October 14, 2014

wabi sabi, seeds and gold

All summer long, I am transfixed by the beautiful flowers and grasses in the water meadows behind my house, but as autumn rolls by, it is the beautiful patches of woodland and, especially, the increasingly skeletal seedheads along the hedgerows and in the local meadows that catch my eye.

A few years ago,  I chose a photo of a seedhead of giant cowparsley as the logo for my business because I love the delicate umbel shape, the pretty, papery seeds ready to catch a breeze, the fact that the beauty is unrepentently caught up in its impermanence, fragility, simplicity.

This also seems to capture notions of wabi sabi - the Japanese idea that there is value and beauty in the natural, simple, impermanant. This philosophy is becoming more and more central to my life and my work - noticing the exquisite in the ordinary and simple, and embracing natural, organic conduits of inspiration and comfort is very instinctive to me but is also beginning to form an outlook and appreciation for life that feels very truthful and much more 'me' than more current Western pre-occupations with glamour, success, status and competitive perfectionism. In my making, this actually requires real focus and precision because if you are going to make something that celebrates natural textures and organic forms, with all their inherent little imperfections and simplicity, then they need to be very carefully considered to remain visually pleasing and intriguing. This is why design and making will always be a learning process, a honing and gathering together of skills, ideas and vision.

Crucially, there is a stillness at the heart of my understanding of wabi sabi's connection to creativity - and I definitely need this stillness in wild places to take time to really notice the beauty surrounding me, stillness in considering designs, stillness in the quiet, hopefully lovely pieces of jewellery that result. I don't want to make jewellery that shouts, competes, draws attention across a room, I want to create small, nature inspired pieces that speak of stillness, simplicity, beauty. It feels good to write it down, these thoughts have been swirling around my mind for months!

In the last fewe weeks, the small, oval seeds on the giant cowparsley have struck me as really lovely shapes to use in a new collection - so emphemeral and simple, yet because within them they hold the potential to create plants over seven foot high they are also symbolic of regeneration and hope. This aspect of seeds really appeals to me - their small ordinariness combined with their incredible potential and energy. I think seeds, seedheads and husks will be a rich seam of inspiration.

I am making some cowparsley seeds in silver and gold, and we will see how it goes! Autumn, seedheads, wabi sabi and gold - all swimming around in my mind and imagination, it makes sense to me, I hope it makes some sense to you?!


  1. Fabulous photos. I especially like the third one- the little branches fit so well into the cloud puffs. Am I sounding mad? I'm su you know what I mean... hope all's good with you, Ax

  2. It makes perfect sense! A beautiful post, thank you.

  3. Gorgeous photos!
    Love the cow parsley business logo and seeds in silver and gold sound amazing.

  4. I am so pleased you have articulated your philosophy here. It is one I share and I think you are capturing it in your work perfectly. The seedheads are lovely aren't they? I always have a bit of trouble with giant hogweed which we have here. I really don't want it in most places, although there are parts of the garden where it is welcome. If I don't cut down as it sets seed it really does get everywhere but it does have a pleasing structure, without the delicacy of cow parsley but with a very satisfying geometry. Lovely post. Thank you.