Autumn 2020, though completely disrupted, still managed to publish some incredible books for children. Elsetime is one that will enchant and excite readers, a blend of past and present, a triumph of children over grown-ups. A thrilling adventure with truth at its core, curiousity in its heart and an urge to save innocent lives as its motivation.
Eve McDonnell has written a lovely piece about the treasure within Elsetime. Being a beachcomber and treasure seeker myself, I loved reading about treasures.
Like trash and treasure, the two main characters of Elsetime – Needle and Glory – are poles apart! Needle is painfully shy while Glory finds it hard to keep her feelings, not to mention her harsh words, to herself! But one thing they do have in common is the wonderous skill of taking insignificant ingredients and transforming them into treasures to behold. Needle Luckett is a twelve-year-old mudlark who digs the foreshore of the River Notion for lost beads, gems and scraps of metal. He brings them back to his workshop – his trove – where he twists, shapes and glues them into sturdy yet delicate decorations and ornaments for his mother to sell at her market stall.
Only a stone’s throw away, but many decades later, lives a one-handed jeweller’s apprentice, Glory Bobbin. Glory lives in the roaring 1920s, a time when wild flapper parties and exquisite dresses with co-ordinated embellishments were all the rage. Outfits were adorned with feathered headbands, glittering choker necklaces and lengthy chains of pearls. Stylish rings, bangles, and dramatic earrings were a must for those fortunate enough to afford them.
Taking old pieces of pottery, glass beads, sea-glass, broken jewellery and twists of metal, Needle and Glory created their masterpieces. A fork, with prongs splayed and topped with sea-glass, is transformed into the handle of a stunning candlestick by Needle.
A beetle’s wing – a ‘teardrop of liquid rainbow’ as Glory describes it – is used as a centrepiece for one of Glory’s most successful designs which captures the eye of perfectionist, Lord Buckram. A special crow called Magpie hunts for the iridescent beetles along the foreshore where the pebbles meet grass, and she deposits them into Needle’s silver box until they can form the basis of magical designs in his trove.
Of course, that is all part of the Elsetime tale. But in real-life there are countless artisans crafting spectacular jewellery, ornaments and sculptures by taking one man’s trash and transforming it into another man’s treasure.
One of my favourites is sculptor Harriet Mead (http://harrietmead.co.uk/) who uses scrap steel to create majestic wildlife sculptures (for example, a crow made of scissor parts). How beautiful!
When it comes to jewellery, you can find everything from earrings made from upcycled wristwatches, dramatic hairpieces made from coffee capsules, to stunning pottery shard necklaces. Sea-glass rings, fork bracelets and bottlecap earrings. The ideas are endless!
Anyone can do it – make treasure from trash! All it takes is a bit of imagination, some treasure hunting for scraps around you, and perhaps a bit of patience. If you make something, I would love to see it so please send me a picture – you can contact me here or catch me on twitter @Eve_Mc_Donnell. One thing is for sure, if jeweller’s apprentice, Glory, could time-travel to today, I have no doubt her glorious emporium, on the most fashionable street of the most fashionable town, would feature her ‘teardrop of liquid rainbow’ designs. Wouldn’t they go down a storm?
I know Mary loved this too and I’m looking forward to reading it!