26 Aug 2014

Home: Yolande Beer Ceramics

We purchased this little earthenware bowl and jug from the wonderful gift shop at Charleston House on our recent visit (which you can read about here). They are the work of Sussex-based artist Yolande Beer, who creates brush-decorated ceramics often adorned with wonderfully lively figures and patterns in her unique, free hand style. I love the unusual, waved shape of this jug (see the image below) and the vibrant green of the stripes. The free style of the stripes tie in perfectly with where we bought this set from - Charleston, where Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant's free-hand work is similar in that nothing had to be perfect - in fact, it's often the imperfections that make things more beautiful!
Yolande Beer trained in three-dimensional design in Brighton and after five years as a Brighton Studio-Potter was awarded a sponsorship to travel to Japan where she spent a year brush-decorating tableware and preparing for a solo show in Tokyo. Since her return to the UK in the 90s, Yolande has featured in numerous shops and exhibitions and in recent years has enjoyed the teaching side of her profession - tutoring children and adults alike. For more information on Yolande and her work, make sure you visit her website
Other examples of Yolande's work:
These four images are from Yolande's website.

More about the artist . . .

13 Aug 2014

Lily Loves: Jennie Sharman-Cox

I'm often drawn to slightly macabre, creepy old trinkets and treasures - a quick look at my ever-growing Inside the Imagination Pinterest board will tell you that much. So when I came across the work of Jennie Sharman-Cox on Etsy, it was love at first sight! Since then, Jennie and I have been in contact and I am delighted to be able to share more about her wonderful work with you . . .
Curiosity Boxes . . .
 Above: Doorway
Jennie has worked with textiles for many years, from making theatrical costumes to designing beautifully detailed Edwardian-style teddy bears. A collector by nature, she has always had a passion for anything old and interesting. She comments: "Most recently my love of vintage fabric and antique paraphernalia has led to two new areas of work, my bespoke jewellery collection and my boxes of curiosity." 
Above: Labour of Love
"I started making boxes in 2011 as I explored the idea of confinement and restriction through the assemblage of found objects. By delving into our curious fascination with death, religion and the macabre, via gothic Victoriana, taxidermy, with a bit of theatre thrown in, I found that one object led to another and stories began to emerge. In our secular age we are still searching for the meaning of life and death, so setting my work within a shrine-like box, I am able to use religious iconography to explore and present my thoughts."
 Above: Lady Bones
"I use mainly antique and vintage found objects, fabrics etc - many of which I have gathered together over the years, although I construct the interiors of the boxes and make anything else required from clay, wood, card or fabric. The detail is very important to me."
"Part of the fun for me is to rummage and find things in all sorts of places, I trawl antique markets, junk shops, even old sheds for just that right little bit, if something speaks to me I tuck it away, everything finds its place in the end."
Above: Bird Woman #2
Jennie's sense of theatre and the macabre is certainly evident in these amazing art boxes! It was Doorway that first grabbed my attention (the first image of this post) - a doll, stripped of its clothing, peering (nervously or menacingly?) around a doorway in a seemingly derelict house - there are so many avenues the imagination can go down from that scenario! 

Jewellery . . .
Above: Lovers Eye - glass eye and vintage pearl brooch
Sitting perfectly at ease next to Jennie's creepy curiosity boxes are her stunning jewellery creations. Jennie's first jewellery collection launched in 2010 and, as testament to her immense talent, early pieces were chosen for the 'Bling' exhibition at the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. To me Jennie's jewellery evokes the grim fascination Victorians had with mourning jewellery, which often involved working a lock of a dead loved one's hair into a brooch or pendant. In Jennie's work, glass eyes are nestled into beds of beautiful pearls and diamantes and again, open up so many avenues for the imagination. Military elements also feature in Jennie's jewellery design, often alongside skulls and skeletons . . .
Above: Skull & Crown - beaded vintage diamante-encrusted necklace
Jennie says: "Having worked with textiles for so long it seemed quite natural when I began to make jewellery, that it should be fabric based and hand stitched. I was itching to incorporate some of my antique military badges, braid and metal insignia along with a few skulls and eyes, into wearable pieces so I started experimenting."
Above: Crown - dramatic military-style necklace with crown, skull and gold braid
"I like to use antique and vintage components as much as possible, old linens and grosgrain, layered with lace, vintage faux gems and pearls, seed beads, military regalia, glass eyes and skulls. My life long passion for collecting old and interesting things has been inspirational in my work and the detail is all important to me. Each piece is entirely hand stitched and takes many hours of work, but I love to sew!"
Above: Military-style brooch with gold and silver wire crest and vintage diamantes

If, like me, you love intricately detailed jewellery and trinkets with a twist - that can truly ignite the imagination - then please make sure you check out more of Jennie's work via the links below . . .

 More Jennie . . .

4 Aug 2014

Jewellery: Feel More Love Boutique*

If you're heading out for a picnic this summer, you don't have to restrict the treats to your picnic hamper! How about popping some Dolly Mix around your wrist, a pair of strawberries on your ears and a Custard Cream around your neck? Don't worry - I've not lost the plot or been in the sun too long without a hat - I'm simply appreciating the work of jewellery designer Elizabeth Dyer of Feel More Love Boutique. A master in the art of Polymer clay, Elizabeth creates these fun pieces of jewellery that would be perfect for picnics, festivals and parties! 
Above: One of these things is not like the others... Custard Cream necklace from FeelMoreLoveBoutique.

Elizabeth was kind enough to send Lily in the Labyrinth a couple of items to review. Firstly, the fun Custard Cream necklace. I was impressed upon receiving it to see how detailed the item was! If it weren't for the silver chain protruding from the top-centre of the piece, you could easily mistake it for a real biscuit! The same size as a real Custard Cream, the necklace has weight to it without being too heavy and sits on a silver plated link chain that falls mid-chest. 
Above: Amazing detail - you'd be hard pushed to tell this apart from a real Custard Cream!

Elizabeth told Lily in the Labyrinth: "My work is inspired by pop culture and the world around me. If it looks tasty and/or cute - I usually want to immortalise it in some way so that it can be worn forever. I am also inspired by Japanese culture and 'Kawaii'. I absolutely love all things miniature, so anything that I can scale down and make tiny is great! Most of my jewellery is made from polymer clay. It's a fab material to work with because it's very versatile and with a bit of patience, skill and knowledge, can literally be made into anything."
Above: Side view - I've never been so tempted to eat Polymer clay! 

As well as the Polymer pieces, Feel More Love Boutique also stocks a range of other trinkets and treasures. I particularly like these Lego Lightsaber earrings and can think of several sci-fi loving friends who would love to receive these as a gift!
Above: Fun, Lego Lightsaber earrings which come in a range of colours.

Aside from jewellery making and running her shop, Elizabeth also hosts workshops for those wishing to learn more about jewellery making and working with Polymer clay. I asked Elizabeth how she came to work so closely with colourful clay and set up Feel More Love: "Colourful, funky and unique objects have always been an interest of mine. As a child my mother made polymer clay miniatures for my Sylvanian Families to play with, so I have always been familiar with polymer clay as a material. I began using it to make my own jewellery just for myself, family and friends when I was at university in 2007/2008. I could never find the jewellery that I wanted to wear in high street shops, so I just started experimenting with clay. When I graduated from MA Fine Art in 2011 I opened a pop-up shop with a fashion designer friend (we ran it together for 6 months) selling our own art and design work, along with the work of other talented designers and crafters. It was then that I realised how popular my jewellery really was. When we closed the shop down and went our separate ways, I decided to open my own business - rather than a physical shop, an online shop - also attending and selling my work at fairs and festivals. To add to this I run craft workshops and host jewellery making parties for people of all ages and abilities in Leicestershire and The Midlands."
Above: FeelMoreLove Boutique packaging.

The webshop opened in July 2012, with the Etsy store following in August 2012. After initially concentrating on selling her products directly through her own website, Elizabeth recently made the decision to put more time into Etsy and is already seeing the benefits: "I seem to be getting more traffic and sales on Etsy and I like the idea that I am part of a community of crafters, rather than just another online shop getting lost in the billions on Google!" I couldn't agree more, Etsy is a great way to build interest in your handmade and vintage products and connect with other creatives! If it wasn't for Etsy I wouldn't have come across Elizabeth's shop on a lazy Sunday 'favouriting' session! :) 

Thank you Elizabeth for these items :) Now I'm off to the shops as I have a rather large craving for a certain type of biscuit! 

Feel even more love! Follow the links . . .
Facebook | Twitter | Etsy | Website | Blog | Pinterest

1 Aug 2014

Travel: Charleston, Sussex (Vanessa Bell & Duncan Grant)

On a beautifully warm and sunny day recently I visited Charleston - a rather unique farmhouse situated near Lewes, Sussex. Once the home of artist Vanessa Bell, her husband Clive Bell, her artist friend and lover Duncan Grant, their collective children and countless other creatives of the day, Charleston is perhaps best known as a famous haunt of the Bloomsbury set. Inside, almost every surface of the house is painted with Bell and Grant's signature marks of cross hatch, circles and more. Doors and door frames, fireplaces, walls - even the spines of box files - almost nothing escaped the paint brush and I defy anyone to step through the doors of Charleston and not feel hugely inspired!   
Our guide, Angie, was fantastic and really brought the house to life with tales of life at Charleston. Vanessa Bell's sister Virginia Woolf (who lived at nearby Monks House) was a regular visitor, as were other such creatives and visionaries of the era - many of whom are depicted in portraits by Bell and Grant throughout the house. What I particularly loved about Charleston was the feeling that these people were serious about art, but not precious about it. Things didn't have to be perfect - you could see dribbles of paint running from chevrons and lines painted on the walls; shapes didn't have to be precise. A room once used as Vanessa's bedroom (before being turned into a library for Clive Bell), had walls painted black and Indian red - quite a departure for a woman who grew up in a strict Victorian household. Above the window, Vanessa's on-off lover Duncan Grant had painted a cockerel to wake her; below the window a dog to guard her. A tender and fun detail. For me, the highlight of the tour was definitely the art studio - such a wonderfully light space enthused with so much creative energy! I found myself wishing everyone else on the tour would melt away for a while so I could have a good rummage, set up an easel and get painting! I must admit, as soon as I got home I did get my art materials out and start painting for the first time in quite a while.
Photography is not allowed in the house, but the grardens were also beautiful so I hope you enjoy these shots I took . . .

Above: The art studio (at the rear of the shot).
In all, it Charleston is an inspiring place to visit, particularly if you have any interest in art - or unusual old properties. This collection of people clearly lived life as they wanted - they didn't have conventional relationships, rules of house or ways of doing things, and we can only be thankful that this wonderfully painted portrait of the past has been preserved for us to enjoy all these years later.  

Related posts: Monks House (home of Virginia and Leonard Woolf).
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