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Featured Shop: Datter

Feb 14, 2014

by Kaye Blegvad

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

My name is Kaye Blegvad, and I currently live in London, England. I make simple, graphic jewelry, most of which is developed from my drawings. I’m also an illustrator, and that influences both my aesthetic and my ideas. My shop is called Datter.

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I began making jewelry just for fun while I was living in New York and working as an illustrator. It was a nice way to turn my ideas and drawings into something more solid – more tangible, somehow. Plus it meant I got to have the jewelry I wanted but couldn’t find anywhere! Most of my early pieces were just things I wanted to wear. I quickly got hooked on the process, and I found it really exciting to make something and have it magically turned into metal. It feels kind of alchemical.

Most of my inspiration comes from ancient artifacts, talismans, religious iconography from many different cultures, and antique jewelry. I also look at natural forms, shapes, and patterns. What I like most about a lot of ancient jewelry and objects is that many of them had great meaning – they weren’t just decorative objects, they had religious or cultural significance. I want to try to put that sense of meaning and symbolism into my work, for things to feel protective, or a bit powerful. And sometimes, of course, you just want to wear a ring with a cat’s face on it, and that’s cool too. It doesn’t all have to be too serious.

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I tend to sketch out ideas for the rough design of a piece and then work in casting wax to make it three-dimensional. The shape often changes once I’m working with the wax; something about seeing it in 3D often gives me ideas. This wax model is then cast into metal, using the lost wax process. I get a metal version back from my caster which is pretty rough and weird looking – sort of like something you might dig up from an archeological site. I then work on this piece with files, sandpaper, and polishing tools, to get it just how I want it. This creates the final “master” of the piece, which then has a mold made of it so I can make multiples.

Depending on the piece, the next step is to put it on a chain, or solder with earring backs, or size as a ring. They’re then oxidized and polished to the final finish – done! I like pieces to look a bit raw and to show real signs of being handmade – I don’t like anything to be too polished and “clean.” The process is part of the product, and I like that to show in the final result.

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Beyond the process itself, the thing that keeps me going is seeing how people respond to my work; I often have customers telling me stories of what my jewelry means to them, and it’s really, really wonderful to hear. My rings have been used as wedding and engagement rings, charms have represented people’s children or as a comfort to remember someone they’ve lost. I’m glad I’m not purely making “fashion” pieces, but also things that make people feel good, that signify something meaningful, and that they might wear every day and feel empowered by. That’s pretty great!

My favorite piece is the watchful eye ring. It’s one of the first pieces I made, and I made it for myself. My dad had bought me this amazing, creepy ring when I was a kid – it must have been the mid ’90s – that had a horrible glass doll’s eye set in it. I loved it. But it was made of cheap metal and gave me a rash when I wore it, so it just sat around looking cool and creepy. I’d been looking for an eye ring ever since, so when I started making jewelry, it was an obvious piece to make. It’s funny because eye jewelry is absolutely everywhere now. I should’ve just waited a few years! But it’s become one of my best sellers, and so many of my friends wear it – it kind of feels like a class ring for weird artsy women. I’m proud to be a member of that class!

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I started selling my jewelry on Etsy to pay for the hobby – it gets expensive to make this stuff – with no business plan or real ambitions, but it slowly started to take off. That was almost three years ago, and since then it’s grown into a real business. I’m so grateful that I get to make things for a living. I think Etsy has really helped me connect with people who understand the nature of handmade and see the value in it. It’s nice to be part of that community. I’ve been lucky that other people like my work and want to wear the stuff that I want to wear. Etsy has a ready-made audience of people who “get it,” and that’s invaluable.

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Turning your creative outlet into a business also changes the way you experience creativity. It’s an interesting balance – your creativity is no longer just for fun, it’s a job too, and so in a sense there’s more at stake, it feels more like work. It’s different than working just for yourself, where maybe you could spend months working on one intricate piece, or exploring something minute that nobody else will ever notice. You give up a little of your freedom in that sense – but then again, suddenly you have the freedom to make a living from something you enjoy, and the higher stakes can sometimes be more motivating than working at leisure. For me, I’m more motivated to keep up momentum, to come up with new ideas, make new pieces, explore what people will respond to, and to keep improving the quality of the things I make.

Studio and maker photos by May Coker.

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Golden protective hand ring
Golden protective hand ring
datter
$71.16 USD
Snake Safety Pin - brass
Snake Safety Pin - brass
datter
$84.33 USD
Moonstone deco ring in silver
Moonstone deco ring in silver
datter
$108.05 USD
Snake Coil ring - brass
Snake Coil ring - brass
datter
$81.70 USD
Saint Jude silver unisex medallion necklace
Saint Jude silver unisex medallion necklace
datter
$84.33 USD
Dagger stud earrings - silver
Dagger stud earrings - silver
datter
$76.43 USD
Conversation Earrings - Silver
Conversation Earrings - Silver
datter
$89.60 USD
Silver protective hand ring
Silver protective hand ring
datter
$81.70 USD
Golden hand on coral silk
Golden hand on coral silk
datter
$44.80 USD
Snake Knot necklace - silver
Snake Knot necklace - silver
datter
$118.59 USD
Fede Ring - Silver
Fede Ring - Silver
datter
$84.33 USD
Dog Amulet necklace - silver
Dog Amulet necklace - silver
datter
$118.59 USD
Tiny golden arrow necklace
Tiny golden arrow necklace
datter
$79.06 USD
Saint Jude golden medallion necklace
Saint Jude golden medallion necklace
datter
$76.43 USD
Silver hand on red silk cord
Silver hand on red silk cord
datter
$52.71 USD
Fede Ring - Brass
Fede Ring - Brass
datter
$71.16 USD
Tiny Skulls silver ring
Tiny Skulls silver ring
datter
$81.70 USD
Hand and Flower Necklace - Brass on Silver
Hand and Flower Necklace - Brass on Silver
datter
$94.87 USD
Watchful Eye - sterling silver ring
Watchful Eye - sterling silver ring
datter
$81.70 USD
Cat Cameo ring - silver
Cat Cameo ring - silver
datter
$81.70 USD
Tiny Snake Studs - Brass
Tiny Snake Studs - Brass
datter
$76.43 USD
Burning Heart ring - silver
Burning Heart ring - silver
datter
$81.70 USD
Hand amulet necklace - brass on silver
Hand amulet necklace - brass on silver
datter
$110.69 USD
Silver cat face ring
Silver cat face ring
datter
$81.70 USD
Flower Stem ring - brass
Flower Stem ring - brass
datter
$68.52 USD
Hand and Flower Necklace - Silver
Hand and Flower Necklace - Silver
datter
$102.78 USD
Silver crossed arrows signet ring
Silver crossed arrows signet ring
datter
$81.70 USD
Golden protective hand bangle
Golden protective hand bangle
datter
$97.51 USD
Tiny skulls studs - brass
Tiny skulls studs - brass
datter
$57.98 USD
Golden row of tiny skulls ring
Golden row of tiny skulls ring
datter
$71.16 USD
Aster Studs - Silver
Aster Studs - Silver
datter
$76.43 USD
Posey ring - silver
Posey ring - silver
datter
$81.70 USD
Conversation Ring - Silver
Conversation Ring - Silver
datter
$89.60 USD
Silver knot ring
Silver knot ring
datter
$81.70 USD
Tiny hand necklace in silver
Tiny hand necklace in silver
datter
$84.33 USD
Tiny hand necklace - brass on silver
Tiny hand necklace - brass on silver
datter
$79.06 USD
Snake Knot ring - brass
Snake Knot ring - brass
datter
$84.33 USD
Cat Cameo necklace - brass
Cat Cameo necklace - brass
datter
$92.24 USD
Arrow necklace - brass on silver
Arrow necklace - brass on silver
datter
$81.70 USD
Burning Heart necklace - silver
Burning Heart necklace - silver
datter
$84.33 USD
Arrow stud earrings - brass
Arrow stud earrings - brass
datter
$60.61 USD
Flower Stem necklace - silver
Flower Stem necklace - silver
datter
$102.78 USD
Upturned crescent necklace -  silver
Upturned crescent necklace - silver
datter
$102.78 USD
Votive Hoop Earrings - Silver
Votive Hoop Earrings - Silver
datter
$89.60 USD
Votive Friendship Necklace - Brass
Votive Friendship Necklace - Brass
datter
$121.23 USD
Profile Necklace - Silver
Profile Necklace - Silver
datter
$89.60 USD
Profile Necklace - Brass
Profile Necklace - Brass
datter
$84.33 USD
Hand Safety Pin - Brass
Hand Safety Pin - Brass
datter
$84.33 USD
Flora Ring - Silver
Flora Ring - Silver
datter
$84.33 USD
Flora Hoops - Brass
Flora Hoops - Brass
datter
$84.33 USD
Conversation Necklace - Silver
Conversation Necklace - Silver
datter
$97.51 USD
Conversation Necklace - Brass
Conversation Necklace - Brass
datter
$84.33 USD
Moonstone deco ring in brass
Moonstone deco ring in brass
datter
$94.87 USD
Cat ring tiny - silver
Cat ring tiny - silver
datter
$71.16 USD
Aster Crown Hoop - Silver
Aster Crown Hoop - Silver
datter
$84.33 USD
Snake Hoop - Brass
Snake Hoop - Brass
datter
$84.33 USD
Flora Ring - Brass
Flora Ring - Brass
datter
$71.16 USD
Golden Crossed Arrows signet ring
Golden Crossed Arrows signet ring
datter
$71.16 USD
Posey ring - brass
Posey ring - brass
datter
$71.16 USD
Laurel Crown ring - golden brass
Laurel Crown ring - golden brass
datter
$71.16 USD

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