My name is Debbie and although the title suggests there is more than one of us making your precious keepsakes, it is for the time being just myself.
I started off jewellery designing about 7 years ago now. I decided from that I wanted to make more personal and meaningful items for people, so over 3 yrs ago, I started doing memorial pieces with cremation ashes and hair/fur. I have had some wonderful customers and some beautiful letters, cards, and feedback that just warmed my heart. I feel it is as emotional for me to make as it is for you to receive, and I have had the privilege of hearing some wonderful stories, and some sad and heartfelt stories that have really humbled me - it has been an honour to make each and every piece.
I was asked many a time if I would make a breast milk piece, but at the time it was not a skill that I had yet mastered. Setting cremation ashes is a straightforward process compared to breast milk, which has many steps in its creation, from chemical preservation to the finished piece. Several years, and a lot of research later, and the breast milk jewellery was then ready for public purchase.
All materials are respected, name tagged and preserved on the day I receive them until I am ready to start your order. I always keep materials separate and I deal with one customer order at a time. I have had many experiences from previous jobs dealing with bagging and tagging and ensuring all details are accurate down to the finest detail. Previous employers have been the Met police and I was a phlebotomist with the NHS for a number of years. So I hope that may bring a little more reassurance.
I have also suffered a lot of loss in my own life, my Mum to cancer and my Dad who took his own life, grandparents and family pets, so I have a complete understanding of how people may be feeling at an emotional time in their life.
I am also a mother who knows the importance of bonds between mother and child. I adore my girls and wish that breast milk jewellery had been around 20 plus years ago.
I am letting you know some personal info about me happily and freely, as due to the nature of my business you guys let me into a little of your world when I make a keepsake for you, as you are sending materials that you hold close and entrusting me, so for me to give a little of myself back to you is important and hopefully make you see a real person is making your keepsake rather than a nameless faceless person on the big wide web.
Below is a picture of my Big babies Thea & Paige, now and then and my fur babies Hugo & Max <3 and me. Three girls together that will hopefully become Sentimental Keepsake & Daughters.
So how do we create our pieces?
Breast milk; this for breast milk artists is a technique we have all learned and perfected and we all have our own methods I am sure.
1... when I receive your milk it is chemically preserved and turned into a moldable paste. I do not use resin, wax or clay to preserve your milk, (you need a proper preservative to keep bacteria and mould from forming, resin, colour etc is added after milk is preserved) as that practice is not preserving it properly) and can cause yellowing of your jewellery. The jewellery we first created a few years ago has not changed in colour.
2.. it is then left to turn into stone for a few days. when it has just been preserved it is like a jelly sticky substance that is darker in colour. When it is fully dried it is much lighter varying in colour from translucent milky white to creamy or darker creamy colour. Your breast milk is unique to you.
3...when it has hardened it is finely crushed or made into chips unless it has been previously moulded while soft. But for most of my pieces, it is finely crushed.
4... It is then transferred into a mould or a base, I go ahead and mix resin (the resin I use has UV filters, so it's the best of the best) on the market. I do tend to wear my goggles and respirator when using as in the preservation process, and the resin casting process as it can be quite a toxic especially if you use it a lot and have developed allergies to uncured resin... (please note resin once cured is totally allergy free. it is just in the curing stages before it has solidified) ...once resin is mixed I then add your colour choice and mix some more ... the bubbles are then removed as much as possible, the resin is poured over your breast milk to encapsulate it forever. It's left to cure for a further 4-5 days in a glass cabinet (so I can see how it is coming along), It is touch dry after a day, but to give it a full cure is best. again with your order number and name.
5.. when properly cured it is then demolding if it's in a mould, sanded and buffed.
6..After buffing it then has the correct fixtures added, be it a bail, wire wrapping or beaded into a bracelet.
7..whoopie its home time for your precious little gem. it is wrapped up with love and a smile and sent signed for to you.
All breast milk artists have their own personal style, so do some research into preservation methods and have a look around, there are a few with some beautiful products. I would highly recommend the artists work that I have seen. Although we do hope with our store you find something perfect for you. As you may have noticed we like the gemstone and slightly boho chic look which is our style mostly. (bit of a hippy at heart I guess). We are limited on ring designs at the moment but again have a look about, or we do sell the lovely birthstone ring which is a pretty piece.
For Ashes and other materials.
I have made prices for cremation jewellery one of the best cost to you in the UK, this is because I understand what people go through at a tough time and want to make life a little easier.
These do not need quite as much of a lengthy making time.
1.. on the day I receive them they are tagged and the little bag is placed into another clear bag and placed into their own little memorial box or dome until I am ready to make your order.
2.. the ashes are carefully put into the chosen mould or base, I do this on plastic sheeting so not one piece of ash is spilt ... I always say one teaspoon to be on the safe side but a good majority of that comes back to you and only a pinch is used per item, It all depends on the mould or base size.
3.. I then mix up the resin along with a chosen colour and pour the resin over the ashes slowly mixing them so each grain is coated before they solidify. They are left in a clear cabinet with name and order number to cure for two days. For charm beads, the process is a little more lengthy as each grain is placed while semi-cured.
4.. The piece is then taken from the mould and sanded and buffed with fixtures added or placed into the chosen base. Unless the chosen base is what it cures in, in which case no sanding will be necessary.
5.. Then your precious piece along with unused ashes/material is returned home to you with love and a hug and signed for. X