Friday, 14 July 2017

Buttercup Meadow

New to the Lost Forest collection is this beautiful one-of-a-kind necklace- 'Buttercup Meadow'. It allows you to carry a miniature wildflower meadow with you wherever you may wander. A single vibrant buttercup rests within crystal clear natural pine resin. The delicate bloom was picked fresh from an Irish summer meadow and carefully preserved to retain its luscious colour and tiny details. The buttercup is surrounded by a confetti cloud of baby pink, ivory and pale yellow Queen Anne's Lace flowers. They dance around the buttercup and echo the fun and frivolity of the warm summer days.
The miniature blooms are accompanied by a fine scattering of glistening 24k gold leaf flakes, which sparkle with every movement. The dazzling botanical scene is embraced by a handmade 24k gold plated ring, which creates a glamorous and unique look. This necklace would be the perfect accessory for a summer garden party or wedding. Available to buy now here.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Farm Life

Whenever I have the opportunity to leave the bustle of the Lost Forest studio, I love to escape to my fiancĂ©'s farm to clear the cobwebs and re-ignite my creative inspirations. I always return home with a clearer outlook, and I'm usually eager to get back to work and begin new projects. 

Here's a little snapshot of the infinite beauty of rural Ireland and the idyllic vistas found on the farm. The evening sunsets are particularly magical at this time of the year, and bid a final dazzling display at the culmination of each day.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Irish Made Awards 2017

Lost Forest has been nominated for the Irish Made Awards! It's such a wonderful surprise to be shortlisted amongst so many talented Irish designers and craftspeople. 

Please follow this link to cast your vote. To vote: scroll down to the end of the page to the 'Jewellery' category and click Lost Forest. The awards are run by Irish Country Magazine and Guaranteed Irish and the organisers are offering such a generous prize. It would be hugely beneficial for my business, and will allow me to avail of mentorship and advertising to expand and further develop my brand. I would be very grateful for your support. Thank you!

Baby on Board

This is a beautiful little memento necklace I recently created for a lovely client of mine. She was presented with this tiny black bean by her daughter-in-law on the news of her long awaited pregnancy. It represented the size of her daughter-in-laws growing baby, and was a true surprise and delight for the prospective grandmother. 

She asked me to preserve the bean in a miniature eco resin globe necklace so she could always remember the pivotal occasion. I nestled the bean at the base of the globe, as if cradled by its gentle contours. My signature crystal clear resin showcased every minuscule detail and intriguing form. I then surrounded it with a protective embrace of magical dandelion seeds; an emphatic declaration that wishes do come true. The overall result was a stunning keepsake that holds a wealth of meaning and memories.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Lost Forest arrives at the Design Loft

Lost Forest is now available to purchase at the Design Loft in the stunningly beautiful Powerscourt Estate. It is a great privilege to showcase my work in such an esteemed shop and location. It is most definitely a proud moment for me in my career so far.

Powerscourt is a place I've visited since I was a young child and it holds an abundance of happy memories. It's still a regular escape for me away from the studio, and the spectacular formal gardens always boost my creative inspirations. Now Lost Forest sits at home in these sumptuous surroundings, tempting and enchanting passing visitors to this magical place. 

The Design Loft lies upstairs in Powerscourt House and is a little treasure trove of Irish craft and design; rotating artists every few months to allow everyone a chance to present their products and passions to the world. 

Over the last few weeks, I've been very busy preparing all my stock for the 1st of July deadline: boxing, stamping, polishing, pricing, painting and even some building. My wonderful and creative dad built my stepped display stand, which we painted in my signature duck egg blue to match the Puddle Plate display box. I also included natural elements into the arrangement, such as cut wooden stumps from my boyfriend's farm, and mosses, shells and wild grasses making the nature theme more emphatic and reinforcing that all the inclusions within the resin are real and picked straight from the Irish landscape. 

I was extremely happy and proud of the result; a very unique display for a very unique product. So, of course we had to mark the occasion in the sunny garden cafe with some early morning celebratory carrot cake and a frothy mug of coffee. A job well done.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Midsummer meadows

June has always been a favourite month of mine; with its warm sunny days, long evenings enrobed in florescent sunsets, pond lilies flaunting their form, and wildflower meadows splashed with vibrant colour and energetic life. Poppies in particular exude such a powerful and evocative display. Their blood red petals are traditionally symbolic of bloodshed and death, becoming emblematic of the catastrophic loss of life during the World Wars. It's this poignancy combined with angelic beauty that makes it such a bewitchingly beautiful wildflower.

I gathered a few poppies and cornflowers for my botanical supplies. While I was prepping some petals for pressing, I was so inspired by the rich ruby red tone of the silk-like petals. I had an urge to create a piece right away and this became the newest necklace in store (on sale in the Design Loft, Powerscourt Estate)- 'Crystals & Rubies' using the same tonal palette as the poppies. I used my own pressed sprigs of gypsophila, which I had dyed red. They almost look like tiny versions of real poppies with their circular heads bobbing upon their elegant elongated stems. I also added swirls of ruby red dye to the resin to heighten the colour. You can read more about the piece here, and purchase a completely one-of-a-kind item of jewellery.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Belle of the garden

'Belle of the Garden' is the latest addition to the Lost Forest collection. It is a pretty ode to a miniature floral garden you can carry with you wherever you go. This delicate necklace is a beautiful and elegant piece of wearable art. Within the crystal clear natural resin lies tiny Queen Anne's Lace flowers in subtle tones of pastel pink and yellow. The miniature blooms are accompanied by a fine scattering of gleaming 24k gold leaf flakes, which sparkle with every movement. The delightful botanical scene is embraced by a handmade 24k gold plated ring, which creates a glamorous and unique look. This necklace would be the perfect accessory for a summer garden party or wedding. Available here in limited numbers.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Meet me in the wildflower meadows

Flower foraging is not only a daily adventure for me, but a valuable learning experience too. I like to constantly learn and improve my knowledge of flowers and all things botanical. I've built up quite a collection of pressed wildflowers over the years, and I'm now the proud owner of my very own miniature pressed botanical library. It's important to me that my flowers are not bought online, but are sourced and picked from my surroundings. I've always advocated that my processes, materials and inspirations are all sourced locally and are distinct to me. It's what keeps me on my toes and allows me to freely explore my own creative yearnings, and not be dependent on external influences and trends.

I began using Queen Anne's Lace many years ago before it became ubiquitous amongst resin makers nowadays. I have always felt the urge to move as far away as possible from the over saturated mainstream, and have started once again to source other flowers that makers have yet to discover. I found Cow Parsley to be the perfect alternative. It grows in abundance where I live from late May, billowing out from the woodlands like puffs of shimmering clouds. It's quite a sight to behold when venturing through a forest sprayed with delicate white blooms:

Silent Noon
'Neath billowing skies that scatter and amass. 
All round our nest, far as the eye can pass, 
Are golden kingcup-fields with silver edge 
Where the cow-parsley skirts the hawthorn-hedge. 
'Tis visible silence, still as the hour-glass.
          -Dante Gabriel Rossetti           

Cow Parsley  is often confused with Queen Anne's Lace, but it is indeed a different flower. They are both from the Apiaceae family and are Umbellifers plants due to their umbrella-like flower heads. Cow Parsley is commonly known as Wild Chervil (Anthriscus sylvestris), while Queen Anne's Lace is Wild Carrot (Daucus carota)

It is also worth noting that both plants must be observed methodically before picking or ingesting; in particular with Cow Parsley or 'Devils Parsley' as it is often referred to due to its very close resemblance to Hemlock (Conium maculatum); a fatally poisonous weed that should never be touched or ingested. To distinguish between the two, just remember: Cow Parsley has a slightly hairy green stalk and fern-like, triangular, 3-pinnate leaves with pointed segments, while hemlock has a thick stalk speckled with purple dots, feathery, 2-4 pinnate leaves and a pungent musty aroma. Many people have been unknowingly poisoned by Hemlock in the past believing it was either Queen Anne's Lace or Cow Parsley, which are both edible before they begin to flower.

When I pick Cow Parsley, I normally wear a glove to protect my skin from sap or nettles which grow in amongst the flowers. The sap isn't harmful, like Hogweed would be (causes severe burns), but as I have quite a medley of skin sensitivities and allergies, I always take extra precautions. 

Buttercups and Japanese Roses are also flourishing in profusion in the local parks near me. The aroma of the Japanese Rose (Rosa rugosa) is the most heavenly fragrance. No wonder it has been used for centuries to make pot-pourri. I plucked a few heart-shaped petals to press, but always leave the stamen, as bees love these flowers, and they are an important source of food for them.  

The meadows are dotted with yellow floral confetti in the form of dazzling buttercups (Ranunculus) ; Creeping, Meadow and Bulbous varieties are out in full force and offer the most beautiful vista, especially set against a foreboding grey sky. These are such easy flowers to press, and I use them extensively in my work. My buttercup pendant with my signature 24k gold leaf background is an ode to my childhood days spent picking these blissful blooms and playing amongst the wildflowers. They always carry fond memories for me, which you can read more about here.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Life in amongst the hedgerows

These warm balmy spring days have encouraged me to abandon the stifling heat of the studio and venture off into my local park to gather the latest batch of blooms slowly emerging through the undergrowth. It also felt necessary to wear some flowers around my neck for the ensuing task ahead, so I wore my own daisy necklace ; the perfect accessory for the day.

During my walks I love to scan for colour and curious finds. Today it marked the turn of a firm favourite of mine; Germander Speedwell, in Latin; 'Veronica chamaedrys', or commonly known as Birds Eye Speedwell. This elegant bonny blue wildflower makes its debut from May to July. Although it is often viewed as an irksome weed by gardeners, to me it signals the coming of summer, and its tiny intricate petals and slender stems have such an ethereal beauty to them that truly justifies some adoration.  

The Common Speedwell
...Thou art a jewel on the brow of May,
That, robed in scented garments, wings her way!
Emblem of Friendship rarest gem of blue
From me thou ever hast affection true!
-James Rigg

I made myself busy in the afternoon by pressing handfuls of the speedwell, and filled up quite a few pages in my flower press. They were also accompanied by the ubiquitous Herb Robert or 'Geranium Robertianum', which adds a delightful pop of pink to the Irish hedgerows throughout spring and summer. I was joined on my expedition by a rotund fluffy bumble bee who was buzzing through the vibrant fuchsia, almost getting stuck in one or two of the trumpet-like blooms. Her little legs poking out from beneath a skirt of magenta petals was a magic moment I was fortunate to capture. 

Later, I discovered some beautiful posies of Hawthorn flowers, subtly blushed with pink. The Hawthorn is synonymous with Irish folklore, viewed as bringing good luck to the owner and prosperity to the land on where it stands. Therefore, if it is chopped down and plundered for its wood, great misfortune beckons on the horizon. According to local myths, this activity unsettles the faerie folk who use the Hawthorn tree as a place of gathering. A curse is then bestowed upon the culprit who carries out the deed:  

'Beware, beware the hawthorn,
Lest it strike you down,
For if you take an axe to it
You'll rue that you were born.'
-Giles Watson

Even to this day, entrenched superstitions associated with these trees run deep in rural Irish communities, and a lot of farmers would avoid cutting down a Hawthorn tree, even if it may be an obstruction in a field. So, I will continue the tradition and avoid the bark. Instead, I pick just a few of the flowers as these will eventually turn into berries, which are a vital source of food for birds and other hedgerow creatures later on in the year.

Next time you're out, take a little peak at the hedgerows and you'll discover a fascinating and bustling microcosm living in amongst it.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Custom memento jewellery

I recently had the pleasure of creating some beautiful memorial jewellery for the late Johannah Deakin or 'Jay', mother of One Direction band member Louis Tomlinson. Her sister-in-law, Sally, asked me to commemorate Johannah's wonderful spirit in the form of little memento necklaces and cufflinks to gift to her children and family members. 

Sally sent me a dusky pink rose she dried from Johannah's wedding bouquet, which would form the basis of the design of each piece. I firstly started by restoring the rose petals back to their original colour, as they had faded and lost some of their vibrant tones. I used a specialised process to bring their colour back, and I then created 'flower confetti' with the petals in my signature design.

The ladies were gifted beautiful rose confetti natural resin heart necklaces, in either gold or silver, while Louis and the men received cufflinks. The result is a tiny happy memory encapsulated into a wearable memento that will hopefully help and offer comfort to those who face a difficult journey ahead.