Category Archives: Literature

Sterling Silver Personalised Initials Bookmark

Sterling Silver Personalised Initials Bookmark

I created this custom bookmark for my client to give as a special gift.

Sterling Silver Personalised Initials Bookmark

What a great present for a book loving person!

Sterling Silver Personalised Initials Bookmark

Sterling Silver Initials Bookmark

Personalised Sterling Silver Initials Bookmark

I created this custom bookmark for my client to give to her daughter’s boyfriend upon their graduation.

Sterling Silver Initials Bookmark

What a great gift for a book loving guy!

Sterling Silver Initials Bookmark

The Daniel Morcombe Foundation – Revisited

Little Red Flowers (photo credit Lily Shih)

Little Red Flowers (photo credit Lily Shih)

The Daniel Morcombe Foundation was established by parents Bruce and Denise Morcombe in 2005 after their son Daniel was abducted and murdered in December 2003 while waiting to catch a bus on the Sunshine Coast. The Foundation was established as a lasting legacy to Daniel and now has two main aims; to educate children on how to stay safe in a physical and online environment and to support young victims of crime.

Daniel Morcombe Foundation Logo

The Foundation’s belief and vision is one that incorporates a future where all children are provided with protection, education and support in their lives. The objectives of the foundation include educating children regarding their personal safety (including abduction); assisting victims of crime, particularly where crime involves children; and honouring the memory of Daniel by appropriate public awareness.

Where is Daniel

I have long been in awe of the strength and courage of Denise and Bruce Morcombe and their family, and was filled with admiration and moved to tears by their book ‘Where is Daniel?’

Red Leaf Czech Glass Sterling Silver Autumn Earrings

I previously supported this worthy cause, and I’m proud to say that this month, I am again donating 10% of The Silver Forge proceeds to the Daniel Morcombe Foundation to help with the marvellous work they do. Pop to The Silver Forge Shop and see if you can help!

Knitting – Dollies

It’s been a while since I posted about the amigurumi knitting I did, so I thought I’d share a bit more of my crafty world with you. Knowing how I like to knit, my lovely London sister sent me a copy of “Knit Your Own Royal Wedding” by Fiona Goble. (This was back in 2011, as a tribute to the wedding of Kate and Will.)

Knit Your Own Royal Wedding - Fiona Goble

I have gorgeous twin nieces, and I thought they might love to have a dolly each with a wardrobe of clothes!

The need for decoration on these tiny clothes saw me feverishly collecting sequins, buttons, ribbons and all manner of other embellishments – I love a good excuse to make a new stash!

Fiona’s book is beautiful, her instructions are clear and concise, and shoes, hats and handbags abound.

Knitted Dollies

I adored creating these girls for my pair of sweeties. Who knows, one day I may just get busy and make them little dolly husbands – and corgis!  🙂

Personalised Sterling Silver Bookmark

I created this bookmark for Gloria – it is a thank you present for the father of a friend of hers.

Sterling Silver Personalised Bookmark

 

What a thoughtful gift!

 

Sterling Silver Personalised Bookmark

Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors

Steve Irwin – a man of passion and integrity, who did his utmost to change the way the world views wildlife. His tireless work for his worthy cause and his legendary enthusiasm have always captured my heart, and the hearts of millions of us all around the world.

Irwin, Terri - Steve and Me

I read ‘Steve and Me’ a while back, written by Steve’s wife Terri; as well as being a great and moving read it further increased my admiration for both Steve and Terri and their wonderful work, and inspired me to do something – however small – to help. Without wildlife, we are nothing, and the conservation of nature is incredibly important.

Wildlife Warriors

Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors are carrying on Steve’s legacy. Wildlife Warriors believe that people, wildlife and habitat should be able to survive and prosper without being detrimental to the existence of each other. Their objectives are:

To protect and enhance the natural environment
To provide information and education to the public and raise awareness of wildlife issues
To undertake biological research
To research, recommend and act in the protection of threatened or endangered species.
To enter into cooperative arrangements with like-minded organisations

Apple Green Czech Glass Tube and Sterling Silver Earrings

I am proud to support Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors this month, by donating 10% of sales from The Silver Forge. Shop up and help save the planet!

 

 

{title photo credit – Guillaume Blanchard}

Barnardos Australia

Dreaming In The Rain (photo credit Aga Farrell)

Dreaming In The Rain (photo credit Aga Farrell)

When I was a child, we used to get books through our school from the Scholastic Book Club – oh, the bliss of choosing books, and their happy arrival some weeks later! (This was obviously the start of what would later become my love of online shopping 🙂 )

The King of the Barbareens

One of the books I chose, and have loved and re-read many times over the years, was ‘The King of the Barbareens’ by Janet Hitchman. It is Janet’s autobiography of her childhood in foster care in the early 1900’s. Towards the end of a childhood in and out of various foster homes, Janet was placed in a Barnardos’ Home. Janet’s story is fascinating and touching – a really good read. Her time at Barnardos always stayed in my mind, and I have chosen Barnardos Australia as The Silver Forge’s worthy cause for this month.

Barnardos Logo

The Barnardos website says: “Dr Barnardo was born in Dublin in 1845 and originally studied medicine in order to become a missionary in China. However, while a student in London he worked part-time in a ‘Ragged School’ and became aware of the poverty and homeless children in that city.

On realising that one of his students, ten year old Jim Jarvis had no family or home Barnardo asked the boy to show him the conditions under which he lived. Jim showed him Stepney Street and Dr Barnardo became aware of the terrible living conditions of these often young children. He estimated that there were 30,000 homeless children living on the streets of the West End.

Barnardo originally opened a mission for the children but was given donations to buy two cottages, which allowed him to establish the ‘East End Juvenile Mission’.

Barnardo abandoned his missionary plans in China in 1870 when MP Samuel Smith offered him one thousand pounds to work with the homeless. Barnardo rented a house at 18 Stepney Causeway and this became his first boys home. The house took 25 boys but many others had to be turned away because of lack of money and space. One of the boys turned away was 11 year old ‘Carrots’ who died of cold and hunger some days after. Barnardo decided that no other child should die this way and declared that “no destitute boy or girl ever be refused admission”.

In 1873 Barnardo married and opened a home for girls at Mossford Lodge. Ten years later Barnardo had 1,000 children in his care. A second Home, Leopold House, was opened in London, followed by Homes in Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds, Newcastle and Liverpool. All Homes were open to children regardless of race or creed.

Barnardo began to foster children out to families and during his lifetime arranged foster care for over 4,000 children. He also worked with children with disabilities. He opened a small hospital in Stepney Street and the Children’s Fold in Ilford. These were followed by Homes in Lancashire and Yorkshire.

Barnardos’ emphasis on education and training led to a search for opportunities in the colonies. In 1882 the first Barnardos boys sailed for Canada. In 1883, a party of eight boys left Barnardo’s Stepney Home to start a new life in Australia.

Lack of suitable supervision during the long voyage delayed the immigration program – but Barnardos maintained contact with Australia by sending a party of ‘Musical Boys’ to tour Australia and New Zealand in 1891-92. Apart from bringing tangible proof of the work of Barnardos, they also raised 10,000 pounds. The money raised from this tour and a subsequent tour in 1902-03 was used to build the Australasian Hospital at the Girls’ Village at Barkingside. Thus, the link between the two nations was forged.”

Dr Barnardo

Today, Barnardos Australia helps to stop child abuse. They find safe homes for abused children and young people, work with families to prevent abuse and use our knowledge to improve the future of disadvantaged Australian children. 10% of all sales from The Silver Forge shop for this month will be donated to Barnardos Australia to help with their valuable work assisting abused and vulnerable children. Do what you can to help!

Sparkly Green Handblown Glass Bubble and Sterling Silver Earrings

Mick Bradley

Vale Mick Bradley, wonderful man and photographer extraordinaire.

Mick Bradley - London - The Monument

London: The Monument (photo Mick Bradley)

I had the pleasure and the honour of knowing Mick as the father of Morgan (my best and dearest friend since we first met in first grade nearly forty years ago) and her beautiful sisters, Elwyn and Dylan. I recall Mick first from those earlier days, a bohemian and sharply witty man who filled the room with his shine; always with a quick quip or a joke, usually with camera in hand, snapping away, capturing those fleeting moments.

Mick Bradley - Canberra, Murrumbidgee 1984

Canberra, Murrumbidgee 1984 (photo Mick Bradley)

I seem to remember I was there the day this picture was taken, down by the Cotter River where Mick was camping. What an enviable ability to live life to the fullest and to just be himself he seemed to have!

London: Kew Gardens (photo Mick Bradley)

London: Kew Gardens (photo Mick Bradley)

Mick was an international photographer of great repute. The Wakefield Press description of a beautiful book Mick co-created, ‘City Streets – Progessive Adelaide 75 years on’ says “His work bridges the gap between documentary and fine art photography. He was born in London, but came to Australia as a boy, and his images tell stories from our lives from the 1970s on. Mick honed his craft as a fine art printer, darkroom operator and photographer working for studios in Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide and London. He has created a niche for himself in the history of South Australian photography, while his work appears in books, exhibitions and collections throughout this country and in North America and the United Kingdom.”

Mick Bradley - Kangaroo Island South Australia

Kangaroo Island, South Australia (photo Mick Bradley)

Mick’s work spans decades and continents; and transcends this ordinary world, as did Mick himself. As my dear Morgan so beautifully and eloquently put it “He remains in the amazing photographs he took, in the trees, land, sky and water – in the music he loved to listen to and play, and in the people who love him.”

A Private Residence, London (photo Mick Bradley)

A Private Residence, London (photo Mick Bradley)

The world is a smaller and sadder place without him. He is remembered with so much love by so many people and he will live on in his work, and in our hearts. I can only aspire to have my life’s work bring such beauty to so many for so long, and I’m sending peace and love to all of his loved ones in my thoughts.

Mick Bradley - Sturt Highway, Australia

Sturt Highway, Australia (photo Mick Bradley)

His passing from this world makes me more aware that today is the day: “Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson).

Vale Mick Bradley – one of the world’s cool guys.

Rural Fire Brigades Association

Bush Fire Silhouette (art by Wendy Sinclair)

Bush Fire Silhouette (art by Wendy Sinclair)

I recently picked up a copy of Ian Mannix’s ‘Great Australian Bushfire Stories’, and I found myself unable to put it down until I had read it cover to cover. The real and moving stories of everyday people’s experiences with bushfire that are contained within it affected me more deeply than any book I’ve read for a long time. In particular, it was a bizzare experience to read about the 2003 Canberra bushfires. I lived in one of the suburbs on the outskirts of Canberra at the time, and vividly remember the blackened skies and billowing smoke, and the preparations I was directed to make to my home in case the fire swung around and headed our way. I was lucky, unlike so many others, but it brought home to me what a dangerous and unpredictable country we live in, and how circumstances can change in an instant, uncontrollable flames spreading (literally) like wildfire, threatening (and taking) lives and property mindlessly. Reading Ian’s book brought a new dimension to the madness and terror that being caught up in a bushfire must be filled with.

Great Australian Bushfire Stories

We are extremely lucky that we have a valiant and heroic team of volunteers, who risk their own lives to protect those of others. Here in Queensland, our rural fire brigades are made up of more than 1,400 volunteer brigades, and more than 34,000 volunteers (both firefighters and support members). The Rural Fire Brigade Association of Queensland also support the 2,600 rural fire wardens who are an integral and highly valued part of the rural fire fighting movement – many of them volunteer firefighters as well.

rfbaq

These volunteers protect their local and wider communities: not only by fighting bushfires, but also attending house fires, assisting with flood preparation and clean up; providing support in cyclone preparation and clean up; and helping the community through hazard reduction burning, and delivering the ‘Prepare, Act, Survive’ message. Brigades work closely with other agencies such as local councils, SES, Department of Main Roads and Forestry and this close working relationship helps local brigades meet local community needs.

i made this for you felt friend

This month, while contemplating which worthy cause I could support, I was fortuitously inspired by my friend from the lovely MadeIt shops ‘i made this for you‘ and ‘..and then some‘, who has had her own experiences with bushfire, and I’m glad to say The Silver Forge will be donating 10% of all sales to the Rural Fire Brigade Association of Queensland. Please help support this worthy cause, either directly or by purchasing something from The Silver Forge shop, won’t you!

Long Red Czech Glass Sterling Silver Sleek Fresh Drop Earrings

Knitting – Amigurumi

Blogging about the knitting we did for the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital recently got me thinking about the many other craft pursuits I have. Yes, long before becoming a silversmith, craft was already in my blood! My mum is a very creative woman, and taught me just about everything I know about most of the various handcrafts I’ve taken up. My granny is a fantastic artist, I have two of her beautiful oil paintings hanging in my home – one of them I keep in my workshop, which always inspires me! My dad loved to play the guitar, as did my uncle; my grandfather was an author, and as I’ve blogged about before, three of my ancestors were blacksmiths, just to mention a few. Lots of creative juices in there!!

Anyway, back to the knitting. Even though I’m left handed, my mum is right handed so that’s how I learned to knit, back when I was six! A few Christmases ago, she gave me the most divine book, Amigurumi Knits, by Hansi Singh.

Amigurumi Knits

Amigurumi is more often seen in crochet, but Hansi has created the most wonderful knitting patterns for all kinds of amigurumi creatures and things – everything from tomatoes and earthworms:

To octopi and deep sea black devil angler fish!

Hansi’s book is really well written, with very clear instructions. I learned so many new techniques from knitting these fabulous creatures, I feel quite competent now! Knitting – satisfying, creative, relaxing, and very Zen. Speaking of creativity running in the family, It is a shame I can’t ask my grandpa about his experience of it. I believe he wasn’t a bad knitter himself!

Customised Sterling Silver Bookmark

Diala contacted me about making a bookmark for her friend’s birthday. She is in the UK, and needed it to arrive before the big day.

Sterling Silver Initial Bookmark for Diala

I was happy to get straight onto it. It went out in the mail today, hopefully in plenty of time!

Sterling Silver Initial Bookmark for Diala

There’s nothing better than a good book – happy reading to everyone, and thanks Diala!

Knitting for a cause – Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital Ethiopia

Silhouetted Tree - Ethiopia

Silhouetted Tree – Ethiopia (photo credit April Lahti)

I don’t quite recall how I came across the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital (on Facebook I think) but the more I read, the more the story of the Hamlins and their fine work touched me. In our western world, we take it for granted that we have access to medical facilities, in particular obstetric facilities should something go not quite right while we are giving birth. (Both my children were delivered by emergency caesarean section, so I know how that can be!)

Hospital By The River

Catherine's Gift

It wasn’t until I read ‘Hospital By The River‘ and ‘Catherine’s Gift’, written about Catherine and Reg Hamlin’s life in Ethiopia, that I started to really understand what life might be like if I had not been able to have those caesareans. For thousands of Ethiopian women, their lives are torn apart when they have difficulty in birthing their babies. First, their baby dies. As if that wasn’t more than anyone should have to bear, as a result of days of labour with the baby pressing down into the pelvis, blood supply is cut off to the walls of the vagina, and tissue dies, resulting in holes that are known as obstetric fistulae. The contents of the bladder and bowel leak uncontrollably through these holes. The woman is usually ostracised by her village because of the leakage and the smell; often her husband leaves her, and sometimes, there is nerve damage to the legs and feet, making walking difficult. Also, from lying still over many weeks in an attempt to stop the leaking, she can suffer atrophy and tightening of the tendons making it impossible to walk.

Catherine Hamlin

Catherine Hamlin and her late husband, Reg, have dedicated their lives to assisting these long-suffering women, not just by providing life-changing surgery to repair the fistulae, but by helping these women to make a dignified return to their lives; and also by providing them with ongoing support to ensure that they are able to give birth safely next time.

Hamlin Shawl Knitting

One of the items that the women are provided with during their stay at the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital is a new shawl. My mother, sister and I are in the process of knitting one to send. Acrylic yarn is required so that the women may wash their shawls in the river and have them dry quickly. Information about sizing, a basic pattern, and when and where to send your blanket can be found here.

I highly recommend you read either the books I mentioned above or have a look at the website to see the story of these wonderful people, and of some of the courageous women who suffer so much and sometimes travel hundreds of miles in order to have the operation which will make them whole again. Donate if you can, knit or crochet if you can. Every little bit helps!

This month, 10% of all Silver Forge sales will be donated to this very worthy cause. Head to The Silver Forge shop now, and see if you can help out, and get yourself something lovely at the same time!

Books, glorious books! And a way to make a difference.

Reading – it’s probably my number one favourite thing to do.  Ever.  Who doesn’t love to curl up on the couch with a cup of tea and a good book? I read morning, noon and night. It’s a miracle that I get anything else done in a day, really!!!

Royal Albert Trio

Anyway, at the moment, I’m devouring reading “Twenty Chickens for a Saddle” by Robyn Scott.  It is a memoir of Robyn’s life as a child, growing up in Botswana, Africa.

Twenty Chickens for a Saddle

As well as many entertaining and amusing anecdotes about her family (swimming in crocodile infested rivers? Being home-schooled in a most unorthodox fashion by their mother? Running an egg selling business, using rescued ‘past their use by date’ battery hens, to fund a new saddle?), Robyn manages to impart – in a way that is completely engaging and without overloading you -a great deal of information about a number of potentially politically touchy subjects, including the AIDS epidemic, and the scary and dangerous beliefs that some of the African people have about HIV.

I haven’t even finished the book yet (plans for that later today!) but I just had to let you know that I was excited enough to tweet about it yesterday, and was surprised and thrilled to receive a tweet from Robyn in reply, letting me know about a great organisation she helped found, Mothers For All.

Mothers For All

Mothers For All are non-profit, supporting women in Botswana and South Africa who care for children orphaned or made vulnerable by HIV and AIDS. Mothers For All has this to say:

Every mother hopes, should something happen to her, someone will be there to both care for and love her children as she did. But in sub-Saharan Africa millions of mothers have little or no means of ensuring this. Of the 15 million children under 18 years who have been orphaned as a result of AIDS worldwide, 12 million live in sub-Saharan Africa.” (figures from 2009).

I think this probably resonates with all of us – I can’t think of anything more awful than not being there for my children, and not knowing that they would be safe and cared for if I were to die. So, what started as a gentle book read has morphed into a worthy cause to support.  Like me, perhaps you could take a few minutes to read the website, and perhaps make a donation or purchase one of the lovely bead pieces, handmade by the mothers of the project.

Mothers For All Necklace Green

Perhaps you could become an activist for Mothers For All, or simply use whatever social media you’re comfortable with to promote this very worthy cause!