Wednesday, 23 February 2011

A Budgie Keepsake - Mango’s Last Feather

You may have noticed from my last blog post that I have recently been making a few items of Budgie keepsake jewellery by encapsulating the bird feathers within resin necklaces. Well a few days ago I received the following message from Laura who received the necklace. It is extremely moving and really makes me appreciate how my jewellery helps people with their loss.

“We had only owned Mango a few short years before her sudden death, she had many years left in her and the entire incident has come as a complete shock. She was the most beautiful of birds, with stunning markings, even on the back of her head her feathers were in such an alignment it looked like she had a smiley face!

Budgie Mango's Smile
Christmas 2009 Mango was diagnosed with psittacosis and we undertook months of treatment and quarantine, we were one of the lucky ones and came out the other end fit as a fiddle thankfully. After the ordeal she went back to being her normal self, making lots of beeping sounds and like a typical Kakariki caught up on baths - drenching everyone and everything around her. She was a beautiful flier, completely silent, great for causing mischief! By far her favourite thing was to sit out in summer and soak up the rays, the sun really brought out her colours.

Budgie Mango at the window
Loosing her has been a big hurdle and very hard to deal with, on the evening of her death we removed some feathers from her cage and kept them separate. We contacted many jewellery makers and finally found Mick, we were very grateful he was open to giving it ago and seeing if we could preserve her last feather forever.

Bird Feather Keepsake Necklace
The necklace has turned out beautiful, far better than we expected, the entire necklace has a glow about it, we spent quite a while just starring at it, it was an emotional moment seeing it for the first time.We can't thank Mick enough for what he has done, being able to carry around the feather has helped with our emotions and grief immensely and it feels like a real healing charm.

Thank you Mick for keeping our little girl alive in such a graceful way.” (Laura Feb 2011.)

If you would like to find out more about my jewellery and the different ways of preserving those precious items, please visit my Keepsake Jewellery website page.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Pet Budgie Keepsake – Bird Feather Jewellery

As some of you may be aware, quite a lot of my work involves encapsulating peoples’ pet hair and fur within my jewellery. I love making this jewellery as it gives people a lasting reminder of their beloved pet and of allows people to carry a piece of their pet close to their heart. I have been sent many types of fur and hair from several different kinds of pets including dogs, cats, rabbits, horses and ponies; and each one is special for me to make as I know how much it means to the owner.

A couple of weeks ago I received an enquiry from Laura who had sadly recently lost one of her birds and had kept the last feather from her bird. She wanted the Budgie feather she had kept setting within a necklace so that she could keep it close to her and preserved forever.

I haven’t had any previous experience of setting bird feathers within resin jewellery so I asked if she could send some test feathers for me to experiment with before using ‘the Budgie feather’. She kindly sent a few feathers for me to try and I made these examples:

They really are gorgeous to look at; this example shows the Budgie feathers encapsulated within clear resin heart-shaped pendants. The photographs were taken by Laura after she had received her pendants and her photography skills are much better than mine!

Budgie feather pendants
This example shows the Budgie feathers again set within clear resin heart shaped pendants, however with these pendants I have coloured the resin at the back of the pendants black to provide a contrast with the Budgie feather colours.

Budgie feather jewellery
I sent her the test samples and she loved them and wanted me to go ahead with setting ‘the Budgie feather’ within a clear heart shaped pendant, and this is the jewellery I made her. It is a clear heart shaped resin necklace containing the Budgie feather on a sterling silver necklace chain. It really is beautiful to look at in real life as you tilt the pendant and look at it from different angles the colours and feather almost look as if they are moving and come to life.

Budgie feather necklace
I hope I get to make more of these Budgie feather necklaces, in fact I would love to have the opportunity to incorporate feathers from other birds into my jewellery; the effect are very nice and they are fun to make too!

If you would like to see some more examples of my pet keepsake jewellery; please visit my pet hair and fur keepsake jewellery website page.

Friday, 11 February 2011

My BBC Radio 4 Interview

It has been quite an exciting week at Shpangle Jewellery this week; you may remember recently my jewellery featured in a movie, well on Tuesday I was interviewed by a producer for BBC Radio 4 for a documentary they are in the middle of making. The producer contacted me a few weeks ago and they explained how they were making a documentary about the history of keeping peoples hair (for example Victorian hair jewellery) and wanted to feature me as the modern day equivalent. As well as the lock of hair jewellery that I make, they were also particularly interested in the pet hair jewellery and this was to be the main topic of the interview.

Shpangle Jewellery on the Radio
On Tuesday morning the BBC producer arrived and explained that he had travelled as far as USA to interview people. We had a little chat and everything was going well until...he put his earphones on and switched on the tape recorder! My brain instantly turned to jelly and I became so nervous. What was worse was the fact that he had just explained that he wouldn’t be on the final recording; I should therefore not answer his questions directly but to speak as if I was reporting the subject.

Hair Jewellery
He asked me lots of questions such as explaining how the lock of hair and pet hair jewellery is made, describing the jewellery and reasons for people buying it. I think I managed to somehow squeeze out sufficient answers through my nervousness, a bit silly really since I have done many a presentation to company directors during my career as a senior systems engineer. But this felt really different as I knew I was presenting myself to possibly thousands of people who will hopefully listen to it on the radio!

Afterwards he explained that it would be edited (to remove my long pauses etc) and that he will also put a link to me and maybe some pictures onto the BBC website! The program is due to be broadcast on May 9th at 11.00 a.m. on BBC Radio 4. I am now left wondering what will be next, first a film and then a radio show; perhaps a book?

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Fossil Dinosaur Poop Jewellery and Gifts

You may remember from a recent blog post where I said one of my New Year’s resolutions was to take myself more seriously and that I would be working on some new ranges of jewellery. Well I thought I would show off my latest range of jewellery and you can’t get any less serious than this; Fossil Dinosaur poop jewellery and gifts!

The inspiration behind this Dinosaur poop jewellery came from a Christmas present that I bought for my wife this year. Yes, I bought her a gift of a big lump of fossilised Dino dung! Don’t ask me why, it was kind of one of those moments, and I can’t remember why on earth I chose that or even looked for it in the first place!

Fossil Dinosaur Poop Jewellery
This is real fossilised Dinosaur poop (Coprolite) originating from millions of years ago and fossilised to form a mineral called Marcasite. I have come across Coprolite jewellery before but it has always been sliced, polished and formed into cabochons. Manipulated to such an extent that it no longer resembles its original fossil form and may as well be another agate cabochon. I wanted to keep the fossilised Dinosaur poop in its original recognisable form. I am quite against setting fossils into resin or forming them into other shapes. They have survived millions of years and deserve respect even though these originally came from Dinosaur dung! I wanted to create something that was tactile as well as being educational and fun!

Quite a lot can be learned from fossil Dinosaur poop such as their eating habits as tiny fragments of bone, shells and other material can be discovered within the coprolites. These fossils came from the Ichthyosaurs who ruled the seas during the Jurassic period and are thought to almost resemble Dolphins. The fossils were discovered in the UK along the Dorset coastline and are 148-170 million years old!

Ichthyosaurs
I think the Dinosaur poop necklaces make a great statement piece of jewellery and certainly make a great conversation piece. If you would like to find out more about the history of the Dinosaur Poop and the possible health benefits (other than scaring away the odd Dinosaur you may come across), please visit my Poop Gifts website page.