11 April 2014

The Cheapside Hoard: London's lost jewels.

Last week I had a totally indulgent jewellery day out in London. Firstly I hopped off the tube at St Paul's and visited the Museum of London to see The Cheapside Hoard: London's lost Jewels. It took my breath away.

The Cheapside Hoard, was dug up in 1912 when a building was demolished in the City of London's Cheapside. The demolition brought to light ancient cellars and it was here that the biggest hoard of priceless jewels from the late 16th early 17th was found caked in mud. The treasures give us the most in depth knowledge of Elizabethan and Jacobean craftsmanship. 

Gold and garnet ring

You enter the darkened exhibition through a vault type turn style. There are burly security guards, and the jewels are so valuable you can't even take a jacket or a handbag in with you. Once inside you are invited to borrow a huge magnifying glass so you can study the amazing details of the precious items on display. They are numerous and stunning.

Long enameled and jeweled chains

I loved the chains, not only for their amazing detail, but also because they were incredibly long, and must have looked utterly stunning when worn.

As well as the amazing jewels themselves, the exhibition tells us about London in the time they were buried, the history of the London Goldsmiths, and it speculates on how the jewels could have come to be lost.

Tiny jeweled scent bottle

You can see a Goldsmith's workshop from the time the jewels were made, and it is amazing to think that the tools that I use today, are the same as those that were used to make the things on display.

If you rush, you can still catch this exhibition that is on until the 27th of April 2014. I would really recommend it to fans of all things sparkly!

(Note: I struggled with images as you are not allowed to photograph the exhibition. All photos used here are credited to the Museum of London website. Obviously it is very important to me not to infringe on copyright and I hope that using this images in this way does not do so. I suggest Googling images of the Cheapside Hoard as they are numerous and spectacular. You can also buy a book of the exhibition.)

Swapping a skill for a skill

I love the idea of being able to trade for things, no money exchanging hands. Swapping your time for a skill, or a skill for some baking, exchanging expertise for objects...

I have admired the work of Snowdon Design & Craft for some time. Lovely hand drawn text, making beautiful bold images. A year ago I filed for divorce and am facing a new life alone with my two boys. It's been a very, very tough year, and it's all not done with yet. Most likely we will lose our home, but I am confident where ever we end up, we will make a warm and loving home for the three of us. Because the year has been so tough, I had been thinking about something that I wanted to have on the wall that we could look at every day, a little mantra for our new lives. I couldn't find exactly what I wanted, so somehow, one day I was brave enough to ask Alex of Snowdon Design & Craft if she could help me with my quest.

Now I know it can be tough being asked to do something if you feel the work is 'not quite you', so I was a little worried about what Alex would think of the words I wanted. Luckily, she was happy to go ahead. Best of all, we agreed on a swap. Alex liked the aquamarine rings I make, so a trade was arranged, a skill for a skill.

We were both rather busy, so things didn't happen instantly, but one day Alex sent me some rough sketches, and I knew the finished piece was going to be great. First she drew the design in pencil. Then she hand inked it in. 

A screen was exposed and Mr S was dispatched to the garden to clean it down. Suddenly I was picking a colour (the most perfect blue), and the print was made and waiting to dry. I was so excited waiting for it to arrive.

I haven't got it in a frame yet, so this little snap I took doesn't really do it justice, but it really is just perfect, and I know it will make me smile everyday, and remind me to find a little fun, a little laughter and a lot of love every single day.

Thank you Alex. It's perfect.

Here's what I made for Alex in return.

You can find Alex's wonderful work on her website at Snowdon Design and Craft
Her facebook page is here.
And you can even buy your own copy of the Fun Love & Laughter print here.