Spring Collection

I’ve taken 1000s of photographs of birds. I’ll never tire of the colours, textures and patterns of their gorgeous feathers.  Making a collection featuring just a handful of them was quite a task, though I think this is something I may have to come back to in the future! For now, here are 14 new pieces based on 6 species of beautiful bird – some you’ll know, some a little more obscure.

I have my own little feathery shadow in the form of an African Grey so I’d be in big trouble if I didn’t include this popular parrot species. Not the most complex of feather patterns, but the light grey with the flash of red on the tail is iconic of this cheeky bird and this pendant and earrings are a stylish and subtle way for grey enthusiasts to wear a little nod to their feathery friends without looking like a full on ‘crazy bird person.’

You’ll be forgiven if you’re not familiar with the Lady Amherst’s Pheasant but when you see the stunning feathers you’ll know why I had to photograph them. The deep teal, navy and white feathers edged with black are somewhere between bird and mermaid. The complexity of this pattern lent itself to much bigger pieces so everything has been scaled up with this design.

There are many different species of spectacular Macaw and a collection could be created on these parrots alone. This pendant and earrings are based on the Green Winged Macaw, which is mainly red across the head and body but with these vibrant green and blue feathers in the wings.

The Reeves Pheasant is native to China, and named after the British naturalist who brought the bird to Europe, however their amazing feathers I liken to Moroccan floor tiles! The black, copper, red, white and bronze tones in the image have been given a metallic finish by printing the photograph onto acetate rather than paper, allowing the silver to shine through. Again, the complexity of this pattern meant it was much better used in large statement pieces.

When I first posed the question ‘What is your favourite bird’ to people, several said the Lilac Breasted Roller. Yes, this small bird does have some lilac on it’s breast but it also has feathers in pink, light and dark blue, white, black, green and brown. A bit greedy if you ask me.

One of the most loved and recognisable birds of them all – the Toco Toucan. Simple but striking feather colours in black, white and orange with that slightly bonkers electric blue eyeshadow. Beautiful.

See the whole ‘Patterns of the Bird World’ collection on Etsy here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Focus

You may have noticed that Shutter Jewellery has gone a bit leafy recently. 🌿 Here’s why.

I began making jewellery from my photographs nearly 3 and a half years ago now. I have been releasing designs as they are finished, some on a common theme, some completely randomly – images simply picked purely on their desirability and ability to work well on a tiny scale. Certain collections seemed to come together all by themselves and more often than not come from a natural rather than an urban habitat. With so much more of the natural world to explore it seems I’ve found my focus. Pun 100% intended.

What’s even better is how much you seem to love it too. My fern leaf design has been far and away my most popular as well as one of my most long lived, having first used it in costume pieces right at the beginning. This is why I’ve adopted it – or rather you lovely customers have – as the little flag for Shutter Jewellery’s new direction :

Last year’s Butterfly collection was a real eye opener at how much you value the sustainability of using a photograph and not a flower or a real butterfly while achieving the same effect. I spoke to many people who came by my stall at events last year. Many were attracted to my statement butterfly pieces and commented how beautiful they are, but with an air of caution… “They aren’t real butterflies are they?” Relieved when I explained they were not. I was amazed also that this even extended to the flower jewellery, some customers commenting that they were pleased I didn’t pick real flowers to use in my charms.*

It stands to reason that if I’m respecting nature as I am, plastic packaging is a no no. I’m so pleased that nearly every day I see an Instagram post from another business that has gone plastic free. This is no mean feat and they should be congratulated. It’s so sad that plastic is the norm and it now takes effort and cost to avoid it. For this reason it’s lot easier and quicker for small businesses to implement than large businesses but hopefully if we set the example, the big boys will follow suit and we might be able to save our natural world and give me a chance to photograph it all. 😍

I’m nearly there on the plastic free thing, I’m no longer buying plastic packaging but I recycle plastic packaging that has been used to send supplies to me. It seems the logical thing to reuse it rather that throw it away in disgust, so if you order something from me please reuse again – after all this stuff was designed to last forever. That doesn’t always have to be a problem.

My favourite bird, Rio. This is her ‘I’m a good parrot’ look. This is my ‘No you’re not’ look.

I’m currently working on a new collection based on another type of winged creature with an awesome palette of colours and patterns. You guessed it, an avian theme. I’ve been asking what your favourite feathered friends are so head over to Instagram or Facebook to join the discussion or comment below. I’ve already had some amazing suggestions.  Thank you! 💚

One more thing, I’ve recently opened my VIP mailing list, so if you want to be in the know about new items first, please do go ahead and join here. You can of course unsubscribe at any time.

 

*Of course, there are many jewellery makers who do use real butterfly wings and flowers in their work and, no, they do not go around killing butterflies and pulling up handfuls of wildflowers. I’m not trying to make a comment on anyone’s else’s work!

How handmade items can be expensive, fairly priced and a complete bargain all at the same time.

People who shop small are generally nicer people
(probably a fact)

Whether in person or online, I get lots of positive comments on my jewellery. When sales are slow they help me keep on making and always brighten my day. When manning the Art Shed we get so many compliments on everyone’s work every single day.  People don’t have say anything, they just want to. (It really is a world away from the daily comments I got when I worked in the more mainstream retail world, but we won’t go there.) 

Just occasionally, the comments are not so nice. Constructive criticism from other makers and customers is always useful. Even a few people telling me they don’t like something or don’t ‘get it’ is fine, opinions differ. What bothered me recently is a group of people complaining about how expensive everything is, even to point of mocking. ‘Only £100? Oh I’ll take two then!’

It’s quite likely it took us almost as long to come up with that price as it did to make the thing…
Don’t be fooled if something looks simple either

I bet you anyone who sells their handmade work has agonised over their prices. The vast majority probably undervalued their work to begin with and has raised prices several times. The balance between making your work pay so you can keep on doing it while trying to offer value for your customers is a hard one and something we try so hard to get right.
Mocking the value we’ve put on our work hurts.

Expensive is not the same as overpriced.

I can’t really argue with the fact handmade work is expensive. Yes it costs more than mass produced items and if you take it literally, the cost of artwork contains many expenses. The problem I have is when many people use the word expensive, what they mean is overpriced.

Take a potter for example. They have done years of training to learn their craft. They’ve the cost of setting up their studio, the rent, lighting, heat. They’ve bought costly equipment and their raw materials. The pot you were gawping at the price of might have taken several days to make. This is their job. So that expensive price tag might actually be a very fair price.

Now imagine you wanted make a pot like that and forked out for the training, equipment, raw materials, bills. Even after all that you discovered you couldn’t make it quite the same anyway. Suddenly, it’s a bit of a bargain.

The other element to a handmade item of course is imagination and that is something very difficult to put a price on. As is that fact that one person can only make a finite amount of work and each piece will be slightly different. I don’t know about you, but owning an item that 500,000 other people also have just isn’t the same to me.

Why does it cost that much?