Handcrafting the Bowerbird Earrings!
Here at Bowerbird Collections we love making and experimenting with new ethical jewellery! If you’ve popped into our store or peeped at our Instagram you may have noticed our colourful range of ceramic jewellery. These little pieces add such a lovely pop of colour to any outfit. We believe that ethical jewellery is just as much a piece of your lifelong wardrobe as your favourite coat or pair of jeans. This is why we think it is so important to provide an alternative to colourful earrings made with plastic or low quality metals.
This weeks blog post is all about our creative process and what spurred us to start making ceramic, ethical jewellery in the first place. Like everything created at Bowerbird, these were an idea that took careful preparation and planning. For us, it is always about creating timeless pieces that we love to wear.
How did it all begin?
The idea for the earrings came in waves. The jewellery making was a natural path for us to choose, as Ellie holds knowledge in this department from her Fine Arts degree. Geared with the skills to handcraft delicate items of jewellery, the proposition of making jewellery was never a deterrance… only a welcome challenge.
Initially the design was sparked by a dream… as most things at Bowerbird are! In a dream Peta saw a woman wearing half moon ceramic earrings in vibrant colours. When she woke she realised she had been handed the idea for her next experiment. The tricky part was figuring out how to make them, and this took months!
We launched our first collection of ethical jewellery at our first fashion parade in October 2018. They were such a success we wanted to expand the range! Ellie sparked our next earring endeavour when she jokingly asked Peta to make earrings inspired by traditional Jhumka designs. Peta came up with the Bowerbird Bell Earrings. Keeping in line with tradition we launched these little fellows at the following fashion parade in October 2019.
What makes them ethical jewellery?
Like most of what we design at Bowerbird, our earrings are locally handmade and designed to be a long-standing staple in your wardrobe. They begin by pouring liquid clay into a plaster mould to take their form in either the half moons or the bell shape. Each little ceramic piece we will then trim, sand and drill holes into. This is a delicate process because at this stage they are as fragile as egg shells!
Next up: glazing, cleaning and firing!
Each little ceramic piece is hand painted by Peta herself. That means every little tiny stripe, spot or brushstroke of colour you see is done with the precision of Peta’s skilled hands. We always love to try new combinations of our different glazes. We recently even made some orange and yellow Half Moons as per customer request!
As we are sure you already know, our approach to creating is to minimise our waste or impact wherever and however we can. This even comes into our jewellery making for the tiny ceramics. Our glazes are unavoidably toxic which is why Peta has gloves on. We don’t want these ending up in the waterways, so any remnants are poured into a sacrificial mug or bowl and fired for a safer method of disposal.
Down to the details…
After crossing our fingers that they all make it through the kiln fire in one piece, we then transport them into our store in Paddington and we assemble! Hand shaping the silver and gold hooks we then combine the different features of the earrings. Have you seen our freshwater pearl variation on the Bell Earrings? After this they are ready to go, from start to finish they are all carefully pieced together by Peta and Ellie.
So what are we working on next? We are in the process of creating a fresh pattern to hand stamp into our Half Moon earrings. But there is always talk of the next design or piece of jewellery we want to make. In fact our bell earrings have even inspired us to experiment with new items around the home. Any guesses what might be in the works?
We hope you enjoyed getting a peak into the hands on process of our ethical jewellery! We certainly mean it when we say handcrafted with love. Although our earrings are only available in store, they will be added to the online store very soon! In the meantime you can have a browse of the rest of our range!
And if you love jewellery that is made ethically, locally and to stand the test of time, here are some of our favourite local makers or brands to help finish your wardrobe.
Fair-trade, ethical and recycled jewellery handmade in Uganda. Afribeads is an Australian market initiative to help sell the jewellery, textiles and homewares made by the community in Uganda. This initiative is a wonderful idea, you can read more about it here.
A large brand with an even larger heart. Elk has a focus on community empowerment, giving back to its surroundings and leading the way with sustainable materials and design. And their jewellery is a perfect statement addition to any outfit!
Myrtle & Me
Unique Jewellery made in Tasmania from sustainably sourced or recycled materials. Myrtle & me has a knack for creating beautiful pendants and earrings with sustainable bamboo, original artwork and recycled silver. We adore!
Until next time xx