I love jewellery. Rings, bracelets, bangles, earrings (though I rarely wear them)- you name it. It’s not an occasion without it and I wear it every day. I’ve worn a nose ring for over a decade and even purchased a diamond nose stud for my wedding.
Lots of my jewellery holds special meaning. Pieces that belonged to my mum and grandmothers, pieces given to me by others no longer with us, pieces from friends and family and my husband. I even have an old necklace given to me by a boyfriend I had when I was 15- more than half a lifetime ago now. Each piece holds a memory. So when I first saw Melanie’s work at Beyond The Willow Tree, I was intrigued.
She makes jewellery out of breast milk. And baby hair. And placenta. And umbilical cord. Even from the ashes of our loved ones.
At first, I admit, I wasn’t sure what I thought of it. So I had a look at the photos on her Facebook page and thought- Wow. The things she makes are exquisite. From pendants to European beads and bridal rings- there is nothing, it would seem, that she can’t make. Just the other day I saw that she’d done a custom piece, making a guitar plectrum out of breast milk– amazing!
Melanie is Beyond The Willow Tree. She is a passionate doula and mother of three herself. She discusses here how the empowering birth of her third child lead to the birth of her creative business. I hate to use the journey ordinarily but it really has been a journey. After two c-sections, she decided to attempt a VBA2C (vaginal birth after 2 caesarians) with her third child and there it was; the idea.
I wanted a representation of the journey I took with my daughter in meeting her and to me what was a joke of putting her placenta into a wearable art form turned into reality. Forever I will have a part of her and I mixed together, in the form of jewellery that was purely created by myself to support her life. Nothing else in this world can ever become as close as this, apart from physically her and I.
For me, breastfeeding was a struggle initially, as it is for many women. I worked hard to make it work for us and we are still going 2 years on with no signs of stopping. It’s an intrinsic part of my relationship with my daughter, so why not a keepsake to mark that? I mentioned Melanie’s work to my husband and he got in touch with her and came up with a design. He asked me to express a bit of milk and took care of the details as a birthday gift for me. He also added a curl of our daughter’s hair, which you can see better here:
See the curl circling the star?
I find the pieces that Melanie makes to commemorate loss especially touching and beautiful, particularly her work for the mothers of babes born sleeping. The way she talks about these pieces and shares them resonates with her sensitivity. I can honestly say she’s brought a tear to my eye more than once when sharing a special piece created this way.
The process is very simple. You simply post her the breast milk (or whatever you’re using) and she sends back the finished piece. She has created jewellery for people around the world.
If you want to get in touch with her to order your own piece, you can do so on her website here or via facebook and her blog, which is well worth reading to learn more about where her creativity stems from. I can personally vouch for the quality of her work and also for how lovely she is to communicate with!
**This is not a sponsored post at all, though it was written with Melanie’s permission**