Sunday, 22 May 2016

Aunts, eau de Cologne and art nouveau

You end up going down some interesting alleyways when you wander down memory lane. Thinking about my childhood led me to remember my Aunts. Several and varied, they played an important part in my early life. Some of them are recalled clearly, as they lived nearby, others visited occasionally, bringing birthday and Christmas gifts. One occasional visitor was Aunt Blanche. Black clad, with a built up shoe and sporting a chignon, she was a one woman neighbourhood watch of a lady, she would brandish a poker at would-be vandals, and once painted (illegally of course) her own double yellow lines on the pavement outside her house. I thought she was wonderful, and for several years running she would bring me a volume from the ‘Observers books of wildlife’ series. I had Wildflowers, Birds, Fish…. and several others. It started a love of wildlife that has stayed with me all my life.

Then there was Aunt Frances, who lived in Reedham, a windswept marshy village on the Norfolk Broads. I remember her kitchen, with it’s rag rugs and table covered with a tablecloth long enough to make a perfect hiding place for a little girl. Best of all though was the egg timer she kept on a shelf. Made in the shape of a horseshoe, it fascinated me and I would sit in my hidey hole under the table and turn it over and over. Then Uncle Alfred would tempt me out, put me up on his shoulders and walk round his garden. I was terrified and thrilled in equal measures as he was very tall and I’m scared of heights to this day!
Then there were Millie and Lilly, the aunts from Newcastle. Millie had a handbag full of lovely objects it seemed to me. A powder compact that clicked shut with a snap, Yardley lipstick in a gold case, 4711 eau de Cologne, mint imperials and a little round box of wet circular wipes called ‘Quickies’  I remember  being thrilled at having my face wiped with one of these, instead of the usual aunties standby of hanky corner and spit!
So what has all this rambling got to do with jewellery making? Shapes and impressions find their way into what you create. Wire can be bent into the shape of a powder puff handle on a half forgotten dressing table set. Beads can remind you of the blue-green of a perfume bottle.  It’s a lovely way to recycle memories and daydreams and is why handcrafted jewellery is so …. well, magical I guess.

Just getting started on my ‘Millie’ necklace, with art nouveau influenced shapes soldered together and now to have glass, shell or other pretties added.


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