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!).
As my collection of brooches expands, this one is one of my favourites. The peacock brooch has a padded body with silk embroidery and the tail feathers and wings are bead embroidered with embellishments of crystals and glass pearls. To add more detail to the brooch, the beak is sculptured and painted clay and there are small wire and bead ‘feathers’ at the back of the head. An instant best seller so if you want one then please contact me to see if I have one in stock, otherwise you can order one for no extra cost, allowing up to three weeks for the work to be executed. The brooch measures around 90 x 40 mm and costs 60€.
The pomegranate has been used for centuries in many cultures as a symbol of strength and fertility. In this brooch an old symbol has been given a contemporary look with red and gold spotted leather, goldwork raised borders create an opening from which granite chip ‘seeds’ peek out. A small delicate fringing of glass beads and granite chips add movement to the brooch. The brooch is backed with green faux suede. The piece measures 85mm x 50mm and is priced at 45€. If you wish to purchase this brooch or commission something similar then please contact me to discuss your requirements.
Botswana Denim Necklace
An embroidered collar necklace featuring a delicate Botswana agate cabochon and a sandstone cabochon. The colours of this necklace are a denim blue with pewter, silver, pale turquoise and sand. The top of the necklace is a bead rope of denim blue and bronze which gently spiral towards a silver plate toggle clasp. The embroidery is backed with a sand coloured faux suede. The necklace is 45cm long (18″) and is 8cm long at the focal point. This is a unique piece that could be worn with a dress for an elegant occasion but equally looks great with a t-shirt creating a piece of jewellery with lots of opportunity for wear for many years to come.
The price of this necklace is 120€. REF N715
If you are interested in purchasing or for commissioning something similar then contact me to discuss your requirements.
All that glitters necklace
An unusual gold bead and embroidered necklace featuring a rectangular focal point of goldwork basket weave embroidery and gold leather, surrounded by tiny glass beads and pearls. The back of the embroidery is lined with yellow calf-skin leather. The necklace strap is made from gold glass beads with an abstract pattern. The clasp features a series of beaded loops creating the possibility of wearing this necklace at different lengths and is fastened with a bead toggle making it easy to get off and on. This is a sumptuous and unique piece of jewellery that will be treasured for many years.
Price 155€. Contact me for more details if you are interested in this piece or for commissioning a piece to your own specifications.
Chandelier Earring Collection
These earrings are all in the chandelier style for the romantics in us all. Made using either bead embroidery or are bead woven, both techniques result in an earring that is light and comfortable to wear. They are all unique pieces so if, like me, you love to be wearing something different then this jewellery is for you!
All the earring attachments, either studs or hooks, use 925 sterling silver so they are suitable for ladies with sensitive skin. An additional advantage of this is that silver will not tarnish and so will still look good to wear after many years of use.
As each pair of earrings are unique, prices can differ slightly according to the materials used and the complexity of design, but a guide price is around 30€ and the earrings come in a gift presentation box. If you see something you like and want to commission your own then please contact me to discuss your needs.
This is a sample of a collection of bracelets in a more classic style. Normally they are made to 16cm in length with an extension chain for a further 5cm, so they will fit any size wrist, important if you are choosing a bracelet for a gift! They are light to wear and are made from glass beads, pearls and crystals using only the highest quality of materials. The price range for this collection of bracelets is from 20€ to 50€ depending on the materials used and the complexity of the design and come with a presentation box. If you are interested ordering a bracelet from this collection then please contact me to discuss your needs.
Embroidered cuff bracelets
My cuff bracelets are made by using embroidery techniques to embellish leather (real or faux). Each bracelet is a unique piece and often the designs incorporate a semi-precious stone. the bracelets are embroidered with beads, crystals and smaller semi-precious beads or pearls which sit alongside the more traditional silk or goldwork embroidery. Usually the bracelet is closed with a button which make the bracelets easy to fasten or unfasten one handed – there is nothing more frustrating than not being able to fasten your jewellery by yourself.
If you see a bracelet here you like, please contact me for price and further details. As each bracelet is unique it is possible that the bracelet has already been sold but I am happy to make something similar where you will have the choice of colour, and bracelet length and width.
These bird brooches are a combination of silk thread embroidery and bead embroidery. They incorporate Swarovski crystals because a girl can never have enough sparkle, as well as pearls, sequins and glass beads. The sizes vary but are around 5 to 6 cm and will sit comfortably on a lapel or the shoulder area of a dress or blouse and because they are light they will not damage the fabric of your clothes. In the heat of summer its a great way to adorn yourself without the fuss of a necklace.
Beetle Brooch Sculptures
New to my collection of jewellery is what is developing into a veritable zoo; a collection of brooches inspired by beetles and dragonflies. These brooches are like mini sculptures so they serve two purposes, you can wear them or you can just place them somewhere into your home to admire. Using only the best materials, the highest quality glass beads, semi-precious stones and goldwork embroidery materials. Keep watching over the coming days and weeks as I add more!
A collection of bead embroidered cuff bracelet, earrings and brooch. Sumptuous red poppy flowers surrounded by a textured black background make for a stunning collection of jewellery. Each piece is unique. If you want to purchase please contact me via the contact page.
Swallowtail Butterfly Necklace
From the Floriana Collection, wear a butterfly and garden around your neck! This beautiful creation will not fade like real flowers and the delicacy of the butterfly will live on forever. A piece of wearable art to adorn any outfit. (This necklace is sold to private collector)
Artist in Residence
When I agreed to participate at St Georges Nigremont for the summer exhibition and visited the site in the Mille-Vache, near Felletin in La Creuse, I was blown away by the beauty of the site. A small hamlet which sits perched on the top of a rocky outcrop, you can certainly see why in medieval times it would have been chosen as a safe place to live as you can see for miles and miles (or should that be kilometres and kilometres). I do think it has, with an almost 360 degree view, one of the most beautiful view points I have ever seen. The exhibition is open until 22 September.+
Weekend of exhibitions
Come along and discover my work in a weekend exhibition is Sardent. This weekend is the first to be held by the ‘Artmano Assoication’ where you will find the products of artisans in the region and talk to the artist’s themselves to discover their ‘savoir-faire’.
I will be there all weekend with a selection of my work and you can you can ask me all the questions about how I make the jewellery, what inspires me, how long it takes and the inevitable; ‘how good are my eyes!’
Salon C.R.E.A n°1
samedi 10 et dimanche 11 novembre 2018 SALLE DES FÊTES Place de la Mairie – SARDENT – 23250 Horaires d’ouvertures – Samedi 13h30 à 18h30 – Dimanche 10h à 18h Renseignements : 06 45 56 43 16 http://artemano.association.free.fr
New to the collection, but my dilemma was where to put this piece. It would fit nicely into Floriana as the necklace is a long beaded rope decorated with leaf shapes, in yellows, reds and old gold, inspired by the ginkgo tree, however the colours are vivid and lively and the necklace would also fit into my Liberte range, so maybe it’s for the wearer to choose. New to the collection, but my dilemma was where to put this piece. It would fit nicely into Floriana as the necklace is a long beaded rope decorated with leaf shapes, in yellows, reds and old gold, inspired by the ginkgo tree, however the colours are vivid and lively and the necklace would also fit into my Liberte range, so maybe it’s for the wearer to choose.
The beaded rope is a teal colour and at the ends of the rope are the ginkgo leaves and a hidden press stud under the leaves keeps the necklace secure but make the rope extremely comfortable to wear around your neck as there is no scratchy clasp at the back.
I was inspired to make the necklace because I find the Ginkgo tree, also know as the Maiden Hair tree, fascinating. The tree is now on the endangered list but there have been fossils with this leaf found dating back over 270 million years. I love the leaf shape, as have many other artists over the ages, just look at how the design was used in the Art Nouveau period and you will see what I mean. There are so many examples of this leaf shape being used on buildings, tiles, interior decoration and of course, in jewellery. So here is my effort, I hope you like it!
This necklace is now sold but if you are interested in making a commission then do please contact me for more details.
Liberte – a new collection of jewellery
Liberte is a new collection of contemporary 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 a La Boutique de Chemin d’Ateliers, Saint-Amand-Montrond (18) and also in La Boutique Des artisans d’Aubusson, Aubusson (23) and by commission.
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?
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!