Thursday, 26 April 2012

Garden-inspired





I'm increasingly realising that the garden and the things that grow in it are an essential part of the jewellery that I make. I stand washing up at the sink and can see clumps of forget-me-nots, cowslips, primulas, bluebells, miniature narcissus and pulmonaria. They're like tiny pastel fireworks. The urge to mimic their shapes in silver is very strong.



The flowers that pop up at this time of year are some of my favourites and, excitingly, my new enamels echo many of their colours  I've still got a good deal to learn about enamelling but the buzz of bringing a newly enamelled piece, red hot, from the kiln and watching as it cools to see how the colours look is hard to beat. It's a mysterious business, a little like alchemy, but it's a good feeling when it works.













As well as my kiln-based antics I've visitied a few antique markets recently. My eyes are always searching for lockets and charms. You may remember the little heart-shaped Georg Jensen locket I found a couple of years ago. These Georg Jensen pieces really are special finds and the detective work needed on their various marks and stamps is so exciting. This larger oval one was imported especially from Denmark into the Bond Street Jensen boutique during the 1950s. I've teamed it with a cluster of gems and a handmade silver forget-me-not that echoes the engraving.



This little birdcage charm was another favourite recent find. There's something about the minute filligree silver wirework and the tiny birds sitting inside on their perch that brings back the utter joy of being in a dolls house shop aged 8 and seeing the teeny knives, forks and candlesticks.



All these new pieces are in my etsy shop and I'll be adding more in the coming weeks. The necklaces below are also made from tiny found objects, each of which has a history of its own. They are waiting in the wings for a lull between commissions before they're popped on the shelves.






 In the meantime I am happy to take orders on the knitting necklace.

In other news:


  • There is still space on my silver clay workshop on Saturday 5th May. We will be making SPring-inspired fine silver jewellery. Click here to see.
  • There is a knitting design competition based on The Killing running at the moment. It's rather a tight deadline but the winning jumper may end up on the show.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Wildflower safari



Driving across the border into Suffolk on Friday I noticed little clumps of cowslips, stitchwort and wood anemones by the side of the road. We've had chicken pox in the house so much of the last week has been spent cooped up, but these little glimpses of wildflowers reminded me that Spring was definitely here.




Stitchwort, taken using iPhone

Reading Sarah Raven's feature on wildflower sites in last month's Country Living magazine, I realised that I hadn't been in a bluebell wood since I was a child. I live in the country for goodness sake! This seemed wrong. Yesterday the Mr told me I needed a few hours off - I had strict instructions to get out of the house and have fun, so I hatched a plan.



Oxlip in Lower Wood, taken using iPhone

I knew that Celia of Purple Podded Peas gets as excited about wildflowers as I do, so after a couple of texts off we went on a wildflower safari. We were armed with homemade shortbread and a copy of Food for Free (just in case we got lost and had to forage for our lunch).

Our first stop was Lower Wood. We hoped for bluebells. We were not disappointed. The blue was breathtakingly intense.



By the side of the path through the wood was a beautiful patchwork of wild plants and flowers: oxlips (a little like cowslips but with more open flowers), wild strawberry, wood avens, meadowsweet and dog's mercury.

This was a truly magical place - entirely quiet except for birdsong.



Our next stop was the Devil's Dyke, a place where rare pasque flowers grow (see above). They are usually found on ancient sites or earthworks and legend says they grow where viking or Roman blood has been spilt. I had never seen a pasque flower before. They were exquisite.



Our final wildflower safari destination was Mickfield Meadow, one of the very few remaining spots where snakeshead fritillaries still grow wild. At first we could hardly see any but then we realised that most of them had been picked! Almost an entire generation of the fritillary plants won't be able to set seed this year. This is the kind of thing that makes me want to paint banners and stomp around shouting. We contacted the Suffolk Wildlife Trust. They are investigating.



Despite the shock of the decimated fritillaries it was a fabulous day. Celia and I gave overexcited squeaks each time we spotted something new. I tweeted a picture of oxlips from inside the wood! This may be a slightly embarrassing level of wildflower nerdery but one thing became clear yesterday: a walk in a flower-filled place is rather magical - and it's free!

There are lists of bluebell woods here, here and here,.

Edited to add: The Suffolk Wildlife Trust visited the meadow and told us the fritillaries were most likely eaten by deer/rabbits/pigeons due to the recent cold snap. The fritillary population wont be badly affected, which is a huge relief.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Happy Easter


We're spending Easter doing very little except crafting, eating, sitting and a spot of walking.



The last few weeks have been so frenetic and busy for us all that we needed this quiet time.

Saturday afternoon was the first time in weeks I'd managed to get into the garden to actually look at what was growing. I planted these anemones back in October.





I've been loving the girls' drawings recently. There have been bouncing pigs, playparks and a lot of zhu zhu hamster portraits, but their Easter chick pictures have to be my favourites.



Thankyou so much for dropping by and especially for leaving comments here. They mean just as much as when I started this blog nearly four years ago. Jewellery-making and teaching has been filling my days much more recently, leaving little time to photograph and share what I've been up to. I miss this space and  particularly miss finding out what others have been making. I think I need to change the way I approach it. How do you fit blogging into your week? Is there a particular time or day put aside for it?