About Krystalline Black

London-based designer of urban decoupage jewellery.

Photographs now for sale

I’ve dabbled with photography and digital image manipulation for some time – indeed I use a lot of my own photographs in my jewellery designs (see this blog post). However I’ve never really shared my photos with the public – they’ve always been just a personal hobby. So I thought I’d try something new and offer a few photographic prints in the Krystalline Black Etsy shop. They’re printed on Fuji Crystal archive paper and hand-trimed, with a thin black border.

yokohama-lanterns-1-smallChinatown in Yokohama, Japan, where I spent a very dark and rainy December day back in 2006. In such dim conditions I never thought I’d be able to capture much more than a grainy blur, but the vivid light from the shop windows, neon signs and of course the bright orange lanterns strung overhead resulted in a set of surprisingly bright images, with the glowering sky giving them what I thought was a slightly futuristic, dystopian feel.

lab-1-smallThis moment was captured in a dark photonics laboratory, when just the fume cupboard light had been left on. The darkness and silence of a usually busy and bustling laboratory was strangely atmospheric and a little unsettling.

shadows-1A night shot, this time of a tree casting an interesting and abstract shadow on to the pavement, juxtaposed with some figures walking into the shot, blurred due to the long exposure.

IMG_3175A dark and ominous-looking stairway deep in the heart of the old city of Tallinn in Estonia. It was late on a cold night in February when I looked back up those steps… I can’t say where that doorway led to, but it looks like it could equally be a stairway to Heaven or an entrance to Hell.

rainy-windown-1Finally, an abstract shot taken on a cold and rainy London night. I looked out of the window and the street light on the corner of the estate at the back of my house was shining through the steam from the flues of the condensing boilers and being scattered by raindrops on the glass.




A new horizon

I first started hanging out in Camden when I was about sixteen. My mates and I would spend the day browsing the markets, buying band posters and t-shirts from dimly-lit basement shops blasting metal music out into the street, rifling through albums by obscure bands in the record shops, mucking around with poi and Diabolo at Oddballs and eating steak sandwiches by the lock. I used to admire all the amazing crazy and outlandish outfits that were either on sale or being worn by the people there. Things have changed over the years – the area has become more commercialised and more touristy, and some would say it’s lost its character, but perhaps that’s inevitable wherever an area has an artsy or alternative feel. For me, despite all the changes Camden still holds an appeal as an area of unique and individual art, fashion and entertainment that manages to shun the mainstream. One thing I never imagined all those years ago though, was that one day I’d be a part of it, having my very own creations as a designer being sold in the heart of Camden – well that day came last Friday, 29th March 2014. I am ridiculously excited to announce that you can now buy a range of Krystalline Black jewellery and accessories at Steampunk Bazaar in the Stables Market, Camden! It’s on the corner of an alleyway just before the Horse Tunnel, opposite Tribu (near Black Rose, and where the old Cyberdog shop was). Please drop by and have a look if you’re in Camden, and check out the rest of their range too as it’s a lovely little shop with a great collection of steampunk and alternative stuff.  Please spread the word!!


Damage Development

One thing I often get asked when selling my jewellery at markets and craft fairs is “so how do you make this?”. Well, allow me to explain!

My creative process is essentially simple, but it has nevertheless undergone many refinements since I first started making Urban Decoupage jewellery in late 2010. For a brief history, please see my About page.

The process starts with inspiration, which can come from anywhere – often it’s the environment: scenes from city life and nature, striking images I come across, current fashions; sometimes it’s a particular material in which I “see” a design, and it can even be music – for my latest collection I created an audio mood board – in other words a playlist of tracks that conveyed (to me, at any rate) the images, textures, colours and overall feel of the pieces I wanted to create.

My latest collection, “Exquisite Damage”, was inspired by scenes of city life, particularly the stark beauty of industrial landscapes and the “romance” (if that’s the right word…) of urban decay and degeneration. I wanted to create dark, gritty elegance in a modern, industrial style, so I started out by sourcing images that expressed the colours, textures, themes and general mood and feel that I had in mind.

Once I had a set of images to work with (largely my own photographs), I dived into Photoshop and started altering, deconstructing and recreating them until I had exactly the right grainy, high-contrast, distressed effect. At the same time, I created a template for the acrylic panels that would receive the images and eventually form the jewellery. I used this template both as a guide for cropping the images, and as an input file to upload to the laser cutter.

I don’t have my own laser cutter (yet!), so I borrowed one belonging to Studio Integrate in Dalston (who also make their own beautiful laser-cut jewellery!). Laser cutting is an extremely exciting and flexible technique, allowing designers to create almost any shape in a wide variety of sheet material. Acrylic is an excellent medium for jewellery as it is both lightweight and extremely durable, and available in a wide variety of colours and finishes, but the options are huge and I definitely have plans to experiment with different materials in the near future!

The next part of the process was the most intricate. First I printed the images I had created. I used different materials, including metallic paper and transparent film, depending on the design and the appearance I wanted to achieve. As the jewellery for the Exquisite Damage collection is shaped like shards of shattered glass, I had to carefully sand smooth the edges of each acrylic panel to make sure they didn’t cut people when worn! Then, I cut out the images and glued them to the panels, carefully aligning the corners and smoothing over to remove bubbles. Finally, I applied several coats of hardwearing gloss varnish to give the panels a perfectly smooth, glossy and tough finish.

The final stage was to assemble the pieces. I chose black kerb chain and gunmetal-coloured cable chain, along with gunmetal findings, to complement the hard-edged, jagged look of the panels, and I sourced extra-thick gunmetal-black jump rings to give the pieces added toughness and durability, plus an added touch of industrial-chic.

The result!

If you like this, you can see more of it here, and you can buy it here!




Hi beautiful people! Just a quick announcement that I’ll be trading at Sunday UpMarket in Brick Lane on Sunday 13th May – that’s TOMORROW!!! Please come along and bring your friends, spouses, lovers, children, ancient relatives and pets.


I will be selling items from my “Blood, Ice and Carbon” range (see front page) along with items from my brand new urban/industrial themed collection! As yet it’s unnamed… although I’m toying with “Soot, Steel and Concrete” 😛 Anyway, I’m very excited to be finally revealing it to the world for the first time, and it will get a formal launch online in the next week or so – keep your eyes on Facebook and Twitter to hear about it first!

And if that’s not enough of an incentive for you to come along tomorrow, there’ll be a mutlitude of other cool and sexy independent designers selling beautiful things for you to adorn your godlike selves with, and a cornucopia of home-made independent boutique-food sellers to satisfy your every craving. Seriously, attendance tomorrow will imbue you with such radiance that people will start to bask in you.

See you tomorrow!


New Items, and Valentines Day Promotion

In the cold, dark month of February, St. Valentines Day can either be a) a wonderful time to celebrate your love and lavish your honey-bunny-smoochy-poos with gifts and attention, or b) an excellent excuse to bitterly curse this cold-hearted, cynical world and wallow in misanthropy. Either way (guess for yourself which side I lean to!) I thought it was an excellent opportunity to list some more items from my Blood, Ice and Carbon collection, and you can see (and buy) all the new stuff right now through my Etsy shop. The collection includes a number of Valentines/Anti-Valentines themes: hearts, blood and subverted medical and religious imagery feature heavily, as does the theme of nature and organic life juxtaposed with hard-edged industrial styling. And of course, the whole collection is based on a strict colour scheme of black, white and red.

I’m particularly pleased to be able to list my Carbon Heart Choker. One of my most popular designs to date, it is a daintier version of the Terahearts Choker, featuring pictures of anatomical hearts and the sacred heart of Jesus amongst  ECG traces and electron micrographs of blood cells and capillaries.

In addition, I was delighted when my Frozen Heart Choker and my Critical Condition Choker were featured in two awesome Anti-Valentines treasuries on Etsy: “I love to hate you” by Sarah, and “Anti-Valentine….” by paleorama, both on the theme of dark, twisted love/hate and heartbreak. I’m genuinely flattered! 🙂

With all this “love” in the air, I’ve decided to share some of it with any customers who want to treat their darling, or themselves, to one of my necklaces this Valentines Day. From now until the 14th February, I will dispatch all orders the next working day (I usually only ship on Mondays) by Special Next Day Delivery (for UK deliveries) or International Signed For Delivery (for international deliveries), at no extra cost – normal shipping fees apply. So if, like me, you are a fan of leaving things to the last minute, you can order as late as Sunday (if you’re in the UK) and you should receive your delivery by Tuesday 14th (note, this is subject to nothing going wrong with the Royal Mail, which I cannot guarantee!).

Hope everyone enjoys celebrating or ignoring Valentines Day!


Etsy Shop, and “official” new collection launch

Ladies and gentlemen, it is with great pleasure and pride (and a tiny bit of anxiety, ahem) that I am finally able to announce the launch of my shop on Etsy, the online marketplace for handcrafted goods. I have been working on this for months and planning it for over a year, so I am delighted that this has finally come about.

To coincide with the launch of my shop, I would like to “officially” introduce my Midwinter collection, which is called Blood, Ice and Carbon, and features “hand-crafted icon jewellery inspired by the stark beauty of winter, the wild forces of nature and the fragile complexity of life”. You can find out more about the Blood, Ice and Carbon collection here.

I will be adding more items to the shop, and photos to the gallery on this site (see link in the previous paragraph) in the coming week, so please check back again, or keep in touch via my Facebook page.

Setting up my own small creative business has been an amazing experience so far. It’s been astonishingly hard work but I have loved every moment, and I couldn’t have got anywhere near this point without the incredible help of a brilliant bunch of people: Bojana Petrovic, Alex Pounds, Rachel Knightley, Julia Ireland, Kate “Scaryboots” Oliver, Mathew Jones, Kristina Hustwitt, Ben Francis and Lorna Stabler have helped in nearly every conceivable way, from teaching me digital art, reviewing designs and modelling to photography, technical web advice, copy-editing and even helping to assemble the pieces. Most of all, they put up with my craziness, were incredibly supportive while I was working on all of this, and continue to be a constant source of inspiration and encouragement! Thanks guys!

I also want to thank the organisers of London’s  Alternative Bring and Buy Sale for giving me a fantastic outlet for my work, and to everyone who has been along to support me and shop from my stalls. These initial successes encouraged me to seriously consider starting my own business. Finally, I couldn’t have done without the equipment and kind assistance of the London Hackspace and Studio Integrate. You are all awesome!

That’s enough from me for now – but may 2012 be full of peace, prosperity, creativity and fun!

Best wishes, and Happy New Year!

Jo (Krystalline Black)

A big thank you to everyone who dropped by my stall at the Alternative Bring and Buy Sale today, and to the organisers for continuing to make this great event happen! If you took a business card and you are interested in ordering items online, please send me an email at jo@krystallineblack.co.uk.

After a feverish few weeks of frantic jewellery designing and making, I now have many more items available than those pictured in the previous “Current Collection” gallery, but I simply haven’t had time to photograph them and put them online yet! However, photographs and an online shop are in the pipeline and will be here very soon indeed. If you would like to stay updated you might like to consider “liking” me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KrystallineBlack.

If you can’t wait that long though, here are a few snapshots from the day (sorry about the poor quality, I was using my rubbish phone camera!)…

I also treated myself to some awesome unusual bone earrings from Hutan Tulang!

I have to end by saying a huge thank you to everyone who’s helped me out over the last fortnight! You lot have been superb and will get a separate post of your own, but for now, lots of love! Xxxx