Friday, 15 August 2014

DIY Plectrum Jewellery

Making wearable pieces from 'found' objects is one of my favourite things. It requires you to really 'think outside the box' and use your creativity. Making jewellery from plectrums isn't really anything new and Tatty Devine led the way back in their early days with Plectrum bracelets. Plectrums come in a wide spectrum of bright colours, but there are also clear ones, metal ones, tortoiseshell ones - an endless array of loveliness to suit every taste. It's also a great way of recycling and re-purposing plastic, re-using worn plectrums or creating your own from old store cards or gift cards that could have a really lovely pattern or colour you like.

Tools & Materials:
Assortment of Plectrums
Earring hooks
Jump rings
Necklace chain
Flat back beads or Cabachons
Jewellery pliers
Strong glue
Firstly you will want to drill a small hole into your plectrums. A 2 or 3mm drill bit is ideal. Position your holes wherever you want to attach the earring hook to. I did a few with holes at the wider end and a few at the narrower, pointier end. I also had some metal plectrums that had holes already in them so I skipped this step for those ones.
Position your gems on top of your plectrums and glue in place. Once the glue has dried you can assemble your earrings. I used a silver paillette on the back of each of these earrings just to add another colour and texture.
The next pair I made was using metal plectrums. They had 3 holes along the top but when I fixed the gem onto the front, the middle hole got covered up so I used chain on the two end holes to connect them to the earring hook.
I went on to make another pair that had 2 plectrums on each earring, both hanging the opposite way to create a layered look. I use a diamond shaped gem this time.

To make a necklace just follow the same principle. Use a jump ring to connect the Plectrum to the necklace chain.
That's all there is to it. Have fun creating your own jewellery with different plectrums and gems, there are so many possibilities.

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Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Chocolate Marbled Meringue

Pillowy clouds of delicious goodness anyone? Yep? Read on. This is a quick and easy recipe that will produce light, chocolately, mallowy-centred melt-in-the-mouth meringues that look super impressive. Nothing beats fresh baked meringue, the perfect combo of a crunchy exterior and a soft chewy middle, served with a sprinkling of fresh berries and a drizzle of cream.

140g Dark chocolate
3 Egg whites (at room temperature)
150g Caster sugar

Makes approx 6-8 meringues
cooking time 1 ½ - 2 hours

1) Preheat your oven to 90°C or 70°C  for a fan oven. Line your baking sheet with greaseproof paper or baking parchment.
2) Melt your chocolate over a pan of barely simmering water and set aside once completely melted. I used Fair Trade dark chocolate that I picked up from my local Aldi.

3) Place the egg whites in a large bowl. Using an electric whisk, whisk on a medium speed for a minute or so. As the egg whites begin to foam up and increase in volume, turn your whisk onto it's fastest setting. Continue until soft peaks form.
4) Still whisking, add the sugar a bit at a time, whisk for 20 or so seconds in between each addition.
5) Continue to whisk until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is stiff and shiny.
6) Gently pour the melted chocolate onto the meringue. Gently fold the chocolate into the meringue, being careful not to mix well as we want a swirled effect.

7) Spoon the mixture onto the baking sheet forming round cloud-like shapes.

8) Place in the oven for about 1½ hours. Turn the heat off after this time but leave in the oven until completely cool. This will help the exterior of meringues to dry out a little bit more so that they don't collapse. You can even make these at night and leave in the oven (turned off) overnight and remove in the morning.
9) Remove from the baking parchment when completely cool and serve. Any meringues left over can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Imagine a Pavlova sized version of this meringue, filled with fresh berries and drizzled in cream or even chocolate sauce.....mmmm....yes please! I might try using milk and even white chocolate next time and see how that works. I think the dark chocolate cuts through the sweetness of the meringue and balances out the flavours, a great option for those who aren't as partial to super sweet desserts.
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