We took part in Showcase in Dublin for the second time at the end of January. We had learnt a lot from the first year, little important behind-the-scenes things like remembering to bring double-sided tape, a tape measure and to bring a step ladder- except we forgot to bring the step ladder. But we managed and were very pleased with the results
It's a long few days and a lot of preparation work but it's worth it - the positive feedback, new friends and new stockists all add up to days well spent.
I've been wanting to create a floral range for a long time and have started and stopped many times. Back in the day, when I was studying Art at school, I was obsessed by Art Nouveau and anything ornately curly and organic. I progressed to studying Metalsmithing & Jewellery at uni and my focus turned to contrasting masculine and feminine, organic and industrial.
Now, many years on, I seem to have lost my soft side. Nothing gives me more joy these days than flat surfaces and sharp angles. So that explains my losing battle with my Flora range.
During a trip home, I took some photos of heather and scrub just outside Newcastle, Co.Down. I realised that focusing on individual flower forms was limiting me and found the whole scene to be much more inspiring. I picked out patterns using simple dots, suggesting movement and a kind of organic rhythm.
My new obsession is dot-based
I guess I'm reverting back to my contrast days in uni - simple, hard shapes mixed with organic patterns. Who knows, maybe the next collection will be an Art Nouveau- inspired extravaganza.
Probably not :)
FLORA [take 3000] is well underway and I am loving it. We will be exhibiting it at Showcase 2016 and launching it in the early half of 2016. Nothing like a deadline to encourage creativity.
There's been a lot happening here in Tokyo recently. I've been working with a good friend, Mizue, who has decided to open a design shop in Daikanyama that showcases contemporary Irish design.
The idea began slowly, a long time ago. We had been discussing, on and off, Mizue's desire for a new challenge and a new career. Originally a graphic designer, she hoped for something creative but with a different pace of working.
After exhibiting at Showcase 2015 with ISLE, I showed her photos of the interesting and beautiful products I saw there. Instantly she said 'I'll open an Irish Design shop' - and she did.
@stor_daikanyama [Instagram + Twitter]
Very excited to tell you that ISLE Jewellery is now available at the beautifully peaceful F.E. McWilliam Gallery in Banbridge, County Down.
Exhibitions, workshops, sculpture garden, stylish cafe and the opportunity to try on some of our jewellery - a perfect day out I'd say! :D
I've spent the morning drilling decorative holes into metal and the process reminded me of this project we started a couple of years ago (you'd be amazed by the number of temporarily shelved projects I have stashed in my cupboards). It was inspired by a trip to the gorgeous National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.
You can see the clear influence from these very early examples of jewellery, circa 2000 B.C.! It's hard to believe they are around 4,000 years old, a little patch up and polish and they would still be very relevant today. My idea was to hold on to the linear patterns, simplifying them a little further. The large pieces in the first set of images were hand engraved in brass then plated in 18k yellow gold for a kind of one-off gallery piece. My plan was/is to take the essence of these designs and refine them further to make more wearable but equally beautiful pieces that still hold on to the history of ancient Irish Jewellery.
Above are my original, little bit dodgy, attempts at using Illustrator to plan the design for the engraving. We made a pair of earrings too but I need to hoke deeper in the cupboards to find them! They were domed and a hook was added through a little drilled hole at the top if each circle.
There's definitely a little bit of an Egyptian vibe to these designs but it's lovely to know they were created independently by our skillful ancestors.
Looks like Irish design was just as strong as 4,000 years again as it is today !
Now, where did I put those earrings.
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
SHELLS LITTLE SHOP, The Srand Sligo
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!!
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,
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!
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!!
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.