Can you make a silk purse from a sow’s ear?

Aztec triangles, Labrador lockets, Scottish thistles, Stags and Octopus earrings…. sound amazing?! They are just a few items that Eilidh Strang hand makes under her business ‘Silk Purse, Sow’s Ear’. Her jewellery has popped up recently in almost every boutique shop in Edinburgh and is the essential, unique item for every girls jewellery box.

With no formal jewellery training, I’m amazed at the craftmanship behind Eilidh’s designs and production. Using mainly vintage materials – found and reworked – many of her items are limited runs or ‘one of a kind’. My favourites are the ‘Scottish Thistle Locket’ a perfect keepsake of Scotland, the Seafoam Triangle Earrings and the Swallow brooch (see images). She has something to suit all tastes from floral studs, Moroccon influenced rings to personalised lockets.

I asked Eilidh some questions about her work, her inspiration and her success…

What is your inspiration for your jewellery?

 My inspiration tends to be picturing the different ways that my jewellery can be worn.  I especially love the idea of my jewellery being ‘bunged on’ with an old jumper and jeans, without having to be dressed-up or styled particularly.  When I imagine my jewellery being worn by women, it’s always in a really casual, day to day way.  The idea of a lion brooch or frog locket making an everyday outfit just a little bit different is inspiring to me.

Was it easy to get your business started?

Fairly easy.  I’ve had quite a strong sense of where I’m going with my designs, and ethos more generally, from the beginning which I think helps enormously.  For instance, while I can see the beauty and simplicity in very delicate, silver jewellery, I still recognise that it’s not where I want to go with Silk Purse, Sow’s Ear.  Things have also grown fairly slowly and steadily since I started out, which has given me the chance to keep up!

How do you see your business progressing?

For the moment, I am happy carrying on as I am.  From the beginning I have operated by making the most of every opportunity I can, and just see where it takes me – I will definitely continue to do this and see where I end up!  For me, the most important thing is having the freedom to design and introduce new designs on an ongoing, weekly basis, rather than being restricted to a couple of ‘collections’ a year.  From the very beginning this has been a really important thing for me because it keeps things fresh and interesting – for me and my customers.  Selling online and in small, independent boutiques is ideal for this way of working, and I’m really happy with it!

What is your favourite piece?

At the moment, my favourite design is my Bee Hive Necklace (below). It just incorporates the two areas of design that I love best – clean, classic and wearable geometric shapes, with little element of fun to make it worth talking about. 

What would you say your biggest success so far is?

One of my proudest moments to date was being asked to sell in the Fashion and Textile Museum, London.  I’ll freely admit I did a lap of honour round my living room that day!

Seek out a one off item for yourself at www.silkpursesowsear.com or at Eilidh’s Etsy shop

You can also follow her on Twitter and  Facebook to keep up to date with new listings as Eilidh seeks new materials, vintage items and shares her quirky ideas.