Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Old Fashioned Wash Day at Hinckley Museum

We had a lovely time today washing clothes (now I don't think I say that very often!). I took the kids to an old fashioned wash day at the local museum in Hinckley. We entered the courtyard at the back of the museum to be greeted by a group of ladies dressed in old fashioned clothes. They then handed out cloth caps and scarves for the boys and aprons for the girls (I even managed to persuade our teenage daughter to wear an apron!).

Washing the old fashioned way at Hinckley Museum
Old Fashioned Wash Day - Hinckley Museum


The ladies then began to tell us about how we used to wash our clothes; firstly water was only available from a communal water pump several metres from where we were standing. The water was then taken to the boiler house located at the back of the museum. Early soaps were then discussed including those made from animal fat and wood ash (not very appealing to look at but apparently it worked)! Another method was to use the leaves and stems from the Soapwort plants. For today's washing day we were to use blocks of homemade soap.

Old Fashioned Wash Day - Soaps and Grater
Old Fashioned Wash Day - Soaps and Grater


My apologies in advance if I have some of the terminology incorrect, however I was trying to keep up with the little one who wash darting between each piece of equipment whilst I was listening to the washer lady's commentary. The bar of soap was first grated (by what looked like a kind of cheese grater) into a tub of hot water and then pounded with a Posser (a long wooden pole with a wooden handle and metal plunger attached to the other end). Our Dolly Tub was made from galvanised steel however I believe they were originally made from wood.

Old Fashioned Wash Day - Dolly Tubs, Posser and Scrubbing Board
Old Fashioned Wash Day - Dolly Tubs, Posser and Scrubbing Board


A wash stick (or long wooden tongues) were then used to remove the garment from the tub and then placed onto a scrubbing board. The bar of soap was then used to scrub the clothes and then the garment was transferred back to the tub for rinsing.

Old Fashioned Wash Day - Scrubbing Clothes
Old Fashioned Wash Day - Scrubbing Clothes


Once cleaned the garment was taken to the Mangle where the little one had great fun turning the handle. The garment was passed through the mangle several times and after each pass was folded in half before being squeezed through the Mangle again.

Old Fashioned Wash Day - Using a Mangle
Old Fashioned Wash Day - Using a Mangle


We then hung the garment to dry and used some amazing home-made pegs which looked so simple to make (and I can imagine would probably last a lot longer than our modern versions).

Old Fashioned Wooden Pegs
Old Fashioned Wooden Pegs


We all loved the wash day and experienced what it used to be like before the use of our modern conveniences. I can see several advantages of these old fashioned methods though; they are certainly better for the environment, can be a family fun occasion with each person taking on a different task, and it certainly keeps you fit!

Hinckley Mangle at the Hinckley Museum
Hinckley Mangle at the Hinckley Museum


If you have any memories of using Mangles, Possers and Dolly Tubs please share!

Mick

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Sea glass picture of a Jersey beach

I thought I would show off something I have made for myself for a change. My family has spent our summer holiday on the beautiful island of Jersey for the last couple of years. I am not normally a beach kind of person (I would much rather be exploring the cliff tops), but there is one particular beach that I particularly like exploring in Jersey. It is the beach where I manage to find lots and lots of sea glass. The sea glass pieces are formed by the sea tumbling and eroding broken glass bottles and the resulting pieces can be found in a variety of colours and shapes.

One of our favourite Jersey beaches
One of our favourite Jersey beaches


During our summer holiday to Jersey in 2012 we collected a bag of sea glass and it has taken me about a year to finally have something made with it. We decided that we would produce a mosaic type picture of a Jersey beach. I had a bright idea of mounting the sea glass onto the glass front of a picture frame so that we could somehow shine a light behind it to illuminate the colours. The picture frame is a driftwood effect box frame and measures 22” x 18”, each piece of sea glass was individually glued onto the glass (tip: the best and cheapest glass glue I found is Wilkinson’s own glass glue, believe me I used a lot of it!).The picture represents a Jersey beach, flanked by the green cliff tops and tumbling rocks.

Sea glass picture of a Jersey Beach
Sea glass picture of a Jersey Beach


For the lighting I purchased a LED strip lighting kit. This kit consisted of a flexible 5m strip of LEDs that was easily cut to size and it was sticky backed so attaching to the inside of the box frame was easy!

LED Strip Lighting Kit
LED Strip Lighting Kit


The only problem I had was that the individual LEDs were visible, especially when viewing the picture from side on. To reduce this problem I mounted a card border behind the glass.

Illuminated sea glass picture
Illuminated sea glass picture


The LED kit also comes with a remote control with lots of colour options and effects such as colour fading, brightness control and even a strobe function (which our little boy had lots of fun playing with).

Picture lit up with LED strip lighting
Picture lit up with LED strip lighting


I hope you like it! I am now planning what to do with all of the sea glass I collected from a jersey beach during this summer’s holiday.

Mick

Monday, 19 August 2013

A seed pendant or is it a nut pendant?

I began writing this blog post convinced that this was a seed that I had made into a pendant. In fact it was described to me by my customer as being a seed. But then I began to wonder if it was a nut, and what is the difference between a seed and a nut? I got distracted from writing the blog and started searching for the difference and I am still none the wiser. So rightly or wrongly I will describe this as being a seed (unless you can convince me otherwise!).

This seed was sent to me by a customer, along with a bird feather that I also made into a pendant. The seed and feather were both found at the Taj Mahal in India and are of significant sentimental value to the couple. They wanted me to create pendants from both items which will be given to their daughters.

Seed Pendant or Nut Pendant
Seed Pendant or Nut Pendant


It was initially suggested to me that they wanted the seed encased in resin but I think what I eventually made is a nicer solution. I coated the seed with many coats of resin (I lost count how many coats of resin I gave it) and connected a sterling silver peg bail to the top. It really is pretty and different and I am sure it will be cherished for a very long time.

If anybody can help me with the difference between a seed and a nut that would be appreciated!

Mick

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

High school prom jewellery for our daughter

Wow I have just noticed it has been such a long time since I last blogged! Our daughter has her high school prom this Friday, something she and all her friends have been so looking forward to for the last year. She has spent many weeks preparing for it, including choosing dresses, hair styles, makeup and even transport to the prom. The prom is no doubt going to be a big memorable night in her life and whilst I cannot really help with the hair, makeup and dress side of things, I did offer to make her some jewellery.

High School Prom
High School Prom


Her prom dress is predominantly green however there are touches of pink on her shoes and hair piece. I wanted to make something fairly delicate to compliment her dress and pick up the colours of pink and silver. I decided to use the delicate lace flower throughout the jewellery and initially made her this sterling silver necklace incorporating the pink lace flower. I also engraved the back of this pendant with her name and the date of the Prom.

Prom necklace
Prom necklace


I also made this sterling silver bracelet, again incorporating the delicate pink lace flowers...

Prom bracelet
Prom bracelet


...and also these matching earrings...

Prom Earrings
Prom Earrings


I showed the jewellery to her last night and I think she was quite pleased! My wife Angela also commented on the earrings and wanted a pair for herself; luckily I had made two pairs! I hope she has a great time at her prom and comes home with lots of happy memories.

Mick

Friday, 31 May 2013

Horsehair paperweight – an alternative to jewellery

I have made quite a lot of horsehair jewellery for people in the past however this was my first custom order request for a paperweight containing horse hair. I am a little surprised that I haven’t made more of these since the paperweight is an ideal way to preserve the hair as an alternative to a piece of jewellery. In this case I made the paperweight for a gentleman who was going to give the paperweight to his wife as a memorial to their two horses.

Custom made paperweight containing horse hair
Custom made paperweight containing horse hair


I combined both sets of horsehair together to form a single tassel and encased it within a square shaped paperweight. These paperweights are great in that they can be stood up on the edge as a display piece, as well as laid down. As requested by the gentleman I also included a short message within the piece; this was achieved by printing the text onto transparency sheet and encasing this within the centre of the paperweight.

I think this paperweight took me about 2-3 weeks to make (yes I do like to take my time with them!), and it is a great feeling once they are finished and popped out of the mould. I seem to have a custom made paperweight in the production all the time now and the latest make is quite exciting; it contains an iced flower that was used as a cake topper on a wedding cake, I am looking forward to getting that finished and showing it off.

Mick

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Preserving Funeral Flowers

I appreciate this is a sensitive subject however it is something that I am extremely proud of and to be honest most of my creations are based around sensitive and emotional events at the moment (for example my cremation jewellery and lock of hair jewellery). It gives me immense satisfaction that I have helped a family in such a way following their loss by preserving a flower from the funeral of a loved one.

It has only been recently that I have been asked to preserve flowers following a funeral; I have always been involved with the preservation of flowers from weddings and other occasions, but not funerals. I think it is probably due to the introduction of my custom made paperweights that give the option of not only preserving larger flowers, but provide the preservation of items within a non-jewellery related item.

This was my first paperweight that I have made containing a flower taken from a funeral. The domed shaped paperweight contains a single rose and was presented to a family member. With this piece I also included a name plaque, including a photograph within the presentation box lid.

Preserved funeral flower paperweight
Preserved funeral flower paperweight


I haven’t come across the use of oak leaves at funerals before although the leaves themselves are quite symbolic to many people. This was one of several leaves taken from the funeral coffin that I was asked to preserve within paperweights.

Oak Leaf Paperweight
Oak Leaf Paperweight


I had quite an emotional time when casting these paperweights; normally when I am preserving locks of hair and ashes from loved ones or pets I am able to distance myself from it. After all, I do not know the pets or people involved and I concentrate on making something that is beautiful. But somehow this was quite different for me; the flowers and leaves were symbolic of a funeral that took place and for me that had more of an impact on my emotions.

Mick

Friday, 19 April 2013

Coping with Pet Loss – My Bunny Mad Magazine Feature

I was contacted late last year by Lisa of ‘Bunny Creations’ who produces a quarterly magazine called Bunny Mad Magazine. The magazine that she produces is lovely and contains lots of information for anybody who loves rabbits and pets. For the Spring/Summer edition of the magazine, Lisa was including a special feature about coping with the loss of a pet and wanted me to write a little about myself and in particular about my pet keepsake jewellery.

The latest edition of Bunny Mad Magazine was produced last week and Lisa was very kind in sending me a copy which included my feature, and here it is:

Bunny Mad Magazine
Bunny Mad Magazine


For anybody who is unable to see a copy of the magazine (although I would recommend it because it is really lovely), I have included my feature below...

Capturing Your Memories - My Magazine Feature
Capturing Your Memories - My Magazine Feature


“I have been creating and making jewellery for many years now after a long career as an engineer. I had always had a secret artistic side that escaped once in a while, but the urge to be creative got the better of me and after seizing an opportunity to take some time out to be a full time dad to my son, I decided I wanted to do something more with this creative side of me. So I decided to start making my own jewellery.

I was particularly interested in resin jewellery. The science, diversity and sheer beauty fascinated me along with the ability to encase almost anything within it. So that is what I did, taking every day objects and encasing them in resin in wonderful shapes, sizes and colours.

It’s amazing what you can encase in resin. Flowers, confetti, stones, fabric, I’ve even done toe nails – yes, really!

I would have said nothing could surprise me, but when one day I received an e-mail from someone asking me if I cold encase some animal fur from a lost pet, I was slightly taken aback. I’d never been asked to deal with something potentially very sensitive and special. But when that one request turned into lots of requests, I knew I had to provide a service.

Pet Keepsake Jewellery
Pet Keepsake Jewellery


So, I started helping customers who had lost pets and wanted to have a keepsake or piece of jewellery so that they had their pets with them always. Or provide a happy reminder that they could look at when they wanted to. And it wasn’t just dearly departed pets either, I had a lot of customers who thought a piece of their pet’s fur, hair and even feathers would also be stunning, from pets who were still very much alive and happy.

Fur and hair from precious pets are only part of what I’ve done. I’ve also dealt with pet’s ashes too. It may sound cheesy to some, but it is actually very humbling to provide a special keepsake or item of jewellery knowing someone will find peace and comfort in it, or sheer joy at how stunning their pet’s fur or hair looks captured in resin.

Pet Hair Keepsake
Pet Hair Keepsake


I’ve had all sorts of special pet memorabilia pass through my doors, from hamsters, budgies, to cats, dogs and even horses. And, not forgetting of course, very special bunnies. Some of the rabbit fur I’ve encased is absolutely stunning. It’s amazing to work with and brings sheer delight to my customers when they see the end result.

I currently preserve the hair, fur and ashes within many types of jewellery including pendants, bracelets, rings, brooches, cufflinks, earrings and bangles and also offer an engraving service for the sterling silver items of jewellery. For those people not necessarily looking for an item of jewellery, I also make paperweights. I have a whole gallery of stunning pictures showing my work, and I pride myself on providing a special personalised service. At the end of the day, each one of my customers is unique, and so are their pets.”

If you would like to see some recent examples of my pet keepsake jewellery, please visit my website gallery.

Mick