A Little Trip to Malaysia - part 1 by geraldine kane

PART 1: Kuala Lumpur

Last month we went on a little trip to Malayasia. Our main purpose was to attend a wedding, but we have to admit that the food, culture and the chance to see Orangutans and other jungle wildlife were a big draw too. 

Malaysia offers an amazing mix of cultures from Malay, Chinese and Indian, to traces of the British Empire (the three pronged sockets being a minor example of these).

One example of Indian Malaysian culture is the Batu Caves, not too far from Kuala Lumpur. It consists of huge 400 million-year-old limestone caves, several Hindu temples and a whole lot of steps. There are 272 steps to be exact, which in the humid heat, are a little bit daunting. Fortunately, there are lots of little monkeys to distract you on the way up, running around on the steps, fighting and playing with each other and attempting to steal food from the odd unsuspecting tourist's bag.

For someone who is usually drawn to grey and other subdued colors, I was won over by the joyfully vibrant patterns and colours.

Around KL

Here are a few snaps of the mix of architecture and general vibes around the city. KL has some of the most reasonably priced 5* hotels in the world, so you can enjoy a bit of luxury without blowing all your spending money. Food is cheap and cheerful and very varied, we ate a lot of Rendang curry (breakfast, lunch and dinner practically) but we also enjoyed some Chinese dishes in the bustling China Town market.

Have you ever tried durian? It's the king of fruits apparently, but it's definitely an acquired taste. It wasn't in season when we were there but I'm not sure if I would have been brave enough to try it straight. Instead, we opted for a chocolate durian cake experiment. Inside this rich chocolate ganache and sponge is a heavy cream centre filled with durian pulp. As soon as you cut into the cake, the unique smell hits you. Some say it smells like old socks but I found it to be kind of garlicky, rather strange in a fruit. Something about it reminded me of vine tomatoes and the custardy texture was quite confusing! Even though it was downright weird, and I could feel the garlicky smell emanating from me after, I kept going back for one more bite. 

That's all from the Kuala Lumpur leg of our trip. We also scooted over to Malaysian Borneo, a short plane ride away, to see a bit of island and jungle life. I'll pick some photos out from the 1000s of monkey pics I took and post here soon 

Speak soon,


New outlets ! by geraldine kane

We've been pretty busy recently. But we've been whistling while we work, because we're very excited to be bringing ISLE to some new lovely shops throughout Ireland. 

We're proud to announce that you can find ISLE at:


KILN & LOOM, Ormeau Road, Belfast



McCARTHY'S, Shop Street, Galway

Pop in and have a little look if you are in any of these lovely locations.

There's more to come so keep an eye out for more news!!


Sakura, Sakura by geraldine kane

Yes, it's cherry blossom time! Every year I forget just how beautiful they are. The only problem is that the blooms don't hang around long. I managed to snap these on my way to the supermarket.



There's no place like SHOWCASE by geraldine kane

I'm finally writing about our time at the Showcase Creative Expo and, honestly, we had a great time. We were really impressed by the talent and hard work we saw there but above all by the FRIENDLINESS of the organisers, exhibitors and visitors. One thing I recognise more and more from being away from home is that Irish people are LOVELY!

So, here's a little of what we saw and what really stood out amongst the all the rows of booths

[click on the titles for link to each website]


Snug create handmade contemporary furniture in their workshop in Snugboro, Co. Wicklow. They offer beautifully modern pieces with obvious quality that comes from handcrafted furniture. Apart from the items on their online shop, they also create bespoke pieces.  

Thought I'd start with another County-Down company, Bog Standard. The name is somewhat misleading as the products are beautifully presented and "try to “bottle” all that is lovely about Irish life and landscape and share it". [stole that from their website :) ]

They've created a pure and wholesome range of candles and things with a modern femininity.

31 Chapel Lane by Damien and Joi is a collection of Irish linen and tweed. Their pared-back contemporary branding lets the down to earth fabric do the talking. Check out their website for small fabric accessories, tableware and some pieces of fabric that you can get creative with.

A beautiful brand and a lovely lady. Nadia has a whole lot of talent and a lot of energy [thank you for all your advice, it was a pleasure meeting you!] The baby clothing is fresh, sweet and delightfully gender-neutral.

The Vintage Satchel Company is located in our very own Belfast and I can't believe I hadn't heard of them before. They have been in the business of making these quality leather satchels for over 50 years. With some updated colours and some simple, classic designs, they are a perfect combination of old and new. I particularly love their Hewitt and Farset collections

 ISLE  [ of course ]

Looking forward to next year!

Thanks for reading,


Facet-nating & Fionn-tastic :) by geraldine kane

We are just recovering from our first experience of exhibiting at Showcase Ireland. I took plenty of photos, so just need a little time to go through them before giving you the insider lowdown on all things Showcase.

Everyone was really positive about our jewellery and stand, especially excited about our new range of angular Fionn 'gems'.  Due to popular demand, we are exploring using 18k yellow and rose gold plating over sterling silver for some on-trend luxury that won't break the bank. These gems will be mostly matt-finish, though I may sprinkle them with a few shiny surfaces for some texture and contrast. I'm also exploring the possibility of partial plating, mixing silver and gold finishes for some extra edginess.  So many possibilities! Yesterday, I was back working at my jewellery bench making necklaces that will accompany the earrings photographed below.

Our gem earrings will be available to buy in the coming weeks. *smile*

[I know, I know, I said that about the Flora Collection that hasn't surfaced yet, but I decided it was important to take extra time to develop it further to a standard I'm totally happy with!  These gems, on the other hand, are funky, elegant and ready to go!]

Right, back to the work bench!


Hello from Home! by geraldine kane

I'm now over halfway through my MONTH at home, back in the lovely Mournes in Northern Ireland. Aaaaaaaaah, it's great!

It's the middle of January now so it's probably not the best time for showing all my Christmassy snaps, I'll save those for next year. But Here's a hint of the mood 

After eating, eating, eating, we decided it was time for a nice winter walk up "the line" towards Dunnywater, near Silent Valley in the Mourne Mountains. The lovely sunny crisp day beautifully captured where the mountains sweep down to the sea.. 

Now enough of that relaxing! Time to get back to work and prepare for Showcase Ireland Creative Expo at the RDS. If you're in the creative industry, pop by and say hello at our booth, J38 in the Serpentine Hall.


I'll let you know how the show goes!!


big buddha day trip by geraldine kane

Recently, ISLE's lovely mum and dad visited Tokyo for a couple of weeks. After plenty of pottering around town soaking up the buzz, we decided to get out of the city and head to Kamakura, a beautiful coastal town about an hour from Tokyo. Apart from lots of stylish little shops and cafes, Kamakura's biggest attraction is the Big Buddha! It stands (sits) serenely at almost 44ft tall, overlooking the teeming tourists posing for photographs.

We were lucky to have a beautifully crisp sunny day for our trip- perfect light for taking photos and annoying the others by constantly stopping to photograph something else :)

Hot off the press custard-filled Buddhas 

Hot off the press custard-filled Buddhas 



After all the sightseeing, photographing, eating and drinking, we watched the sun set from Kamakura beach. As the light faded, we began our journey back to city-life and turned our attention to the important issue of Saturday night food and drinks with friends.

Not a bad little trip out of town, eh?


*NEW OUTLET* by geraldine kane

hello, hello, hello!!

Good news, we've joined My Shop....Granny Likes It in beautiful Galway City! My Shop showcases the best of Irish design so we are pretty chuffed to be a part of it :)

Pop in and say hello and get your hands on our Cloch Collection, inspired by Irish stone walls.

Chat soon,


2 heads are better than 1 by geraldine kane

H sent me this pin (below) the other day with the caption "We need this!". Unfortunately, the reality is that we don't quite need it...yet. If we did currently have these tandem tables, there would be a gap of 9,445km between them. 

So for now, we are working through a virtual tandem desk, using every app under the internet's sun. Yeah, the time delay is a big issue - it takes a long time for the disapproving frown to reach me and for me to react to her feedback- but it still works. 

However, that little image of an office for two made me think about how efficient and productive we'd be without the dividing distance of space and time to contend with. Undoubtedly, there'd be disagreements and huffy faces now and then, along with excessive tea breaks (and coconut fingers, apple turnovers, snowballs, fifteens...). But I'm pretty confident that, in between these setbacks, we'd get a whole lot of stuff done!!!

We'll get there someday, but in the meantime, I'm on Pinterest dreaming of office interior design and stationery (and scones, caramel squares, oatmeal biccies...).

Instant feedback apparatus: an office built for two...or more??

The office-of-my-pins has to have some serious daylight, preferably in the form of large old elegant windows. I'm constantly struggling with a lack of adequate lighting in photos so it's a must. Next, it has to have space, space just for the sake of space. 4 years in the exciting nonstop megacity of Tokyo has left me starved of meters squared and gasping for air.  It wouldn't hurt to have a beautifully tiled floor or some reclaimed parquet either :)

Of course, we would require some of the ISLE yellowy-gold, silvery-grey and powdery-pink too. Ferm Living would surely help us out on that front and Ikea always offers a leg up when building a space to call your own. I'd want a mix of old and new, of clean cut and decorative, textured and sleek. I firmly believe that contrast is the key to happiness. 

A few statement office accessories, a kettle, a sewing machine and a jeweller's bench and we're good to go!

I suppose I should really consult H about our ISLE HQ, but for now, there's no harm in dreaming. 


Nice Day For A White Wedding by helen kane

...or a pink one, a green one, or even a polka dot one.

The thing about weddings is that they can all be a little bit the samey, leaving limited room for the imagination and truly personal style. 

Enter Frock Around The Clock Weddings,  a one-stop shop for those looking for alternatives to the traditional wedding.  Their online directory hosts a ton of ideas and links to local NI maker, designers and services that will help you to create your very own alternative, special wedding.

Okay, okay, we may be just a LITTLE biased as ISLE just happens to be one of those useful links :)

But you'll have to agree, from looking at their latest photo shoot using some ISLE jewellery, it isn't half bad! A mix of elegance, classic design with modern touches, and more than just a hint of the unique - it's exactly what we look for at ISLE.

ISLE will be taking part in the F.A.T.C. Winter Wedding Fair at the Europa Hotel on the 2nd November 2014. Pop by and say hello!


Keita Maruyama by geraldine kane

Last week a very lovely woman kindly gave me a couple of tickets to see an exhibition of Keita Maruyama's work at Omotesando Hills. Omotesando is a pretty swanky shopping area in Western Tokyo, close to Harajuku, where there's a whole lotta edge and style marching up and down the streets. Here are a few snaps of the area outside of the exhibition to set the scene...

Inside the exhibition, I wasn't really allowed to take many photos but I managed to get a taster of the floral fiesta of Maruyama's designs. The mix of patterns and colours made a fun and energetic show. Although some of the clothes weren't quite to my taste, I really loved the eclectic floral vibes that were especially relevant for me as I develop my own floral collection. There was a lot to take inspiration from but I think I'll draw the line at pompoms on stalks for accessories :) 

Catch ya later,


Flora & Sauna by geraldine kane

Some early sketches and models in copper and brass

Here's a little glimpse into my design process...first of all, I sit for hours drinking tea and thinking about what I'm going to do. From years of studying and teaching Art & Design I know that the best way to work through the design process is to think through making. It's better to always move forward and just see what happens while playing with ideas. This is definitely something I do, but initially, I just can't bring myself to jump straight in (not something I ever told my students). I always find that unless I have formed a clear image in my head of what I want to create, I'm disappointed by the unsuccessful random visual ramblings I produce. Of course, once I start to recreate my idea in 3D/2D, it organically evolves far beyond what I first dreamt up. 

Playing with wax carving

So, recently (actually, for rather a long time) I've been sitting and sitting and sitting, trying to come up with an idea for a new collection. I had jeweller's block, I couldn't visualise anything. Or more accurately, I was just visualising too much and over-thinking everything. 100s of ideas were mentally created and scrapped in an instant. I've been torturing my poor sister, waking her up at 5am with "How about this idea?" messages (the time difference is a killer, soz H!). 

A 3D sketch of a new earring design. The final design will be beautiful shiny silver and gold

In the end, I just stopped thinking so much and just started sketching the kind of designs that I wanted to see and wear, in the hope that our followers and friends would too. In this hot and humid Tokyo summer, I've been craving a little escape from sweaty cramped trains and the whir of air-con. Can you relate over there in Ireland or wherever you are? Well let's see, imagine wearing 2 puffa coats and being squashed into an overcrowded sauna and you may be close! So, you can understand why my mind has been wandering back to the country roads of my village in the Mourne Mountains. Home, with the mountains in front of you and the sea at your back, green at your sides and more fresh air than you could shake a stick at (strange visual!).  So, perhaps now you can see why heather and ferns have made an appearance in my creative play these days. This collection-in-the-making will be a simple, fresh and honest taste of home seen from my tired, city-filled eyes. 

It's true what they say, absence does make the heart grow fonder...but it still doesn't make me miss the cold rain!  ; )

I'll keep you posted about these designs as I develop them and, bear with me, they will be ready to wear soon!

Time now to turn on the air-con so I can enjoy a cup of tea without melting...


Bad bloggers. Good distractions by geraldine kane

Oh, we've been terrible recently! There's barely been a peep out of us for the past few weeks. The reason for this neglect is that we've been juggling a lot of new projects and ideas. I know, I know, we are supposed to be discussing such ideas on this blog but I blame Pinterest and their new IM function! Easy pinning and chatting in one little box in the corner of your screen :/ 

Okay, so I've closed that window of communication and you have my full attention now. 

Here's a little run down of what we're doing:

ISLE Bridal - Well, with all the love in the air and questions being popped all over the show (see previous post!), we felt that it was time to create some special ISLE jewellery for that special moment, big day and years to follow.

ISLE@ Frock Around the Clock Winter Wedding Show - In light of our developing Bridal range we decided to take part in the Winter Wedding show at the Europa, Belfast on 2nd November this year.  See you there?

ISLE Flora Collection -  We've been getting back in touch with nature recently for our NEW collection. Living in the huge grey smoke of Tokyo has made me, especially, crave the simple forms mother nature has to offer. Just hold on a little longer and all will be revealed.

Okay, that's all I'm telling you for now, but there'll be more...soon!



Great News! by geraldine kane

Yeay, we're celebrating the happy engagement of Andrew and Oonagh!  Andrew got down on one knee on Oonagh's birthday during a holiday to NYC  (10/10 for romance!)

To top it all off, he proposed with ISLE's Fionn Skinny ring, set with a sparkly white diamond (10/10 for great taste! :D )

Looking forward to seeing more of the celebrations.



Touchy! by geraldine kane

Who said concrete has to be boring? Today's pins are from Belfast-based Tactility Factor, who combine textiles and architecture to create beautiful and surprising results.

All photos from www.tactilityfactory.com

Above left: Crystal Concrete 

Above right: Stitched Linen Concrete

Above left and right: James Street South, Belfast 


I know who I'll be calling when I finally get round to my Grand Designs project...


A Taste of Thailand by geraldine kane

I was lucky enough to go to Thailand recently for a bit of sun, sand and scuba diving.  We flew to Ko Samui then, after deciding to skip the Full Moon party (!), took a ferry straight to Ko Tao -a lovely peaceful island where it's not unusual to see chickens crossing the road. There, I managed to overcome my fear of diving, realised Thai food in Thailand is even more amazing than I thought, and fulfilled a lifelong ambition to drink a cocktail out of a real coconut. Not bad for a short break!

Here are a few snaps to give you an idea of what we saw...


Helen's Belfast Top 5 by geraldine kane

If I had to choose, and it's not easy to choose, I would pick...


St.George's Market: the best place for local deli food and unique craft. My personal highlights include brownies and tea from SD Bells (Belfast Tea Merchant), falafel on flat bread with extra tzatziki, the beautiful large fruit and veg displays (natch!), the wool, the scenes of Belfast sewn on linen by Deborah Toner, vintage jewellery stalls and second hand nik naks. But, mainly, it just has a really nice atmosphere for a weekend walkabout. Check out St. George's Market's Facebook page for a better idea of what you can find there!

The Ulster Museum and Botanic Gardens: A beautifully renovated space with an unusual mix of classic and modern architecture. After looking around at the varied exhibitions showcasing historical items along with more contemporary Art and Design, a wee stroll in the Botanic Gardens is good for the soul, as long as it's not raining. If so, head straight for the Palm House! There's an interesting exhibition on at the moment that I'd like to see, Art of the Troubles. It's a look at Northern Ireland's troubled history through the eyes of artists and is getting very positive reviews! On until 7th September 2014 


The Cathedral Quarter: Kind of cheating as there are a ton of places I like there! :/  This area has plenty of stylish, interesting bars and restaurants, perfect any time of the day. 

Bars: The Duke Of York, The Spaniard, Muriel's (locally distilled Shortcross Gin served there!), Dirty Onion

Food: Mourne Seafood Bar, Ox, Coppi, and many more

Other: Established Coffee, The Mac Arts Venue, The Merchant Hotel for swanky cocktails or Afternoon Tea

The Titanic Building: A great shining structure that's textured surface and vast size can't help but impress (Why no sketch of this one G !?! ). It also has lovely waterside walkways,  part of the Belfast to Holywood walking route, and great views of the iconic yellow Harland and Wolff cranes. Inside you can find out more about the local building of the famous ship and other Titanic stories, join workshops and find some local souvenirs from the gift shop.  

City Hall: Beautiful architecture, inside and out. It's possible to join a free tour of the City Hall and I was amazed by the decor inside, it's really worth a visit.  On nice summer sunny days , you can find lots of people eating their lunch in the gardens of the Hall. Films are sometimes shown on the big screen there too, such a novelty to relax in the grass and watch along with other people. In winter, the International Christmas market is a popular attraction to get you in the Christmas spirit, and the pancakes always smell delicious. The most impressive thing about Belfast's City Hall, however, is the night view. The elegant architecture is beautifully highlighted by some subtle strategic lighting.


So, that's my Belfast recommended! The beauty of Belfast is that it's such a small city and each of these areas can be reached on (sensibly shod) foot in one day. 

I could have written a much longer piece and included a lot of more of the many exciting, independent ventures that are popping up all over the city but I restrained myself.

Belfast is an exciting place right now and I love it! Don't forget to stop and look around now and then, who knows what you might find.      


Island Camping by geraldine kane

A weekend camping trip to Niijima Island with friends. Just a few hours away from Tokyo is a beautiful island with the best campsite I've ever seen! Here are some snaps to give your a taste of Tokyo island life!


What have you been up to H?

New Outlet ! by geraldine kane

ISLE is now available at Painted Earth in the lovely seaside town of Newcastle, County Down!

Go for a stroll and a poke [that's an ice-cream cone BTW] along the promenade before popping in to see our jewellery and the friendly shop owners!! How about that for a lovely afternoon?!