Inspiration : MeanderWorks {Marilyn Brogan, jeweller}

Marilyn Brogan’s jewellery exudes peace and beauty – her gentle lines put me in mind of clouds drifting by in a bright blue sky. Perhaps it’s a result of the workspace that she has surrounded herself with – a sun-filled rooftop studio with displays of cacti and succulents and other small collections of rocks, shells and tree debris gathered from her daily walks. Maybe too it’s the simple beauty of the handmade, and its presentation on a softly textured backgrounds. Whatever it is, it’s all a beautiful package.

meanderworks - cirrus earrings - patinated silver

meanderworks – cirrus earrings – patinated silver


meanderworks - silver cloud earrrings

meanderworks – silver cloud earrrings


She started her art career amongst the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. First studying at Virginia Commonwealth University in their highly acclaimed sculpture program, she then gained a fellowship as a Core Student at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina, and fell in love with metalworking.

As she says, she “followed a boy across the country to sunny San Diego”, and opened up a shop on Etsy, selling prints of drawings made at their kitchen table. With the vision of a home jewellery studio firmly in her head, over the next year or so she managed to accumulate the equipment and fundamental tools she needed. Pieces of jewellery increasingly made their way onto Etsy and in 2010, she moved her workspace from home to the rooftop studio that was once the piano bar of a historic hotel.


meanderworks - tourmalinated quartz ring

meanderworks – tourmalinated quartz ring


meanderworks - diamond stacking ring set -14k gold

meanderworks – diamond stacking ring set -14k gold


Being responsible to the environment is very important to her, and every piece of jewellery is constructed individually from recycled gold and silver, and from ethically sourced and traceable stones.

It’s obvious she loves what she does; the connection between her as the maker, the things she makes and the people who wear them is one she treasures – “I create each piece from raw materials to ensure that every one is unique, and so customers can share my passion, knowing that they have something made only for them.” And that love permeates through the making process too – “Metal is the best material – it’s so flexible and forgiving… Fine jewelry should be a work of art, not a mass-produced object cast and created by the thousands. That’s why all of my work is shaped, soldered and polished by hand.”


meanderworks - twig earrings - 14K gold

meanderworks – twig earrings – 14K gold


meanderworks - twig post earrings

meanderworks – twig post earrings


meanderworks - twig ring - patinated silver

meanderworks – twig ring – patinated silver


MeanderWorks was one of Etsy’s Featured Shops,  and you can find more of Marilyn’s work in the Etsy shop here.


marilyn in the studio

marilyn in the studio


Inspiring : Whimsy Milieu {craft}

whimsymilieu - intense euphoria

whimsymilieu – intense euphoria


Jacqueline Chan finds inspiration everywhere, from the curiosities of the natural world to delectable French patisserie and everything in between. Wooden rings with painted diamonds, colourful leather concoctions of necklaces with names like “Sweet Success” and “Intense Euphoria”, illustrations of dogs and sharks and pouches with handprinted abstract patterns all find their way into her repertoire. She never stays focused on one medium (“my heart is pulled into many different directions and I love working with different materials”); so it’s really no surprise that she calls her business Whimsy Milieu.


whimsymilieu - wooden diamond rings

whimsymilieu – wooden diamond rings


Working out of her home studio in Orange, NSW, Jacqueline has made it her mission to spread happiness to the world; and what she makes is designed to do just that. Her aim is for you to “surround yourself with whimsical things that make you happy.” Producing work that achieves this goal makes her happy too.


“I love it that this job of spreading happiness doesn’t feel like work at all, as I wake up every day to do what I love and fall asleep at night thinking about more ideas for my business.”


Materials and process are a joy for her, even more than the designing. “What I love most about making is the process. Although I always feel intimidated before I start, when I actually do start, it is just exhilarating. It’s also enlightening when I make mistakes but work out how to overcome them.”


whimsymilieu - sweet success

whimsymilieu – sweet success


whimsymilieu - blockprinted pouch

whimsymilieu – blockprinted pouch


For someone who is as consistently inventive across wildly differing mediums as Jacqueline, it is surprising to realise that her life has gone in a big circular loop. She grew up in a very creative household in her home country of Malaysia, always drawing and crafting. “I remember making cards with my mother to sell at the school fair, and also representing my school in many art competitions.”



But life shifted, and “somehow, I ended up studying engineering at university and eventually became an engineer.”


However, you can’t suppress your true self forever. “The urge to lead a creative life started bugging me incessantly and I went back to university and obtained a degree in design. It has certainly enabled me to look at the world with new eyes.” During their studies, her and her friends started making things to sell, and it was this small taster that fuelled Jacqueline’s dreams to start her own business. Whimsy Milieu became a reality in 2012.


whimsymilieu - blockprinted pouch

whimsymilieu – blockprinted pouch


whimsymilieu - amazingly awesome

whimsymilieu – amazingly awesome


“I have learnt a lot through this journey – not only in terms of creativity and business, but also about life and relationships. It is such a blessing that doing something I love also enables me to live a more meaningful life and to spend more time with my loved ones, wherever they may be in the world.

“However, one of the most important things that I learnt is not to compare myself with other designers/artisans – we are all different and we satisfy different needs of all our lovely customers. I am very happy to create things that make people happy, and I also hope to prompt awareness of living a more creative and meaningful life.”

You can find more of Jacqueline’s creativity in her Etsy shop, WhimsyMilieu, and on her own website.


whimsymilieu - snowy mountain wooden rings

whimsymilieu – snowy mountain wooden rings


Music + pictures 5 : Kooks

Music + pictures {or even more simply, “music pictures”} is a collection of beautiful from around the interwebs while I’m on holidays for January – at the beach, camping, with my family.

Have a fab New Year, and I’ll be back on the 1st February.
{p.s. I’ve just joined Instagram, so if you’d like to find out a bit more about me and where I live (and holiday!), I’d love for you to come and join me. I’m at tractorgirlmakes.}


The Kooks aren’t kooky. They do write a damn good song. This song of love and trust comes with handclaps and a choir, and sure is a toe-tapper and I love it.

But be warned, the clip has graphic nudity and a substantial amount of graphic violence.  So if you prefer, simply listen to it via Soundcloud.






deer - mazurek - unknown source

deer – mazurek {unknown source}



rudee tancharoen - necklace -

rudee tancharoen – necklace –

{via here}


yuko nishimura - folded paper -

yuko nishimura – folded paper –

 {via here}


the sea - unknown source via pinterest

the sea – unknown source via pinterest



seed capsules - christine jaschek -

seed capsules – christine jaschek via flickr

{via here}

Inspiring : Doll Disaster Design

Doll Disaster Design : Jewellery

Tessa Rickard collects antique, broken doll parts and heads, and is incessantly drawn to all the strange objects that time has forgotten about. It was what prompted her business name; her Masters thesis was called “From The Mind Of A Doll Disaster”.

Her work – part jewellery, part sculpture – is endlessly intriguing. Sometimes provocative, sometimes humorous, always colourful and strange. Ghostly horses emerge from fields of grass, glass eyes peer out from flower buds and bronze snails feast on plastic roses.


doll disaster design - forest stag necklace

doll disaster design – forest stag necklace


doll disaster design - albino rabbit ring

doll disaster design – albino rabbit ring


Creepy perhaps, but Tessa is adamant. “I make what I like. I love found objects and folk lore. I get ideas from personal experiences, thoughts, folk stories, myths, and nature, and I love finding beauty in oddities and cast-offs of nature.”

She is also interested in ideas of what is valued in our society. In one group of work she explores the notion of how much our society spends on looking after our teeth; she states “Teeth are like personal jewellery.” The pieces feature false teeth, and precious stones are set into the spaces where the real teeth are missing. And there’s another personal oddity that just adds to the intrigue: “I still have two baby teeth…. never had permanent ones to come in those spots. Maybe that is why I love using teeth in my work.”


doll disaster design - brain like a sponge necklace

doll disaster design – brain like a sponge necklace


doll disaster design - eye pod ring

doll disaster design – eye pod ring


tessa rickard - grandfathers teeth

tessa rickard – grandfathers teeth.
{I have never had these pieces in a show. I would love to do that! I could not sell them… two of the necklaces are made with my grandfather’s fake teeth that he never wore and no one wanted them, but me!}


Casting is her favourite technique, although with such an eclectic range of materials to work with her skills need to be very diverse. Plastics, fake grass, shells, metal; materials are chosen for their appearance and the details of assembly are figured out as she works.

She describes her studio as a mess. “But I love it that way! If I could I would have everything out so I can see it all. My husband can’t even look at my desks because it makes him crazy. Most of the time I get so many ideas I start laying everything out and end up working on my lap. The only thing is I wish I had better lighting; but it works for now. It is my space and I go there to escape and create.”


doll disaster design - ghost horse diorama brooch

doll disaster design – ghost horse diorama brooch


She started selling her work on Etsy in 2007, when many of the local jewellery galleries in Michigan closed. It really sparked a new direction for her. “I struggled for years with galleries, and shows trying to sell my work. But I always stayed true to myself and what I wanted to make. I found Etsy and I now know there are people out there to appreciate me and my pieces.” It’s her biggest piece of advice to anyone who is starting out.


“Keep making what you love and want to make. The world is a big place, someone out there will love it!”


doll disaster design - level me up earrings

doll disaster design – level me up earrings


doll disaster design - seek and find curiosity ring

doll disaster design – seek and find curiosity ring


Drawing, painting and making things came naturally to her from an early age. “My mother told me that she couldn’t keep enough paper in the house for me as a child. I remember being happy when I would draw or make something, and that is still how I feel today.

Metal has long held a fascination for her too. “When I was little I would go with my dad when he would use the metal detector and to dig in old dump sites. After he would dig up an old coin or piece of jewelry, I would remember thinking how interesting it was that it was still there after being buried for so long. We would find old, broken bisque dolls and other metal objects too. Working in metal to me means a more permanent or indestructible piece of art. I love the thought of someone someday digging up one of my pieces!”


tessa rickard - part of her collections

tessa rickard – part of her collections


Tessa currently runs her own studio and has been teaching jewellery at college for 17 years. “I guess it would be in high school that I decided to be a “real” artist, but in college I figured out how hard it was going to be to make a living being just an artist, so I decided to also teach art.” She has a BFA in drawing and a Masters degree in Metalsmithing/Jewelry. Her experience in casting and mechanics came when she worked for an artist on his project for three years making working stock tickers, and then working for her graduate school professor making his wax models and gates.

Her work has been published in nine art books, including six in the Lark 500 series. A metal purse that she made is now part of the collection in the Tassen Museum in Amsterdam.

You can find more of Tessa’s work in her Etsy shop, DollDisasterDesign.


tessa rickard - studio

tessa rickard – studio


Oh, and she can totally relate to being a tractorgirl. “I grew up on a grain farm in southern Indiana US. All my dad owned was John Deere tractors! I know how to drive them too.”


The crafted object : Quality ~ it’s in the details

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe famously said “God is in the details.”

Quality is being purposeful and attentive to all those little things that many of us rush over, and is the reward for those of us who choose to heed we see.


Rebecca Hannon - 'cobblestone' brooch - front and back {via}

Rebecca Hannon – ‘cobblestone’ brooch – front and back


 It’s in the interiors and undersides of objects.



yumiko higuchi {via}

yumiko higuchi


 It’s present in immense skill and precision.



thyme tealight - {}

thyme tealight – {}


 It’s in the understanding of materials, and how they look when the light catches them.



Molly Hatch  cups {via}

Molly Hatch cups



yumi okita -

yumi okita – cross’s wave moth



And NONE of it is made by casual fiddlers or doodlers.


Build your vision, build your skills by years of long, hard work; 

and one day quality will appear, as if by magic.