Inspired by nature
It will come as no surprise to those who know me that I’m fascinated by ladybirds – they are so small and pretty and vary in colour from dark orange to deep red with wonderful black spots. I’ve always loved the way their wings look when they fly.
Why ladybirds are called ladybirds
Originally known as ‘Our Lady’s Bird’ in Britain, as early paintings of Mary (Our Lady) often show her wearing a red cloak. The seven spots (of the most common type of ladybird in the UK, Coccinella septempunctata) were said to symbolise Mary’s seven joys and seven sorrows. Over time ‘Our Lady’s Bird' was abbreviated to ‘ladybird’.
Entomologists prefer the name ladybird beetle or lady beetle as they are classified as beetles rather than bugs. In Britain they are commonly known as ladybirds but in the US they are known as ladybugs.
Why we love ladybirds
Ladybirds are considered lucky in many countries and in Turkish their name can be translated as good luck bug.
Ladybirds have long been of interest to children, 'Ladybird' was the name given to the series of childrens' books created by the Penguin group and they were immortalised in the popular children’s nursery rhyme ‘Ladybird, ladybird…'.
A friend for a bee
My Bee and Tiny Bee necklaces are two of my best-selling designs and for a while I’ve wanted to do another insect. Ladybirds for me were the obvious choice as they are such beneficial bugs. Both the adult ladybird and its larvae are voracious consumers of aphids so help protect delicate young plants.
My Giant Bee pendant was once of a series of pieces I created for the Much Wenlock Poetry Festival, which Carol Ann Duffy is the patron of. Carol Ann wrote the poem “Bees” for the occasion that inspired the piece. The wings fall apart when inverted on my bee pendants to represent the lotus flower in the poem.
It was important that the shape of my ladybird was different from my bee – the bee is longer than it's wide and circular in cross-section. The ladybird is as wide as it is long and flat at the back – I wanted it to lie beautifully against your chest but to have the secret detail of its legs tucked away behind.
Ladybird jewellery is often made with brightly coloured enamel and I wanted to do something much more understated. I really love using the contrast of black oxidised silver with shiny silver in my work as removing any colour gives the pieces a very different feel. Its beautiful spots are vital to the design and this can be achieved so well by carefully oxidising the metal.
As with the Bee the wings of my new Ladybird design move slightly when you wear the piece and can open fully as if the ladybird is in flight.
I made the big ladybird first and loved the way its outsized shape looked like it had been blown up in a science fiction film, but I knew I wanted to make a smaller version too. On the day I finished the small ladybird I found a dead ladybird in my Tunbridge Wells jewellery shop – something that has never happened before.
For anyone who loves ladybirds as much as me - I have made a pair of matching earrings to complement my pendants.
You can shop my Ladybird and small Ladybird pendant necklaces or Ladybird earrings here or pop by my jewellery shop in the Lower Pantiles Tunbridge Wells to try one on – my shop is open Thursday to Saturday each week or by appointment. The ladybirds can also be made from other metals and personalised with gemstones – if that’s something you’d like to discuss you can contact me here.