Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Human Jewellery

Perhaps this christmas, you may find yourself trying to find a gift for the person who has everything. You will have trawled the net and the streets to find something quirky and unique and just right for them. If this person that you are shopping for also has a taste for the macabre, then I might just have found the perfect gift for you to give them. Both environmentally friendly and one of a kind, jewelry made from human parts could be the answer to your yuletide quest.

An Australian jewellery designer called Polly Van der Glas has come up with a collection of jewellery made from human teeth and hair (sterilised of course). These teeth rings would definitely be a conversation starter if worn on a date or basically anywhere in public.

These hair bracelets are slightly more discrete
and may be a good way to wean people off chewing their hair.

However, the best bit of the collection is this delightful hair purse. Take care not to hold it anywhere in front of your crotch or chin area - it could rather confuse people.
Aren't we all glad that there are people out there
with the time and the inclination to keep pushing style boundaries?

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

How to make Christmas less expensive

Having recently taken in a stray kitten, my spare cash has rather shrunk. For the first time in a while, I have been thinking about why we all feel we have to spend so much money at Christmas.

A while back, I did a post on home-made gifts. Home made gifts can help you to ease your cash flow a little. I also think that it's a good idea to cut out unnecessary gifts. Gift-giving should be limited to close family and your partner; do we really need to be receiving gifts at Christmas from more than about 5 people?? Excessive gift giving is just a way to be more materialistic than we already are and find an excuse to shop.

A good idea is to combine a home made gift with a small bought gift. For instance, why not make use of special offers and get a few books and then give people a book and a home made gift. Another idea is to make your Christmas cards yourself. Buy some coloured card and cut out humorous pictures from old magazines and newspapers. Stick them on the card and add a funny caption.

Food is always a great home made gift to receive. Another good idea is something that I saw in The Guardian today. It sounds crazy but you can "knit" jewellery for the women in your life. You will need to know how to knit (easy to learn, just google it) and then you will need metal wire and some beads.


1. Thread all the beads that you want to use onto your wire. To work out how many beads to use multiply the amount of stitches per row by the length of the bracelet in centimetres (eg if you are doing a six stitch wide, 12cm long bracelet, I'd thread at least 72 beads on).

2. Cast on as many stitches as you think want and knit one row. As you knit the first stitch of the second row, bring one of the beads up to your needles and knit it into the fabric. Repeat for every stitch of the second row.

3. Continue knitting every odd row without beads and every even row with beads - this will ensure all the beads stay on the same side of the bracelet.

4. Once the bracelet or choker is long enough, cast off then fix a jewellery clasp to either end of it.

The end result looks pretty good and would make a great gift for someone.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Roxy Music 'If there's something'

I haven't really got a reason for posting this song other than just to share the magic. Wait until about 2 minutes into it and then the tempo completely changes and it suddenly takes off. I found it through that film 'Flashbacks of a fool'. Not a bad movie. When you listen to this you can sort of see why the girl who was dating Bryan Ferry's son switched over to dating Bryan Ferry himself. A bit of old age is nothing in comparison to being with a musical genius.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Negative Space by Noma Bar

These designs by Noma Bar are incredible and thought-provoking.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Jewellery in Jordan

On a recent trip to Jordan, I decided to us the opportunity to buy a bit of new jewellery. Whenever you go abroad, it's worth having a quick look at the jewellery as in many countries it can be considerably cheaper and different to the jewellery on offer in your hometown.

If you are in Jordan visiting Petra then you will probably have quite a few opportunities to buy jewelry from the local Bedouins. This is worth doing as some of their jewelry is beautiful and unlike what you can perhaps get at home. The jewelry on offer in Petra tends to be made of rocks and glass. Agate is commonly used as well as moonstone and coloured glass. It is likely that the rocks are imported but even so, the jewellery is handmade. I took the opportunity to buy a blue beaded bracelet and a multi-coloured glass necklace from a lovely man just near Shobak castle (not in Petra but on the route to Petra from Amman). It cost me only 5JD (approx 5 euros) for both items. The price was lower than what you would probably pay in Petra itself. No matter if the price they first offer you is something that you are happy with, it is still good to bargain at least 10% off the price. The reason for this is that I genuinely have found that Middle Eastern people respect you more if you don't take the first price and it tends to give you an opportunity to have a chat. Obviously, for some items you will need to really haggle over and I will be writing a post later about how to haggle.

During my trek around the Petra site, I saw a wide range of jewellery ranging from basic beaded necklaces to more ornate cuff bracelets. The beaded jewellery does tend to be quite basic but it's always useful to have and you will be giving your money to people who will appreciate it which is better than buying a string of beads from the high street. The silver cuffs are beautiful and although I did not buy one, I am pretty sure that I could have bought one for about 10JD.

When I returned to the capital city of Jordan, Amman, I really got my jewellery shopping on. King Faisal street contains all the main jewelry stores and is labelled on maps as the location of jewellery market. When buying more expensive jewellery, I definitely recommend doing as much browsing as you can - do not buy from the first shop you go into!

First, I had a good look at all the jewelry on offer and tried to get an idea of the level of quality on offer and the price ranges available. Most of the jewellery in Amman tended to be yellow gold - very yellow gold is not popular in most western european countries because it is not overly flattering to pale skin. However, the very yellow colour shows that is high quality gold and if you can carry it off, it is definitely worth buying. It's vibrant and much cooler than the pale, insipid gold that is normally available. Personally, if I could wear it without looking jaundiced, I would have got lots of it as it was reasonably priced and exotic.

Instead I opted to get a woven bracelet with strands of rose gold, silver and yellow gold. Generally rose gold is flattering to most skin types and is also unusual. After a bit of a chitchat we managed to reach a price we all liked and I walked away with a gem at a good price. The quality could have been better but at the price offered, it was still a bargain and it will definitely bring back memories of Arabia when I wear it.

I then decided to invest in a bit of silver for everyday wear. Silver is not so popular here which makes perfect sense as silver is too bland for the gorgeous brown skin of the locals. Quite a few shops did try to trick me into buying very poor quality jewellery at rather inflated prices. When you are not sure about an item, just say that you want to browse a bit more and compare the product to similar ones in other shops. You won't regret taking your time as there is nothing worse than taking a piece home and finding out it's badly glued and damaged.

I settled on two delicate silver bracelets which, after some intense haggling, I got at a great price. I also picked up two gorgeous pairs of earrings which were of a very good quality and a good price.

Scurrying home with my swag, I felt very happy with my purchases and so will you if you take the time to buy jewellery abroad.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Best music videos ever: Danger! High voltage

The video for this song by Electric Six is brilliant. It's a perfect example of the power of facial expressions. As someone commented, it's always good when a video goes with the song and is original. Too many people opt for the easy option of getting a few 'dancers' to gyrate in skimpy clothes or if it's a female performer then she's usually the one doing the gyrating.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Famous Jewellery Wearers

We've already covered Mr T., an iconic jewellery wearer by most people's standards. Second in this series called "Famous Jewellery Wearers" is going to be Mike D from the Beastie Boys.

The Beastie Boys are hip hop icons, famous for their music, attitudes and look. The look most associated with the Beastie Boys was Mike D's wearing of the Volkswagen emblems. Between 1986 and 1987 owners of Volkswagens suffered from fans of the Beastie Boys stealing their hood emblems. The VW badge became known as a symbol of lawless cool. It became such an issue that Volkswagen began offering free emblems to people who wanted them in order to protect owners of their cars.

As an owner of a VW, I'd prefer if people didn't copy this trend but I do think that it shows that a lot of the time, being a jewellery icon doesn't involve spending a lot of money. It just involves doing something original. Let me know who springs to mind when you think of famous jewellery wearers or jewellery icons.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

In the shadows

A Tokyo born jewellery designer has revealed a revolutionary jewellery idea. The Central St. Martins educated designer has come up with a line of jewellery that projects shadows onto your body. Her collection, called Cinematography , is made of metal mesh. Maiko Takeda drills holes into the metal by hand to creat trompe l'oeil effect.
Maiko Takeda says that the concept of the jewellery is that the shadows themselves become the jewellery. Here are some examples of her work:I certainly think that Takeda has designed something truly original.

Best music videos ever: November Rain

As a bit of light entertainment for you when visiting my blog, I am introducing a series called 'Best music videos ever'. Every now and then I will post a music video that in my opinion is one of the best ever. Feel free to leave a comment on what videos you think should be included.
Today it's a classic - Guns 'n' Roses with November Rain

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Filigree Jewellery in Essaouira

Filigree involves interlacing and soldering strands of gold or silver to create your design. One of the best places to buy filigree jewellery is in the harbour town of Essaouira in Morocco.

Located on Morocco's Atlantic coast, Essaouira is well worth a visit and differs entirely from the bustling metropolis that is Marrakesh. You can get there by flying into Marrakesh and then getting a taxi onto Essaouira. The journey is long but is an adventure in itself and helps to keep Essaouira safe from the hordes. However, try to get a taxi to yourself. My friend and I found ourselves crammed into a taxi and were in fact stopped by the police part way through the journey and had to all have our passports checked.

Essaouira is a walled city lost in time. The streets are still populated by people wearing traditional hooded robes - slightly scary when encountered down a dark alleyway at night. We stayed in a traditional riad run by a French couple. The place was beautifully decorated and incredibly cheap.

Essaouira has a large sweeping beach where Byron is said to have ridden his horses. There is also what looks like the remains of a castle in the sea on the edge of the beach which is said to have inspired Jimi Hendrix to write his song 'Castles made of sand'.

In the sixties, legends such as Frank Zappa and Jimi Hendrix visited the town and took part in local music events. Music is one of the most memorable aspects of Essaouira as it has many shops which sell some of the best North African music you can buy. It also plays host to the Gnaoua World Music Festival. In the forties, Orson Welles filmed 'Othello' in Essaouira - he described his time in Essaouira as "One of the happiest times I've ever known".

You get the picture - Essaouira is a place that is brimming with creativity and soul. The people are gentle and intelligent, they exchange text books with one another. When chatting to a shop owner, he told me that the only thing that he envied about living in England was the standard of education as he loved his life of creating art and hanging out with friends on the beach in Essaouira. Who can blame him! It makes you feel ashamed of all the British people who make no use of their educational opportunities.

If you're buying jewellery, surely it is better to buy something handmade by someone who is part of a place with such a history. Essaouira filigree is delicate and reasonably priced (you will need to haggle). The choice of filigree jewellery in Essaouira is vast! You can also buy leather goods, scarves (if you meet a guy from Mali selling scarves say hi to him from the two english girls who bought so many scarves that he started to get suspicious that we were going to set up a shop), spices, perfumes and wood carvings.
Let me know if you've been to Essaouira or if you're planning to go...

Monday, 19 October 2009

Jenga comes to life

This is the recently unveiled Interlace residential complex in Singapore. It is designed to form a vertical "village" with gardens throughout, including on the roofs.

The Interlace is a revolutionary living concept for Singapore as apartment complexes tend to be of the tall, grey tower style.

I certainly know that I would like to try living in The Interlace.

Revenge served hot

Women can buy their own jewellery but for some women nothing beats being given it.

According to the news, a woman in America went to extraordinary lengths to show her husband the importance of gifts. She was given some jewellery by her common-law husband and, for
whatever reason, he took the jewellery back to the store. In a fit of rage the woman took his goldfish and fried them. By the time the police arrived she had eaten three of them.

Not sure who got punished more here, him or the goldfish. It certainly doesn't seem right to kill them over a few bits of jewellery.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Pity da fool and stay in school

The A team is being remade. Why? If anyone wants to watch the A Team they can just watch the original. I know that good ideas are running out when it comes to movies but seriously, no one could possible remake the A Team well. It was sheer genius and it can never be recreated. When I think of the A Team what springs to mind is B.A. Baracus. The man who defined the A Team.

Mr T was a man who could do jewellery.

This Halloween when you're dressing up how about paying homage to Mr T and dressing like him.

First, you will require a very small waistcoat. It needs to be childsize unless you are stacked like Mr T. I would recommend the one on this page http://www.babybiker.co.uk/category.php?display-category=33 as he usually wore a leather one but a gold one would do perfectly too. Alternatively go topless but make sure you've got the chest rug to suit.

The next most important part of Mr T was the hair. He says he was inspired by a Mandinka warrior - he wanted to be true to his African origins. The hair is a bit tricky. If you're up for it you could actually create his hair by shaving the sides of your hair off. Alternatively, you can get a wig like this http://www.starwarskingdom.com/Mr.-T-Wig-for-ATeam-Mowhawk/M/B001DNJYJQ.htm
It's also a good idea to start growing some facial hair in advance.

For the bottom half of your outfit you should get some army trousers from an army surplus store - look them up in your phone book. Add a large blingin belt. The other option is lycra leggings but you've got to have the bum for it.

The final and most important ingredient is the jewelry. Mr T didn't buy expensive jewelry, he just had a lot of it. I would recommend going to a hardware store and getting a few gold plug chains and a few gold security chains. A few of these would be good http://www.justbeads.co.uk/curb-chain-8x4mm-gold-plated-50cm-p-123.html
You can make the medallions using some cardboard painted gold with glitter on them.

Whatever you do, don't paint yourself brown if you are white. It's offensive and unnecessary. Anyone can channel Mr T, whatever your skin colour.

So there you have it. This year lets all dress as Mr T and pay homage to his brilliance which will never be replaced. As the great man said, "Be somebody...or be somebody's fool!".

Top Five home made gifts

Ok so there's a recession etc etc and we should all be out there making gifts for each other and not spending our money. I don't know about you but I am fed up of being told that if I make gifts or buy from charity shops then I can weather the recession. Normally these lines are said by people who know nothing about financial difficulties or finance in general.

On a different note though you should consider making home made gifts because they are fun, personal and useful for when your cash flow is a bit tight. This top five list only contains items that someone would genuinely enjoy receiving and that someone with basic artistic skills could make. You will have to buy some stuff to do them.

1. Sentimental photo frame.
Yes you will have to buy a photo frame but nowadays with shops like Primark and Ikea that shouldn't cost too much. You will then need to find a friend who has a printer that can print photos or pay out for the print out of a photo. On the plus side though you can spend a few happy hours searching for a particularly touching photo. This gift is guaranteed to be appreciated as it shows thought, love and will bring back happy memories. Alternatively, if you are giving this gift to a friend or sibling, perhaps you should dig out their most embarrassing photo and put it in a nice cheesy frame. Something like this would work:

2. Bead bracelet.
Buy some cheap but attractive beads or recycle some from old jewellery that you no longer wear. Buy some elasticated string (go to a craft store). Arrange the beads on the string in an attractive design. Tie a knot. Put a blob of glue or clear nail varnish on the knot to seal it. Great gift for little girls and big girls - everyone loves jewelry.

3. Fudge
Put it in a nice box with a hand made card.

4. Your time
Offer one night of free babysitting to people who have children. Offer to cook dinner on a night of your friend's choice. If you have a skill in something then offer to give a tutorial in it. It's surprising how many people don't know how to use excel or how to sew. This is a perfect gift to give if you are a student and have no money.

5. Make a hamper
Get a small cardboard box from your local supermarket. Wrap it in attractive paper. Revisit your supermarket and buy lots of things that they would like. They don't have to be expensive. For example you can get them things that only you know they like such as polos, earl grey, coconut body lotion, figs - whatever you want. Hampers are great to receive and can be a gift you enjoy for a long time. Plus hampers are usually very expensive to buy ready-made. Hampers are also a great gift for men.

So that's my top five list. I will be adding more to it soon.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Gorillas in the mist

Jewelry for men is always a hard one. Some love to see a nice forearm accessorized with a bit of bling but many think it’s a bit effete. Well it turns out that in Hollywood someone else has been pondering this dilemma too and they’ve come up with a ‘solution’. I bet you’re expecting it to be some kind of renowned jewelry designer such as H. Stern. Nope. It’s that exceptionally talented designer who has been plying at her trade for decades – yes it’s Jamie-Lynn Sigler. Turns out playing Meadow Soprano gives you an insight into what men want.

Whilst working on the set of Entourage, Jamie-Lynn somehow discovered that what men need is a charm bracelet. Now most people wouldn’t associate charm bracelets with alpha males but apparently that’s who’s buying them. http://themoment.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/20/monkey-business-alpha-male-charm-bracelets/ Yes it does look like a plug chain with a gorilla attached but wait it starts at $500 so it must be worth it – right? I mean if all those alpha males on entourage are loving it then it’s gotta be good. Oh and the fact that it has a gorilla attached is a very subtle way of sending the message – me big man, you little man. Erm… wait there lies the rub. Are there any alpha males on the entourage set? I mean I know these days having a lot of money qualifies you as an alpha male but really…since when did a bunch of immature, actors count as alpha males?? So I propose that yes charm bracelets are great for men. But maybe only for men who are not alpha men.