Heavy Metal Hearts for Valentine

I’m actually not hugely into excessive Valentine’s Day schmalz (sorry guys, I’m taken) – all we tend to do in our household is cards and a cuddle. We’re very demonstrative with our affection all year around anyway and whilst I do go a bit ga-ga over Christmas, Valentine’s day doesn’t really register that much. Having said that, I understand that if you’re still a blushing wannabe-bride or a teen with a crush, Valentine’s can be A Very Big Deal Indeed.

Metal heart necklace

Tangled Heart necklace by Lydia Niziblian

I’m using Valentine’s Day as a clever ruse to talk about two of my favourite independent jewellery designers. If you are looking for a present for a female of the species and would like to give her an item of jewellery that’s a little bit different, look no further than these two talented people. Lydia will also make a custom piece for you and I can tell you from experience that she has a knack for teasing out what you would like and making it into a reality. A piece of custom-made jewellery is a very thoughtful gift and all you have to do as a bloke, is to buy a gift card and your other half and Lydia will do the work. A no brainer, surely?

Lydia says: I see my job as turning your story or idea into a piece of jewellery that you will treasure, and not want to take off.
As I work on a one-to-one basis (whether you choose to discuss your ideas in person or via email), you can be guaranteed a high level of customer satisfaction.

And speaking of Eastercon, I first encountered Ally Shaw and her beautiful brand of fantasy jewellery there, stood at her stall for so long I must have started looking suspicious, bought a couple of pieces, circled ’round again and realised I was drawn to her jewellery designs more than possibly any other before.

There is a delicate, impish quality about her work and I struggled to put it to her at the time: “Your jewellery is like…illustration.” Her work is the solid equivalent of illustrated fairy tales.

Patchwork Heart necklace by Feral Strumpet

Patchwork Heart necklace by Feral Strumpet

Incidentally, I would have met Ally in another guise entirely, had I been able to continue attending the T Party writing group meetings. Moving out of London put a stop to that and now I am just an associate member.

I managed to restrict my spending to those two items (beautiful drop earrings) at the time, but my clever husband* bought me some adorable acorn earrings and the Patchwork Heart pendant for Christmas.

I must admit I’m not into witches and crystals or voodoo, but if you take Ally’s jewellery as a physical manifestation of fantasy, I think the magic is real enough.
Ally says about her brand:

Wanton whimsies for wildlings– imaginative handmade gothic, witchy, rockabilly and Victorian jewelry inspired by dark fairy tales and folklore, Hammer Horror films, gothic novels and pagan ritual. I also offer lovingly refurbished antique and vintage finds that suggest their own dark histories.All handmades are created one at a time in my little Victorian house in a cobblestone street in the shadow of the medieval walls of the city of York, where I’m serenaded by the hum of trains coming and going from the rail station and the howl of the Barghest prowling the snickleways of the ancient city.

What if you want to buy something for your bloke, then? Well, modern men and steampunk goths would probably find it just as delightful to commission a piece from either Lydia or Ally, but I have an alternative suggestion.

We watched that South Park cheesing episode with Heavy Metal tripping in it the other night and since then my husband has been so obsessively watching the song over and over again on YouTube that I’ve ordered the DVD. Trippy 80s metal and epic bewbage would probably delight many guys.

* I of course emailed him a link to her Etsy store and said “I’d quite like something from here for Christmas.”

How to Dissect Your Dragon

A Natural History of DragonsI got my hands on an advanced reading copy of A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent by Marie Brennan and reviewed it for Blogcritics. Her publicist also set up an email interview with the author.

Apparently there will be at least two more books set in this world where dragons are real and subject to prodding and poking by eager naturalists. It felt like a mix of Downton Abbey, Pern and Series of Unfortunate Events.

Dragon enthusiasts will recognise the handiwork of Todd Lockwood who is responsible for the beautiful illustrations throughout.

Marie will appear at the Seattle University Bookstore on the 6th of February and in the World Fantasy Con in Brighton, England, this October. A full list of her public appearances can be found here.

I’m still trying to decide whether I should book tickets to this year’s Eastercon and the Fantasy Con does sound tempting, too. A pattern seems to have emerged where my husband and I go to every other Eastercon. It’s not deliberate although the fact that every other Eastercon has been in London has been a big deciding factor. This year’s con is in Bradford from the 29th of March through to the 1st of April.