Friday, 20 March 2015

Northern lights and Australian delights

Just when I think I cant handle another rainy day, grey sky, or windy night, island life throws me something wonderful and I remember why i'm here, and why I love my job.

After weeks of steady rain and dark skies, I had really started to feel disheartened by island life and self employment. Finding the motivation to get stuck into studio time, or to go out for fresh air in the harsh weather has been a hard challenge this winter, but some sunshine and a few surprises has lifted my spirits and reminded me how lucky I am to live and work on this wild Isle.

On Tuesday this week I stepped out of our front door to have a look at the starry sky, and to my amazement I saw the Northern lights dancing above my head. The night was spectacularly clear, with a strong green glow, and pulsing flashing beams of light darted across the sky. We climbed through the woods and onto the hill here at Calgary and watched the aurora, beaming with big smiles. I have never seen anything like this magical sight. We tried our cameras but couldn't capture the lights, so gave up quickly on photographs - in a way i'm glad, it meant we weren't distracted by screens and were able to watch and hold the stunning sight in our minds. For photos of the lights at Treshnish, just round the corner from Calgary, have a look at this great blog written by our neighbour:

The next morning I headed over to Oban, on a gloriously hazy sunny day, where I picked up a parcel waiting for me, that had come all the way from Byron bay, Australia. Through instagram, I met Margeaux, of Willowynn. Margeaux lives in Australia and makes beautiful sewn animals, dolls and soft sculpture. We don't know each other, but we arranged to swap some of our work and some treasures from our sides of the world. Margeaux had seen some of my work and thought they would make wonderful little crowns for her dolls, so I sent her a collection of tiny copper crowns, some hand dyed fabric, ribbons, and some tiny cowry shells and coral from the local beaches. In return, Margeaux sent me a beautiful handmade bunny, a hand sewn and embroidered purse, a beautiful little star that now hangs above my workbench, a badge, a button, and an incredible banksia seed pod from her own garden!

These treasures from across the world brightened up my day, and it was great to work on a different little project and connect with another maker all the way across the seas.

Have a look at Margeaux's beautiful work here:

......and look out for my little copper crowns!

So for now I am ready again to embrace island life, and throw myself back into work - making new work for my gallery, and working on little exciting projects like this one.

Thanks for reading!

Maike x

Monday, 1 December 2014

A photo shoot...

It is unusual for me to work in my studio with anyone but myself for company, but a few weeks ago I welcomed the wonderful photographer Sarah Darling into my little space. Sarah came to photograph me for a new project she is working on, featuring makers around the island.

Sarah spent a long morning with me in my studio, chatting about my work as a jeweller, and hers as a photographer. I cut, filed, drilled and soldered, while she thoughtfully photographed my process, capturing shots of me around my studio.

I was pretty nervous to have somebody in my space - which is so personal and important to me - but Sarah made me feel completely at ease, and it was easy to get on with my work as normal, but with the bonus of somebody nice to talk to!

I chose to spend the morning working on one project - a silver Sol chain bracelet for my mums birthday, I usually work on multiples of pieces, or several different things at once, but it was nice to concentrate on one special piece for the morning. If you're reading mum, you can now see the process behind your present!

Here are a few of my favorite shots from the day. I wore my old favourite Kali Earrings, Sol Bangle and stacking Sol rings.

At the bench, in my homemade, cross back apron.

Saw piercing some tiny silver pieces

Using a sharp scribe to mark a pattern onto the metal - ready to drill and pierce out.

Using emery paper to clean up each tiny piece of silver.

For more of Sarahs photos have a look here:

Thanks for reading! Keep an eye out on my online shop this week for new products and a december discount...

Maike x

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Its been a year!

Its hard to believe that a year ago today we moved all the way out here to Calgary. Travelling over land and sea, towing a boat, in convoy with a beautiful horse box full of our belongings being driven by our fantastic friend Matt. Arriving in the dark, to a glowing woodburner and an empty little dovecot ready to make our home.

We arrived to a stormy winter, and began our year getting used to the short days and incredibly dark starry nights. We chopped fire wood, re-arranged furniture, met future employers and began work on my studio and gallery, settling ourselves in to island life. We got used to the sounds of the storms shaking our tin roof, walked on the beaches and in the hills in roaring winds and lashing rain.

In spring we ate lunch outside for the first time, still in woolly hats and socks, with hot cups of tea, watching the trees coming into leaf and the forest fill with life. The gallery opened and welcomed its first visitors and customers, we saw Mull grow busier, I learned to share the beach with families and campers.

Summer saw the island buzzing with happy families, intrigued visitors flocked through the gallery, watched at my studio door as I worked at my bench, making jewellery for people to take away and treasure (I hope!). Ross worked long days and weekends, trying to help keep the vigorously growing gardens under control. We swam in the sea, canoed around the rocks, sat silently in the still water watching seals and sea birds. We waited patiently on the shore waiting to sea Dolphins swim out in the sunset. We learnt that the light lasts long into the night, as if the sun never goes down.

In the last few months we saw Autumn on Mull, we sailed round the north of the island on the beautiful Spindrift and ate freshly caught fish, walked around Caliach point and ate crabs legs and chocolate biscuits on a hill. The island quietened and the leaves began to turn, the bracken died down and turned beautifully orange, golden larch needles fell on the ground. The long nights quickly shortened, we started to light the fire again and begin now to prepare ourselves for our second winter. I have been busy in my studio making stock for Christmas and this weekend we were back outside splitting and stacking wood ready for the long cold nights and rainy days, and cycling through the forest making the most of the cold bright day.

A few pictures from the year...

Our first cycle on a very cold and windy day, looking out to Ben More

Looking out to the Treshnish isles from Caliach point.

 Discovering Langamull beach.

The Gallery when it first opened.
 Watching the skiff sail in on a hazy summer evening

The view of Loch Frisa on todays cycle.

It has been a brilliant year, it has felt challenging at times, we missed our friends, felt too far away from our families and too disconnected from the world, but we had some incredible experiences and shared these with visiting family and friends whenever we had the chance. We're looking forward to seeing what the coming year brings.

Thanks for following along with the blog for a year,

Maike x

Monday, 3 November 2014

Garden City

The Cafe at Calgary Arts is now closed and the Island is beginning to feel cold and quiet, giving me plenty of time to get my head down in the studio. The Jewellery gallery will continue to stay open in the run up to Christmas, as I am still working away at the bench most days. If you are on Mull, you can drop into the gallery between 10am-5pm. There's even a little honesty box for purchasing delicious homemade cake and tea! There will also be a special Christmas opening at Calgary at the end of November - check back to the blog for more info on this in a few weeks - I am planning a very twinkly Christmas window display for the Jewellery gallery!

I have been working hard to send my jewellery out to various galleries for the winter. If you'd like to see any of my jewellery, but Mull is just too far away to visit, then you can see some of my collections at these venues:
The Biscuit Factory, Newcastle
Cambridge Contemporary crafts
Mostyn, Llandudno
Rural Arts, Thirsk
Bluecoat Display Centre, Liverpool
Handmade for Christmas, Sheffield
Royal Exchange Craft Shop, Manchester

I am especially excited to be part of 'Garden City' at the Bluecoat Display Centre, Liverpool. This exhibition showcases beautiful prints by renowned print maker Angela Harding, alongside a selection of complimentary contemporary jewellery - including jewellery by two of my favourite makers; Hannah Louise Lamb, and old classmate Heather Woof. Its a pleasure to be showing my jewellery alongside such a talented group of makers.

Thanks for reading
Maike x

Thursday, 23 October 2014

The Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair and 'Covet' at craft Central.

I have just returned to Mull after a very busy couple of weeks away. First of all I headed down to Manchester to show my work at the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair for a second time. The location for the fair this year had changed, so the many artists found themselves in the stunning Old Granada Studios. The studios moved afew years ago but the huge rooms are filled with reminders of the exciting times filming there. It made a great backdrop for some beautiful pieces of contemporary craft.

All the makers setting up in the great big Old Granada Studios.

This year I showed both of my collections, carefully displayed on the birch ply table and plinths I brought down from my gallery here at Calgary. 

Setting up before the opening.
I met lots of lovely customers, spoke to gallery representatives and even spotted afew people wandering round the fair in pieces of my jewellery they had bought last year!

My stand all ready for the crowds!

I was lucky enough to have a stand opposite the fantastic Emma Cocker, who makes wonderful textile animals. Foxes, mice and salty sea dogs kept me entertained all weekend. 
Have a look at her creations here:

On the stand next to me was the very talented Katherine Lees, who makes beautiful screen printed ceramics. I particularly like her little colourful screen printed bottles. 
Find her work at:

My absolute favourite of the show was Ruth Pullans stunning leatherwork. Ruth hand stitches leather satchels, belts and purses (amongst other things) in a variety of beautiful colours and timeless styles. Ruth's passion for her work comes through in the excellent craftsmanship and carefully considered, simple, unique designs. I am saving up for a beautiful coral red box satchel.
To see Ruth's work go to:

Following a busy weekend in Manchester I headed straight for Craft Central, Clerkenwell, London. Here I was taking part in a group exhibition of jewellery and fashion from the Highlands and Islands. The exhibition 'Covet' was put together by Emergents - who do a brilliant job of supporting designer makers. Alongside a beautifully curated show, they also organised several training events and workshops. This included an inspirational talk from Katie Treggiden of the hugely popular 'confessions of a design geek' blog, as well as a tour of top London galleries and talks from gallery representatives. My highlight was the brilliant Contemporary Applied Arts, showing some of the UKs most talented designer makers in a beautiful old building in Southwark. I also made my first visit to Lesley Craze gallery, taking in some inspirational work by leading contemporary jewellers.

A few very quick photos of the exhibition at Craft Central:

Twinkling Jewels

Covet showcased the work of 13 fashion and jewellery designers from the Highlands and Islands, including Heather Mcdermott's stunning 'Tidal surge' collection, which I also show here at Calgary. Other highlights for me were Gilly Langton's bold and beautiful jewellery made with hand dyed elastic and silver and Merlin Planterose's delicate jewellery collection featuring intriguing hinged lockets and pretty gemstones. I also loved Kirsteen Stewart's collection of fashion and knitwear, especially her pieces incorporating abstract prints of bright colourful lights. 

My two and a half weeks away from Mull felt very productive and inspiring, if a little tiring! I have come back with a long to do list as I send out stock to galleries for Christmas shows and prepare the gallery here, but I'm very happy to be back to the peace and quiet of this beautiful place. 

Maike x 

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Preparations and adventures.

It has been a busy summer here in Calgary. Rather than spending weeks away touring festivals in the south as I have spent the last two summers, this year I have been spending my days in the studio and the gallery, meeting lots of new customers, making many many jewels and developing new designs. This hasn't left much time for blogging, but I'm happy to be back filling you in on whats going on.

As the island starts to quieten down a little, the autumn colour creeps in and the sun starts to set earlier over Calgary bay, I am still busy in the studio.

At the moment I am busy preparing for two big events coming up in October. Firstly Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair, Manchester, October 9th-12th. I had a great time at the fair last year, meeting new customers, making contacts with galleries and meeting other designer makers. This year, I will be returning with an updated display and lots of my jewels. I have added new pieces to both my Kalyaana and Sol collections, and I will be showing a few special one-off pieces too. I'm really looking forward to being back in bustling Manchester, showcasing new work  and finding new contacts for the coming year.

Immediately after Great Northern I will be heading down to London to take part in Covet, a group show led by Emergents. Covet showcases thirteen highlands designer makers. I will be showing alongside my lovely friend Heather Mcdermott, whose work I show in the gallery here on Mull, Gilly Langton - a highlands Jeweller I very much admire, and many more talented makers. Covet will take place at Craft Central in Clerkenwell from the 14th-18th of October.
If you find yourself in Manchester or London  come and say hello and have a look at some of my new jewels!

Here are some photos of my stand at Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair last year, to give you a taster of what is to come...


It hasn't all been work this summer though. We have still been trying to make the most of our island home, exploring new hills and beaches and spending time with visiting friends. I even had my first sailing trip out at sea, on the wonderful Spindrift...

 Spindrift and its excellent sailing crew, getting ready for a day of exploring and fishing.

The crew on dry land, exploring Oronsay island just north of Tobermory.

Ross at Reudle beach, south of Calgary.

Thanks for reading!

Maike x

Sunday, 1 June 2014


Last year, still living in Edinburgh, I worked for Artlink. Through Artlink I met Alison and her partner Ilana. Last September I had the pleasure of designing and making their wedding rings, probably the wedding rings I am most proud of. 18ct gold with a roll printed pattern imprinting the two rings, simple but beautiful I hope. At the time Ilana was exhibiting at the National Museum of Scotland. I visited the exhibition - The Library - several times and was truly inspired bu Ilana's work 'creatively exploring time through fossils, minerals and geological sculptures.

Not only does Ilana produce beautiful art works and fascinating research, she works with beautiful stones - including Mica. My namesake, sort of! 

When I found out Ilana was exhibiting right here on Mull at An Tobar, and part of the exhibition was a boat trip to Staffa and a spoken word performance by Ilana, I knew it was an experience not to be missed. I was not disappointed. Staffa is an incredible beauty to behold - made more wonderful and impressive accompanied by Ilanas reading and live music by acclaimed saxophonist Raymond MacDonald.

We traveled for 3 hours from Tobermory down to Staffa, a wonderful opportunity to see Mull from a different perspective. On Staffa we listened to Ilana and Raymond in front of the famous Fingals Cave and had a little time to explore the cave and some of the island. We traveled back as the sun went down, bathing the Treshnish isles in light.

Here are just some of our photos:

The rib - taking passengers from the boat over to Staffa. Including Ilana, staff from An Tobar and a film crew.  

Incredible Hexagonal rock formations rising up from the sea.

Alpine plants on volcanic pillars.

Looking up at the lava columns to a craggy mass of volcanic rocks.  

Ilana Halperin, in striking orange in front of the grey pillars of Staffa.

From the top of Staffa, looking out to the Treshnish Isles 

The only photo I have of the roll printed 18ct gold wedding rings!

After a magical trip to Staffa I am inspired to begin thinking about a new collection of jewellery using local stones from around the west coast of Scotland - something I have wanted to do since moving to Mull. I am already planning a trip to the Tormore quarry on the Ross of Mull and thinking about the first possible steps for this exciting new project.

Maike x