Tuesday, February 24, 2015

On Tantrums and Toddlers...

Oh. My.
Or more precisely, a certain two year old who will soon be three.
Cheeky, adorable, hilarious, unpredictable and unable to be reasoned with...

I think I rather forgot what it was like to have a tantruming three year old. Cohen wasn't big on the tantrums, thankfully. He had a couple of doozies in public places, and he was keen to be independent, but I just don't remember him being quite like his little sister. He was three and a bit when she was born, all the more reason to have tantrums I would have thought? But oh no, Emerson is the little miss of tantrums. She is redefining for me how one parents a toddler.

Windy day? Tantrum! Because I won't stop the wind.
Tries to climb book case and pulls it over. Cries from fright, then throws tantrum when we suggest she no longer climbs book case.
Walking to school? Tantrum! Because I suggest she shouldn't wear slippers to school in Summer. I tactfully decide to 'pick my battles' and allow said slippers to be worn regardless. Another tantrum on the way to school, as she no longer wants to wear the slippers. Thus, she walks barefoot, still whingeing.

Today there was a tantrum because I turned the tv off when it was time to pick up her brother from school. She refused to move, and rather perfectly imitated jelly on the floor instead. I had to carry her to the baby's pram and strap her in, while wearing Oscar in the sling, in order to pick up Cohen on time. Phew. Another tantrum from Miss almost-three about being in the pram. Then she fell asleep on the way home, so I carried her quietly upstairs. Cue another tantrum when she realised I had laid her down in her bed.

Oh my. On top of which I have had a teething baby with a runny nose and a six year old that would make a wonderful political, given his skill at argument.

My dear children. How I love them. Please pour me another glass of wine...

Monday, February 23, 2015

Pearl Threading Workshop - Recap

I think there was no better place to be Saturday morning than sitting in the sweet BrisStyle workshop space, threading pearls with a group of lovely ladies, as the rain poured down outside. There was tea and biscuits, cake and coffee, and eight pairs of hands threading and knotting their very own strand of fresh water pearls.

I was a ball of nerves beforehand, despite having learnt and practiced this technique for the past ten years. But my fears melted away as soon as I entered the space. My love of making jewellery and the joy of sharing my passion soon replaced those butterflies. It was delightful to meet each member of the group, hear a little about what had brought them to the workshop that day and their current creative pursuits. From jewellers to beaders, to those with a collection of personal jewellery that need re-threading, each participant was able to learn a new skill that they can use to express their creativity and also put to practical use.

I had so much fun working with these ladies, going over the history, creation and types of pearls, as well as tips and tricks for care, and a secret resource list of suppliers too. Can't wait to do it again!


I will be hosting another pearl threading workshop with BrisStyle in the next couple of months, so sign up for my newsletter to stay up to date, or keep an eye on their Craft Workshop page.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A List Of Goals I'm Working On

As February hurries on, I wanted to take a moment to post and reflect on the goals I set for the year, as well as my current progress. Thus. keeping myself accountable and sharing a little of what goes on in my head and behind the scenes in my business. There are four major projects on the burner this year.

Goal 1: Workshop

One of my ambitions this year was to teach a workshop and impart knowledge and skills to other makers. I have spent so much time learning, skilling myself, and I wanted a way to share those skills with others. I approached BrisStyle with the idea of teaching traditional Pearl Threading, and they were really excited about it.

Progress: The workshop is this Saturday (there are a few tickets left) and the kits are made up! I'm finalising the written instructions and resource list, and I shall be baking a cake the night before. I'm really excited about sharing a wonderful crafty morning with a group of creatives, while drinking tea and eating cake and getting to know more about the group.

Goal 2. Two Collections 

My goal for my store this year is to create, photograph and launch a March and August jewellery collection, consisting of at least 12 pieces for each.

Progress: I've designed the first collection, which will feature a selection of pastel gemstones set in white gold and silver. The first few pieces have been started and are in different states of progress - from ready to be cast waxes, to ready to be set rings. There are still more pieces to make before my deadline next month, when I have a photographer, model and location lined up to shoot the new collection, before releasing it online! Between working on the pearl threading workshop and crafting custom made pieces, I will be cutting it fine to fit it all in, in time for the shoot! (You can sign up to my newsletter to stay in the loop on.)

I've also started designing and researching the second collection I have planned this year, which will be launched in August. My next step forward is a range of wedding rings, both his and hers. I aim to have my everyday wear collection in The Sentimental Collection, the above mentioned Coloured Stones Collection, as well as the wedding ring collection. I already plan to follow it up next year with an Engagement Ring Collection. (Think Art Deco, diamonds and sapphires.)

Goal 3. Finders Keepers 

I've loved the few markets I have done since really starting my business. But when I was planning for 2015 I decided against doing all but one market this year. I wanted to focus my time and funds on developing the two new collections. Also, given that I have an eight month old, a two year old and a six year old, and I work from home without childcare, trying to build up enough stock and fit in regular markets is rather difficult right now. Instead, I am am concentrating on creating custom client pieces and my new collections, while slowly building up my stock levels, so as to apply for the November Brisbane Finders Keepers.

Progress: I have employed the lovely Didi, who was once my Intern, in helping me in this department. She is working on finishing and polishing some of my designs from her home jewellery bench, after clocking off from her other jewellery job. I love that we still are working with each other and have an excuse to catch up!

Finders Keepers is such a lovely market, with a great atmosphere. I've met so many of my clients and blog readers there. And honestly, I think I would go just for the compliments alone that I get on my jewellery! So fingers crossed, my application will be accepted and I will see you Brisbane folk there in November. :)

Goal 4. Make Marks Daily 

As an artist with a love of sketching and journaling, I was inspired last year by Claire's Instagram project - Make Marks Daily. And while I sketch when the mood takes me, or when I am designing for my shop or a client, turning the process in to a daily challenge has been so rewarding.

Progress: I have discovered a new relationship with my sketch book. I am getting more confidant in my designs. I have been experimenting with new mediums, like sketching jewellery with a calligraphy pen and ink. I have been learning new styles and techniques from new teachers, like Lisa Congdon, Yao Cheng and Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls. And as we all know, to improve at anything, one must practice. Allowing myself the time to do so has already had so many benefits.


It feels good, and a little scary, to write that all down in a post. Do you make similar plans for your year, and psuh yourself out of your comfort zone, or challenge yourself with new projects? What's on your list? How do you keep yourself accountable?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A love of letters

As a child I had a calligraphy set. Perhaps you had one too? Sheafer, I think, from a book store. It came in a box with several cartridges of ink, three different nibs and a plastic pen that they screwed in to. I spent hours and hours writing all manner of things, on any paper I could call my own. I felt incredibly grown up, writing in fancy scripts and copying ornate letters. I wanted to write everything with a calligraphy pen once I was an adult.

I remember my 'Aunt' (my parents friend) had a writing desk in her beautiful home, and she always wrote with a calligraphy pen. I thought it was the ultimate in style and luxury. I coveted her collection of thick envelopes, smooth paper and bottles of ink. She was a role model to me in so many ways and I still feel her influence in much of my day to day life - from my love of hydrangeas; which grew by her front door, to our trips to boutiques stocked with handmade treasures. From my love of handmade soap; which her bathroom was never without, to my love of classic style; which she pulled off effortlessly in my memories of her.

Funny how much things change and how little things change, as I take another calligraphy class and use my nib and ink to sketch in my beautiful new sketchbook.

What did you love as a child that you still love now?


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Art Deco Darling

I had the pleasure of making this darling ring recently. Simple, geometric and striking, this custom ring came from a design idea the client had for the gemstones from three meaningful rings she didn't wear. 

As you can see from the sketches and the first pieces of the ring, I made some changes as I went along, swapping out the flat top plate for a rounded top plate with an opening beneath to add interest. I also increased the thickness of the top plate to make it more substantial and balanced. The Diamond setter I use did a fantastic job of setting the Diamonds and Sapphire in this piece and applying that sweet mill grain edge. It really completes the vintage look and softens those straight lines a little.

I really love this ring! It's the kind of piece that you could wear everyday as a right hand ring, or an Engagement ring. It was very well received by it's new owner, which made my heart swell with pride. And just a little heads up, there will be a few more Art Deco custom order rings to come soon.

If you would like to have something custom made, you can find out more about working with me here.
If you would like to see more of my past work, visit my portfolio here.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Brisbane Pearl Threading Workshop

A reader let me know about this lovely write up on the Weekend Notes website! Thanks to the wonderful Kath for the write up. There's still a few places left in the pearl threading course, so if you are close to Brisbane, hurry over here and get your ticket!

 Give grandma's pearls a makeover or complete a new set

"I know I've had a lot of strings of pearls in the past which have sadly broken and languished in the jewellery box forgotten since the thought of restringing seemed beyond me. With this special class from Christina Lowry, you will be taught the basics of stringing pearls securely and finishing them with a clasp ready to wear out to dinner.
Traditionally knotting freshwater pearls is a great technique to learn for those who love pearls, beads and jewellery as you will be able to use the same techniques in other projects.
The workshop will equip you with pearls, thread, clasp, beading needles and gimp to create your first necklace, as well as a kit to take home in order to practice the new techniques. You will also receive a workbook, wholesale contacts, resource list, tips and tricks, as well as details on charging out rethreading to clients." Kath Chown

Friday, February 6, 2015

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. - SouleMama 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

This is the Good Life!

This has been my mantra for the past week - This is the Good Life! 

It's something I relate to so strongly right now. 'This' is where I wanted to be before I got here. This is what I have been working towards. It's not a fluke. It's not just luck. It's the culmination of my choices and hard work. There was a time when all I wanted was to learn how to make jewellery. There was a time when we thought we may not be able to have children. There was a time when we were fed up with house hunting. And here I am, a jeweller, a mother of three, in my own home. While I will always strive to keep learning, improving, growing, this IS the good life right now. Not tomorrow, not next year, right now. It's so good to take the time to appreciate that.

Just keeping this mantra at the forefront of my mind brings me a level of calm, acceptance and gratitude that fills me up and enables me to deal with the trials and tribulations of ever day life. I choose to look to the positive, guard my psychological health from negative people, and surround myself with love and support. I choose to be the kind of person, wife and mother I want to be, and I forgive myself if I don't always reach the lofty goals I set for myself.

I have my loved ones, my health, my home, my work, my passions, all the things I need and many of the things I want.

Yes, this really is the good life.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Valentines Day Checklist

Those of you with loved ones in your life, lean in and tell me, how do you celebrate those closest to your heart on Valentine's Day? How do you show them you love them? Perhaps it is with jewellery, or perhaps it is with flowers, a thoughtful quote, 'your song' played after dinner? Perhaps you surprise your Mum by mowing her lawn and bringing her a box of chocolates? Perhaps you are single and loving it and you shout yourself a massage? Perhaps you surprise your love with love notes and gifts hidden around the house? Or perhaps ice cream and their movie choice?

If you want to make Valentine's memorable, why not try one or two other these -

+ A meaningful card, with a quote, a joke or a story that captures your love
+ A gift that is beautiful and makes them feel wonderful - from perfume to jewellery, golf balls to whisky - a little spoiling is a welcome thing
+ A bunch of flowers - for who can resist the beauty of Mother nature?
+ Love notes hidden throughout the house - a post it note on the fridge, on the toothpaste, on the milk, stuck to the remote control - write a series of 'I love you more than....' or create a treasure hunt to unearth your gift
+ Put your creative talents to use - write a poem, sketch a portrait, create an amazing dessert

Whatever you do, make your loved one feel special this Valentine's Day, and if you need any more help, just let me know!

What's one of your favourite Valentines Day memory? I can't go past the one my husband cooked for me and then sang to me on top of a hill. Love that man!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

My Journey From the Easel to the Bench

I never planned on being a jeweller. I always wanted to be a painter. An 'artist'. At high school I was interested in Art and English. I was fascinated by art movements, galleries and those large glossy art books at the library that cost a quiet fortune. If I didn't have a book in my hand I was drawing or writing. I filled diary after diary and kept visual journals. I ran out of space on my bookshelf and had crates of books next to my bed in lieu of a bedside table. My walls weren't plastered with posters of musicians or movie stars, but with paintings by Dali and Gieger, and portraits of Picasso. I remember I had a cactus called Hieronymus Bosch, after the painter of course. And while I fell in love with Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder, like many girls my age, I also fell in love with Brett Whiteley and Modigliani. 

I knew I wanted to go to University and study art. I wanted to be a painter and learn all I could while being surrounded by like minded people. Upon completing high school I was accepted in to Griffith Universities Bachelor of Fine Art / Visual Art program. I moved out of home with my twin sister, in to a two bedroom flat across the road from a cemetery, seventeen years old. My first year of uni was made up of blocks of each study area. I did my time in Illustration first, with little interest for the subject beyond completing my assignments and moving on to the next area. Next up, sculpture, where I made my first real and shameful attempts with clay and glaze. Next painting. My heart sung. This had been my dream. And yet. How awful it felt. How I lacked any connection with my teacher. How little I felt I was learning. I was so discouraged and disappointed. I'd worked so hard and waited so long to be there. It was a steep learning curve in to adulthood. I almost dropped out of University. 

Next block was Intermedia - a chance to learn photography, develop black and white photos in a darkroom, create installations, hand bound books, learn photoshop. I loved it. I chose to major in it after completing my block. I made my way through a printmaking block and a silver smithing block. But the charm of Intermedia drew me back and I started to explore what art meant to me and what I wanted to create as an artist. It wasn't until my last year of University, when I was picking up a couple of subjects in order to complete my course, that I made my way in to the silver smiting department once more. 

All the skills that I had learnt, from drawing to carving, installation to photography, etching metal in printmaking to using found objects in sculpture, I begun to use in my jewellery practice. I made a sheathed letter opener with a double headed bust - symbolic of my twin sister and I - which I carved from wax and cast. The blade was shaped from a reclaimed antique bread knife and polished under running water until I wore off my fingertips and the water ran red with my blood. I made kinetic rings and necklaces featuring bezel set garnets. I layered metals, hammered them with punches, filed them back, rolled them and punched them again, delighted at the flexibility and possibility of what I had unsuspectingly assumed was an unyielding metal.

I graduated with the desire to add to the jewellery making skills I had acquired. I started to gather tools to work with at home. I landed the first job I applied for at an independant jewellery store in th City where I worked for many years learning the trade while studying at the Goldsmiths School, before starting work on the bench and as a pearl threader.

Like I said, I never planned on being a jeweller. I found it by accident really. Found that my medium was metal and that I could incorporate all my skills in to this field to create miniature sculptures. There are still parallels to my teenage self. I still spend my time drawing and writing. I still love books and galleries. Instead of posters of art and artists, I now collect original art and handmade Australian ceramics. I've travelled around the world and seen many of the art works I admired in books at school. And I now own several of those large glossy art books I once poured over.

Just as well we don't always get what we wish for, or else I may be an unhappy painter, instead of a happy jeweller.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

(Another sneak peek of the upcoming range, in the shop soon...)

Monday, February 2, 2015

Top 5 Gifts for Valentine's Day

Ah, Valentine's Day. The day of love! A wonderful opportunity to take some time to show your loved one how much they mean to you. Flowers, wine, dinner, all speak of love, but none so much as jewellery!

These top five gifts represent a selection of carefully chosen classic pieces, designed to be treasured, and worn everyday. From gracefully simple pearl studs, to signet rings awaiting personalisation. Each item will be beautifully packaged and gift wrapped, ready for you to surprise your sweetheart. Prices from $45, including free postage.

I'm more than happy to offer advice in choosing or personalising the perfect gift.

1. Edith and Elsa Rings

5. History Class Signet Ring

Complimentary Valentine's Day Gift wrapping

With two weeks until the big day, click on over to my online shop and let your love shine! 
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