All That Glitters, Series 1, Episode 3: Sun Bleached Macaw

Welcome to the All That Glitters edition of Cluedo where the result is always Solange Azagury-partridge in the Indoor Judging Conservatoire with a Statement Necklace.

It’s Alternative Materials Week, which is always the best week of any design based competition! Let crafty Hell reign!


For the first challenge of Alternative Materials Week the jewellers have to make a cocktail ring with a size of M which basically means an exact internal diameter of 16.6mm because apparently jewellers are just chaotic in their measurements. They also cannot use gold or silver but brass and copper can be used. Within the remit of alternative materials are wood, leather, glass and paper so don’t get your hopes up that they’re having to make rings suitable for the Daisy Buchanans of the world out of car tyres and Haribo.

With every alternative materials challenge there is always a clear and obvious trap: Drag Race has steel wool sponges, Project Runway has shower curtains and astro turf and Bake Off has that awful episode where they made everyone cook without sugar. It was pretty obvious that paper was All That Glitters’s trap and Nicola walked straight into it, proudly declaring that she was going to prove that it could be done! She did however slightly lose control of the project and let it swell to such gargantuan levels that really it’s more of a bespoke popcorn bucket than it is a ring

She’s pretty open about the fact it got away from her and doesn’t fit the brief, but at least she got to show off her breast milk pendant

It’s very pretty and I am curious to know if she brought it in to hopefully use in the ring and was then told she couldn’t or if the producers got wind of the breast milk jewellery and told her to bring it in and then have Katherine Ryan start up a conversation about it in the least natural way you could imagine.

Although the breast milk gemstone is only as “not an alternative material” as the iridescent glass that Lee ended up using

I would say glass is fairly common in jewellery making, no? You could chuck a rock into any jewellery shop and probably hit something made with glass. NOTE: I do not condone chucking rocks into jewellery stores.
I think maybe they had hoped that someone would use the glass in a more creative way than just inlaying a sheet of it into an epoxy resin ring but that’s kind of all Lee did

It is beautiful and I think I’d gravitate towards it in any shop but it’s a touch ordinary and expected and sadly the epoxy didn’t set in time so he hasn’t managed to give it the crisp, smooth surface that it needed to really make the glass sing.

Dan has similar issues in terms of ambition as he set about making a flower out of leather, a concept met with significant disdain from Solange, not that this makes Dan even slightly question it – you do have to somewhat admire the dedication to go for it when all the flags are red. Instead he developed this story that it was poisonous and alluring

I did appreciate that he did somewhat glam it up with a gold trim, which he mostly did because he had time to spare. It is cute and I’m sure is very comfortable to wear because of the malleable leather that still allows your hand to move easily but I have also seen umpteen leather flower rings in just about every slightly alternative gift shop and gallery I’ve ever been into. It’s not wildly original, but it is perfectly safe.

After the palaver of the “chain collar vs necklace” last week you’d have thought everyone might really double done on getting to grips with the brief, alas Sonny had learned nothing and proudly exclaimed “I’m making a sort of signet ring”. A signet ring for the uninitiated is a large ring dating back centuries and even being mentioned in the book of Exodus. They were usually worn by men and bore some sort of signature on their raised surface whether it be the owner’s initials, a family crest or even military rank and were often used to indent wax seals. There can easily be overlap with a cocktail ring because of the large size of both – add a bit of glitz to a signet ring and hey presto, it can be worn by Josephine Baker.
For his ring, Sonny was going a more rock and roll route by carving a skull into copper and setting it within a walnut ring which he was decorating with pieces of copper wire melted into little balls – a process I could watch all day

as for the final ring, it was kind of cool in a very edgy teen, Hot Topic kind of way

I love the stick and poke tattoo style etching and aesthetically it’s a very cohesive piece – as a cocktail ring? It lacks the sophistication and glamour that the challenge kind of called for.

Having more success in the alternative materials side of things was Tamara who was using vegetable ivory in order to make her ring. Vegetable ivory being the nut of the Tagua Palm that shares a similar colour and texture of ivory making it a more ethical option – the farming of it however is a little suspect in terms of sustainability and ecological impact – it’s a real almond milk situation.
As well as making the main body of the ring out of the vegetable ivory she was inlaying a sandal wood nut into the top of it. The whole thing was exceptionally well made, I might have liked to see more of the sandal wood nuts but with it already looking a bit like a medical emergency with the one, I’m not sure having a whole carbuncle on your knuckle would be better

It’s not my personal taste but I can see people wearing it and the design being an easily marketable one. It also just looks very comfortable to wear – the texture of the vegetable ivory is very tactile.

Lastly we have Hugo who was turning a seashell that his sister had given him into his ring. I wont say that seashells are entirely normal in the jewellery making world but the late 90s surfers and their puka shell necklaces would like a word.
Hugo’s manipulation of the copper so that it swirled and melded in perfectly with the shape of the shell was superb

It’s a stunningly attractive piece that is maybe a touch top heavy purely because of the shell but maybe your finger needed a good workout?

An Unofficial Cocktail Ring Ranking

  1. Hugo’s Shells on the Beach Ring
  2. Tamara’s Elephant-friendly Ring
  3. Dan’s Flower Power Ring
  4. Sonny’s Signature Cocktail Ring
  5. Lee’s Peacock-alada in the Rain Ring
  6. Nicola’s Fancy Popcorn Bucket

Bib Baby, Bib

Ahead of the next challenge the jewellers who find themselves with their lights turned off are Dan, Lee and Nicola with Sonny once again escaping by the skin of his teeth.

For this week’s Bespoke Challenge the jewellers will have to make a bib necklace for Amrou to wear for their first solo performance as Glamrou, their drag persona. They specifically want something that draws inspiration from their Middle Eastern heritage and can obviously be seen from the cheap seats and through the general fuzzy vision of a cocktail downing drag show audience. On the more technical side of things, Solange will be invoking the Oxford English Dictionary definition of a bib at any given moment – basically it has to cover a significant portion of the chest. Also, alternative materials have once again been provided except this time there are chicken feathers and denims and the paper has been taken away after serving its sandtrappy purposes.

Nicola was the most at risk by this point and desperately needed to redeem herself which she was hoping to do with a series of chains made out of cable ties. As well as this she was making a shoulder adornment that somewhat became the star of the show in what looks like a piece of gladiatorial cosplay

It’s a very cool design and I think she’s managed to make the cable ties look sophisticated and classy. The main problem is that by the definition of the word bib, this isn’t one. This is, and I hate to say it, a chain collar.

Also having issues with definitions was Sonny who upon hearing the brief for the mandatory use of at least 2 alternative materials put forth an idea involving only acrylic plastic and… copper. Somehow he didn’t click until much later despite Shaun and Solange staring at him from their balcony like two mortally offended owls

Eventually the sinking feeling that someone was watching him kicked in and he realised that he needed a quick fix. “What was this quick fix?” I hear you ask, well he was just going to attach chicken feathers to his chains. Unfortunately for Sonny the polishing motor had other plans and very promptly chewed up the chains of his bib, which was so shocking it forced Solange to emote

which is an accomplishment in and of itself.
This did mean his feathers had nothing to be attached to and in a last ditch effort to somewhat meet the brief he just chucked some feathers into the top of it, which did unfortunately make his bib look a bit like a chicken had lost a fight against Shunt from Robot Wars

I really loved his concept, the shapes of the would-be-bib are really cool, I’m not a massive fan of the acrylic “gems” on the front of it because they look a bit like penny sweets and are a little sparse but had he been able to add all of the little chains he wanted to, it might have balanced it out a bit better.

Lee was also embracing the acrylic plastics with his chunky necklace that might even intimidate master of the artform: Prue Leith

apparently he used acrylic and PVC foam – the two end up looking so similar that it feels like a bit of a cop out and I’d have preferred to see him bringing in a different texture. It is a very good bib though, I think I liked it more when it was just the blue and copper

I think it reads as much more Middle Eastern inspired in this state than with the addition of the very primary yellow and orange but for someone who was so out of their comfort zone, Lee did exceptionally well. And clearly Amrou liked it so, everything’s coming up Luigi Lee!
Dan was similarly adrift without the rocks of gold and silver to cling to for safety and was once again stuck to leather and cutting it out into vaguely petal shapes and calling them feathers

While it’s a little disappointing to see him not using a different technique to the previous round, this is very good but maybe not glitzy enough for a drag performance – it’s very much a slightly sun bleached macaw.

Truly bringing in the alternative materials though was Tamara who showed up with an entire bowl of what everyone thought were acrylic nails but later turned out to be beetle wing cases

the wings come from a species of, aptly named, Jewel Beetles that are farmed in China, Northern Thailand and Laos where they are commonly eaten.
Her design was inspired by the lavish jewellery that Elizabeth Taylor wore in famed box office disaster, Cleopatra – think of it as a reclaiming of a bastardisation of a culture. Her final bib was definitely the glitziest of them all

I’d have loved to have seen more of the beetle wings and maybe ditch the streamers altogether – I think they’re overwhelming the whole thing and muddying it all up a bit.

Hugo’s is a contentious piece because the brief was to use at least 2 of the alternative materials and I can only see him having used copper and denim, yet Shaun and Solange never brought this up

It also looks lethal and with a single shimmy you could say goodbye to one or both of your nipples.
I do really like the treatment of the copper and I would say it was worth seemingly pissing off most of the workshop during his planishing

I am very much Team Fed Up Tamara.

An Unofficial Bib Necklace Ranking

  1. Tamara’s Reclaiming of Cleopatra
  2. Lee’s LEGO Bib
  3. Dan’s Slightly Aged Parrot
  4. Hugo’s Denim Nipple Slicer
  5. Nicola’s Mad Max Cosplay
  6. Sonny’s Gallinaceous Disaster

I did love that in order to reveal the winning necklace, Glamrou had to walk in swaddled in a blanket like they were a celebrity trying to sneak into their latest court case

The glamour!
I was sure they would choose Tamara’s Egyptian inspired offering but instead Glamrou was drawn to the colour blocking Lee’s and he wins

It was rather adorable how surprised and slightly overcome he was, he clearly thought he was a goner this week because of it not fitting his usual aesthetic.
And in a rare instance Lee isn’t declared Jeweller of the Week with the honour instead going to Tamara

At least wearing the white cashmere jumper in a greasy workshop worked out well!

I think it’s fair to say most people thought Sonny was doomed this week, even Sonny seemed to think it was his time

and yet once again he was safe for another week while Nicola is eliminated

I really thought Nicola would go all the way to the end, Solange seemed to really connect with her style and if you were also a fan, or if you want to see what else she does with breast milk, you can go follow her on Instagram at NicolaLillieDesign – she did a reworking of her chain collar recently and it was really cool!

And so only 5 jewellers remain:

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