Monday, 12 June 2017

Create a Tree of Life decoration - a craft workshop with a meaning


Being in the middle of nature, surrounded by trees, gives you such a liberating feeling! Now imagine the perfect feeling you get when you create your own little tree!

If you love jewellery, you’ll appreciate this creative use of beads and crystals. If you enjoy crafting, you’ll be delighted to see how the wire turns into branches and how the crystals become forever blooming flowers.

Traditionally, the tree of life is deeply spiritual and symbolizes knowledge, wisdom, and awareness. You can invest it with new meanings, as it will be your creation.

You’ll be able to personalize it, picking from a wide variety of crystals - amethyst, quartz, moonstone, lapis-lazuli, unakite, sodalite, jade, jasper – and I’ll be there to guide you through their significance and properties, so that you can select the ones that fit you best.

No previous experience is required for this workshop, so all you have to do is bring your enthusiasm. I provide all materials and tools and also tea, coffee and homemade cakes or snacks are on me!

At the end of the class you’ll be able to take home your finished item: a tree so delicate it fits within your palm, yet so rich as it embodies so many meanings.


Saturday, 1 July 2017; 12:30PM

Hanbury Hall street-side cafe, Shoreditch, E1 6QR

Price £30

The price includes:

  • Creating your own tree of life
  • Finding the meanings of the crystals you’ll use
  • Tea/coffee and a homemade cake or snack
  • A morning full of creativity


For any query, please contact me at amelie.uniquejewels@gmail.com.

Create your Summer Accesories! - new jewellery workshop in London


Summer is here so guess what? It's time of the year to wear your favourite dress and accessorize it with a unique jewellery! But why not try creating a personalized piece of necklace yourself?
I created this jewellery workshop for you to express your ideas and make your personalized summer jewellery! I promise you this is going to be a colourful workshop, full of joy. And very important: tea and home-made cakes will boost your creative vibes even more!

This is a beginner level workshop and you don't need any previous experience - join me for a creative morning and explore your creative self! 




Sat, 15th July  – 12 PM, 
Hanbury Hall street-side cafe, Shoreditch, E1 6QR


Price £30

The price includes:
  • making your own summer necklace + earrings or bracelet at your choice to take it home
  • Tea or coffee and a homemade cakes or snack
  • A morning full of creativity
For any query please email me amelie.uniquejewels@gmail.com

      Friday, 2 June 2017

      How tea can boost your creativity



      Starting as a treat available only for the privileged, by the mid 18th century, tea became Britain's most popular beverage, replacing ale and gin as the drink of the masses. And although, tea times have changed, this drink kept its important place in the daily lives of British people. As a full-time Londoner, I’m no exception and I use every occasion to enjoy my delicious cuppa: in the morning - after finishing my exercising routine, in the afternoon - just to unwind after a day of work, when I go out for a chat with friends, but also when I’m handcrafting.

      But what’s making tea such a beloved beverage? Could it be its health benefits or, maybe, its ritual value? I’m guessing the answer is a happy combination of both. Green tea, black, and red tea have been most often associated with mood and creativity boosting, but there’s one key ingredient that differentiates them: the caffeine.

      With or without caffeine?

      Green tea and black tea don’t contain as much caffeine as coffee itself, but the amount they have and how it is released are good enough to keep you alert and conserve your stamina. Another true creativity-booster is something called L-theanine. This naturally occurring amino acid found almost uniquely in green tea helps improve cognition and reduces stress by promoting the production of alpha waves in the brain. These waves release the caffeine slowly, rather than in a burst, so you avoid that sudden crash and maintain productivity and creativity throughout the day.

      Green tea and chocolate are a heavenly combination! So while sipping my cup of tea, I’ll indulge in a little dark chocolate bar every now and then. At its turn, dark chocolate is another great friend for mood and creativity. It increases blood flow at brain level by dilating vessels and it contains magnesium, which helps decrease stress and releases the two “happy hormones”, serotonin and endorphins. One recently discovered chocolate bar I really enjoy is made by Lucocoa Chocolate, a company based in London, which uses only organic ingredients and no refined sugars or artificial sweeteners for its products.

      To those who want to avoid the caffeine intake, the red tea is an excellent alternative full of powerful antioxidants. Due to its power of reducing the impact of oxidative byproducts in neural pathways, the red tea has anti-aging effects, enhancing the cognitive ability and stimulating concentration and focus. Well, well, well! Poor me a cuppa right now!

      Under certain circumstances, there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”

      That’s how Henry James opens his novel The Portrait of a Lady. And he’s not the only famous writer praising this healthy drink. Leo Tolstoy, one avid tea drinker, once noted: “If, then, I were asked for the most important advice I could give, that which I considered to be the most useful to the men of our century, I should simply say: …stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.” Enjoying a cup of tea throughout the day allows you to do exactly that.

      Preparing tea is an activity that receives ritual value in its simplicity: you boil the water and pour it while it’s hot into the teacup, you unwrap the tea bag and savour its flavour, you stir the sugar or honey, and while the drink reaches the ideal temperature, you get yourself cozy in your favourite corner of the house, maybe somewhere next to the window, with a good book in your hands. All these steps keep you deeply involved into the tea-making process and give to your brain a break from all the other problems and a chance to recharge with creative energy.

      A study carried out on 150 self-professed “tea drinkers” divided into three groups revealed the effect a simple tea break can have on creative potential. Group one were asked to make a cup of tea using hot water, milk and sugar as they usually would, before drinking it. Group two was given some sweets, while group three were given only a glass of water.

      Afterwards, the test conductors asked the participants to recount a recent happy event, take part in word games, draw an alien creature and solve anagram puzzles. According to the results, the group of tea drinkers had a deeper desire for success than those given water, and a faster response time when facing challenges. “There was a significant effect of the condition on valence – pleasure – and arousal,” the research paper read. “Water consumption provoked lower pleasantness than tea consumption.” As a tea drinker, I’m not surprised at all!

      All in all, tea is a great drink that has a special place within my daily routine and the creative workshops I organise. If you’re a tea lover yourself, check the calendar and find out when we can enjoy a cup of tea together: warm, delicious, and sweetened with some jewellery handcrafting!



      Love,

      Amelie

      Wednesday, 19 April 2017

      4 Reasons to create and buy handmade




      I hope you all had a perfect Easter weekend and you enjoyed everything that this lovely holiday brought! I used this free time to visit my family, to meet up with friends, buy some materials for future jewellery pieces (of course!), and to organise the workshops for the upcoming months. I invite you to take a look at the calendar and to read a workshop story, in case you want to get the full picture.


      I already talked about the healing power of handcrafting and if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you already know that with each occasion I get, I keep emphasizing its therapeutic effects. Although extremely important, this is not the only reason why I encourage everyone to become crafty. 

      For this post, I gathered a few other reasons that transform handmaking into this wonderful heartwarming activity:

      1. Be environment-friendly and recycle!

      The materials I use for my jewellery pieces and for the items created during workshops have natural sources: they’re gemstones, crystals, copper and silver wire, so they are easy to purchase, but also gentle on the environment. I care about every little stone I have, that’s why I try to use everything efficiently and to keep waste to a minimum.

      Depending on the type of objects you decide to design, you may need to use plastic cups, cans, cardboard box, pins, buttons, magazines and old clothes – things that usually end up in the bin, once they finished their life cycle. When you include them in your handcrafting activities, you do a little magic trick: you invest them with a new life and meaning and you create something beautiful out of what was already considered rubbish.

      2. Be unique!

      In a time where things from opposite parts of the world tend to become similar due to globalization, one aspect all remarkable handmade objects have in common is the uniqueness factor (or the U Factor, for all the pop-culture lovers out there). They represent the perfect gift for anyone who appreciates an item with a background story and personality. Handmade objects are 50% raw materials and 50% soul, because the artists that create them put a big part of whom they are into their art. Of course, you can search for inspiration and have a look at the creations of artists you admire, but handmaking is a great chance for you to be original and honest. Think about it this way: in handcrafting, there are no mistakes, just unique creations! So make them your kind of unique.

      3. Improvement your skills!

      When you begin developing a creative habit, you may stumble at first, taking one step further and two steps back. And that’s perfectly fine – trial and error is a great learning method. But if you want to take your art to the next level and sell the products you create, you need to perfect your work technique and to select only reliable materials. If you want to invest your products with commercial value, they need to meet all the quality criteria and to keep your customers happy. People are looking for unique pieces that will pass the test of time and will not fall apart in the next week.

      4. Handcrafting is officially cool, so be cool!

      Yes, you read that well! TV shows such as The Great British Sewing Bee, and channels such as Create & Craft, have had a huge impact on the craft scene, expanding its visibility and popularity. The Internet and social networks have also helped crafting communities thrive and reach a younger demographic, with tutorials on YouTube, Facebook crafting groups and platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram allowing people to share their work and get feedback from fellow crafters. Also, what’s cooler than wearing something you created yourself and being complimented for it?


      These are just a few reasons why I believe that creating and buying handmade items are always a good idea. Let me know what else you would add to the list!




      Love,

      Amelie 






      Tuesday, 11 April 2017

      My Vintage inspired jewellery collection


      If you visited my blog before, you would know that my posts tend to be quite lengthy. Well, this one is no exception, ha! The difference this time, however, is that the length of this post is given by the number of images it includes. It’s actually a selection of pictures from a weekend photoshoot I did with my little vintage-inspired handmade jewellery collection. As I was saying in a previous post, nature with its fascinating textures and shapes is my never ending source of inspiration, so I took the jewellery pieces out in the open and the result is this set of photos, airy and fresh as a day of spring.
      Pendants, bracelets, rings adorned with beautiful crystals and gemstones – they’re all created using a wire-wrap technique. Its spontaneous twists, infinite spiraling, and crochet-like movements make it my favourite work technique and one I tried to perfect throughout the time. If you’re curious about experimenting with wire-wrapping and you’re willing to create something similar, I happily invite you to one of the handmade workshops happening in May.

      Until then, I’ll let the photos take the stage. 








        

      Love,

      Amelie



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      Thursday, 6 April 2017

      The most famous painting with a jewellery piece in it




      Jewellery pieces are fascinating objects: they catch your attention with their colours and textures and light up your imagination with their unearthly sparkles. But jewellery items are even more intriguing when they’re worn by someone and become part of a context, of a story that’s sometimes barely suggested. That’s the case with the Girl with a Pearl Earring probably, the most famous artwork with a jewellery piece in it. The text is a bit lengthy (so bear with me!), but I assure you that all the details surrounding this artwork are mesmerizing.

      The painting belongs to Johannes Vermeer, one of the masters of the art of the Dutch Golden Age, and was finished around 1665, but apart from that very little is known about the masterpiece or the artist himself. Who’s this girl and why the artist chose her? Are her wide eyes and enigmatic half-smile innocent or seductive? Is she ready to speak, and if so, what she’s about to say? And why is she wearing that enormous pearl earring? These are some of the questions that pop into the mind of art lovers everywhere, as they marvel at The Girl’s enigmatic beauty.

      I haven’t yet had the chance to see the painting in its home at the Mauritshuis Royal Picture Gallery in The Hague, where it has been part of the permanent collection since 1903, but that’s definitely on my list! And I believe I’m not the only one with a plan. For a couple of years, the painting has been touring the world and when it arrived in Tokyo, for instance, it attracted more visitors than any other global exhibition that year. It’s estimated that more than 2.2 million people around the globe turned out to pay homage to the so called ‘Mona Lisa of the North’. Now that would turn any Hollywood star green with envy!

      But first, the pearl

      Just like a carefully chosen accessory that’s bringing a whole outfit together, the pearl earring completes Vermeer’s painting. The Girl would probably still be pretty without it, but the improbably large pearl earring she’s wearing only deepens the mystery of her story. So let’s take a closer look at the pearl itself.

      For centuries, this gemstone has been a symbol of beauty and purity, so it became a tradition for a bride to wear pearls on her wedding day. Could this be the reason why the painter accessorized his model with a pearl? Perhaps! Although The Girl is wearing a white gem bathed in natural light, the colour palette of natural and cultured pearls extends to warm hues like yellow, orange, and pink, and cool shades such as blue, green, or violet.


      There are voices claiming that The Girl’s pearl might not be a natural one, due to its size and its way of reflecting light. In the seventeenth century, cheaper glass pearls, usually from Venice, were quite common. They were made from glass, which was lacquered to give it a matte finish. Maybe the girl is wearing such a handcrafted 'pearl' as an addition to the general atmosphere of make-believe.

      Then, the painting


      Although the question regarding The Girl’s identity remains forever open, two possible answers gained popularity throughout the time. The first one identifies the model as a household servant turned muse turned mistress. Others believe the angelic face belongs to Vermeer's eldest daughter, Maria, who was about twelve or thirteen at the time the painting was created. Her features appear in several of Vermeer's works – Art of Painting and Young Woman with a Pearl Necklace, for example, inserted below. But the artist was a magician of light and loved to portray his models in different lighting conditions, so the female faces in his painting are hard to compare.


      Vermeer’s work, however, is not a portrait, but a “tronie”, a painting of an imaginary figure, so the artist might have been influenced by the features of several women, which he combined in this thought-provoking image. A “tronie” is a study of a head and shoulders dressed in exotic clothing – the blue turban, in this case - so it isn’t meant to be a specific person, but someone more generalised, timeless and mysterious.

      Speaking of the turban, there’s an interesting detail about it. Made from a crushed deep blue semi-precious stone called lapis lazuli, the ultramarine paint Vermeer used on the turban was one only a few of his contemporaries dared employ. Despite ultramarine's high price tag, Vermeer notably used the color even in times of financial hardship, possibly thanks to funding from his generous patron.


      Emilie Gordenker, the director of the Mauritshuis Museum, is certain that this “sense of mystery” is what attracts people to The Girl. “Her mouth is open, which you don’t see that much in Dutch paintings, so she seems as if she is about to talk to you. I’m dying to know what she’s going to say. And around the world – in Japan, in the United States, in Italy – everybody has the same reaction: you can see them trying to fill in the story.” And some people really put this story into writing.

      Finally, the novel, the movie, and the play


      Tracy Chevalier imagined the story behind the “Girl with a Pearl Earring” in a historical novel with the same title. In her version, The Girl is a servant named Griet, who starts an affair with her master, while sitting for the painting and wearing his wealthy wife's jewel in her ear.


      People love a forbidden romance story: the book was so successful it sold more than three million copies, it became an Oscar nominated film starring Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth, and in 2008, it was adapted into a stage production here, in London. Below, you can find some photos from the movie which captures so well the atmosphere of the painting. If you haven’t done so yet, my suggestion is that you try both the movie and the book and see which one you prefer.


      Have you seen the painting in real life or do you plan to? Let me know what impresses you the most about it and what story you think is behind Vermeer’s infamous masterpiece.

      Love,

      Amelie

      Thursday, 30 March 2017

      My top lessons since I organize jewellery workshops in London




      When you do something for a while, you start noticing patterns, drawing conclusions and learning along the way. The jewellery workshops taught me a few valuable lessons that I’m sharing with you today. Having them here allows me look at this activity in an objective manner, but also helps me appreciate even more the unique personality of each participant and the uniqueness of their creations. Here are my lessons:
      1. Being organised matters

      You can’t teach people something if you don’t know where your keys, your glasses or your ideas are. I mean, you can, but you’ll feel stressed, the others will sense your tension, so you won’t spread that kind of positive flowing energy that you were hoping for. That’s why I learnt to prepare everything beforehand and to organise my ideas and stories. Coming in front of people like a bohemian artist with my head in the clouds just won’t do for me!

      Before bringing any new jewellery pattern to the workshops, I test it to see how a beginner would handle it. You may know it already, but I require no previous experience from participants before joining the events, so the jewellery patterns I propose shouldn’t overwhelm any first-time handcrafter with its intricate steps. I also learnt to identify the best event locations in London: I’m already smitten with the Spitalfields venues because they’re quite and luminous, but I enjoy just as much Waterstones Picadilly, thanks to its peaceful relaxed atmosphere and to the fact that the staff always prepares a booth for our handmade activities.



      1. People create at their own pace

      During workshops I noticed that while some participants manage to create several jewellery pieces, the others barely finish one item in the same amount of time. But it doesn’t mean that people from the first category are more creative than the ones from the latter. It’s usually the handcrafting background or the creative approach that’s different.

      While some people know exactly what they’re doing and jump right into it, the others need more time to get familiar with the materials and to find the best way to match them. Some participants are anxious to see the final result so they rush towards it, while others give extra care to every detail along the way, even though this tendency towards perfectionism slows them a bit. What I believe is that no matter what working method they prefer, each participant should have fun and feel guided (not pressured) throughout the whole creative experience to fully benefit from it.

      1. Art encourages friendships


      If you’re an introvert like me, you probably know that putting yourself out there and starting up conversations aren’t the easiest things in the world. But as surprising as it may seem, I can’t wait to meet my new guests and to step with them into the world of creativity. Not only I get the chance to speak about handcrafted jewellery – a topic close to my heart – but also I know that I’m in good company and that gives me the confidence to interact with ease and to get to know the others better.

      Here’s something I remember at every workshop: when you feel you’re among friends, you learn to relax. Even though it’s been a while since I started organising these creative events, I still feel a bit nervous when a new one is about to start. You could say I’m like an actor who has stage fright before any new gig. But when I see the smiling faces around me, I understand, time and time again, there’s no reason to feel stressed about: people are entering the creative flow with an open heart and handcrafting brings only joy, relaxation, and healing.


      1. Any workshop is a learning experience

      Finally, the workshops taught me that every new event is a learning opportunity, not only for the participants, but for me as well. So I’m no longer surprised when I meet people that approach the handcrafting activity in an out-of-the-box manner and combine the materials in unexpected ways or come up with a brilliant work technique that I adopt further on. At a ring making workshop happened recently, for example, one of the participants designed a smaller ring for the upper side of the finger to complete the initial ring she created. I was thrilled to see the final piece!

      I learn, of course, from the constructive feedback I get during and after each class. I always think of new event ideas, I try to improve the experience, making it even more attractive and interesting for the participants, that’s why any suggestion, recommendation or advice is welcome.

      There’s no doubt this list of lessons will continue to grow, so why not learn together? It will be fun, I promise! The calendar with the upcoming workshops is just one click away.



      Love,

      Amelie