Kabul in my heart

Kabul in my heart
By Jenny Ekberg
When I say “Kabul”, my four-year-old daughter squeals with excitement. She remembers the exhibition we went to (Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul); the the Grecian-styled statues, the tiles in thousand shades of blue, the buttery high carat gold. I think of a city of war, injustice, poverty and suffering, where patches of brilliant architecture, art and colours shine through dust. I think about people of strength, courage, survival instinct and complexity.

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No, I haven’t been there, I have only watched TV, movies, documentaries, art exhibitions and, above all, met lots of Afghans; all of whom have been amazing in their own right, some tough as nails, some very intellectual and witty, some bound by traditions, some trendy or glamorous, some just incredibly warm and hospitable. They have all made a huge impression on me.

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I made this fine silver heart inspired by the people of Kabul. The architectural outside is crumbling but iridescent, and the inside is coated with that high-carat gold I have only really seen in old Afghan jewellery. It has a hidden compartment containing a piece of Afghan fabric holding incense.

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Material: Fine silver with 22 K gold filling, cloth, incense.
Technique: Metal clay (PMC3), stenciling with slip, liver of sulphur/ammonia patina, cold joined.
Who is it for: Myself, and my daughter Zoƫ when she is older and maybe wants to borrow it.
Kabul picture 5
If you are a jewellery artisan and wants to know more about how I made this necklace, please contact me. I am happy to share all my “secrets”!

Image credits: Afghanistaninphotostumblr.com, National Museum of Afghanistan, Queensland Museum, Wikipedia, James St John, Brisbane.

Fresh off the bench: amethyst cluster dream catcher necklace

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By Jenny Ekberg

Just finished this necklace after tweaking, re-shaping and re-patinating for the millionth time; my version of the obligatory dream catcher necklace. I made it in fine silver using the same techniques as for my Kashgar ring, and with LOTS of effort and help from my husband managed to set this irregular cluster of amethyst crystal tips, as dark as the darkest violets in a springtime forest.

So, here are the facts:
Material? fine silver, amethysts, liver of sulphur patina
Inspiration? architecture in Kashgar, China
How long did it take? About 3 months (note that I can only work at the bench a stolen night here and there)
For who? Myself this time!

It is 00.30 so I better go to sleep. Outside the darkness is like black velvet and the poodles are howling at possums jumping on the roof like drunken ghosts.
Good night!

Kashgar ring

Kashgar ring, made by me
I dream of one day going to Kashgar, hopefully with my family. I made this ring inspired by photos I have seen of the old town in Kashgar; beautiful, unique, colourful, threatened by demolition, but very much alive.

How did I make it? I made the ring from fine silver metal clay (PMC3), using a stenciling technique according to Kelly Russell’s instructions in the book PMC Technic (edited by Tim McCreight). I gave it a vibrant Liver of Sulphur-patina and set a large iridescent freshwater pearl in the centre.

Who did I make it for? My mum, for Christmas.

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Kashgar image sources: MichelCaster.com, ibtimes.com, tripadvisor.com.

Lucky horse shoes

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By Jenny Ekberg
There is something about horse shoes. How can something so rustic feel so magical?
As a child in Sweden, I would watch in awe my practical, earthy grandparents turn silent and supersticial when stumbling over a rusty horse shoe digging in their garden. Inspired by old Central Asian Turkoman silver necklaces, and by jewellery artist Pamela Love (see my post about Pamela here), I suddenly got an urge to make my own spiked horse shoes. These are my first attempts; one in fine silver, one in bronze. Already, they are amongst my most worn pieces of jewellery; they are extremely versatile and do feel a little magical, actually.

Left: bronze horse shoe necklace with varigated silk cord. Right: Fine silver spiky horse shoe necklace, and real old horse shoe from India in my bedroom.
Left: bronze horse shoe necklace with varigated silk cord. Right: Fine silver spiky horse shoe necklace, and real old horse shoe from India in my bedroom.

My Sweet Home Necklace

My fine silver Swedish house necklace, and Swedish autumn flower skeletons.
My fine silver Swedish house necklace, and Swedish autumn flower skeletons.
When I get homesick for Sweden, where I grew up, I always do one of two things. I either make some mulled wine, even if it is almost 40 degrees Celsius outside, or I make a Swedish house necklace.
This one in fine silver is my favourite, it has a chimney and little golden heart on the door and looks a lot like my family’s falu red summer cottage outside the small town of Kalmar in the south of Sweden. No straight angles, wild garden, pear trees full of white fragrant flowers in springtime, surrounded by fog thick like dancing elves in Autumn mornings.

My Great Ocean Road necklace

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I have come to Aireys inlet a few times now, and each time it is like all the stress drains out of my body as soon as I have climbed the hill up to the lighthouse. The view is breathtaking; the blue sky and the blue ocean; all different shades of blue. The fresh smell of seasalt, dry wood and spices. As I inhale the healing air, The Lighthouse Song (one of my absolute favourite Aussie songs, btw!) by Josh Pyke starts to play in my head.

I just had to make a necklace inspired by the colours. I had some ancient African trade beads resembling light bulbs; they are truly unique. The material resembles sea glass that has been polished by the ocean for a very long time, and the subtle irregular swirls look like the ocean bed. The beads have so much history and have been touched by so many hands; they were made in the early 1900s in Bohemia (modern-day Czech Republic) for trade with Mali, where brides would wear them on their wedding day. I bought them from a Malinese lady; she said that she thought they were really old-fashioned, but I absolutely love them. For me, they really capture the essence of the Great Ocean Road.

Up near the lighthouse, we visited the Old Stables cafe; this is my favourite cafe in the whole world, seriously. The atmosphere is casually bohemian, and the chai tea is to die for. They also sell wonderful hand made home decorations, clothes and bags and I always buy something, to have a little piece of the Great Ocean Road in my suitcase when I go back home.

The view from the lighthouse; my husband and kids on the beach, and My Favourite Cafe In The Whole Wide World.
The view from the lighthouse; my husband and kids on the beach, and My Favourite Cafe In The Whole Wide World.