It's been a while that I introduced a creative professional on my blog, but when I received an email from my German friend Jutta Eidenmueller that she finally had set up her Etsy shop Lapideum I decided to write a post about her precious jewellery creations and quirky vintage cushions. I met Jutta in the Daintree Rainforest in far north Queensland in 2010 where we were both travelling alone with our children. This not only saved our holidays, it was also the start of a friendship bridging the distance between Darwin and Sydney for the past six years.

To get an idea who is the person behind Lapideum I asked her a few questions. Enjoy! And don't forget to browse her online shop Lapideum for fabulous presents for yourself, your family, and friends.

What is your background?
I was born and bred in Germany near the town of Darmstadt and moved to Darwin to live with my Australian partner in 1998.

Why and when did you start making jewellery and vintage cushions?
The jewellery making started by accident in 2005.
 I was searching for beads to make a necklace for myself and though I had always been interested in stones and minerals - even a nice river pebble can send me on a high - I didn’t know what great gemstone beads there were available waiting to be transformed into jewellery.  I couldn’t resist the temptation and my collection grew considerably so I decided to share my treasures. My jewellery has been handcrafted with genuine gemstones and Silver and is finished with sterling silver findings, professional beading wire and great attention to detail. I hand-pick my stones rather than buy in bulk so many pieces are one-of-a-kind.

Maybe I am an addictive personality but that’s how I got hooked on collecting vintage tea towels in 2012 as well. Not satisfied with the soul less mass produced cushion covers in stores I bought a few beautiful Irish linen vintage tea towels and - voilà - turned them into cushions for my mid century chairs. Again, it didn’t stop with just a few tea towels and the rest is history.  My collection consists mainly of “Australiana” vintage souvenir tea towels, depicting Australian places, flora and fauna, but I have other themes available as well. You could refer to some of them as Kitsch but they never fail to bring a smile on my face just by looking at them!

How does a typical day for you look like?
I also work part-time as a bookkeeper but the first challenge in the morning is always getting my eleven year old son Henry out of bed and ready for school.
On the days off from work I will then retreat into my studio and start creating.

What are your most important sources for inspiration?
The stones I work with. Most of them have a lot of character - beautiful colours and patterns - which I always try to highlight in my work. I can’t resist the delicate flower-like pattern of Fossil Coral, the fiery flashes of Labradorite, the stunning chatoyant dark red, gold and blue swirls in Pietersite… I could go on!  I also like to use rough material and the natural shapes of Tourmaline and Garnet.

Which other artist, designers or creative professionals do you admire?
I love the work of John Olsen. He captures the essence of the Australian landscape so seemingly effortless. My favourite works are from the Lake Eyre series, such luminous colours! Looking at these paintings, everyone who had been to the area or flown over it will immediately be taken back there. And of course “Waterbirds” and “Lily Pond North Queensland” – very Top End!

What project are you really proud of?
My son Henry.

What would be a dream project in the future?
To take a course in silversmithing and also learn how to use Precious Metal Clay. With these skills I could design and make my own silver pieces.

City Questions

What is your favourite place in Darwin and why?
We live near the Nightcliff foreshore and often go there in the evening for a walk along the ocean or for a picnic dinner.  Even though it’s is always a busy with people exercising and walking their dogs and kids, it’s still relaxing. There are also a lot of birds to watch and occasionally a croc sun baking on the beach.

Where do you like to go for dinner?
I love the Hanuman which is a mix of Thai and Indian dishes and the Vietnamese food at the Chow.

What should art and design lovers not miss when visiting the city?
I would definitely recommend a visit to the Tactile Arts studios and gallery. Tactile Arts is a community arts organisation supporting local artists and located on the grounds of the Museum and Art Gallery of NT (MAGNT). There are always changing exhibitions at the gallery and the organisation also runs a shop in Parliament House, Darwin.
For everyone interested in Aboriginal art a visit to the MAGNT with its extensive collection of traditional and contemporary Indigenous paintings and artefacts is a must.
The various commercial galleries in town, most specialising in Indigenous art, are also worth a look.

Where would you take a visitor on a Saturday morning?
Every Saturday morning we have breakfast at the Parap Markets, famous for delicious tropical food and great atmosphere. It’s sometimes hard to choose but among our favourite dishes are laksa, sate grilled on the coals and pad thai. There are also various crafts, tropical plants, flowers, clothing and fruit and veggies for sale. It’s always a great start into the weekend, tucking into yummy food while watching the hustle and bustle of the market!

Darwin’s best kept secret?
Not many visitors know about the Rapid Creek Sunday Markets. It’s only about twenty minutes from the city, and the locals go there to stock up on fresh fruit and veggies for the coming week. There are also some craft and food stalls but it’s mainly about Asian vegetables, tropical fruits, exotic herbs and spices, plants and seafood. If you are looking for that special fresh veggie/herb to use in a recipe, you will most likely find it at Rapid Creek Markets!

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