am at stand number 566, Wendy McLean, Jewellery. Hope to see you there! 

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Weaving is in my DNA

The weaving of filaments is something I feel is in my DNA. If there is wire in the room, I will weave it. In fact this little obsession has exploded into a new realm and increased the design styles in my jewellery range. This past year (November '12 – July '13) I have not blogged due to many distractions. But I have been very busy!

So what is new?

Lots of wire weaving! Combinations of classic Viking knit necklaces and my take on coiled wire braiding with pearls, featuring my new easy-to-use clasps. 

A bicolour viking knit design pendant.

A new weave featuring inset gemstones in this cuff bracelet. 

Pleochroic coiled wire 5-stranded braided necklaces. Shown is a commissioned piece. 

Yes, the work is intensive and time consuming. I like the results. With each new style comes a snowball of new ideas. I don't have enough hands to try out each one! So the ideas are placed in the “Design folder”. Only hard copies, and locked in the safe.

Taking the plunge to create even more daring designs is always imminent. And sometimes I do. What do you think about this statement necklace in sterling silver?

I guess if you viewed my work objectively a conclusion emerges. Yes, clearly my wire weaving work could be in my DNA – having evolved over time. What weaving evolutions will the future bring?

Please visit and like my Facebook page. Alternatively, send me a message from my website, If you would like to commission or buy my jewellery please send an email through the website. Thank you.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Wendy's Wire Woven Rings

How do you make a good quality, well designed metal dress ring without using heat? You weave it!

The weaving of strands of materials have been present in human evolution over millenia, based on numerous historical finds. It is then no surprise that the weaving of wire is an obvious feature in design. An online search will reveal other wire woven rings. I have been experimenting with a wire weaving technique which I adapted from a well-known rope braid, using strands from 4 up to 8 or more. Typically, a good braid for 0.7mm wire is the 5 strand technique. 

Outcomes are similar to this:

Wendy's Wire Woven rings

The possibilities are endless! Change the gemstone bead, change the look. Change the weave, and you have a brand new design. The rings are stackable too, so more than one ring on your finger leads to a whole new look!

Stackable rings
Some of these rings will be available to buy at Wendy McLean's Jewellery stands at the upcoming craft fairs at Doddington Hall , 2 November 2012, and Newmarket Art, Craft and Design Show, 9-11 November 2012. 

The designs I have created makes it convenient for teaching – without the use of heat and complicated equipment. So a short 2- or 3-hour wire weaving course is quite practical.You can also sign up for a course at the shows, and meet me.

The first of Wendy's Wire Weaving courses to make a dress ring will take off in November 2012 this year, at Revival in Lincoln. If you are interested in signing up for a course elsewhere, please visit my website and send me an email using the contact link on Wendy McLean's website

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Pop-up shop

I just participated in a pop-up shop in Grantham. As a crafter, we were all used to being at our stands all the time. In the pop-up shop, we ran it as a 'normal' shop, where the customers could browse, choose and then make their payments at a central paypoint, just like a shop!
Sounds obvious, but why is this unusual?

We had about 25 different quality crafts, all handmade by crafters. Over the 5 days we were open, we had more than 2000 persons through the door, and everyone sold items. The venue was a large empty shop in a generally quiet shopping mall. The customers enjoyed having a new venue to go to, and welcomed us happily. Some were hoping we would be there for longer!

View of the pop-up shop. Photograph:Andi Emmett

In retrospect, the novelty of the new played a large part. We had returning customers over the week, and many wanted to know if we would be there in time for Christmas shopping.

I think that since there are so many empty shops in many shopping centres during this economic time, more and more property owners should re-think their strategies regarding the letting of their premises. I am not completely familiar with the T&C's of renting a shop, but I think many of them are long term, where it is not unusual for a contract to last for at least a year if not a few years. It also makes no financial sense (to me) to leave a shop empty when you could have reasonable short -term lets. The benefit for the shopping mall owners is that they get a greater footfall to their mall, and hence the attraction of more lets for the other empty shops.

People generally like seeing something new. Pop-up shops that are just 5 days long, perhaps spanning a weekend (Wednesday to Sunday) say, would enable word to get around, and bring returning customers. It may change the way businesses should be done. The longer term outlook for the property owners is that the pop-up shop could generate business potential for other long term businesses, and thereby the owners get their properties let at their “usual” T&C's.

Of course, running the shop would require volunteers like some of the participating crafts persons (the way we did it), and a good organiser (like ours). This worked out well for our first pop-up. Hopefully more empty shop owners will see the benefits, and encourage more (quality) pop-up shops.

We were In the News !

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Who will be the face of Wendy McLean Jewellery?

We have seen it before: the new face of Chanel, the face of Omega , the face of J'Adore. Super models and famous actresses – a few lucky ones have had their chance. And it is usually done with a great deal of fanfare and guarded jealousy: more fame for the already famous, and more glamour for the (already) successful brand. This could gain more customers – those who like the movie star and have not yet tried the brand, or those who like the brand and may now recognise the star in the movie. Links by association – where good brands become better brands.

So, who will be first face of Wendy McLean, Jewellery? (Well, I have to start somewhere). Ultimately, there is only one answer. Who could match the fame and glamour of the “Wendy McLean” brand? None other than Wendy McLean herself, aka me. So, it is with (some) fanfare and drum rolling (here at the desk), I am launching the new face of Wendy McLean, Jewellery: meet the multi-chromatic Wendy.

Brunette Wendy
Golden Wendy
Ebony Wendy
Silver Wendy
Unlike the real Wendy McLean, this Wendy has perfect skin, well-groomed hair (which is multi-chromatic), and all Wendy McLean Jewellery goes well with her skin tone and hair colour. Just like the big brands, it may be the best solution to a unique brand. Links by association. Wendy for Wendy, by Wendy. Will you buy Wendy?

Please welcome the new face of Wendy McLean Jewellery. Visit the upcoming daytime craft shows in the next 3 months, and get a glimpse of her to see what she will be doing. I will be there too, and then we can also chat about the jewellery.

"We" will be at the following Design and Craft Shows in the next 12 weeks:

Boughton House (near Kettering) : 26-27 August 2012
Easton Walled Gardens (Easton, near Stamford, Lincs) : 9 September 2012
Stamford Arts Centre, Stamford: 23 September 2012
J'adore Jewellery and Silversmithing Fair, Putteridge Bury House, Putteridge, Luton, 13-14 October 2012
Doddington Hall, Doddington (near Lincoln) : 2 November 2012
Art, Craft and Design Show, Newmarket Racecourse, Newmarket: 7-8-9 November 2012