I bought a couple of tutorials previously from Nicole Hanna, who is a young woman, (well, compared to me she is a littl'un - unfortunately, these days a lot of people fall into that category) who has got the 'wire world' weaving - one by one she has infected people with this bug, and I am a recent infectee (??). She is also incredibly generous, and set up a competition where she put out an unfinished tutorial on her blog, and the competitors had to finish the piece in whatever way they saw fit. I resisted the urge for the longest time, and finally, made a couple of three pieces which I submitted - not to win really, but just because I could! As I said, I am new to wire weaving, and I'm sure there are plenty of worthy people who will make the most beautiful stuff. Also, the half tutorial was a starting point, and I was kinda testing myself to see how many ways I could use it - I might just carry on, well after the competition is over.
It reminded me of the books I read as a child, where a tattered piece of a map has to be deciphered to claim a lost treasure, and hundreds of people are fighting over this torn and tattered, barely decipherable piece of paper in the hope of getting to the treasure first.
Named for the God of the Sea - this pendant has a rather masculine brown picture jasper bead, with beautiful splashes of red, and I added swirls of wire, and turquoise beads for femininity. Too much wire, woven too closely together, in my opinion detracts from the femininity of a piece - I like the embellishment of negative space, and although not a 'girly' person, and like my jewellery large, I tend to appease my feminine side more.
So, this pendant is meant to represent Neptune rising out of the waves - what do you think??
My second piece was called Through the Moon Gate - I saw them in China - they are circular openings in a garden wall that act as a pedestrian passageway, a traditional element in Chinese gardens. Moon Gates have many different spiritual meanings, depending on the tiles on the gate. The sloping roofs of the gate represent the half moon of the Chinese Summers and the tips of the tiles of the roof have talismans on the ends of them.
I put scroll like imaginary dragon heads on either end of the 'roof' - Chinese dragons are symbols of power, strength and good luck, and used by Emperors as the yang that complements the yin, which is the phoenix.
I raised the degree of difficulty by using a turquoise doughnut - I had to figure out a way to hold it in, without it having a bead hole through which the wire would pass, and then work out how to finish off the ends of the wire. Since the doughnut is encircled by bead encrusted wire, it spins around inside the bezel, and the tactility of that unexpected result pleased me - I like nice surprises!
I eventually used eight and a half feet of the thicker wire, and miles and miles of the finer wire to weave the pendant - and it took me an entire day - but what fun it was. My fingers were sore and my joints creaked in protest, in the wire workers equivalent of writers cramp. But, here it is, and I think the pain was worth it in the end.
Through The Moon Gate
I had one more day left to submit a piece with Nicole's unfinished tutorial if I wanted to - she allowed multiple pieces - by this time, I felt I could make the first half in my sleep - so I did, but this time, I upped the degree of difficulty yet another notch - I decided to make earrings - with a smaller bead than specified in the tutorial, with two pieces that had to match, and mirror one another - which is more difficult than you can imagine. Both earrings have to be made simultaneously, as a difference of a millimeter will look terrible when they are set down together.
The tutorial ended here - and thus endeth the lesson!
Now to figure out what to do with it - the rules allow more beads, more wire - in fact, more anything - hmmmmmm!
The upside down tear drop shape flatters the face, and the perfectly matched carnelian beads are dramatic and dressy. I didn't add any more wire in the end - the earrings would have been too heavy. At 2.8 inches long from the top of the bail to the tip of the freshwater pearl dangle, they are bound to be easy to wear, and Barbara, who got to model them (it) certainly likes them.
Oh, Happy Day!
I wanted a pretty and colourful piece to take on holiday with me - polymer clay jewellery is ideal for travelling with - the jewellery is light, and relatively inexpensive - no one will attempt to steal it or mug you for it, and it looks fab in the holiday pics. Lotions are not a problem, and the pieces travel well, just thrown into a case - not like metal/wire which might bend or break, and all in all it is a win, win, win situation. This necklace was inspired by Donna Kato's squiggle beads from her book, but as I wanted it to be as colourful as I could make it, I made a rainbow blend using a tutorial from Polymer Clay Central - I just love the colours and the way the necklace looks - it makes me want to sing - Oh Happy Day.....
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No, I am not religious, but it is the joyousness of this piece of gospel music I love. And the colours in this video, and the jewellery - wow!
Squiggle beads - design credit - Donna Kato and Polymer clay central
That's it for now, folks - I will write again when I get back from my holiday in gay Paree - catch you next week
Hello folks, I hope you have had a satisfying week and are ready for some fun this weekend.
A piece of great news - Caprilicious Jewellery is soon to be available at an outlet in Abu Dhabi - I have sent off the first consignment, and if the jewellery sells well there, I might do regular business. More about this next week.
I had to share this - I sold this pendant last week to a lady who asked me what inspired me to make it - she was obviously well into Art Nouveau jewellery - she had written a thesis on the subject, and she said the pendant reminded her of Lucas von Cranach's Tintenfisch und Schmetterling - I had actually seen the aforementioned pendant on a website during one of my periodic browses of the internet - but to be compared with a master jeweller - very humbling.
Who knows what stays in your brain when you look at images constantly, as I do - or, if this pendant was indeed influenced by Lucas von Cranach - all I can say is, I see the octopus, but not necessarily the butterfly - I leave you to decide whether they do actually have some resemblance to one another.
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Tintenfisch und Schmetterling (Octopus and Butterfly; 1900) by Wilhelm Lucas von Cranach, a master jeweller who liked his octopuses - strange bedfellows, I say!
I went to Shrewsbury this week, to the workshop of the lovely Jules Harper to learn how to prepare precious metal clay pieces for the application of enamel. I went on an enamelling and a precious metal clay (silver) course last year at In The Studio, but this time around, wanted one on one tuition. Now that I have a bit of experience, there were so many questions bothering me - one cannot keep bobbing up and down in a class with loads of people - you sound like a smart aleck and eat into other peoples time. Jules taught me how to fire copper and bronze clay
properly, and to prepare them and enamel them - most exciting of all, the little lentil bead I made with copper clay and enamelled on both sides - it would look so sweet in earring designs, and is light because it is completely hollow. She is a very patient teacher, and the time just flew by - that's a sure sign of a lot of fun - maybe not quite so much for her, though. I thought it was around 5pm when I left her place, and it was only when I was halfway home, I realised it was in fact well past 7pm - sorry Jules!
Here's a link to her website if anyone is interested http://www.artclayjewellery.co.uk/
Now that the weather is slowly getting better, I want to play with my kiln and make some colourful pieces in it, and thanks to Jules now, it wont be such an anxiety ridden operation.
Having 'borrowed' the necklace on the right in reds and golds, to wear to a dinner party, I received so many compliments that I felt i needed to make another, this time in the cool colours of blue and silver - to my eye, it looks like the necklace has been bathed in moonlight - but, I will leave it to you to decide if the name is apt, and which one you prefer.
The Greek word "amethystos" may be translated as "not drunken", from Greek a-, "not" + methustos, "intoxicated". Amethyst was considered to be a strong antidote against drunkenness, which is why wine goblets were often carved from it. According to a 16th century French poem, Dionysus, the god of intoxication, of wine and grapes was pursuing a maiden named Amethystos, who refused his affections. Amethystos prayed to the gods to remain chaste, a prayer which the goddess Artemis answered, transforming her into a white stone. Humbled by Amethystos's desire to remain chaste, Dionysus poured wine over the stone as an offering, dyeing the crystals purple.
Amethyst is a purple quartz found deep within volcanic rock, and its colour comes from manganese and iron impurities. The Agapanthus or Nile lily is an amethyst coloured flower, and the little nuggets of amethyst in this next necklace brought the buds of this very pretty flower to mind. I had a load of these in my garden, but unfortunately, as the name suggests, it likes warmer climates and all of my plants died. I might try to grow it indoors this year. I love the geodes/ druzy form of any gemstone, where the natural striations are left in, as part of the stone, and the pendant I used was sourced with great difficulty. It came to me all the way from Brazil, after a lot of bargaining with the vendor, to secure the best price. I thought it was so regal, I crowned it with a scroll of wire filigree work. A little jade butterfly, prehnite nuggets and some green crystals set the purple of the amethyst nuggets off beautifully.
That's all I had time for this week folks. We are off to Giverny, and will visit Monet's garden, and then on to Paris where I want to see his paintings at the Musee de l'Orangerie.
I have enjoyed the Impressionists for ages and have a few prints on my walls - can't wait to see the real thing. The poor cat will be most unhappy to go into the cattery , but, needs must. I hope the weather will play nicely with us, and I will catch you when I get back,
Have a great week,
Hello readers, I hope you are all enjoying the weather, which is slowly showing signs of getting warmer. It is so nice to be able to shed the heavy winter gear, and wear fewer clothes - can't wait to get to the point where the sandals come out of the cupboard and onto my feet.
My mother went on a little tour of South India with her niece, and very kindly brought back some beads for me. I had asked her to look out for a string of Rudraksha beads - more about them later. The ones she sent are about 20mm in diameter, and I was a bit intimidated by their size, I had really wanted them a bit smaller. However, no one puts Caprilicious in a corner, and I decided to rise to the challenge. I made some polymer clay ruffle beads from a tutorial by Christelle Van Lingen, in a blend of red and gold, and put a necklace together with a copper electroplated oak leaf skeleton.
I added a blue agate bead and a copper Bali style bead to provide a pop of colour and extra interest, and little gold plated crystal beads to add some sparkle to the piece - I was quite pleased with the way the necklace turned out. I like the juxtaposition of an ancient, traditional seed bead, and the polymer clay, which is as contemporary as you are going to get - and very different, too from anything i have seen, made with these seeds.
Rudraksha is a large evergreen broad-leaved tree whose seed is traditionally used for prayer beads in Hinduism. The seed is borne by several species of Elaeocarpus. Rudraksha is a Sanskrit compound consisting of the name Rudra ("Shiva") and akṣha ("eyes").
Rudraksha seeds are covered by an outer shell of blue when fully ripe, and are also known as blueberry beads. The berries are strung into a rosary, used for repetitive prayer. The seeds are classified on the basis of the number of divisions that they have, and different qualities are attributed to the rudraksha based on this. A common type has five divisions, and these are considered to be symbolic of the five faces of Shiva.
Rudraksha beads are often worn by Indian 'sadhus' or holy men, who are devotees of Shiva.
The plant and the blueberries that produce the Rudraksha seed
Sadhus, wearing strings of the Rudraksha beads - the one on the right looks pretty pleased with himself!
In a complete about turn from the oak leaf necklace, I made a couple of light and pretty summery pieces to go into the English Country Garden collection - a little pendant - Primrose, and a necklace made of all the shiny, pretty floral elements I could find - The Summer Bouquet. The inspiration for this came from a throwaway comment by a presenter on last Sunday's airing of 'The Antiques Roadshow' while valuing a tiara - he mentioned that tiaras were often turned upside down and worn as necklaces in Victorian times - so I made a modern day tiara/ necklace - it is extremely light and pretty, and looks like a wildflower bouquet.
Winner - Bead Barmy Readers Gallery Competition April 2013
I had news that Katrina won in the 'We've got the Blues' category, and that it sold, all on the same day - I must remember to tell the new owner she has a winner!
Linda Jones, a well known and influential jewellery designer, and author, writes a blog for the WireWorkers Guild, which is a forum for people who love wire. She offered to feature me on her blog in May, and sent me a questionnaire. I filled it out, and she emailed me back - she was so complimentary, I have had a job fitting my head through the door and am literally floating around the room. This is a screen capture of her email
What can I say - other than thank you, Linda Jones! And here it is http://wireworkersguild.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/caprilicous-jewellery.html?showComment=1366967638186#c8771846690699081699
When I finally managed to come down to earth , I finished off the last piece I made this week and took these photographs of The Spirit of Ecstasy. The art nouveau wire work surrounding the focal was behind the idea for the name.
The Spirit of Ecstasy, also called "Emily", "Silver Lady" or "Flying Lady", was designed by English sculptor Charles Robinson Sykes and carries with it a story about a secret passion between the second Lord Montague of Beaulieu, a pioneer of the automobile movement, and editor of The Car Illustrated magazine from 1902 and his secret love and the model for the emblem, Eleanor Velasco Thornton. Eleanor was John Walter's secretary, and their love was to remain hidden, limited to their circle of friends, for more than a decade. The reason for the secrecy was Eleanor's impoverished social and economic status, which was an obstacle to their love. John-Walter, succumbing to family pressures, married Lady Cecil Victoria Constance, but the secret love affair continued.
Eleanor died on 30 December 1915 when the SS Persia, on which she accompanied Lord Montague on his journey to India, was torpedoed off Crete by a German submarine, four years after she had been immortalized by her lover.
Spirit of Ecstasy
The rough cut black tourmaline gleams gently, and the severity of the black is relieved by the multi-coloured, shiny crystal spacers, and the graceful swoops of the wings of the focal. The polymer clay 'cabochon' is smooth, although its surface appears corrugated, and was made from a tutorial by Sophy Dumoulin of CraftArt Edu. I just love this technique - although time consuming, it is fabulous - and you have to wait till the absolute end, to see if the piece you have made is any good - for someone short on patience, it is a good exercise! The toggle clasp is pretty too, but this time, I put it at the back of the neck, where it should rightfully belong - when I tried to bring it to the front, as I do with a lot of pretty clasps, it fought a major battle with the focal, and lost. I consoled it by explaining that the back of the wearer is visible too, especially if she has her hair short, or swept up - or it could remain a delicious secret between the necklace and the wearer ( must be going doolally tap - I am now talking to a clasp!).
That's as much as I had time for, sweet people, I am exhausted by the repeated expansion and deflation of my head after all the accolades Caprilicious has received this week - and I know I will have to work hard to stay worthy of what has been said.
Catch you next week, same time, same place
I have been struck by spring fever! The mild temperatures, and the emergence of buds on the trees and little plants coming through the ground in my herbaceous borders are turning me into a happy bunny - all I can think of are flowers and leaves and pretty things.
In this mood, I began to populate my new page - The English Country Garden with pieces of jewellery, but in the interim, put in a slide show of pictures taken over the last couple of summers of my own garden - just so people won't be bored if they find themselves on that page.
Last week, I made Bluebells, the inaugural piece, and this week, made Chloe, The Cat in the Window, inspired by my own cat Harold, and Wisteria Lane, which of course is the fictional street which is the home of the Desperate Housewives in the TV serial.
The central pendant in Wisteria Lane is an Art Nouveau design reminiscent of the paintings of Alphonse Mucha, it was surrounded by a frame of woven wire and tiny crystals, some of which were hung in bunches to resemble Wisteria.
Sceptre was made to break the mold and to get away from being all happy clappy/ spring has sprungy - a lovely faceted goldstone is at the heart of this piece, with turquoise beads to provide contrast.
Design credit - Gailavira.com
I am not a fan of designs that use wire as a major feature, almost as if the designer is saying
' look at what I can do' - adding more and more tortured wire, just because they can. To me these wire heavy designs resemble a cats cradle, with no light relief, and if they go wrong, they are very close to junk - I'm sure plenty of people like them, but I'm just not one of them.
Eclipse was a piece made using a tutorial by a lady who uses a lot of wire in her designs, but very elegantly, so that miles of wire are woven and curved into organic shapes. I was already doing a lot of weaving, so it seemed logical to take it one step further and see how her designs were translated by my hands. I like the way the pendant looks in the pictures - almost mystical. I am enjoying the photography almost as much as the making of the piece - almost!
Design credit - Nicole Hanna
Carol Robertson was kind enough to email me after she had been looking at the Caprilicious website - she said she couldn't read the wordage on the pages as the fonts were too grey and seemed to merge into the background. I thought I'd change that and see if people liked it any better - the fonts in the main text have all been changed to white, and they certainly show up better on a black background. Do you like it?? - if you have any thoughts, please share them with me, I would be ever so pleased to hear from you. I like the black background - it allows the photographs to stand out better, but I would like people to be able to read the words too - after all they come from me and are part of Caprilicious too.
I have checked the android version, and it shows up with black writing on a white background, for some reason, but it is definitely visible - I worried that if it was changed over to white writing, it would disappear on your mobile phone screens, and I know that some people keep an eye on the comings and goings on the Caprilicious website via their mobiles.
That's all for now folks, have a good weekend, and don't forget to tell your friends about Caprilicious, please. I'll be here next week, same time, same place - catch you then. If you read the Caprilicious blog regularly, why not sign up to follow it - all you have to do is to click the 'follow this blog' link by the side of the blog title and it will land in your inbox each week.
'Bye for now
We have been informed (hopefully reliably) that spring has finally sprung - at long last, about six weeks late this year. My thoughts have turned to my second passion, my garden, and the bluebells that are poking their heads out of the cold ground. Coming from a tropical country, as I do, it is such a pleasure each year to ring in the changes of each season, and in celebration of nature's wonder, I have written a new page for the Caprilicious website, soon to be populated with flowers and other pretty things from my garden. This is my first piece on the new page, titled THE ENGLISH COUNTRY GARDEN. Just now this is the only piece I have there, so, to keep it company, I have included a gallery of pictures of my own little piece of England - my garden.
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Tiny butterflies flit around the edges of this piece, and little bluebells and leaves unfurl between tendrils of copper wire in this little pendant on an organza ribbon. A chemical antiquing (stinky) bath, a polish with steel wool, shined up and protected with micro crystalline wax, and the pendant is good to go.
We went out to the pub for Sunday lunch - when I got back, I found that Pearl Blay of The Beading Gem's Journal had posted a blog about Glacier Inspired Jewellery featuring Caprilicious Jewellery. It really made my day - thank you so much Pearl. You can read about it here -
Before I got this news, I was a bit fed up (that's me being polite and restrained). I had spent the day before making some really pretty beads - for once they were all equally measured and sized, and had a blue and white stripey veneer, attempting to resemble an African Trade Bead. I also made some polymer clay canes - this is a big deal for me, as I have shied away from making canes for a long time now. I constructed a complex cane of a lions face, so I could make a bracelet for a friend of mine, who is a dedicated big cat person. Although it wasn't my best effort and would have ended up a practice piece, a whole day was spent, happily wallowing in clay (brings to mind a hippopotamus), and late in the evening, the finished pieces were popped in the oven to cure. A moments distraction, and I set the oven to 225C! - 100C higher than it should have been - the result?? billows of horrid smoke, and a horrendous smell - and a load of cinders. I had to scrub the oven clean before we went out to lunch - all that hard work wasted!
They say everyone does it once, but I had hoped to be the exception - alas, it was not to be, and I joined the long list of people who have had burnt offerings to throw away. Pearl's mail on my return was a sight to gladden my heart and raise my spirits.
To cheer myself up, I made Reika - Portrait of a Geisha, using three faux black jade pieces I made earlier from a tutorial by Lynda Moseley. Reika means Beautiful Flower in Japanese - apparently the same word can have more than one meaning, if pronounced differently. As for writing Japanese names........
Kanji, one of the three scripts used in the Japanese language, are Chinese characters, which were first introduced to Japan in the 5th century via Korea. Kanji are ideograms, i.e. each character has its own meaning and corresponds to a word. By combining characters, more words can be created. For example, the combination of "electricity" with "car" means "train". There are several ten thousands of characters, of which 2000 to 3000 are required to understand newspapers. A set of 2136 characters has been officially declared as the "kanji for everyday use".
Suddenly, the complexities of the English language seem like child's play - I don't think I could cope with the Kanji concept - I hated algebra, so it's no good asking me what A+B equals, apparently the Kanji for electricity + car = train (?? !!) Not to me, it doesn't!
I do speak at least four Indian languages tolerably well, and can write in one of them, so I suppose there's hope for me yet - not that I'm planning to take lessons in Kanji anytime soon!
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The Kanji tattoo for Reika
The fluorite flower dangling from the tip of the pendant echoes the shape of the flower beads on either side of the pendant, and the colour echoes the little nuggets of the necklace.
Four polymer clay 'fossil' cabochons sat waiting in my finished-but-waiting-to-be-made-into-something box. I gave one of them to my new friend BN - we decided that we would both have a go at them and compare notes. I dug up my Wigjig, and made a surround for one of them with wire, intending to hang it asymmetrically as a focal bead in a string of graduated blue agate rondelles from my stash.
The Wig Jig has been waiting patiently for me to use it - I made a bracelet for one of my colleagues at work, a long time ago, and then forgot all about it. It has movable pegs that fit into the holes of an acrylic block, and the wire is coiled and swirled around these pegs, to give perfectly formed coils, each one with the exact same dimensions as the last, without any tool marks marring the wire.
I bought the Jig because it reminded me of the Rangoli patterns drawn on the doorsteps of Indian households every morning, and more colourfully at festivals - the nostalgiascope at work again! The ladies draw a grid made of tiny dots, and then draw a pattern looping around the dots with white or coloured powders, and get some very pretty decorative effects. All good little Indian girls know how to do this - and I did too, once - when I was a good little Indian girl, a long long time ago
There is a WIG JIG 'University' with free online patterns to be used with the Jig, and the thought of attending University again, albeit for such a fun lesson, tickled me pink!
Rangoli Pattern around a grid of dots
A more complex 'festival' pattern waiting for colour
A pattern filled in with coloured powders
The 'cabochon' was made using a fossil technique taught by Sophy Dumoulin on CraftArt Edu, and wire wrapped using the WigJig Centaur.
I named the necklace Silver Shadow after that hallmark of luxury and elegance - The Rolls Royce. The emblem on the front of the Silver Shadow Roller is a glorious Art Noveau Lady, with her hair and wings streaming backwards in the wind - elegance personified.
The faceted blue agate beads are like fat little droplets of water around the neck - I do love this piece, simple, yet dressy and elegant.
I made a cuff bracelet with a blue agate geode - I seem to gravitate towards that stone - the blue is so pretty. This piece was commissioned by a friend of mine in Mumbai - and I am so relieved that she likes it.
Well folks, here it is - Caprilicious is officially a Jewellery Design Star on the Artbeads.com website. Thank you for taking the time to vote for me. People have asked me what the prize is - it is recognition and exposure - a physical prize is not important, and wasn't the reason I entered the competition. I love it when people like my jewellery, and if I could afford to, I would give it away to all those who expressed a desire to wear it - as it is, I keep it affordable and within the remit of most people, so I am almost giving it away - it must be some deep seated need to be liked - fortunately, I'm not a psychiatrist, or I would have divined some weird and wonderful reason for this pattern of behaviour.
Thanks once again for stopping by, and for voting. Catch you same time, same place next week, have a fabulous weekend - we're off to the garden centre
I hope you have all had a good week - I had the week off from work and decided to use it productively - was meant to drive to Shrewsbury, an hour away, to take an enamelling class, but snow and ice precluded that enterprise, and we had to reschedule. So I was forced to stay at home, and play on my own with my baubles and beads, and my computer.
I entered Ariel onto a colour palette design challenge and bloghop hosted by Bonnie Coursolle of Jasper's Gems from Ontario, Canada. http://www.jasper-moon.ca/JaspersGemsBlog.htm
She posted three colour palettes, and Ariel was made in the colours of the first one she gave the participants to work with. It is nice sometimes to accept a challenge and work within its confines - it gives the mind a focus.
Just after I posted last week, I found out that I had won a £10 voucher from a trade magazine called Beads and Beyond - I had submitted a picture well before Christmas 2012 to their inbox, and quite forgot about it - in fact, I had to ask members of a jewellery forum if it was true that the picture had been published when I got the email that I had won the voucher, I thought it might be some sort of pre April fool prank. One of the ladies sent me this picture - I should really go out and buy the magazine now.
I entered Glacial Fantasy in a 'Jewellery Design Star' competition on Artbeads.com - this is a company in the USA that sells jewellery making supplies. I don't usually have time to hunt down competitions, and enter my jewellery, so it was nice to be able to do it this week.
I sent Pearl Blay, the author of The Beading Gem's Journal a picture of Glacial Fantasy. She writes a daily blog http://www.beadinggem.com/
where she posts
'the best Free Jewelry Tutorials,
Tips,Trends & More'. I have been following this blog since the day I started to make jewellery, and have learned a lot from her writings. Her blog lands in my inbox with a 'ping' every afternoon - she is in Canada-her advice is sound, and she has an archive of tutorials on almost everything to do with handmade jewellery making. I have approached her twice in the past, and only got as far as being allowed to submit a picture of one of my necklaces to her 'Readers Gallery of Inspirational Designs', but Glacial Fantasy piqued her interest and she wants to do a feature on Caprilicious Jewellery sometime in April. She contacted Manish, who took the picture of the glacier in Ladakh, and will put his picture on the blog as well. It is a big deal for Caprilicious, as her blog is extremely zealously curated, and I am suitably thrilled and grateful to Pearl. I will keep you posted when the feature comes out - it is fabulous to have one's work recognised by one's peers, especially someone who has been there, done that and seen it all.
I had a vague idea of what I wanted to make, so I made these little pieces - I embellished black clay with real gold leaf from Thailand, and made a few faux bone elements. I wasn't sure how I was going to connect them, till I remembered a roll of hemp tucked away at the back of my supplies cupboard. While I pondered this weighty question, I was thankful that there wasn't much clearing up to do - this was a clean technique and my table didn't look like a bombsite at the end of it.
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As my school reports said - 'could be tidier' !
I watched a late night movie, with subtitles, from Senegal - I watched the griot sing his soulful song - the Mandinkas pass on their history from generation to generation through songs sung by griots, accompanied by a kora-a stringed instrument. The marabout (and the protagonist visited quite a few in this movie to help restore his potency) was laden with bones and cowrie shells, and all I could think about was how this scene could be incorporated into a piece of jewellery. I think this necklace was conceived that night - there has to be some benefit to being an insomniac .
Cowrie shells were used as currency in Africa . Their symbolic qualities and beliefs led to them becoming a popular and valued object of currency for hundreds of years. During early colonial times, many Africans preferred being paid with cowrie shells over gold coins- which was a surprise (and an unexpected windfall) to the first Europeans who went to trade in Africa.
Cowrie shells are also tagged with a mystical quality, and have played a role in West African fortune telling, and are an integral part of music and indigenous instruments, as well as gambling games. They are also used as fertility symbols and brides wear them in a waist belt. One of these found its way into my hands, but it was all broken and tattered, so I rescued the cowrie shells from it - reuse and recycle - that's my motto!
I was trying to replicate the mood of the music, and the picture above in my photograph. I was clearly underemployed this week, so I played with my little camera - I lit a joss stick and tried to take a picture inside my light box, with the smoke wafting over the necklace - but I soon found out that this was easier said than done - smoke just doesn't do as it is told - I discarded a whole bunch of pictures - thank goodness for modern technology - imagine how expensive all this would have been if I had to develop all those pictures to find one that I liked!
My most recently ordered leaf skeleton pendants arrived, and I wasted no time putting the aspen leaf into a necklace of lemon quartz and pyrite. The pale gold of the quartz contrasts with the dark gold of the pyrite - Lemon quartz is so pretty, it reminds me of the weak first rays of the sun, the first thing in the morning - a wistful light, yet so beautiful. My husband liked it so much, he even wore it for a couple of minutes - yes, I got a picture, but I am not allowed to post it ( thank goodness, you say?? - you are absolutely right).
I was asked to make some earrings to go with Glacial Fantasy - I decided to have another look at Manish's pictures from Ladakh for inspiration - I found a couple that set me thinking of icicles, and I made these for the ladies who had commissioned necklaces from me.
Zahra - the Luminous one
The pearls I chose for this necklace, brought the word 'luminous' to mind - when I looked for a translation in Arabic/Persian, this flowery language came up with 'Zahra'.
We have some large holly bushes in front of the house, and I boiled up some leaves - I thought that their skeletons would be an interesting shape - but in the end, it was all 'Bubble. bubble, toil and trouble' for no reward - man, those holly leaves sure are tough! Eventually I gave up, and when I rang the lady who electroplates the leaves for me, she said she had the same problem, so she just electroplated the entire leaf as it was. I cheated, and bought this pendant from her - I was fed up with the whole holly debacle by then.
Being used to the delicate skeletons I am now accustomed to, I was a bit surprised by how substantial the holly leaf was, but in the end, I think it came good and I love the way it turned out.
I ended the week with a birthday, my colleagues from work threw a surprise lunch party for me, and some of them even wore their necklaces from Caprilicious, as did I. It was a lovely thought, and a really nice afternoon - thank you to all the ladies who turned up and made me feel special.
And, that was the week that was! Catch you next week, same time, same place, take care and have a great Easter break
My poor (much) better half has been reduced to scrabbling around in skips on behalf of Caprilicious. I charged him with finding a box to house Buffy so that I could take him off the shelf where he currently lived - I watched a video by Melanie Muir which showed how a casing could be made for a buffer out of a cardboard box, which collected all the fine dust, and caught the beads if they flew out of your hands. This is what Mike found for me, along with a second hand computer desk on wheels, to put it on. Buffy is quite happy in his new home, and easily accessible - I had a lot of trouble trying to reach into the shelf where he lived earlier on and almost put my back out . I was so happy, I spent the weekend playing with clay, and shone everything to a glassy finish - including the stuff that could have done with being a bit rough and ready. There is room for a dust mask on top of the box, so I can avoid breathing in particles of clay, and a towel can be attached to the back of the box, to catch the beads when they get flung away from me - Buffy has a short temper - all I need to do is glance at him wrong, he grabs stuff out of my hands and flings them as far away as he can - and sometimes right at me!
JuJu refers to talismans used in sorcery by Shamans - I had this design in my mind's eye, inspired by a picture from Africa Adorned, and made some faux bone talismans - the real ones have 'eyes' carved into them to protect against the evil eye, and I reproduced these talismans as faithfully as possible. I then strung thirteen strands of seed beads - I am told they have to be an odd number, and hung the talismans on them with individual seed bead bails. I wore it to work, and had quite a few compliments from people in my clinic - something tells me that this necklace wont last too long on my shelf.
Paul Newman did all his own stunts on the bicycle in this song - imagine, all that and a trick cyclist too......
One of my favourite movies, with one of my favourite actors.
Raindrops keep falling on my head
And just like the guy whose feet are too big for his bed
Nothin' seems to fit
Those raindrops are falling on my head, they keep falling
So I just did me some talkin' to the sun
And I said I didn't like the way he got things done
Sleepin' on the job
Those raindrops are falling on my head, they keep falling
I made this necklace with tiny faceted apatite, which is an icy blue, flat rondelles of flashy labradorite, and the tiniest of seed pearls. It was a bit difficult to make as the holes in the beads and in the leaf are tiny - I had to wear magnifying loupes to find them - and even so, the beading wire wouldn't fit through some of them. I wanted to come out of my comfort zone and make something sweet and simple - I seem to make bold and bright quite easily - this was a challenge to make, and I hope you like it. I decorated the leaf - I think it is an aspen leaf - with tiny apatite beads which look like raindrops, and to add a bit of movement - there has to be movement in any necklace from Caprilicious - I wired a tiny pressed glass Czech leaf to one side, satisfying my requirement of asymmetry. The necklace is very pretty, and a complete departure from usual, yet retaining the design elements I am so fond of.
An Orisha (also spelled Orisa or Orixa) is a spirit or deity that reflects one of the manifestations of God in the Yoruba spiritual or religious system. Wikipedia
I made some large hollow beads from polymer clay to resemble spindle whorls from Mali - spindle whorls were used to spin thread, and were made of clay and stone. I strung them with blue dyed howlite and a hollow gold coloured polymer clay bead. The necklace is very light - this has to do with these beads being hollow - it always surprises me how much a small amount of clay weighs when strung around the neck. The clay beads were constructed to be very light weight, in muted tones so this necklace is not as colourful as some of my regular offerings, nevertheless, it is pretty - dif'rent strokes for dif'rent folks.
I made a few more pieces with faux ivory and mounted them on colourful pendants, using embedded wire as both bail and decoration, using an idea from a tutorial by Barbara McGuire. The pendants are show pieces in themselves, so I hung them simply on black organza ribbon, rather than add any further embellishments. One of them has a 'signature' in Chinese lettering - this idea was born after I read that there was a large Chinese presence in Africa from the 18th century onwards - they were brought in as indentured labour by Europeans, and their descendants still live on in Africa to this day. One of juniors at work tells me they are so well integrated that they speak the language, and join in African society - however, whether they inter-marry is another question. The green of the pendant reminded me of jade, so prized by Chinese people everywhere.
That's as much as I have had time for this week - thanks for stopping by and I hope you've enjoyed my ramblings. Till next week then, 'bye.....
Hello folks, I hope you have all had a good week.
I have been busy at the day job, and picking out a present for my husband - he has just had a birthday, and we have a wedding anniversary later on this month. Please forgive me if I go all romantic and soppy on you, but that's the way I'm feeling - I will snap back to the more recognisable snarly, irritable self - he's sure to annoy me soon enough!
So this week its all flowers, and sweetness and light - as I said, do forgive me, it's not often I go soppy like this.
The week started with a bunch of coral tear drop beads I teamed up with some really bright red and green Nepalese Yin Yang beads - when I first had the Nepalese beads, I wondered what on earth I would do with them - they were that bright - but nestled in the middle of this Lei, or garland, they look very much at home.
A Haku (Hawaiian) is a braid - I got this from Wikipedia, in the process of researching my coral Lei. In my heightened state of hopeless romanticism, I thought this was soooo sweet (sick bucket, now, quick ) so I thought I'd share this with you.
Haku mele - to braid a song. A song composed out of affection for an individual is considered a lei.
Anyway, the Lei I made is not sickly sweet, fortunately my muse isn't following my mental state, I am lucky in that, if nothing else!
Of pomegranate studded fish and love - the moon
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After waiting a fortnight, the full moon is here, and just as it rises to kiss the tide, pomegranate fish far and wide, fall in love, lock eyes, and smile!
This is the painting I bought for Mike as a wedding anniversary present. I saw it while browsing idly on Face book - the artist was from Bangalore - I come from there too, so it seemed like kismet that I should find it at a moment when I was at my most romantic (!). I originally thought I'd visit the artist in India, later on this year, but the jewel colours of this painting attracted me so much that I could not resist it. I found her shop on Etsy - here's a link, http://www.etsy.com/shop/youandispelljoy?ref=seller_info and bought it straight away, so that it would be here in time for the day.
This is what the wonderful Kalyani Ganapathy has to say about herself in her profile on Etsy - and I think that exuberance of feeling is well demonstrated in my painting - can't wait to get it back in its new frame - I am sure he will love it too.
'While I have strands of gray, I merely am a child in thought, an adult in body. I draw straight from the heart. Everything on my canvas makes me smile. And, you guessed right, I am on a quest for joy! Unadulterated, pure and simple joy!
I believe you and I are both creative, as creative as we want to be. To me creativity is that silver lining on a dark day, the sugar rush from a hot fudge Sunday on a bright sunny day, and my channel to reach out to the world. So welcome to my world, my blanket of happiness...'
More flowers! I have got it bad, haven't I ?? - never mind, this phase wont last too long!
I made another Nepalese pendant oriented necklace, and used some carved coral roses - they are so pretty, and they contrast so well with the bland white howlite beads also in this piece. To add texture and interest, I put in some translucent black crackle agate - I would love to make a necklace of just these beads, but really nice ones are quite expensive, so I just bought a few - maybe one day!
Still on a floral note, but this time, a darker theme ( yes, slowly getting back to normality, then), Nightshade comes from a genus that produces the potato, tomatoes, petunias, gooseberries, aubergines, chili peppers, and tobacco. Deadly Nightshade produces belladonna or atropine which has been used as a poison.
The lovely puffy, faceted onyx squares (which gave me a whole load of trouble - well, I would insist on using what is meant for a bracelet in a necklace, so its really my fault), contrast with the coral roses and turquoise pillars - very showy, and definitely night time jewellery - worn on a cruise perhaps?? - who knows where it will end up!
One more necklace in The Eastern Promise series - I tried this pendant on one or two different strands of beads, and what seemed to be just right for it was a lovely strand of light orange sponge coral cylinders, and some large turquoise beads. The coral is lighter coloured than any I have used previously, a pale orange rather than red, and it struck me that the colour was like a Persimmon or Sharon fruit. I had been hoarding these beads for a while now, and this seemed the perfect time to use them - the pendant was so large, it needed to be balanced with a multi strand necklace, or one with chunky beads. When finished, the name Persimmon Poetry just came to mind - and stuck - so here it is .......
And finally, I decided to go back to wire wrapping a cabochon - with a simple neat wrap - the kind that attracted me to wire work in the first place - I just wanted to see if I could do it again, after all the wild and woven stuff I have got used to making - this piece is simple and sweet, but I couldn't resist twisting the square wire and making loops around the cabochon with the addition of tiny green aventurine beads, like little planets surrounding the sun. The cabochon is a green and black druzy, and is very pretty - a very soothing shade of green.
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The back of the pendant
That's as much as I have had time for this week folks, thanks for stopping by, see you next week, same time, same place
Christmas is here folks - by the time I write next week, the goose will be well digested and we will be looking forward to the New Year! Here's wishing all of you a Joyous and very merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year.
Melusine, the lady dragon
Melusine was a fresh water sprite in sacred springs and waters around Luxembourg. This tale, from medieval times, told by ladies when they sat spinning at their looms claims her as an ancestress of the rulers of Luxembourg, who
magically made the castle of Bock appear the morning after her wedding. On her terms of marriage, she required one day of absolute privacy each week (only one???). Unfortunately, her husband could not resist temptation, and spied on her in her bath - she was discovered to be a mermaid! When he let out a surprised shout, her bath immediately sank into the solid rock, carrying her with it.
Melusine surfaces briefly every seven years as a beautiful woman or as a dragon, holding a small golden key in her mouth and legend would have it that whoever takes the key from her will set her free and may claim her as his bride!
I used her as inspiration for the necklace that bears her name, of beautifully marked, glamorous, tactile dragons vein agate rondelles. The addition of sparkly crystals as spacers made the sheen of the gemstones even more prominent - I love this necklace.
This one is yet another 'wear three ways' offering from Caprilicious - the abalone clasps I have in my stash have green, purple and a golden yellow colour to them, and I have already made necklaces in green and purple - this is the golden yellow one - the colour resembles fine cognac, when poured into a crystal brandy balloon - all warmed up and ready to slip down your throat like honey.
More Arabian Nights Dreams
I hate the thought of being a one trick pony - stringing beads onto a pretty clasp is a lovely way to get instant results, but I'd get a bit bored if I did that all week - so, I alternate making up necklaces, wire work, claying (clay - polymer and precious metal) and now enamel. I don't mind admitting, I am not enjoying the enamelling quite so much, especially after my last debacle! Mike laughs at me - he says I think I should have been born with a perfect skill set - I don't enjoy the learning curve - maybe he is right. Next year, I shall set aside one weekend every month to play with enamels - till I get it right. Just now, it's a bit of a sore point.
So, I went on to play with wire - a couple of weeks ago, I set out to make a pendant in the shape of a lotus - it took me a while, and some very sore fingertips, but I cracked it. The pendant ended up extremely colourful, with the addition of loads of coloured alexandrite, apatite, jade beads, and onyx danglers, and instead of just leaving the pendant as a stand alone piece, I hung it on a necklace made of tektite - meteoric glass, from Australia, and freshwater pearls. I particularly like the tactility of the tektite - and of course the rough, sparkly centre of the druzy cabochon.
It's All Coming up Roses
I have a fairly sizeable collection of rose quartz in various shapes and shades of pink, and decided to use some of it - pale pink is a very subtle shade and difficult to design with unless the wearer is a Barbie doll. It is extremely easy to design a piece for myself, but as I am not a Barbie, I needed to think outside the box to come up with these two designs. Now that they are made up, I think the chunkier one would be what I would instinctively pick in a shop, if I had to buy pink - the addition of the bright colours in the spacers would appeal to me. I made the spacers in both necklaces myself out of wire and some fire polished beads. I do like Rosy Posy as well - it will be interesting to see which one gets picked up first, and by whom - watch this space....................
I spend as much time looking for fancy clasps, as I do beads and gemstones, as I think that often a clasp elevates a piece of jewellery from the ordinary to something special. The other side of that coin is that I design my jewellery with the clasp as an additional focal point - and I think you would agree that the butterfly in this necklace deserves to be seen, sitting sweetly on the shoulder of the wearer.
Last Tango in Paris
In a complete departure from the 'pinkness' of the last two pieces, I made use of some cinnabar beads I happened to have lying around - I meant to make one necklace with red and black elements, but in the end, two of them emerged - can't think how that happened. The combination of red and black is so aggressively sensual, that it brought to mind a Tango - The Last Tango in Paris, Bertolucci's beautiful film with the fabulous Marlon Brando. Cinnabar beads are made of a soft wood that takes a heat impression, so the beads have some very detailed design work imprinted on them. I added lava rocks and a couple of large bean shaped crystal beads, to add interest.
Flavia Cacace and Vincent Simone are Tango dancers par excellence and we were lucky enough to watch them live in a show down in London last year - I have a little clip for you here that illustrates the power of red and black when put together - sizzzzzle.......
Every day this week, a bit at a time, I wrapped a pyrite chunky fan shaped nugget with antique brown wire, added gemstone beads, dangles and embellishments till it begged me to stop - no more, please, it cried - I was surprised, as I had planned many more additions and curlicues and beads, and..... and..... and....
But, I heard the piteous cries of the pendant, and let it go - last seen, it was on a simple memory wire choker, legging it in the direction of my storage box - I wouldn't admit this to anyone but you - in the end, it seemed like it was right to stop me from over egging the pudding.
I thought I would take a short break over the next couple of weeks, and chill out over Christmas - at least that was the plan, but I found that my fingers developed a mind of their own - pliers and snips seemed to attach themselves mysteriously to me! No matter how much I try, I can't seem to get away from them - I tell you, it is an addiction!! So, I gave in and decided to make up some earrings, to replace the ones I sold at Caprilicious' birthday bash - I shall take my time photographing them and uploading them onto the page - perhaps as one lot in January.
By request from some of my favourite customers, I have put on a Boxing Day Sale for a week - please have a browse and message me with the name of any piece you like and I will invoice you with the discounted price.
Have a fabulous Christmas, catch you next week, same time, same place
What terrible weather we've had - rain, rain, and more rain - floods in parts of the UK, though luckily we haven't been affected too much around where I live. The whole of the UK has been covered over by a blanket of cloud - even the weather girl on the TV has lost her perky smile - she has a squeaky, high pitched, chirpy, birdie voice and usually ends with a 'bye bye' - now she slinks off apologetically, having delivered her message of doom with a semi grimace - more of the same!
Anyway, the rain has kept most people at home, and out of the hospital, so the worried well have kept dry and snug. This meant that I was free to play with my kiln all weekend, while on call - I made some pendants and focal toggle clasps with copper clay, and tried to enamel them in cheerful colours - or at least that was the plan.
These are the pretties I made, after I scrubbed the fire scale from them and cleaned them up, all ready for enamelling.
The bottom two are 'Hamsa' hands -
The Hamsa is a palm-shaped object popular throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and usually made into amulets for jewellery and wall hangings. Depicting the open right hand, the Hamsa is believed to provide defence against the evil eye. The symbol pre dates Christianity and Islam. In Islam, it is also known as the hand of Fatima, so named to commemorate Muhammad's daughter Fatima Zahra. Christians call it the hand of Mary, for the mother of Jesus, and the Jewish community calls it the hand of Miriam.
In the Middle East, the Hamsa has been adopted as a symbol of hope for peace, and the Hamsa prayer goes
Let no sadness come
to this heart
Let no trouble come
to these arms
Let no conflict come
to these eyes
Let my soul be filled with the blessing of joy of peace
and I concur with this sentiment!
As far as I am concerned, of course, it is a pretty object - I don't actually care whose hand it is! I saw some beautifully coloured ones in Morocco, and I thought I'd make some with brightly coloured enamels.
Unfortunately, I proved unequal to the task of enamelling them - I have successfully enamelled onto silver clay and copper sheet metal - but just couldn't get it right this time around. Fortunately, I only ruined two of the pieces - I will do it someday - just have to get a bit more research in - reminds me of the years where my sister and I used to attempt to bake cakes and end up with pancakes - she is now a fabulous cook, and knocks out cakes at the drop of a hat, and I can too - if and when I want to (very rarely).
So to cheer myself up, I made some simple pendants with wire -at least wire wont talk back and give me cheek! I made three little pendants, and an ear cuff - bending and twisting away my irritation with the enamelled pieces ( or more correctly, non enamelled rubbish).
The Queen of Siam
I'm usually a bit of a hoarder, and like to keep pretty things for a while, but I have realised that this strategy is pointless - if, indeed, one can call it a strategy. Now that I have all this coral and turquoise in the house, I decided to make up the rest of the pendants I bought from E. Limbu, the Nepalese artisan - they were too pretty to languish in a cupboard till I felt like sharing them with somebody. So I made one with teardrop shaped coral and pyrite slab nuggets. As soon as Mike saw it he said how Russian it looked - and I did a double take - Russian??
But when I looked at it again, I saw what he meant - the sponge coral looks decadently opulent, so I called it Czarina.
Eastern Promise - Czarina
Eastern Promise - Carnival
The second pendant was a bit more ornate, so I put it into a fairly simple necklace with chunky coral and turquoise nuggets, and Mother of Pearl heishi beads - these tiny, flat little beads came strung in a jumbled up mass of vibrant colours, and I spent some time separating the colours - this worked well, and the necklace looks as exuberant as a carnival - hence the name. I used some pretty brushed silver tone flowers as well, and they set the carnival beads off perfectly.
Sweet Jade Orchid
I had this beautiful clasp in my stash for over an year - and I felt so mean for ignoring it, in spite of its piteous cries. When made up into a necklace with aventurine nuggets to match, it was too heavy - felt like a yoke around my neck - I was unable to raise my head after a few minutes. I was so annoyed, I had to cut the necklace up - and then I had to bag all the elements up - I try not to lose any beads if I can help it, as I always plagued by the thought that I might end up needing just that one that I was careless with some day in the future - and that would seriously exasperate me. So there I was, on my hands and knees, chasing beads around the room, - when I finally finished, it was back to the wire, to sit down, manically twisting and tweaking away, weaving the vexation out of my system. When I felt better, I had five little pendants with green jade beads, and I remade this necklace using them. The pendants remind me of the inside of an orchid, and that's how this necklace got its name.
A jade orchid
The Latest Trend - apparently.................
I wore ear cuffs in my early twenties - I vaguely remember a plain and simple silver band fitting snugly around the cartilage of my ear. People have been making and wearing them in the last couple of years, but I am reliably informed (!) that they are going to be the latest, must have accessory in the spring of 2013 - if we all survive beyond December the 21st! - we'll all know then how reliable my source is. While I was playing with wire this week, I made a couple of them - mainly as give away items - I found these pictures of various celebs already wearing them and a picture showing how they are worn which I shall keep for people who aren't in the know. The ones on the green back ground are mine, and they are quite comfortable to wear.
Thanks for stopping by the blog - I now know that more than ten people read it (the blog has ten official 'followers') , but a lot more have sent me comments or clicked the 'like' button on Facebook - its nice to know I'm not rambling to myself like a lunatic, but as Mike says, talking to yourself is OK, its only when you answer yourself back that you need to worry!
That's all I had time for this week folks, catch you same time next week. Have a great weekend,