Uncategorized Category

A Day in the Life of This Goldsmith

Written by : Posted on September 28, 2010 : 1 Comment
goldsmith, workbench

My Jewellery Workbench (Photo: Kiff Backhouse)

Yesterday

Yesterday I finished working on a sizeable project.  Here’s my workbench … including a plate of Marmite on toast with grilled cheese, brought to me by my husband. He’s a good man.

This Morning

Whilst talking to the cleaner** this morning, she and I arrived at the conclusion that, much as I love what I do, I needed a break and a change of scene. Of course, she was right, but there was more work to do, and I needed to go shopping, too.

“It’s a beautiful, sunny day in southern France and your project is finished. Why not combine the shopping trip with a lunch out in Narbonne?” said the cleaner. She comes up with some fabulous ideas, you know.

Midday

So, today I had a sensational salad lunch at Le Bistrot. Goat’s cheese wrapped in bacon served on slices of toasted baguette, smothered in onion confit. All this amidst a mound of lettuce, a fan of sliced apple, black olives, walnuts, tomatoes, cucumber and prettily chiselled pieces of carrot. There I sat, a stone’s throw from the Canal de la Robine, lapping up the sunshine, eating this heavenly dish.

I also managed to splatter an olive oil dressing over myself, my handbag, the bench and the wall. A little too much vigour in trying to get the balsamicky-mustard sludge in the bottom of the bottle to mix in with the olive oil! Still, I think the episode went unnoticed. Er, maybe I shouldn’t have told you that part…

Afternoon

A gentle stroll back to the car and then shopping. Much better to shop when not hungry, too.

Here and Now

Reflecting on how lovely it’s been doing something different today. “Doing Lunch” every day isn’t an option, it’s an occasional treat. I relish the flexibility of being able to choose what I do, when and where.

** I am also my own cleaner.

Captivating and Curvy Change

Written by : Posted on September 24, 2010 : 1 Comment
Curvy change, Life's a Journey

A curvy path on the journey of life...

Just for a Change

Every so often, I sit before the piano and play; it’s a rarity, these days. This evening, just for a change, I played Perpetual Motion by Strauss. My husband, Chris, goes into stealth mode on these occasions in the hope that I’ll continue uninterrupted. He loves it when I play, even when I practise. The title, Perpetual Motion, struck a chord with me.

I savour change. Change plays a major role in my life. Some changes are more significant than others, but there is always some sort of change going on. You could say it’s a perpetual thing. It’s become a bit of a joke that, if Chris goes away for a night or two, he’ll take a last glance at the living room in the knowledge that it’ll probably look different when he returns. It’ll still be home, but with a degree of rearrangement or change. I like to keep him on his toes.

Change is Curvy … and Captivating

Through acting on a decision to change, I am here in my life. Living where I live, with the man (and dogs) that I live with, spending my days creating in my jewellery workshop.

Did I get to this particular place in one straight forward, big step? No.

Did I arrive at this juncture by following a direct route? Er, nope.

Did I always have it in mind that I’d end up where I am right now? No.

Is that it now? Have a got where I’m going? Certainly not!

The Deliciousness of Change

The way I see it, once you’ve chosen to change even a tiny bit of your life, and acted on that decision, futher change is both inevitable and delicious. As a result of making that one change, you discover something new which inspires further change; something that taking that first step showed you.

The unfolding of the change, and all that it brings, is delicious. It’s what makes life an adventure.

These Boots Were Made for Walking

Written by : Posted on September 22, 2010 : 7 Comments
Walking Boots, Elegant Boots

These Boots were made for Walking

Low Maintenance

I love shoes. I especially love boots. I have approximately, mumble, pairs of boots. Not just walking boots either, all sorts of boots.

Well, when I say “all sorts of boots” that’s not quite true. They all, pretty much, come under the heading of Everyday All Terrain boots. Whilst you’re not necessarily going to find that term in a drop-down box of styles on an on-line boot store, I hope you can imagine what I’m talking about.

My husband agrees, without coercion I might add, that I’m a low-maintenance woman. The only time he really gets nervous about me spending is when I’m shopping for gemstones. Thankfully, on these occasions, I can reassure him. Without enough, or the right, gemstones, how can I possibly create beautiful compass jewellery?! Et voilà, problem solved.

Fit For Purpose

So, back to my boots. The common thread is that, whichever pair of boots I wear, I’m prepared for almost any eventuality. As Nancy Sinatra put it so eloquently, “These boots were made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do”.

If I need to walk the last mile of the road to drop the dogs off at boarding kennels in blizzard conditions because it’s more than the car can handle? I’m ready. By the way, that did happen!

If we decide to eat at a restaurant one evening and an element of style is required? I’m ready.

If we’re going through the vineyards for a sunset ride on the motorbike? I’m ready.

Style, Elegance and Practicality

Life is an adventure and I prefer being ready for it with a charming mix of style, elegance and practicality.  This is also what I have in mind when designing my compass jewellery.

Are you ready, boots? Start walking!

Turquoise Talisman for Change

Written by : Posted on September 17, 2010 : 2 Comments
Gold Compass Pendant, Turquoise Compass Pendant

9ct Gold Compass Pendant with Turquoise (Photo by: Kiff Backhouse) Turquoise: A Talisman in Times of Change

Change; a bit about what it might mean

Change can involve moving from one place to another. Change can mean swapping one thing for another. Change can mean replacing something that doesn’t work with something that does.

A change in direction.

Change; a personal note

You are an individual. The nature, significance and magnitude of your change is unique and personal to you.

Maybe there’s something in your life that you would quite like to change. Maybe there’s an aspect of your life that really needs to change urgently, pressing for your attention right now. Maybe it feels as if change is looming and unavoidable.

Often, a very small change can make a huge difference. A change that you might think is imperceptible to the outside world can actually be very noticeable. What I mean is, if you change something in your life for the better, your sparkle will be that little bit brighter than before.

Change and Choice

Change is an option for everyone. Whether it’s something teeny or humungous, it’s still change.  Even the smallest of changes can lead to adventure.

Me? Well, today I’ve decided to wear make-up in my jewellery workshop. Yes, I’m alone in there but it makes me feel extra fabulous! And feeling extra fabulous whilst creating compass jewellery has got to be good.

Do share your ideas for small changes that spring to mind …

Reaping the Rewards of Adventure

Written by : Posted on September 16, 2010 : Comments Off on Reaping the Rewards of Adventure
Vineyards in the Languedoc, grapes

Harvest Time in the Languedoc (Photo: Kiff Backhouse)

The Harvest has Begun

The results of all the hard work and effort tending the vineyards are now being rewarded. Crops of grapes are being gathered in by the vignerons.

Tractors rumble past my jewellery workshop window pulling trailers laden to the brim with grapes; the glass panes rattle to the rhythm in their window frames. I’ve begun to renovate the windows in our home, but the one in the workshop awaits my attention. Each involves taking the window out, smashing out the ultra thin glass and stripping paint from a delicately moulded frame. Then comes sanding, with patience, to a smooth finish before fixing in the new panes. Only slightly thicker glass than the originals, but an improvement. Finally, several coats of a mix of oils to seal and preserve the wood.

With an appreciation for the original character of the house, we’re renovating slowly and in harmony with our own progress in this new life. Really, why rush? Yes, there are some aspects that have needed urgent attention; the sieve of a roof, for example, just couldn’t wait.  However, we’re enjoying the journey and doing what makes sense in terms of resources available.

The Harvest from my Adventure

Choosing to change my profession and to live in France has been an adventure. And then some. I never imagined that I would have the life I have now, but I’m delighted that I do!

The transition from a handful of dreams and ideas to this whole new life has taken hard work and effort. Just like the crops, it doesn’t happen overnight; it takes time.  But here we are, living it.  The ups and downs of the journey continue to make it an adventure and provide fertile soil for learning.

Your Adventure, Your Harvest

As with any great adventure, whatever it may be, it starts with the first step and goes on from there. What would the trailer be laden with in your adventure?

Escape and Escapades

Written by : Posted on September 14, 2010 : 6 Comments

Gold Compass Pendant, silver compass pendant, tsavorite garnet

Silver and 18ct Gold Compass Pendant with twinkling Tsavorite Garnet (Photo: Kiff Backhouse)

Change

Apparently, a change is as good as a rest. Speaking as someone who doesn’t really “do” relaxing in a big way, this proverb suits me well.

We all need a rest from the stressful bits of life. But when life overall is stressy, the idea of any rest or change, can seem impossible; that there’s just not enough room.

Escape

There are some great resources to help deal with stress. Whichever option you choose, it will definitely involve change. The change, whatever it is, can be a form of escape from the norm. Better still, it can blossom abundantly into an escapade. In fact, that’s precisely how it was for me. I changed pretty much everything about my life.  It was, and continues to be, an escapade. Fabulous.

Equilibrium

Being a goldsmith, I have my jewellery workshop to escape to. A place where I lose track of time through applying myself to some creation using the skills that, a goodly while ago, became second nature. As with any business, however, there are also the less favourite aspects that need attention. The bookwork and record keeping, the marketing; you know the sort of thing. Sometimes, there is so much work to be done that it’s difficult to know what to focus on, what to do first. However, my workshop is always there; a place where the equilibrium can be restored, my mind calmed. A change is as good as a rest there, for sure.

Escapade

Like it or not, we are each of us individuals. With this in mind, the right change for you is very likely to differ from what works for me. Your own personal escapade. Exciting stuff.

Whatever direction you’re heading in, the nature, magnitude and significance of the change is truly unique and personal to you. There are no rules, just choices.

Enjoy your escapade!

Are You Ready for Adventure?

Written by : Posted on September 7, 2010 : 2 Comments
Let's see where this goes

An adventure in Caune Minervois: Let's see where this path goes!

I like to interpret the word adventure as a fun and exciting opportunity to live a great life. Yes, there’s often some risk and danger thrown in, and it’s this fabulous mix that makes it an adventure. I’ve chosen to live a life of adventure.

What does the word adventure mean to You?

What I mean is, if you close your eyes and say to yourself “I’m setting out on an adventure”, what sorts of things come to mind?

How prepared are you for your own adventure?  What would you take with you?

What is it about the adventure that appeals to you?

In what ways would an adventure be different from your everyday life?

Adventure and Opportunity

We had a storm last night. The rain pelted down noisily, soaking the bone dry earth and rinsing away months of dustiness. Sitting on the back doorstep this morning, with the rain still pattering down gently, left me feeling poised for whatever adventure comes my way today. As I crouched down on the step, our two dogs nuzzled against me, with their ears back and tails wagging gently. Almost as if they felt a sort of readiness and excitement, too.

Whilst today’s adventure might not involve moving to live in another country (eek!), it can still be adventurous. Yes indeed. In fact, tackling a challenging stone-setting task in one of my gold compass pendant creations is going to be the first adventure of the day!

Your Adventure.  Your Direction.

Whatever your direction over the next day, month or year, and however you’re planning to achieve your goals, I hope yours is a great adventure and would love to hear about it.

Celebrating Change

Written by : Posted on August 26, 2010 : 2 Comments
Star Sapphire Compass

Your Own Personal Direction (Photo: Kiff Backhouse)

I am a goldsmith and I specialise in making unique compass jewellery.  Having changed my own life in many ways, I relish where I am right now.  I’m also inspired by the idea that, sometimes, others will see my compasses in the light of their own personal changes and adventures.

My clients are from all over the world and I feel privileged to discover their reasons for choosing a compass. Sometimes, it’s a snippet about the intended wearer. Often, it’s the occasion the compass is proposed to celebrate. Its destiny in terms of future travels, is another. I’ve also heard some sensational stories about how the compass will be presented to its new owner. There are some incredibly inventive individuals out there.

Bound into each compass, is my hope to inspire individuals to choose their direction. My commitment to each one being unique is a significant part of that. That they are of exceptional quality, is essential.

Something I have noticed, however, is that many of my clients choose a compass for someone else. A big birthday, a Christening, a wedding gift, a get well wish. Kind and thoughtful individuals giving others a gift of inspiration, hope and happiness.

Now and then, someone chooses one for themselves. I don’t get to hear so much of a story from these people; just that they love it, or that it’s perfect and just what they were looking for. I like to think their choice is a bound into the beginning of some new, personal adventure.  Perhaps a commitment to their chosen direction.

A unique way to celebrate a change for the better.

Redirection of Attention

Written by : Posted on August 24, 2010 : 5 Comments
Goldsmith's Workshop

The Workshoppy Smell of Oil (Photo: Kiff Backhouse)

Life is Pretty Damn Good

There is a great deal that I like about my life. For example, I have a kind and considerate husband, a comfortable home, a fascinating job and some fabulous friends. There’s more, much more, but that’s just to give you an idea.

Sometimes Life is Less Good

In spite of all this, however, there are still less good times and occasions when I worry. This is because, wait for it, I am completely normal. Often, whatever is on my mind can be dealt with by going out for a good walk or bike ride. Sometimes, it takes a little more.

Other Times Life is Crap

A long time ago, I turned up at a friend’s garage workshop, in tears. Life was not going according to plan and the whole going-for-a-walk approach just wasn’t going to work. Instead of offering me a tub of ice-cream and a lengthy commiseration session, they got me to change a wheel on my LandRover. For me, that was perfect.

Growing up, I spent many hours working on old LandRovers so the workshoppy smell of oil was fabulously familiar. Immersed in the job of changing the wheel, together with the exertion (those wheels are pretty heavy, I can tell you), made a great way to take my mind off things. It helped me get some perspective and see which direction I needed to take.

Keeping the Crap in Perspective

Now, whilst I realise that changing a wheel might not be your bag, I do believe that redirecting our attention to something positive can be a fantastic start point for getting things properly into perspective. Instead of dwelling on what’s not working, engaging in something we enjoy can be a great way to starve the problem of the fuel it needs to fester. For me, shifting the emphasis towards the positive, brings about a balance.

Sometimes life is crap, but it’s where we choose to direct our attention that counts, don’t you think?

The Meaning of Maintenance

Written by : Posted on August 15, 2010 : 2 Comments

Oiling the Pendant Drill (Photo by Kiff Backhouse)

The tools in my jewellery workshop have been designed to last for years. However, to ensure their optimum performance requires some regular maintenance.

In the same way, good health means looking after both the mind and body. I know this. It’s obvious and makes perfect sense. However, I do often find myself tending to the needs of my workshop more than my own. I don’t think I’m alone in being this way … am I?

My weeks and weekends are not so separate as they used to be, the distinction between work and play is blurry. That’s a good thing, right? I enjoy being in my workshop, creating. Each of my creations is unique so, far from being boring and repetitive, my work is absorbing. Seems a bit weird even calling it work.

However, what I do notice is that when I change my environment, even for a short break, then my mind is much more receptive to new ideas. The ideas about what I can create next and how I can overcome some fabrication challenge the seem to flow towards me. Yes, but what about not thinking about the workshop?

OK, so I’m not good at the sitting very still and doing nothing approach to relaxation. I prefer go out on my bike for a long ride, take in the scenery, enjoy the wind in my hair and and get a view of villages that you miss if you’re in a car. Heading to the beach on a sunny but blustery day and walking for miles along the water’s edge is also entirely wonderful. To me, this is an excellent bit of personal maintenance. Returning from one of these journeys leaves me feeling revitalised.

What’s your favourite way to take care of yourself?