5 April 2019

Leafy green ferns



So I’ve decided to write a blog post to tackle something head on. Last year I was invited to be part of an exhibition called ‘Into the Woods’, and I was delighted because trees have become very important in my life now I live opposite a willowed riverbank, some wilderness, and an orchard. 



I was thrilled to be asked. I assume I was invited because of all my cast twigs, but I jumped upon the opportunity as an occasion to rise to the brief and create some new work. The brief read: “The forest acts as a potent symbol of adventure & discovery, a place where the barrier between reality & fantasy begins to thin.” I bought leafy green stones, and started the design work in earnest this year - researching, looking at source material, pinning relevant pics. Finally I settled on three collections, loosely based on oak leaves from Robin Hood, an icy white moonstone story based on the forests of Narnia, and leafy green ferns which I based around Little Red Riding Hood. In general I actually avoid traditional leaf shapes in my work, specifically because I dont want to cross with anyone I know who does leaf shapes (!) (Trust me this is hard for me as I naturally want to echo the riverbank willows that mean so much and in my life). In the end, I decided to shelve the oak leaves because I know of someone else who does these.

I have to admit I worked very hard on my fern / woodland collection, it’s a very well balanced body of work, and I am delighted and proud of the results. 

Out of the blue, I received a message - no photos - that accusing me of copying. Not just being influenced by, but ‘chosen to produce something so clearly derived from my work’. At this stage I had only shown work in progress and no finished pieces. My immediate response was that it was a rediculous accusation. I have used ferns and this designer uses clusters of small leaves. I thought she was objecting to my single hanging leaf shapes and I was thinking no one has a monopoly on a hanging leaf, (in fact I still sell some I designed while I was still at college). I was (and still am), completely confident that I came to the designs independently and with much thought. I wasn't going to get drawn in to justifying my work past and present.

At this stage I actually chose to pull out of the exhibition. I have had a tough few years (now all behind me) and I chose to live my life taking the smoothest path when ever possible. The accusation had already upset me, especially as it came in the middle of an extremely rare weekend away, and I didn’t want to go into the exhibition thinking my work would be the topic of speculation and scrutiny. What was important to me, and how I choose to live, was that I had already created some work I was proud of. It's a key lesson in life to focus on what you can control, and not on what you can't.

I decided to post a photo on social media of the necklace that is the focal and pivotal piece of the collection, a real exhibition piece, thinking it would prove that there was definitely no copying going on. But then this designer posted a photo on social media of the piece which is evidently the bit that she thinks I have copied, and yes there is absolutely no question that I CAN see similarities there with the stone at the top and the curve. When I look at the two photos together I am actually genuinely shocked, but I can guarantee that my work is not based on her work. She and I sell on the same platform, she directly knows the person that owns the gallery, she and I have many maker friends in common. If I had seen that piece (and I don't mean in general passing as I scroll social media) I would have changed my design just to avoid comparisons. Above is the other designer's single drop pendant, and below is my necklace.






My instinct when I got her first message was that I was completely confident that I had come to this work myself, in fact I replied to her and mentioned to the gallery owner ‘my conscience is clear’, and I do still truly and utterly stand by that. However, there is no question that I can see similarities. I think it is right that I put myself in her shoes. If I had designed the piece she recently reposted, and then someone posted what I’d posted, I think it would be fair to say I’d probably also think there was some element of copying going on.

In the past, I have twice complained about people copying me. Now the haberdashery copier, there is no question as she'd even sourced the same props and nicked my actual words, but I have another designer friend and I was  adamant that she had copied me, while she was adamant that she hadn't, so being utterly sure I haven't copied this, one of the first things I did was to get in touch with that old friend and say 'my turn now'. The other thing I remember is that when I got in touch with the girl who copied my haberdashery stuff, she refuted every having seen my work, (which was rather silly considering she'd used my text word for word in places). What I wanted was for her to simply say sorry. Now while I can't say sorry for something I haven't done, if I'd been contacted with these two pictures, I'm sure I would have said then that I would make changes to my necklace.

It's a shame that I've had to respond to this here, but having been told there's a few out there discussing it, then it's probably best you hear it from the horses mouth. And now I'll leave you with an unfinished brooch (which I love) that was the start of this collection and a leafy green woodland ring.




13 November 2017

#worldkindnessday



Just leaving this here.

8 November 2017

Polar Bears

This week is polar bear week. It coincides with their migration to Churchill, Manitoba, where they wait for Hudson Bay to freeze over, so they can return to hunting seals. I absolutely love polar bears, and seeing them in their natural environment is on my bucket list.


I made this brooch right back when I started my business. It’s still a favourite. I wanted to share the awesome work of some very talented makers who also use polar bears in their work.

First up it's Helen Noakes. You can find her work here.  She works in silver and resin. Some of her resin even glows in the dark, echoing the beautiful and ethereal Northern lights.





Next up is the work of Eileen Gatt. You can find her work here. Eileen carves her pieces in wax and them casts them in silver. I have one of her stunning polar bear necklaces.




Dinny Pocock is a fibre artist, and you can find her stunning work here. Most of it whizzes off to galleries, but you can contact here if you are interested in something. One of her polar bears is on my 'one day' wish list.






Charlotte x 


5 November 2017

Teeny diamond rings



I've really been enjoying making these recently. The photo doesn't do justice to the sparkle of these small but mighty, flashy 'brilliant cut' and conflict free diamonds. Earlier this year I did a mount making and stone setting course at the Goldsmith's Centre, taught by Sonia Cheadle, and I am so pleased that setting these is now second nature. 

25 May 2017

Oreo cheesecake recipe

End of exams = time for a celebratory cake in our house, and my youngest asked me to make my no bake Oreo cheesecake for him. Having posted this picture on my social media this evening, I have had lots of requests for the recipe, so here it is...


Base
22 Oreos
100g melted butter
1tbsp caster sugar

Filling
450g full fat cream cheese
475ml double cream
35gm icing sugar
200g caster sugar
12 chopped oreos

Method

Whizz the 22 Oreos for the base in a food processor until they are fine crumbs
Stir in the melted butter
Press into a lined spring-form (or you won't get it out) baking tin
Refrigerate the base for 30 mins

Roughly chop the 12 Oreos used in the filling with a knife
Gently beat the cream cheese and add in the icing sugar and caster sugar
Whip the double cream
Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese and fold in the chopped Oreos
Refrigerate for 4 hours or until firm

Before serving decorate with whole and broken Oreos and Oreo crumbs.

*I used a 20cm spring-form baking tin
**I can't even begin to imagine how many calories per slice
***My custom gold topper was made for me by Betsy Benn






13 April 2017

Love where you live

View from my studio today. Not bad for London.


9 April 2017

Family necklaces

I love making these little family heirloom pieces and haven't posted any on here for a while...


set with an opal birthstone









Set with a tiny sapphire