Life speeds up

I’m sure I have used the heading ‘Life speeds up’ for a post in the past, but again, it happens that there is so much going on that I’m having to be hyper-organised in order to get everything done that I want to do.

I will always make time for jewellery designing and antiques – and I took this Friday off work just to catch up on a few things. I had a fun day of making things yesterday, and I have also re-stocked by antique supply shop with some stunning new pieces. I am taking a new direction with my antiques and focussing on rare and high quality pieces. There are plenty of new players selling cheapie stuff and I can’t compete with them, so why try?

I don’t usually put up photos of my antiques on my blog but here are some for sale at La Comtesse de Talaru.

My new approach is working well and customers are loving the time and effort I put into sourcing these amazing pieces. It’s hard not to want to keep it all!

I’ve made some jewellery for sale, and also some for myself.

Ermine mirror locket necklace

My favourite little critter, the ermine, features on this mirror locket necklace. I used lots of amazing treasures to create the chain, including antique silver George V coin chain and antique mother of pearl beads. This piece is for sale at L’Atelier de Talaru.

The cherub chatelaine watch case pictured above was from a chatelaine that I pulled apart to also get the pieces to make myself a divine Neoclassical earring and necklace set. I could never part with these pieces, they are so rare and would have to be my favourite elements to have ever worked with.

Neoclassical earrings Neoclassical pearl necklace

I also made for sale a long necklace with an antique pocket watch as the pendant (the stones are lovely labradorite and green garnets) and also an Art Deco rhinestone dress clip necklace with beautiful vintage glass beads.

Pocket watch necklace

Art deco necklace

I forgot to mention above this amazing horse chain I found. It has since sold to a regular customer, but you should zoom the photo and look at  the outstanding detail in this piece.

Horse chain

I’ve revisited an old favourite with this necklace. The original design had a different pendant and wasn’t selling, so I took it off and put on this simple French medal. I think it looks better and hope someone will fall in love with it. It’s for sale at L’Atelier de Talaru

Mon coeur est à Paris

And my mind, or so it would seem after looking at my latest creations. There is a distinctly Parisian theme, and there are still more ‘City of Lights’ pieces partially constructed, sitting on my work bench.

I am not sure what brought about this unintended theme – maybe it’s that I have not been to Paris for a few years now. I used to go at least every 2nd year, for ages, but now my last visit was 2011. Not an age, I know, but long enough to get me wondering about the streets and alleys, cafes and shops and general vibe that is Paris. Must be time to go back soon.

It’s a dilemma, because now that I am back working in the travel industry there are so many options available for our next holiday, it really is difficult to decide. Cuba is looking good, as is Colombia. Then again I’d love to travel to the Hebrides islands of Scotland, or cruise around Greenland. Russia would be great, as would the USA. Hardly life-altering decisions here, but still, on a quiet and lazy day my mind does wander to places further afield.

My hands have been wandering to all the bits and pieces that have a Paris theme and this is what I made this weekend.

These two bracelets are made with links from another antique bracelet that was a souvenir of the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. This date, 1889, also coincides with the opening of the Eiffel Tower. There are two bracelets, one showing the Eiffel Tower and the other showing the Bastille.

Eiffel Tower Bracelet

Bastille Bracelet

I also re-used a Paris souvenir book locket from another necklace that didn’t sell and put it into a new design. This book locket opens to reveal a concertina of small black and white photos of Paris landmarks. These book lockets are getting so scarce – I have not seen one for sale for a long time.

Book locket 2 Book locket 1

Then there are these lovely mid-century glass pearl earrings, with a little bit of faded bling from the old rhinestones. It’s unusual for such tassels to last this long, some 70+ years and they seem to be in quite good condition. Great for a party or for softening a work suit.

Tassel earrings

I’m lucky enough to have another book locket to work with at the moment. This one is a rare purse locket, this time a souvenir of St. Etienne. I used to live fairly close to St. Etienne, when I lived in France back in the 1990s. St. Etienne was the nearest town to the farm I lived on. This little purse locket opens to reveal pictures of St. Etienne’s monuments. The necklace also has orange garnets, blue Tanzanite, antique chain and beautiful aged mother of pearl.

St Etienne necklace 2 St Etienne necklace 1

I used Baltic amber, black pearls and brass beads to make this lovely piece in Fall Colours. The pendant is in fact an old button that I bought in Melbourne. There is a great shop in Fitzroy called Provencal (I think) and it sells amazing French furniture and odds and ends.

Amber and Brass necklace

And continuing the Paris theme here is a pair of earrings made with Paris bracelet links, mother of pearl, old rhinestones and rubies.

Eiffel tower earrings

I added a few tribal/rustic pieces to my other range. I won’t show them all now but I do particularly like these earrings and this necklace. The earrings are so fantastic I may even make a pair for myself. The use vintage Naga shell beads and handmade rustic glass ball pins, along with blue Roman glass.

Naga shell earrings Quizzical necklace

Getting my groove back

It’s been a while since I last made some antique assemblage designs. Far too long.

I really love working in the tribal style and the challenge that comes from using materials and techniques that are new to me.

Eventually I return to the source and today I made two antique assemblage necklaces that I think are amongst the best I have ever made. They are true to the style and genre of antique assemblage and contain heaps of lush gemstones and antique treasures.

The first features a very rare and quite expensive French ex-voto sacred heart pendant. I did have this pendant for sale in my supply shop for some time but nobody bought it, which is great for me since I get to use it in a design. Inspiration struck today and here is the result.


Here’s a close-up.


The chain is made from kyanite, garnet and gold plated pyrite. There is a brass hook clasp with a handmade ring.

The other design to come out of today’s endeavours is a silvery blue sensation. This design features an Art Nouveau mirror locket depicting the huntress Diana on the front. It’s quite a handy piece to wear as you can use the mirror to check your appearance when you are out.


Silver and blue are such a wonderful combination and this design is chock full of lots of beautiful contrasting textures and colours.


In the past few weeks I have been busy on some tribal designs and I have delved into the realm of archaeology, using bit and pieces dug up from the ground, cleaned and repurposed.


The focal piece for this design might once have been some door hardware, but with a little embellishment on the bottom and a 19th century tintype, it becomes an intriguing pendant. This next design combines an old gear and a button from Russia.


And this lovely textured design using handmade ceramic beads in nice earthy colours.


I found a stockist of lovely decorative Japanese sliding door pulls. They really are quite lovely, and the plain ones form great bezels…like used on this cuff bracelet below.


I’ve got a few more treasures to work with over the coming week, including some delicious peachy pink/orange Ethiopian opals and some blingy Art Deco rhinetones. I’m back at school next week so will have less time to making, but I always manage to fit in some making here and there.

A lesson in customer service

I think I’ve just experienced the worst ever customer service known to humankind.

I ordered some 2 part epoxy clay that you can mould, texture and impress with a pattern and it will then harden without having to fire it in a kiln. It is expensive and I needed black coloured clay for my designs. So I order 100 grams of black clay (50g black, 50g hardener – US$30 incl. shipping) from this seller in the USA and it arrives within a week. Great!

Only, it is a mustard/glittery colour – not black. I wrote and asked the seller if it will turn black after curing, or if I was in fact sent the wrong colour.

What happened afterwards was a nearly 1700 word to-and-fro debacle textbook case of poor customer service, where the seller tried to:

1)      blame the manufacturer for putting the wrong colour product in the packet that she then on-sold to me.

2)      suggest I was fortunate that she undercharged me $2.33 postage on the original package and she would waive that amount if I agreed to buy another lot of clay from her, in the right colour. Then trying to guilt trip me by saying other customers have agreed to pay the shipping shortfall in the past, as they would not expect that she should have to pay it even if it is her own error.

3)      suggest I should calm down and not talk to her until I had done so

4)      she then offered that I can return the wrong colour part (it’s a 2-part product) and she will then send the right colour part, but only after she gets the wrong part back first, AND I have to send the return by tracking post ($20 cost to me for an item worth about $10) so she knows I really have sent it. She reminded me that she was only agreeing to send out the correct colour to ensure I send the wrong colour part back to her. (WTF?)

5)      Accuses me of being difficult and demanding, and saying she thinks I believe she sent me the wrong item on purpose (double WTF?).

6)      The seller asks ‘do I want to be responsible for her being upset about not being able to sell to Australia anymore because of the high cost of sending things here? (triple WTF?)

7)      The seller says ‘do you know what other people sell this product for?’ implying that her prices are low and I should not be any trouble because of that.

Phew! I’m tired already.

So the facts are:

1)      the item comes in a clear plastic Ziploc bag – you can see the colour of the product without even opening the packet, and it is not labelled any particular colour on the pack. If the wrong colour is sent, it is because the seller did not check what she was sending me.

2)      I paid the shipping cost in the listing, $10.50, and assumed the seller charged me the correct shipping- it’s a product she sells a lot of and should know the shipping cost. If she miscalculated by $2.33, sorry, that’s not my fault and unless you agree with the buyer to cover the difference BEFORE the item is shipped, you are being really cheeky to ask for it later on and use it as a bargaining chip to cover your own mistake.

3)      A disappointed customer who is getting nowhere with a seller who does not admit an obvious error and offer a solution does not need to be told to calm down and ‘come back to this discussion when you are calm’.

4)      I asked her to send me the right colour and offered to return the wrong colour by regular post at my expense. I said I will not pay for tracked post as it costs twice as much as the item is worth.

5)      I was sympathetic and stated that people do make mistakes and that is fine, but it’s how they deal with them that matters.

This is not normal, is it?

And the unfortunate thing is that I was planning to make some prototype products which, if they take off, I will need to buy a whole lot more of the product.

In the end I agreed to pay the shipping to send a whole new lot of product, in the right colour, and she will not charge me for the product or ask for a return of the wrong colour. All she needed to do is offer this in the first place and I would have thought she was the greatest and left glowing feedback for her.


A long weekend of making stuff

I love when Australia Day falls on a weekend. That means we get the Monday off as a public holiday. This year, I spent the entire three days making jewellery. Two of those days I was housebound as B had to drive to Sydney and now that we only have one car, I really couldn’t go too far. Which is nice, and everything we need is close by anyway.

Probably the main reason for this creating frenzy is that a week ago we had a heat wave of 44 degree days for 5 days in a row. Unless you went through this horror of weather, not unlike the end of the world as I imagine it, you have no idea how absolutely horrible such a heat wave is. It does not cool down at night, when it can still be 35 degrees at 4am. There is no wind, and the house never cools down, the aircon packs up and spews water everywhere because it can’t cope, and you think your dog is going to die from heat exhaustion.

One evening it took me 2 1/2 hours to get home because the trains failed, and the trams were on infrequent schedule. I ended up packed into a full tram, aircon barely working, stuck in the stairwell with the sun beating down through the window. After the hour long trip to get part of the way home (B came to get me from the terminus) I was delirious and sick – took me a good three days after the cool change to feel better again. So the point of telling you this story is to explain why I did not even go into my studio for a whole week, and we have another slightly milder heat wave on its way for this week – mid-high 30s all week. Every ounce of your energy is spent on simply existing, and it is exhausting.

I really need to get to making more antique designs, as they are selling fast at the markets I go to. I have a few designs in various stages of construction, but I did put together this simple piece for myself. I’ve had these 18th century carriage tokens hanging around for ages, not really knowing what to do with them. Then when I came across this stunning reproduction book chain, I knew exactly what I would do with them:

Carriage token necklace


If I ever do find more I can always add to the necklace, but for now there are three, with the oldest dating to 1731.

For many years I’ve been getting rare antique charms and elements made into moulds and cast for components. These one-off elements need to be preserved and I think I have nearly 50 moulds in my name. I had a whole bunch of random charms and things made from these moulds just hanging around in a box, so I decided to make some charm necklaces and bracelets with them. Here are the results, which are for sale at L’Atelier de Talaru.

I also finally used this amazing 18th century paste shoe buckle to make into a necklace. I had been pondering for over a year what to do with it. It is quite rare and very stunning. My new book chain came to the rescue in this simple but very harmonious design. To think that this piece was treading the footpaths of 18th century France….

Shoe buckle necklace


On the tribal side of things, I have been busy as well. My latest interest is in making my own polymer clay beads. I love the rolling, texturing and painting of the beads, which results in something totally unique for my designs. With polymer clay you get bulk without weight, and the end result is entirely up to you. It is a cheap component, and the value is added by the work put into the finished product. Here are some earrings I made with some of my beads:

Polymer pod earrings


The above are textured beads paired with Rustic bead caps and wooden beads. Below is a completely different design with clear glass beads and rustic bead caps.



I do also like to use components from other designers, and have been buying up lovely handmade ceramic beads. The earrings below are made with handmade yellow porcelain beads and very old glass whorl beads from Mali.

Yellow pumpkin bead earrings

Finally, I have been working with copper and using patinas to give different colours and patterns. For the pair below I paired my unique copper teardrops with ancient Roman glass. I like the result.

copper and roman glass earrings


Gotta run…new pieces

Wow, what a busy week. Too busy to even explain, but as always I managed to get some making time into my busy schedule. Lots of different rustic, tribal designs for Talaru Tribu. Here they are:

Wild weather, wacky designs

We had a burst of extreme wind today. I thought it was a tornado but it probably wasn’t. Trees were bending nearly to the ground, roof sheets were rattling and the house was being buffeted. During this time of wild weather I started putting things together in a way I would not usually do…and I am quite pleased with the result.

I had been playing all weekend at adding patina and various finishes to a range of cheap old lucite beads, bead caps and any other metal thing I could get my hands on. I did some nice mossy green patinas on my etched copper parts and also grunged up some old beads.

Here are some necklaces I made by layering together a whole range of completely unrelated but somehow cohesive beads and parts.

Crazy pendants


And from afar you can see the full glory of these new pendants.



And earrings, made with my own etched copper, with a green patina added.



Some lovely pink and black earrings. The black bead is one I LOVE so much. It is a lucite bead from the 1950s that had a copper coating. I oxidised it to within an inch of its life…and paired it with a hot pink vintage glass bead.



These earrings are very cool – lovely oxidized copper lucite beads, red Sherpa glass and handmade glass rustic balls.



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