Thursday, 23 July 2015

Claiming A Refund For A Customs Fee Paid On A Returned Item

Up until a couple of weeks ago this was a new one on me....yes having to pay a Customs fee on a returned item, in other words having to pay import VAT on my own item to get it back!

I'm totally aware of the Customs charge that has to be paid on items imported into the UK from outside the EU that have a value of more than £15 but when a customer from the US asked if she could return a silver bangle recently as it was too large and she wanted a smaller size of course I said yes that's fine, just send it back and I'll get a smaller size made. She was happy to pay another shipping charge for the replacement so all I had to do was wait for it to arrive...

It wasn't until the postman left a card informing me there was a customs charge to pay on something - I wasn't sure what it was at that point and thought maybe I'd forgotten I'd bought something lovely.....then it suddenly dawned on me what it was for. The returned bangle! So after feeling quite annoyed and thinking the profit on this bangle is slowly disappearing, I then thought that surely you shouldn't have to pay a Customs charge on a returned item. I decided to investigate....

After a quick bit of Googling I found a form to download on the GOV.UK website. The form is BOR286 and can be used if you believe that "Customs Duty or import VAT has been incorrectly calculated on your imported item" or if like me you've paid a charge on a returned item.

It's just a one page form and you need to send all the labels attached to the package by Customs {I just sent the whole packaging!}, plus proof of the sale and that the item is a return.
I sent the form and all the proof they asked for to the Border Force address and had a reply about a week later to tell me they would refund the Customs charge - great! The don't refund the Royal Mail £8.00 handling charge however which is understandable as that isn't anything to do with them and was actually more than the Customs fee I paid {how annoying!} Still at least I'll get something back.

So what could I have done to avoid this? Asking my customer to mark the customs form she attached to the package as "returned goods" which obviously never occurred to me. But now I know and if it ever happens again I'll make sure I do just that.

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Thursday, 9 July 2015

New Designs - Enamel Earrings And Copper Bangles

I've been trying out some new designs with my enamel earrings recently by combining a layer of etched copper and a layer of enamel beneath it. The copper layer has pierced out sections which allow the enamel colour to show through as the earrings are worn. I've made just two pairs for now in orange and blue and it's possible the design idea may evolve if I think hard enough about it....... :D

I've also made a few new copper bangle designs partly as a result of a custom order for two bangles in sterling silver. Having copper wire meant I could try out what my customer was asking for using a less expensive metal first until a decision was made.
This inspired me to make a couple of new designs and an improved version of a recent addition to my bangle-ing enterprises.
The first is a hammered copper bangle made from 4mm round wire.

I kept the round shape by hammering the texture before the bangle was soldered {which was quite a lot of hammering!} instead of what I normally do which is to solder the wire then hammer the texture when the bangle is on the bangle mandrel which results in the wire being flattened slightly. The result is a lovely chunky, substantial bangle.

The second new design is a triple set of textured bangles with three rounded square shape rings linking them together.

I also made another loopy bangle this time making sure I had enough wire to form 7 loops instead of the 6 loops I made with the first attempt. The loops are also more upright than the first bangle.
I think it looks like a little copper tiara.......

Having an odd number of loops in the new version means the straight part of the wire is at the same level at either end of the loops rather than at opposite points as it was with the first attempt you can see in the photos here...

I'm very tempted to make a bangle that is almost entirely loops with a small section of straight wire for the join. I think that idea might need a bit of tweaking and the copper wire a lot of annealing but I'm sure it will be do-able!

Copyright © 2015 Cinnamon Jewellery. All rights reserved.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

A New Copper Loop Bangle And How I Made It

I started making copper bangles sort of by accident. I had some thick gauge copper wire and didn't know what to do one night at a jewellery class I was at so decided to experiment. And I haven't looked back. They have proved to be very popular especially with men buying gifts for their copper wedding anniversary -  usually leaving it to the last minute! 

So it makes sense to expand on the designs I make which is why I experimented with this loop bangle recently. I cut a length of 2.6mm {10g} round copper wire and annealed it so it would be easier to shape. I guessed the length I would need - I had no idea how long the wire would need to be at this point. I used a bezel mandrel to form the loops starting at the centre point of the wire.

I had enough wire to form six loops with some left for the straight section. I annealed the wire again and hammered the curved sections then used a texturing hammer to add some pattern to the loops and the straight wire.

The next step was to solder the loops at the point where they touched each other. This would give the bangle stability. Without thinking I bent the ends of the wire up then realized I'd bent them the wrong way! I wanted to solder on the back of the loops {what would become the inside of the bangle} to minimize the amount of solder getting onto the front textured side of the wire. * I've since realized I didn't need to bend the ends of the wire at all, I can still solder the loops with the straight bits sticking out at either end!* ** Edited {again!} to add the reason I bent the wires in the first place was so the bangle would fit in my pickle pot - I knew there was a reason :D

I overcame my slightly senile moment by building a mini mountain from broken bits of soldering block so the wire ends could hang over the edges.

After soldering. 
A bit of clean up to do but most of it's on the smooth side so not too difficult to do.

After cleaning up the solder joins I straightened the wire and cut the bangle the right length for a medium size.

Flux applied and ready for soldering the join.

The bangle cleaned up and shaped before oxidizing in LOS.

 It was the prototype after all and it would look better with another loop. I always think an odd number looks better than an even number with things decorative. I've worked out the length of wire I need to start with to allow for that plus next time I need the get the loops a bit more upright and graduated in size which will hopefully stop the bangle sitting at an angle as much.

But for a first attempt I'm happy with it and it's just been listed on Etsy. I can see a few decorative options for the design too - I'm thinking silver balls and possibly coils.... :D

A bit late but this is the hallmark for my sterling silver bangles! I was so excited to see it when my bangles arrived back from the London Assay Office. I asked for a 3D laser mark as big as they thought suitable as my stamp is quite small at 0.75mm. I'm pleased to say I've sold a few of the hallmarked bangles too!

Copyright © 2015 Cinnamon Jewellery. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Having Fun With A Tucker Tool Shot Plate

I first came across these cool Tucker Tool dies in a Soham Harrison video on YouTube a while ago and immediately loved the decorative balls you could make with them. Then I realized you could only get them from the US and they were a bit hard to get hold of. seemed to be permanently out of stock and another site I found that stocked them didn't reply to my email asking if they posted to the I sort of forgot about it for a while.

Then I noticed did have them back in stock and in a moment of over-indulgence ordered one knowing full well the postage was going to be quite high and that I'd have import VAT plus Parcel Force's stupidly high {even higher than Royal Mail's} handling charge on top. So it worked out to be a pretty expensive bit of metal.

You may have noticed the scratches on the plate in the didn't arrive like that - they were caused by me and a ball burr. But more of that later.

I started by melting some bronze scrap into balls and merrily hammered the first one in one of the holes on the shot plate.

It got stuck....
 So I tried using a fine silver ball to see if that worked any better. That got stuck too. It's recommended that you hammer a nail set or something similar into the back to prise the ball out. I used a centre punch but it wouldn't grip the metal and came out again. I hammered it in again and again but it just wouldn't stick into the metal. I then cut the excess off with a saw {which is why the back is flush with the plate in the photo} and tried heating the whole plate in the hope the silver and bronze would soften and I'd be able to get it out that way. That didn't work either. 

I was now beginning to think this purchase may have been a very expensive mistake! I decided to have another go and yes that ball got stuck too! 

                        The two holes in the back of it are from the centre punch in an attempt to get it out.

 My next attempt did work. The bronze ball was a bit mishaped to begin with which is why it's not perfect and there's a bit of a dent in the top but I'm just grateful it worked!

 I didn't hammer it as hard this time and it came out all by itself. I tried adding a bit of oil to the plate to help and things did improve as I got used to how hard and how many times to hammer the balls. I did manage to produce a few in bronze and fine silver that are usable. 

Then I watched a great YouTube video by Leslie Villarreal that shows how to use the shot plate and how to get the bloody balls out afterwards - I really wish she'd posted it a couple of weeks ago :D 

After watching it I feel more confident in what I'm doing and will have my oil and nail set ready for action next time I have a go!

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Tuesday, 16 June 2015


The week before last I spent a few days in lovely Northumberland. I have relatives who live in Ashington {about 18 miles from Newcastle} and although I wish we didn't live at opposite ends of the country it is nice to be able to visit such a beautiful part of the UK to see them.

One of the places I wanted to visit was Seaham in neighbouring County Durham, as it's a beach that's known for its sea glass. It's about half an hour from Ashington and the first thing we saw when we arrived was a beautiful steel sculpture of a WW1 soldier called Tommy on the seafront. It's by Ray Lonsdale and shows the soldier reflecting on the sheer horror of World War One shortly after peace is declared.

The detail and texture is stunning and the rust coloured patina reminds me of the Angel of The North. It was originally meant to be a temporary installation but the residents of Seaham raised money so they could keep it there permanently.

So.......the seaglass. Well I wasn't expecting to leave with a bucket load but I didn't find a lot of seaglass and definitely none of the gorgeous coloured stuff you see if you Google Seaham sea glass!
There are several beaches at Seaham and we tried two of them but I just found a handful of small but still lovely pieces. I managed to find more glass on the beach at Whitley Bay in about 20 minutes than I found at Seaham in a couple of hours. The Seaham glass is more rounded and pebble like compared to the Whitley Bay glass though.

Seaham sea glass. I did find one small yellow piece and some mint and yellow milk glass.

Flatter and less smoothed Whitley Bay sea glass. The pebble with the hole was found at Seaham. The hole is definitely man-made but how old it is I just don't know.

I also found this...

I first thought it was fossilised "worms" but after a bit of investigating on Google I discovered it's fossilised coral.

We also visited the Northumbrian Hedgehog Rescue Trust where my uncle volunteers one morning a week. He helps to clean out the cages and weigh the hedgehogs. I've never been as close up to one before!

Uncle Barry not smiling...I'm sure the hedgehog is though... 

We also visited Durham where we wandered around the shops for a while then went into the cathedral. 

You weren't allowed to take photos inside unfortunately but I noticed some of the columns were made of a black stone full of fossils and were beautiful. I've since found out it's Frosterley Marble, a black limestone similar to this photo.

Photo: Iain Biggs

We also drove up to Kelso in the Scottish borders, ate 99's and a mountain of fish, chips and mushy peas. I'd been looking for some fudge to bring back with me and hadn't managed to find any until we got to Newcastle train station on my way back home where there were a few stalls selling handmade stuff and fudge! It was made by a company called The Northumbrian Fudge Parlour and I tried the Chocolate and Caramel flavour. It was the most delicious fudge I've ever tasted. Sadly they don't seem to sell online or I would have put in a bulk order!

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Tuesday, 9 June 2015

New Torch Enamel Project In Making Jewellery Magazine

I was on holiday last week but just before I went away to the land of beautiful sandy beaches and castles - Northumberland in other words - I had another step-by-step torch enamel project in issue 81 of Making Jewellery!

The magazine came out on May 28 and this time the theme for our projects was "tropical".

I decided to go for a colourful combination of orange and seafoam opaque enamel colours and make a hoop style earring with turquoise jasper bead decoration on the earwires. As we have to provide three pieces I also made another pair of earrings with turquoise jasper dangles and a pendant with {you've guessed it!} turquoise jasper bead links.

I've done a few projects for magazines now but I still get a little thrill every time I see one of my projects finished and published!

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