Sunday, May 30, 2010

Something different sunday - after the rain

Crouch down and look closer...

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes."
Marcel Proust

Friday, May 28, 2010

We all live in a yellow submarine - the sequel

This time I only had to make one snorkel which I was very pleased about - so obviously, practice DOES make perfect.  The cubic zirconia is a little smaller, 2.75mm diameter this time (the first submarine was fitted with a 3.5mm one in case you were wondering).  "May God bless her and all who sail in her (or dive)"

Thursday, May 27, 2010

back to 'les petits cailloux' series

After all the 'epicness' of the Leaf Pendant last week it was time to get back to the simple minimalist forms of the 'petits cailloux' series.  I have been busy creating many rings and so needed to balance the collection with some other pieces. 

This is a hollow form construction making it beautifully light. It has volume, but is filled with air.  It is an intriguing little piece as obviously the form is derived from a surf smoothed stone, dense, igneous or sedimentary.  The stone has a weight that has escaped during its transformation into silver.  Oh, and the texture, let me tell you about the texture!

I have lightly etched the silver before pressing it hydraulically to give it the soft cushion like shape of a pebble.  The etching is the most incredible process and it satisfies my obsession of linking silver and moonlight.  For indeed, does this piece not look like some kind of lunar landscape?

And then for the back texture I have used the fragile fibers of a pressed leaf.  I never get tired of this texture, it is still amazing to me to see it close up.  This side is just for the owner of the pendant, a little secret, that only they see when they take it off and rest it on its back.  (Yes, there is a little hole drilled in the back, without which the entire piece would explode in my face!  It allows the air to escape as it expands when the second solder seam is applied.)

What kind of music do you listen to?

Over on Scoutie Girl yesterday the topic of the 'we scout wednesday' post was on what you listen to when you are working creatively.  After much deliberation, I have managed to narrow the vast array of musical whims down to this single salient song.  It is taken from one of my favourite films 'Once' which stars the actors / musicians Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová.  The song has, for me, an important message in the chorus that echos the words my Grandpa wrote to me in a letter following a bitter disappointment in my life.  He told me "You've still got time". To emphasise the message, he sent me a watch he had picked up in the local Oxfam charity shop where he volunteered.  It is always good for me to remember his words because they helped me during that difficult time and they help me now when I sit down to create and design and make.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Leaf ring

ingredients: sterling silver, chalcedony cabochon, fine silver bezel.
to be worn: everywhere and with everything

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

It's finished

Sterling silver and a single chalcedony cabochon.
Entirely hand fabricated (right down to the jump rings in the chain).
After telling anyone who would listen "I'm working on this epic piece" - I'm not disappointed, it is.

It is delicate and strong.  It has a lightness to it, the leaves lifting slightly as if on a breeze.  But when you put it on, you feel its' weight, its' solidity.  

As I burnished the edges of the leaves, removing the matte texture left by the last dip in the pickle tank, it felt like I was drawing with moonlight.  The edges of the leaves are bright where as the surface has been lightly brushed with fine wire wool to give it a satin finish.

Worn with a crisp white shirt and jeans it has the power to elevate an everyday outfit into something extraordinary.

Guess what?  There is a ring to match!

Monday, May 17, 2010

not finished yet...

But look at how pretty the back is.  This is such a beautiful texture.  It varies in intensity across the plate, fading out at the edges to a ghostly impression of just a hint of leaf.

I have spent all day making the chain, even the jump rings!  I only had 0.8mm thickness wire ready made ones. The 0.8mm rings did not balance with the chain at all, they looked too thin and threw the balance of the whole piece off. The chain demanded 1mm thick loops to join it all together and so I coiled and cut and made 14 jump rings.  I put the whole pendant together to test the position and decided it needed more length.  It is tricky thing to get the balance and length right.  I know better than to keep going late into the night for that is when a whole days work can be melted by the soldering torch! I have learnt this from bitter experience.

I have laid the pieces out in an 'Elves and the Shoemaker' kind of way, ready for tomorrow when I will finish it.

something different sunday

A little diptych of connected architectural space.  Three dimensions rendered flat and mixed with a bit of yellow ochre, a splash of azure blue, a pinch of cadmium yellow and a dash of monestial blue.  Painted whilst listening to Radio 4's 'Book at Bedtime', eating marmalade on toast and drinking tea.

Lots of edges to touch up and other layers to add, but a start, a beginning, and something different before a new week begins in the workshop.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

labels: what's yours?

Over on Scoutie Girl today Tara is asking her readers to consider their labels.  These may be the ones we use to describe ourselves or the ones that other people use.  And so, here are mine.

Yes, I am 'the lady with the bike'.  When you move somewhere new, for a while, you can be fairly lableless.  It's a good feeling and one that I want to hang onto because it feels lighter, cleaner and clearer.  

The way I see it, labels are pretty thin and insubstantial, it's just a word. And if you don't like one you've been given, just soak it in hot water and it will come right off!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


It still surprises me after 10 years of urbanity and it is beginning to show in my work.

Monday, May 10, 2010

In my post box

I have been ordering a few cabochons through etsy and they have been arriving in my postbox over the past few weeks. Aren't they fabulous / amazing / beautiful?  When you look at some of them it seems like you are gazing onto another planet, the surface of Jupiter perhaps. They have a history which adds to their enchantment. They are all slices of Indian agate (except for the bottom right which is a Montana agate). These agates lay in a container for 30 years before they were unpacked by Tamara Mello (she has an etsy shop called Madre de Olivia). I have been imagining a kind of Indiana Jones 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' type of warehouse where the slices of agate lay, waiting to be liberated.

Elsewhere on the bench this prototype is taking shape - it is a departure from the 'petits cailloux' series and has meant that I have been able to start work on an epic pendant in silver.  I think it is the largest one I have attempted so far and will be fit for a Princess when I am done with it.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

something different

It's been good to put down the piercing saw and design with some softer materials.  I've been experimenting with these little corsages -  making petals out of simple muslin and stitching them over with silver thread.  I enjoy the volume they create and they can turn a simple dress into a party frock or 'Sunday Best'.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Thursday, May 6, 2010

We all live in a yellow submarine

Today was a challenge.  I am continuing to work on pieces for my 'petits cailloux' series.  I made the stone setting for the sparkly cubic zirconia 5 times.  It did cross my mind several times that perhaps my time consuming obsession was somewhat unviable from a commercial point of view.  However, I was certain that this crystal clear cut 'diamond' belonged with this honey coloured mat pebble.  The resulting stone setting has a snorkel feel about it - hence the name for this ring - 'Yellow Submarine'.  They are just the most perfect little quirky pair of stones. May it dive to 20,000 leagues and beyond!

Elsewhere on the bench today...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

An Introduction

Vivianna  Torun Bülow-Hübe (1927-2004)

My name is Cari-Jane Hakes and I make and design jewellery here in my workshop on the west coast of France.  

Many years ago I saw an image of Vivianna  Torun Bülow-Hübe in a magazine. She wore a languid necklace that finished somewhere around her waist and a simply cut dress.  The picture was so impactful and the words which accompanied it have stayed with me.  Torun was a jewellery designer (some of her pieces are still sold through Georg Jensen today).  The article outlined some of her design philosophies.  She spoke of how jewellery should not just be for special occasions.  It should not be banished to some dark inaccessible box. Rather, it should be worn often, everyday perhaps, so much so that the piece becomes almost part of your personality.  

It struck me then how the long necklace transformed Torun's simple dress, it lent it detail, sophistication and elegance.  It elevated the outfit into couture for me.  

It was many years later that I began to learn the skills necessary to fabricate beautiful things out of this metal which, to me, resembles moonlight.  When I design my aim is always to create pieces which have this power to transform in the same way that I saw Tourn's simple dress become couture.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010




She found a use for the pebbles.  Combining them with silver and contrasting their mat depth with the reflective sheen of hematite - she made a ring.

Monday, May 3, 2010


She would take them home, arrange them,

and put the smaller ones in a safe place so they would not get lost, mislaid or eaten by the hoover.

She drew the pebbles where they lay on the beach, saturated with colour.

She drew their shapes over and over in her sketchbook.
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