a tiny change..

A few weeks back, I introduced a new range of earrings at Cow’s Lane. Nothing unusual about that, apart from the price- these earrings, sterling silver & all, go for €5/ pair. (Gratuitous plug time: this range, the ‘Perfect’ range, is on sale every Saturday at my stall at DesignerMart at Cow’s Lane, and the earrings are so lovely, they’ll even make the tea*.)

(* Note: probably not.)

One of the first pieces of advice that sellers of handmade wares offer is not to underprice your goods. The issue of pricing- how to price, how much to charge etc etc- can be a touchy one. (Just take a look at the Etsy forums!)

I don’t feel that they’re underpriced.

I introduced these earrings for very specific reasons. Firstly, I wanted to offer people something a little different, where I can compete with (and often beat) prices in high-street shops but offer them something that is a lot higher in quality. I’m also aware (as everyone else is) that the aul’ funds aren’t the best for many of us right now, so I wanted to offer something that was a little more in reach for a splurge.

The reception has been absolutely brilliant. I’ve been careful to use a wide range of colours and materials- ceramic, glass and metal- and people have been very complimentary. (Definitely need to use more pink though- this Pink Allergy is beyond a joke.)

Think of it this way- a pair of earrings, in your favourite colour, for €5, and they won’t turn green in your ears/ aggravate any nickel allergies/ fall apart after a couple of wears. So, not only does the customer benefit, but I get to see people being pleasantly surprised at the price, as well as falling in love with some of my work. Result!

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the keepers, or notes on material culture*

I maintain that no matter what, there should be a few items in one’s possession not there merely for utility- the kind of things that make one’s heart sing for their sheer beauty and form.

This is a rule that dominates my craft supplies purchases. With the foundations taken care of (the best wire, the stuff that never fails; the best s/s findings), I can run riot. Well, a little bit. It’s my rule not to buy supplies that don’t do it for me, whether on colour, form or feel. I reckon that by following my instincts on these matters, people will respond, and they generally do.

Of course, there are disadvantages to this approach. It means I almost never work with some colours or materials, or use some techniques because the materials just don’t work, somehow. There’s something to work on.

The reason I write this is that, as I pack up my things and declutter and whatever else in preparation for this great big move, I am again and again coming across things that make my heart sing- and things that really don’t.

On throwing open the doors of my wardrobe, I see one dress that is what they call a ‘keeper’. I ordered this dress last year from the eeeevil genius (now plural) behind Fifi Le Rue. So far, it has seen me through every occasion you can imagine- graduations, office dos (oh, don’t get me started on that sartorial minefield), open nights, birthdays. It’s my Magic Dress, the one that foofs out and cinches in at the right places and goes with practically every pair of shoes I have. I have never had anything like it- even on the grim days, it shimmers in the wardrobe reminding me of dodgy 90s voguing, witnessing people’s triumphs, lovely surprises, all sorts.

I have recently been wearing a brooch from another Cow’s Lane-based designer. There is something in its simplicity and form that means I’ll be wearing this for years yet. I have a huge thing about brooches now, and it started with this woman right here. If you find me curled up in a gutter in Prague, whimpering about not getting enough for that second kidney, it will be Deirdre Griffin’s fault. Seriously.

Garnet and marcasite earrings from Ghent, a CZ silver bracelet from Maman, beads from my sister.. these are my keepers. What are yours?

(*Psyche! Got all the way to the end and not a single mention of good ol’ Thorstein ;))

bliss, I tells ya!

What with one thing and another, the aul’ crafting has taken a hit in recent weeks. There hasn’t been as much time as usual to follow my bliss, alas, even with the happy discovery of Edinburgh’s spots of pure crafting heaven (a wool shop with couches and cupcakes! an embroidery shop! beeeeeeeeeads!).

However, last night I finally got a chance to stop a while with my newest beady purchases and a diet fit to sustain any crafter- stem ginger cookies, raspberry jelly and Earl Grey (Maman, if you’re reading this, I had a proper dinner first. Honest).

I am aaaaaallll about shell and freshwater pearls at the moment, so apart from a simple pair of sterling silver chandelier earrings with red coral Swarovski (photos forthcoming), I started work on a multistrand necklace using deep green shell ‘coins’, jet Swarovski bicones and sterling silver.

However, I’m mostly using the shell in very simple pieces. Nothing sings for me like the simplicity of paua shell on silver- maybe with some black accents to tone with the banding that is found in really good pieces of paua. Simplicity is powerful.

the clever wardrobe, part one

If I mention the phrase ‘wardrobe crisis’, about 95pc will know instantly what I mean and will nod with weary recognition. (The other 5pc, being armed with a drill sergeant-esque personal stylist, a walk-in wardrobe the size of Panama or both, will probably not benefit much from the following. Lucky sods.)

Which of the following applies to you?

(a) You have a groaning wardrobe filled with shiny jumpsuits from the first time around/ 30 pairs of parsnip-legged black trousers/ other things that fill you with despair just by looking at them. Sample quote: “I have nothing to wearrrrr!” followed by sobbing.

(b) A sustained case of the blahs every time you think that dreaded question, “What to wear?” which leads to 20pc of the clothes getting 80pc of the airtime and all those fabulous sparkling lovelies you’ve picked up being completely neglected. A corruption of the Pareto principle, if you will. Sample quote: “Meh.” followed by an ennui-laden shrug that Sartre himself would applaud.

(c) The spondulicks are not what they once were, for whatever reason. When you open your wallet, bats fly out, so that rather rules out a spree of any sort for the next while. Sample quote: “If only..” followed by secretive, lustful browsing at the Outnet.

Oh, I’ve been there. All of them apply, as it happens (only, replace the jumpsuit horror with a cape/ shawl/ wrap habit that hasn’t been seen since Victoria shuffled off this mortal coil).

Whatever the case, whatever your budget/ state of your wardrobe at present/ gender, I think you will find something useful in the following posts. This post isn’t telling to get rid of everything, or nothing, or to buy lots of expensive organising-ware to keep your clothes immaculate (half of the best tricks are dead cheap or free, after all). It’s just a bit of a nudge, coming from someone who has been there and is there right now.

Continue reading “the clever wardrobe, part one”