Silver Heart Bangel - Jewellery

Blue Enamel Pendant Necklace - Jewellery
Red Heart Necklace - Jewellery

To find more of my jewellery, you can visit my Etsy shop and take a look at all current and in-stock items.

Pink Enamel Earrings - Jewellery

Alison Swindles

BA (Hons)

Alison enjoys free-flowing lines and objects - she takes much of her inspiration from water and the fluid shapes it can form. Alison also enjoys using various hues of vitreous enamel in her work, with her favourite colours being blues and greens. The aspect that she loves the most is the slight unpredictability of enamel colours after firing, as this means that each piece she creates is unique and individual - no two pieces of enamel work will ever turn out the same.

Alison studied at Bucks New University in High Wycombe and graduated in 2010 with a 2:1 honours degree in Jewellery and Silversmithing. Since then she has exhibited at the Bucks end of year show in High Wycombe, the prestigious New Designers Exhibition in London, and at the RBSA Gallery in Birmingham. She was also highly commended for her design in the Victoria and Albert Student Design Competition in 2009.

As a keen oboist, Alison also incorporates pieces into her work that have been inspired by her oboe playing, and the fascinating key work of the oboe. Some of her music inspired jewellery include her oboe-reed pendant necklace and "banana key" necklace.

Pink & Orange Enamel Pendant Necklace - Jewellery
Solid silver pendant with pink/orange shades of enamel - Buy pink & orange pendant necklace here
Blue Enamel Drop Pendant Necklace - Jewellery
Silver pendant with shades of blue enamel - Buy blue pendant necklace here
Silver Heart Ring - Jewellery
Silver heart ring - Buy silver heart ring here

The process

To keep up to date with my latest pieces of work, follow my WordPress blog where I post the process of creating most of my pieces of jewellery.

1 | Designing

I was asked to design a dog tag style necklace for a friend’s boyfriend as a birthday present. She liked the idea of it having enamel on it and wanted it to be made of solid silver. Here are some of the ideas from my sketch pad.
Sketches of the dog tag

2 | Prototyping

There were a couple of designs which stood out so I made up some prototypes using copper and base metal. I used a bit of enamel on them but the colours react in a different way if you put them on a base of copper as opposed to a base of silver, so the colours were very vague on the prototypes.
Prototype of the dog tag made with copper

3 | Making

Once the design was chosen I began working in sterling silver. I used 2 sheets of sterling silver that were 1mm thick. One piece for the base and the other to sandwich on top. I drilled holes in the top piece and cut out the shapes that I had drawn. The shapes were then carefully filed around the edges and tidied up ready for soldering.
Sheet of silver in the shape of the dog tag

4 | Soldering

I then soldered the two layers together and filed the edges smooth.
Filing and soldering the two sheets of silver

5 | Cleaning

I use a solution of ‘picklean safe pickling powder’ to clean the silver up after soldering. Here is the dog tag in the pickle.
Dog tag in jar of cleaning solution

6 | Preparing

Next I had to prepare the enamel powder by washing and rinsing it in distilled water. This is important to make sure the enamel doesn’t go cloudy when it is applied and fires in the kiln.
Pots of enamel after washing and rinsing

7 | Enamelling

The enamel powder prepared and ready for use. The enamel is wet packed onto the dog tag using a fine paintbrush. Once it is applied I put the piece on top of the hot kiln in order for the powder to dry as any moisture left in the enamel when you fire it will cause cracking once the piece is in the kiln.
Dog tag with the wet enamel ready for firing

8 | Firing

I fired this piece a total of three times, for 2 mins each time, at a temperature of 810 degrees Celsius. The final firing I did at 820 degrees Celsius. In between firings I cooled and then pickled the dog tag. Then I wet packed the enamel again as another layer over the top of the previous layer of enamel. This intensifies the colour and raises the level of the enamel too.
Dog tag after the enamel has been fired on to it in a kiln

9 | Finished

Once I was happy with the enamel I polished the piece in the normal way, using wet/dry paper in various grits and then tripoli and finally rouge. After adding a jump ring and silver chain the piece was finished and ready for the customer.
The finished dog tag after being polished