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Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Milomade In Scotland

In our line of work we meet plenty of prospective brides & grooms looking for something a bit different.  Increasingly, traditional wedding favours and decorations are being replaced with eco-friendly handmade gifts.  Milomade - a Scottish company with the motto 'Too good to waste' - specialises in creating wonderful jewellery and charming craft pieces which would stand out at any wedding.

If you're looking for something unique to get your maid of honour, check out these beautiful antique rings.  Created from vintage British teaspoons, each one bears its original silver hallmark and is shaped to show the intricate craftsmanship which went into the original piece.  And when you're wrapping it up, use a gift-tag made from recycled sheet music. 

We spoke with self-confessed 'modern day magpie' Evie Milo about her products, methods and the mysterious art of 'upcycling'.
I see on your site that Milomade specialises in 'upcycling' - can you tell us a bit more about that?

Upcycling is taking something unused/unwanted and transforming it into something of greater use and value. My Milomade motto is 'Too good to waste' and that has sprung from the fact that I find it difficult to throw anything away - I am a hoarder and I collect all manner of things and turn them from trash to treasure. All Milomade products are made from items that are second hand, used and unwanted, but I often mix in new materials as well. I save a lot of paper, card and plastic as well as other items from going to landfill and instead make beautiful things from them.

I love working with old, used and often vintage items, whether these be buttons or fine silver tableware, maps or old comics, envelopes or even pieces of glass washed up on the beach – all these items have a history and also a tale to tell.  For instance, when I’m making a piece of jewellery from an old spoon I can’t help but wonder who used to stir their cup of tea with it. I've just revamped my website collections and you can find out all about my work and about the items I use to create my pieces by visiting this section of my site.

You must get a lot of custom from people getting married. What are your most popular items at the moment? Have you spotted any trends?

Funny you should say that, as I'm not married myself I've never really been aware of the so called 'Wedding Season' and started making my garlands and confetti as a means to decorate my house or as presents for friends. It was only until the Makers-Online website got in touch and asked if they could stock some of my paper products that I made the connection.  (You can read their feature on Handmade weddings here).

Since then I've been advertising my paper garlands and confetti specifically for weddings, occasions and events and I've had quite a bit of interest. I make the confetti by punching lots of little love hearts from sheet music or from magazines. The love hearts are very small [1cm and smaller] and can be used as table decorations or as traditional confetti. You get a small bag that contains approx 2000 love hearts. To match you could get a set of my Love Heart paper garlands and I've been making these out of sheet music as that's what seems to be more popular.  (There's a huge selection of lovely paper decorations over at the Milomade shop including a range of envelopes which would be perfect for sending out Thank You cards.)  I think there is definitely an interest in eco friendly products these days and more and more people are keen to get a handmade feel to their events.

Travel, Music and Films are popular themes for table decorations. What can you offer couples who are looking to do something along these lines?

As I've mentioned already I do a range of paper garlands - I currently make them from sheet music, maps, comics and magazines, but I'm happy to take custom orders and tailor make garlands to suit any event. People love the classical sheet music I find and use, but I've had requests to use music from specific West End musicals too. It does depend on what I can get my hands on but I am happy to work with someone's donations if they have something specific in mind and can provide the materials to make the garlands out of.

My garlands made from maps are great, as if I have a map of where you're planning to take your honeymoon or the location of your actual wedding, then the garlands can be made from that for that extra special personal touch - I have lots of old maps and so might even have something in stock that would suit, if not I can source something. The same goes for my confetti. Also if a couple have a specific idea in mind for their table decorations and want something handmade and eco friendly then I'm more than happy to discuss their requirements and come up with something original just for them. My standard envelopes made from maps, music and comics could be adapted and shrunk down in size and used as place holders containing little messages for each guest or they could be filled with confetti and sent out with the invitations for people to bring to the wedding. There are lots of ideas I'd be happy to play around with to give an event a personal special touch.

What can you offer the bride looking for something old, new, borrowed or blue?

As all my products are mostly made from upcycled materials I think there are a lot of items that would suit the 'something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue' theme.  In fact this pendant made from a vintage blue button would be perfect. It's old, it's blue, the sterling silver used to make the setting is new [although I've given it an antiqued look] and to add a touch of the borrowed, you could use a different chain borrowed from your mum's jewellery box for instance. As I work with vintage buttons to create a lot of my jewellery, there's plenty there to choose from - pendants, earrings, bracelets and cufflinks, and I would be happy to take custom orders (see this collection on the website for further examples) 

I also work with antique silverware and make a range of rings, pendants and brooches from silver teaspoons. I only work with teaspoons that have recognisable hallmarks that define each item as British .925 sterling silver. I much prefer to use fine silverware as a starting point for my jewellery as this way I am upcycling rather than using up the planet's natural resources. There is a sense of history with each piece and I feel that as I am forming each ring, pendant or brooch and sanding and polishing it, I am capturing a memory or an essence of the past. In the 17th century there was a custom of making wedding rings from silver spoons and I like to think I'm bringing this concept into the present day. I've had a few people ask me whether I would make spoons from their family silver and I am always delighted to take a family heirloom and repurpose it and make it into something they can wear and enjoy rather than storing it in a box somewhere in a dark cupboard.

Will you undertake work on commission?

Most definitely - it's always a pleasure to work on pieces that are for someone in particular. I do a range of jewellery made from sea glass that I find and collect on the beaches around my home and it's so lovely when someone finds a specific piece within my collection that they love and asks me to make a ring or a pendant from it. It's as if they've picked the perfect piece for themselves and that makes the resulting piece of jewellery even more special as they've had some input into it's creation. It's always a joy to go out hunting for buttons as well, especially when someone has requested a pendant or a set of earrings in a specific colour or style. So, yes, I'm more than happy to work to commission.


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