Foula is an island 20 miles west of the Shetland Mainland. The name “Foula” comes from the Old Norse word “Fugley” which translates to bird island. With a population of around 35, they share the island with thousands of seabirds, sheep and Shetland ponies. The highest peak on Foula is “The Sneug” which stands at 418m (1,371ft) followed closely by “Da Kame” standing at 376m (1,234ft).
My love for Foula started at a very young age. I can always remember telling my Mam and Dad that when I grew up I wanted to be able to see Foula from my house (A dream which came true in September 2022). The dramatic peaks we see on the horizon captured my attention and has been a bit of an obsession ever since. When the opportunity to design the Foula pieces came up in 2019, I jumped at the chance. I was so excited to portray the view I love in a piece of jewellery.
To begin with, I did drawings to decide how I wanted the piece to look. There were a few variations but ultimately I choose the oval shape to begin with, as it fitted the Foula outline nicely.
Once I was happy with my sketches, I had to make a silver “master pattern” (see our casting process blog to learn more about why we make a silver master pattern, and how we go about casting our pieces). To do this, I traced my sketch onto silver plate, cut out the shape then soldered it onto a back plate.
Once the backplate was soldered on, they got a sprue, turned into a rubber mould and we started to get waxes from the mould. These got set up on a base ready to be cast.
Once they were cast, we polished them and added the coloured resin enamel and the first pieces were ready! It was so exciting to see them go from an idea in my head to a physical piece of jewellery which people could buy and wear.
Over the next few months, we decided to expand the range and introduced a circular pendant, along with earrings and stacking ring sets. It was encouraging to know that they were popular and that locals and tourists alike enjoyed wearing the beautiful view of Foula as much as I did!
It’s always an exciting feeling seeing people wear the Foula jewellery. They were the first pieces which represented the beautiful colours we often see in our skies. As well as the Mirrie Dancers ( the Shetland name for the Aurora Borealis), we have Midnight Sky, Purple Sky and Sunset. They’ve opened a door to new pieces too like the Clousta and Bressay Light pendants which are also made with all the beautiful sky colours. They have their own range called “Shetland Skies” and can be found on our website.
Thank you for reading my first blog for Shetland Jewellery. We hope you find everything you’re looking for on our website.