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 email@example.com