Silver Art Jewellery  
 Grounded in Nature   

Helga's Blog

dutch jewellery designer la leipsig


Stories from the daily live of an active metalsmith who tracks down
her muse with camera and sketchbook.

Four times a year I make a seasonal round-up of my activities here from my blog. By subscribing  you get this letter automatically delivered to your mailbox.

Have fun on my site, and if you have any questions or remarks on a blogpost ...
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5 steps to Capture Your Precious Travel Moments for Future Creative Projects

Picture this:

Grand CanyonYou’re on a 4 day hiking trip in the Grand Canyon. Every day you enjoy the multi-coloured palette of layers. A warm symphony in ocher, brown and red. A reminder how ancient our earth is. You take lots of pictures. You try to retain the magnitude of passing of time in this breathtaking part of our planet.

But then you come home. You put down your suitcase and look around your house. You see a pile of letters, and scan through them. You open your suitcase to unpack the laundry.

You call close family so they know you’re home. You tell a bit about your travels and agree on meeting later in the week. You're already making lists in your head “what to do”. Before you know you're back in the rut and memories of your amazing trip fade away.

It happened to me.

After a 3 week journey, daily life knocked on the door. To keep my memories alive I had to take action. I decided to devote time to grounding my experiences in a conscious and practical way.

I followed the 5 steps below to solidify my precious holiday moments so I could use them for future projects.


1 - Remember by writing

Nothing fancy. 

When I travel, I write brief summaries of where I am and what I do (no high prose, for my eyes only). When something spectacular catches my eye I make a quick sketch or add a note. I glue leaflets of the travel area into my logbook. I leave lots of white space where I can add pictures or notes later on. (important!)

A logbook while travelling is like having an external memory disk. You can always go back and look things up when you need it.

Here a snapshot of my logbook:

Helga's logbook


2 - Uncover the gems in your pictures

When you're home, look through your pictures. Do you notice any themes?

I found I have a lot of pictures of erosion on stones and layers in the canyon. Beautiful weird patterns and fascinating earth colour variations. I put these pictures in seperate folders and give them meaningful names. Here's for instance a link to a folder called Earth Jewels. I go back into this folder when I want to look deeper into the theme it represents.

Pictures often tell you things you didn’t realize when you were there. Have you noticed this too?


3 - Re-connect in a meaningful way

zion canyon laleipsigYour friends and family love to see short impressions of your holiday. They don't want to be bored by your long unedited version.

I make a “quick view folder”. The trip from the Grand Canyon had 467 pictures which I cut down to 92 images. Curating images often feels difficult but I also find it fun. I get to re-live my experience and the reward is a coherent story of my journey. Buried memories miraculously come back. I write them down in my logbook.

Then it’s easy to sit down with friends or family with a glass of wine, relax and talk about your trip.

Or share your folder on Facebook.


4 - Access your unconscious information

Normal life takes over.
And that is okay.

You can even use it to your advantage to incorporate your memories.  

When doing routine tasks, let your mind wander over your holiday. Observe your thoughts. Work gives your hands something to do while your head can process what happened. Let time pass to deepen memories, so unconscious feelings can rise to the surface.

I get to work in my garden. After a holiday there's always a lot to do, weeding, mowing, trimming. Work that allows my mind to wander. Often leading to new insights and connecting me to what happens in my inner life. Giving me an “Ah Erlebnis”.

Some people use meditation to access this information. I find doing daily chores has the same effect and I can clean the house and garden at the same time.

Just one tip: Keep away from the TV. It will interfere with your process.


5 - Connect Consciously

Take time to sit down with your notebook and your picture files. Ponder over the essence of your trip.  Let your experience seep through the veins of your mind (it has layers too).  You'll have new things to add to your book. Sketch!

Try to express why you like certain images. What speaks to you? What don't you like? This is why I leave lots of white space in my logbook. When analysing, you ground your experience deeper into yourself. Everything gets a place. Like cleaning up and putting everything at the right spot so you can find it later.


Walk the extra mile to add valuable layers to your holiday

When you travel, you experience a landscape with childlike eyes.
Taking it in, with all the senses you have, being there.
Without judgment, full of wonder.

Back home you engage your grown-up self.
You get a grip through analysing and organisation.
This helps you recognise patterns.

I came to the Grand Canyon expecting to see layers. And yes, I did see them but there was so much more. The experience of walking in the Canyon. The hard work to get down and then up again, touching me on a deeper level. 

Sorting my images and doing my daily tasks gave me processing time. By analysing the meaning of my experience, I could detect layers of information that I didn't know were there.

You can discover your own layers to use for future projects.

It’s as easy as sitting at your kitchen table. Enjoying a cup of coffee. Looking through your images. Have your logbook with a pencil on the side. Scribble down the thoughts that show up...

Help your inner child to access those layers of information.

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earth-jewel Antelope canyon

Grounded Chance & Finding Colour

While I followed a tulip bud till full bloom I thought about what makes my life colourful, where do I stand for?  And why the heck did I call my blog Grounded in Nature?

I did it for a good reason but I never told you, didn't know how to do it.

tulipe collage

It is part of the reasons why I have hesitations to write for this blog. I feel I haven’t yet found my voice. I struggle to tell where I stand for, to show you my colour. Because I am afraid to make stupid mistakes, that my writing isn't good enough and lots of other objections.

This fear holds me back and makes me passive.

To get over this passive state I did walk a lot. I asked some friends if I could join them with their trips. It are long walks in different area's. It expanded my horizon. Literally & spiritually because we talked about issues in life and growing in general. It's great to have such good friends :-)

Walking takes you back to the ground in a direct way. In each step you feel connected. Loved. Step by step you accomplish a lot of kilometres. You have time for observing nature, to feel, smell and see our beautiful earth. With it comes peace and a clearness on your goal.

It's time to change my approach for future blogging, to take action to make my blog more vivid.  But how to do it?

Last year I followed a DIY course from Brit Hammer to improve my photographing skills. In a short time it gave me a big boost in confidence for capturing my own work in a loving way.

Why not do it for writing as well, to help me get over the fear of being exposed?

schoenen groundedTherefore I have invested in a 3 months writing course with Henneke Duistermaat.
I strive to learn to show my colours without fear, to practice a lot and start exploring how to talk about being grounded.

What do you think, will you follow me along while I walk my path?



Saying goodbye to a faithful companion

chicoChico our faithful friend is no more.
He broke his back but not his spirit.

We were the 4th place where he could live. At that time a little bit older than 1 year. He had an awesome time with us. Perky, passionate, playful and curious but also incredibly affectionate towards us.

Playing with sticks was his favourite game. One that became fatal. He jumped so high he developed an acute hernia with paraplegics as result.

Only 6 weeks of absolute rest could perhaps bring cure. With his nature an impossible task. We had to take the hardest decision and let him go to join our loved ones at the other side.

Chico helped me in a rough period of my life. At least he took care that I came out of bed to make a walk. On this daily walk my Abundance in Nature series emerged. More and more I got an eye for Nature and its healing power that is embedded in the seasons.

Everything comes, everything goes. As does Chico.

inner-star chico zilverTo give my feelings a place, I ritualize. I still make my daily walk, when I see a stick I pick it up and take it with me to the Maas (the river). There I throw the stick in the water, it feels liberating. I know that it will flow to the sea, the place which offers comfort.

The other way to make it tangible is to work with my favourite material. With a small tool I started to stroke the clay as if it was Chico. The result is a relief that resembles his pelt. You can see this texture on my little inner star (19 mm high). Now I can wear it or hang it on the picture frame with his photo.

I know this type of sorrow is a small sorrow but, a dog can be more sometimes.

Riem van Chico

Drawing made from Chico's leash.

From massive silver to elegant pendant

Lately I have been challenged by a 15 mm thick piece of pure silver. It was given to me without limitations, only with the remark to “make something out of it”.
A challenge I can appreciate.

silver-pendant-foldform15 millimeter thick silver isn’t direct working material. It needs to be worked to be able to do something with it. And I wanted to FoldForm with it so it had to be a LOT thinner!

I decided to hammer it down. Pure silver is soft enough to do so (on the 1st picture you see the dimples of the hammer in the soft silver).

Well... it was quite a challenge.

It took numerous hammering sessions and a lot of annealing (making silver soft by heating it up to 400C) to end up with 3 mm thick silver. I now know how the goldsmiths in Egypt must have felt and I even have steel tools.

If you want to see me hammering, click this link to my YouTube channel  (film made by JP my son).

After 3 mm I started to use the rolling mill to end up with a 0,5 mm thick silver strip, this is picture 2. 

From a relative small part of this strip I cut of a piece (3rd picture) so I could make a FoldForm pendant which Esther now wears with pleasure. (the last 2 pictures)

What I am going to do with the rest of the silver hasn't been decided but I will definately tell in a next blogpost.


What is FoldForming?

Through folding and forging thin metal you can quickly get large objects that resemble forms in Nature. It is done by using natural characteristics of metal which by a hammer blow develops a certain stiffness. Pieces made with this technique develop a structural strength even when you use pure silver.

This technique is developed by Charles Lewton-Brain.
He explains it in depth on his website

The guiding power of Fire

- This is the 2nd post in my series about the 4 classical elements. By writing about the elements I try to understand what these important building blocks of Nature have to do with my jewellery -

vuur-fire 4elements symbolicThe second element I want to discuss is FIRE.

I started making a sheet with words that historically belong to this element  (at the end of this post ). With the words as a guide I investigated how they belong to my work. What fuels me? What sets me on fire? Where is my enthusiasm?

My biggest inspiration source, in a very basic way, is Nature. I believe that everything that grows can tell you something, if we only we would listen. Perhaps we have lost this ability a bit.

By observing and listening to Nature I try to find out what is important for me. I do this through drawing, writing and photography, often with a macro-lens to make close-ups. Then I share it here on my blog to inspire you to have a look too.  Or make your own discoveries. What you like!

Another passion of me is working with Metal Clay.
I find this relatively new material so fascinating that I keep on exploring it. This curiosity fuels my actions, I’m truly inspired by it and I want to actively research the possibilities. I try to find suitable applications for the characteristics of Metal Clay, to find solutions that are difficult or shear impossible to achieve with the traditional metalsmiths way.

These 2 passions, Metal Clay and Nature, meet each other in my jewellery. In my work it magically works together, the malleable Metal Clay is an excellent medium to express my thoughts about Nature.

The funny thing is that developments I encounter working with Metal Clay are parallel to my personal developments. It starts when I see something in Nature that I can relate to my own feelings and grow processes. The moment I understand what's happening I am able to express it in metalclay.  That's how my collections grow.

I would very much like to infect you with my enthusiasm for nature, and the personal development you can get through it, so you too start to observe the small signs in Nature, and like me learn how to shut down the noise and hear her voice.

I also would love to hear from you. What is it that fuels you?
Where lies your passion?

Don’t hesitate to discus or tell it in the comments :-)


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About La Leipsig

The jewellery which is sold under the brand name La Leipsig Jewels is based on Helga van Leipsig's observations of the nature in Limburg, a province in the south of The Netherlands.



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