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

Monday, 13 August 2012

Coin a new term


Ever wondered who comes up with new concepts and acronyms? You don't have to be a specialist in any subject to know there are many. Some common ones are 3-letter acronyms: LHC, ICP, PPE. All just shortened forms of their descriptive meanings (Large Hadron Collider, Inductively Coupled Plasma, Personal protective equipment, respectively).

I have a new one: “pseudo pleochroic wire” or PPW for the 3-letter acronym. The word “pseudo” is quite versatile. It describes something that it is not, but very similar to. “Pleochroic” refers to the observance of different colours in some natural crystals when viewed from different angles. I make my own coiled wire to make the jewellery I design. My technique gives rise to the PPW coiling technique. When viewed from different angles, a different colour can be seen. The overall colour viewed is a trick of the eye: the resolution of the eye allows colour mixing in your brain, and you see a colour that is not actually there. On very close inspection, the two colours become clearer. An example is shown in the photos below.

PPW coiled and braided wire bracelet (on a medieval metal hand)

Close-up of a PPW coiled design.
The outcome of this PPW technique is that I have a “pseudo wire paintbox”. This allows the potential for making jewellery in nearly any observable colour! Depending on the colour choices, the PPW designs will highlight the dominant colour in your clothing that matches the jewellery. Quite convenient if you like 2 different colours, but just want one item of jewellery.

The emergence of brightly coloured enamelled copper wire with all the currently available colours is fairly new to human evolution. Traditional wire designs have been restricted to silver, gold, black, dark browns. Now is the time for colour. Now is the time for enamelled wire jewellery. Now is the time for Wendy McLean's pseudo pleochroic wire, or simply, Wendy McLean's PPW!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Winning Au, Ag or (CuSn alloy) in life


Watching the Olympics this week has got me thinking about the glory of achievement, hard work, reaching goals, and coming first. I really enjoyed the storyline in the opening ceremony – especially where the pioneers of industry played their part so vividly, inventing new things, making changes and progressing human technology.

When I was at school, coming “first in class” was not dissimilar to getting the Au, Ag and dare I say it this week, bronze medals. There was a bit of rivalry between those who aimed to be top of the class, in the achievement of the highest marks. I have heard that this has changed in modern schools: being top of the class is no longer primary goal, and that competition is discouraged (I could be wrong). But what is the point of this, when in the real world, there are the Olympics, there are jobs to get, and if you don't have that drive for competing to be the best, you end up just being average. Happier, less stressed, but in the bigger picture, just average. Granted that life “throws curve balls”, “bolts out of the blue”and just generally messes up your plans along the way, competition is still the 'norm' rather than the exception.

Whether we like it or not, our lives are surrounded by winning or not winning. Cerebral decisions are made when choices are presented to the human, and the winner of that competition would be the choice the neural connections chose to be the “best” one.

However, “coming first” is not all it's cut out to be. You could be the first one to invent a new working gadget. You might still have the personal glory of being the first, but as many early adopters of technology can attest, the best does not always win, and the first is not necessarily the best. I used to be an early adopter: in 1996 I bought a Hewlett-Packard 320LX palmtop computer. I thought it was the best tech I had ever seen: a complete computer in the palm of my hand. I could do email, word processing, spreadsheets, surf the internet (very slowly, but doable), and even send a fax with it. I bought it when I saw it, and thought: “Wow! Something useful, practical and clever, in the palm of my hand.” Sadly, the take off never came. No-one else I knew bought one. It seemed the world was a technophobe.

Enter the new Millennium, and suddenly, only 10 years later, the same features as my old HP palm top were now commonplace in mobile phones. However, if it was not for the goal of being the first handheld “everything-in-one-place gadget” of companies like HP, the goal for others to try and better that would not have taken place. Since then, the iPad, iPhone and similar gadgets are as everyday as the wrist watch (which incidentally, would have come first at some point in it's own history). Who is first, second and third now? How will it matter in 5 years' time?

I am often amused by the tv presenters talking about the “fastest losers” in some athletics events. Its like saying “lovely work” at a craft show and then walking away without buying anything. The work on sale was the fastest loser. Good, but not good enough. If you lose, you lose out.

I have not yet exhausted the analogy of going for Au, Ag or (Cu:Sn) in life as being akin to the athletics championships going on in London this week. Striving to be the best, especially a personal best (PB), could be my own goal. But the big world is out there and sometimes a PB is just not the thing to help you get the Au metallic disc. Virtual, personal medals made of gold (Au), silver (Ag) and bronze (copper (Cu)/ tin (Sn) alloy, variable composition) are the minimum goals to set. But avoid being the fastest loser! 

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

The number 23

I am not re-writing a book, or a movie. It just so happens that my birthday is on the twenty third of the month, and the number 23 has strong significance for me. I get on really well with others born on the 23rd. I had my first permanent job when I was 23 years old. I just heard that a friend of mine's new baby was born on the 23rd of last month. 23 is a prime number. Both 2 and 3 are also prime numbers. In my mind's eye, 23 has a certain look or certain halo: it is not 22, which I think is a cold, aloof number, or 24 which seems very 'square' to me. It is a bit wild, strong, but untidy. Yes, 23 is an untidy number.

I never before realised that my association of numbers draws pictures and feelings when I think of them. It's like when I try to solve Sudoku puzzles, each number has its own feel and character. Filling in number 7's has a completely different feel or kinaesthetic experience to filling in number 4's. Am I the only one? 

I think there is a whole mathematical significance of 23 as a prime number. I just checked out the Wikipedia version, and it seems I am not the only one who is nuts about 23. It just seems to be the best number of the month to be born on! It is unique in many (mathematical) theorems, and has many ethereal and cultural meanings in human history.    

I like this number. I will make it mine. You could make it yours. Look out for 23 in some of my designs ... soon. 








Monday, 6 August 2012

Complexity vs. Simplicity

What are you attracted to: Complex designs or Simple designs? Cliches abound: "simple yet effective" ; "attention to detail" and so on. Choosing a design you like probably originates from the pleasure centre of your brain. Are our pleasure centres prescriptive and uncompromising? No; very flexible in fact.


Well, mine is, anyway. I like complex, 'attention to detail' designs. However, a "simple" solitaire gemstone ring has equal appeal. But in my case the complexity is likely to be in the sparkle of the gem, where the complexity was created by the gem cutter!


Many designs are based on aesthetic appeal, level of complexity, and functionality. Complexity is sometimes a technical challenge for the designer. Consider an intricate gold filigree necklace interspersed with 30 different gemstones, that are complemented by the luxurious gold lustre, designed to impress.  The achievement of such a successful technical capability boosts the designer's endorphins, and so the designer is mentally happy. The transfer of the designer's own pleasure will be transferred to that of the potential customer who firstly appreciates the design, then desires it, and ultimately buys it. Has anyone done an MRI survey of pleasure centres of the brain? Would the designer and the appreciator have similar indicators? 


What is Simplicity, then? Or should the question rather be: how complex is Simplicity? By trying avoid further verbose overindulgence, I will clarify. There is likely to be a complex thought process before the Simple design is complete, as with the Complex design. A pendant featuring a "simple" highly polished oval silver ring with a high lustre pearl suspended on it's inner ring. Simple to design and make? Not necessarily, but less so than the filigree necklace. This design may be classed as "simple, yet effective". 


Complexity or Simplicity of the detail involved in any design has the same value of meaning. The value comes from your innate pleasure centre. The perception, however is different. 


What do you like in a design? Complexity, or Simplicity? 













Sunday, 5 August 2012

Free materials!

It's really not a freebee that I am giving away. It's what is free - air and space. When one considers choosing materials to pick when one designs a new piece of jewellery, it is always the metal, the stones, the fabric. Why not include "air" as one of them? It increases your degree of design freedom, and adds another item to your design itinerary. Does this seem unusual, or do we just take it for granted? Let me explain.


Air, space, light: very important considerations for me when I design jewellery. My current designs feature the use of wire coils. After I have chosen the colours to coil, and made the coils, I have a workbench writhing with floppy multi-coloured wormlike structures. Not quite springs, but they do roll about with a mind of their own, until they are contained.


Coiled wire 
Granted, they look like solid pieces in the photo above, but once manipulated, shaped and finished, I would have used the captured air, space and light to advantage. The design is then lighter (in mass) than expected, adds illumination, and fills the space.




Silver cuff bracelet
For the customer, the article is priced ethically, by including time to make, mass and cost of materials. For the size in volume, the mass is less, so overall,  the customer gets more for less! 


http://www.designbywendy.co.uk





Thursday, 2 August 2012

Into the new ...

My first blog! I knew I had to do it eventually. So not much to say yet, but just to get started. 

This is me (in the photo) ...  but my reason for blogging is to talk about jewellery. The importance of it, how it affects us, why we wear jewellery, how to wear it, what its made from and how it helps us interact with the world. You may also read about my myriad other interests and concerns. So, journey with me into the new ... 

Wendy