Liberte is a new collection of jewellery by Helen Clarence Designs. Inspired by the concept of ‘liberte’, but what is Liberte? It’s freedom to choose, it’s individuality, it’s confidence.

The colours in this collection are bold and vivid, there are no soft pinks or blues or pastels shades. The patterns are geometric and the jewellery is sculptural. This selection is designed to be worn in the office but also to take you into the evening.

Currently you can found this collection in Showroom 23 in Paris, in La Boutique Des artisans d’Aubusson and by commission.

Marchés de Noël

Pour trouver mes bijoux ce Noël, visite l’Ephemere Boutique à Guéret, 21 Grand Rue ou marché de Noël le Bourganeuf samedi 10 décembre 08:00 à 17:00, ou le Noël marché Ahun 08:00 à 14:00 mise en garde le 11. Beaucoup de main inhabituelle réalisaient des bijoux perlé pour des cadeaux uniques. Vous y voir !

Pop Up shop for Christmas

If you are in the Limousin this Christmas time then visit the pop up shop in Gueret (23) where there is a boutique open every day from 14th November to 24th, 10h to 19h non stop. Sixteen local artisans are selling their wares, including my jewellery, so you will be able to buy unique hand crafted presents from small business owners. See you there!

Boutique ephemere

Boutique ouvert a Gueret 12 juillet jusqu a premier septembre. Le boutiwue est ouvert mardi a samedi 10h – 19h non-stop. Il y a 18 artisan de la Creuse; bijoux, vetements, sacs, article des toiles, fer, tisane, nougat, potterie etc.

Studio Open

The studio is open to visit at the following times:
Friday, Saturday and Sunday 2pm – 6pm April, May, June & September
Tuesday – Sunday 2pm – 6pm July and August
Come and visit my studio, see my work and have a chat!

Premier May

Well, the sun may be shining but its freezing outside and its the 1st of May. That’s a big holiday here in France, the start of good times to be had with summer just around the cornier and indeed the weather forecast is promising summery temperatures by the end of the week. ‘Premier mai’ is a time for giving and receiving lily-of-the-valley flowers here in France. I love these flowers, they have a heavenly scent and are so unassuming a plant that, for me, they just scream ‘chic’. I made a brooch and a bracelet last year with lily-of-the-valley as the inspiration, but this year I’ve added to the collection with a quick make of a spring bracelet in luscious greens, a touch of pink and blue and some quiet bead which I’ve used as ‘dangler’ in this beaded charm bracelet. The bracelet is in the shop, and there is also a similar make but in autumn colours (not that I’m wishing the year away!).

Christmas weekend / Weeknd gourmand anglais de Noel

If you are in the region 5th, 6th and 7th December then visit the studio and sample some traditional Christmas fair; mince pies, shortbread and so on and try some mulled wine while you can browse for Christmas presents. An event to get you in the Christmas mood.
venez choisir vos cadeaux de Noel et deguster nos patisseries traditionelles de Noel, accompagnees de vin chaud…..
Open / ouvert 14h-18h decembre 5, 6 et 7
If you cannot make this weekend I will also be open at the same time every Friday – Sunday up to Christmas.

faux shibori bracelet

I was intrigued recently when trawling the internet looking at jewellery to find that one of the latest crazes in bead embroidery is incorporating shibori silk ribbon with the beads to create some wonderful jewellery. Now, bead embroidery, for some reason that escapes me, is not something that I have done a great deal – odd when you think that I trained as an embroiderer!
I thought I would try my own shibori bracelet as I loved the effect and its good to try something different every now and again. However when I found a supplier of the beautiful hand dyed silk ribbon I was put off by the cost – if I was to make a piece of jewellery using this then by the time I’ve finished and priced it I knew the cost would make a very expensive product and hard to sell so I looked for an alternative. Using a piece of hand dyed habotai silk that I had hidden away in a box of ‘bits’ I made the resulting bracelet. I found that the fabric does not have to be cut on the bias, (as the ribbon is), just make the silk double the width of the bracelet and a little longer. I sewed the silk to the ends of pelmet vilene turning under a small hem to hide the raw edges and then folded the silk and caught down the folds with tiny stitches using ordinary sewing cotton. These stitches were later hidden with the bezelled rivoli’s and other beads that were back stitched in place. I am pleased with the result and of course I am now thinking of all the other lovely fabrics that I could incorporate into my jewellery…red velvet for Christmas perhaps?

Shop opening

I know its said that its a sign of age when time starts to slip through your fingers at an alarming rate and here we are in May with my last blog some embarrassing weeks ago. Well, I have given myself a hard slap on the wrist and a promise to be more vigilant with time and here I am with another blog. My excuse has been the hard work that went into finally being able to open my studio and shop in France. It is quite amazing how many – and how long – of  those fiddly little jobs there are to do. Things that you thought would only take five minutes and in fact they take two hours because you can’t find the sellotape /nails / hammer / paint brush – the one where the bristle actually stay attached to the brush handle as opposes to falling in the pot of paint. However I opened officially at the beginning of April in conjunction with the Metier d’Art and ‘Journees European’ 2014 and was so pleased to see a large number of visitors that weekend. My feature dog rose necklace was centre stage – see the next blog, as well as some other pieces that were newly finished.

The shop is filled with up-cycled furniture and beautifully embroidered table cloths (mostly inherited from my mother and grandmother). An old and very worn melamine drawer unit was glued and painted and then stenciled with paint though some doilies and looks so different that I was incredibly pleased – well, everyone likes a bargain and it cost me only a pack of paper doilies and the paint!

The shop is open Tuesday to Friday afternoons 2pm – 6pm throughout the year and Tuesday to Sunday in July and August. If you are in the Limousin in France then drop in for a look round, a demonstration or a try at beading or just for a coffee and a chat!

The Wonder of Christmas Markets

I have had the wonderful opportunity of visiting  various Christmas markets over the festive season, two in France (although one was in the Alsace and is as near to Germany as you can get without actually being there!) and two in Scotland. It was interesting looking at the way in which different countries tackle markets and the difference in produce available. The market I visited in Glasgow was small but very popular with the locals adding a certain ambiance to the whole affair, the one in Edinburgh delightful because it is set around a park and the Christmas lights and ice rink add to the atmosphere hugely. However the produce here was nearly all imported goods. In France the fare for sale was mostly locally produced handcrafted items which I find much more interesting. Mulled wine was available at each one and of course I had to try some in each destination but was unable to set a preference! (Perhaps I should have studied harder?)

I walked past smelly cheese stalls, handcrafted chocolate stalls, hat and wooly jumper stalls and of course many jewellery stalls. I am yet to walk past any jewellery stalls however that has jewellery for sale made from beads and off loom weaving. Perhaps it is just to expensive to produce because of the time involved; competing against quickly strung beads or imported silver from India. I can’t believe that there are not the people out there making this stuff, but then again its not as if I had a stall at one of these markets – mental note to sell before the New Year starts, must try harder to ‘get out there’!

The photo shows the church at Mulhouse wonderfully lit up at their Christmas market.

Life in France

I have had a love affair with France for many years now and finally got to move the Limousin two years ago. Limousin is right bang in the middle of the country. We have cold winters with snow but hot summers and four very definite seasons which I love and find excitement with each changing season. Limousin has three ‘departements’ and I live in the Creuse which is the least inhabited (and stupidly one of the seven regions of France which does not produce its own wine!). It does however have the most spectacular countryside and I live amongst woodland and rolling hills and hedgerow full of wildflowers. It has most definitely influenced my work in both embroidery and beading; I find myself almost exclusively trying to recreate the colours and forms of the flowers.

Selling my work here is a challenge because of the language however the culture in France is to shop in markets and they are everywhere, making it easy to sell wares directly to the public for very little outlay. I have also found a shop in a local town which runs like a gallery charging commission. I think its a great way to have a shop. The shop owner doesn’t need to buy stock reducing overheads and artists get a chance to sell products in a ‘proper’ shop. I wish I could find more of these shops in other parts of the country!

Welcome…

I’ve been ‘beading’ – very much a verb, for 10 years. I now sell my designs in the made up form and also as patterns and kits but have been shy of ‘blogging’ – another new verb – but at last have taken the plunge.

I love texture in my work and use a variety of stitches, mainly peyote, netting, herringbone and right angle weave. As a trained embroiderer you would think that I would love bead embroidery but for some reason I just love off-loom bead weaving. I think it’s the idea of creating a fabric from nothing, just the beads and the thread.

I live in a very rural part of France and find my inspiration all around me; to love living here you have to love the countryside. I get excited about small things like the carpet of moss covering my local forest floor, tree stumps with mushrooms growing out of them; coloured beetles that make you wonder how on earth do they fly?;  to hummingbird moths and fuzzy caterpillars. What I see every day as I walk out with my Border collie dog keeps me coming back for more and wondering how will I find the time to recreate it all in beads?

I hope as I develop my blogging skills I’ll be able to share my enthusiasm for the visual world I live in, in both words and in beads!