Kayleigh Carter is the London-based designer behind A Weathered Penny and A Mini Penny (her children’s range). Her necklaces featuring dainty, porcelain animals are one of our most popular items at Arlette Gold.
Incredibly bravely, Kayleigh agreed to run two back-to-back Sunday workshops at our Brixton pop up, with ten children at each.
On the morning of the workshop, Kayleigh arrives and sets up. Soon the table is home to tasteful materials, with not a gaudy piece of plastic or bead in sight!
There is, however, soft, lightly waxed, cotton cord in an array of muted colours (white, grey, navy, teal, dark green, pink, caramel, mustard yellow, red and orange); wooden pendants (peg babies, little boys and girls, rabbits, swans, moons and stars, trees, balloons and houses – all incredibly cute); teeny tiny tassels handmade by Kayleigh; pom-poms, and silver- and gold- plated stars.
The children arrive and settle themselves in. First decision – cord colour. Kayleigh shows them how to measure out their chosen cord to 50cm plus 35cm (a good bit of maths practice). Then they choose their wooden pendants and accessories.
The adults and older children are charged with attaching the pendants to jump rings, which the children then thread on to their cord. Some of the slightly older, more sophisticated kids clearly have some minimal design in mind, but the younger ones not so much – they’re more gung-ho, choosing a random selection of icons which they keep adding to until they’ve got almost a dozen things crazily jostling for space.
Next comes the hard bit: Kayleigh demonstrates how to tie a slipknot in the cord, so that the necklace is adjustable lengthwise. “Hold the ends of your cord in an X Factor shape, pull one end longer…wrap the other round three times, slip this end through….”. Er…she receives a few blank stares; others concentrate occasionally shouting “I’ve got it…oh no I haven’t”. Kayleigh works her way around the table quickly tying 20 slipknots whilst I sit, brow furrowed, in the corner, determined to make it work. It takes me a while but I get there - I can do a slip knot! I look up triumphantly to laughing nine-year-old faces, who’ve done theirs minutes ago. “Knitting club” I am told.
Necklaces done, we turn to decorating a jewellery box. Kayleigh has somehow sourced small wooden jewellery boxes that don’t look tacky or gaudy. Bar a handful of the necessary pink-and-purple jewel-like stickers it’s all surprising tasteful. “I figured I needed to ignore my own need for minimalism and venture into glittery pink – it’s what they want” she says as if needing to explain. But there are also unexpected jewel-like stickers in a more muted pearl, black, white, black, blue and turquoise.
The kids delve in and get going with lightning speed. Guffawing at how neat and orderly the mini designers at the table are, I only realise ten minutes in that the jewels come in strips! Rows, nice neat rows to satisfy my order-craving tendencies. Genius.
Another decorating secret? Japanese Washi Tape - a low tack, decorative masking tape that can be used to add pattern and colour. You cut or tear it, stick it, reposition, remove it - there are endless possibilities and you can’t go wrong! Today we can choose from bold and bright tape, pastel tape, plain tape, stripy tape, spotty tape, geometric patterned tape, and character tape. Again – so clever.
The children end up with a necklace that they’re happy to wear, and that won’t offend their parents’ eyes, and a jewellery box that won’t look out of place in the chicest bedroom. And they’ve all sat still for two whole hours. It’s a win-win. Time for biscuits.
Kayleigh takes note of one mini-designer who has fashioned two dolphins out of pearl-like stickers on her jewellery box, and the image goes straight on to Instagram – an emerging designer to keep an eye on perhaps?