Saturday, 24 March 2012

Life's a rich tapestry ...

So, it's been an interesting couple of weeks which, despite being extremely trying for the whole family, worked out OK in the end.  We discovered a lump on the back of my teenage son's head.  At first we thought nothing of it but took him to the doctor to be sure.   I was fully expecting her to dismiss it but she ordered up a scan and, given the lack of rural services, we had to wait several days to know what we were dealing with.  The scan showed nothing sinister, in fact the lump had probably been around for a while (puberty causing it to get a bit bigger possibly) and we just hadn't noticed it until now.    There is nothing (and I do mean nothing) quite like the awful feeling of dread that accompanies the knowledge that your child might have something wrong with them.  And, there is nothing quite like the relief you get when the all clear is given.  I am painfully aware that there are lots and lots of parents who are dealing with illnesses (and other things) that threaten their children and my heart goes out to them.

It feels weird to talk about jewelry after that but I do find that having a 'creative outlet' helps to take ones mind off things and I did want to share how I've been going with the weaving.  

I definitely don't claim to be an expert and it's been so long since I've used my loom that I had to go to YouTube to remind me how to warp it.  I've got a simple rigid heddle loom from Ashford.   The white thing in the middle  is the heddle and each warp (vertical) thread passes through a slot or a hole. When you raise or lower the heddle you create a shed (or gap) which allows you to pass the yarn through easily.  Despite their simplicity rigid heddle looms are quite versatile and allow you to create a wide range of patterns and textures.

The photo above shows a sample of the weave as it progresses.  I've used leather thong green to separate my first section of fabric from the next.  The great thing about cuffs is that, once you've warped the loom, they are relatively quick to weave.

Here's the finished cuff, embellished with some wooden disc beads and an old coin.  I used a slit weave technique (the same thing used on kilims) to create the button hole.  I wanted a primitive feel so I kept the patterning simple and quite  'blocky'.  I'll be interested to see if it gets any favorites when I list it.

I think I'm going to try something much less tribal for my next piece - perhaps in one colour.  

'til next time...

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Symbolism vs Tax

You know, I try to blog at least once a week but I see that I have somehow missed a week without realising it.  Could be because we are still waist deep (we were neck deep so at least there has been some improvement) in end of year financials here.  Moving on …

I listed some earrings for the first time in my etsy shop this week.  I have avoided making earrings for such a long time – it’s not because I don’t like them, I think it's more because I hate making things I can't see myself wearing.  I had my ears pierced when I was quite little. Years of wear have stretched the holes, so now I only wear very lightweight or small hoops (sorry, I know that’s a bit gross).  I’m also conscious that some people, including me, can have a pretty nasty adverse reaction to non precious metals.   But, I field tested a pair I made using copper wire and was pleasantly surprised to find I had no reaction to it at all (I know some people are allergic to copper though).  Ideally, I’d use sterling but it’s just so ridiculously expensive – maybe plate might be an option.

My work is still tending towards the tribal.  I haven't listed the above piece in the shop yet, but I'm very happy with the way it turned out  - after several remakes!  In its first iteration I used a textile necklace, but it looked all out of balance and I much prefer the braided leather.   I added the dangly side pieces (trade bead tassel and bedangled cotton reel) after much debate, again it was a question of getting the balance, look and feel, right.  I've decided to call it 'Nomad' as it was inspired by one of my salt bags which has lots of trinkets woven into the fringe.

Talking of textiles, I dug out my old inkle loom this week and, when I’ve got the energy, I thought I’d try  and make some woven strips for necklaces.   A few years ago I was very into tablet weaving – you can create some fantastic patterns.  It is incredibly time consuming though.  I've also got an Ashford table top loom (simple one-heddle) and thought I might have a crack at weaving some wrist cuffs in very plain colours, perhaps grey, which I can then embellish with bits and pieces.  I've completely forgotten how to warp both looms so will have to look online for some advice.

I’m reading another very interesting book I picked up in a junk shop - Magic Symbols by Frederick Goodman.  Again, I should stress in the interest of transparency, I am a sceptic and not at all a believer in these things.  I do however, find symbolism completely fascinating – it’s like a code (and no, in case you are wondering I am really not a fan of Dan Brown, I pretty much loathe the Da Vinci Code). This book explains the origin and meanings of such symbols as the Ouroboros.  It’s incredibly detailed and I have to admit to wondering whether the author has made some of it up!

‘til next time

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Find a Happy Place

Well, it’s been a tad stressful this week. My husband and I run our own business – graphic design and communications.  Whilst it’s great not having to work for ‘the man, it does mean we have to deal with things like company tax, invoicing, accounts (I could go on but you'd - and most probably me - be asleep by the end of the sentence).  Having sent my QuickBooks file to my accountant a couple of weeks ago he rang me to ask why I owed ‘7-11’ $5,000 (and yes I do mean convenience store 7-11).  Having established that he was not high it became clear that something had gone terribly wrong with my accounts program – being in debt to 7-11 was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.    God knows how much it’s going to cost to sort the mess out!

It’s at stressful times like these that I find the whole process of making jewellery the most valuable for my psyche.   Not only is hammering the buggery out of something deeply therapeutic, I find the whole process of creating, whilst sometimes challenging and frustrating, uplifting.  I guess at one level it’s about distraction.  When I’m working on something, I am so immersed that I lose sight of everything else.  Sometimes this can be a bad thing (as, for example, when you realise you were supposed to pick the children up from school 30 minutes ago) but most of the time, having an escape – a happy place – is a good thing.

Of course, I realise that my stresses are nothing in comparison to what many people face.  Concerns like dealing with one’s accountant pale into insignificance when compared with issues like finding enough to eat or somewhere safe to sleep.   But, sometimes a little escape is enough to get us through.    Some of you may be familiar with Jenny Lawson’s (aka The Bloggess) travelling Red Dress.  If you are not then I urge you to check out her original post at  and the follow up at

And yes, whilst the red dress isn't an actual solution it does serve to remind us that we are valuable and that sometimes we all need to find a happy place – even if it’s only a temporary respite.  In Jenny Lawson’s words

 ..sometimes we all need a little red dress to remind us of that.  So today, think about what it is you need and were too embarrassed to ask for.  And then go fucking do it. Wear a ball gown to the grocery store.  Invite the neighbors to have a picnic on the front lawn.  Get that novel out of your sock drawer and publish it yourself.  Stand on a bus stop bench and belt out a song for the waiting strangers.  Find a playground swing and remember how it felt to fly.  Find your red dress. And wear the hell out of it’.

‘til next time