In the beginning....designing a collection

There is that stage in the design process when you have all your ideas, perfectly formed in your mind, all is beautiful, all is complete and all you have to do is start making.  This is the part I love and dread in equal measure.  By delaying, the ideas remain pure, you can refine and alter each detail in a scribbled sketch without compromising the knowledge that the concept is good, noble, worthwhile.

Then comes that moment when you have to start building, making, committing in real materials.  I have been in this game long enough to know that the shining perfection of your concept can come to a shattering halt as soon as this second process begins.  I have enough experience to not ask too many questions during this time.  Just. Keep. Going.

raw materials, January 2015
At the core of this collection are some ingredients that perhaps you would not find in mainstream jewellery.  I like the idea of taking something that the 'world' considers to be common place, to be expendable, to be considered unworthy of attention and  elevate it right up to hero status.  Let the last become first and so on.

jewel like lichen, Cari-Jane Hakes, February 2015
Isn't that just the way of the world?  The things we chase and pursue, the ladders we climb often end up being a heap of empty promises when actually it was all the other stuff we ignored that was shining with dim sparkle, waiting for us to get our priorities in order.

pine needles and cones, Cari-Jane Hakes, February 2015
 The building has begun.  You can't delay too long, the sketching has to stop at some point.  Expect some beautiful things soon.

A/W 2015 Collection, From Land and Sea and all that Rest In-between, Cari-Jane Hakes, February 2015

Let it snow...

I was given a little thermos mug for my birthday to keep my tea and coffee warm when get distracted in my studio.  It also came in very handy for doing a 'take out' morning coffee when the first snow of the year fell on Yorkshire Wolds.  There is really nothing more transforming that a clean, fresh, dusting of snow and ice.  These snowflakes managed to build up an impressive volume on all the twigs, branches and wind weathered stalks.  It was a beautiful start to the day.  I shall have to remember to take my morning coffee 'out' more often.

Snow, January 2015

A Mosaic for Monday

Can there be a more beautiful time of the year?  Every morning has a crisp, clean edge and the evenings are edging each day with more seconds of light that gives everything a palpable tinge of something hidden and waiting, unfurling from a quiet hibernation.

Can there be anything more beautiful than waking up to the altered reflections of light levels in your upper rooms that can mean only one thing - that snow has fallen silently in the night with a muffled hushness.

1. red grouse-2, 2. Early Morning Light, Lochan Hakel, 3. fly past, 4. Clouds gather below Volovec, 5. cancellation hole, 6. sparkle wonderland, 7. Cyan and red, 8. finally, 9. Untitled
All of these, from my flickr favourites, convey a tiny corner of this state of winterdness.  In the meantime, I shall keep making up words that end in the suffix 'ness' and perplex English teachers everywhere with my irreverent attitude.

First new design off the bench for 2015

Towards the end of 2014 a new client got in touch with me.  They had seen my 'Wear Your Heart On Your Sleeve' cuff-links (which can be found here) and wondered if I could do the same but use a jigsaw motif for the cut out piece.

I have got to the stage now in my practice as a goldsmith when I can say with certainty and confidence 'yes, I can do that' even though I may never have executed the design before.  I've done my 10,000 plus hours or however many hours it is that you 'need' to do in order to call yourself an expert (more on this theory can be found on the BBC's website here).  I don't mean to say this with arrogance or pomposity, I say it with a hard won confidence.  I say it with a quiet certainty.

And so, after a quick practice cutting into copper, testing the tight curves that make once piece tessellate with another I made this:

A Piece of You and a Piece of Me, cuff-link and necklace, Cari-Jane Hakes 2015
The leaf pattern comes in handy here, linking each piece to the next, showing that they were indeed cut from the same piece of silver.

Details, cuff-link and necklace, Cari-Jane Hakes, January 2015
So there you have it, a puzzling little piece to kick the year off with.  Oh so many more things to come!  My schedule is busy, the workshop is humming with many little machines, I am wearing my studio apron with pride and I'm ready for everything that 2015 has to throw at me.  Onward mes amis.

Christmas Traditions and the Manifesto Ring

One of my clients was kind enough to email to let me know that Pearl Manifesto Ring that I had made specially for her played a supporting role in a PBS Food video that came out last Christmas. You have to keep your eyes out for it, but at around about 2.10 you'll see a quick flash of it as my client cuts into the tourtiere!

The music and atmosphere in this little film is really rather lovely, and rather appropriate for this time of year.

I actually made another one of these rings recently using a leaf sent to me by the client - a leaf from an important place.  I rather enjoy this process of rooting a piece of jewellery to a particular place by imprinting it with specific botanical specimens.  It seems to be an ancient, vital thing with a lineage that stretches way back.

Silver and Vintage Pearl Manifesto Ring on Etsy by Cari-Jane Hakes
I'll leave you with this image that I found on Pinterest, a timely reminder to all of us who feel a little stretched at this time of year.

Really Rather Wonderful Things

I have been wanting to share the work of Ford Hallam for some time now.  This beautifully languid film goes some way to capturing the work of this master Metal Artist.

You may find it hard to believe but I do not own a jewellery box.  If I do ever purchase one then these boxes by Sobre Tronks and Co would be top of my list.


Ready For The Holidays?

I'm taking part in the Etsy Metal blog carnival this month which has asked Etsy Metal members to share their tips on how they get through the busy run up to Christmas.

Well, one of the reasons it has been rather quiet in and around the Hybrid Handmade blog is that I have been getting ready for Christmas since July because that is when I found out that my work was going to be published in the Notonthehighstreet Christmas gift guide.

This rather fine 162 page catalogue began falling on doormats all over the UK on Friday 25th October.

I'm on page 140, in case you were wondering
In July I began researching and purchasing new tools and machines and since the beginning of September I have been making as many components as I can in advance.  I've been told there is no such thing as being over prepared when it comes to being part of a notonthehighstreet Christmas so I'm taking no chances, belt, braces and any other holding up accessories will be employed at all times.

tools, packaging materials and bench pegs
I'm trying to keep my tools tidy....well, at least I try to tidy them away at the end of the day so at least I can reach for them and find them the next day.  I may even change by bench peg (bottom right image). Elsewhere in the studio I'm trying to streamline each process by keeping all my supplies, ribbons, mailing labels, washi tape etc boxed and compartmentalised to within an inch of its life!

I know I'm going to be spending a lot of time in my studio so recently I made a little extra effort to decorate it with a few coloured lights, pictures and I even painted a few of the walls a bright chalky white to reflect in as much of the fading autumn light as I can.

The little hanging birds in the window remind me to get outside in between intense periods of engraving and cutting, spread my wings a little and recharge for the next set of orders.

'Drop & Go'
Being totally over prepared and stocked up to the max with components is going to be no good at all if I end up wasting precious minutes lining up in my local village post office.  I'm very thankful to Chris, the most excellent postmaster, who got me all signed up with the Post Office 'Drop & Go' service.  Not only does it save me time but I get this rather fantastic orange Santa sack to put all my completed parcels in.  And yes, before you ask, I did co-ordinate my scarf to match the sack.

I have no idea how I will feel when the final posting date for Christmas comes round but I hope I can keep working with a happy heart and that the stresses and strains of being a solo entrepreneur are resolved and rationalised before I step out and celebrate this beautiful time of the year with my family and friends.

To all my fellow Etsy Metalers I wish you Bon Courage, Use the Force and just make sure all your washi tapes are lined up and you'll be fine!

If you want to see how other Etsy Metal members get ready click on the links below:

LjB Jewelry
Node Form
Beth Cyr

Wedding Lists and why I never look at them.

Oh, I love a good wedding.  I love all weddings.  What's not to love?  Sometimes it's the chance to save up and go somewhere you've never been before, a mini adventure with a big party thrown in.

There is something so poignant about two people, making a stand, in public and declaring 'I choose you, out of everyone there has ever been, you are my special person and we are going to walk into the unknown together'.

I arrive on the day, empty handed, as many of us do since the advent of the Wedding List, so there is nothing unusual, I don't arouse any suspicion, no one guesses that in fact, I am waiting for a moment, when the bride has left her bouquet unattended and the groom has got a bit hot from all his dance floor routines that he HAS to take his jacket off.  Then I pounce...stealthily, carefully, like a ninja, disguised as wedding guest.

Sometimes I take a wingman with me, a co-accomplice who I have to carefully brief before the extraction can occur.

Cuff links for the Father of the Bride, Cari-Jane Hakes, October 2014
To obtain the leaves for this set of cufflinks I tested out a very young, but willing wingman, only 10 years old.  I must say, he excelled in his task of pretending to take pictures of the wedding cake whilst I deftly 'organised' the positioning of the bouquet. At the same time, unbeknown to the packed room of wedding revellers, I lightly caught thin stems between thumb and forefinger, plucking and then concealing a few choice specimens.

With button hole blooms and thistle fronds carefully stashed, our job was done.  The rest of the evening spread out before us and we relaxed knowing that another successful 'operation secret wedding present' mission was now complete.

Button hole blooms from the Mother of the Groom, Cari-Jane Hakes, October 2014
Once the leaves were pressed and the petals had dried out, retaining a beautiful blush of colour from the special 'Big Day', the hard work began.

Even though no one knows I'm creating these presents, I still feel the pressure of expectation.  I have a finite resource.  If the leaves don't transfer properly into the silver they are crushed beyond redemption and can't be used again.  With these cuff links, the first attempt failed and I held my breath as the second and final leaf made its way through the rolling mill.

A perfect rose leaf from the wedding bouquet for the bride, Cari-Jane Hakes, October 2014
The same happened with a rose leaf from the bridal bouquet leaving me with just a small section left. Thankfully it was enough to create this monogrammed necklace for the bride.  Just a little something from that special day when two people said 'I do, I do'.  A little piece from a beautiful day to wear in the present and walk with into the future.

Layers of Light (and Jimmy Choo)

Have you noticed how each place has its own particular type of light?  It's a transient quality that transforms and shifts through the seasons as the zenith waxes and wanes.

Here, the light is settling into a series of gentle layers; a gradual fading of intensity, getting quieter and more hushed as the land rolls outwards and away.  In the summer months, the distance registers more smoothly, the light is more even, but now, there is a staccato quality and so the layers present themselves, each distinct and increasing in opacity.

layers of light, September 2014, Cari-Jane Hakes
Then there is a time in the late afternoon, when if the light manages to struggle through the clouds it lights up the green of these undulating wolds with an intense emerald hue.

Late Emerald Light, September 2014, Cari-Jane Hakes
On the bench I've been catching a few autumn leaves, before they fall and disappear for a few months, and mixing in a few monogram elements to see how they lie together.

on the bench, September 2014
Working for this year really has me on my toes.  I'm working 6 months ahead and have just finalised prototypes for Valentine's Day 2015 (!).  Whilst I was doing that, the Hybrid Handmade Husband found himself chatting with Jimmy Choo at London Fashion Week (as you do).  Mr Choo was kind enough to spend time imparting wise words - what a gentleman and a scholar!

Jimmy Choo with Julian Hakes, London Fashion Week, September 2014
And so, back to the bench I go - some preparation for that time of the year that starts with 'C' that no one should really be talking about or thinking about until at least mid November....

Holiday Necklaces

Let's face it, you don't want to be sporting your grandmother's hand me down rope of pearls whilst on the beach getting sand in your sandwiches!  On occasions like these I wear a paired down assemblage of accessories.  Less is More, in life and whilst on holiday.  These are so simple, perfectly fuss free and totally beautiful in an unassuming casual way.  Come to think of it, these are ALL the qualities I strive for when I'm designing a piece!

Holiday Necklaces, August 2014, Cari-Jane Hakes

Learning to write

A childhood of moving around between seven different schools left me with a few gaps in my knowledge; number bonds, multiplication tables and an almost complete inability to spell were among the most noticeable voids. I mostly worked out my own systems and strategies to deal with the shortfalls and I can't say the chopping and changing has held me back in anyway.

Oh, and I also managed to miss all the classes on 'joined up writing'. This summer I therefore purchased myself a little calligraphy kit from Linea Carta (here) and decided it was high time I learned to do some proper joined up writting!

Tessellated Pebble and Thyme Branch, Cari-Jane Hakes
That said, I've been reading that some schools in Europe are beginning to phase out any kind of focus on handwritten skills, so perhaps I was just WAY ahead of my time!

Learning to Write
The summer is the perfect time to try out something new as it is that time of travelling to new places  and revisiting old haunts with new 'one year on' eyes. When the everyday routines are disrupted and rumpled new spaces seem to open up for new thoughts, concepts and learning new skills.

Are you taking the time to learn something new? Leave a link if you like to your newest pursuit in the comments below, if you feel so inclined.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I must get back to practicing my penmanship!

These are a few of my favourite things...

Postcards From The Edge

I'm on the lookout for the abstract in the familiar.  I want to find patterns of light and shade, texture and form where other people see just background or nothing at all.

It is a quest that finds me crouched low and quiet, trying to find the right light and the right angle that might reveal a hidden secret or two.


March 2014 :: Midnight Bird Singing by Moonlight brooch / necklace included in Ganoksin 'Changing Hues:Color Embraced by Metalsmiths Around the World.  Click here to see on Ganoksin.

Midnight Bird Singing by Moonlight by Cari-Jane Hakes

February 2014:: Member feature and interview on the Etsy Metal Blog, click here to read.

December 2013:: 'The Myth of the Aurora Borealis' brooch was selected to be part of the SupBrooch exhibition which celebrates brooches designed for and worn exclusively by men. You can find the exhibition on-line here.

The Myth of the Aurora Borealis by Cari-Jane Hakes, October 2013

February 2013 :: Artist in Residence interview with Pamela Bates of Mercantile Muse

Click here to read my answers to Pamela's intriguing questions.

February 2012 :: The Hybrid Handmade blog became the 'Blog of the Week' on MumsNet (10 - 16 February 2012)

See here for the post on this blog.

September 2011 ::  The felt and silver brooch titled 'A Life Without Love is Like a Year Without Summer' by Cari-Jane Hakes was published in Lark Books 500 Felt Objects (page 118)

A Life Without Love is Like a Year Without Summer, Cari-Jane Hakes, 2010
See here and here for the posts on this blog.

Diving For Pearls

Conceptually these two pendants have their roots in seaweed fringed rock pools lined with a shimmering array of quartz lined pebbles, barnacle covered rocks with oysters, hiding in the shadowed ledged depths, quietly working on their grit with determination.

Diving For Pearls, pendant, July 2014, Cari-Jane Hakes
Diving For Pearls, detail
I rather surprised myself with these pendants when I finished them.  The ideas for the components was floating and a little fluid, the making and constructing of each piece was like sketching in 3D.

They have a relaxed quality to them which is in stark contrast to the geometry and precision of my production work.

Gold and Green Pebble pendant, July 2014, Cari-Jane Hakes
 They are a welcome departure, a hint of holidays and summer sun.

Gold and Green Pebble pendant, detail
 More photographs and details can be found here.

Sparkle-tastic mini cocktail rings

I made these.

Sparkle-tastic ring in rose gold tone
They are simple and beautiful.  No complicated concept or narrative, just sparkle and bling.

stacked with other rings by Cari-Jane Hakes
Great on their own, but they play well with others.

Sparkle-tastic ring in gold tone
In a rose gold tone or golden tone.

stacked with other rings by Cari-Jane Hakes, July 2014
Made to measure, crafted with care and attention. In the Etsy Shop.

'Eat Your Greens' ring

You know you should!  With the right sauce and a little bit of seasoning you know they are going to taste just fine.  And they are GOOD for you.

'Eat Your Greens' ring, Cari-Jane Hakes, July 2014
I've been wondering how to incorporate these little chunks of faceted glass into my work.  A ring seems like a good place to start.

band detail on the 'Eat Your Greens' ring, Cari-Jane Hakes, July 2014
And I've been experimenting with a new texture which I've used on the band of this ring.

'Eat Your Greens' ring, Cari-Jane Hakes, July 2014

Manifesto Necklace

Every now and again I manage to make something that sums up everything.  I know this is a bit of a bold statement, but really, this is all we ever try to do when we make or create things, isn't it? We use our hard won technical and design skills to develop, to construct, to sketch, to engineer, to re-engineer to create a thing that we can hold up to the light and say 'Ahhh, this IS good!'

A Life's Journey, From Here to There and Back Again, Cari-Jane Hakes, July 2014
This is the longest handmade chain I have ever created.  It swings so low that the pebble held tightly in its silver housing swings almost at my waist.  And oh, it is the most perfect little pebble! The whole composition is just pure line and form.  Minimally drawn but with moments of intricate complexity that I hope are balanced out evenly.

As with all designs, now that I test it out there are things I would change, bit I would refine.  Next time, next time.  Until then, this is it.  It sums up everything I try to do and say through the medium of goldsmithing.

Split Pod Ring

In among all the questions and doubts, the dust and debris I managed somehow to make this ring. After the final polish I held it my hands and knew it was good.  It has an easy elegance to it. It makes a statement without shouting. It has a quality of 'quietetude' about it.

Split Pod Ring, June 2014, Cari-Jane Hakes
Elsewhere, I've been busy making my own Etsy TV advert!  Well, not really.  The dynamic team over in the UK Etsy office were busy last month filming somewhere in London.  They got together a team of UK based Etsy sellers (my good friend and fellow jeweller Alexandra was featured, you can visit her Etsy shop here) and created this:

I've been accepted for my first trade show (BCTF British Craft Trade Fair) which is in April 2015. In anticipation, I've begun to create my own website which you can have a look at here should you be so inclined

I'll leave you with one final image of the Split Pod ring before I depart to consider some very important private commissions - work in progress photographs to follow!

Split Pod ring detail, June 2014, Cari-Jane Hakes
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A Million Pound Necklace?

I watched Channel 4's 'The Million Pound Necklace: Inside Boodles' this week on 4oD (it first aired in March this year when I was rather busy making a million necklaces).  It was a totally fascinating insight into the rarefied air that is breathed by those at the top end of the jewellery business.  You can read The Independent's review here and watch a clip from the introduction to the programme below.  It may even be possible to watch the entire programme on Daily Motion here or on the 4oD website if you are in the UK.  It's a great for those that are similarly fascinated about how things are made.

Inside Boodles from Illustrated London News on Vimeo.

It made me smile a little to see many different people doing all the varied jobs that go into producing a one-of-a-kind necklace.  I do all of those jobs myself.  I design, I make, I source my stones and I sell.  Perhaps there are less flights to New York and less champagne but essentially, when its all stripped down, Boodles and I, well, we do the same thing.

I wonder what Jody Wainwright, the man tasked with tracking down many of the expensive stones for Boodles, would think of me and my surf tumbled pebbles?

I've been debating with myself for a while as to the merits of precious vs semi precious stones. There are ethical implications.  There is the obvious cost issue and the investment involved too. With respect to cost though, I question the REAL value of these so called 'precious' stones (as illustrated in this short film on the College Humor website titles 'Why Engagement Rings are a Scam' click here to view it.)

As I made this ring though, some of the confusion and questions I continue to ask myself began to fall into the background. The resulting composition has a purity and a simplicity. It has a ring of truth about it.  It was just SO far from what I'd just watched.

It is composed of material as old as the earth itself.  Igneous, crystalline, super heated and then cooled.  Pushed up into a mountainous range and then frost shattered into a fragment, carried by a glacier and eventually worn and tumbled by an ocean that appeared as the temperatures slowly rose.  A million years later, I picked it up.

I made the band slim, slight, much thinner that I would normally.  It feels right, it contrasts with the height of the stone in a pleasing, slightly incongruous way.

There is beauty that comes with a price tag, beauty that is justified as an investment, as a display of wealth and position and then there is beauty that is beautiful when no one is looking, that is beautiful in a quiet way. They both have a place. And I reckon me and Jody, well I reckon we would have a lot in common.