Category Archives: Family

Slaving At My Bench


I have been working hard recently to build up my collection of hand made jewellery pieces. At the moment I seem to spend about 60% of my time at the design stage and only 40% at the bench. I am trying to improve this but likewise I do not wish to dilute the originality content of the design process. Thus far -to the best of my knowledge – I have not copied anyone, and that is how I intend to carry on. The feed back that I am getting from my customers is that they are happy with my work and it gives them added pleasure knowing that what they are wearing is either a ‘one of a kind’ item exclusive or, one of a Limited Edition number of pieces.

If anyone would like me quote them for some special individual and personal pieces for themselves or as a special gift to a loved one, please don’t hesitate to contact me. You can email me at Info@markantonyjewellery.com and I will contact you by return. You can come up with your own specific design or, if you wish, I will be happy to design something especially for you, and this means of course, that there will be no other like it available anywhere, it will be totally bespoke just for you.  Moreover, we can use all original precious metals supplied by ourselves or alternatively, if you currently own pieces that you no longer wear we would be pleased to look at them and see if it is possible to re-work the piece into a completely new design.

We have a shop on Etsy where a number of our pieces may be purchased or alternative contact us at the above email address for alternative methods of purchase.

Harp_Ring_02
This is a solid silver ring, made from a 1905 silver spoon. It features a Harp and has all the original Hallmarks
Weymouth_Sailing_Rig_Silver_Ring
This is a similar solid silver ring to the one mentioned above and made at the same time from a silver spoon over 100 years ago in Birmingham England

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LOVE_Pendant
This is a solid silver handmade pendant, called a Love Key.

Triangle_Side01

Happy New Year


Hello to all my friends out there and a Happy New Year to you all.

After about 5 years I am still trying to learn how to effectively use WordPress, but I soldier on with the hope that maybe this year I’ll get a little better at blogging, goodness know I have made enough promised false starts in the past!

As some will know I kinda….lost my photography Mojo, something I have loved for over 40 years however, all is not lost I still intend to vista my wildlife patches, but maybe not as often as I used to.

Having said that I am enjoying my new ‘Apprenticeship’, that of Jewellery maker/Silversmith/Goldsmith. It all started when my wife asked me to help with a beading project she was doing and needed something soldering, before I could turn around I had a Jewellery workshop! 🙂  I think one of the catalysts to my new passion was finding the Jewellery learning site called At The Bench.  At the Bench is an online learning site where members have access to hundreds of films expertly presented by a professional working jeweller Andrew Berry. If you want to learn more about making and repairing and designing jewellery I can highly recommend him. There is a link at the bottom of the page.

I think it is safe to say that it is a steep learning curve, that is if you want to design and manufacture pieces that are worthy to be advertised and sold as pieces of jewellery, and not scraps of stuff stuck together, which all your family say “Oh!…you are so clever…that is a beautiful…what?…a Pendant?…Brooch?” 🙂 Which is just one of the reasons I have made a number of very nice and talented friends, most of which have been making jewellery for a number of years from 3 to 30. By showing them what I have made and then listening to their comments and inspecting and watching how they do the same thing, it has made my learning a lot easier than it would have been.  Please forgive me if I am repeating myself here and there, but as I said earlier I am trying to become a better blogger!

My latest attempt was to make a ring from sterling silver with a silver Gallery Basket setting (I hope I got that right). It took me for what seemed a long time, but in my defence  I did keep swapping over to other little projects, which I like to do. I have noticed that if I stay with the same piece I’m making for too long, I have a tendency to become impatient and want to hurry to finish the piece. This is where I start to make mistakes and get sloppy. If I have learnt one thing from Andrew Berry it’s to start as you mean to finish, thats with accuracy and diligence, if you cut corners at the beginning of the project there is no correcting it at the end. Well not when you are a learner anyway, thats for sure.

So this is the piece. I should say that there is no way this ring would be for sale because it is not good enough, but at least it will be a record (hopefully) to show how my pieces are improving over time.

 

Better late than never?


When I say late what I really mean is LAzY! Well kinda.  I’m not naturally lazy in fact I’m the opposite, I need to be doing something all the time, otherwise it tends to have a significant impact on my frame of wellbeing. So I am continually doing something, admittedly it is usually in front of a computer and if not then it’s behind the lens (hopefully).

I did mange to actually get out with the camera this past week just for an hour – I have been behind the lens in the studio every day. I decided to visit my local Castle and Country Park (Caldicot) which is really only 2 miles from where I live. It was really enjoyable, I was amazed at how many people were out during the week.  It was nice to see them taking advantage of the facility, after all it has been there since about the year 1011. Henry the VIII was rumoured to have stayed at the castle on his way somewhere. I have been fortunate enough to use the inside of the castle for a number of photo shoots. The last with Queenie Mae earlier this year for her Album Cover.

The Autumn colours were truly awesome and I was fortunate enough to capture a couple of colourful shots.

Caldicot Castle & Country Park
A Juvenile Gull comes into land on the pond

I am now preparing for my ‘dreaded’ birthday next weekend. Age never ever bothered me much not until I reached 65, then in common with many other men no doubt, I began to ‘think’ about age. I was suddenly classed as an OAP, and Old Age Pensioner. But yet I didn’t feel like one thank God! Well that was 6 years ago, so you can imagine how I feel now! And don’t you just hate it when people say “ah…Age is just a number” one will usually find that those persons’ number is under 30!

But having said that I am grateful for relatively good health and I am able to combine some photographic work with looking after and caring for my darling wife of 38 years, although we have been together since the week we met, on the Englebert Humperdinck Summer Show, so that’s 43 years. Her MS of 17 years continues to progress but she does a fantastic job of dealing with it, much better than I could ever do.

Ok…I promise I will post again before Christmas (it says here) but just in case, I hope you will all have everything you wish for, for yourselves and your loved ones.

POWER RANGERS!!


Caiden Goodwin
Caiden Goodwin
“Take my photograph granddad NOW..or else!”

Some of my readers may well be familiar with Power Rangers, but unfortunately this Granddad isn’t! However, it appears that my youngest grandson (I have 2 Josh who’s is 10 and Caiden who is 3) Caiden, is currently besotted and pesters his dear mum to help him get dressed up in ALL the gear as soon as he arrives home from nursery school.

On the day I promised to shoot the girls’ head-shots for the Casting Director, Caiden arrived in full regalia and continued to come into the studio after every shot saying “granddad, granddad, me now, me now!” His mum explained that the girls must come first, and like a good little chap he accepted it. Finally it was his turn. I took about a dozen shots, two of which I have posted here.

Don’t you just love them when they are that age? When they can communicate with you and tell you exactly what they want, and they continually charge around being loud and energetic, and then collapse on the sofa straight into dreamland, looking as if butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths.  They grow up so quick, I remember when the three men I used to call my lads were like that, now they have children of their own, fly around the world making music or manage a design studio at a Major Record Co. making very serious decisions.

Oh Boy!….Feeling pretty old at the moment, and not as bright as I normally am. However, tomorrow is another day, it’s 2.50am local time and I can finally feel the ZZZzzzzzz’s, so I’ll sign off while I can still see the keyboard.

Family Time


Once agin it seems an age since I have had the time to post anything worthy here. But I will snatch 5 minutes now before I go diving off to my Caring duties.

My niece – Rachel Jac – who lives a couple of hundred miles away contacted me to tell me she was the Casting Director for a film company who were due to make a feature film in Wales this year. She said could I help and point her in the direction of somewhere where she could hire children from age 9 and one baby under 1. I did the best I could as far as my contacts were concerned, and then she came back and asked me for some pics of my grandchildren. So, that’s where it began. I had a very enjoyable couple of hours snapping the children and in the end the pics turned out OK or at least acceptable!

Unfortunately, Niamh who is my eldest grandchild at 12, had just gone mad and changed her hair colour to a bright RED! I loved it even though her previous blonde was beautiful. When Rachel got the pics she said they were all fine and could use all the children except Niamh! When I asked why she said because the film is a period piece and the red hair won’t work and the funders will not consider wigs for the children. A shame really, as Niamh is the only one who has her eyes set on acting. She is studying it at school and going to separate lessons. On my advice she is currently attempting to get back to the original colour or at least a more conservative appearance.

It seems to me if one is to set their sights on a career in the entertainment industry, set-backs and disappointments start early!  But I know that any dissapointment early on will only go towards building her and making her stronger for the future.

Golden Valley Trip


As some of you may know, my dear wife is an MS sufferer. She is what is termed as Primary Progressive and is now in her 17th year. She has coped remarkably well but is now on Morphine patches to help with the pain. However, the reason I am telling you this is that, because of the Morphine, coupled with the fatigue of the illness, she tends to get knocked out!  So, there was no way we were going to be able to leave for this trip before mid-afternoon, as hopefully she would be awake enough to travel by then.  This we managed to achieve, we then proceeded to tow the Caravan up to the Golden Valley which is about an hour and a half’s journey, which is about the limit for Ondrea.

When we arrived it was freezing cold and dark – nothing worse than trying to site a Caravan in the dark. However, it didn’t take too long and I had Ondrea in the van, the next thing is to get the heating on and the hot water. After messing about and scratching my head for nearly 4 hours, I managed the heating and hot water task. I had made a major slip up and forgot to check the LPG Gas before we left, and needless to say, we had ran out! I managed to get a fresh bottle and the heat was on, but that took 4 hours!! I was not the champion of the day, to say the least!!!

The next day was a little warmer and by this time the van was warm and snug. We had breakfast and then I planned to go and explore the area leaving Ondrea with her Kindle.

The first place I found was a small village called Vowchurch. A tiny village that is mentioned in the Doomsday book albeit spelt fowchirche. As I drove into the village the first thing I spotted was this beautiful old church called St Bartholomew’s. To say it was old was an understatement. This lovely little church had been standing on the same spot, welcoming people since the early 1200’s

Now I have seen a large number of churches over the years, it is one of my delights to find a church and then try and find some of the history behind it. Having said that in more recent years, when I have attempted to enter the House of God, I usually find the door is locked! So no sanctuary there then. Imagine my surprise when I approached this ancient door and found a sign pinned to it.

Sign on the door of St Bartholomew Church

Needless to say I grasped the ancient iron door handle and twisted it in it’s rattling socket. The handle must have been 200 years old if it was a day. I wondered how many people before had turned the very same handle, back in the day when there was no running water, no sewage works, no electricity. And what had they entered the church for…a happy Christening or wedding, or a sad farewell to a loved one.

As soon as I entered the church it was slightly chilly and getting dark. What struck me most was the silence and the feeling that I wasn’t alone.  I know, a number of you will be saying that I was making it up because of the age of the building etc. But I promise you, the feeling in that Ancient Old English church was welcoming. I sat down in one of the pews and said a prayer.  I then looked around for some information leaflets or a booklet. Once I had found it I then looked for somewhere to put a donation. Many of these old churches have iron boxes build into the stonework and you post your donation through a small slot. I found what I was looking for and made  my donation.

Looking down the aisle from behind the Norman built font, towards the alter

After spending about 20 minutes in the church, I realised that I needed to get back to the Caravan site. So I said thank you to whomever may have been listening and made my exit back into the daylight.

I had a quick look around the graveyard and the ancient stone bridge that crossed the river Dore and headed off.

This was a Headstone just to the left of the main entrance to the church.
The bridge over the Dore. Apparently not the original. The original was made of wood and was further down stream. This version was built in the 1800's.
The twisted root of an ancient tree in the grounds of the Graveyard and on the banks of the Dore. I couldn't resist a snap, the tree must have been at least 500 years old.

So, a wonderful hour spent in a time gone by, the next day I went to another village where there was an even bigger church, but more of that on another occasion. When I returned I was greeted by a chubby little Robin who just sat there and posed for me.

Robin - Erithicus Rubecula

HAPPY NEW YEAR


Hi all

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all everything you wish for yourselves in 2012.  I wish you, health, happiness and prosperity.

I thought just for a change, and something I don’t normally do, is to post a couple of pics of my new granddaughter Lily-Mae.  She was born in October 2011 and we are very proud grandparents, I’m sure you can see why.