Herein you will find a whimsical list of my current obsessions, design stand-bys and inspirations, tidily alphabetised.
Amulet-a protective talisman or charm which can take many wearable forms, such as my Kitchen Witch’s Pentagram Ring. Much of what I make is charged with this impulse beyond decoration, a connection to a force larger than ourselves.
Brooch– a pin used to keep clothing closed, the fibula or pennanular style is one of the oldest forms of jewellery. My popular Anglo Saxon brooch is inspired by archeological designs found in Yorkshire. I cold forge this style copper as well as bronze, in various sizes for different weights of hand-knits and hand woven textiles. This has become one of my best-loved designs.
Charivari– Bavarian hunting trophies are my current obsession. Charivari also means “rough music” in French, we’ll leave the connection here to the poets among you. Worn over the trouser section of leiderhosen, they are uncanny relics: bones, teeth and horns encased in silver. I initially saw numerous Charivari when traveling around Bavaria stopping in at antique dealers– but I had no idea what they were. The seemed to be jewels from the Brothers Grimm, the original fairy tales. For more on Charivari I encourage you to read Robert Seitz’s brilliant blog post about them.
You had to earn them. You had to face death to wear them –Robert Seitz, “German Hunting Amulets, (Charivari)”, Writing on Ornament by Robert Seitz,
Dog Collar— a short wide necklace worn like a choker. Though this is a term used by pearl sellers, I do remember wearing actual dog collars when I was younger, before such things were widely available in High Street shops, back when punk was completely DIY.
Eyeglass Chain–Remember the monocle? Ok, maybe you don’t, but as my eyesight begins to require more elaborate correction, I’m seeing the wisdom in the monacle. You could hold it with your eye muscles and then just tuck it into a pocket, never losing it because it would be connected to a chain. And you’d look positively spiffy, too. I thought to myself, how can I reproduce this spiffiness, but for glasses? I decided to use old skool goth style rosary chains and different accents– a kind of morbid librarian chic which is also much more practical than the monocle.
Girandole— a chandelier style earring with three ornaments, from the French word for a elaborate branched candlestick or rotating display of fireworks. If only all words for jewellery were as pretty.
Hoops– The simplest and most iconic earring shape– the earring of choice for gypsies, pirates and William Shakespeare. I love to play with this form in my cold-forged designs. I’m fascinated by the way this simple halo/oroborous framing the face can completely change one’s countenance.
Inclusion-any deposit, mineral or otherwise, inside a stone. I love to work with stones that have inclusions. Though with some stones this is said to mar or devalue them, I am fascniated by tourmalated quartz and moss agate. Stones are little void-worlds that suggest miniature fairy landscapes, unearthly writings and signs.
Jet– also known as lignite or sea-coal, it is a petrified wood created by millennia of sea-water. Though often difficult for me to source, I love working with jet. Popular in Roman Britain, jet from the East coast was sent to workshops in Eboracum, or York, which is where my own workshop is based. For the Romans (as well as the Victorians) jet was a magical substance. Pliny the Elder wrote of jet: “the kindling of jet drives off snakes and relieves suffocation of the uterus. Its fumes detect attempts to stimulate a disabling illness or a state of virginity.” (Your mileage may vary.)
Knuckle Duster– Brass knuckles, knucks, knucklebusters were incorporated into pistols and knives in the early 20th century, and most recetly have had a resurgence in jewellery design. Known in Canada as “brass monkeys”, in France and Mexico as “American fist”, In Brazil they are called “English punch” and in Russia they are “head-breakers”. I often have fantasies about making a knuckle duster ring like Debra Baxter’s “Devil Horn Crystal Brass Knuckles”.
Leverback Ear Wires- a favourite ear wire for my Victorian-inspired designs, these feature a lever clasp that keeps the earring safely in place. I use high quality brass plated leverbacks for many of my designs, and some feature more modern, simplified versions of the leverback design in sterling silver.
Matinee Necklace– this is the term used for a necklace that is 20-24″ long, and this is my second most popular necklace length. (Pendant length, 18-19″ being most popular). I couldn’t find out why exactly it’s called matinee, but I like to imagine it’s a hold over from an earlier era when time-of-day and types of outings dictated outfits– meaning this “afternoon” length was perhaps more casual than a dramatic choker or opera-length chain worn with evening wear.
Nath– an elaborate nose ring with pearls on the outside, worn by Indian women for ceremonial purposes. I’m inspired by the design and structure of these nose rings, how they hang and their simple wire closures. They have informed my earring designs.
Opera Length– a term used for a long necklace length, 28-34 inches. This is the length of many of my rosary-style necklaces. (Opera attendance while wearing these necklaces is optional but recommended).
Patina– this term is used to denote a change the colour of a metal, often due to age or through different chemical processes. I love to patina my copper pieces quite heavily. I use sulphur and warm water to patina my work and seal in the patina with museum grade Renaissance Wax. The whole process is quite alchemical to me. I have come to enjoy the smell of brimstone. (Insert evil laugh).
Queen of Elphame-My number one creative influence, a favourite driving idea of my design it is imagining adornments of the Fairy Queen, called the Queen of Elphame in Northern England in Scotland. This particular moniker comes from the witch trial transcripts, adding for me a kind of bitter relevance to my Pagan-based, witchy designs. Robert Graves embraced this spelling and the Queen of Elphame appears in many folk ballads where she is the lover and teacher of Thomas the Rhymer.
Rope chain– the longest of chains, measuring 45″ or more, designed to be doubled, trebled. I haven’t made such a chain– yet! Though I do dream of making a fine rope necklace of sterling silver and garnet links. Maybe this year.
S Clasp- this is my favourite clasp style. I forge my own in sterling silver, copper, brass or bronze, depending on the design.
Toggle Clasp– A bar and hoop style clasp. It is my second favourite clasp design as it is easy to use and sturdy and can often be incorporated as a decorative element. My Briar Rose Necklace uses a blackened pewter toggle clasp as a kind of pendant bail.
Unakite— one of my favourite stones to work with, this green and pink semi-precious stone is from the Unakas Mountains. It’s such a warm, happy stone seeming to reverberate perfectly with the heart chakra.
Vulcanite— or Ebonite is an early form of hard rubber which served as substitute for ebony wood and has a carved jet or bog-wood appearance. In my many gleanings I have come across antique rosaries and beads made of a mysterious black substance– not wood, nor glass. Perhaps they are vulcanite.
Wire Wrapping— This is the use of wire, softened by the hand and then work-hardened through hammering, tumbling or other methods, to make infinite jewellery shapes. This method of using wire to make jewellery is ancient and though initially simple, doing it well is most definitely an art. I keep my wire work minimal and sturdy, or, in the case of my Tree of Life designs, elaborate and highly detailed.
Xilion– this is the fancy term used by Swarovski to denote their signature bicone cut providing optimal light refraction. As far as made up words go, it’s a good one, and as far as glass beads go, their shiny pleases the magpie in me to no end. If there are glass crystals in my designs they are almost always Swarovski.
Y-Necklace. This is a rosary style necklace with a chain drop in the centre, attached often by a bead, stone or filigree connector. This graceful and flattering design is a favourite style in my shop and also the style I most love to wear.
Zombie Gnomes— one of my very first earring designs. Isn’t it the way, to get stuck at Z? Well, these are the Z’s of strumpetry! I don’t think I have the stamina to do a zombie rewrite of the Will Huygen Gnomes coffee table book from the 1970s, but someone should. In the mean time, these earrings will have to do.