All That Glitters, Series 1, Episode 2: Rookie Blacksmith’s First Mistake

Here is Exhibit A. in the evidence that all jewellers look slightly like Bond villains.

Have you ever wondered how much 1 woman could hate something as innocuous as a jump ring? Well guess what, we’re about to find out as we push the meaning of the word “chain” to its limits.

Chain Gang

For this week’s Bestseller Challenge the jewellers all have to make a chain collar and before you get too excited, sadly nobody fully embraces kink. Unless you count Solange’s specific brand of Doomsday Dominatrix. The specifications for the chain are that they should be 18 inches long, sit nicely on the collarbone and feature three different sized links of ANY SHAPE OR SIZE. I highlight “any shape or size” because as it turns out, jump rings (a staple in jewellery making) do not fall within that remit, much to just about half of the contestants’ shock and surprise. None more so than Hugo who gleefully put forth his sketch before Solange told him that his rings have to be interconnected and his whole world fell apart

Now, does the word “chain” imply that all of the links should be interconnected? Yes but when you have half of the jewellers apparently going off script and crossing the threshold of chain into necklaces then clearly your brief was badly worded and maybe you should have told them all not to use jump rings if you’re going to decide that you’re vehemently against them halfway through the challenge. That all being said, Hugo’s was a necklace

It’s absolutely beautiful and certainly fulfils the brief of being a statement piece – I’m not a huge fan of the twisted gold and silver wiring on the sides, it very much comes across as him desperately needing to add width but it does also marry well into the Russian wedding band inspiration. Russian Wedding bands being a ring designed to look like 3 different rings looping over one another and usually in various different shades of silver and gold.

Lee had similar issues with Hugo but had even less wiggle room to try and justify himself as having made a chain because he had essentially just joined silver bars via jump rings with the focal point of the necklace chain being a triangle that looks like something Nicolas Cage might use to solve a puzzle in National Treasure

It’s a beautiful piece and very much looks like something that someone in The Craft might have worn, which is personally exactly what I look for in jewellery. But it is absolutely a necklace and in no way a chain

Betrayed by jump rings!
That being said, it is the piece that I would most like to own.

Hot off his win from the previous episode Dan was hoping to keep the momentum going by creating a design featuring angular links and wait for it… JUMP RINGS. His use of jump rings was to ensure that the large angular pieces he had created would still lie flat on the skin, which it did so I think he was fully justified in the decision

It also looks like a chain and out of all the more stylised options his definitely sits the best on the mannequin – it looks very fluid and has an almost geographic geometry to it, it’s interesting to look at it.

The biggest strength of the show (some might say the only strength of the show) is the revealing of how jewellery is made because it’s very much surrounded in mystery to most people which in many ways is one of the more alluring qualities of it. It was just very interesting to see them turn a 19 inch length of silver wire into a length of metal capable of making enough loops to make an 18 inch necklace via the pulling horse that did make Katherine Ryan look like the boujie-est mill worker that Elizabeth Gaskell ever created

There was also other options though as Sonny went very I’m Not Like Other Jewellers and focused on hammering his wire into the perfect roundness to give it a more obviously handmade, almost medieval feel to it. He was also risking it all on highlighting his soldering joins by using gold rather than silver, which didn’t come out as obviously as I thought it would

It’s good though and definitely more obviously a chain, I could see any number of celebs wearing it and even Shaun, proponent of invisible soldering, was swayed by Sonny’s deliberate aesthetic choice.

Tamara was also opting for a most rustic technique, using the ancient Roman method of loop in loop links, which is also the method used for making chainmail. I don’t know if she was going for the chain mail effect of lots of clustered rings, but if she was it was very obviously not going to work because she only had four hours and can you imagine trying to make enough tiny loops to make an 18 inch pendant in that time?
She does realise that once again she has bitten off a little more than she can chew and subsequently the chain becomes a shadow of her intentions and very much looks like she made it out of office supplies

It’s so close to be cool and kind of punk but it just isn’t defined enough and falls just short of having an aesthetic that isn’t “rookie blacksmith’s first mistake”.
On a completely different note Kim, who obviously is wearing one of her own statement necklaces that looks kind of absurd in the context of someone working in a workshop

Her dedication to the brand <3
She was once again embracing nature, VERY BRITISH NATURE I WILL HAVE YOU KNOW, by creating a necklace inspired by daisy chains and I am genuinely shocked that she was the only one doing it. Her final piece was stunning, they think it looked a little rough and I am baffled by that

I thought it looked elegant and dainty enough to be considered bridal jewellery. She also had a really unique chain method

I thought she knocked this out of the park but truly Solange was the Dichlorophenoxyacetic Acid to Kim’s lawn daisies.

Lastly we have Nicola who was once again going very geometric with her design based off of the decorative guttering systems used in Japan whereby downspouts are essentially turned into a water feature. I don’t quite get the inspiration in her final piece

The whole point of a rain chain is to be fluid and elegant so as to compliment the architecture of a building, I just find this to be a little clunky and it’s clearly not sitting very well on the mannequin. Even just flipping that right hand, almost lightning bolt shaped piece might have helped. But Solange liked it and it is very obviously Nicola’s own personal style and it’s admirable that someone who is so relatively new to the craft already has such a distinct aesthetic.

An Unofficial Necklace Chain Collar Ranking

  1. Kim’s BRITISH Dainty Daisies
  2. Lee’s Definitely Not a Chain Illuminati Calling Card
  3. Hugo’s Russian Demi-chain
  4. Dan’s Was a Chain
  5. Sonny’s Battered Chain
  6. Nicola’s Slightly Jumbled Rain Chain
  7. Tamara’s Bent Paperclips

Brooch of the Penguins

Apparently they’re still adamantly sticking to the lit up plinths format (Choices.) and the unfortunate jewellers who find their lights turned off are Hugo, Tamara and Lee – quite how Dan escaped it after mortally offending Anti Jump Ring Tyrant, Solange is a mystery to me.

For this week’s Bespoke Challenge the jewellers will be making a brooch for Chris Keen (Husband, Father, Podcaster), who Katherine Ryan will tell anybody who listens looks like Prince Harry

Personally I see more Kristopher Hivju through the lens of an M&S catalogue, which is to say: very attractive.
The idea behind the brooch is a play on the sweetheart brooches of the World Wars, which were basically brooches depicting the service crest or military number of a soldier that they would leave their wives and girlfriends before heading out to war. However Chris is inverting it entirely and wanting a brooch to give to his wife ahead of her next tour of duty.
The jewellers are all given a bit of a brief about the couple and their time spent in the Falkland Islands where they developed a penchant for penguins on Pebble Island, they have a very cute daughter called Holly (guess where this goes) and they honeymooned across Europe.

As well as the brief given by Chris, Solange and Shaun also want the jewellers to incorporate a coloured element, which can be done via metal mixing (I think, it was a little unclear) or enamelling as well a cast piece from silver grain, which takes me back to my only experience in jewellery making at school when we had to make pewter pendants and the teacher’s example was meant to be a flower but looked so much like a willy that me and another girl completely lost it, dissolved into unstoppable laughter and were sent out of the room for most of the lesson. Luckily nobody made an accidentally penis-y penguin.

You would think that given the opportunity to make a piece of jewellery in the shape of a penguin that everyone would immediately leap at the opportunity and go all out, just imagine full on bespoke, silver, enamelled saucer sized Pingu brooch, what more could a woman want?
Of course Kim wasn’t going to touch a penguin with a barge pole, they’re not British, so she just fully embraced the name Holly and produced a holly leaf and what we’re told are pebbles

I think we can safely say that pebbles were the sandtrap of the brief, I don’t think you’re ever going to be able to cast silver to look like pebbles with out it looking like the Tin Man has a very unfortunate rash.
Shaun is a bit disappointed in her soldering skills and the lack of Chris or Kelly being particularly present within the story of the brooch.

Nicola joined Kim in penguin-free unity as she was basing hers off of their honeymoon by making a map of a Europe which she had to do it with Shaun lurking behind her at all times like some sort of silver obsessed bogeyman

She had hoped to enamel the sea portions so that it was blue but unfortunately in the heat of the enamelling ovens she slightly over did it and it burnt

I do like this, I don’t think it’s very discernibly Europe but I quite like the abstract, Ptolemaic map style of it. I don’t even hate the burnt enamel, it would have been amazing if she had achieved the shimmering blue she was aiming for but it at least still define the areas, if maybe making it looks slightly like a Holstein cow in Minecraft. I loved the idea of the holly leaf charm and giving them the choice of adding more charms to it in the future and make it that much more personal and significant.
Tamara had gone for a similar charm approach with hers and playing off of military medals by hanging a series of abstract shapes off of a bar

The judges love it and while I think it’s a very eye-catching piece and the enamel is absolutely perfect, I just don’t know if it being so abstract fits the sentimental brief – it just seems so impersonalised and shapeless except for the inverted pebble tower that I think it might mean more to Tamara than it could to Chris and Kelly.

While Tamara slightly shied away from representing the brief too obviously, Dan went in completely the other direction and was basically trying to put every single component into the brooch he could: a pair of penguins, a vinyl record and a holly leaf. There was sadly no room for Europe.
He had planned to enamel the holly leaf and berries but got a little bit distracted and forgot about it in the oven meaning the whole thing basically melted and came out looking like that scene where all of the skin is burnt off of The Terminator except less of a risk to Sarah Connor

That wasn’t his only disaster however

Please can we swaddle Dan in bubble wrap and protect him from all the woes of the world.
His final piece was obviously slightly unfinished and very much in the military style of a traditional sweetheart brooch

At least the components that are there are very well made, we wouldn’t expect anything less from Dan.
Funnily enough, Lee basically made exactly the same thing as Dan

Once again, the pebbles haven’t really worked and heavily detract from the rest of the piece, making it almost indiscernible. He should really have probably just made the two penguins and made it a bit larger.

One of the highlights of the episode and the moment that came the closest to capturing the joy and light-heartedness of Sewing Bee, Bake Off and Pottery Throwdown was the moment everyone was taking their cast pieces out of their cuttlefish bone prisons and being utterly delighted by the almost entirely unintelligible shapes they took out of them

quite how Hugo turned that blob into the penguin that made up his very fluid treble clef-penguin hybrid I do not know and cannot even begin to understand

It’s just on a whole other level to everyone else’s. The detailing on that slightly baroque style, filigree treble clef and how fluidly it transitions into the penguin is stunning. It’s the sort of thing you could see going for hundreds in an auction. The best part of it though was Solange waxing lyrical about how beautiful it was with all of the joy of someone reading a Sylvia Plath poem. I’m slowly coming around to thinking Solange is the greatest casting decision a show has ever made.

The last of the jewellers, Sonny had gone for a slightly predictable trio of penguins with the baby one being enamelled in blue. He also made the decision to leave the variegated pattern that the cuttlefish bone creates to add a texture to the brooch

It’s very sweet, I think the texture is maybe a little overwhelming and makes it a touch hard to read. His enamelling, while well executed on the baby penguin, was a little sloppy and there are a lot of tiny flecks of it all over the adult penguins

it was a little obvious that this was going to happen because Sonny had all the delicacy of a dump truck while pouring the enamel powder onto the brooch

I think Sonny is going to have to make something quite elegant and refined unless he wants Solange to consume him whole like a morbidly depressed python.

An Unofficial Sweetheart Brooch Ranking

  1. Hugo’s Musical Penguin
  2. Nicola’s Scorched Europe
  3. Dan’s Holly-less Penguins
  4. Sonny’s Blue Penguin Group
  5. Kim’s Itchy Holly Leaf
  6. Tamara’s Abstract Medals
  7. Lee’s Stray Pebbles

Chris gets to briefly peruse the brooches and makes the only right decision and chooses Hugo’s brooch

which his wife did wear and it looks even better on someone

I’m honestly, vehemently jealous of it.

Hugo of course is also awarded Jeweller of the Week, I’m very curious to know if the JotW will ever not be the person who wins the bespoke round, unless the client makes a really left field choice.

There does of course have to be an elimination and I really thought sweet baby angel Lee was a goner but the judges REALLY hated Kim’s daisy chain for some reason and decide that her time is up

If you’re curious to see more of her stuff, check her out at KimStylesJewellery on Instagram – she has some really incredible pieces – that necklace she wore throughout is only the tip of the iceberg that are her creations.

And so, 6 aspiring Jewellery Masters remain

2 thoughts on “All That Glitters, Series 1, Episode 2: Rookie Blacksmith’s First Mistake

  1. jillsleight

    I am quite enjoying watching this show and learning more about how jewellery is made – but tbh my personal highlight so far is Solange. She’s… fascinating.

  2. Mims

    Ariadne, your word smithing is poetry of the highest order. Its as if Shel Siverstein and Dorothy Parker had a baby who grew up to write reviews. And Solange is brilliant.

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