HFH Designs

Jewellery Artists

Greenwich Village Market Boutique, Opposite Ibis Hotel

I had the privilege of meeting these two characters yesterday while I was walking around the scruffy bit of Greenwich Market in between King William’s Passage and the railway line.

I don’t normally find bead jewellery that exciting. What it has always boiled down to for me is something that anyone could do if they visited the bead shop and bought a few bits and bobs to thread on a bit of string. To me most bead jewellery you see in markets is uninspiring to say the least. So I almost walked past this stall.

This exuberant pair go several steps further. There are one or two ‘off-day’ pieces – beads on a string – but most of it is genuine flights of fancy with things they have found around them. Bursts of colour – or non-colour – the clear stuff is as wonderful as the coloured – check out the necklace made of shattered crystal – light the tiny boutique, encouraging you to delve deeper into the stall.

What’s more, they clearly adore what they do. I stood chatting for ages about where they go to source their materials and how they come up with ideas. Harma, coolly dressed like Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face, took me round the basic pieces before Herve, a classic French beatnik with tufty beard, glasses, scarf and beret, got very excited telling me all about his new bead-making machine, which he has the grace, not to mention charm, to admit he hasn’t quite mastered yet

“They come out peanut-shaped at the moment, but they’re getting rounder all the time,” he says with an emotional catch in his voice. His workshop is in Deptford, and he says that once he’s mastered it he will start doing open days to demonstrate his new-found technique. They’ll be doing ordinary Open Studio days from April.

The work is exquisite – I still can’t quite work out how they thread the beads to create thick ropes of materials I’ve never seen before. Harma showed me some gold rings Herve has been experimenting with – whopping great lumps of bling to gladden a Puff Daddy heart – though personally I’d wear something as eye-catching as that singly with a LOT of black. Harma held it up against her black turtleneck and it looked amazing.

The stall is on the left as you walk in from the Crooms Hill end – about 20 metres from the road. Go sooner rather than later as everything is on sale at the moment – Herve has just got back from Venice with a bunch of new beads and, eager to get going, is selling off old stock to make room for his new ideas. It’s not absolutely dirt cheap (and nor should it be – this is art) – but very reasonable for an individual original piece. The pair are off to the Far East in search of inspiration soon, so go now. Oh – and don’t miss the cherub on a spring.

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This is just the sort of stall I fear for when the market goes.

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