As well as the usual rush of making in the run up to Christmas, this year I’m making time to get organised for January’s Top Drawer show at Olympia. Top Drawer is a leading curated trade show for buyers across home, gift, fashion and craft sectors and takes places twice a year – in January and September.
I’m really excited about being chosen to exhibit, but as it’s my first ever trade show I want to make sure I’m fully prepared. I’ve been reading lots of useful advice on the Design Trust’s website and talking to other makers as much as possible to find out what to expect. At the moment I’m in the process of planning my stand and working out what will go where. I’ve already got the basic structure and display blocks, but I need to work out how I’m going to use the wall space to full effect. I also need to give the stand surround a lick of paint as it’s been well used this year and is showing signs of wear!
Anyone else exhibiting at Top Drawer this year? Or any veterans of the trade show circuit have some tips to share?!
I was recently asked to make a secret engagement ring commission. Secret in the sense that the bride-to-be didn’t know it was being made, but also secret in that the design incorporated secret stones hidden on the inside of the band.
The client’s original idea was for an emerald and two diamonds to be set inside a gold ring so that only the tiniest glimpse was visible to anyone but the wearer. However, having chosen a beautiful stone from Ward Gemstones in Hatton Garden, we both decided that it would be a shame not to show it off.
We agreed on a quite organic, uneven setting with the emerald cabochon reverse set so that it was also visible, along with the diamonds, when the ring was taken off. I wax carved the ring shank itself, making a tapered hole all the way through so that the stone sat comfortably within it. Taking the opening all the way through meant that lots of light could shine through it, showing off the gorgeous greeny-blue colour of the emerald to best effect. The wax model was cast in 9ct gold and I lightly hammered the band around the stone to give it a dimpled finish which catches the light beautifully.
The result was a bit of a departure from my normal more minimal work, but I really like the slightly vintage look of the finished piece. And the recipient obviously liked it too because she said yes – hooray!
Following on from my previous post, here are some more ideas for Valentine’s Day gifts from my Modern Deco collection.
The collection wears its influence on its sleeve, taking its cue from Art Deco architectural details, but with a modern take on the rectilinear style of the period. All the pieces are made from sterling silver and oxidised sterling silver.
Clockwise from top right they are: 1. Louise bib necklace in oxidised silver, £95; ; 2. Dolores pendant in silver, £70; 3. Tallulah drop earrings in oxidised silver, £60; and Blanche stud earrings in silver, £48.
Don’t forget that I’m still running a special Valentine’s Day promotion to get 10% off all online purchases + free standard P&P (usually £4.50). Simply enter the code LOVE10 at the checkout and your discount will be automatically applied.
I can’t be the only person thinking ‘where on earth did January go?!’ However, now that February is upon us it’s not long until that big jewellery-buying moment of the year…Valentine’s Day.
This year I’ve put together a selection of some of my best selling pieces to give you some ideas for the big day. First up are four items from my Geometrics collection, all available from my website www.elinhorgan.com/geometrics Clockwise from top right they are as follows 1. Multi triangle bracelet, £79: 2. Circle/triangle earrings £54; 3. Multi rectangle necklace, £98; and 4. Triangle/rectangle earrings, £54
What’s more, I’m currently running a special Valentine’s Day promotion to get 10% off all online purchases + free standard P&P (usually £4.50) so there’s no better time to treat your loved one (or yourself – why not?!). Simply enter the code LOVE10 at the checkout and your discount will be automatically applied.
You may remember from one of my previous blog posts that my New Year’s resolutions for 2016 included putting time aside to improve my making skills. So, striking whilst the iron was hot I booked myself onto a introductory course in wax carving at the London Jewellery School
This one day course was designed for people with little or no experience and so really focused on the basics. I had done a little bit of experimenting with wax in the past, but it was really helpful to have the tutor talk us through the process of creating a wax model and understand more about what was achievable.
She encouraged us to try and produce a piece that wasn’t too challenging so that we ended up with something that could be sent for casting rather than becoming frustrated with an overly complicated design.
I arrived with a few ideas in mind and worked on a couple of designs throughout the day – one very simple and one a little bit more complicated. We cut the wax using special spiral saw blades and then used a variety of tools heated over a flame to shape and apply texture.
I have been a bit skeptical about using wax molds in the past as you tend to get slightly softer edges and I want to retain clean crisp lines in my work, but I could really see the benefits of working with this material, particularly for producing component parts. I’ve bought myself a wax carving kit from Cooksons so that I can have a bit more of a play around at home and who knows, you might be seeing some cast pieces becoming part of my collections in the future.
It was a bright crisp January morning when I headed up to London for world-famous department store Liberty’s annual Open Call last week.
The Open Call was initiated a couple of years ago by Liberty’s MD Ed Burstell as a way of giving emerging designers a chance to have their work showcased at the store.
By the time we arrived at midday the queue was snaking around the building, but everyone seemed in pretty high spirits – at least it wasn’t raining! It took us about another three hours to finally get inside and by that time my hands and feet were pretty numb.
Luckily it was nice and warm as we queued up the beautiful wooden staircase to the waiting area at the top. Accessories & fashion designers were split off from everyone else at this point to ensure that everyone saw the buyers most relevant to their category.
After a bit more waiting around I was called in to see two members of the jewellery buying team. They asked me a bit about myself and my work and I showed them my portfolio and some pieces from my Modern Deco collection. Despite being keen on the designs, the main feedback was that my work would need to be a bit finer to be taken on Liberty. Having had a good look around the jewellery hall before I went it I couldn’t really disagree! There is lots of very delicate work incorporating stones which isn’t really where I’m at at the moment.
Anyway, onwards and upwards…it was a good experience and I gave it my best shot. And who knows, maybe I’ll come back and try again at some point in the future?!
I love working on a commission and it’s even more special when the client is a good friend. Here’s a necklace that I designed for a friend’s sister to celebrate her special birthday on New Year’s Eve (see photo above).
The leaf design is one that I’ve come back to several times over the years. This version used 17 silver leaves in different sizes embossed with corduroy to give them a lovely rippled texture. The leaves were fixed with jump rings to a belcher chain and I then added a handmade clasp and adjustable fastening so that it can be worn short on bare skin or long over a top. I also made a pair of matching stud earrings from two of the smaller leaf shapes layered on top of one another and soldered together.
To get in touch about commissions, just drop me a line through the contact form of my website or at email@example.com
Have you made any New Year’s resolutions? Now that the Christmas rush is over and I’ve had a chance to take some time off, my mind is turning to my own resolutions. I’ve got plenty of the do more exercise/eat healthier variety, but this year I’m also making some creative ones. I’ve decided to put some dedicated time aside each month to improve my jewellery making skills as well as learning new ones.
First up I’m going to be working on my stone setting with some tuition from Sam Photic, a Devon-based jeweller who specialises in beautiful bold abstract pieces. Do check out the gallery pages of his website for some images of his amazing work.
Then later this month I’m off on a wax carving course with the London Jewellery School. I’ve done a little of bit self-taught wax carving, but I’m hoping that this one day workshop will give me a chance to find out more about what’s possible and really improve my technique. You can find full details of the London Jewellery School’s day and evening courses here.
Oh, and one more thing…..I’ve made it my mission to write more regular blog posts. I’m going to be updating this page with projects I’m working on, examples of commissions, ideas and inspiration. Here’s hoping I can keep it up!
I had the good fortune to be in Cambridge this weekend, giving a talk and jewellery demonstration at one of my stockists, Cambridge Contemporary Crafts. It was a really nice evening and it was lovely to meet and chat to those who came along, plus there was the added bonus of being able to have a good wander around beforehand.
There’s nothing I like more than idly exploring a town or city. It’s quite a few years since I last visited Cambridge and I’d forgotten how incredibly beautiful it is, particularly on a gorgeous summer’s day. I love the fact that there’s amazing architecture around every corner. Those buttresses and pinnacles at King’s College Chapel (see above)! Heck, even the gates are beautiful (see below). It’s a shame I wasn’t there for longer, but I’ll be sure not to leave it so long until I visit again.
Last weekend I traveled up to London to attend the V&A’s Mid-Century Modern study day, focusing on design from the 50s and 60s. The morning session was led by Dominic Bradbury who has written a definitive guide to the period, Mid-Century Modern Complete, published by Thames & Hudson. It’s a beautiful book and I was tempted to treat myself, but it’s so vast that I’d have had to book it its own seat on the train home. For now I’ll have to satisfy myself to adding it to my Christmas wish list (a bit early I know!).
Dominic introduced the period and looked at houses and interiors, furniture and lighting. He showed us slides of some seriously swoon-worthy properties which still look incredibly contemporary given that many of them were built 60 odd years ago.
The V&As own specialist curators then took us through textiles, ceramics and product design. My own personal highlight was the textiles section, led by Sue Prichard, which focused specifically on British designers and manufacturers. It was fascinating to see how post-war austerity had influenced the designs, limiting the colour palette and size of the pattern repeats and also how artists such as Henry Moore (see pic below), Barbara Hepworth, John Piper (see pic above) and Graham Sutherland had collaborated with fabric producers on their ranges.
All in all it was fantastic stuff, but there was so much to take in each section could almost have warranted a day on its own. I left feeling very inspired and determined to look into areas of particular interest in more detail, particularly the fabrics from the period.