About Imogen's Jewellery
My Ed Sheeran ranges reflect Ed’s happy, outgoing character and love of colour and fun. Quirky designs inspired by his favourite sweets and treats are balanced by more thoughtful jewellery inspired by heartfelt, personal and often poignant lyrics which hold special meaning for many fans.
My Imogen Sheeran ranges reflect my love of colour, design, manufacture and storytelling. All my feature beads are handmade and I go to great lengths to research and seek out new designs and unusual materials. These are combined with traditional staples including beautiful Tibetan silvertone and goldtone alloy spacers, coloured gemstones and freshwater pearls. Below are some descriptions of how and where some of the feature beads are made:
Foiled Glass Beads
The use of foil and coloured glass creates wonderfully jewel-like beads. Foil lined lampwork beads are handmade by using a gas flame to melt coloured glass rods on to a mandrel or metal rod which is pre-coated with bead releasing clay. The mandrel is spun around in the flame to gather the correct amount of glass for a bead. Once a core of glass has been made it is rolled, still hot and soft on to a small piece of leaf metal - typically 22 carat gold or silver. It will then be given another coat of glass and even some more foil before receiving a final glass coat and being gently crimped into shape with a ‘masher’. After cooling in a tray of ash, the bead is soaked off its mandrel.
The millefiori technique involves the production of different coloured glass canes or rods pressed into moulds - typically a star or flower shape - and then dipped in varying colours of glass. Several such pieces may then be placed together in a final mould with an outer layer of glass poured around the bundle which fuses the whole together. The finished glass cylinder is typically around six inches long and three inches in diameter. This is then softened in the furnace, picked up on the ends of iron rods or pontils by two glass makers before being pulled to form a cane of the desired thickness. The finished, composite canes are known as murrine, mosaic or millefori. Thin cross-sections - or ‘decals’ - are then cut from the murrine and fused into the surface of a plain glass bead.
Recycled Paper Beads
Handcrafted by self-supporting co-operatives in Uganda, the paper beads are made using long, thin triangular strips cut from trade waste paper such as magazines and posters. The papers are bought from a market in Kampala and chosen for their vibrant and consistent colours. Each strip or small stack of paper triangles is rolled one by one on a bead roller, which can comprise anything from a cocktail stick to a custom-made slotted needle. Once almost completely rolled, glue is dabbed on final, thin end of the paper triangle to hold the bead together. It is then strung, varnished and hung up to dry. The varnish makes the beads very durable and resistant to colour fading as well as water-resistant.
The fair trade felted wool beads used in my jewellery are handcrafted by a women's collective near Kathmandu, Nepal. Hand felting is a traditional ancient handcraft in Nepal. Matted raw lamb's wool from sheep grazing in the high Himalayan mountains in the north of Nepal is first washed in cold water to remove grease and dirt, and then dried in the sun. It is then carded before being dyed using environmentally friendly azo-free dyes. Felt beads are made by hand by shaping and rolling the raw wool with soap and water. No chemicals are used during this process. The shaped balls are then left to dry in the sun.
Blue and White Porcelain Beads
In the early 14th century mass-production of fine, translucent, blue and white porcelain started at Jingdezhen, where production continues to this day. Chinese blue and white describes white pottery and porcelain decorated under the glaze with a blue pigment, generally cobalt oxide. This is mixed with water and applied using a brush, before being coated with a clear glaze and fired at high temperature. The decoration is commonly applied by hand or by stencilling, but also by transfer-printing. The beads are decorated with traditional motifs including designs produced for the export trade to Northern Europe, especially Delft in Holland.
Decorative beadwork is sold at many outlets in the province of Kwazulu Natal and in major centres throughout South Africa. Although the seed beads traditionally used for beading are not manufactured by the Zulu, their use has its roots in trade between ancient African nations. Today, owing to an increased interest in Zulu beadwork, more and more Zulu women are encouraged to practise the beadcraft that they learned from their mothers and grandmothers and to pass the skills on to their own daughters. This ensures the survival of a unique and ancient craft into the 21st century and provides much-needed income.
Polymer Clay Beads
The imitation sweets and fruit beads are made from polymer clay. After being moulded into canes it is sliced into beads before being threaded on skewers and baked. The beads and jewellery items made from them are designed for young and young-at-heart adults (14+) as they represent a choking hazard to babies and small children. However tempting and realistic they look, they should never be placed in the mouth or swallowed. The buyer is responsible for ensuring that their jewellery is kept away from children and vulnerable adults who may not be able to tell the difference between real sweets and polymer clay sweets.