I have a soft spot for lemon balm leaves. Their veins are so well defined, just perfect for earrings. I’ve been waiting impatiently for spring to complete my winter orders, on the look out for the new leaves on my favourite lemon balm plant in my little herb garden. It wasn’t until the end of April that the first leaves began to push shyly out of the earth in the pot. They were so tender and fragile I knew they’d be crushed immediately if I picked them.
On 15 May I was finally able to collect some leaves…
I select the leaves carefully for the use I will give them. The finer and more fragile they are, the faster I have to work so that they don’t wilt before the process is finshed.
The first layer of porcelaine is always the most delicate and tricky. It is as thin as paper and breaks from the slightest touch. But it is the only way to get the relief of every detail of the leaf and the veins.
Then I place the wire loops that are covered by the successive layers of porcelaine.
Once the leaves are finished, I choose the closest matching pairs that will become earrings. The other leaves are used as components for different designs.
The colouring stage is a true joy! Nothing ever comes out as planned, the pigments collect along the veins and unexpected marriages take place in front of my very eyes. The challenge is to recreate the colours exactly as the future owner has chosen (like the large leaf in the middle). When the pigment has dried and is stable, each leaf is varnished to protect it from moisture and dirt.
Here’s the result of the day’s work, with my beloved lemon balm leaves and some groups of other leaves earmarked for other projects.