OnlyWillow is well known for creating beautiful, bespoke, handmade silver jewellery pieces. Jewellery is a versatile addition to any outfit, some we wear all day everyday, they become part of our routine, identity and can have significant sentimental value.
Jewellery is a broad term that encompasses any decorative item used as an adornment, but can also have a specific function, like using brooches to fix a scarf in place. It can be a marker of status or personal status, such as wearing a wedding ring clearly signals that a person is married, and is recognisable across the world. Some jewellery has religious affiliations, like a simple cross on a chain perhaps. Many people may wear a piece of jewellery for reasons personal only to themselves, maybe for luck, perhaps it was a gift from a milestone birthday, or even an inherited item, worn to honour and remember the previous owner as a form of mourning. Finally, sometimes jewellery can simply be worn decoratively to complete an outfit.
However, OnlyWillow is more than just a jewellery retailer. Our range is extensive and continues to grow.
Today we’re taking a trip through the OnlyWillow design archives to see where the range started and how it has grown and developed over the past six years.
This first part will highlight some of the key designs Olivia has created, stretching from our humble beginnings in 2014 to a more established OnlyWillow in 2016.
When Olivia started OnlyWillow and began making jewellery in 2014 she didn’t have all the equipment for silversmithing she has in her studio these days. She experimented with lots of different designs and materials to make her unique pieces.
Olivia knew she wanted to create bespoke pieces, each item would have it’s own personality and meaning to the wearer. She wanted to make pieces that people would cherish as keepsakes in addition to them being beautiful adornments.
As we’ve mentioned in a previous blog, silver as a raw material is expensive to work with. As a former Textile Craft degree student and, at the time, a Design Technology teacher, Olivia also worked in a mixture of fabrics and other materials to create her products, including resin, wood and paper.
In 2015, Olivia began to really broaden her collection. Building on the successes from the previous year, she began to experiment in earnest. A great amount of inspiration came from recycling and re-purposing gorgeous antique pieces, sourced locally or bought online.
Simple everyday objects were manipulated to be worn in a different way. All of these early pieces were one offs due to the nature of the source materials, but the idea was easy to replicate. Being able to use every part of the original item also reduced waste and created some interesting designs, combining simplicity with intricacy.
Antique silver cutlery became a large part of the collection, fashioning spoons, forks and knives into pendants, rings, and bangles. It added a contemporary twist to historic designs and easily incorporated intricate detail work into the pieces. These proved especially popular at the vintage markets OnlyWillow was regularly attending throughout the year.
Olivia also began to include her inspiration from nature and her surroundings, incorporating florals and animals into her silver jewellery. 2015 was the year when Olivia created her first moulds, some of which she still uses now, enabling her to recreate popular designs as well as continue to make her unique pieces.
Personalisation was still important, and creating commission pieces to order became more common. Instead of images, Olivia was able to use silver more frequently and stamped names into pieces that were then integrated into jewellery and these products proved to be popular gifts.
Finally, from 2015, Olivia hadn’t forgotten her fabric based background and continued to add material products to her ever growing range. It began with ‘Babygrow Puppies’, made from the fabric of a child’s babygrow or garment as a way to re-purpose a cherished keepsake. Instead of storing it away in a drawer or box, it could be proudly displayed in a nursery, and continue to create treasured memories.
2015 was also the first time OnlyWillow began to offer fabric dream catchers, using an embroidery ring with recycled lace and various ribbons into a decorative homeware item.
The following year saw even more new and exciting design ideas, whilst still continuing with the the successful themes from the collection so far. In fabric, Olivia began to expand the range of stuffed animals and dolls. Each creation has a name and in the making process develops it’s own personality, all are made completely by hand and fully jointed. Those keen OnlyWillow fans will recognise the doll names that went on to become the names of Olivia’s rescued pet chickens.
Branching out with other materials incorporated into the jewellery designs continued. Miniature embroidery hoops as pendants tested those old stitching skills, and printed paper messages added to capsule necklaces were lovingly packaged in handmade boxes.
Some of the pieces began to naturally fall into themes. A popular subject was travel, something we can all relate to, and something also vitally important to Olivia, (see our previous blog Oh Wanderlust). Every OnlyWillow piece has meaning, even some of the simplest shapes or symbols, as seen here by adding simple messages to the packaging.
Antique cutlery products still made up a decent portion of the company collection and Olivia was always adding new designs and ideas. In 2016 she began to add her distinct humour, using wordplay and the odd pun, to add a aspect of joviality to her work. Using the cutlery as keepsakes as well as jewellery increased the versatility of her designs.
Wow! Can you believe this is just a small selection from only the first three years of OnlyWillow? We’ve stated before that it can be a great learning tool to revisit your past and see how far you’ve come, and we’ve come so far already. We hope you will join us in the second part to see how much further we have come, and plan to go.
If you’ve been inspired by any of the pieces you have seen today, please feel free to browse the site, and if you can’t find what you’re looking for, send us a message at the bottom of the page.
Stay Safe and Shop Local where you can.
Written by Siobhan Green.