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,
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
This week, there were some very difficult decisions to be made - I had to submit a single button to the Button Project picking for my theme 'Silk' , 'Metamorphosis' , or 'Heritage' - I could eventually add another three to a set of four to be sold off by the organisers when the project ended.
I decided to go with 'Metamorphosis' as my theme, loosely interpreted by me as the change or transformation that occurs as night follows day. I thought that there would most probably be too many butterfly/ larva buttons as the other theme was Silk- and anyway, who wants to make or wear a dead caterpillar? - not me, that's who!
I made the four buttons in polymer clay, and took my pictures, I was quietly pleased with the way they turned out. I planned to give each one a gradation from a dark blue to a pink/yellow/orange, and I added a leaf motif in the background, so the button would eventually resemble a fossil. The method I used was pioneered by Sophy Dumoulin of CraftArt Edu. However, with this technique, there is no way of telling what the piece will look like till it is cured, sanded and buffed - sanding reveals the true design, hidden inside, almost like a metamorphosis in itself - I held my breath till, lo, and behold, the buttons appeared - not entirely the way I envisaged, but near enough.
I was now faced with the choice of button - I had to decide which one was the best and was destined to be the original exhibit, with the others sitting in a box, waiting to hear if someone loved them enough to give them a home. How bad would they feel, if they had to come back home to Nuneaton in a padded envelope - how could I put my sweet button babies through this?
And once I decided which one I liked best, should I send the required photograph on a dark background, or on white?
Having agonised over this for a long while, I gave up and decided to listen to some music instead, till the Aspirin cleared my head.
The one at the top left is the one I chose eventually, with the dark background. Now, all that is left is to wait and see whether the organisers will accept my entry.
Through Caprilicious, I met a lovely lady I shall call BN - she makes jewellery too and is like me, a doctor. She loves Caprilicious and took the trouble to come all the way to Nuneaton to see me - I was ever so pleased to meet her and we talked jewellery for hours - it was nice to find someone to chat with on a topic that is so dear to my heart, without fear of their eyes glazing over with boredom - I'm sure I do that a lot at work, and have to restrain myself, quite often, when my radar picks up the glazed expression I used to get when my mother lectured me on my many misdemeanors as a teenager. I only hope I am quicker to spot 'the look' than my mother was!
BN gifted me some beads - she said it was like a goody bag on Ready Steady Cook - I had to make pieces of jewellery using the ingredients from her bag, the only difference being there was no stipulated time limit. In return, she had some of my polymer clay faux amber and a few other bits and bobs. After she left, I made Bedouin Oasis, with some of her beads, one of my handmade polymer clay pendants, with two pairs of earrings to match.
The sand is hot beneath my feet
This desert air, a burning heat
I'm running wild in all directions
Slowly falling from my imperfections
These flats out here seem dead and barren
The silence is blarin'
When then a quiver runs suddenly
Through my spine as I sense
A safe haven
A sweet serenity
I teamed Tiger Ebony wood bicone beads and shell segments in an asymmetric necklace and the colours so reminded me of an oasis - calm and serene - the pendant seemed to work well with that theme, its center looks like a rippling body of water to me - I wore the necklace to work, and got a load of compliments - I was very pleased with the response.
This necklace stemmed from BN's question - 'could you create small?' - I wasn't too sure that I could rise up to the challenge - Caprilicious seems to have become all about the large, flamboyant piece - but I am sure there are plenty of capricious women who want their delicious pieces small and dainty. So, I went off with my thinking cap and sat in a corner for a while ( should that be a dunce's cap you sit in a corner with??) and came up with Indigo Evenings. The iolite I picked is a beautiful deep blue, the colour of twilight in the tropics, and I looked in my gemstone stash in vain to find a green to complement it - I finally found the perfect green in my box of crystals, and added some tiny pearls to make a piece that is so dainty, it looks almost fragile in my hands - so, BN, if you are reading this, have I fulfilled your challenge?
Ariel is a fictional character and the lead protagonist of Walt Disney Pictures' film The Little Mermaid (1989). Ariel is voiced by Jodi Benson in all animated appearances and merchandise.
Ariel has a very distinctive appearance, with her long, flowing red hair, blue eyes, green tail and a purple seashell bra. The blue-green color of Ariel's fin was a hue specially mixed by the Disney paint lab; the color was named "Ariel" after the character. The choice of red as Ariel's hair color was the subject of dispute between the filmmakers and studio executives who wanted the character to have blonde hair. It was noted that red hair contrasted better with Ariel's green tail and that red was easier to darken than yellow so it was ultimately kept.
In the mid nineties, I used to borrow this little girl from my friends, and she and I would stay up all night, watching cartoons, eating ice cream and Jelly and crisps in bed - she loved to come and stay with me, and her parents had the weekend to themselves - The Little Mermaid was one of the movies we watched, over and over, without ever tiring of it.
I made this cuff in memory of those days, using the pen and ink technique learned from Alice Stroppel. It took simply ages to get her hair just so, fortunately, I now have a table where I can leave all the makings without feeling guilty about the mess. The place looked like a bombsite for days and days, while I struggled to juggle the demands of the bracelet, and the rigours of the day job.
All this for one tiny bracelet!!
Made from scratch, the bracelet started like this
And finished up like this!
Lipstick on Your Collar
BN gave me some slate grey veined jasper - the stones look like little pebbles from a river bed - initially I thought I would put them with coral ( and I might, yet) but while doing a rummage in my bead stash, I found these lipstick coloured pink dyed howlite, and they seemed to be clamoring to be let out of the box - I think they go really well together. As I have said before, I am not a particularly 'pink' person - but this necklace found its way from the light box where I photographed it, straight around my neck, and hence, to work. The grey jasper lends the piece a bit of sophistication, and raises its game. One look at it, and I don't have to say another word about how it got it's name.
The gentleman whose photograph I used as inspiration for Glacial Fantasy
( http://www.flickr.com/photos/manisholiday/ or http://kingdom-of-sky.blogspot.co.uk/ for more pictures) liked the necklace so much, he ordered another for his girlfriend! Kudos, indeed - such kind gestures make it all worthwhile!
That's all this week sweet people, thanks for stopping by - catch you next week, same time, same place,
Sara is a lady who draws, paints and crochets - she also runs a Flickr group to support 'quality art and handmade'. She selects five designs as her favourites of the week and allows people to vote for them on her blog. My JuJu Woman necklace was selected this week - if you have a moment to spare, do visit her site and cast me a vote in the next seven days, please. http://sara-artstudio.blogspot.co.uk/
The pictures above are, from left to right, jaggery, citrine nuggets, and brown sugar. Jaggery and brown sugar are cane sugar with a higher content of molasses than white sugar - this makes the partially refined sugar moister. Jaggery is sold in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean, and I have seen it piled high in the Asian shops in the UK just before Asian festivals, and sold in 5 kilo doorstop sized lumps wrapped in jute sacks.
My mother always had some in her pantry, and as children, we would sneak in and steal a few chunks, stuffing them into our mouths with a handful of raisins and cashew nuts and run into the garden, before we were caught and given a good hiding for our trouble. It is no wonder then, that I love citrine nuggets - they remind me of my childhood.
I have come to the sad conclusion that I am a bit of a glutton - I often describe beautifully marked gemstones as 'almost edible', though why anyone would choose to eat a stone is beyond me. It may be because I fall in love with the gemstone on the basis that more than one sense is excited - it not only looks good, but it looks like it might taste good! I do, however, stop short of actually putting them in my mouth - even though they have no calories.
When I made this necklace with citrine nuggets, all I could think of was brown sugar, no other name seemed to fit -so, that's what I called it.
I have had the carnelian leaf pendant in my collection for ages, as well as the opalite leaf in the next piece I am going to show you. The waxy translucence of the carnelian seemed to go perfectly with the crystalline structure of the citrine.
The opalite leaf in the next piece glows as if it has been touched by the light of the moon. I teamed it with faceted blue chalcedony and banded blue agate - I made the entire piece up, and then felt that the leaf, on its own, was too small for the size of the stones in the necklace, so I unpicked the whole piece, and make a wire frame for the pendant.
I had a new weave I wanted to try out, taught by a wire artisan called Mary Tucker. Her weaves have a flat appearance, almost like a woven fabric - I tried out a short segment, and when I separated the wires, I liked the result so much, I incorporated it into the frame for the pendant. Once I had enlarged the pendant, it fitted well amidst the large stones in the necklace. I originally bought the blue chalcedony because the blue reminded me of the baroque palace of Catherine the Great in St Petersburg and I remained true to that idea with the name for the necklace. Until St Petersburg, I had never seen such a brilliantly coloured palace - and it is indeed magical - I was there so many years ago, but have never forgotten its beauty.
.....a young, lithe and graceful human being with unfathomable eyes. she hides her soul within her and rarely lets anyone else see it. A laila takes a long time to let somebody into her life and past her defenses, but once she places her trust in them completely, she finds it near impossible to let go.
Some beads are too pretty to languish in a dark corner, and these Nepalese wooden beads, as well as the coral, fall into that category. The coral has been dyed black - it is illegal to make jewellery out of real black coral, as it is a protected species by international law. These tear drops are made of sponge coral, which is from a sustainable source, and dyed black. Nevertheless, the tear drops are very pretty, and I have tried to use them to their best effect in this necklace. The origin of the name is Arabic where it means 'dark as the night, and mysterious', but when I dug a bit further, it would appear that the Urban Dictionary has claimed it as a noun - the definition of 'a laila' is interesting, to say the least.
I love agate beads that have markings on them - they are so delicate, it is almost impossible to believe that this artistry is wrought by nature. With these waxy translucent whisper pink Dragon's vein agate beads, I found it easy to design a piece adding just a soupçon of bling - a couple of magenta agate beads and a carved amethyst dragon bead, a few spacers - and there it was - the colours remind me of a fuchsia.
Fuchsias have always brought to mind a lady in a ball gown being twirled around in a fast quickstep that imbues her antebellum gown with a life of its own, ballooning around her, so her ankles and delicate dancing slippers are visible .
Thanks for stopping by my blog folks, I hope you have enjoyed this weeks efforts. Catch you next week, same time, same place
Smile - easier said than done today - I should have been wishing my brother a Happy Birthday - Oh well, one foot in front of the other, I plod on, as one does.
The Scapular Bangles
The faux bone was made using instruction from Lynda Moseley of Diva Design ( http://www.etsy.com/shop/SCDiva )and the bangles themselves from an idea taken from a tutorial on Vicky Turner's blog post Claymagination
( http://claymagination.blogspot.co.uk) - a big thank you goes out to both these artists. I imagined a camel fair, with the traders wearing these made out of camel bone in the middle of the desert. I have been a bit heavy handed with the distressing, but, if these bangles were worn in that particular situation, surely they would look as ancient and distressed as these. The secret to being able to make them so thin ( they are only 2 mm thick) and yet, durable, is to reinforce them with a piece of card between layers. I was amazed at how easy this was to do, and how much fun.
I sourced the beautiful quartz needles in my next piece all the way from Russia - they come from a mine just outside St Petersburg. They have been treated to a titanium vapour coating which makes them iridescent in beautiful shades of blue, violet and gold. I could not wait to use them and made this necklace immediately - I did not have to do anything to embellish the beauty of the stones - just hang them on a beading wire with violet tear drop shaped beads as spacers - the teardrop shape helps the quartz to spread out more easily. I did hoard a couple of them - one perfect crystal for a 'point' pendant, and two little ones for earrings - I just couldn't bear to part with them all at once.
From Russia With Love
I was asked to turn the beads on the left into a statement necklace reminiscent of this glacier in Ladakh on the right.
The stones are Blue Ice Quartz, and I have seen them on many occasions all strung in a row in a choker. I bought some blue agate geodes, and each of these has beautiful markings - shards of white surrounded by blue.
The picture of the glacier in Ladakh was taken by Manish Lakhani - visit his pictures on Flickr for more pictures of this desolate, but beautiful place at .
and his blog on
This is what I came up with - Glacial Fantasy.
After I finished that, in my spare time, and just for a laugh, I took a tutorial on making faux jade from Lynda Moseley and tried it out, made a faux bone scapular necklace, and attended a Webinar on jewellery making tools from CraftCast- sound busy, don't I - I forgot to mention that I had a few days off from work - had some annual leave owing to me, and decided to take it, and use the time productively. Here are some pictures of the faux jade and bone. Buffy truly came into his own, shining the pieces I made so that they didn't look so 'faux' any more. Anyway, all this activity kept me out of mischief, and Mike was content to let me play while he pottered around. Our dishwasher was on the blink, and it took 3 days to find the parts to repair it - I refuse to wash dishes by hand, so I lived on protein bars -until it was repaired - no cooking was done!
You must wonder why I keep raving on about 'Buffy' - have a look at this picture of faux black jade I made, courtesy of instruction from Lynda Moseley, and you will see why.
It takes literally two minutes to get that perfect sheen if Buffy cooperates and doesn't go flinging them around the room ( actually that's my fault for presenting them to him wrong, but I won't admit that). I made a couple of pairs of earrings with my faux black jade pieces, here they are -
I loved the faux bone bangles so much, I decided to make a torque necklace using the same technique. However, torques need a space in the back for the neck to go through, and I wasn't too sure the piece would be flexible enough. I made it anyway, and held my breath till it was all finished, and Buffy had had his wicked way with it, and then - it worked, wow! I love it. It sits like a Masai necklace, or a ruff - the flanges are not shaped to the neck, but it is light, only 5 mm thick, strong and flexible - the engineering works well. Now I need a really adventurous woman to want to try it out - do you know any?? - send them my way please.
Oh, and I was very pleased with myself - I made a signature stamp - C J , for Caprilicious Jewellery and there it is on the back of the necklace - the cat's whiskers - that's what I felt like when I had stamped my first piece - I have arrived!
That's a wrap for this week, folks, thanks for stopping by. Catch you next week, same time, same place,
Thank you to all the ladies - and a gentleman, who bought stuff in the Caprilicious Boxing Day Sale - strangely, most of the people who decided to get a piece of Caprilicious were from the USA - your stuff will be with you soon after this blog comes out - and I am sure you will love your chosen pieces. I know people have spent a lot of money at Christmas time - presents and entertaining, and travelling, but a nice piece of jewellery is something to lift your spirits, and I hope Caprilicious can do that for you.
I have been researching Trade beads this last week - they were known as African money, and were used as currency for goods, services and even slaves. They were used by European explorers instead of money, and a lot of them were made in Venice from glass. The African people were thought to love them as decorations for their attire and in jewellery, and of course, this love of colour and adornment was exploited thoroughly and ruthlessly by early visitors who exchanged glass beads for ivory, slaves, gold and other commodities. As making Millefiori is part of attempting to be a polymerista ( I don't consider myself one yet- a trainee maybe!!), I took it on myself to make some chevron beads. I found a tutorial on the internet from the multi talented Desiree McCrorey, and modified it to suit my requirements - and I think for a first attempt at this technique, made quite a creditable job of it.
A complex cane of different colours was constructed as per the instructions in the tutorial, and covered over with a transparent layer of green coloured clay - so far, so good. Then the beads were cut, rolled smooth, and cured - even better! Now for the pain in the proverbial - sanding - every bead had to be sanded smooth under water with five varying grits of sandpaper - finer and finer each time, and then with Micro mesh cloths - ever finer and finer, till the last cloth felt like there was no grit in it at all - apparently, this one is used to polish the wind shields of aeroplanes! A lot of the green/ transparent layer was sanded off, to reveal the stripy lines of the cane within.
Fortunately, I recently moved all operations from the kitchen to my 'studio' ( Ooh la la, aren't we getting grand!) and the mess there was semi contained - at least it was not in Mike's way - he has been very patient so far, but I know not to overstretch the limit of his forbearance - things could get explosive - you can't keep a man from his kitchen especially when he is chief cook and bottle washer!
And then, for the buffing wheel - the beads are so small, the wheel kept snatching them out of my hands and flinging them halfway across the room, leaving a gouge mark on the bead, which I then had to buff out again - what a load of fun! Without this bad boy, I would have to have used the Dremel, and that would have taken ages - even longer than this little lot! I moved it into an alcove, rather than have it on the table, facing the stained glass window - Yikes! - the consequences of a bead flung at the window doesn't bear thinking about.
So finally, with a lot of swearing and huffing and puffing, I produced twelve beads - two hours to roll out the clay and make the beads -and almost five hours to sand and polish them! I was reminded of the time I used to play badminton as a child - the main exercise was from picking the shuttlecock up off the floor when I missed the shot, which was most of the time - I hadn't learned to swear back then, being a good little Indian girl - my, how things change!
Real, antique chevron beads
Anyway, I hope you will all agree from this picture , that my beads look like chevron beads (please agree, oh, please, please agree) and that they shine like glass - that, they most definitely do! I am my harshest critic, and even I have to grudgingly agree that my beads are most definitely usable. I still have some of the cane left, and when I make another batch, I will shave off some more of the green with a knife prior to curing them - and so reduce the five hours of sanding and buffing and picking the beads off the floor...... to possibly, two!
But still, I like the beads, and that's reward enough, for now.
I started to put together a few necklaces this week. Of course the Nepalese pendants had to get a first look in - I have been collecting gemstone bead components with this day in mind for a couple of months - now, finally it is time to introduce them to each other, and arrange their marriage - hooray!
Coloured powders sold in a market at Holi
Holi is the Indian festival of spring. It is a riotously colourful celebration, full of dance and song, and people fling coloured powders in the air and anoint each other with daubs of colour to celebrate the coming of spring.
Of course, by the end of a hard days celebration, the revellers look bedraggled and dirty, and a lot of them are p!££** as newts, but are very smiley, happy, tired people.
As the days are now getting longer, spring will soon be here - after the holiday season is over, this is the thought that keeps us going through the grey days of January and February. Already, the daffodil shoots are poking up out of the hard ground in my garden.
My necklace was made in the colours of Holi, with an artisan- made Nepalese pendant, and dyed mother of pearl shell beads in jewel colours, with a few accents of coral, turquoise and Czech fire polished beads. The beads came all jumbled up on a string, and I spent ages separating them out into little piles of exploding colour, and I am glad I did, as it simply made the colours pop in the necklace.
It took me a while to get a decent photograph of my new creations, with so little sunlight about, and very little time due to the demands of the day job. I decided that some of my old pictures were rubbish, so I retook them as well. When I finished, I had a large pile of colour sitting at one end of the living room, and when a ray of sunlight fell on it,the colours shone like a glass picture in a kaleidoscope.
With the next Nepalese pendant, I used some amber beads - amber is pine resin which can be many years old, and contains fragments of the hapless creatures that perished when they got stuck to it, when it was still soft and newly dripping from the tree. The colours are so pretty, they remind me of the toffee my mother used to make when I was a child.
A third pendant got a coral heishi ( pronounced hee-she, as in hee - haw! ) bead necklace, with brushed silver tone accents.
I got a bit 'over - pendanted', and made a piece without one - I used some lapis chunky nuggets, with extremely pretty, and colourful, orange jade beads - a few silver tone accents, and it was done - the clasp was meant to sit to one side as a focal, but it didn't seem right, so I cut it up and started again, this time, putting it where clasps are usually - at the back of the neck - it seems such a shame though, to have something so pretty where it is not visible - the wearer will just have to present her back to people and wear her hair up - or simply revel in her secret.
Named for the orange of the jade beads, henna is a plant whose leaves when crushed give out lawsone, a burgundy organic compound that has an affinity for bonding with protein. Lawsone is primarily concentrated in the leaves, and is released more quickly when in contact with a mild acid such as lemon juice. The Henna paste is piped onto the skin like icing on a cake, in what is basically a Zentangle pattern, and when it dries and is washed off, it leaves a deep orange stain, which lasts until the skin exfoliates. I have added a video of such an application, for anyone who may be interested.
My pièce de résistance this week is a piece entitled NIGHTFALL. It is made with onyx squares which are actually meant to be wired together for bracelets - the beads have two holes each. After a lot of tweaking, cussing and manipulating the engineering, I made a necklace using turquoise spacer beads, and added a showy Nepalese triangular pendant, and some pipe shaped turquoise beads - a contrast of shapes and colours that is very very stand outy ( for want of a better word).
I am quietly pleased with my little collection of necklaces this week, they are different, and colourful - I would wear them!
That's all for this week folks, have a good week and I'll see you same time, same place next week
That's another Christmas done and dusted, and it will soon be 2013. I hope all of you had a fabulous time with friends and family, and that Santa recognised all your efforts to be good in 2012 with loads of nice things in his sack for you.
I have been requested to lay on a Boxing Day sale by my junior doctors at the hospital - now that Caprilicious is a commercial venture, they don't see why I shouldn't fall in line with the rest of the commercial world post Christmas - so, if Santa has been particularly forgetful (or mean), you can always indulge yourself here.
All this being new to me, I did not have the time (or the know how) to set up a slick system with a code at checkout and an automatic discount, so I have requested people to contact me with the names of the items they want and I will send out an invoice - apologies for this cumbersome way of doing business in advance.
I had a few days off at Christmas, and took over the kitchen to play with polymer clay. I could see my husband wincing, every time he walked into the room and saw my stuff spread out all over the counter tops - but he bore it manfully - a tiny shudder shook his frame, and was the only sign of what he was thinking! Of course, I made sure Santa rewarded him well for his forbearance - I will elaborate no further!
I cleared up to cook our turkey on Christmas day, but other than that, the kitchen looked like it had been hit by a cyclone.
This is a photograph taken of Einstein's office in Princeton, just as he had left it, within hours of his death. Now, I'm no genius, creative or otherwise, but I am quietly proud that my kitchen looked worse than this for a few days!
That's my excuse, and I stick to it!
I made a few bits and bobs, but mainly played - wallowed, really, in clay - I pulled out all the tutorials I had collected, either paid for, or freebies found on the internet and stored on Pinterest for a rainy day - and how it rained! I didn't really want to produce anything - just to know that I could, if/when I wanted to, if you know what I mean. I ended up with more scrap clay than I started with, from abortive attempts, as well as some pretty cool stuff, but that's the way it goes.
Polymer clay artists are predominantly women, and kitchen implements, and other items around the house are press ganged into service in the name of art. Thinking outside the box is the name of the game - I even used the metal tube around Mike's cigars as a form, for a faux bone/ivory tubular bead! The dinks made in the piece to distress it and give it an aged look are from rolling it in coarse and fine salt, and washing it away once the clay is cured - got that from a tip off Pinterest, and it worked well - hooray!!
Unfortunately, once used the implements cannot be reused in the preparation of food - indeed, they are quite ruined by the plasticisers in polymer clay - the surface goes all dull and horrid - Oh well, that just means one more implement taken out of commission from the kitchen, into my craft cupboard.
This is a necklace made of faux ivory made while I was playing with clay. I made a tubular bead, and few others, and had a lot of fun antiquing the pieces, and polishing them on the buffing wheel. They were teamed with onyx, lava beads in different shapes, black onyx, haematite, a hefty chunk of coral and a few jasper beads. A single turquoise nugget provided an extra splash of contrasting colour.
I love tribal inspired jewellery and this one is definitely African - the look and feel of it is rugged, chunky and interesting, and it is for someone who likes the avant garde, and is not afraid to experiment - girly girls, look away!!!
Chunky coral and lava beads add texture and colour, contemporary jewellery is all about drama, contrast and vibrancy, and I have tried to bring all of these to this piece.
A few more presents were required, and I made a couple of bracelets and earrings to be gifted to some of my favourite people at work. My pliers mysteriously jumped into my hands as I was walking past, so I made a few pairs of earrings so as not to hurt their feelings, they were feeling a bit put out when I was playing with clay.
I saw these beads on a website, and they were so colourful and pretty, I had to buy them. They are called rainbow jasper and it may be that they are a mosaic of different types of jasper - nevertheless, they were just too nice to pass up. I teamed them with ceramic electroplated spacers and turquoise and made this pretty necklace.
Once I had cleared the kitchen in time to cook Christmas dinner, I was informed by Michael that he would do it all - my presence was not required - sweet!
I sat down in front of the telly to watch Ben Hur - again - with a roll of wire and and a bloodstone cabochon. Bloodstone is a dark green, almost black coloured stone, and to my mind needs brightening in some form - you might not agree with me on that - but I am sure the pendant I made was worth the effort - it took simply ages to form all the curlicues and swirls - this is my favourite pattern from a tutorial by Gailavira, from whom I bought the tutorial originally.
That's about all I had time for this week - now to get ready for the New Year. I am working at the day job on New Year's Eve, and New Years Day - clearly, I drew the short straw this year, but somebody has to be at work, while all the rest of you have a good time partying. Catch you in 2013, have a lovely time on new year's eve if you are out and about, and stay safe.
Speak to you soon,
Hello all, have just got back from a fabulous short break in Rome - the weather was fantastic, and the sun shined on us throughout, allowing us to cafe hop between trudging wearily from monument to museum - watching the world go by - checking out what people are wearing, the way they walk - women seem to walk differently from the rest of the world in Europe - little staccato steps, on tottery high heels, in tight short skirts. The cobbled streets of Rome are particularly suited to clickety - clacking along in stiletto heels, the women so chic, in artfully draped scarves, long dangling earrings and bracelets stacked up halfway up the arm.
Exhausted, feet hurting, and happy to be back, we rescued the cat from the cattery, and now, back to real life - at least I have a couple of days to relax and get the feeling back in my feet, before getting back to the day job - thank goodness for that!
Before I went, I spent a lot of time on the internet researching a way to use my collection of Swarovski squares - these are either square, or with rounded off corners, and boy, do they shine! The only problem is I had to find some way of connecting them - unless I gave up and used them singly in earrings. I do not do bead weaving, which is the most common way to connect circles or square elements - sewing with beads is hard on the eyes, and excruciatingly time consuming - really, the artisans who work with tiny seed beads are to be commended - and good luck to them!
After all that, I found I had to learn a few simple tricks with seed beads to make this next piece or I would never have managed it - just connecting them with jump rings would never be an option for me - too easy! I set out to Square the Circle - an euphemism for an impossible task - the original was a geometric challenge to construct a square with the same area as a given circle using a finite number of steps, which was proven to be impossible in 1882!
Squaring The Circle
I managed to connect the squares - but found that the necklace was too light, and twisted on itself - it needed a focal point to add weight to the centre, and so, the little 2" square pendant of wire and knot less netting was constructed - it also gave the piece some added colour, and plenty of Bling! I used some pretty chainmaille knots between the beads - I have more of these Swarovski rings, and there will be more on these pages, as time goes by.
I got some new tools this week - a new dapping block and doming hammers - working round blanks into gentle dome shapes raises the game just that little bit and allows them to catch the light - I would like to use this technique before I apply enamel to the copper blanks I have earmarked for earrings - they will catch the light every time the wearer moves their head - pretty!
Of course, I had to have a play - I had some Chinese coins and got them out for a good bashing - I'm afraid I smashed some of them by hitting too hard - but, when I worked out all it needed was a light touch using the wrist, rather than the shoulder, I got some pretty good results. Notice the silk cushion I am using as a way to soften the blows on my dining table - I really need a work table - and am coming round to that way of thinking, fast. A few more hammering sessions on the old dining table, and Mike will rush out and buy one - see, there's method in my madness!
The gypsy queen was made from the coins - I punched holes in the dapped and domed coins, patinated them using a proprietary patina, buffed and polished, applied a sealant, and made a couple of pairs of earrings.
I liked the effect, so I patinated the rest and attached them to a hand woven copper collar. I liked it so much, I wore it in Rome - it did attract quite a bit of attention - and strangely, while walking around the Pantheon, I saw a shop displaying earrings just like these - these were copies of Roman artefacts found in the archaeological digs around the area . I must try this with other coins from my travels - not Euros, though - I need those!
The Soleil D' Orient was a vessel that set sail from Siam in 1681, owned by the French East India Company, it is one of the three richest shipwrecks in the world. There were 60 crates of presents to Louis the Fourteenth and probably sank off the coast of Madagascar following a cyclone. It has been looked for by treasure hunters fruitlessly over the years - but it is thought that the treasure is now spread out over many miles - maybe I have a piece here?? - The coins were antiqued by rubbing with sandpaper after being patinated, and then sprayed with a varnish to prevent loss of the rest of the patina - I really like that effect.
Hope you all had a good week too - I will catch up with you later
This is one of my all time favourites and I named a necklace after it - I sold two in a royal blue, and decided to make another to use up the left over spacers. This one was in a pretty peacock blue with an Aurora Borealis finish - I called it Beguiled!
( didn't think it would be quite right to call it Bothered or Bewildered )
This is probably one of the few pieces I can remake easily - I know the bead sizes, the sizes of the spacers, where to source them from, and the exact numbers of the beads required to make it all written down - so, I shall make it from time to time in different colours - my threshold for boredom is very low! so it will have to be different in some way.
The Aurora Borealis (AB) finish is where a crystal has been coated on the outside, covering about half the crystal face. When the crystal is turned, you can see the colour of the crystal on one side and the AB finish on the other. The more facets the crystal has, the better the effect, and a rainbow effect appears when the bead is turned.
I just love this finish, and buy most of my crystal with it - they are usually a little more expensive than normal crystal, but the shine is worth it. Unfortunately my photography skills have not kept up with my magpie skills - so I get a bit frustrated - but I really cannot find the time to read the entire manual of my little camera (which is larger than the camera), anyway, it all reads like Double Dutch to my simple mind.
So, my plan is to lie in wait till some unsuspecting person walks through the door who can teach me a thing or two about the camera, arm wrestle them to the ground, and make them divulge .....or else!
The lady who bought Bewitched took one look at Beguiled - and was a bit fed up - she thought that it was better than the original - maybe she will have the second one as well, who knows??
This one was made of black and silver crystal in three strings - the AB finish on black gives the bead an oil slick, shiny finish that no longer looks totally black. I added a couple of Lava rock beads - they have a channel cut through the middle and little rhinestones have been applied by hand in the Swarovski factory. Due in part to the painstaking work involved, the beads are expensive - but, Christmas comes but once a year, and every one likes to look their best - a few pennies extra towards this may well be in order. The lava beads, due to their weight, cause the necklace to drape beautifully around the neck.
I played with polymer clay all weekend - curing and sanding- and buffing! I made some earrings to donate to my favourite charity, and once these were all packaged up, I felt I could go back to my bead stash, which has been sitting forlornly in the corner, while I play with crystals.
In the colours of the midnight sun in summer in the northern - most part of the world - this was taken in Norway last year.
I used some Kyanite slices, resembling the blue of the sky, and I added some coral and black agate geode beads to make this necklace. The geode beads are pretty - they are cut and rounded off to reveal the crystalline structure of the minerals inside the gemstone, and they sparkle in the light. The sponge coral chunks are earthy, and a beautiful deep red.
Eastern Promise - Royal Blue
It was that time again, time to dip into my stash of Nepalese artisan made pieces - they are so pretty, albeit rather expensive - but in my opinion, if one considers the work that goes into a handmade piece of wearable art, it is well worth the price. I knew I wanted to put this pendant on a lapis lazuli necklace, and had been collecting enough to make this piece. As it is rather a large pendant, it needs a robust necklace to balance it, so I put a four stranded necklace together with lapis, coral and stardust beads.
This one is named for Princess Tiana - from the story of the Frog Prince - you know the one, where you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince ( and then if you're totally unlucky he turns into a pig )- the original story came from Russia - Disney set it in New Orleans, and there are some incredible jazz sounds in that movie. The pale green Czech pressed beads, the tiny silvery crystals, and the lava rock in a multi strand necklace looks very sophisticated and simple - Bling for the daytime!
La Belle Epoque
There is a lot of nostalgia for 'The Beautiful Era', just before the onset of the First World War, when all was golden and glowing - the 'retrospectoscope' has been liberally applied to this memory, complete with rose tinted glass. Beloved by the French, La Belle Epoque is thought to be a time when relative peace and prosperity in the land allowed art to flourish, parties to be gay and wild, and women to be louche, and men to have a rakish Rhett Butler smile and not give a damn - what more can you ask for?? Louche women and wild parties demand - yes, you guessed it - BLING!
This necklace will take you to any party - three strands of black and silver with an AB finish, a Blinged up Lava rock bead focal, and peacock coloured crystal on one side.
Next week we take a short break in Rome, and I will have very little time to make anything. I shall of course spy on what the European women are wearing - at this time of year, it is usually all about scarves, and earrings, necklaces don't get a look in.
Have a good week, and I will catch you when I get back,
No, I haven't been slaying vampires in my spare time, or even as my main occupation - I have been playing with my Dremel - I buffed everything - if he had stayed still for a couple of minutes, I would have buffed the cat! It took me a while to actually take the Dremel out of the box - I had this irrational fear that it was going to bite me, so I did it in stages - took one whole day to charge the battery (even though it has an hour turnaround) - but, 'you've got to do these things properly don't you' - was how I rationalised my procrastination. Eventually I ran out of excuses, and then went for it. Now, of course, I am an old hand and am blithely buffing away - everything is shiny in our house now!!
I bought a tutorial by one of the teachers at Polydays 2012 - one of the ladies at the meet had made it, and was wearing hers, it looked fab, very much the stuff I want to make. A lot of polymer clay people make faux gemstones - faux coral, and turquoise and all sorts - but I would rather use real gemstones if I decide to make that sort of jewellery. In the modern jewellery I want to create - all angles and swirls and colour - I am happy to use polymer clay and be proud of it. It is such a modern material, and lends itself to all sorts of new techniques - I love the challenges it presents. I intend to combine it with wire and all sorts - the possibilities are endless.
SORBET - design credit Bettina Welker
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The necklace is made of Buna cord, and the pendant and clasp are rolled into one in a very clever way. The amount of clay in the tutorial was enough to make six of these - so I did.
After this, I was getting wire withdrawal symptoms! So I sat myself down in front of the telly with one of my enamel pendants I made last week- the one I like the best, and devised this necklace.
It is named Moonflower for the flower I have fused onto the centre of the pendant with glass. The Moonflower opens at night and remains shut during the day. It is an Ipomea, and grows prolifically in India. To go with the night time theme, I constructed a web of stars around one of the beads, added a ceramic owl and some grey and white ceramic beads which I bought in Greece, to the necklace. To reduce my wire cravings, I added a wire bail, embellished by a little flower.
I have a link to a website which shows a real time video of a moonflower opening which I found fascinating - I invite you to take a look - it is fascinating, and rather beautiful - http://www.moonlightsys.com/themoon/flower.html
Let me tell you about the Absinthe Fairy :-
Absinthe is an anise flavoured spirit, which is also flavoured with fennel, and the flowers and leaves of the 'grand wormwood'. It has anywhere upto 89% alcohol and tastes of licorice!
Absinthe traditionally has a natural green colour due to the chlorophyll in the herbs used, but may also be colourless, and contains 'thujone' which was thought to be a dangerously psychoactive drug - this reputation has been proven undeserved. Much beloved by the Bohemians, it was even added to ordinary water by the common folk - to purify the water - wish I could use that excuse!
The Absinthe Fairy is a green fairy, and is a metaphorical concept of artistic enlightenment and exploration, of poetic inspiration, of a freer state of mind, of new ideas, of a changing social order. Absinthe was the drink of choice of the Bohemians in Paris in the 19th century, and they called it 'La Fee Vert' - or the Green Fairy!
I made a necklace from a string of beautiful Aurora Borealis coated green crystal briolettes to which I added silver and green crystal, and I felt that the resulting necklace had to be named after her - it is exactly what an Absinthe fairy would wear.
The Blue Fairy -or- The Fairy with the Turquoise Hair
The Fairy With Turquoise Hair (La Fata dai Capelli Turchini) is the original 'Blue Fairy' as picturised by Disney from Carlo Collodis tale The Adventures of Pinnochio. Disney, however, turned her into a blue eyed blonde! She appears at regular intervals to admonish the little wooden puppet to avoid bad or risky behaviour, and guides him out of the bad habit of telling lies. Eventually, she breaks the habit, forgives him, and gives him a human form.
Turquoise blue is one of my favourite colours, and I simply love the deep blue of these briolettes, coated with the iridescent Aurora Borealis shimmer. I made a simple necklace with them, along with shiny, sparkly, 'stardust beads' - simple is not usually my style, but the crystal is so beautiful, it would be criminal to try and add other elements that distract from it - so, here we have it - the simple little Blue Fairy necklace...................
I had a few beads left over from the two strings I had bought - they were mightily displeased at being left behind - I could hear them cussing and muttering - so, (after all, who am I to ignore the need of crystal briolettes to be admired) I put them into my next piece - KINGFISHER. What better example of shiny blue and green can there be? ( a peacock, I suppose, but lets pretend that we didn't think of that ) The inspiration for this one was from the way the briolettes are sold - with plastic spacers between them, to prevent them from breaking. I used silvery tube spacers - have had them for the longest time, and always wondered what I would do with them - now I had the answer! Three strands of blue and green shimmer, separated by silvery tubes with the faintest hint of a design imprinted on them - delicious!
I had to take loads of pictures to get a reasonable facsimile - the shine from the Aurora Borealis coating, especially on the blue thwarted me at every turn - and I still feel, that I did not do justice to the necklaces. I will have to research how to photograph crystal - I am sure there is a trick or two I can unearth with a bit of diligent Googling.
I have a bit more bling in my stash, and no doubt it will all make it's way out of the box soon - after all, Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat, etc, etc,
Catch you all next week, have a good one