Mind the Gap

Mind the Gap - New mixed metal pieces from Milomade

Before I became a parent I used to work flat out all year round, but would take a few weeks off here and there to travel with my partner. As a parent that had to change, not initially as babies are pretty easy going, but once nursery and school got in the mix, things became very different. I now have to conform to a national timetable and now that I’m into my 6th year of parenthood I am finally getting used to it.

So I took 7 weeks off over the summer!
That sounds like a really long time, but it flew past with these two crazy people in tow…

We had a hectic three weeks of travelling with some really magical moments…

It’s a long time to be away from the bench and from work, but it’s necessary to switch off and get away, even though I never really switch off completely. In the evenings I’m able to reflect on my business, come up with ideas of how to go forward as well as plan ahead for Christmas and next year. I’m always trying to think forward at least 6 months at a time, so even though I wasn’t making, I was planning and organising and keeping my business ticking over mentally.

I’m sure it’ll get easier each year and I’ll find the family/work/life balance more managable so that I’m not not making for such a long period. But one thing that is great about being away from the bench for so long is that once I’m back, I can’t wait to do something new and something totally different.

I have had the idea to create pieces based on type for a very long time, but it’s something that has always been on the back burner. I’ve spent the past few years focusing on my three jewellery collections made from silver spoons and getting those out through trade shows and it’s been all consuming. I feel really comfortable with the way that is ticking over now and so when I sent my son off to school a few weeks ago I got back to my bench and just started on something completely new. I wasn’t entirely sure which direction I was going in and just enjoyed playing about. I decided to avoid silver and reached instead for my copper plumbing pipes.

Mind the Gap - New mixed metal pieces from Milomade

I’ve always loved working with copper and to combine that with my love of typography and words would be heaven. Witnessing my sons acquisition of language over the past few years has been fascinating. He’s now reading as well as writing and drawing, and creating little stories in notebooks is something we love doing together. I happened to have a kids dictionary on my studio floor on the day he went back to school and all of a sudden started forming ideas and words associated with each letter of the alphabet and funnily enough, they were all coastal related. Strange how living on a cliff does funny things to your brain.

So I searched for a font that would lend itself well to metal and decortative stamping and found myself cutting letters out of copper and brass. The blinkers were on and I was on a mission.

The great thing about this time of year is that Central Fife Open Studios happens on the 1st weekend in September and that is a great opportunity to get new work in front of the public and get feedback and hopefully sales too. So I had a deadline to work to, which always helps keep me focused.

So I began by making copper letters and decorating these and trying them out with stands and without stands. They were an instant hit on Facebook and Instagram which really made me happy, as not only was I doing something I loved, but other people were loving it too and that’s just FAB!

Next came a few sketches and the need to start dealing with words, not just letters and so my new collection of Little Stories started forming.

First up was C is for Cloud.

From this prototype made from copper and silver, I realised I needed a bit more contrast and decided with the next one I did to cut the letters out of brass. D is for Dolphin started taking shape…

Skip forward to Open Studios and I had 5 pieces made:

  • A is for Anchor
  • B is for Boat
  • C is for Cloud
  • D is for Dolphin
  • W is for Whale

I also had tons of individual letters – not the entire alphabet but most of it. I got some really amazing feedback from the public. I sold lots of the individual letters and also two of my Little Stories too. I’m currently in the process of adding the products to my online shop. The Little Stories are up, but I’m still to add my Copper Type as for some reason the images won’t download from the camera in my editing software. I’ll figure it out tonight hopefully!

So I’ve made some really big changes in my studio since then. I’ve added an extra area to my jewellery bench so that I have two separate spaces to work at, one for silver work and one for copper/brass work. This is essential as I recycled all my silver dust and I don’t want to contaminte this with copper or brass. So having a separate space will enable me to work on my jewellery independently from my copper/brass pieces. I’m super excited about this as it also opens up the possibility of having a space for teaching which is something I’ve always wanted to do…


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