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Updated: Oct 2, 2020

...the reasons I thought I wasn't like other people included;

1: I was an Aquarian, and therefore weird.

More of my natal chart. Oooh Moon in Pisces, see.

2: I probably was going to be abducted by aliens, or may even be alien. Therefore weird. The first film I fell utterly and completely in love with was Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I was horrifically envious of all of those guys getting to go on the spaceship, and decided I was in love with Richard Dreyfus. The best dream I ever had was that spaceship hobvering over my garden and knowing I was going on it.

Crab Nebula, from NASA's amazing image gallery.
Home. Probably.

3: I was a 'tomboy'. I wasn't a 'proper' girl, therefore I was weird. I didn't have any particular feel for my gender growing up. I had friends who were boys, and friends who were girls. I wasn't a 'girly' girl, in the Summer I liked running about outside in bare feet. My mum would chase me out and tell me off, and my grandmother would tell her to stop, it was the Romany blood. I had a soft old yellow adidas t-shirt of my dad's, and that and my shiny red shorts were my favourite things to wear. I never brushed my hair. The Spring and Summer evenings I sat by our ponds and watched tadpoles turn into frogs, and captured them and the newts and named them and stroke their backs and smelled their frogly skin. You know where you are with a frog, they don't care if you're wearing a dress or not.

A very small froglet on my thumb
A tiny frog and me. 2015.

PS: I'm still not counting number 2 out.

PPS: Since writing this, my daughter got me to do the Myers-Briggs personality type test, which has me as INTJ, or 'the architect type'. Apparently as a female, this marks me as unusual. I am secretly pleased that this is the same type as Walter White from Breaking Bad. I'm not entirely sure this says good things about me.

Pili-Pala (sometimes seen without the hyphenation) is the Welsh for Butterfly, and a fantastic word it is too. My immediate response to this was to move my hands in front of my eyes, in 'maybe/so-so/pitter-pattering' gestures. In my mind it is a leaf-like shape moving in a floating, flitting , see-sawing motion across my vision. In terms of jewellery, this flagged up that I would want components to be extremely light; both in weight and colour/appearance. It's a pretty, delicate word, and I'd want that delicate nature to be included in the piece.

I considered earrings firstly, wondering about making a balanced - see-sawing shape. Quickly I discarded this, as it wouldn't fit the 'falling,drifting' nature of the word as I felt it.

I considered suspended shapes, in sequence, hanging from ear wires, but it didn't quite satisfy what was in my minds eye. I modelled a quick test ring in gold and silver at my bench, trying out texturing one side of very light metal (the gold), so as it moved it would catch the light in a different way.

I liked that I could hold it at different angles and play with it in different ways, but it wasn't right.

Pili-pala shape experiments
Paper clay forms on nylon filament

I kept being drawn back to the idea of something moving in my field of vision without me needing to touch it. I made a couple of models of shapes I was considering using paper clay. I then strung these onto nylon filament, which added both the light element, and movement. The solution seems to be to make something worn on the head, so that the strands can hang down in front of the viewer. With light enough forms, the wearer turning or walking should be enough to cause them to move in front of the eyes.

A piece to fix in the hair, like a mini tiara or crown seems to be the way forward. I think it needs at least four uprights, two taller right at the front, two shorter to the sides, curving outwards to allow the filament to fall in front of the face. I intend making the body of the piece in silver. I think I will stick with the paper clay to make the floating forms, both for lightness and I intend trying a new medium with them which I hope will enhance and exaggerate the sensory aspect. Exciting! I'm undecided as to how much embellishment I'll add to the silver part. I suspect this will be very, very different to anything I usually make!

initial response and sketches to the word 'pili-pala'
Initial sketchbook notes for 'Pili-pala'

The Welsh language has more than one name for the butterfly. 'Iar fach yr Haf' is another, fantastically it translates to 'little hen of the Summer' and a different and equally amazing name for a fellow crawlie; 'Buwch gota gota' for ladybird, or 'short red cow'.

I'm loving learning. I've had to take a couple of weeks break due to assorted pressures, but am back at it. I don't know if I'll ever be confident enough to strike up a conversation in Welsh, but I know I'm enjoying understanding more of the language.

As always, I'd love any feedback; either your interpretations of the words I've chosen, or anything else relating to the project! Please comment, or email me at lydia@niziblian.com

Two of the shapes that will be in this jewellery collection popped into my head pretty much fully formed. One of them is Llaeth, meaning 'milk'. To me, the word is cool and smooth like a pebble. It gives a feel to me of sliding into a clean soft bed. Typically, the jewellery I make is heavily textured, and/or has contrast. I like irregular lines and forms. This piece, I knew, had to be smooth and clean. I want this to be a hug in jewellery form. Not in a clinging/holding sense, but in the calm, comfort it provides. Something to make you go 'aaaah'. Whilst I had ideas about how to construct this one, I also wanted to add a little more depth to it and to add scent. I already knew it suited being a hollow form, so it made sense to me to use the inside space for something that could be scented.

I have a bit of a 'thing' about scent. I have a lot of perfumes. I have ones for when I'm feeling happy, ones for days I need to be brave, ones for migrainey days, ones for happy morning trips out, ones for intense work days when I know I won't see daylight. I sniff people, not in a weird way (ok, not sure there is a non-weird way), but I'm interested in what they choose to wear. I have, (I can hear my husband's hollow laugh) a fair collection of perfume. Hey, it's therapy that's cheaper than therapy!

The excellent human being with a magical nose who is responsible for 95% of all the perfumes I own is Sarah McCartney, founder of indie perfumery 4160 Tuesdays (pop over after, you'll thank me). I've never met Sarah in real life, but she is incredibly gracious and patient to my virtual pesterings. Sarah advised me, much to my delight, that wool would be an excellent scent-retainer. Wool is perfect, I'm Welsh, the word Llaeth is Welsh, we do sheep rather well. Wool is fluffy and soft and dreamy and we count sheep when going to sleep. All this is good!

I found a lovely lady called Jayne, who owns a smallholding in West Wales, who very kindly sent me lovely soft, washed white wool from Eleanor the Shetland sheep and black wool from Raven the Hebridean. There's only a weeny bit of what I have in the picture (I was cuddling the rest) I love knowing their names and I also have photgraphs of the beautiful sheep they came from too. The wool takes the scent and holds it beautifully.

The final piece is going to be pretty big - 6-7cm across. I wanted to keep with the etheral, dreamy feel of it so don't want to hang it on chain. Silk was my initial thought, but having noodled around several ideas, I came across sari ribbon, made from pure silk waste by women's co-operatives in India, it uses by waste from sari manufacture that would otherwise be destroyed. It also looks, and feels exactly right. This will be fitted with silver fasteners on the finished piece.

This is a scaled-down prototype I made.

You can see the sari silk in the background. The back cut outs will be a different shape in the final piece, and allow the body heat of the wearer to warm the pendant, and the wool to release the scent. The scent I have chosen is the aforementioned 4160 Tuesday's Creamy Vanilla Crumble, which in our family, is known as 'the hug perfume'. This is the best, grown up, snuggle up, cosy and soft vanilla there is. I'm delighted by the serendipitous link between the word Llaeth and the milk of the custard too. The perfume can be dropped with a pipette directly onto the wool. I put 3 drops on the tiny bit in the test piece. I got very excited as a) it worked beautifully, b) it feels amazing, even better when warm, and releases the scent. I am so looking forward to creating the finished piece. I'll add some scented wool to the exhibition as I want people to connect with it, and get a real feel for the sensory way these words hit me. I will definitely make smaller variants of the final piece as they are very happy objects to interact with.

So that's the story so far of Llaeth. I look forward to producing the necklace. No doubt there'll be some curve balls/changes in the making of it, but that's all part of the fun.

As ever, I would love to know your thoughts. Please comment, or email me at lydia@niziblian.com