Thursday, December 1, 2016

Holly Jolly December!



Wow! December 1st already. That came around quickly. I love December. And when I say I love December, I say it in the voice of child. I turn into a kid again in December. I love Christmas and I am really looking forward to Christmas this year. My granddaughter (and her folks, of course) will be and there is nothing more exciting than celebrating Christmas with an excited little kid. 

I have never had such a busy Autumn. I've had commissions and new stockists and new makes and have, on top of all of that, been working on the re-branding of Ailleas Designs. It is has been invigorating and exhausting. But I wouldn't have it any other way. 

If you check out the website, you will see some additional brooches have been added. This weekend, I am planning on spending some time photographing new items for the site. I have one more event for the year (having had to cancel my Exclusively Highlands' events). I am very much looking forward to Fayre in the Square in Gairloch just before Christmas. It is a great opportunity for sharing new designs with the community and let them have a peek at what I'm doing now.

I will shortly be composing my newsletter. I am going to have a generous offer for this month, good until December 18th, as December 19th will be my last day for mailing out packages. A gift of jewellery is always such a good idea for the holidays. And what better than one-of-a-kind designs in warm copper or bronze?

I hope you all have a lovely holiday, whichever of the myriad winter holidays is the one you celebrate in your home. Regardless of the holiday celebrated, it is time for love, family, and laughter. What more could we possibly want?

All the best to all of you and thank you for your continuing interest in The Selkie's Haunt.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Stockist Changes and More Brooches

Brooches are proving very popular and I'm thrilled at the response I've had. In fact, the wonderful Ceard in Ullapool likes them so much that they will now be stocking them. And, best of all, they will be displaying them with woolen/fabric work. They look so wonderful "in situ" and I know that the pairing will complement both. 

So, I have been busy with brooches. I have created seven new brooches for Ceard, and I had the best time doing it. I went a little off traditional design, too, creating some that incorporate embellishments and one that is not round at all. 

I love the look of the polished piece when they are complete. Polished bronze is, I think, far more beautiful than gold. The softness of the colour is less stark than gold, but still has a shine to it that is rich and deep. And, of course, when you combine the shine of the metal with the incredible colours and textures of yarn and felt, it simply makes the metal look even more beautiful. Scarves and shawls are popular here in the Highlands, as I suspect they are everywhere else. As we approach the cold winter months, more and more people will be donning their thick woolens, and what better to decorate those woolens, than handmade brooches. I look forward to seeing how the brooches sell.

Unfortunately, I came to realisation that I needed to withdraw my work from another stockist. Sales were not going well there, despite record-breaking months for my own sales. So, it was with a good deal of sadness that I have left that stockist. But, I have my sights set on stockists farther afield in the new year. I am hoping that, after spending the first quarter of 2017 hard at work in the studio, I will have many beautiful pieces to share with potential stockists throughout Scotland and perhaps into England as well. 

Over the winter months, I will be adding pendants, rings, and bangles to my current offerings for The Selkie's Haunt. I am looking forward to creating these pieces. Many will feature beautiful and colourful stone cabochons and many will feature multi-layered designs. I can't wait to see what happens!

Remember, handmade jewellery is a perfect gift for someone special this holiday season. I have more events planned before Christmas and will be mailing (UK) packages up to the 16th of December. While commissioned work may be more difficult to complete during that time, the sooner you contact me the better if you wish to have something custom made. 

I look forward to writing to you again next month. Thank you, as always for your interest in The Selkie's Haunt.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Christmas is Coming!

As it is now October 1st, I think we can say the season for gift shopping has officially begun. And I am looking forward to providing lovely jewellery gifts for folks who are looking for that special, exclusive piece of artisan jewellery to give to their friend or family member. I've been keeping very busy with lots of new makes. My goal is to upload at least 12 more items before mid-October - more in each category of my shop - to give you plenty of choice when doing your Christmas shopping.

This time of year makes choosing stones so much fun. Most natural stones are very earthy colours so, at this time of year, the stones match the season. My great love for creating leaf-like designs plays into the season as well, as I plan to include many autumnal pieces in the new offerings - bronze and copper complemented by rusts, dark greens, greys, and reds. I shall be adding more pieces that include very organic designs and these will carry over into bracelets and brooches. I've recently purchased some beautiful heavy tube beads in agate and jasper. They are amazing and look fabulous in chunky pieces that suit the heavier clothes of Autumn and Winter. I'm sure you will find many pieces you like when the new pieces are uploaded. And don't forget my lovely chunky brooches - they will look perfect with a shawl, scarf and on the cowl of a heavy winter sweater!

In addition to the new designs and makes in The Selkie's Haunt, I am working very hard on getting new pieces ready for the fine jewellery business, Ailleas Designs. The brand is getting a whole new look starting at the end of November, along with all the new designs that include set gemstones and touches of 18ct gold. In fact, over the next month, I am working on two commissioned pieces - both completely 18ct gold with set gemstones. I love working with gold, but I am always pleased when clients begin the consultation with, "I know it's going to be expensive." Gold of this quality is expensive, but so worth it. I can't wait to finish these pieces and present them to their owners. It is going to be so special. Other designs for Ailleas Designs were created for the British Red Cross annual Fashion Show in London. I was invited to create and donate pieces for a pop-up designer boutique. I am humbled by the names of the other designers with which I will be sharing space. Very exciting and will hopefully get the word out there.

It feels as if my business, my brand, is finally gaining real recognition and appreciation. They say it can take years for a business to become established and, if true, I am probably right on schedule. I've been running my business for close to 7 years now. Time for success, I think.

In addition to all my "professional creativity," I am crocheting a huge blanket for my granddaughter. It is all go here, that's for sure. But soon enough, Christmas will be over and it will be time for a little quiet. Of course, I look forward to spending more time in the studio over the winter months, creating even more beautiful jewellery for 2017.


Thursday, September 1, 2016

Burning the midnight oil...



I have been so very, very busy lately. Increased sales means restocking and that means I have more work to do. Along with keeping my stock up for The Selkie's Haunt, I am working hard and furiously to get everything ready for the "big reveal" for Ailleas Designs by Martha Gates Mawson. The process of creating fine jewellery takes a bit longer than the process for the bronze and copper jewellery, as pieces must go to the assay office before stones are added. My target is to get a dozen or so pieces to the assay office by the second week in September so they are back, set, and photographed by October 1. All this is in preparation for a relaunch sometime in November. A busy time to be sure. All of my fine jewellery, regardless of the weight of the precious metal, will now be hallmarked. I am proud of my work and I want my mark on it!

I am so happy with how my work has progressed over the last couple of years. My skills have been more sharply honed and I am feeling confident with each new technique that I employ. The pieces I have made have a polish to them I haven't seen before. And yet, my greatest supporters tell me that my style remains, my "signature" is consistent, but it is even more than it was. That makes me happy.

In addition to changing the way I do things with my fine jewellery, I will be making some administrative changes to The Selkie's Haunt as well. I am going to make some changes in how the jewellery is sold locally - stopping with some stockists while adding some new ones. My participation in the Poolewe Tuesday Market has been the most successful change in the way I do things and I am hopeful that that association can continue far into the future. My "setting up shop" at the GALE Centre will not continue next year, as those I see in the centre are always at the Poolewe Market. My biggest change in the admin of my business is that, with the exception of one stockist, I will attempt to operate on a wholesale basis only.

Being an independent artist/jeweller is a challenge and a privilege. I adore my work and I love watching the creations emerge from my bench. More than anything, I adore the conversations I have with the folks who stop by and admire my work. It means the world to me. 

I have recently delivered more jewellery to the Aultbea Hotel - some beautiful new earrings, bracelets, and necklaces. Once I have finished my push with the fine jewellery, I will return to the bronze and copper jewellery to create some pendants and rings to join the earrings, bracelets, brooches, and necklaces that are currently available. I love every minute of it.

Monday, August 1, 2016

A busy summer...

I am thrilled to announce that I've added two more Poolewe Tuesday Markets to my schedule of events for the summer. I'm so pleased. I really enjoy the markets - both the visitors and the other stallholders make it such a joy. I recently purchased an antique sterling silver pocket watch from one of the other stallholders (he has lovely antiques) to give Chris as an anniversary present. Another stallholder created a stunning piece of pewter art, which I immediately had to have. I feel very strongly about our community supporting each other.

While I have been busy creating more pieces for The Selkie's Haunt, my attention is now on creating new pieces for my fine jewellery line, Ailleas Designs by Martha Mawson. I am aiming for a
relaunch of the website - and the introduction of beautiful new designs incorporating 18ct gold and faceted gemstones - around 1 October. Of course, like all my plans, I realise I have to be flexible. Living with severe arthritis due to Ehlers Danlos Syndrome means I have to realise that I am sometimes limited by chronic pain. I was planning on more time in the studio today, but instead I have to change my plans. Thankfully, I can spend the day with my legs up, sitting on the sofa and working on my blogs and my newsletters. There is always something I can do, despite my pain levels. (The HMRC requires that self-employed individuals spend at least 16 hours a week working - I've reported to them that my normal week is 34 hours - which is probably several hours short of what I actually do.)

So far, I've created five new pairs of earrings for one of the collections. I am aiming for six pieces of each collection and each category within the collection. Some collections will include pieces I already have. This means well over 100 new pieces of jewellery, and it is going to take some time; it will be well worth it in the end. In addition, I have to keep up stock levels for my stockists and for myself. I have two more weekends at the GALE Centre this year and a three-day event here in Aultbea next week. But I am happiest when I am busy and when I am out meeting folks and sharing my passion for my handcrafted jewellery. If only my pain would cooperate.

I don't have any new makes for The Selkie's Haunt to share with you at this time, but there are still so many beautiful pieces on offer through the website. I invite you to pop over and look over the pieces that are all one-offs - no repeats of design. That is what I love most about my work - that I can offer customers a piece of jewellery that speaks to them and they will be the only person to ever own that design. How special is that?

Friday, July 1, 2016

Brooches prove popular - designs and antiquing

I was fairly confident that brooches would prove popular, and I was right. I sold a fair few during the last market and have now provided Lael Craft Gallery with some brooches and will be providing the Aultbea Hotel with some, as well. And I've been getting very creative with them. 

Introducing designs on designs:





In both these cases, I have attached lovely accents to the ends of the penannular brooches and, in the case of the copper on copper, I have attached an accent to the pin as well. The second brooch, which is destined for the hotel, has sterling silver accents. I am very pleased with these designs and will be using this design method more in future.  

In addition to adding accents, I have been taking advantage of my ever-so-smelly patination solution to add age to my pieces. You can see it in both the brooches above. In addition, I have used patination with a pair of earrings:



I have been on a bit of a creative binge with the bronze and copper jewellery, but time has come to get some beautiful new pieces of fine jewellery made. I have just completed my first hand-knotted pearl necklace and will be doing a second one very shortly. In addition, I will be making some beautiful earrings using faceted set stones, and the penannular brooches will be created in sterling silver with cabochon accents. I am so looking forward to sitting down with my silver and gold again. 

Don't forget to check out the website for new additions and sign up for The Selkie's Haunt's monthly newsletter for news and subscriber discounts. The link to the website can be found in the sidebar here on this page and you can sign up to the newsletter by clicking here.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Introducing "Moira"

From the first moment I decided on the name "The Selkie's Haunt", I have been searching for the perfect illustration. A dear friend, who is also a talented artist, created a selkie for me, but it just didn't seem to fit as I wished. I knew what I wanted, but couldn't explain it. And then I saw exactly what I wanted - a search on "selkie" brought up an image for a page on DeviantArt. The artist, Kate O'Keefe, creates amazing artwork and illustrations. I loved her selkie - exactly the kind of art I had hoped for for so many years.  I found Kate's contact information, wrote her a note, and waited for her answer.

Kate responded with a resounding "yes" to my proposal of a commissioned selkie. I provided Kate with the details of the landscape and even sent along a photograph of bog cotton - so prevalent around here. Kate did her research, too, looking at my website and seeing the sort of jewellery I make. She used the designs to create the jewellery the selkie has discovered in the painting. 

After backing and forthing with sketches and suggestions, Kate presented me with my completed painting. It took and continues to take my breath away. I love the feel of it - like a classic illustration to a children's book of fairy tales. When I debuted my selkie on Facebook, one of my most loyal customers said the illustration matches my brand perfectly. That, that statement, was exactly what I hoped for. 

Since Kate sent me my beautiful selkie, I have put the selkie on everything that has to do with my business. She will grace my display, my business cards, my receipts, my informational flyers, my letterhead, my certificates. She is here on the blog, on my newsletter, on the website, and on my social media pages, from Facebook to Twitter. She will be not just my "mascot", but I have no doubt she will be my good luck charm as well, and my muse. I look forward to receiving the hard copy of this painting. She will be framed in something befitting her beauty and will hang on the wall to inspire me every single day.

Kate is a talented illustrator/artist and you can see more of her work on her website, http://kate-okeefe.weebly.com. To me, her art is reminiscent of the best of the bygone illustrators for classic children's books. Her illustrations remind me very much of Arthur Rackham, who I've long considered THE best illustrator for children's books. This image of my selkie fills me with such joy and I have no doubt she will charm my clients as well.

I have decided to call my selkie Moira. Moira is Scottish Gaelic for "star of the sea." Moira is that, indeed, and more. She is the personification of what I want my artwork to be - elegant, charming, magical, one-of-a-kind, and something that makes you smile. We will make a good team, Moira and I. 

Happy...

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Brooches and other beauties...

Recently, I have been sitting down to my workbench with the express purpose of creating something that will challenge my skills and imagination. Of course, sometimes, one or the other is challenged. That is certainly the case with my newest creations - brooches. While I could have taken one of several options as to my inspiration, I chose to look at the styles of brooches most closely associated with Scotland and the use of base metals. This brought me to the designs and allure of the fibula brooch and the penannular brooch, both relatively simple in concept, but challenging in design. I want my designs, as always, to be just a bit different. And while the fibula brooch can be almost anything, the penannular brooch is proving more generic, so I am trying to find ways to make my creations just that little bit different. Both these brooches go back millennia in terms of their history and both started with the express purpose of simply fastening garments. Both present me with limitless ideas.


The fibula brooch is most associated with the early Roman empire, the name taken from the Latin for "brooch" was most simply a fastening device made from one continuous piece of wire. The brooch itself is made of four parts - the body, spring, pin, and hinge. The most recognisable is the safety pin style of fibula, but the use of an alternative spring mechanism (rather than a single loop of wire) transfers the fibula to something more design-led. For my fibula-inspired pins, I have used long lengths of both copper and bronze wire and created loops and spirals, accented by gemstone beads. So far, I have created three of them, but I have so many ideas, I have no doubt I will soon have a dozen or so from which clients may choose. One of the designs is shown here, with a single amethyst accenting the undulating length of bronze wire. This is the longest of the current offerings and is about 4 inches long. The gauge of the wire means that it can be worn with fabrics such as linen or cotton, rather than simply large weave woolens. I haven't named this piece yet, but I anticipate that most of my fibula-inspired pieces will bear the names of Roman goddesses and queens.


In addition to using plain wire, these pieces lend themselves to the look of an antique piece by introducing patination. I have done just this with this second brooch - a copper brooch accented by a single malachite bead. By introducing a patination agent, I've been able to darken the metal, polishing it after to create highlights and even more depth to the design. I love this piece. It is much smaller than the bronze fibula brooch, measuring about 2 inches in length.

In addition to the movement of the wire and the use of patination, I've used many of my various tools to create different textures and dimensions to the pieces. These pieces take a great deal of work to create, due to the need to create a tapered pin, a spring, and a design that can hold one's interest. I certainly felt the work the next day in my shoulders and arms. Who knows, after a lifetime of trying to find exercises to alleviate the appearance of "bingo wings," I may find that forging brooches will provide me with just the right exercise!

The second brooch I referred to and that I have enjoyed creating is the penannular brooch. This is a two-part brooch consisting of a large circle (usually with an opening) and an attached pin. The pin is placed through the fabric of the garment that is being fastened and then the brooch is rotated so that the pin rests against the circle, having been accessed through the opening. In addition to the semi-circular penannular brooch, it is possible to create a brooch with a complete circle and a separate pin. I will be creating some of these in the days to come. I will also be creating these in sterling silver and some will be mounted with gemstones and cabochons.

These brooches are often associated with Celtic cultures, such as ancient days here in Scotland or in Ireland. The size of these brooches means that they are often used for fastening heavier weave clothing, but I am working on some small and much lighter brooches that could be used on finer materials.

This first penannular brooch may be my favourite. Here I've combined three lengths of bronze wire and twisted them for a braided look (not the easiest thing to do in the world, by the way). I've then applied fire to the ends of the wire to create a bead from all three pieces. I've added an oxidising agent to give the piece an antique look, using sandpaper to remove the patination from some of the metal. The final look is very ancient and I love it. It is a rather small brooch and would look amazing on a scarf or cowl.  I am really quite taken with this brooch. I am sure it will sell well when it is first offered at the Gale Centre on June 11-12.

The second penannular brooch I am sharing here is more common for this particular style of brooch. Here I've used hammered copper, polished to a bright finish. This brooch is quite large, so would be best used when fastening a heavy wool scarf or something with an open weave. I can see this brooch being used on a tartan wrap. (I am looking forward to coming up with wonderful ways to display these brooches on my table.) 

I have two other penannular brooches - one small copper brooch and a very large brooch with fabulous wirework at the terminals. Because of where I live and sell my designs, I am quite sure keeping a fair number of these in stock will make good business sense. They are lovely brooches that convey a feeling Celtic antiquity, and I really love that. Not only that, but the process of creating them is metalsmithing at its most basic and probably using the oldest methods there are. I feel so accomplished when I complete one.

Other news - I am currently working with a Canadian designer on a new logo and look for the business' website, packaging, and materials. I have long searched for a graphic that would give me just what I wanted to convey in terms of magic and joy. Hopefully, the new look will be up and running by mid-month.

As always, thank you for your interest in The Selkie's Haunt. Your interest in my business means so much.



Sunday, May 1, 2016

Busy, busy, busy...

This past month featured my debut at the popular Poolewe Tuesday Market and I have been so pleased with how well my work has been received. I will be back again for the three middle Tuesdays in May and glad to have a break, as I need to make more jewellery! Earrings are selling very well, and I will be adding brooches and bangles to the mix this month. In addition, I have an exhibition to get ready for, so it's full speed ahead for The Selkie's Haunt.

As I've explained before, over the past 18 months or so, I have been working "behind the scenes", perfecting metalsmithing skills and taking on new methods and ways to present my work. It is amazing and so very much fun. My patience has taken on new levels of longevity, as has been necessary when working with metals and fire. Things don't always go as you wish. I used to be the type to get frustrated, throw it all in the bin, and give up. But no more. I have so much I want to achieve and I am bound and determined to succeed. What I have done thus far is just the tip of the iceberg. I have so much to share.

Over the next month, I am going to make one major change to the way in which I present my work to you online. I am awaiting the delivery of a new bit of kit for my photography. I think it will give my images more depth and more realism. At least, that is the reason for the change. I will not be taking photographs of new pieces until the bit of kit arrives, but hope to be able to unveil the new images by the first full week in May. So, do make sure to check the site once that week arrives. So many new pieces to be seen and in a way that will vastly improve the viewing experience.

The Dornoch Summer Exhibition - May 21 through June 4
As I stated in the first paragraph, I am going to be preparing for an exhibition that takes place starting on the 21st of May. The Dornoch Summer Exhibition is a fortnight-long exhibition that features the work of artists in this corner of Scotland. I took part last year with my sterling silver jewellery. This year, it will be the turn of The Selkie's Haunt to be in the spotlight. I will be delivering ten pieces of jewellery to the gallery mid-month, ready for the big day. I am very confident that my work will sell well.

Speaking of selling well, I had a very good April at Lael Craft Gallery near Ullapool. While it was reported that footfall was not particularly huge, my work generated a good number of sales and I'm so proud of that success. I delivered new stock to them on the 24th and the new work is now out on display. I am hoping for a very good season.

Amongst the new pieces you will be seeing when the photographs are finally taken are more post-style earrings - all with sterling silver posts and backs. There will be bangles and brooches, along with some additional bracelets, necklaces, and pendants. I am thrilled with the direction my work is taking, and I look forward to exploring all the options open to me as I add to my repertoire of skills.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Spring is here!

What a strange month March was. In addition to not having particularly lovely weather, it was a time of changes for me. After seeing my neurologist at the end of February, and, thankfully, receiving the news that I have essential tremor and not Parkinson’s, it was time for an adjustment of my pain meds. After some to-ing and fro-ing that made me feel a bit manic, we have settled down with morphine tablets. They are handling the pain pretty well, but, oh my, between them and the beta blockers for my tremor, I couldn’t be more relaxed. And that’s not always good! I’ve produced far less this month than I had hoped, and my anticipated new collection for Ailleas Designs hasn’t even been started.  But I’ve been very busy with my bronze and copper jewellery. With two events this month, and then increasing numbers of events until December, I need to be sure to have a substantial amount of stock available for those events, and have some available for my stockists as well (I am anticipating one new stockist to be announced fairly soon). And I’m still working on that. I’m finishing up my first brooch, to be followed by more. I’ve opted against making rings in bronze and copper because, unlike silver and gold, the solder does not precisely match the metal in colour and I don’t like the visible seams. While that is more acceptable in general pieces, I don’t feel that rings would benefit from that look. I will continue to try to see if I can get a technique perfected that will not give me visible seams, but I am not going to concentrate on rings for now. Instead, I will be doing more with pendants, some bangles, and more detailed metalsmithing and designing.

If you follow my Facebook page, you will have seen the photograph of this pendant that I created using copper and a beautiful 4.5mm rhodalite garnet. I love the look, but didn’t feel the finish was as perfect as I wanted it to be. It became, instead, a gift for a friend. She loves it and, as another friend said, my not quite perfect is probably perfect by anyone else’s estimation; but still, I have my standards for making things to sell. I will be using this technique on other pieces, including its use with the precious metals and faceted stones. I am looking forward to exploring the designs that appear in my mind. This particular design reminds me of far eastern/medieval textiles. What other amazing looks can I create? I am limited only by my imagination and how far I can manipulate the metal. But I do love the process.

In addition to the markets in which I will be taking part, I will spend part of April preparing pieces for the Dornoch Summer Exhibition. The exhibition runs for two weeks from May 21 until June 4. I am so happy to be taking part again this year. I will be providing some innovative work for the exhibition and hope to sell well.


I am looking forward to working with larger and differently shaped cabochons as I expand my offerings for The Selkie’s Haunt. Keep your eyes on my Facebook page and my website to see new pieces as they are added. It’s going to be an exciting time.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

A busy February...

Copper bracelet with Brazilian amethyst and labradorite
These past six weeks have been all about making. In addition to creating the perfect look for my packaging/branding, I also wanted to take my designs to the next level. And I have been doing just that. I am pleased that say that, by mid-February, I was able to post 10 new pairs of earrings and a new necklace. Some sales of jewellery from the Aultbea Hotel meant a restock, including a stunning copper bracelet that was created completely by hand. When, in the past, I wanted copper chain, I simply bought it. That is no longer the case. I am now making all the chains, links, pins, etc., for each piece. So this bracelet, pictured here, was a real triumph for me. The copper bracelet is comprised of 27 hand-forged links, hand-forged clasp, and 81 hand-forged pins. The African amethysts I've used number 54 - two to each link, and the stunning labradorite, with its amazing flashes of colour, number 27, one to each link. This bracelet is now on offer at the Aultbea Hotel for the cost of £70. A pretty amazing piece of jewellery.

Copper post earrings with
bezel set peridot
I had a wonderful time creating my new pieces. One pair, which I've called "Celtic Swirls", features two separate pieces of copper, soldered together, and a bezel setting and decorative wirework soldered onto the face of the earrings. These earrings feature sterling silver posts and earrings backs. In my pledge to make everything myself, the earrings backs are the only things that I am buying in. As they are not an intrinsic part of the design, I am not as concerned about them being bought complete. But I will continue to make, by hand, all the parts of each of my designs.

Bronze earrings with handforged
chains, green fluorite, and
A-grade carnelian
These bronze earrings, which feature beautiful green fluorite and A-grade carnelian, are another pair of post earrings. The delicate chain of bronze wire that connects the hammered bronze round to the stones beneath, is, once again, completely hand made. The sense of achievement that comes with this sort of work is exhilarating. To see all the new designs, pop over to the website at www.selkieshaunt.com. You can also follow The Selkie's Haunt on Twitter and Facebook.

Finally, I just want to thank all of my friends and Selkie's Haunt followers for their good wishes. I have been dealing with a hand tremor for the past couple of years, but it had become much more prevalent and was causing problems with me doing my work. My GP put me on beta blockers and referred me to a neurological consultant. I had my appointment and I'm relieved to say that I do not have early Parkinson's Disease. I do, however, have a condition called Essential Tremor. It will be with me for the rest of my life and will have moments of making things difficult, but the beta blockers are doing a good job of easing the tremors and I will continue to find ways to work that will allow me to create my work without fear of setting myself on fire! So, thank you for your good thoughts.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Getting "the" look...

One of the things that plagues many artists is getting the look of the "brand" just right. Over the years, from the beginning of this business back in 2009, I have tried so many different colours and textures for my packaging. And while I wasn't unhappy with the look, I wasn't happy, either. Just as my jewellery has evolved, so has my vision of what the branding should be.

Finally, I have the look I want for The Selkie's Haunt. All Selkie's Haunt jewellery will now be sent out in beautiful brown kraft paper pillow boxes, accented by deep green raffia ribbon and the Celtic knotwork graphic I've chosen as my logo. The jewellery will be wrapped in gorgeous green mulberry tissue paper before being placed in the box. And once the package is tagged and bedecked with ribbon, bubble wrap will be placed around the box before it goes into a padded envelope. Even the mailing labels have been changed so as to give a consistent brand look.

The website has been given a makeover to reflect the new branding, as well. As I move forward with my new designs, they will continue to be presented on a white background with a green frame. So, it only took me seven years, but, at last, I have the look I have wanted for the brand. (And, yes, even this blog has been changed to reflect the new brand colours.)

I've been spending time in the studio working on new designs. I have the beginnings for three pairs of copper earrings complete now after a day of cutting, sawing, soldering, pickling, and tumbling. I will be working on some bronze earrings as well and hope to have at least six new pairs of earrings ready by mid-February. Some of the new earrings will have posts rather than hooks and these will be done in sterling silver. I am making the posts myself, as part of my quest to provide as much as I can that is handmade. The only thing I can't make by hand are the earring backs, so those will be bought in. I simply don't have the equipment or expertise for making those myself.

I recently purchased some beautiful 3.5mm cabochon pairs in six different gemstones. These will be adorning new earrings and I'm so excited about the prospects of more jewellery featuring set stones. I will be creating some rings and brooches along with the necklaces, bracelets, and earrings that I have offered for the past seven years. I hope you will love them as much as I will love creating them.

Finally, I am thrilled to announce that The Selkie's Haunt will be taking part in some of the very popular Poolewe Tuesday Markets, starting in April. I look forward to being part of this very successful market. In addition, The Selkie's Haunt will be featured in the Dornoch Summer Exhibition from May 21 to June 4. I'm looking forward to creating some very beautiful pieces for this exhibition.

Friday, January 1, 2016

The promise and potential of a new year!

There is something incredibly inspiring about turning the page on a whole new year; a blank page that is limited only by the imagination, ready to fill with dreams and aspirations. I love the idea of a new year, new ideas, and new goals.

I have been working very hard over the last year, trying to perfect new techniques and skills. Some of those you can already see amongst my offerings – metalwork that allows me to create organic shapes and soldering metals for even more three-dimensional designs, amongst other new designs and techniques. And I intend to keep going with these to create even more sculptural pieces of jewellery. In addition to more and more sophisticated metalwork, I will be working with set gemstones and cabochons. I look forward to bringing more innovative designs to you in the coming year. I will be working with even larger pieces of metal and will be creating my own chains and clasps. My goal is to create pieces that entirely handmade - without anything bought in already complete. In the past, I have used already-made chain, clasps, jump rings, etc. But that will no longer be the case. It may take me a little longer to make pieces, but I will be so proud, knowing that I created every single part of the design (excluding, of course, the stones used). I am having a great time creating interesting clasps, so look for more in the future that take on the appearance of leaves, flowers, and geometric shapes.

Speaking of stones used, you may have noticed the inclusion of small faceted gemstones in some of my designs. I have been including small A-grade stones as accents for several months now and intend to continue doing so. These stones come to me from the same gemmologist who supplies the highly graded gemstone beads I use in my fine jewellery range, Ailleas Designs by Martha Mawson. I felt and still feel that just because the metal is base, the stones needn't be basic. So more beautiful gemstones will be showing up in the jewellery from The Selkie's Haunt. In addition, the cabochons and cut stones that will appear over the next year are being sourced from a respected London-based gems specialist and a fellow member of the National Association of Jewellers. While I adore the colours and earthy feel of the less highly graded stones, and they will continue to make up the majority of those stones used in the bronze and copper jewellery, I see no reason not to include some really dazzling stones as well.

Health issues continue to slow me down, but certainly not in the area of creating my jewellery. Christmas was an exceptionally busy time for me and I need to create more to give my clients even more choice in choosing their piece of bronze or copper artisan jewellery. The website will be continually updated to share new pieces with you. In addition to continuing to sell from the website and from events,  I would like to make my jewellery more available to stockists on a wholesale basis. I will be seeking out new stockists, reaching farther out in Scotland and beyond. I would certainly welcome any recommendations my customers might make regarding local shops or galleries that may be interested in carrying my work. So, please do get in touch if you have any ideas or suggestions.

The Selkie’s Haunt had a good 2015. I hope 2016 will be even better!