I had just returned from a Christmas trip to Cameroon and we all (we are a group of four women I affectionately call ‘Hulme Mummies’) decided to meet up. It was our first catch up since the holidays and we were keen to find out what everyone had been up to. Several hours of chat, food and drink later, my friend, Lien, owner of HairbowsWonderworld, dug out the goodies she had returned with. Amongst them, some PROPER green tea – Of course, I asked for some – and a beautiful red piece of tapestry.
Lien, like me, had returned home keen to find inspiration for her expanding wedding accessories business. Deep in the mountains of Vietnam, far off the beaten path, lie small but enterprising villages known locally for their master weavers and embroiderers and it was during one of her walks through the mountain villages that an old rug being used as a foot mat caught her eye. Beneath the layers of mud and dust, the unusual design and pristine condition of the piece beckoned to her. After convincing the rug’s owner to part with it, the 80-year-old masterpiece received a thorough wash and boarded a flight to Manchester.
I fell in love instantly. I asked Lien if it would be okay for me to take a few pictures and use the design for my jewellery and she said yes. It was late when we got home but for the first time in a long time, I couldn’t wait for morning to put my designs on paper. It took 48 hours to design the first draft of the entire collection which included other Eastern symbols.
Then it was time to choose what materials would be best for showing off the design and the palette to work with. Originally, I wanted gold-plated jewellery but for some reason, it just didn’t feel right. A little research into metals ended with two standing head and shoulder above the rest.
The THAM THEU collection was a celebration of family, love, hope, wealth and longevity. Underlying these emotions and dreams were two very important factors, health and strength, a fitting continuum to the design series.
Copper, with its warm red glow was a perfect vehicle for transmitting the subliminal passion and warmth of the calm, sure love that exists within the bond of family. Added to this, was copper’s antimicrobial properties which meant the wearer wasn’t just connected to the designs and emotions they celebrated and evoked; there was also a very direct link to the ability to remain present and healthy during this celebration.
Stainless steel is one of the strongest metals we know. It’s ability to withstand abuse is unmatched, and in many ways, humans are the same. It never ceases to amaze me, the human capacity for pain and the resilience to come out on top, against all odds. Steel was therefore another excellent choice of material with which to celebrate strength, one of the core philosophies of the collection.
Once the materials had been chosen, it was time to figure out what designs were best suited to each material and get hunting. It took a few weeks of searching and tweaking the designs to make them suitable for production – ideas are not always cost/technique/material friendly – and then it was all done! Three months from start to finish!
What I love best about this collection is that it is as dynamic as the relationships we have. Having all these loose elements means I can continue to play around with the designs and come up with different uses and combinations. A the collection continues to evolve, you will notice some designs being retired and new ones coming in on the website. Probably not this side of Christmas though… And for those who are interested, attached below is a clip from Lien’s visit (made by her cousin) and list of all my designs and what they mean.
So, now you know what was going on in my mind as I designed the collection 🙂
I guess that’s it. Enjoy!
PS: If you do have any questions or requests, do drop me a line. I’d be more than happy to help.
Shop the Current THAM THEU collection here
Check out Lien’s upcoming range here