Saturday, 23 September 2017

The great mushroom hunt

These beautiful autumnal days are my favourite of the year. There's a certain air of calm, solitude and reflection in the changing of the temperature, light and natural surroundings. Although this September has been a slightly more wet one than we're use to, it does have its benefits, and it results in a copious collection of mushrooms springing up from the forest floor.

I usually spend a few mornings a week trekking through the woodlands in search of my charming fungi friends. They're often found hidden amongst long grasses, and concealed under an emerald blanket of woodland sorrel with dew drops sparkling like fallen diamonds. It really is a sight to behold, and makes the hours in the bone tingling cold a lot more bearable. I've been lucky enough to discover banded mottlegill, chanterelle, fairy ink caps and nitrous bonnet. A pretty selection of tiny treasures that are ready to be made into intriguing eco resin jewels.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Wish upon a dandelion

'Wish upon a raindrop' is the latest eco resin treasure in the Lost Forest collection. It's inspired by dazzling raindrops that have fallen upon the leafy forest floor. The delicate raindrop holds a bewitching surprise; tiny real dandelion seeds. They gently dance within the crystal clear eco resin, their fragile beauty captured forever in a timelessly elegant piece. A magical dusting of 24k gold leaf swirls around the seeds, glittering with every movement you make. 

This piece is beautifully timeless and wearable, and is now my firm favourite for my everyday wear. It adds a wonderful touch of glamour to any outfit, and always catches people's eye. To complete the look, my 'Make a wish' drop earrings are an ideal accompaniment.

Dandelion's hold such a poignant and hopeful message for many people.  Their ethereal ghostly structure has always fascinated me, and from the very beginnings of my resin making journey, I love to capture them in their simplest form. This necklace seems to be the perfect way to remind you everyday to keep hope alive and always strive forward.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Head for the hills of heather

September always marks the heather season for me, and I'm usually found high in the mountains searching amongst the beautiful purple haze to find the best sprigs for my botanical collection. Bell heather is my favourite type due to its rich and vibrant colour and dainty bell-shaped blooms. 

Heather thrives in dry acidic soils, and grows in profusion on moorlands and mountain sides. Over the centuries it has been used in numerous ways; from bedding, brooms, basketry to roof thatching. It's aromatic buds were also used to flavour beer and provide a sweet floral aroma to honey. For me, it is a much loved staple of my collection and is used in two core pieces; My Wild Irish Heart necklace and earrings. Both pieces capture the wild and natural beauty of the Irish landscape at this magical time of the year, and preserve the rich eternal charm of the heather forever. 

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Billie the Birthday Girl

Today we're celebrating Billie's 6th birthday (40 in cat years!). My sweet furbaby goes by an exhausting array of imaginative pseudonyms; such as Billie Blob, Billie Bunny, Billie Blobasaurus, Billie Bear, Billie Bunter, Silly Billie, 'ickle 'bickle Billie Bear and so on. I chose the name Billie as she's not only a little princess but also a cheeky tomboy, so it seemed the perfect name for her split personality.

When I was living and working in Dublin city centre, stray cats were a common sight in and around the apartment block where I was living in, close to the Docklands. I'd always feed them scraps of leftover food and they became well loved little rascals around the apartments courtyards. One evening, I was strolling through the yard and was stopped in my tracks by a tiny piercing squeak coming from a large plant pot.

As I gazed down, I came across the sweetest little sight of a newborn kitten squirming out from the dense knotted shrubs. She was wobbling precariously close to the pots edge. Her eyes were still closed and she was shivering from the cold evening breeze. My heart instantly melted and I felt an immediate bond with her. After making contact with volunteers from the stray cat society, and sending Billie to be treated and vaccinated, she became my very first furbaby.

Every evening after work, I'd retire to my desk in a little corner of the living room with her by my side and we would spend hours researching resin, suppliers and articles on how to start your own business. Billie and I would indulge in lengthy one-sided conversations, with her squeaking back in agreement.

My circumstances then took an unexpected turn and I had to return home to my family, with Billie in tow. During this time she became very attached to my dad and started following him everywhere, earning another nickname- 'little shadow'. She now has a great life in the Dublin suburbs, has a loving family around her, and a little kitty friend called 'Socks' who lives outside in the garden. Billie's now healthy, big and strong and a firm favourite with my followers on Instagram. Not a bad life for someone born in a flower pot in the inner city. I hope this little furball will stick around for a very long time, as I couldn't imagine my days without her; my buddy Billie.

She also has some strange quirks, which only further define her eccentric personality. Here are a just a few of her idiosyncrasies:
  • She only drinks her water from a tall glass on a coaster on the coffee table; very dignified.
  • She has a stick with strings attached that she's had since she was a kitten; we call it her 'stick baby' which she squeaks to at night and brings into her bed (she also throws it into the wall too, which is why it was probably a good idea she didn't have kittens of her own).
  • She has an unhealthy obsession with my dad.
  • She likes to play a game called 'hide and punch', she's the one who does the hiding and the punching.
  • Billie loves punching.... really loves it.
  • Her tail is called Bobby and appears to be a totally separate entity, who also likes to smack you in the face.
  • She has an unhealthy obsession with Tuna
  • She likes to give nose kisses, especially after eating Tuna.
  • She has to have her morning drink out of the tap, while sitting in the kitchen sink.
  • Apparently she owns the family house and we are merely her tenants and obedient servants.

Billie loves to 'hide' in small spaces, even my flower-pressing drawer!

Once there's a fresh batch of flowers in the studio, Billie has to investigate the finds first.

You never know when or where a Billie will appear!

Billie shares my love of all things floral - she's my favourite (and fluffiest) studio assistant.

- Gillian x

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Botanical engagement ring

I recently completed a beautiful commission for a lovely client of mine who entrusted me with a very special project- her engagement ring. I rarely make rings anymore as my focus is primarily drawn to necklaces and earrings, but I'm always eager for new creative challenges. 

I was honoured to be asked to create a truly bespoke piece that no one else in the world would have. The ring was symbolic of a hugely memorable moment in both their lives, and would become a treasured heirloom for the next generations of their family. 

As my client is a gardener, she decided to press one of her own Foxglove blooms from her garden, and this would form the inspiration behind the piece. The white petals were peppered with a striking pattern in a deep plum tone, almost resembling an animal print. Such a stunning flower required an exceptional mold to cast the central stone. We both agreed on an irregular faceted gemstone, which created a bewitching and unique effect. After casting, sanding, polishing and mounting the gemstone onto a sterling silver band, the ring was complete and ready to surprise its lucky owner, and embark on a new journey in life together.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Last days of summer

A much loved piece from the Lost Forest collection has returned to store: 'Along the Sunbeam Meadow'. This piece is inspired by my walks through the grasslands of my local park. The tall willowy grasses gently swaying in the summer breeze, and the warm amber glow of the sun beams create a truly enchanting scene. It always stops me in my tracks, and I like to take a mental note of each and every detail before me. This particular piece has encapsulated this little part of my world, and captured its essence in a miniature landscape. You can read more about it below and purchase your very own here.
A beautiful one-of-a-kind piece of botanical art, made just for you to treasure and wear close to your heart. The bottle pendant was skilfully cast by myself using a handmade mold of a vintage Chanel No.5 perfume bottle. The pendant was then constructed in natural eco resin using my advanced casting technique to ensure a premium crystal clear finish. 
Within the lightweight bottle is an eternal scene of summer; a miniature Irish meadow has been preserved forever in time. Real sprigs of honeyed wild grass, tiny daisies and elegant stems of yellow toned gypsophila inhabit the tiny world. A sprinkling of 24k gold leaf echoes the fading sparkle of the evening sun across the breath of the meadow. 
The intriguing necklace allows you to carry your own microcosm of an Irish summer wherever you may be in the world.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Lost Forest Fern Earrings

Brand new in store are these beautifully elegant eco resin earrings, which have trapped and preserved real forest ferns. The tiny delicate ferns were collected by me within the magical and enchanted Irish woodlands. I carefully pressed their fragile beauty over several weeks, and then skilfully encapsulated them into crystal clear eco resin oval drops. They are inspired by lingering sparkling rain drops clinging to the branch tips in the woods. Each droplet holding a tiny treasure and the essence of the Lost Forest. 
The base of each drop has been hand gilded with fragmented 24k gold leaf in my signature style, and adds another touch of glamour to these statement earrings. You will now be able to carry a little portion of Ireland with you wherever you may wander. Available now here.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Forest Foraging

Today marked a much needed supply run to the mountains. Mottlegill mushrooms, moss and woodland ferns were top of the list, and I found a bountiful selection of them within the depths of the forest. The recent rain showers had enticed a profusion of botanicals to emerge through the undergrowth and reveal their delights. 

I also managed to stumble upon some floral treats in the form of buttercups (Ranunculus bulbosus), Eyebright (Euphrasia) and the rambling Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum). It was a job well done and allowed me to enrich my botanical collections once more for some brand new projects on the horizon.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Lost Forest Torc Necklaces

Back in my former life before Lost Forest became my full time career and passion, I was an archaeologist and art historian. I've always had a huge yearning to learn about social history and its material culture. It's now interesting to think back to my days working with Viking finds from the Wood Quay excavations in the National Museum, and illustrating and documenting tiny treasures from the past. I believe my love for creating my own treasures was influenced by them. I was particularly mesmerised by jewellery finds, in particular Celtic torcs. Beautiful shimmering gold crescents that would embrace the contours of the neckline displaying beauty, wealth and prestige to all. I was inspired by them to create my own eco resin torc; an ode to my Celtic past. 

I created two types; The Goddess of the Sea and The Midsummer Garden. They were meticulously handcrafted over several weeks, and although they were labour intensive to create, the result was certainly worth it. The complexity of their design and intricate detailing means they both display a sense of eternal wonder as your eye passes over the rambling organic arrangements. I'm very happy with the result and it will definitely be difficult to part with these precious pieces. However, I am sure they will be equally treasured and admired by their prospective owners.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

The Pixie Forest

'Through the Looking Glass' is inspired by Lewis Carroll's enchanting tale of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. This stunning collection captures a window into a magical miniature world, displayed in all its tiny detail through a whimsical looking glass in the form of a crystal clear eco resin coin.'
This looking glass features a wonderful wooded wonderland; inhabited by mischievous forest faeries who flutter through the forest floor. Tiny real Mottlegill mushrooms spring up from a layer of lush moss and luminous tendrils of lichen. Sprigs of pale blue water Forget-me-not and scilla flowers dance within the celestial scene. A secret hidden shamrock rests in amongst the tendrils of moss, and offers a hint of luck to the wearer of this beautiful piece. Glittering 24k gold leaf speckles float in the clear natural resin to create an added touch of intrigue.
The wonderfully tactile coin pendant is attached to two gold toned loop bails, which hang from a beautifully sparkly and high quality handmade 14k gold filled chain in an 18" length.
This is a spellbinding piece of wearable art, perfect for those who appreciate and wonder over the beauty of nature's creations. Available now here.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Summer Buttercup Droplets

New to store are my little handcrafted eco resin buttercup drops, which have encapsulated all the fun and frivolity of an Irish summers day. Each buttercup was picked by me from the sun drenched meadows and carefully preserved over several weeks to retain its beauty and vibrant colour. Speckles of glittering 24k gold leaf are suspended amongst the dancing buttercups; sparkling with every move you make.
The buttercup holds a great sense of nostalgia for me and I wanted to create a piece that was not only beautiful to look at, but one that can evoke fond memories of childhood games and stories. As a child, it was tradition to pick these little buttery yellow blooms in the fields at playtime and hold them under your chin to see if you or your friends liked butter. If the flower glowed vivid yellow upon the base of your chin it meant you liked butter, if not, then butter was obviously not your thing! Maybe you can try it yourself when you purchase this unique treasure? I highlighted this Irish tradition a few years ago on my Instagram page here , and it was lovely to read similar folk stories from around the world that were associated with this little ubiquitous flower. I'd love to read more in the comments below.
You can choose your favourite buttercup droplet in store here.