Lockdown Jewellery Stories

We are living through times that are radically different from any that we have experienced before. Overnight seemingly my whole life was curtailed . Shows and classes were cancelled. Galleries closed. No more gallery duties for the foreseeable future. Like everyone I was in shock to begin with. I started planning new ways to work. Online classes and an online shop. Then my mother died and everything seemed too much to cope with for a while. Throughout it all I have continued working on new designs and pieces. It is how I cope with things when they are difficult. I have not been working as much as normal but I have kept going, in between looking after my family and helping them to deal with their new lives. For a while finding the food we normally ate was a challenge, especially as I wanted to restrict the amount of times I needed to visit supermarkets. Still we have evolved and changed. I now use farm shops and order boxes of meat, vegetables, fruit and salad which are either delivered or we collect locally. This has been a good change and we are really enjoying both the quality and variety of food. As it is a random selection, every meal is like an episode of Ready Steady Cook with a combination of ingredients to assemble into a meal. With more time available and my family around this has been fun. However, this is about the work I have been doing and the stories behind the pieces I have been making.

Cockatoo Pendant in “Silver Moon” setting.
Cloisonné enamel on silver.
Cockatoo Pendant earrings.
Cloisonné enamel on fine silver

There is more than one story behind these. When I started enamelling back in the 80s I used to make a number of bird designs. I remember large cloisonné on copper parrots and toucans brooches that I used to sell at local craft fairs. I made them in the evenings after my day in an office and sold them on Saturdays at several events a month. I have always had a fascination with birds particularly large and colourful ones. When my son was small he used to love birds and we used to visit Birdworld in Farnham, Surrey. We used to take a picnic and I used to try and draw them and encourage him too as well. My mother has always loved birds and animals too so when someone suggested I make a Cockatoo I jumped at it. I decided to try a different style for me and make it very simple. This is the result. I didn’t engrave the background I order to give it a more minimalist feel and the pendant is in one of my simple silver moon settings that are my own design and the earrings are just little fine silver blanks with a recess. The lack of separate setting makes them very light to wear and I think, they both look rather fun. Just right for the times we are living in.

Reverse of pendant showing the silver moon setting with the chain
Orange Hothouse Flower pendant
Cloisonné enamel on engraved silver in silver moon setting
Orange Hothouse flower earrings
Cloisonné enamel on fine silver

I have been remembering visits to Botanical Gardens, especially Kew Gardens which is a real favourite. I remember going with my mum and grandparents when it cost one old penny to visit. Years later when I was working in London I remember a picnic after work to celebrate a colleagues birthday. There were champagne and strawberries on a glorious July evening. Somehow we managed to get locked in having failed to hear the little bell they used to walk around with. Some two hours or so later when we tried to leave the gates were locked. We had to walk all around the boundary before we found a gardeners cottage and asked him to let us out. He wasn’t amused! The name is taken from a recent audio book I was listening to in the studio. Somehow it all came together and these are the result.

Bunny necklace
Cloisonné enamel on silver in “silver moon” setting
Bunny earrings
Cloisonné enamel on fine silver

I have made a number of Rabbit and Hare pieces over the years. I think I started when we got a gorgeous little rabbit called Bilbo as a pet for my son some twelve years ago. He used to spend much of his time sitting on the rug in the living room and I used to sit a draw him. He used to like to crawl up husband’s legs when he was sitting in his chair and nibble his moustache to groom him. He really was adorable. When he passed away we got the dog but that is another story. Anyhow, my fascination with rabbits stemmed from here and this one is similar in design and feel to the Cockatoo and represents another experiment.

Glasshouse Pendant
Cloisonné enamel on engraved silver in “silver moon” setting
Glasshouse earrings
Cloisonné enamel on fine silver

These are very much based on Kew Gardens, particularly the amazing glasshouses. The combination of the striking Victorian structures with the lush foliage from plants all around the world is an irresistible combination. Many of the plants of course are endangered and Botanical Gardens like Kew are vital to protect the diversity of our planet. We visited last summer to see the Chihuly Glass exhibition and I was entranced. It was simply breathtaking and you may notice one of his striking blue glass structures nestling on the edge. I was trying to capture the vibrancy of colour and the subtlety of the variety of greens. I have lots more designs in my head and I intend to do more on this theme.

I plan to put these pieces in my online shop. They are all new pieces that I have conceived in these rather unique times. Some may be the first in new collections whilst others will remain as one off pieces. I hope you have enjoyed hearing the stories behind them. Everything I make has a story because without stories we are just random entities. Stories bring us together and for me, they are what makes us human.


  1. ann thomson says

    Thanks for your posts. Your personal stories also teach readers to think about what they are doing and put a little of themselves into their work I enjoy following you