The lovely Country Living magazine remains one of my all time favourite treats. Month after month it delivers an incredibly beautiful does of inspiration. The homes and gardens that sit within it's pages take my breath away. The wonderful ideas for decorating, cooking and homemaking inspire me no end. I've been reading this magazine faithfully since 1998, so I think you could say I am most definitely a faithful follower.
Back in May (which was the June issue) the magazine started a new feature called "women and their sheds"...wow what a terrific and inspiring idea! Knowing a little of what can go on in Creative Sheds throughout Blogland, I was instantly high on excitement over what Sheddy Goodness would be revealed as the summer months rolled by. First up was the shed of Esther Coombs, you can find some great pictures of this feature on Alun Callender's blog. Part two came last month in the July issue, and you can see the pages up above there......do you recognise that lady? Do you know her?
This is her most beautiful garden shed, a wonderful beach hut/shed/studio hybrid nestled amidst a sea of glorious flowers. It belongs to Emma Mitchell, a super talented jeweller who also writes a very lovely blog called Silver Pebble which you may know.
Shall we take a peek inside?
Oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh! How delicious!
Emma has transformed the inside of her shed into such a calm and beautiful working space, it has such charm don't you think?
Now if you are not already familiar with Emma's beautiful jewellery, do go and have a little look at her gallery. Her work is truly wonderful, and I love her style very much. I love the simplicity of the designs and the truly handmade nature of what she does. I love the teeny-tiny scale of her jewellery and the exquisite detail in every single thing she makes. I love the subject matter. Well, I just love it all really.
If you pressed me to choose a favourite item of Emma's, it would without doubt be one of these amazing little charm necklaces. She describes them as "beaded garland jewellery - you know, the delicate, jingly, pretty jewellery where beads hang from a chain. It’s like tiny, slightly tinkly, beady bunting." What's not to love?!
Two months ago, Emma offered the above four necklaces as a very generous giveaway, to celebrate her four years in Blogland. Oh my. I sososososososoooooo wanted to win! I wished incredibly hard for my name to be chosen so that I could miraculously own and wear the one with the silver pebble and sea shell. That was my favourite. I fell head over heels in love with it. I visited Emma's blog 67 times a day to see if she had made the draw, to see if I was a Lucky Winner.
Then out of the blue an email came to me from Emma telling me that sadly I did not win. I felt like I wanted to cry. But wait..........the end of Emma's email contained a gem of an idea and immediately my heart skipped a beat or two. She suggested that perhaps I would like to partake in a Creative Swap?? She could make me a necklace and I could make her a hooky something.
OH YES PLEASE!
And there began a delightful creative journey for both of us. A month of emails back and forth as we worked on our projects for each other. Emma asked me to make her a bag, and she asked for it to be made in Coastal Colours. So I formed a collection of aran weight wools that spoke to me of salty sea breezes, crashing waves and summer skies, of smooth pebbles and driftwood, of coastal sand dunes and cool horizons.
I was so thrilled to be working with these colours, as they are my true soul colours.
I began hooking straight away and immediately loved the way the colours worked together.
I worked on the bag in any spare moment. Sat outside while Little B played, at the cafe with a cappuccino, at the pub with a strawberry beer, snuggled on the sofa in the early mornings.
And as the stripes grew and grew I was thinking salty sea thoughts. I was daydreaming of past holidays, of happy times spent by the sea. I thought of pebbles and seaglass and the sound of the waves. And I was also thinking of Emma working away on my necklace, wondering what she was up to. I knew there would be a silver pebble (her trademark) and I knew there would probably be a button or two. I also knew (as I had begged for it) that there would be some amazing seaglass. I was unbelievably excited thinking about all these things while I worked.
The bag grew as the days and weeks flew by until I decided the proportions were right and it had reached the right size. I made a scallopy border around the top edge and I made straps. And then when I was about to start work on the decorative flowers Emma threw a little spanner into my creative works. She asked if instead of flowers she could have circles, sort of pebbly sea-circles. Oh! Well....ok then, I will give it a go, I will see if I can make some pretty circles.....
The circles were fun to make, and after a little bit of trial and error, I found a way to make them work as part of the overall bag design. They were needed both as decoration and as a way to hide the end of the straps where they get stitched to the bag.....
....I think they turned out beautifully. I went in search of some special buttons to add a final flourish and found these amazing mother of pearl ones in a local shop. The colours were perfect.
Would you like to see how it all turned out?
YEs, of course you would!
I felt good ecstatic about it when it was finished, and everyone I showed it to seemed to love it. I still felt a little nervous though, I don't very often make things for other people and I really wanted this to be extra special. I wanted Emma to love it as much as I did.
One other thing I decided to do was to make a fabric lining. I chose a beautiful pale duck egg blue linen, and finished it off with some spotty ribbon along the top edge.
It turned out that I finished making the bag and Emma finished making my necklace at almost exactly the same time. We agreed that it would be fun to post our parcels on the same day so that we could kind of both be in a position to open them simultaneously. Oh my goodness, it is so hard to convey the utter excitement/nervousness of this whole bit of the swap! The feelings that it provoked in both of us was so funny! We kept emailing to make sure we would open our parcels together, and there was a point where we had both received the parcels, but hadn't yet found the right time to open them.
My parcel from Emma surprisingly contained two little brown boxes. Two?! The first one I opened contained these incredible little silver and enamel flower earings. WOW! So unexpected, an extra little gift that Emma said reminded her of me with their colours. They are truly beautiful.
The second brown box contained my necklace. The very sight of it made me want to leap through the roof.
How to describe the beauty of it to you? Each and every charm (there are sixteen in total) is amazing.
There is the most beautiful sea glass.
There are sweet little sea-washed stones, and there look is the silver pebble which Emma made using silver clay.
More seaglass, sweet little vintage mother of pearl buttons and a silver button charm made by Emma. Honestly, this necklace is pure perfection.
It is so incredibly beautiful. And it is truly mine. I said to Emma that it feels like she took my very soul and strung it on a silver chain. My love of the sea, my childhood, my own enduring obsession with collecting small treasures, it's all there.
Wearing this necklace is a dream. I asked for a short 16" chain as this is the way I like to wear my jewellery - quite high up round my neck so that it sits on my skin and doesn't get lost in my clothing.
I love the feel of it round my neck, it's surprisingly heavy. It feels like happiness.
Emma's beautiful jewellery is for sale in her Etsy shop.
She is also a genius at working to commission, so do please feel free to contact her for a chat if you would like a special something made (more info here)
And of course her blog is pretty special too, I am currently drooling my way through her past archives.
Isn't creativity wonderful?! Yaaaaay for HaNdMaDe ♥
ps...this evening we'll be heading 300 miles south to the Dorset coast. I can't wait to wear my necklace whilst strolling along the shoreline.
Will be back in a week's time ♥