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Helga's Blog

dutch jewellery designer la leipsig


Stories from the daily live of an active metalsmith who tracks down
her muse with camera and sketchbook.


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Toadstools & Gills


In fall I encounter all kinds of toadstools.

The different variations always tempt me to photograph them.

This time I am most impressed by a large white mushroom that I found on my morning walk. It stood in the meadow, measuring some 10 cm (I think it’s a Russula variant).


He stood firm in the grass catching dewdrops. On the first day the top was still taut but after a few days it began to dry slightly, so the edge started to curl.

This made the gills at the bottom very visible.

They are like little curtains hanging along each other.

Toadstool gills

You can see this clearly on the drawing I made. The gills inspire me to do new experiments in the Earth series but that will be a whole new blogpost.

The beauty is that a toadstool is but a small part of the organism. Underneath the ground is a large threadlike hyphae system that is called Mycelium, that is the actual plant. (More can be found on the website of Wikipedia).

With creativity and making my jewellery it’s actually the same. What you see, the jewellery, is only a small part of what inspires me. Therefore it’s so nice to show my "threads" of inspiration, like this toadstool and his gills.

Cambia - Inner Bark

Today I show a photo-blog of my progress in the Inner Bark series.

They are inspired by the Popular I always meet during my morning walks with the dog.

It all started with taking pictures and making drawings, lots of them!

De bast van een populier

Then I made many tests in porcelainclay.

In the end I even made a little tree trunk sculpture to show the bark pattern,
ofcourse in small scale.

I did take pictures of everything and with them I made a small booklet.
In it I wrote all the thoughts and ideas connected to the collection.
It's nice to have a little drawing book when you develop a new line.

cambium water klei

All this research led to a new collection.
I call it Cambia and is connected to the water element.

"The sapflow of a tree brings nutricion to the leaves, carries the nutricion so the tree can grow."

On request of a customer I developed a bracelet in this line. It is wonderful to see how the pattern is repeated in each element. Like the natural flow of a waterfall.

Left you see earrings with gold to accent the sapflow,
to the right a close-up of the bracelet on which I am working.


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Let go of the "noise" to reveal the grow structure

When I am fascinated by a plant, I want to observe it. It starts with taking pictures of the whole plant but it doesn't take long before I put the macro-lens on. Being so close on a plant reveals many beautiful shapes. Sometimes I even need to sketch it, so I understand how it grows.

Today I found a branch of a Poplar in my neighbourhood. It was windy weather and on the ground were many loose branches. I took one home while I let the wind play with the leaves. They make such a lovely murmurous sound.

This is because the stem of the leave is a laterally flattened petiole. The flat petiole allows them to tremble in even slight breezes, and is the source of its scientific name Populus tremula. 
(it's the same tree who's bark inspired me on monday's art retreat at home)

poplar leave

Another thing I like is how the petiole is attached to the branch:

poplarbranch growpoint

The remarkable point between green and brown branch is the spot that marks new years growth. The brown is from last year. I like to see this kind of spots close-up, they are beautiful.

Sketching is another way of understanding a plant. Here I drew the lateral petiole to analyse how it's build. Often I use a magnifying glas to see it all.

 poplar leave sketch

Seeing those growing spots without the leaves reminded me of my own growing process. If you look back and remove all the "noise" you see what you have accomplished. You get appreciation for what you did.

Like in winter you can observe a tree's structure much better without the leaves.


Poplar branch


On wikipedia you can read more about this tree family: Poplar

On my Facebook La Leipsig Jewels page more images of this beautiful tree.


Lady Elliot seen through La Leipsig's eye

Miss Elliot a silver pendantToday I am making a Miss Elliot pendant with a green stone as centre piece. It's a silver pendant that can be ordered on request in the stone colour of your choice. This time I work with a Peridot, a lovely green colour and my personal favorite.

Everytime I work on a jewel from the Elliot collection I think back to our Australia trip. We went visiting friends and travelled a bit to see the landscape.

One of our number one choices was the most southern island of the great barrier reef. It’s called Lady Elliot, an eco-resort. We flew from Hervey Bay with a little plane. Our son was 11 and he made this little video you can see here. You can even hear him say “Dit is Lady Elliot

On the island we had a snorkeldive in the reef that surrounds Elliot. It was great but my forte is definitely not in the water. I stayed the afternoon on the beach while the boys kept snorkling in the sea.

On my own I walked down the beach and enjoyed myself. Taking pictures, sketching AND mold making. (in this google album some images of Lady Elliot)

Since I work with metal clay I always have a small portion of mold material with me. With that I can capture textures so I can use them at home. Lady Elliot was a treasure box for me. Shells, coral and plants where scattered among the beautiful beach. Heaven!

Working on a silver Miss Elliot pendantWorking on a silver Miss Elliot pendantBack at home I captured my thoughts of the island in the Miss Elliot pendant. I used the coralmold to make the eye shape, remember this is how I see the island! The green colour of the peridot was just the perfect fit for me. It brings back memories of the little lagoon that shimmers green from all the plants.

Although a saffire or emerald are great as well. One customer even ordered a ruby version. As I sculpt them all myself, each of the pendants is a bit different than the other but in style alike.

I love making them as they bring back great memories.

elliot-coral-la-leipsigThe coral on Lady Elliots beach. From this one I made a mold
that is used for all the jewellery of the Lady Elliot series.

The roots of the Earth collection

The first silver earth pendant from La Leipsig.For some time I have been working on the earth theme collection. It started somewhere in 2010 with me sticking silver rectangles into silverclay as an experiment. I was trying to mimic the furrows and ridges in a ploughed field.

At that time I was unconscious of why I wanted to make them, I just knew I had to.

On the right you see the very first pendant I made with this technique. It is made of fine silver with a very rough edge and hung on a rubber cord and is called Field#1.


The farmer in his tractor ploughing the field.I made many pictures of ploughing farmers and the resulting fields, contemplating why I was so fascinated by ploughing. I found out, it had to do with the magnificent view of the plough going in the land to break the earth open. Like I had to open as well, because I was limiting myself.

Earth needs oxygen to enable the seeds to grow. I knew I needed fresh air too.


In 2011 I was attracted to the workshop “Now Breath” from Ruudt Peters. It was one of the many ways I was able to explore my vision on earth.
We had to take a material with us and I chose earth from my kitchen garden. In this workshop I learned to trust myself and to breathe deep so I could get a connection with my inner self. I am Ruudt very grateful for enabling me to open up. 

Till now I never showed the work I made in “Now Breath”, but today I will.
It was after three days of prelude work that I started to focus on mixing up my earth with water, folding little boxes out of paper so I could fill them up with the mud. Then I heated the boxes with earth on an electric stove to speed up the process to make little solid bricks. By incorporating rope I could string the bricks together.

It was 7 days of heaven, playing with sand and water, back to childhood, BREATH! 

At that time it had nothing to do with jewellery and it was very liberating.

Experiments from "Now Breath" a workshop by Ruudt Peters.

Back at home I slowly and thorough incorporate these new visions into my daily life (I am a bit like a tortoise). A lot happened in the workshop and I had to give it a place. For some time I even didn’t make new pieces at all.

And then suddenly (after quite some time) it hit me. Sticking those little pieces in the clay was my way to organize my thoughts. It had to be straight and clear so I could order and name it.

I know that now, but then....

Last week I got a new idea. The rectangles got curved and again stuck into silverclay.The resulting ring is called “Embrace & Open Up”. I use a 22K gold layer to visualize the underground riches and show the breaking of the edges.

I am glad that I found new input in working with the Earth theme. I hope you like it too.
We'll see what it will bring in the future.

Silver ring with 22K gold layer from the Earth collection.


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