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
Thank you to everyone who voted for my design 'Glacial Fantasy' in the Artbeads Jewelry Design Star Competition. It only went and won!! I am speechless and so, so, so, thrilled. I was informed by email, and they have had my details as well as a couple of other designs from Caprilicious for their website. When I hear more from Artbeads.com about the official announcement, I will let you know. In the meantime, I have another pair of earrings made, to complement Glacial Fantasy - the first two were not deemed 'delicate' enough, and I was politely requested to think again - the customer is always right - right? So.........
| || |
These were made with wire crochet and crystal beads, and the pictures sent on for approval - I hope she likes them, or, its back to the drawing board for me. They look pretty delicate to my eyes, but I am not the one going to be wearing them, so I shall just have to wait and see. I have no problems doing them over and over until I get it right - I just see it as another challenge.
I thought Betty was a bit lonely, so I found her a friend - meet Barbara - she is a half bust, but what is especially nice about her is that I can insert an earring so I can get a good picture of the way the earrings dangle from the ear lobe. I had just made this pendant with a red banded agate stone, and I hung it around Barbara's neck - her neck is a bit scrawny, but, hey, anything's possible if allowed a bit of artistic license. The pendant looks huge around Barbara's neck, but that is because she suffers from turkey neck disorder, but one mustn't mock afflicted chickens!
| || |
'Grace', the pendant in question is made of banded red agate - a beautiful waxy, translucent, rectangular stone. About six feet of wire went into the swirly wraps, and a few more feet of fine wire for the web like weave. I had to add a bit of movement, and a shiny Aurora Borealis coated crystal from my stash was just the ticket.
I played with polymer clay and alcohol inks and produced these faux red jade pieces from a tutorial by Lynda Moseley of Diva Designs. I love the large 25mm focal beads, with a floral etched pattern and I made a chrysanthemum type flower to be the pendant in this necklace. It is called Cinnamon because of the beautiful burnt sugar colour of the faux jade. The other alternative for a name was Creme Caramel - betraying my sweet tooth and secret gluttony - a Freudian slip, if ever there was one! Three strands of carnelian nuggets, held together at intervals by pewter spacers toned well with the focal pieces - a monochromatic necklace, which is quite rare for me - I don't know how I resisted the impulse to add a bit of green or turquoise blue, but I do like how Cinnamon came together in the end.
From Russia With Love
I made this necklace a few weeks ago, and I saved three rainbow titanium coated quartz needles to make a pendant and a pair of earrings. When they were made up the three little pieces resembled the Matroshka dolls sold to tourists in Russia - except, of course that I have attempted to match the earrings, as far as possible The quartz was mined near St Petersburg and has an extraordinarily beautiful sheen from the fine coating of titanium vapour wafted over it.
I spent most of this week catching up on paper work and other stuff at the day job - sometimes it doesn't pay to have too much time off, everything is just waiting for you when you get back to the grindstone - no rest for the wicked!
I did have time to tidy up my website, move my necklaces around - I have new pages now - Chinese Inspiration, Out of Africa, and Leafy Glade are now added to a Treasury of Statement Necklaces, and all the other bits and bobs are grouped under Mini Statements - I believe that all jewellery makes a statement - it tells you about a woman's inner self and expresses her thoughts, feelings, and mood, sometimes, who she would like to be but finds difficult to express - an alter ego. I know that this is certainly true about me - what about you?? Have you ever thought about what your choice in apparel says about you to the world - a non verbal clue to those who might wish to detect what makes you tick! Have you ever thought what women who don't wear jewellery are saying - I think it may be that they don't want people to get clues to their personality - you have to work just that bit harder to know them and what their raison d'être is.
That's all I had time to make this week folks, catch you next week, same time, same place, thanks for stopping by my blog, and once again, thank you for voting for my design in the competition
I love unusual elements - I was sorting out my bead stash, and trying to get tangled strings of beads back into little labelled pouches, with prices for each of the different types of gemstones, when it struck me - I dont have too many round beads in my stash - in fact, the only round beads I have are left overs from jewellery I have conceived around a focal piece, and then had to buy in with that particular piece in mind. A quick rummage revealed oval beads, and square beads, pumpkin shaped beads, rugged rough nuggets, freeform tooth shaped beads, smooth nuggets, floral shapes, coins, rondelles - a few round glass beads I got when I first started out still languish at the back of the stash, and I could hear them pleading with me to be used - 'me, me, me', they cried!
I also have a stash of pendant beads and cabochons - mainly druzy - I love that rugged, excavated, sugar crystal look. I have started to collect little tiny gemstone beads, to put in the Caprilicious silver collection, and I now have a box full of those, and will soon have to get a bigger container.
This week, I was exhausted from making 'The Mermaids Song' and the other pieces I put together last week, so I slacked off for a couple of days, until I felt the urge to pick up a pair of pliers and play with some wire. Sometimes, I make a few wire elements and then put them together, and at others, I find a focal, and plan the execution of a piece of jewellery, knowing that I will change my mind halfway, and add something unexpected into the mix.
I started out with this pendant bead ( a bead is anything with a hole in it, and does not need a separate piece of metal to surround it- it doesn't necessarily have to be round). I, however, treat most pendant beads like cabochons, that have no hole, and frame them with my own bezel. This one is one of the Intarsia beads I had sent out to me from Italy. It is made of marble, inlaid with jasper, so beautifully, one would be forgiven for thinking it was all one piece of stone, the clue is in the white frame around the inlay work. I love the intricacy of Intarsia work, and have a few pieces in my collection. They are difficult to use, as, strung alone, the piece looks a bit bare, and a frame to show it off is required - in my opinion, anyway.
The first one I made way back in February, reminded me of cherry blossom, and I gave it a floral polymer clay frame. It was called Spring Fever. This time, I pulled out a piece of marble inlaid with yellow jasper - it looked like an explosion of fireworks in a night sky to me. The romantic in me remembered the fireworks that go off every time one falls in love, and I designed a heart shaped double frame around the Intarsia, to be carried by needles of yellow jasper. However, by the time I finished the frame, shiny silver lined seed beads had jumped onto it and twined themselves around it, and I was forced to continue the theme with the same beads in the necklace. The yellow jasper needles were put away, to be used another day - I did apologise to them first for raising their hopes!
I think I did that magnificent piece of Intarsia art justice with my frame. I wish I could find the artisan and ask him/her what they thought of it.
A True Blue Affair
My first love when I first got into the jewellery making lark was druzy - and that hasn't changed one bit. I love the way these stones are cut, displaying imperfections, rather than cutting or polishing them out. None of us are perfect, and we all employ a bit of camouflage here, a bit of subterfuge there - and titanium druzy is just that - a bit of camouflage to cover up what would essentially be a dull stone - among other druzy, that is. A lot of geodes/ druzy have natural striations and facets, which are so pretty, no further efffort is needed to prettify them. But what of the poor piece of stone, that has nothing to edify it, apart from nature's embellishment with a surface crystalline texture - camouflage with a thin vapour of gold, or platinum, or titanium, of course! Titanium, in particular gives the stone a blue green oil slick sheen, and is very pretty. I had a pendant, bought in the USA, with such a stone set in Sterling Silver, just a bit bigger than a 50 pence piece. Teamed with lapis lazuli beads and loads of silver-tone spacers, I made a Lariat style necklace, with the pendant incorporated into the toggle clasp - this can be worn long, or shorter, wound twice around the neck. I personally prefer it short.
The final piece for the week before I took off on holiday was a necklace made of really unusual banded green agate. The beads are cylindrical, and faceted in such a way that some of the facets are smooth and shiny and the others are gritty, with the appearance of ground glass. I saw them in a picture, and had to have them. The gerrn and red bands that make up this gemstone can be a bit dull though, so I livened it up with a central silver tone flower pendant- I looked at it from all different angles, and decided I didn't like the effect - a tad too symmetrical for me, and the flower seemed too small to balance the size of the beads. So, copper wire to the rescue - I whipped up a three dimensional orchid, and studded it with turquoise beads - and this brightened the piece up considerably - so, here is the Blue Orchid Corsage Necklace.....
I hope you can see the beautiful facets in the beads
The shiny black beads are haematite
We flew out to Santorini last week for a few days in the sun after our abysmally dull summer. I post this from the hotel in Santorini - it was written before I left home, but is a few days late - have been too busy climbing the volcano, swimming in the blue Aegean sea, and sunning myself like a lizard on a rock. Catch you when I get back,
This has been a week where I have run my fingers ragged - and put all my mental and physical energies into making this piece - Meluhan Sunset. One of my FaceBook fans commissioned me to make her a statement necklace, and I was determined to come up with something that would justify her faith in my abilities. In the meanwhile, I also had to keep my mother happy and rested, with her regular quota of shopping, and I think I have managed it all - no wonder I feel like a wrung out dishcloth!
When this young lady asked me to design something for her she said ' i loveeeeeeee mountains...particularly high altitude ones...barren...with a slew of colors splashed & snow...& the sun shining ever so brightly on them'. My mother shook her head in despair -'this is all too much to imagine' she muttered under her breath - 'Oh me, Oh my - can this girl not just buy something you already have on your pages'??
However, I am made of sterner stuff, and decided, with my imaginative friend, that snow capped mountains would have to be made with druzy, which is a fine coating of crystals on a rock fracture surface.
Movement of the earth's crust and inner layers are responsible for the formation of these beautiful gemstones. Heat and pressure from molten lava and the gases arising from this created cavities within the rock, and many years later, new minerals were deposited onto it's surface from the cool ground water that trickled over it.
I love druzy, as it looks like crystalline sugar, growing on a gemstone and its colours are based on the minerals deposited many years ago. It can be coated with silver, gold or titanium vapour, but for this purpose I chose agate with black and white accents. I bought 3 stones, meaning to use one of them in this piece, but in the event, I used two - it just seemed right.
The inspiration was this picture of an afterglow over the Himalayas I found, and I decided that the two druzy stones would be set asymmetrically to one side like the mountain tops in this picture, and I would create an afterglow using Swarovski crystals and knot less netting with fine wire.
Black and white agate druzy - snow capped mountain??
Black agate druzy with a Titanium vapour coating - it has a pretty oil slick glow
Bezel setting in knot less netting
Once I had created the bezels with wire lace, I made a frame for the necklace and wired the gem stones to the frame. After this, I had a fine old time, with my stash of Swarovski crystals, and about 25 metres of 26 gauge wire! Of course, I know that a bunch of crystals wired together would never look like a photograph, but, this, in it's own modest way is an artists impression of an afterglow - I just know that it will be loved and enjoyed. My mother quite shockingly said, off her own bat, that she liked it - I couldn't speak for a couple of hours - and that is most rare for me!
Coincidentally, I am reading a book called 'The Immorlals of Meluha' by Amish Tripathi, (http://shivatrilogy.com/index3.html
) which mum brought with her - Meluha was set in the Indus Valley civilisation and was a near perfect empire, where they had found the secret elixir that kept people young and alive forever. The land of Meluha was close to the Himalayas and I named this necklace Meluhan sunset - to my mind, the people of Meluha must have enjoyed the beauty of the mountains and the sunsets that go with that part of the world. I have been to Nepal, and got pretty close to Mount Everest (no, I didn't climb it) - the mountains are certainly pretty fabulous. We stayed in a place called Everest Lodge, and watched the mountains all day - the views were breathtaking. However, it wasn't till I met and married my husband Mike, that I learned to truly appreciate the beauty of a sunset ( we are very rarely awake at sunrise, although I am sure they are just as beautiful) - he is absolutely crazy about the mountains, and sunsets. So it is with pride I present.....(drum roll).....MELUHAN SUNSET...
White crystals surround the 'mountains' to signify snow
The glow of the titanium druzy is visible in this picture
The sunset afterglow in crystals and wire
Viking knit with coiled wire end caps, with a large crystal to finish the necklace
As you can imagine, all this took me a long time, fortunately, I had time off from the day job to be with my mum - she will carry the necklace back to India and courier it to Delhi, which is its final destination - so I had to finish it before she left the UK.
I made a pair of complimentary earrings to match - had to force myself - I hate complicated earrings - measuring with precision is boring and I always struggle to make 2 pieces that look exactly equal and opposite. I decided to make the effort - the necklace is so ornate, I felt I needed to. I am not sure whether they should be worn together - would it be over egging the pudding? I suppose it depends where you are going to.
Strawberry Fields Forever
| || |
One of my favourite tracks - when I made the polymer clay faux ivory strawberry leaf pendant, I knew I would dedicate it to this piece of music!
I made some seed bead and wire berries, and along with lucite flowers and leaves I put together this necklace. I also made a pair of simple complimentary earrings to complete the ensemble.
And, that's all I had time for - I think I did pretty well, considering. Mum is with me for another week - the countdown has begun - she is now hooked onto my way of shopping - on line! - so more goods are flooding into the house, adding to the beads I buy - Oh well, long may she enjoy herself! The only problem is that she has now learned to use ebay - and is a vicious bidder who checks on her stuff two or three times a day - so now instead of going to the shops, we are glued to the settee and the computer screen - plus ca change, plus cest la meme chose!
Catch you next week