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Based on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, Hanna, is a florist turned self-taught clay jewellery-maker who creates bold designs inspired by nature

07 June 2019

Designer Spotlight: Me, You and Betty Lu

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Seachanger, florist, and polymer clay artist, Hanna: ‘Each item I make is as unique as the person who buys it. Handmade isn’t perfect but gosh I love what it represents.’

Hi 👋🏻I'm Hanna, and I am the one woman show that is "Me, You and Betty Lu". I'm also wife to Paul and super proud mum of three fun, fast and furious kids: Molly 7, Violet 5, and Angus 3.

Polymer clay earrings from Hanna’s Banksia collection, featuring native floral motifs

I'm a former wedding and events florist, and originally from Sydney, but almost 3 years ago, my husband and I decided to move our growing family to the Sunshine Coast. We arrived here with 2-week-old Gus in our arms, ready to start fresh; excited about a life with more space, more Sunshine and more time as a family.

Based on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, Hanna, is a florist turned self-taught clay jewellery-maker who creates bold designs inspired by nature

We made the decision to get out of the city, so that we could slow the pace of our lives, spend more time with our young kids while spending more time outside in nature and take some mortgage pressure off.....and we haven't looked back!

Valley views from Hanna’s home on the Sunshine coast

Living on the Sunshine Coast has been the best move for us. We live in such an incredibly beautiful spot on the side of a mountain with gorgeous views of the Hinterland. Our home backs on to a small, private rainforest, so we are surrounded by gorgeous native bird life. AND we now also have a phenomenal garden to enjoy, thanks to my husband’s handy work, which also provides me with limitless inspiration.

Hanna’s tropical garden backs onto rainforest; her natural surroundings are a great source of inspiration for her jewellery” title=

I guess I would say I'm a born creative: expressing myself and playing around artistically makes my heart sing. I'm a florist by trade and spent many years running a bridal business based in Sydney designing gorgeous wedding flowers and wedding cakes.

Close-up view of a polymer clay slab featuring spring flower motifs: ‘What I loved most about my work as a florist was bringing a vision to life… in many ways I have taken these skills across to my work with polymer clay’

What I loved most about my work as a florist was bringing a vision to life. I also love using colour to create a mood, and texture to create depth and movement within an arrangement. In many ways I have taken these skills across to my work with polymer clay.

Tear-drop shaped dangle earrings with spring flower motifs, handmade on the Sunshine Coast by Me, You and Betty Lu” title=

Wedding work, as you can imagine, is time sensitive and can be a bit of a pressure-cooker environment. We had large quantities of fresh product to work with in short amounts of time, which meant that the days (although very rewarding) were extremely long, and not very conducive to having a healthy work/life balance while raising young children. So, once we started our family, I made the decision to leave my job to focus on my family.

Hanna at work at her kitchen table: ‘Without having a creative outlet, I find my stress levels increase, as does my anxiety’

Even though we moved to the Sunshine Coast to slow the pace of our lives, anyone with young children knows how busy life is. And it is so easy to stop doing things you love when you are exhausted. I love making beautiful things. I love being surrounded by beautifully made things too.... but creating is also a real stress-reliever for me. Without having a creative outlet, I find my stress levels increase, as does my anxiety. So, after leaving work I was looking at something to sink my teeth into creatively, just for pleasure.

Close up of a polymer clay slab in progress; designs are added in layers of polymer clay, rolled flat, then texture is added by hand

When I picked up some polymer clay in late 2018 to have a play around with, I loved it immediately. It took lots of trial and error.... I made a heap of ugly pieces, used incorrect techniques, I bought poor quality clay, rolled things too thinly.... the list goes on, but I loved experimenting and learning along the way. And it certainly has been a steep learning curve. Plus, I'm entirely self taught, so there has been so much to get my head around and work out along the way!

Cutting shapes from a polymer clay slab: ‘I made a heap of ugly pieces, used incorrect techniques, I bought poor quality clay, rolled things too thinly… the list goes on, but I loved experimenting’

The more I played, the more I enjoyed it. I gradually built up some pieces that I was happy with and in mid February I opened my Madeit store and began actively selling, so I really haven't been doing it all that long.

Work in progress: polymer clay earring designs ready to be assembled

In many ways I am still trying to find my signature style, something that people recognise as my work as soon as they see it. I am naturally drawn to designing floral and foliage inspired slabs, but I am also experimenting with different shapes and techniques. Essentially, I am creating something I would wear, something I would BUY, something I can see my girlfriends wearing and rocking.

Hanna packaging orders at her kitchen table: ‘There is no fancy set up for this solo act; I take over the kitchen table some days, and most nights.’

There is no fancy set up for this solo act; I take over the kitchen table some days, and most nights. 😂 It is safer to work once the littlies are in bed! But the time is coming to organise a more dedicated space. I have had a few devastating incidents with my youngest slamming tools into raw slabs and destroying hours of work.

Tools of the trade: polymer clay floral arrangements in progress with cutting, shaping, and rolling tools

Much of my inspiration comes from my past life as a florist, as well as my environment, but I am also inspired by fabrics, fashion, and other random things that catch my eye. Often when I am out and about and see something that interests me, I pull out my phone and take a picture...and it can be the most random things!

I love that there are so many possibilities with polymer clay, and that I can customise a pair of earrings, pendant or brooch to match any outfit. It just means that I can create something totally unique.

Four earring designs from Hanna’s latest range of floral statement pieces

Online I sell via my Madeit store, and I also have my pieces available for sale in a local gallery; The Butter Factory Art Gallery in Cooroy and I have a stockist in Sydney too. I have already had some customers who have bought several items from me, which is so incredible because making and creating is so personal, so to see that your customers love it and come back is so encouraging and reassuring. You really do put a piece of your heart in everything you make, so when customers love what you are doing as much as you loved creating you know you are on the right track.

A finished polymer clay necklace with botanica motifs and imprintsl

I do love the idea that handmade items have had a person involved in creation; that someone's feelings have gone into making that item special. It isn't a sterile situation where a button is pushed and something pops out the other end that is exactly the same as 1000 others.

Each item I make is as unique as the person who buys it. Handmade isn't perfect but my gosh I love what it represents. But by the same token, whilst I do support Handmade, I cannot profess only to support slow fashion, I am guilty of buying pieces from Kmart and other chain stores too.

Some of Hanna’s Protea range of polymer clay earrings waiting to be assembled: ‘Some of my childhood memories centre around trips overseas buying jewelry with mum, so I definitely caught the bug from her’” title=

As I said, I have always been creative so it was just a matter of finding the thing I wanted to channel my energy into, but I am often asked, how I came to create earrings. Some of my childhood memories centre around trips overseas buying jewelry with mum, so I definitely caught the bug from her. We've always had more earrings than I can count. My first love was sterling silver, and I still think about training in silversmithing.

A finished pair of ‘Protea’ polymer clay dangle earrings with leather tassles

When my sister in law was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in 2012, the week my first daughter was born, and she lost her hair from chemo, she started wearing the most beautiful scarves and earrings; BIG earrings that were undeniably beautiful and refused to be overlooked. They truly seemed to have some sort of magical powers. They took the focus off the negative, and were a conversation starter that didn't centre on her treatment or her illness.

So, when I started to create my pieces, I wanted to make beautiful earrings that EVERY woman could feel amazing wearing.

A pair of dangle earrings from Hanna’s ‘Pink Link’ range: ‘I wanted to create a range that pledged a donation from the sale of each pair of earrings to the McGrath Foundation’

From the outset I wanted to create a range that pledged a donation from the sale of each pair of earrings to the McGrath Foundation, toward breast cancer research and Breast Care Nurses. So I launched my "Pink Link" range in mid April. Five dollars from each pair purchased from this range will be donated to the McGrath Foundation.

It's still early days, but I know I've found something special. And as far as I'm concerned, the sky is the limit!



Visit Me, You and Betty Lu to find more one-of-a-kind earrings inspired by nature: MeYouandBettyLu

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