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Archive for the ‘The Girl with the Silver Clasp’ Category

One of my favourite bits of research when writing The Girl with the Silver Clasp was Jess’ passion for silverwork and her unique flair for design, which helps her to face the many obstacles she has to overcome to follow her dreams. I had so much help from jewellery makers, but because of Covid it had to be mostly virtual, and my plan to brush up my very rusty metalwork and enamelling skills, and to take a day’s course with a local blacksmith, went out of the window.

Now we are gradually emerging out of lockdown, I can finally get to do those interviews in real life!

My first is with my dog-walking friend Hazel, biomedical scientist for the NHS diagnostic service by day, maker of exquisite earrings by night.

Hazel currently works from a large table in her living room, overlooking the Nant Ffrancon valley and the mountains of Snowdonia. I arrived to interview her to a delicious surprise – a proper afternoon tea delivered in a box, the most amazing treat in the time of covid, and set out in appropriately on 1920’s-style plates.

As we tucked into scones, Hazel told me that since the onset of the pandemic her living room has been gradually transforming itself into her workshop, under the supervision of her three rescue collies.

Working in a hospital has needed light relief over the past eighteen months and Hazel has found being absorbed in jewellery making the perfect therapy, as well as an outlet for her creativity.

Hazel told me that she began making jewellery over twenty years ago, after being trained at her local college. She set up a workshop in her cellar, starting her collection of tools. She loved working with silver and gold, making a selection of rings and earrings, and an identity bracelet for her son.

She thought she would have to give up her passion when the onset of osteoarthritis in her hands stopped her from working with metals, which requires strength and attention to fine detail. But she overcame this by turning to hunting down lampwork beads, unique handmade glass beads that are intricately crafted with beautiful patterns and colours.

Using natural materials to create patterns with silver clay
Working with silver clay

She also discovered silver clay, which doesn’t require the strength to manipulate as real silver, but gives beautiful effects. Hazel uses the natural world, pressing leaves and mosses she finds on her daily dog walks into the clay, leaving imprints to create the patterns, before polishing to stunning effect.

It was inspiring to see so much skill and creativity taking place in an ordinary living room and fitted around the demands of a busy life.

Hazel is hoping to set up an online shop before long, I’m glad to say. I may not have a weakness for diamonds, but I certainly do for such beautiful earrings…

Afternoon tea – laid carefully out of reach of four very interested dogs!

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