Magpie in the Sky - jewellery making that pays homage to nature
PUBLISHED: 00:00 07 July 2014
Magpie Linzi Alford’s love of the countryside around Cartmel sparkles in a new book about jewellery-making
‘We generally get to see the kitchen table at Christmas,’ laughs Linzi Alford. She bridles a little at the term ‘hoarder’ but confesses: ‘There may come a time when I have to tunnel between rooms.’
Linzi lives in the picture postcard village of Cartmel and spent ten years as manager of a gift shop beside the priory. ‘Then, eight years ago, I had my daughter Rhiannon and found myself at home and bored.’
She decided to take up jewellery-making as a hobby, self-taught to start with. Once hooked, she trained as a silversmith. ‘I started making pieces for fun and they were pretty dreadful with lots of wonky loops,’ she says. ‘But like everything, the more you do it the better you get and now people say I make it look easy.’
Jewellery-making has become hugely popular as a craft activity. ‘I also love photography so I started submitting pictures of my work to a readers’ gallery in a specialist magazine. Eventually, the editor gave me a chance and I starting creating step-by-step guides to making them.’
The mother-of-three, who was born in Whitehaven but moved to Cartmel to be closer to her parents in Grange-over-Sands, was so successful she managed to develop her magazine work into a book deal.
‘Jewelry for All Seasons’ (the American spelling is because it’s being published in the USA later this year as well as 14 other countries) combines Linzi’s love of the countryside around Cartmel with photography and jewellery.
‘The idea for the book came to me after several years of taking photographs, cataloguing the changing seasons and capturing the flowers and scenery around me,’ she adds. ‘I am lucky that where I live there is no shortage of natural beauty for inspiration.
‘I wanted to show the progress of the seasons by designing a range of jewellery that reflected the natural world throughout the year, complete with my photographs that influenced them.’
The book has 24 separate projects with step-by-step guides to making the six pieces for each season. It took her two years to complete and it includes representations of spring bluebells, summer daisies, frost-covered berries, and autumnal items such as acorns.
Linzi uses an eclectic mix of materials, anything from American brass to resin, but she has a new project in the offing which will include sapphires and opals. ‘Everything I make is designed by me and is unique – once I’ve made one piece, I tend not to repeat it,’ she adds.
‘More and more people are making their own. For me, it’s a complete obsession, a passion, a way of life and I have a house full of items and materials I plan to repurpose one day – that’s why we are rarely able to see the kitchen table.’
Help is at hand for Linzi and her future husband, Julian Buckmaster – she has just taken possession of a workshop and sales outlet at Yew Tree Barn craft and antique centre in Low Newton, near Cartmel. ‘Having my own studio is a dream come true,’ says Linzi, who also hopes to stage craft classes there.
Jewelry for All Seasons’ is a softback published by GMC Publications, available from bookshops and Amazon, rrp £14.99. You can find out more about Linzi’s work at www.magpieinthesky.co.uk.
Linzi says: ‘I was always accused of being a magpie going for shiny things and a friend said turning it into a business was just pie in the sky.’