My Etsy shop window

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Margrietje - Etsy shop

How beautiful is this craftsmanship!

Godspeed hand-painted pendant by Margrietje
I've just come across the Margrietje Etsy shop and am in awe at the intricate quality of the work and the presentation.
"I am a UK-based designer specializing in jewellery making. I craft and paint every single piece with theme-based illustration."

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Work in progress - result

Hmmmm. My work in progress piece didn't come out as well as I had hoped.

I'm really pleased with the shape of the silver frame and will definitely use it again. I also think the pressed Forget-Me-Nots came out really well but the resin I've been using for my coloured pieces won't work for this kind of piece.

Forget-Me-Nots cast in resin
A few more trials with different resins me thinks and in the mean time I can wear this one myself :) perhaps I should just try some matching earings with that resin first though. yeeees.

If you've got any recommendations for home-use, non smelly, clear setting resins let me know!

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Wedding ring commissions

I've had a few people on Etsy enquire about custom orders of my 'resin window rings' for their weddings rings. I've been flattered and honored to make several weddings rings for friends over the years and thought I'd list some of them here.

'WITH'. Braille design in white gold. 2002
I was asked by a work colleague to come up with a design for his wedding ring. I had already been sketching and playing with the idea of incorporating Braille messages in jewellery and thought this would be the perfect opportunity to use it. Luckily he liked the idea!

'WITH' Braille ring. 2002

'US'. Braille design in white gold. 2003

'US' Braille rings. 2003

White gold bands with inlaid yellow gold stripes. 2004
These are actually Ben and my wedding rings! The two inlaid stripes represent the pair of us.

Yellow gold stripe inlaid rings. 2004
I also made these silver pendants with gold inlay stripes as gifts for my four bridesmaids. The four stripes represent each of them.

Yellow gold stripe inlaid pendants
White and yellow gold cast bands with hair detail. 2005
I was asked to design a set of wedding rings that somehow involved the couple's hair in the making process. After several trials involving a rolling mill, I discovered the best method was actually to sculpt the rings from casting wax and work the hair pattern on to the surface of the wax. This was tricky (<-- that is an understatement) and involved rolling the wax rings over a slightly heated metal surface which the hair lay upon. I then accentuated the imprint which was left, by hand in order to make them deeper and more cast friendly. They were then sent away to be cast.

Cast rings with hair imprint. 2005

White gold bands with inlaid yellow gold dots. 2005
I'm not actually sure if this is technically 'inlaid' as the dots go right the way through the bands.

Yellow gold dot inlaid rings. 2005

Wood and white gold band. 2007
A tree surgeon friend of ours makes beautiful wooden rings from a variety of different species of trees and asked if I come up with a design that incorporated one that he would make specially.
After several design iterations I created a trial in silver before making the final piece in white gold with the Walnut band that he supplied me with.

Wood & white gold band

Friday, 25 April 2008


Our first baby is due 11 weeks from today.
It's now starting to feel like it's no time away and there are obviously 101 million thoughts flying around my head regarding this fact, ranging from 'Where can we get a seatbelt extension for the car seat?' to 'How the hell will I cope with childbirth?' to 'Never mind all that - how do you change a nappy?'.

I'm having to work through the questions one at a time though starting with the here and now, beginning with 'When will I leave work?'. OK, baby aside for a moment, this is a really wierd thought in itself. Having left university in 1999, I've pretty much been following the same routine for the last nine years of getting up every morning and going to work. And now it's time to stop.

In the culture and society that I live in, the way the story goes is that you go to school, go to university, get a career, get a house, do up that house (you could only afford to buy a knackered looking one), then STOP! Now start a family - GO GO GO! Although it doesn't seem that contrived until you've actually gone through the system and looked behind you.

It's no wonder that woman are generally in their 30s by the time they start a family these days. But does that make it even harder to say goodbye to your previous life - the fact that you lived it for so long and had time to get attached to it? Myself? I like to think that I'm 'ready' (as I could ever be).

It might seem trivial to be thinking about relatively small points like this in comparison to the life changing event that parenthood will inevitably be, but I do think it's important to stop and appreciate what my life HAS been, in order to move on to the next chapter - which I am genuinely excited about.

I guess I'm just looking around me, taking in a deep breath and smelling it all in!

Monday, 21 April 2008

Fabric designers

The fashion for retro pattern and bright spring colour fabrics at the moment certainly hasn't passed me by - even my normally mono-colour wardrobe is getting a little jiggy with it. But certain names (and patterns) have entered into my consciousness over the past year until I've started becoming aware of them all over the place and fallen in love with them. So here they are:

Amy Butler
These are just the tip of the (patterned) iceberg too. You really need to visit the website and take a look at the rest of them. They look even better still in the product shots.

Amy Butler designs

Marimekko designs
Orla Keily

Orla Keily designs
As much as I'd love a whole load of clothes made from their prints though, I'm not sure I could pull it off. Cushions would probably be a safer bet!

Want (or just admire?)

Breil Snake necklaceYou know how there are some things in life that you admire and love and WANT? Well this Breil Snake necklace/bracelet is one of those things in my life.

I've been eyeing this up in a shop window here in Bristol for a fair few years now. Every time I've walked past the shop I've stopped specially just to look at it. I've even been in to the shop to enquire why it was missing on one occassion!

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have trouble spending money (I get guilt issues) so I tried hinting at my other half which didn't seem to work. I then moved on to more blatant requests but they haven't worked either.

Anyway, I noticed that this shop was CLOSING and as I'd already done a search online and discovered this one was the only stockist near me I popped in to see if they still had it - you know, just one last look! But. it. was. already. gone. And to make matters worse (I'm going to say this really quick to lessen the pain) it had been in the sale.

I'd kinda already resigned myself to the fact that this is just one of those things in life that I happen to think is cool but that I don't really need to own. But having just looked at the Breil website I've found it's no longer listed there and on other sites it's sold out and listed 'to clear' or discontinued, so now I really am asking myself the question. Do I REALLY need to own it? 'Cus now would be the time.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

New toy

I'm very excited to have a new toy to play with. My single barrel Lortone Tumbler arrived last week and I've finally had the time to unpack it and have a play!

I'm generally very bad at spending big amounts of money, and because I'm not a full time silversmith I find it hard to justify spending large amounts of money on tools
. For example, I was SO close to spending £400 on a rolling mill a few months ago but chickened out at the last minute. However this time I figured that a tumbler was such an important tool that I would be crazy not to invest. So £170 later, that's what I've done and I'm so glad I did.

Lortone tumblerLortone tumblerThis simple machine will not only polish my pieces saving me a lot of time doing it by hand, but it will also work-harden the silver so (for example) ear wires will become stronger and less likely to bend out of shape. There will still be a lot of hand polishing though - you can't put resin in there so I'll still be finishing those designs by hand. As for everything else...

I just love owning tools!

Friday, 18 April 2008

Work in progress

Last year I picked some Forget-me-nots and put them in a tiny flower press I got from my favourite craft shop. I have had a sneeky peek at them a few times to check they pressed ok without disintegrating (I've never pressed flowers before) but have never gotten around to actually doing anything with them. So when I noticed this years Forget-me-nots starting to pop up in our garden I figured it was about time.

pressed forget-me-not flowers
At the bottom of the pic you can see the frame I've hand-pierced and filed from silver sheet ready to take the resin and flower, I just need to solder the loop onto the back. I had actually designed something slightly different but being pregnant and with a brain in a state of constant melt at the minute I forgot to look at it and ended up with a 'new' design!

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

My contribution to Design*Sponge

Design*Sponge screenshotDesign*Sponge is one of my favourite sites for home, design, art and craft.

It's run by Brooklyn-based writer, Grace Bonney, and after I noticed all of the city guides on the site were US based, I sent Grace an email requesting some UK ones. So to cut a long story short, half an hour later I find myself compiling one for Bristol! I actually got really it to it and last month was really chuffed to see it get posted - I'm published on one of my favourite sites!

So if you're ever in Bristol and up for a bit of shopping, don't forget to print it off and bring it with you.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

More about me!

I thought I should introduce myself a bit further by mentioning the biggest thing that's going on in our lives at the moment, and that is that fact that I'm growing a baby! And our first one at that.

I've been documenting the bump by taking pics every 4 weeks so here's the story so far (bare in mind that i'm now at 27 weeks so am bigger still)...

stages of pregnancy
I've just noticed a pattern occuring. Perhaps I should wear the stripey top again for the next pic (in fact I've just realised I'm actually wearing that exact outfit right now! aaaaah!)
I'm not going to have a rant about maternity clothes right now though as I'm at work and really should be doing some. I'll save that one for later ;)

Monday, 14 April 2008

Hello The Internet!

I have resisted until the peer pressure got too much and have relented. Which is odd considering that that is exactly the kind of time I would expect myself to dig my heals in all the more and refuse to become a sheep.