Friday, April 23, 2010

Handmade Lace and Courtney Love?

Wow, sometimes you find something that is just too beautiful. I have done just that. A line of jewelry so delicate and gorgeous I swooned. Ivy Long literally weaves gold into romance. Her Edera Jewelry line would have surely been the cause of Marie Antoinette losing her head instead of that nasty ol' guillotine. Please enjoy my interview with Ivy Long.

Ivy, your work is so intricate and elaborate. How did you come up with the idea for your Edera Jewelry line? It's been a gradual evolution. My mother is a milliner and textile artist, so from a young age I learned to sew, knit, embroider and was always working on some creative project. I became interested in jewelry making as a teenager, and went on to work with several jewelry designers before launching Edera Jewelry. About ten years ago I taught myself how to crochet, and I became fascinated with the versatility of the craft and started crocheting hats, bags, and headbands using my own designs and patterns.

I've also always been interested in historical costumes and I remember looking at a book full of Renaissance lace patterns at around the same time and feeling a strong urge to recreate those patterns with the crochet technique. I began experimenting with very fine threads and very tiny crochet hooks, converting the old drawings of bobbin and needle lace designs into patterns for crochet. I began compiling these crochet lace patterns mainly as a hobby, not really sure how to apply them. I didn't make the leap to creating lace jewelry until a year or so later when a woman I knew showed me a necklace that she had crocheted with beads. Then it clicked: I could combine my lacemaking skills with my jewelry making techniques. I've been doing so ever since, constantly refining and expanding on these techniques.

How long does it take to make a piece? Lets take your Dauphine Necklace. (one of my favorites) Walk us through your process. Needless to say, all of my designs are pretty labor-intensive--the time it takes varies depending on the complexity of the lace motifs. The Dauphine Necklace took 10+ hours to create. Like all of my designs, it started as sketch in my notebook before coming to life. I sketch loosely, and in black-and-white, because I like to select the color palette and stones right before I begin working on a piece. The colors of the Dauphine Necklace were inspired by a famous portrait of Marie Antoinette as a girl--I loved the powder blues and silver greys of the dress she was wearing in the painting.

Once I've settled on the shape and color scheme for a design, I chart the lace pattern and bead placement so that the beads are neatly interwoven into the lace as it's being created. The Dauphine Necklace has a rather layered design, so my next step was to create the little flowers and lace appliques in the center of the pendant. This is a more free form process--I rearrange the beads and motifs until I'm satisfied with their placement, and then sew them down.

The final step is to attach the jewelry findings to the lace. In the case of the Dauphine Necklace, I created a chain from scratch--wrapping by hand the dozens of wire links. The stones on the links were embellished with lace bead caps to tie in with the lace of the pendant. I then attached the clasp and vintage rhinestone drop and the design was complete!

Photo of the necklace as a work in progress:

Your work is 1 part historical reference, 1 part romantic whimsy and 1 part technical perfection. But jewelry isn't all you do is it? Please tell us about the Courtney Love piece. That was a really fun project! I knew that Courtney shopped on Etsy, but I was still completely surprised when one day I received an email from her asking if I could create a bodysuit covered with handmade lace and embroidery appliques. I'd never made anything on such a large scale before, but I was excited about the challenge. Courtney actually used to work in wardrobe for movie productions before she made it big as a musician, so she had lots of great ideas about the project. We emailed back and forth, she sent me a box full of antique textiles to incorporate for the design, and I made a lot of sketches for her, to which she would add her own notes and revisions. Then I began the very labor-intensive process of creating literally hundreds of handmade lace motifs, embellishing some with chenille embroidery, and stitching them onto a sheer body stocking. The body stocking had to remain on a mannequin while I stitched the lace motifs to it so that the suit would be form-fitting when worn--quite a challenge! I also cut up embroidered, antique piano shawls, reassembled their flower motifs, and stitched them onto the suit. It was a three-month project, but she was very happy with the results and we've been talking about me possibly making another one in the near future.

Photos of the bodysuit:

I noticed that you have both an Etsy site as well as a 1000 Markets site. Which do you prefer and why? Etsy is my main venue for selling online right now--it has much more built in traffic, so I've chosen to focus my efforts on it. That being said, I really do admire 1000Markets--it has many wonderful features and I like the concept of the juried groups. So for the time being, I plan to keep both shops open.

Please share with us your favorite quote. Hard to choose--but this is one of my current favorites: There are two ways of spreading light: To be the candle or the mirror that reflects it– Edith Wharton

What's next for you? Any fun projects on the way? This time of year is a very busy time for me, as summer brides are preparing for their weddings, so I'm working on lots of custom designs right now.

Ivy, thank you for your time. I had a great time with this interview and LOVE your work.

Please follow Ivy and Edera Jewelry at the links below:






  1. WOW - thank you for sharing the work of this talented artist. That bodysuit is amazing!

  2. I love Ivy's beautiful creations! I am always absolutely amazed at each and every one of them!

  3. All I can say is WOW!!! Also, love your new background!

  4. Hi,
    You are absolutely wonderful for bringing this fabulous artist to light for us. I thank you!

  5. lovely interview, miss Ivy has such an incredible talent and i swoon every time i see a new piece of jewelry she has crafted... and she is such a lovely lady to boot... :)
    emma x

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  7. Great article, thanks. How do you find these fabulous people? Maria.