Good day everyone, I trust you had a good week. I have been very rested, as I took some time off the day job, and found I had no pressing matters to attend to, so could chill, and make as many pieces of jewellery as I like, with little or no interruption.
This week, I tried out a new technique - chainmaille.
Chainmaille is the practice of linking rings to create interesting patterns, or more traditionally "sheets" of flexible metal for the purpose of armor or decoration. The name comes from the French word maille, derived from the Latin macula, which means a 'mesh of net'. The basic weaves use jump rings, which are open rings not intended to be soldered. For decorative use, the supportive structure of the weaves is enough to ensure the rings don't pull open.
I bought a rhodochrosite carved pendant a while ago - rhodochrosite is a reddish pink stone - the pink color of rhodochrosite is caused by the element manganese and it is formed when manganese is dissolved by ground water and combines with a carbonate material, then drips off the ceiling of caves and crevices deep underground. It is commonly found in the form of stalactites and stalagmites in the caves of Argentina. The Incas, who called it Inca Rose, believed that rhodochrosite is the blood of their former kings and queens that was turned to stone.
I am by no stretch of imagination a 'pink lady' - but I had to have the pendant - the carving called out to me - 'buy me Neena, buy me' it implored. I searched for a suitable way to tone down the pinkness - I bought Morganite - too pink, tektite - too black, rose quartz - even more 'too pink', and finally, after my bead stash was swollen with unsuitable (!) elements, I found frosted red agate - orangey pink/ red beads, smudged with inky black, and frosted over like the bloom on a grape - lovely!
The Mermaid's Song
This necklace just grrrrrew - couldnt stop it - I made a seahorse, a couple of starfish, and a 'fisherman's net' around the mermaid with fish and other shells caught up in it - and then thought I would try the chainmaille techniques out here to link the beads together - well, easier said than done - it is ever such a fiddly technique, and certainly not suited to sitting in front of the telly with a tray in your lap. But, I persevered and in the end, I am glad I did.
Love knots are very basic chain maille links, with three rings linked together, rather like a Russian wedding ring, and the individual bead links leading off the centre of the knot. All was well till I decided I didn't like the placement of one or two of the elements - it has to be just so for me - and for you - and everything needed to be taken apart and redone - but in the end, I liked the effect - a little more ornate than using just the one ring between elements, I may try this again, and who knows, one day, I might surprise myself with a bracelet made of chainmaille links (don't hold your breath, Neena!).
Diamond White is a necklace made of clear quartz needles with pewter coloured vintage focal beads from another necklace I cannibalised. It is also a cider with a hight alcohol content (12.5%) here in the UK and it had a certain following amongst my friends when I was young. I decided that I would use the name of an old favourite for this rather nice necklace. One of my friends said it made her think of winter - but hey, our non summer is almost over - and we have to face a bleak winter - what better way than to wear nice jewellery - wearing pretty stuff puts a smile on my face, anyway.
Here Comes The Sun
Confused?? - the weather here certainly is - one day it is hot and sunny, and the next it is raining cats and dogs and freezing cold - my jewellery efforts reflect that seesaw - so on this particular day, after a swim and a barbeque meal (no clearing up - yippee!), I sat down with a reel of copper wire and some peridot beads and made this.....
I love the green of peridot - wish it wasn't quite so expensive - but in common with amethysts and aquamarine, it is too expensive to buy in large amounts. Peridot is one of the few gemstones that occur in only one color, an olive green. The intensity and tint of the green comes from the iron in the crystal structure. It is also called Olivine - due to its colour, and is classed as a precious gem. I got the faceted teardrops on a visit to Capri, where they seem to have large deposits of the gemstone, and I used two of them in these copper wire earrings.
And while the barbeque was sizzling and Mike was slaving away over it, I put the polymer clay flowers I made a few weeks ago onto brooch backs and popped them in the oven to cure.
The Paisley pattern has been around for simply ages - its origins are claimed by the peoples of both India and Persia, but its Western name derives from the Scottish town of Paisley. In India, it is a common design, and thought to be a stylised mango. It was popularised in the Western world by the East India Company, and adopted by Liberty into the 'Liberty Print'. I am very familiar with this design, as it is very common in the gold thread work in South India, where I am from, originally, so I decided to make a paisley 'mango' in silver, with some delicious multicoloured tourmaline I acquired earlier, and add a fine silver daisy made from Precious Metal Clay in my kiln. I used wire netting to fill out the paisley shape with tourmaline beads, and hung it from the daisy on a silver chain - sweet!
The Wings of Love
A Hungarian jewellery maker I once bought a bracelet from posted a piece of embroidered jewellery she created around a beetle's wing - I was startled and thought then that she was joking, but not so - the naturally beautiful elytra (wings) of the Green Jewel beetle (Sternocera aequisignata) shift in color from green to hints of blue at the edges, and the surface is shiny and iridescent, giving the effect of sunlight on an oil-slick. The beetles have a short life span of 3-4 days, and when they die, they loose their wings, which are then collected up for use in various objects, and jewellery. No beetles are harmed in the making of this jewellery (phew!).
A bit more research revealed that beetle wings have been used for centuries by Indian civilizations, cut into tiny spangle shapes and sequins to adorn a range of objects, their reflective properties admired as a means to ward off evil spirits. The beetles, in beautiful colours are like living jewels, and in Victorian England it was the height of cool to have live jewel beetles tethered by tiny gold chains to your décolletage! The beetles were caged and fed, and covered with gemstones, if they weren't colourful enough, and taken on regular outings pinned to the lady's chest!
I set out looking for these wings, and found a vendor in Thailand, where these beetles are found, and am now the proud owner of a large number of these wings, this means that I will need to think up plenty of designs to use all of them, but I have no doubt that they will be liked - anyone who likes shiny, pretty things, is bound to like these. I made some earrings, just to get the feel of this new acquisition - but I just know that they will fly out of my hands real quick! I did worry a little about the word 'beetle' which does not conjure up the nicest image - but hey, if the Victorians could wear real live beetles, why shouldn't we wear the wings, beautiful as they are - just takes a bit of getting used to - and we do wear leather from dead animals all the time, don't we??
A bit more about those Victorians - they loved insect jewellery - apparently. For example, Caddisfly larvae glue together tiny stones, grains of sand, and bits of litter to form cases that camouflage and protect them from their natural enemies. When gold nuggets, shells, or semiprecious stones, were added to their cages, they incorporated these into their protective cases, which was later harvested and made into earrings, necklaces, tie tacks, and pins. Amber jewellery - or fossilised insect jewellery was also very popular, and remains so today.
A Victorian Living Jewel pin - University of Colorado Museum of Natural History
Aren't the colours just fabulous??
Though light, the wings are quite robust. I accidentally stood on one and it didn't break (and I am no featherweight)! I will of course provide stoppers, as the earrings are very light - but the converse of that is that they can be made long as you like, without fearing for your earlobes! They make a pleasant swishing sound when they knock against each other - a sort of rustle - brings to mind long silk gowns - which is just the right mental image for these beautiful jewel coloured earrings.
The Flemish artist Jan Fabre created the ‘Heaven of Delight’ using 1.6 million of these wings! Fabre and his team of thirty people took 4 months to glue all of the beetle shells to the ceiling and a chandelier in the Heaven of Delight Hall of Mirrors, of the Royal Palace in Brussels. I would have associated the colours and the name with a more exotic place than Brussels, but Fabre really loved these beetle wings and used them extensively in a lot of his art.
The living jewel!
The ceiling in the Hall of Mirrors by Jan Fabre
A closer look at the ceiling
He sure loved his beetles!
I hope you have enjoyed the tale of the beetles - I really got stuck into my research about them, and found so much to talk about. The wings are truly beautiful, and I am surprised that they are not more commonly used in jewellery. I must mention Agi Kiss from Moonsafari Beads who set me off on this journey - you can see her piece here - http://www.etsy.com/shop/MoonsafariBeads
That's all for now folks. Catch you later
I was at work in the day job all last weekend - and this time the Gods weren't smiling on me - it was literally the weekend from hell! I was in and out of the hospital, picking up pieces that had been dropped by others, soothing ruffled feathers - and whatever could go wrong..... did.
So I came home each day and pulled out my beads and clay and soothed myself calm - it was so nice to be able to do that - and I think the people around me benifited from that! A three day weekend can be so tedious, when everything is unravelling around you.
Shiny pretty things - to appeal to the magpie in every woman
I took delivery of a bunch of crystals from someone who was closing down a bead shop - so while I sat watching the telly with Mike, I put together some pretty chandelier earrings - I felt the need to dive straight into the crystals - I usually hoard pretty things for some crazy reason, but it would be madness to hoard half a kilogram of mixed crystals. I poured them through my fingers, sorting them into little piles and picking the ones I wanted to use - like a wide eyed AliBaba in the cave of treasures - and these are the chandeliers I made with this multicolour medley of crystal beads.
Love's Sweet Scent
This piece evolved out of my disastrous weekend - I mixed myself some pretty buttery yellow clay to make flowers from - had just about had enough of various shades of pink - someone recently said that yellow is a difficult colour to create with, and apparently, some people wont wear yellow as it causes their skin to look sallow. I thought, maybe it could be used as an accent - to brighten up a piece of jewellery - a little bit of it can't hurt - and it is so pretty after all. A floral theme seemed to evolve - I made peony type flowers - which will go into a brooches, I think, and a bunch of jasmine flowers and buds - these are the little plump jasmine that have the most delicious scent - ladies in India might wear just the one in their hair and you can smell it from a mile off, if you have a halfway decent sense of smell. They are usually a creamy white, but I claimed artistic licence and made them in the yellow of the winter flowering jasmine found in more temperate climes - they are still pretty recognisable though..... I think!
Fat budded Jasminum multiflorum
Winter flowering Jasminum nudiflorum
My mother has a bush in her garden which yields loads of flowers - enough to use as offerings during her prayers, and for the ladies of the house to wear in their hair should the mood take them. I remember my dad bringing home little packets of jasmine garlands, all ready for pinning into mum's hair - and she always shared them with her daughters - I wonder if it was a secret message between them!
Anyway, mindful of the edict that too much yellow would not be appreciated, I wove my jasmine into a little corsage, and teamed it with turquoise coins, pearly beads and dark blue sunstone in a statement collar - I love making those. I am sure, come winter, when the only flowers we can find easily are in the supermarket, they will gladden the heart.
These jasmine are evocative of my childhood, and the bush growing outside my bedroom window, and I called it Love's Sweet Scent. The jasmine has been set low enough so it won't jab the wearer in the neck - I just love this necklace.
I also made some silver components in my kiln - more flowers!- I need to decide just what to do with them, so will just post a little sneak peek into what is to come. The polymer clay peony has very thin petals, to try and resemble the flower as closely as possible - it may be too fragile on a piece of jewellery that may be knocked about during regular wear, and will have to go into a brooch, though I originally inteded to use it on the wrist in a wide bracelet - like a prom corsage.
Fine silver components, hot from the kiln
Jhumkas - Indian style in Wire and Crystal
I made some beadcaps using wire and crystal - when my friend Suj saw one of them, she said - Oh you can make Jhumkas out of them - Jhumkas are bell shaped danglers, and almost every Indian woman has a pair of these. They used to be simple, in gold and pearls, but have now become so fanciful, they are almost unrecognisable. I made mine in copper wire with some of my crystal bead stash in a colour combination of green and gold - very dressy. As these are all lightweight beads, the resultant piece is pretty and ornamental, yet light and easy to wear.
The beadcaps on the Shangri La Pendant
One of the pairs I own
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There is a famous Bollywood 60's song where the heroine is lamenting the loss of one of her earrings in the market in Bareilly, while cavorting
( isn't that a nice word - conjures up some wickedly interesting images - in my mind, anyway) - probably around a flowering bush with her boyfriend - ah, those were innocent times. Every time they went around the bush and came out the other side, the heroine wore a new outfit - so what was she doing behind that bush with her boyfriend - I never thought to enquire! Anyway, I provide rubber stoppers on all my earrings, so, the wearer of these can cavort away sans anxiety!
My little piece of Caprilicious silver this week is a tiny fine silver bud, about an inch long, made in the kiln, antiqued and polished, with a tiny red Cubic Zirconium emdedded into it. It comes with it's own chain, and is perfect for someone who likes her jewellery a bit smaller - as you all know, a lot of my stuff is 'in your face' and cannot be overlooked when worn - maybe because I was once innately shy, (although I have grown out of it now) but there was another side to me that was a bit 'song and dance', and didn't know quite how to reflect that, so preferred my apparel to do it for me. I could not buy chain store stuff if someone paid me.
Most of my designs are made with me in mind - if you don't want it, I should be happy to wear it myself - so, the corollary to this is, if you like the stuff I make, we must be kindred souls - Soul Sisters, even!
That's all for my week this time around - see you same time, same place next week
This week, I put together a small collection of fine silver pieces, made in my kiln. I have restricted myself to copper and silver plate so far, but I think the time has now come to treat myself - and you, of course, to a precious metal. I have been laying the ground work for a while now, collecting supplies of silver chains, jump rings, head pins, clasps and all the other bits and bobs I needed for this task. Obviously, this has taken a while, but it has been so much fun, to compare prices, pick out pretty, shiny chains - this of course, is a never ending process, but at least I now have the basics to start up a small collection. I made some little earrings and pendants from Precious Metal Clay - this is silver combined with a starch binder in the form of a clay - it needs to be shaped and prepared with a design in mind - when this goes in the kiln, the starch binder burns away to leave an almost pure silver - 99.9% silver.
To go with these I bought some very pretty semi precious gemstones - faceted apatite, carnelian, citrine, tourmaline, labradorite, blue chalcedony - all shiny and so pretty - I am really enjoying this!
One of my earrings is a semi lunar shape, embossed with a design, one in the positive, and the negative on the other. I was thinking of the 'far side of the moon', which we earthlings never get to see - the hemisphere that faces away from the earth, and was first seen by the Soviet Luna 3 probe in 1959. The earth's gravitational force has stopped the moon from rotating, and the far side of the moon was found to be smoother, with fewer craters when finally seen by human eyes, when Apollo 8 orbited the moon in 1968.
Another of my earrings was stamped with a cherry blossom motif, and I added pink jade butterflies and Swarovski pearls. I also made a snowflake shape in two sizes - a pendant with a pair of earrings, which I wire wrapped with sterling silver wire, little coral Heishi beads and Swarovski pearls. A slender sterling silver chain was added to the ensemble, pretty!
I had a couple of tiny enamelled charms, just one of each, so I used them as charms on curb chain bracelets, with tiny gemstones as added charms - pretty everyday jewellery. A motley collection, but I think it is a good start. I intend to make at least one item with silver each week - so I shall be busy - I have to start the enamelling up as well - my kiln awaits me eagerly!
So there you are folks - my first bits of silver - perfect for little inexpensive trinkets or presents, I have done my best to stay with the Caprilicious ethos of being just that bit different from what is found on other sites and in the High Street - I hope you like them.
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This is the best jazz rendition of 'That Old Black Magic' I have heard - I know this is one of ole Blue Eyes' famous numbers, but I like this version - have a listen, I bet you agree with me.
I had a faux bone/ ivory leaf - the last but one piece I made before my mother arrived in the UK, and decided to use it with some leaf shaped spacers and black pressed glass beads in a pretty and light necklace. I tried my best to add an asymmetrically placed brightly coloured bead - but for some reason, I was dissatisfied with the result - so in the end I gave up and the necklace is all black and white and silver. I did in the end add a tiny chunk of turquoise - just to confound my Muse - I stamped my foot with a firm hand, and added a molecule of colour - I was going to have some, no matter what! Some earrings appeared in my hands, as I sat in front of the TV with my husband, they have an extra wire loop in the centre, to add to the swaying movement with movements of the wearers head - by that I mean, instead of making it all with one piece of wire, I used two. I was sorely tempted to keep the piece for myself - but I think I enjoy the pleasure people who wear my jewellery get, more than wearing it myself. Anyway, as the designer, I get to test drive it first! - just to iron out any problems and kinks, of course!
I love carved ox bone - now that ivory is banned - and rightly so, the artisans who learned to carve it have turned their hand to ox bone. Because of the intricacy of the work involved, and the wastage of the raw material, carved ox bone is expensive, but I have managed to find a dealer in China who seems to be fairly reasonable. He says, absolutely correctly, that Chinese carving is superior to that from the Indian Subcontinent and this is probably because the ivory trade flowed mainly from poaching the Indian and African elephant, and exporting the tusks to China. However, I don't much like the conventional pieces this vendor has for sale - he has some beautiful pendants and bracelets, on cheap elastic, with ugly clasps, all put together, to my mind, most boringly, one bone bead after another with no relief whatsoever. I bought a few bracelets and necklaces from him, and cannibalised them. This throws up its own engineering problems because of the way the pieces of bone are pierced, but I spent much thought and time on this knotty problem and came up with a pair of earrings - I will look for different ways to use the bracelet tiles as the weeks unfold - my motto is, have wire, can do!
So here is the first of my Chinese ox bone offerings - it is now as far from the original as is possible, I think. Anyway, lots of possibilities have opened up, and I will address them as I go along. It is all about engineering, as well as beauty, and is a challenge I will relish.
Chinese Scroll Earrings
Beautifully carved ox bone tiles
I am still waiting on the Chrysocolla with Lapis Lazuli gemstones I need to make a Rainforest Symphony Mark 2 necklace, so while watching TV, I put together some rainforest insects for when the stones arrive which should be any time now. There appear to be two dragonflies, a butterfly like insect and a cross between a dung beetle and a lady bug. Here is a picture of the first one - hopefully, next week should have the second one made and sent off - and loved!
Rainforest Symphony Mark 1!
Catch you next week folks - I hope you have enjoyed this weeks offerings