What Would Vanessa Do?

Catherine wearing the Vine of Elements Pentagram Necklace
Catherine wearing the Vine of Elements Pentagram Necklace, channeling the Witch circa 1972.

I wanted to share with you some of the images from the latest photoshoot I did with Catherine modeling. Many of the designs are from the Gothic Adornments Collection, inspired by gothic heroines from fiction and, most recently teevee.

I've recently added many new designs to the Gothic Adornments collection of the shop.
I’ve recently added many new designs to the Gothic Adornments collection of the shop.
Catherine wearing the wrapped chrysoprase pendant necklace.
Catherine wearing the wrapped chrysoprase pendant necklace.

 

While shooting the collection we were talking about our common love for Penny Dreadful and particularly the character of Vanessa Ives who embodies the spiritual horror and conflict as well as ovaries-out demon possession like no other.  Her performance captures the lurid yet convincing dread of being “chosen” not by God, but by something else.

When I first heard they were making a show that combined all the horror classics in one universe, one show, I was skeptical, but I’ve fallen under the spell of the show and it is informing much of my work lately.

owl

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It’s All Mine- Ten of My Feral Favourites

Me wearing my Slayer Queen Bib Necklace at my booth at the British Science Fiction Convention.
Me wearing my Slayer Queen Bib Necklace at my booth at the British Science Fiction Convention.

I wear jewellery for sentimental reasons mostly– I have stones I’ve found or been given, talismans of runes, my Thor’s hammer, my Freya/Seidkona.  Many of the things I love to wear were made by someone else whose skill I admire and whose creative energy I would like to connect with– I think I’m a lot like my customers in that way.

I have a long list of dream pieces I would like to make for myself.  Pieces so expensive to make, or so labour intensive, that they would not be practical to offer for sale.  I think this summer I will make one or two during a slow period.  I make very little for myself and maybe I should make more!

I do wear pieces I’ve made.  Sometimes for whatever reason an absolutely gorgeous piece doesn’t sell and I feel justified then in keeping it for myself.  Luckily my litmus test for selling something is– would I love to wear this? Am I dying to keep it? If the answer is yes, I offer it in my shop.

What am I wearing right now?  Well, I’ll tell you.

Boudicca Glasses Chain–This is probably the most practical thing I have ever made, next to my pennanular brooches.  I use this every day. I have two– one for my reading glasses and one for my regular glasses, which I need to take off when doing detail work.  When it is sunny (that’s rare in Yorkshire) I also have one for my sunglasses.

Kitchen Witch’s Pentagram Ring–I made an initial prototype in the raku glaze which I ended up keeping for myself.  Often I will wear a prototype to test out it’s mettle first before making more or offering it as a made to order piece.  Many of these become fast friends and others go to the scrap heap, ready to become something else.  This was a keeper!

Kitchen Witches Pentagram Ring. Wire Wrapped in Brass or Copper. Choose size and colour. Pentacle

rings5Myriad Lozenge Rings— I love making rings with lozenge shaped beads, the prongs at the side framing and binding the stone.  It has become a signature design and I have made countless rings for lovely people all over the world.

In one of my favourite books, A Mirror for Witches by Esther Forbes, Goodie Goochie, the androgynous preparer of the dead, wearings an iron ring on every finger to protect them from malignant spirits.  My rings are mostly copper and silver but I can relate. I started making my own rings because I could never find rings small enough for my fingers, at least ones I really liked.  My favourites are my amethyst, labradorite and web jasper rings.

Harpy Rosary Necklace by Feral Strumpet
Harpy Rosary Necklace by Feral Strumpet

Harpy Rosary Necklace–Here was a little orphan.  This beautiful necklace never found a home.  It is perfection– from its mid century wooden rosary with a slightly reddish tint to the wood, to the little harpy girl that moves up and down on her post like a magical merry-go-round creature.  Maybe I loved it so much that I secretly wished to keep it, because now it’s mine and I wear it all the time!

Floating Castle Rosary.
Floating Castle Rosary.

Floating Castle Rosary Necklace–I have made many of these but again, there was one I paired with a gorgeous 1960s jet and AB finish glass bead rosary.  I think it was waiting for me.  Here you can see one of my early photographs– when I was just starting out and hadn’t learned how to light and edit tiny pieces!

Infinity Chains– These beautifully graceful chains are hella labour-intensive.  I have made them in sterling, brass and copper. They look beautiful worn together, mixing the metals. Because it takes so long to make these I no longer offer them just as plain chains.  Instead I will combine them with crystals, stones and beads to create one of a kind, luxurious pieces.  The plain chains I saved for myself.  I like to wear the clasp in front, sometimes attaching a talisman or charm to one lobe of the S clasp.

Infinity chains in copper, bronze and silver plate
Infinity chains in copper, bronze and silver plate

brooch_sheila-9Sheila-na-Gig Brooch– Another mysterious sleeper. I wear my larger Sheila brooch with my hand knits.  My other simple brooches are my most popular design.  While these brooches are more delicate, I love their graceful curves and the fact that the curl on the ends of the circle keeps the pin on the clasp. I haven’t given up on this design!  I am making more prototypes to offer them again in the future.

The Slayer Queen Bib Necklace
The Slayer Queen Bib Necklace

Mega Slayer Bib Necklace– I feel like this post has turned into the Feral Island of Lost Toys!  I hope it offers some insight into my process.  This slayer bib necklace was another orphan.  I loved it insanely– but no one but me seemed to want to wear it!  My single stake necklaces continued to be best sellers but this OTT version was clearly waiting for me.

The Black Hearted Love Rosary Necklace

Black Hearted Love– This is my signature necklace, the one that started it all.  I was making these before I even started my Etsy shop, almost 4 years ago. I had a red cinnabar one paired with a red bakelite chaplet and a black one paired with a 19th century bog-wood rosary.  I wore them all the time and one day I was sitting in my local medieval drinking hall whinging that I couldn’t find a job, and my friend Emma said why don’t you sell the necklaces you make? The rest is history.

Bat rosary necklace
Bat rosary necklace

Baby Bat Necklace– Another of my best sellers– possibly my first best seller, the one that really took off.  I love layering mine with other longer pieces.  The little fellow is so small, and such good company.

 

The Crystal Nimbus Collection

crystal_collection

The end of the year is exciting. We gather together against the cold, thinking of the possibilities of the new year. The Yule gift I’ve given my business, (because, let’s face it, Feral Strumpet feels like a person to me now) is a new online shop. It’s easier for my customers to use, it’s still independent and best of all, it’s pretty.  I can now accept credit cards, as well as the old, tried and true Paypal as well as bank transfers if you are in the UK.  Also you can see prices in your country’s currency by using the drop down menu at the top of the store page.  The shop is also integrated with this blog.

What a better way to celebrate a new shop than with a new collection.  The Crystal Nimbus Collection is based on a hand-forged design which grew out of my incredibly popular Anglo Saxon pennanular brooch.  A simple, endless circle inspired by the moon, ouroboros and archeological finds. This penannular brooch is based on an Anglo Saxon design discovered in North Yorkshire. This brooch was featured in the Easy KnitnSweater Jacket Tutorial from Very Pink Knits.
Anglo Saxon Penannular Brooch. MADE TO ORDER

These new crystal necklaces were born out of that design, of which I have now made many. I recently read a fascinating article on crystallography.  The otherworldly voids and stark, icy structures inspired me. Rather than form a holiday collection I started to think about light and shape. The forging process itself shaped these.  The raw crystals capture the winter solstice spirit so well– they are a light in the darkness. The nimbus shape came from the anglo saxon brooch but also my obsession with medieval iconography and the fine gilded halos of saints– a simple mark denoting grace.  Highlights of the collection are below. Each is one of a kind and I hope to add more pieces as the season darkens.