My fascination with the cowrie shell started when I first starting making my own jewellery many years ago, there used to be a bead shop in Covent Garden that would sell the most beautiful shells and I would love the tactile quality of these sea gems. My interest was peaked when I came across the extensive use of cowrie shells in African artefacts and tribal attire worn by Chiefs and tribe members as body adornment and for ceremonial purposes.
But did you know that cowrie shells were used as a form of money for centuries as early as the 14th century on Africa’s western coast and spread across many other parts of Africa, Asian, Oceania and even Europe. Similar to our Cyptocurrency today because it was a peer-to-peer system that did not rely on banks to verify transactions. These beautiful sea shells were durable and light making them easy to transport and exchange across villages and recognised as valuable currency across borders enabling international trade. Cowrie shells had all the characteristics expected of a currency, solidity, manageability, divisibility and the fact that it is easily identifiable are found in these small shells, the two main species of which are cypraea moneta and cypraea annulus. The word money actually derives from the word moneta; the medium of exchange, 40 shells for groceries, could you imagine such a beautiful form of payment.
Our fascination and idea of value and wealth imbedded in these curious sea creatures still exist today, in more recent years it was rumoured in The Washington Post that the most expensive cowrie ever sold was for more than $50,000 which is an incredible example of how their intrinsic beauty is tied to their monetary status. This mystical sea creature has been treasured by people from as early as 620BC – 250BC in ancient Egypt and continues today in the form of jewellery, art and decoration.
The idea that these humble sea shells hold so much history, wealth and value that transpires across the world especially in African is one of the reasons that I use them in my jewellery designs today. I only wish I use them today as currency, I could adorn myself in several strings of shells and take them off to pay for my food shop and maybe a pair of new shoes lol! However I am very contented with using them to make jewellery and to decorate my accessories with, I have falling in love with the cowrie shell and hope to pass some of their history and beauty on to you in my designs. Take a look at this short video of my new bohemian bracelets celebrating the cowrie shells:
Following our recent Scrunchie launch I thought I would make a quick video demonstrating 3 super easy ways to style your hair with our new Sky Blue Crochet Scrunchie. The thing I love most about these scrunchies is that they are super stretchy which makes them perfect for thick hair, braids and dreadlocks like mine.
My favourite is this cute Side Ponytail, I love the way the scrunchie looks like a pretty blue and white flower, perfect for Spring.
Hair Scrunchies are back in style and we absolutely love them! Last autumn we started producing them to help use up the left over yarn from our crochet beanies and they went down a storm at our winter markets. So today we are so excited to launch them online in a range of beautiful colours that will help transform your casual ponytail into a pretty little up do.
Each of our designs have been crocheted by hand to create this almost flower like motif in your hair and we have nine different styles for you to choose from including a fluffy cream velvet (one of our bestsellers), this vibrant violet above and also these gorgeous ones below:
So head over to our website and check out the full range and tag us in your photos so we can see your stunning hair dos.
This winter we have some amazing events lined up across London
Wednesday 3rd of November 11-5pm | Old Spitalfields Market with Urban Makers | 16 Commercial Street London E1 6EW
Wednesday 17th of November 11-5pm | Old Spitalfields Market with Urban Makers | 16 Commercial Street London E1 6EW
Saturday the 20th of November 10-3pm | The Rookery Farmers Market | Covington Way SW16
Saturday 11th of December 11-5pm | Urban Makers Christmas Market | The Ecology Pavilion Mile End E3 5TW
Come along and shop our Autumn/Winter collection of knitted scarves, hats and gloves as well as a selection of handmade jewellery and macrame designs. Take a look at our previous stall set up at Old Spitalfields market earlier this month:
We are hoping to book a few more dates for the run up to Christmas so check back for updates
This month we have been setting up shop at Old Spitalfields Market and we are excited to announce that we have a few more dates this month:
WEDNESDAY 22ND SEPTEMBER 2021 | 11-5PM
SUNDAY 26TH OF SEPTEMBER 2021 | 10-5PM
WEDNESDAY 29TH OF SEPTEMBER 2021 | 11-5PM
Take a look at our previous pop-up shop this month:
We currently have a 50% off macrame sample sale as summer now draws to an end and we enter autumn. We will be introducing our Autumn/Winter range of hand knitted scarves and hats as well as some sparkly knitwear ready for the festive season.
Location: Old Spitalfields Market, 16 Commercial St, London E1 6EW
After a long break we are so excited to announce that we are back at Old Spitalfields Market with Urban Makers and their amazing community of creatives. Last week Wednesday was our first pop-up event and it was so lovely to be out in the public speaking to new and existing customers and showing off our new creations. Take a look at our Instagram reel to see some of the highlights:
This month I have been on a treasure hunt for some treasure and to my delight I found some or more accurately, I made some in the form of my new Treasure Bucket Bags.
These colourful bags have been handcrafted from recycled yarn and reclaimed leather both materials were destined for the rubbish heaps so it is so exciting to that they have been transformed into something new and beautiful.
Available in five summer shades; yellow, red, blue, green and black, and each one lined with a stunning tropical printed cotton fabric.
The idea behind these bucket bags was to create something that put a smile on your face every time you used it. Whether you take it on your next beach holiday or on your next leisurely stroll to the supermarket, I just hope that they add some joy to someone’s day and they become someone else’s treasure.
Pssst … use promo code ‘BLOG10’ to receive 10% discount off your treasure bucket bag
I wanted to share my February jewellery favs with you which include a our popular Ashanti and Bibi septum rings and our new mother of pearl necklace and earrings. I’m currently a bit obsessed with 50 shades of white at the moment, from faux fur jackets to super chic felt hats these jewellery pieces add a fresh finesse to the outfit.
Have a great February guys and wishing you a romantic Valentines day!
This Sunday the 31st of March we celebrate Mother’s Day in the UK, on this special day we get to spoil our mums and show them how much we really appreciate all that they do for us all year around come rain or shine.
Being a mother myself to a beautiful and adventurous little girl has made me appreciate my mum even more as she is not only a great mum to me and my brother but a wonderful Grandmother to my daughter and nephews and niece. Anytime I need a helping hand she is there without hesitation. She has taught me so much about being a great mum, and I love her so much for all her words of wisdom and devolution to being my SuperMum.
So to help you celebrate Mother’s day this weekend here is an Elisha Francis gift guide to help you choose the perfect gift for your SuperMum.
This Sunday the 17th of March I will be joining Urban Makers for their annual Spring Market at The Ecology Pavilion in Mile End. The Ecology Pavilion overlooks the reed beds of Mile End Park and will showcase 50 different designer makers each day.
This will be the first time at the Spring Market and I am looking forward to meeting all the independent designers and showcasing my designs in a new venue.
My favorite part of these type of events is meeting new customers and introducing them to my designs and seeing them come to life as they have some fun trying them on.
I hope you can join us!
URBAN MAKERS SPRING MARKET
Sunday 17th of March 2019
Ecology Pavilion, Mile End Park, Grove Road E3 5TW