Monday, August 17, 2015

Irish fairy and angel jewelry

Look what fluttered in!
Irish Connemara marble angel or fairy pendant
This little lady is made from rare, Irish Connemara marble. You can read about this ancient stone in my previous post A snippet about Connemara marble.
Irish sea glass fairy or Christmas angel
Sea glass is recycling at it's best as it is a material recycled and improved by nature! It takes decades for the ocean to naturally tumble a piece of glass, buffing and frosting it until it is fit for use in jewelry and other decorative items. This beautiful sea glass fairy or angel works as a sun catcher or a Christmas ornament.
blue fairy pendant
The blue fairy makes a pretty pendant. As her skirt is semi transparent she too would look fantastic surrounded by fairy lights or hung in the window where she can catch the sunlight. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Dun Laoghaire Pier Lighthouse. Caught My Eye no.36

Caught My Eye  is a series of blog posts showing scenes I found interesting, odd, curious or beautiful. Please do enjoy a snapshot glimpse of the world through my creative eyes. 

Dun Laoghaire (Dun Laoire) is one of Dublin's ferry ports, a large, lively town and a favourite among city dwellers for a day out. It has two long piers where you can go for bracing walks with the reward of a whipped icecream cone at the end.  Just about anyone who grew up in Dublin in the last 50 years or so will nod and smile at the words 'Teddy's Ice cream.'  The humble little shop with a hatch window facing out onto the coast road is an indelible childhood memory.

Nowadays you can claim your ice cold prize at the end of the pier if you wish. Teddy's has an impermanent annex tucked behind the East Pier lighthouse. 

Dun Laoghaire Lighthouse, East Pier, own photo, Spring 2015
The lighthouse was built in 1847. Keepers and their families once lived in the dwellings at the base, though in 1955, the two families were removed and only the keepers lived and worked there in shifts. In the 70s the lighthouse became fully automated.

detail of surrounding wall, railings, steps

I last took this walk in the late Spring, accompanied by an Etsy friend, out for a crafty chat. We slurped our '99' cones, perched on a cold stone step facing the base of the lighthouse. The two hook-like structures on the opposite wall caught my eye. They call to mind snakes or birds, maybe even swans, spying on the people below and hoping for a crumb of wafer. 

They also remind me of long, sleek earring wires. In my mind's eye I added some dangly beading........if you ever take this walk and find such an addition, twasn't me...I was nowhere near the vicinity Officer....

Saturday, August 1, 2015

White sea glass - ray of sunshine

I found this unusual piece of sea glass on a Dublin shore a couple of years ago. The lines fan out like rays of sunshine. At a guess, it comes from the bottom of a vase or bowl. It reminds me of a Dublin Crystal fruit bowl my mother won for fish cookery or some such thing when I was a teenager.

I confess I was a little scared to wire wrap such an interesting piece lest I spoil the radiating lines and so I did nothing but admire it until now. 

Then out of nowhere I lost my fear and got the urge to do this with it in silver wire. I had the swirl of the ocean in mind when wire wrapping it. 
Sunbeam sea glass pendant on cotton chain

Yes, I had to wrap over the rays but you can see the shape of the lines through the wire, just like rays of sunshine penetrating deep waters. It works. Sometimes you just have to go for it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Romantic summer night jewelry

Heading off to the sun or just enjoying hazy summer nights at home? Or perhaps you are a guy looking for a romantic piece of jewelry for your loved one's birthday and that's how you landed on this page.

Well, I better deliver what it says in the title so. I hope you find what you were looking for in this collection of romantic, summer night jewelry, all handmade in Ireland.
pink moss agate heart earrings

Dainty, pinky-brown, moss agate heart earrings will warm the heart of any girly girl. The shade of dusty pink is so dark it is close to brown with purple undertones. Sweet Dream earrings will go with a lot of other warm colours but also contrast well with summer linens and whites. These ear candies are one of a kind, never to be found again so grab them fast! 

Cork red marble heart pendant

Cork red marble is a very rare stone, found only in Southern Ireland. It is more often seen in churches and other public buildings than in jewelry. This marble heart is the last one I have in stock. It is a pale, brownish pink. I gave it a Celtic twist with a spiral bead and spiral wrapping on one side. You decide which is the back and which is the front.
Connemara marble heart pendant, Love Spirals

Connemara marble is unmistakably Irish. This green heart pendant is also decorated with a hand-formed silver spiral and matched with a Swarovski crystal emerald bead. Hearts and heritage - how special is that?

Forever earrings, Connemara marble and Celtic hearts 

Celtic hearts matched with Connemara marble beads make for beautiful, Irish jewelry.
blue pearl and heart purse charm

If you are seeking a small token maybe even that something blue, this blue pearl and silver heart charm is exactly that. The discs are mother of pearl and the rounds are peacock blue freshwater pearls. Just clip this onto a bag or purse, or even a bouquet of flowers. It would also work as a rear view mirror charm.

Let's not forget the little girls. This pretty, pink, ceramic heart ornament will delight your mini princess. Hang it in her bedroom window so the crystal bead sparkles in the sunlight.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sea glass jewelry sneak peak

Let's take a sneaky look at the sea glass jewelry I've been wire wrapping this week. Focusing on the details in the design, here is a wee glimpse of things to come...

That's all I can show you for now until the pendants are listed! In the meantime, if you like what you see you can click here to view Irish sea glass jewelry already available in my Etsy shop.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Celtic earrings featured on Auld Irish Artisan team page

The Auld Irish Artisans team on Etsy have kindly included my recently listed, Connemara marble and Celtic heart earrings, Forever, on their team page list.  There they are, top left. Thanks so much team!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

New Irish jewelry in Irish marble and sea pottery

Busy with work and part-time study, it's a rare pleasure for me these days to make some new pieces for my Etsy shop, Handmade by Amo'r.  Last night I gave in to the creative call and made a few pairs of earrings and some pendants to refill the virtual shelves with modern Irish jewelry.
Connemara marble and silver Celtic heart earrings
Made with Connemara marble and Celtic heart beads, 'Forever' earrings are unmistakeably Irish. This green marble is found only in the West of Ireland and comes in a wide variety of greens. These specimens are a rare shade of gooseberry with lime highlights. 

Read more about this indigenous Irish stone HERE.

This rustic, Connemara marble pendant with Celtic spirals has yet to be named and listed. Equally neat on both sides, with different types of spirals, it is fully reversible. The slab of stone is truly unique and gorgeous. 

You may keep one eye on the Connemara marble jewelry section of my store to find out when it becomes available.

sea pottery pendant from Dublin
Also waiting to be named and listed is this sea pottery pendant. I found this cute piece on a Dublin beach. It has been well buffed and leached by the ocean so it must have been rolling in the waves for decades. There is something nautical about it: the hint of blue looks like the sea in the distance with the sandy beach at the fore. The wire wrapping is secure and neat. I had the sails of a yacht in mind, but it somehow turned out like the letter A. Perhaps I secretly want to claim it for myself!  

You can learn a little about sea pottery HERE.

Cork red marble pendant (heart)
Here is a sneak preview of a Cork red marble heart I made yesterday. This stone is even rarer to find in jewelry pieces than Connemara marble is. You are more likely to see it in churches and cathedrals. This particular specimen is of the paler pink variety and is the last of this type of pendant I am likely to stock in 2015.

You can read a little about Cork red marble HERE

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Flora & Fauna from Irish Bogs - Caught My Eye 35

Caught My Eye  is a series of blog posts showing scenes I found interesting, odd, curious or beautiful. Some curiosities that I capture inspire the Jewellery that I make. I am artistic and therefore an observer but I am not a photographer by any description. So if you expect top quality photography I'm afraid you will be disappointed.  Please simply enjoy a snap-shot glimpse of the world through my eyes. 

bog cotton, Clara bog boardwalk
I was back in Offaly again last week and got a chance to go walking both at Clara bog nature reserve and the wetlands of Finnamore Lakes , Boora. The area is abundant in plant and wildlife. All these photos are my own.

I fess up I'm neither botanist nor bird watcher but I love getting out walking in the wilds and always take my camera with me. Something always catches my eye,often the smaller things like the heads of bog cotton  (common cottongrass) poking up through the boardwalk at Clara nature reserve. 
section of boardwalk at Clara Bog nature reserve

The boardwalk circuit is very short, so we went round twice before the clouds opened. If you are looking for a decent walk, go to Finnamore lakes or Lough Boora.

Finnamore Lakes reserve
Geese at Finnamore Lakes reserve
On the day we went, we didn't spot much wildlife other than a few swans and one rabbit hopping away from us. Let's not forget the little midges that nibbled at our faces when we passed through a small wooded copse! At the second lake we happened upon a family of geese. I took the shot quickly and got out of there fast as they can be vicious. In the midlands they say they are more effective than any guard dog, I will take their word for it.
bog daisy, Finnamore Lakes
 This bog daisy, which is bigger than your average garden daisy, is about the only thing that inspired me in terms of jewellery making. While the daisy shape is one of my favourites, the petals themselves are a familiar shape in gemstone bead cuts.

pink chalcedony petal beads (large)

kyanite beads (medium)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Connemara marble earrings inspired by Irish bog heather

It's no secret that the colourful and varied landscapes of Ireland have long inspired painters, poets and artisans. Even Irish jewellery artists like me garner ideas from what we see, smell and hear.
Connemara marble drop earrings, 'Irish  Heather'

The idea for these Connemara marble and purple and black glass earrings came from my trips to the bog lands in Co, Offaly, near where my mother was reared.
Offaly Way. Own photo

Much of the midlands bog areas of Offaly and Laois and the green mountains throughout Ireland are covered in a riot of purple heather.

Ridge of Cappard, Slieve Bloom Mts, Laois, own photo

Irish bog oak, Lough Boora. Own photo

The black seed beads used in the earrings design are there as a nod to Irish bog oak. This is ancient oak that has been preserved and naturally blackened in the peaty earth of the bogs. In the 1800s bog oak was used to make black mourning jewellery. I have yet to find a piece of usable bog oak myself, but if I ever do it will be fashioned into a very special piece. In the meantime, you will just have to make do with this increasingly rare and very beautiful Irish marble.......

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Inspired by Irish legend: Children of Lir

Although my Irish jewellery is contemporary in design, much of the inspiration comes from the ancient Celts or traditional folklore.
Lir pendant, Connemara marble with sterling silver swan charm, Handmade by Amo'r

An idea was tucked away at the back of my mind to make a pendant inspired by the Irish legend , 'Clann Lir' or 'The Children of Lir' as it is called in English. I knew it had to involve indigenous, Connemara marble and sterling silver.
The Children of Lir, Silk batik art by ArtonSilkbyLouise (Etsy)

True of many an Irish tale passed from generation to generation, there are several variations of this ancient story.

As one version goes, Nobleman Lir and his wife Aobh had 4 beautiful children, a girl named Fionnuala and 3 boys. Aodh, Fiachra and Conn. Tragically, Aobh passed on too soon and the young children were left without a mother. Aobh's father, King Bodb, wanted to keep Lir content so he sent his other daughter, Aoife, to take her sister's place. 

Aoife soon grew jealous of the bond shared by her step children and her new husband. She contrived to have the siblings killed but her servant refused to carry out the ugly task. So instead, Aoife magically turned them into swans, bound together by chains of silver and doomed to swim the lakes and seas of Ireland for 9 centuries. She gave them one gift, singing voices more beautiful and enchanting than that of the lark. The spell would only be broken if the silver chains broke at the toll of a sacred bell

Eons passed and the child swans survived many adventures, battling the waves of the ocean and beating the cold of the deep lakes. They became famed for their charming singing. Eventually the four found solace at a peaceful monastery. However Deoch, wife of the King of Leinster, wanted to take possession of these beautiful swans so they could sing to her and her alone. She demanded her husband capture them.

During the melee to grab the birds, the monastery bell tolled. At that very moment, the sharp blade of a sword accidentally severed the silver chain that bound them. In an instant, the spell was broken but the children were shocked to discover they had lost their youth and were almost 1000 years old and very withered. No time passed before they moved on to the next world. There however, they were happily reunited with their beloved parents.

hand formed silver spiral

Swan Spiral Charm
Recently I stole a quiet half hour to form a few Celtic spirals from solid sterling silver wire. It occurred to me that the shape can turnout swan-like, if the loose end is left long and graceful. To remain true to a Celtic spiral shape, the charm does need to remain fairly rounded, however.
hammered silver, spiral swan charm
A few strategic taps with a chasing hammer on an anvil perfected the shape while hardening the metal. I then used the round end of the hammer head to add bevelled texture, which catches more light.

A swan is born! I wire wrapped the charm onto this gorgeous, one of a kind, slab of Connemara marble, cut by a Galway mason. Occasionally I hang my pendants on velvet or crochet chains. In keeping with the legend, Lir pendant could only be hung upon a silver chain.


Saturday, April 18, 2015

Sundown in Spring, Caught My Eye 34

Caught My Eye  is a series of blog posts showing scenes I found interesting, odd, curious or beautiful. I am artistic and therefore an observer but I am not a photographer by any description. So if you expect top quality photography I'm afraid you will be disappointed.  But please do enjoy a snap shot glimpse of the world through my creative eyes. 
Sunset in Spring
This fiery shot of a sunset just after Easter happened almost by accident. The orange sky is not a result of photo editing but partly down to experimentation and mostly fluke - it's how it came out on my ordinary point and shoot camera. 

Capturing a washed out sky versus a colourful one

During daylight, the sky in my scenic photos often turns out completely white. A friend who knows something about photography gave me a tip to make the sky blue. First you point the camera up at the bluest part of the sky, then depress the button half way, while keeping the focus on the blue. Then move your view back down to what you actually want to capture, without letting go of the button. When you are steadily focused on the target, click the button the rest of the way.  Above are great examples. These are 2 castles I shot while visiting Jersey last year. No need to guess which photo is the result of this little trick.

Sunset in Offaly, April 2015
I just thought I'd try something similar with a beautiful sunset while on an Easter break in county Offaly. Above is a wider shot.

The following evening the sunset was a bit pinker. Employing this little photo trick, this is how it turned out. This purple colour is not the result of editing after the fact.

Above is a different shot, where the trick didn't fully work, but it still turned out interesting. The actual sky was dusky with a purple tinge to it, but this is what the camera captured. The only editing after the fact was to darken the photo a little so the trees were fully black.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Irish Claddagh Symbol

This week I listed an OOAK Connemara marble pendant featuring a vintage, sterling silver Claddagh charm.

The Claddagh heart is a well-known and internationally popular Irish design.  The Claddagh ring was the original format, and has been about for 300 years or so, but charms, pins and engravings based on the design are also found. This particular charm that I used is a sold silver pendant from the 1980s.

This famous design features a crowned heart clasped by two hands, which are clothed in gauntlet gloves. The hands symbolise friendship, the heart, love and the crown stands for loyalty. There are many modern variations in the design, including those with two hearts instead of one.

There also exists a variation without a crown, called the Fenian Claddagh. Historically it was adopted by Irish rebels who refused to recognise British rule.

This class of ring belongs to a wide group of rings called Fede rings, which involve clasped hands in the design. Fede, (or Faith) finger rings date back to the Romans. However, it is not known when exactly the first Claddagh ring incorporating a heart was made, though it is believed to be a 17th Century development. It wouldn't be Irish without a few stories and legends surrounding its origin...

Claddagh was a small village outside Galway city, but is now part of the city itself. The oldest surviving Claddagh rings date back to the 1600s. Some of those bear the signature of Galway artisan, Bartholemew Fallon. 
There is a popular belief however, that the artist who first made the ring was a contemporary of Fallon's, fellow Galway man, Richard Joyce. He was kidnapped by pirates and sold to a Moorish goldsmith as a slave. He meticulously learned his master's craft and gained the respect of the goldsmith. When he was eventually released, he returned to Ireland where he put his smithing skills to use and created the famous ring. His branding and initials are also believed to be on some of the oldest surviving of these rings. 

However, Irish stories nearly always involve things happening thrice, so not surprisingly, there is a third goldsmith from the era also accredited with designing the ring, Thomas Meade of Kinsale. 

Who is to say which, if any, of these three jewellers was actually the first to design this famous emblem?
Those who prefer a more mythical view will tell you that the first Claddagh ring was dropped by an eagle into the lap of one Margaret Joyce, widow to a Spanish merchant named Domingo De Rona. Allegedly the majestic bird gave it to her as a reward for her charitable works.
Today the  Claddagh ring is popular, particularly with the Irish diaspora, as a wedding or engagement ring.

The pendant and other variations are more often given as a gift of friendship. Whatever shape or form it comes in, the Claddagh motif is a powerful symbol of pride in Irish heritage.  I thought it very fitting to team the Claddagh charm with a gorgeous slab of indigenous Connemara marble, another intrinsically Irish treasure.

More from this blog:
Celtic Influences in my Designs
A little about Connemara marble