Sawing a path
Zedek Creations didn't always look the way it does now. In fact, in some ways, it was an accident.
My name is Lilith Morrigan Hicks, founder and owner of Zedek Creations. When I was a very young child, ever carefree, creative, and dwelling in my imagination, it was common knowledge to me that my mother had been a silversmith before I was born. I knew that she had run a jewellery shop of her own in Dolgellau in North Wales, called Janna Jewellery, and that she had given up jewellery making to start her family.
Therefore throughout my childhood, there was jewellery everywhere.
Leftover stock from her shop, things she had picked up over the years that caught her eye and plenty of other things, all with a tale of their own. I always loved looking at the jewellery, and developed my own taste very early, so it was a common sight to see tiny little childhood me, rooting through all the jewellery in a bag, picking out the ones I liked and cheekily announcing "I'm keeping these!" My mother never really minded of course, and to this day I still have several old tarnished rings, necklaces and an earring (I should really polish them all!) that I picked out from those days. She always knew she would get them back if she ever wanted, and kept her favourite things away from my grubby little paws.
By the age of 15 in 2012, I was struggling through secondary school and began thinking about my career and the future, I had no job at the time. How the original conversation came about is, like so many portentous moments, completely lost to history, but eventually my mother and I spoke about her restarting her jewellery business and my desire to work with her, and learn the trade of a silversmith. Soon enough, her business was reborn as Celtic Treasure, specialising in the Celtic designs that she had always loved, but with several modern twists. So it was through this business that she started teaching me the trade, and much like a lot of apprentices, I was forged in fire. I started with the simple things: polishing and filing and I'm sure any other jewellery maker can confirm that, when done by hand, these are by far the most boring and tedious tasks. I spent hours polishing hundreds of tiny daffodils, and little Celtic patterns that my fingers could barely hold. I had friction burns on my fingertips, several remnants of where I had slipped with a file and stabbed my fingers and an entirely new appreciation of handmade jewellery. In time I was of course taught more creative and interesting things, such as sawing a shape out of silver sheet, and one or two bizarre tricks (I'm talking about cuttlefish casting). Finally I was taught to solder, a process that had terrified me every time I saw it in action.
I'm still grateful that I learned these things, and I believe that if I hadn't started with the most boring and painful aspects first, then I may never have kept with it.
At this point my creative soul yearned for some sort of expression, and with my new skills, I felt confident enough to begin creating my own designs. At this point it should be said that even as a child, my styles always leaned towards a darker side. I was a little gothling, for sure. As far as I can remember, my first solo design was a very crudely cut pendant in the shape of a dagger. It was too sharp to be worn, and looked nothing like how I had intended it to, therefore it was promptly forgotten (unless my mother has it hidden away somewhere, she's sentimental like that). Fast forward a few years, and with some experience and practice I began creating the designs that I had always wanted to wear. Most of these were variations of occult symbols. An Egyptian ankh was one of the first that I was very proud of, I made two of these at first: one as a present to my then and still best friend who inspired the idea, and a matching one for me. Eventually I modified the design to fit other forms of jewellery: some earrings, a smaller version of the symbol etc. I created several other designs of occult or mythological origin including several Viking runes of The Elder Futhark (as seen below), most of which I still have today. I still wear one of five pentagram pendants that I made during this time, I wear it everyday. You see, the problem was that the designs I wanted to create, would take hours and hours of hard work to make, and then would hardly be popular at all in the types of areas that our jewellery was sold in. At this point, all of my designs were sold as Celtic Treasure products, and were sold alongside my mother's designs. Eventually I grew rather disheartened, with no way of selling online, my designs mostly gathered dust.
I needed a new approach.
It is then through the strange intervention of the universe that an ancient, dusty tome surfaced in our house. A book that had until now, sat submerged on the bookshelf, drawing no particular attention to itself, suddenly called to me. The old book was about chainmail jewellery, something my mum had intended to look into but had never gotten around to. I followed the steps in the book as an experiment and took to it like it was made to be. I had a knack for it, or so my family and friends told me. What I found easy, they considered far too intricate and confusing. So I continued with this new-found style. Learning more and more weave types, committing them to memory, tweaking them and even creating my own. It came naturally to me and I loved doing it, hours would pass by and I would still be sat at that table, weaving chain links together, marvelling at the process of the creation. I began making bracelets, extravagant full length chains, and eventually earrings. Due to the nature of chainmail, most weave types require to be "closed" at both ends in order to hold their shape: something that doesn't translate well to earrings, but in time, through trial and error I succeeded in creating designs that just worked. This new style was very popular with others, and was something that many people had never seen before, and those who had often said that they hadn't seen chainmail jewellery of this quality before.