Hatpins: “a public menace”?!

No man, however courageous he may be, likes to face a resolute woman with a hatpin in her hand. – Theodore Roosevelt

In the early 20th century, fashion dictated that more was more when it came to hats. Women across the globe were sporting teetering towers of ribbons, flowers and fruit (usually fake), and these concoctions required ever-larger and more decorated hatpins to hold them on the wearer’s head, some as long as 13 inches. Initially dismissive of such ‘vanity’, men of the period were soon forced to take notice of these pretty, bejewelled trinkets…

 

 

Enter: the Hatpin Panic of the 1910s!

With public transport more readily available, and calls for women’s suffrage growing, women, particularly in the USA, began travelling alone more often…and we all know how fun that can be! Shockingly, it turns out sexual harassment in public is hardly a recent trend. Men making unwanted advances on random women in public were known as ‘mashers’, and they started to get a little more than they bargained for once women started using the surprisingly-effective improvised weapons available to them…

The most famous incident which seems to have sparked awareness of this new ‘trend’ was that of Leoti Blaker, a tourist from Kansas visiting New York. Sick of being harassed by the man next to her, she snapped when he put his arm around her, and stabbed her hatpin into the ‘meat’ of his arm! In an interview with the New York World magazine, she said that she was sorry to have hurt the man, that she had been warned about New York ‘mashers’ before her trip, and that ‘if New York women will tolerate mashing, Kansas girls will not!’.

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As ever, society was quick to overreact, despite the vast majority of hatpin self-defence injuries being very minor. Newspapers were filled with letters from men asking if this women’s independence stuff hadn’t gone too far, and how is a poor innocent man supposed to harass a woman on the tram if she’s allowed to defend herself, and don’t women know it’s just boys being boys… Sound familiar?

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The use of this uniquely feminine self-defence weapon sparked the so-called Hatpin Panics or Hatpin Perils across the USA, Europe and the Antipodes, leading to attempts (some successful) to create by-laws forbidding hatpins beyond a certain length.

However, women began making a case of their own, in defence of their right to carry these ‘portable weapons’ for their own safety.

If you replace the word hatpin for ‘pepper spray’ or ‘house keys’, this letter published in the Bennington Evening Banner on 4 March 1910, sent by a Ms May E. Davis, could have been written today:

A hatpin is a woman’s weapon of defence. […]

I always feel safe going home at night with a hatpin available for protection. Before leaving a street car I always carry a hatpin ready in my hand until I am safe within the door of my home. […]

Thousands of other women undoubtedly can speak from their experience of how a stout hatpin has been an effective defence in time of danger. A hatpin is also useful in repelling “mashers”.

The same year, in Chicago, Nan Davis (no relation to the author above as far as I know!) stood in front of the city council to speak in favour of hatpins, declaring,

If the men of Chicago want to take the hatpins away from us, let them make the streets safe. No man has a right to tell me how I shall dress and what I shall wear.

Unfortunately, society once again decided to protect the rights of abusers over their victims, and pleas like those of both Davis’ went unheeded. Women across the world, on the other hand, supported this newfound method of defence, which even got its own music hall song.

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…not to mention forming part of a self-defence instruction article which appeared in the San Francisco Sunday Call in 1904! Source

There was also a more directly political reason for curtailing the use of hatpins: governments in many countries began to grow concerned about suffragettes and suffragists using their hatpins in defence of their cause, banning them altogether in several circumstances. To be fair, this wasn’t out of the bounds of possibility; in 1912, during the Brisbane General Strike, famous Australian suffragette Emma Miller used a hatpin to stab either the leg of Police Commissioner William Cahill, or potentially the leg of his horse. Either way, women wearing ‘illegal’ pins – or any pins at all – began to be banned from parades, public meetings, and other events as a safety precaution.

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Fortunately for ‘mashers’, hatpins went out of fashion in the 1920s… unfortunately for them, women’s anger and desire to protect themselves did not and has not! Although a relatively short period of the 20th century, the hatpin panics of the early 20th century perfectly pinpointed (sorry) the tension between women, who were repositioning themselves in the public sphere, and men, who had occupied that space uninterrupted for centuries.

Edwardian women simply wanted the right to move around in public safely, un-pestered, whilst wearing whatever they liked – a century later, it seems like this is still too much to ask… However, one thing the Hatpin Panic does demonstrate is women’s ability to pull function from fashion and power from powerlessness. If we can, we will defend ourselves, and we’ll look damn cute doing it!

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Seasonal sparkles – your holiday gifting SORTED

It’s dark, it’s cold, and it’s NEARLY CHRISTMAS! Obviously, I am very excited. I’m putting my Christmas tree up this weekend, and anyone who thinks that’s too early can

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Source: Tenor

 

I mean, as an adult who can make my own décor decisions, why WOULDN’T I have a magical, sparkly, light-up tree in my flat for nearly two months each year? The Goblin becomes The Grinch the minute 6th January hits, so I need to get my (sorry, our) tree up as early as I can to wring as much festive feeling out of it as possible.

I’ve also done all my Christmas shopping (I know, I know, I hate me too), so I figured I’d give everyone else a hand with theirs…

Introducing Tiding of Magpies’ first ever gift sets!

That’s right, I’ve put together six sparkling sets in sterling silver, gold fill and rose gold fill to suit different tastes and budgets. With a little help from my extremely patient pal, Sophie, I embarked on a mammoth photography session, and the sets are now available online!

The Classic – £38-40

My most popular hoops, with their hammered discs, are paired with dainty hollow circle necklaces for a complementary but not matchy-matchy set which adds elegance and sparkle to any outfit or style. This set is available in sterling silver, 14ct rose gold fill, and 14ct gold fill.

The Venus set – £38

One for the feminists in your life. Featuring diddy 1cm Venus symbols on both hoops and necklace, this set proves that small things can make a big impression! Plus, £1 from the sale of each set is given to Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid and £1 to Plan International UK, to support their wonderful work with women and girls across the globe. Tidy.

 

 

Moonstone magic – £50

If you really want to treat someone, the beautiful, rainbow moonstone hoop and necklace set is just the thing. Featuring glittering teardrop-shaped moonstones, this 14ct rose gold fill pieces sparkle different colours when the light hits them, giving off a mystical glow.

Angles and spangles – £38

The disc design’s more angular cousin! Sterling silver triangle hoops are paired with a sterling silver chevron necklace, echoing each other’s shapes – perfect for adding a little edge to an everyday outfit… (See what I did there?)

Which set would you be happiest to unwrap on Christmas Day? Let me know in the comments!

Spotlight on: rose quartz

It’s getting dark and autumnal and I love the knitwear-boots-hot-drinks vibe but I’m less keen on the greyness, so today I’m looking at things through rose-tinted glasses – or rather, rose-quartz-tinted glasses…

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Sorry… But really, though, a bit of blush pink crystal is a nice way to brighten up a rainy day, so let’s take a look.

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What even is rose quartz?

  • It’s a type of oxide mineral.
  • It’s the second most abundant mineral in the Earth’s crust.
  • The name ‘quartz’ comes from the German for ‘hard’ (snigger snigger), and the ‘rose’ part is, of course, a reference to its pale pink hue.
  • It’s generally thought that rose quartz’s pink colour is due to trace amounts of titanium, iron, or manganese.
  • The colour is also photosensitive, so don’t leave your rose quartz pieces in direct sunlight for long periods of time if you want them to stay pink!

Myths, legends, and hidden meanings

From Ancient Egypt to modern crystal enthusiasts, rose quartz’s pretty pink colour and association with romance has created mystical ideas aplenty, but Ancient Greek and Roman myths are the most romantic.

The first is that rose quartz was the physical gift of love bestowed upon humans by Cupid/Eros, the Ancient Greek/Roman god of love. Alternatively, another Greek myth told that rose quartz gained its colour from the blood Aphrodite spilt trying to save her one true love, Adonis. Both lovers bled onto the stone, and this was meant to represent true love. Kinda gross, kinda romantic…

Either way, rose quartz has also been said over the years to have the properties of:

  • Resolving arguments
  • Preventing wrinkles
  • Bringing love into loveless situations
  • Signifying that a deal had been completed
  • Fostering compassion

Whether or not you believe in its special qualities, one thing that’s undeniable is rose quartz’s gorgeous blush pink colour, which has made it popular in designs throughout the centuries…

© 2008 GIA
Ancient Egyptian necklace made from rose quartz, emerald & ceramic. Royal Ontario Museum. Image by Robert Weldon.
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Sketch of a rose quartz earring by Charlotte Isabella Newman, 1860s. Image (c) Victoria & Albert Museum.

5 tips for presenting your jewellery collection

So, I may have mentioned that a selection of my work is currently being shown at Birmingham’s RBSA Gallery (once…or twice…a second…all summer…!), and I found it quite difficult to whittle down my designs to a cohesive collection of just 15 pieces.

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When I was choosing what to include, I couldn’t find a huge amount of advice online on how to make the collection hang together whilst showing the best Tiding of Magpies has to offer.

So, here are 5 useful things I learnt about putting together a collection from your body of work:

1) Start with your favourites

These are the pieces you love, the ones you’re proudest of, the first ones you’d show someone if they asked ‘what’s your jewellery like?’. These could be old or new designs, but they should make up around 1/3-1/2 of the collection, depending on how well they fit into the theme of the exhibition.

Here are a few of mine…

 

An exhibition is also an excuse to get creative and show off something brand new, like this beauty I designed for the exhibition, which is probably now my all-time favourite:

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Coming soon to the Tiding of Magpies shop…

2) No ‘throwaway pieces’

I mean, technically speaking, none of your designs should be ‘throwaways’, so let me explain what I mean by that! It’s actually an idea I got from Project Runway (because, of course I did). When the designers show their final collections, Tim Gunn always tells them to get rid of ‘throwaway’ pieces which are just in there to fill space in the collection.

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Source: tenor.com

These pieces can sometimes be a bit less interesting than the rest, or include multiple repeats of ideas that crop up later in the show. What this means in a jewellery context is, consider whether you want to include multiples of the same design in different colours, or popular designs you’re less proud of (we’ve all got them!).

3) Try and have a relatively even spread of jewellery types & price points

Although my overall body of work is largely made up of necklaces and earrings, I made sure my display collection featured three rings as well, to demonstrate the versatility of my designs and create a more pleasing and varied overall display. If your designs skew more to one type of piece, it’s a good idea to try and even up the numbers a bit in a limited-size collection.

It’s also wise to mix it up in terms of price points; galleries might allow for a higher overall price range, but it’s still worth including some pieces on the lower and middle ends of that scale to tempt casual purchasers or gift-hunters (especially at this time of year!).

4) Echo shapes or materials, but not both at once

This one’s fairly self-explanatory, but as an example, I put these two pairs of earrings into my collection:

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The same overall shape signals that they’re part of the same collection, but the different metals, stones, and stone shapes maintain interest and variety.

5) Think about the theme of the exhibition

If it’s your first time exhibiting (or even if it isn’t), jewellery exhibitions usually feature multiple artists, so there will be an overall thematic link rather than the theme being that of your collection alone. You want your collection to stand out in a good way, but to also have a visible link to the theme of the exhibition.

 

The display Tiding of Magpies is currently part of is titled Stellar, and themed around the sparkliness of space. In response, I made sure my collection included some of my designs which feature star shapes, as well as themed stones such as moonstone (duh) & lapis lazuli (which looks like the night sky, with its blue colour and gold flecks).

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Now all you have to do is avoid the inevitable over-thinking and wondering if you put the wrong pieces forward!

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What other aspects of jewellery design would you like to see posts on? Let me know in the comments…

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Sparkly Spaces: Stellar at the RBSA Gallery

If you follow Tiding of Magpies on Instagram you may have seen a few stories about our exciting news, but for anyone who missed it, don’t worry – I’m about to fill you in on all the details!

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This week, an exhibition called Stellar opens at the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists (RBSA) Gallery right here in the Jewellery Quarter, and Tiding of Magpies jewellery is part of it! The exhibition, as the name suggests, has a celestial theme and is focused on all things sparkly – perfect for Tiding of Magpies’ aesthetic… The gallery describes the exhibition like this: 

Inspired by the wonder and mystery of stars and space, this display is unashamedly focused on all things bright, twinkly and sparkly. It features jewellery in precious materials, ceramics with lustrous glazes, and textiles in plush fabrics. Every piece is hand-made by a designer-maker[…]

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The gallery itself is a local gem, which overlooks St Paul’s Square in the heart of the Jewellery Quarter, and hosts regularly-changing exhibitions, events & workshops. Not to mention that entry to the exhibitions is free! There are 3 floors of gorgeous artwork to explore, so make sure you check those out while you’re visiting Stellar

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Source: https://rbsagallery.blog/visit/

It was hard to whittle my 75-ish designs down to just 15 for the display, but I focused on colours and shapes that fitted best with the theme of the exhibition. Moonstones, star shapes, and glittering, deep blue stones such as sapphire, iolite and lapis lazuli take centre stage.

Tiding of Magpies’ fifteen-piece exhibition collection includes new designs, old favourites, and a whole host of colours and stones. Naturally, moonstone and lapis lazuli make several appearances, as well as amethyst, garnet and sapphire, and a range of metal finishes.

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Photo (c) Tiding of Magpies

The exhibition runs until 2nd February 2019, so you’ve got plenty of time to get down to the gallery, check out Stellar, and maybe do a little Christmas shopping or treat yourself to some sparkles! Plus, all gallery purchases come with an exclusive discount code which can be used at the Tiding of Magpies online store until August 2019.

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Cursed jewellery? Jinkies!

I know, I know, it’s been a while. Lots of things have happened but the highlights are lots of illness, a holiday & new projects. It has been A TIME.

Anyhow, this week was the start of the new school term, and you know what that means? It’s also time for the new HOGWARTS school term. If, like me, your letter never arrived, don’t despair – you can still show your house colours and pretend it did.

Ready for the new year, I’ve created a line of barely-there Hogwarts house necklaces, for an oh-so-pretty and dainty nod to your dreams of becoming a wizard that won’t get you stared at on the tram…

 

It was only a matter of time until I made some jewellery inspired by my childhood obsession, and designing these subtle house colours made me think about how much jewellery there is in the Harry Potter series. From Rowena Ravenclaw’s diadem and Hermione’s gold time turner to Marvolo Gaunt’s tasteless ring (nobody giggle) and the horcrux locket, I think it’s safe to assume that the wizarding world is as full of magpies as the muggle one!

Because we all know plenty about these fictional magical trinkets (and because I’ve just discovered the And That’s Why We Drink podcast!), I thought I’d have a little look for some ‘real life’ gems with special powers. Here are three sinister sparklers and the mysteries behind them…

1. The ‘Atlantis Ring’

Supposedly magical jewellery tends to fall into two categories: amulets/talismans and cursed objects. Ring number one on our list is the former.

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Allegedly found in 1860 by the Marquis d’Agrain in the Egyptian Valley of the Kings, this clay ring with its strange markings seemed completely out of place amongst the hieroglyphs and imagery of its surroundings. Long story short, this led to the belief it was from the lost city of Atlantis (because, of course it did). And then it gets weirder…

Source: Wikicommons

Howard Carter, the archaeologist famous for leading the exhibition that found Pharoah Tutankhamun’s tomb, was so interested in this ring’s supposed protective properties (especially against mummies and their curses) that he had a copy made for himself. Years later, he became the only member of his expedition to die of natural causes… Hmmm.

2. The Hope Diamond

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Possibly the most famous cursed gemstone in the world, the Hope Diamond has definitely seen its share of misfortune. Tales of its first owner being ripped apart by wild dogs started the rumour of a curse, although these proved to be false. Perhaps it wasn’t so cursed after all then? Not so fast; after adorning the doomed necks of various members of the French royal family, including Marie Antoinette, it made its way to England and then the USA following the French Revolution. Realising the ‘curse’ could be a selling point, Cartier obtained the diamond and sold it to socialite Evelyn Walsh McLean.

Source: Wikipedia

Not one to be cowed by curses, McLean showed the diamond off at every opportunity. However, bad luck began to plague her and her family. Her children both died, one in a car crash and the other from a drug overdose. Then her husband left her for another woman, bankrupted the family in the process, and eventually died of alcoholism-induced brain atrophy. Yikes. But wait, what about McLean herself? She died the year after her husband, her jewellery being sold to pay the family’s debts.

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It now lives in the Smithsonian Museum, where the worst it does is doom the tourists who view it to the curse of being overcharged in taxis and losing their passports…

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3. The Koh-i-Noor Diamond

In this case, it seems that diamonds really are a girl’s best friend. Or, at least, a boy’s worst enemy!

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This whopping 105.6 carat stone passed through the hands of Delhi sultans, Persian shahs, and Mughal, Afghan & Sikh emperors, before being willed to a temple by its second-to-last owner, Ranjit Singh. Unfortunately, the East India Company had other ideas, and the stone was handed over to Queen Victoria in the Last Treaty of Lahore.

Because Disney’s Aladdin, it hadn’t come out yet, so people didn’t seem to realise that stealing stones from sacred places was a really bad idea

Source: Buzzfeed

After effectively nicking the diamond from the gods, British sailors faced the battle to get it home, coming up against cholera, attack, and gales.

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However, because every previous male owner had lost his throne – and the stone – in unfortunate circumstances, the British royal family did take the ‘sensible’ precaution of making sure that only female royalty wore the stone. So far it’s been in a brooch, a circlet and a tiara, and is currently in the Queen Mum’s crown in the Tower of London.

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Its ‘curse’ was the inspiration for Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone, and it’s featured in an Agatha Christie novel and Assassin’s Creed since then!

 

Would you wear a supposedly cursed piece of jewellery? I don’t believe in curses but I’ve not been keen to risk it since reading Simon Raven’s The Roses of Picardie! Excellent book, but also quite scary… For now I’ll stick to my Ravenclaw necklace! What’s your Hogwarts house – Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw? Let me know in the comments.

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I Can-nock believe it…

As the title suggests, The Goblin and I popped up to Cannock Chase yesterday for a bit of fresh air and greenery. Despite not being hot weather types and nearly melting into a puddle of sunscreen and regret, we managed to have a lovely walk, look at some trees, and scoff down a picnic.

 

The beautiful, saturated colours of the sky and trees and flowers gave me all sorts of design inspiration, especially the pink Veronicas, which are the reason I’m seriously thinking about adding some tourmaline to my next collection. I need more bright pink in my life!

It did make me realise quite how many of my pieces are inspired by the shapes and colours of nature, which at first glance seems a bit counterintuitive from a designer based in Birmingham city centre. I’m not saying the city doesn’t inspire me too, because it definitely does, but nature makes designs spring to mind the fastest. What can I say, you can take the girl out of the countryside…

Fawning over florals

You can’t beat a good floral, so when I did my first capsule collection last Mothers’ Day, I came up with this little geranium pendant. I mean, when better to wear florals than March…?

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Available here

A fool for foliage

From pendants to hoops, I love a foliage motif. There’s just something about the way leaves organically curl together to make interesting shapes and textures that looks so beautiful.

 

Barking mad

I absolutely love texture, and the grooves of tree bark are a jeweller’s dream when recreated on shining silver. One of my most popular designs, my tree bark thumb ring, was actually dreamt up after a trip to The Goblin’s homeland of rural mid-Wales, which is probably one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. I’ve also designed two other bark-based rings, a slim, simple band, and a wavy, lightning-strike design.

 

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Available here

Rock star

Though not the first thing you’d imagine when you think of nature, I do love a good rock. It’s why I use so many rough gemstones in my work – they’re just more interesting shapes!

 

My hammered disc hoops are also inspired by the patterns on rocks that have been hammered by water, the elements, or foot (/paw!) traffic.

 

’nuff nature? Not yet!

And finally, I can’t resist a themed set, which is how my specifically nature-themed set of small gold hoops, featuring a leaf, a shell and a crystal quartz chip, came about…

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Available here

P.S. No, this post was not ghost-written by Eyal from Love Island…I just love green things too!

All images © Tiding of Magpies.