end of an era? p’shaw!*

(*meant to be phonetic rendering of a scoff, but probably more reminiscent of a 70s free nine piece jazz band from Metz)

At the end of this month (Saturday 27th), I will be leaving DesignerMart at Cow’s Lane after three and a half years. Considering how much DesignerMart has been a part of my life since 2008, it would be a little odd not to acknowledge it here.

It is a wrench leaving, primarily for the amazing friends I have made during my time there. There is a small list of things I won’t miss:

– the fickleness of the weather gods (I swear, at times you’d think Cow’s Lane had its own weather system unrelated to anywhere else in Dublin let alone Dame St up at the top);

– those early starts on a Saturday morning (when I am *delicate pause* not at my finest)

But those things are far outweighed by the amazing friendship and cameraderie I found at Cow’s Lane. I have worked with a rare bunch of people there; I have waved some of them off with a lump in my throat. And now, it’s me.

I am currently working on some crafty ventures that you’ll be seeing more of in the coming months- there’ll be plenty of hints and previews on this very blog. After years of outdoor markets and craft fairs, I am now working on something a little different, and I love the challenge.

To all my wonderful customers at Cow’s Lane over the years, I hope you enjoy my wee treasures as much as I enjoyed making them. Thank you for all your kind comments, your great stories and your custom. It won’t be long before you’ll see even more WaterMemory wares.

To all of you reading (and a special hello to FB friends and Twitterites!), thanks for your great support, your kind words and your encouragement. Onward and upward, mar a deirtear!


did someone say, “sneak preview?”

Ah, January- not only home of delightfully crisp diary pages and finishing the stragglers in the Thornton’s box, but one of those months that is chock-full of sneak previews of Ripping Good Stuff (TM). Let me just channel the spirit of Jesse of Jesse’s Diets Fame to get in the mood:

So, to the jewellery..

This year so far, I are bin’ mostly indulgin’ my new-found love of shell. Last year I introduced some chunkier neckpieces, using shell paired with Bali or Hill Tribe silver or Swarovski crystal. This year, a little more of the same but with new, contrasting materials.

You can expect more use of various fibres in my jewellery- silk and felt and organza oh my!-as well as a bit of fabric here and there. Think wearable, elegant multi-media pieces that don’t itch, damnit.

I am also working on a range for people who like their jewellery a bit more lean– expect silver, wood and a bit of knotwork.

In my fibre work- more crochet this year than last. More lovely small bits and bobs to adorn yourself and your home for not too much spendage, and in lovely new yarn blends. I will be paying attention to wool alternatives for my vegetarian and vegan friends, so expect a bit more on that.

Papercrafts will involve a couple of new techniques here and there (awfully curious about quilling, for one!), and an increased usage of recycled and/ or reclaimed materials.

Overall, 2010 in WaterMemory Towers will be about continuity- I tried some new things in 2009 and they worked- as well as a few new bits and surprises, and expanding my merciless dominion of the Internets. (Well, a shop at DaWanda is as good a place to start as any, right?) Sustainability is not going to go by the wayside with me, just because times are tough. You can expect me to continue paying keen attention to where my supplies come from, continuing my support for smaller suppliers and choosing the ethical alternatives.

the difference you make: never forget it

It is often said that the simplest ideas are often the most effective- the ones that look to answer a seemingly small need often make the most profound difference to people’s lives.

The corollary to this is that the smallest problems (or so they might seem from the outside) can be the most insuperable barriers to progress, and that’s where this post comes in.

I was all set to write some vaguely amusing fluff about my latest supply embargo, and then this article from the Grauniad stopped me in my tracks.

Girls and women in Uganda, because they cannot afford sanitary products, are enduring physical discomfort, missing school and worse, are being physically and sexually exploited by boys for money and supplies.

Imagine. The usual discomfort of menstruation, complicated by the lack of appropriate sanitary products, the medical problems caused by using unsuitable products and the shame.. like anyone else reading this, I am completely aghast.

It is possible to take specific action through campaigns like Dignity! Period, which campaigns and fundraises for women in Zimbabwe, and through the Katine campaign. I will use the money I save on supplies in this coming embargo to donate and will otherwise spread the word. (By the by, here is the most recent update from ACTSA.)

Could you imagine the difference made to a woman halfway across the world by just having the proper supplies on hand? The difference to her health, to her mental wellbeing and her life circumstances overall.

I wondered about writing this on what is supposed to be my craftyblog, but it strikes me as somewhat artificial to section off these things as blog-appropriate or blog-inappropriate. I’ve spoken before about the three Rs and ethical auditing- why should my blog be a craft-only space when my choices for WaterMemory are based on far more than that?

In that vein, I’ve taken the decision to relocate posts from my ethical living blog here. (Don’t be surprised if some old posts show up at various points- I’m keeping it chronological, baybee.)

guilty pleasures

Lately at WaterMemory Towers, there have been a few disruptions to the normal merry-go-round of Proust, elegant detachment and eye-wateringly expensive cheeses (note: this is probably a lie). So, apart from the crafting, it’s been all about the following:

romance novels and the people who love/ mock them

– Dream Theater: you name me one band who can put honky tonk pianny (never piano) in a seven-minute orgy of technical metal with a straight face. See also Boston and Hawkwind: shaddaaaaaaaaap!

– food habits that are the subject of affectionate/ bewildered injokes. Translation: potatoes are not just for dinner, people!

– channel-hopping on digital TV packages to see how silly the channel names and programme listings get (answer: very)

The Bold & The Beautiful or more correctly, trying to make it through three minutes of it without dying of laughter

I’m fascinated by guilty pleasures and what constitutes one- feel free to share some of yours in the comments.

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 ;))

the difference you make- thoughts on handmade and the R word

All these posts and yet nothing on the word that begins with “r” and rhymes with “hessian”..

It certainly has been on my mind, though. Like many people, I find it hard to escape the talk and the consequences that have been brought to bear on all of us.

It was encapsulated for me in trips back home in the past few months. The reality is evident in Tipperary- businesses I’ve known most of my life have closed or have shed jobs, and many people have become unemployed, some for the first time in their lives.

Even so, there are a few positive signs around. Tipperarians, aside from their essential generosity, are also capable of ingenuity in hard times. We’ve had enough of them in which to practice, I suppose. Like other parts of rural Ireland, Tipperary didn’t benefit as much as it could have from the boom.

Recently, I’ve made leaflets that (as well as explaining who the heck I am and what I do) thank people for their decision to support the handmade, independent, one-off designers in this country and elsewhere. It means far more to us than the money (although it sure helps)- it’s an added vote of confidence in what we do and what we offer.

moving house

Myself and the Beloved may well be moving house in the next while. My house moves previously have been a haphazard combination of sneaking bulging bags onto buses under the (weary) eye of the bus driver, obsessive checking and re-checking that I have, in fact, packed everything and, on one memorable occasion, being so organised in my packing that for a week afterward, I couldn’t find anything without (a) a lot of rummaging and (b) a lot of cussin’. Highly inventive it may have been, but not the best way to introduce oneself to new housemates nonetheless.

Now, after quite a while of being settled, a move is on the cards and this time, I have materials and supplies to think about. Uh-oh. Why do I have the feeling that I will be so obsessively paranoid about any of my lovely lampwork being damaged that I will be fighting my way through layers of bubblewrap for months afterward?

Another concern is trying to use up as much of my supplies and materials as I possibly can before the moving date approaches. This may involve another of my patent-pending-but-almost-always-doomed buy-nowt months. The idea is simple- nothing beyond the absolutely essential supplies for custom orders may be bought in the timeframe. After the first few days of unfortunate side effects, including but not limited to:

  • sighing heavily while pawing the computer screen
  • twitching when walking past Crown Jewels, my favourite bead shop in Dublin
  • endless justifications of why I should really stock up on x
  • sneaking looks at the tempting emails my various suppliers send out
  • loss of appetite (hah!)

I’m usually fine. It’s also a great opportunity to take a leaf out of the Real Simple book and shop one’s own closet, as it were..