Guess what I bought this week.......... a Dremel! - I realised that there was no way I was going to realise my ambition to get bigger and better with my ideas for precious metal clay and polymer clay unless I conquered my irrational, rather girly fear of power tools. Also, one of the ladies from the Polydays 2012 group had a lovely power tool with a cute silver carry case and she made light work of the drilling part of making the hinged bangle - I wanted one immediately (mainly for the cute case though). Alas, the one I bought has a boring case - it is cordless, and can do hands free operations though, which will be ideal for coiling wire - which is another thing I have always wanted to do - yippee!
Since I posted last, my fingers have been flying - why, I'm surprised that I have any left at all and they haven't been worn down into stumps, like an old pencil!
I was on a roll, and all the components in my stash were fighting to come out of the cupboard and join the melee'.
I used up components I have been hoarding for over a year - who knows what I was saving them for. I figured that instead of buying more, I ought to make an effort to put what I have into my designs.
This one was made with a Chinese jade carved Endless Knot, strung with rice pearls, emerald chips and other tiny beads. The Endless Knot symbolises Eternal Love and friendship - it has been integrated into many cultures, and has mystical connotations - the Celtic knot is one example.
Some beautiful Turquoise spike beads arrived in the post that morning - and I could not resist them - just had to make them up to see what they looked like in a necklace. One of my favourite ways is to add an asymmetrical focal element, but this time, the spikes themselves needed to be the focus of attention, so I chose to use dull gold pyrite chunks instead, to break up the line of spikes. I thought Cleopatra might have fancied this one - but she apparently didn't pay for her jewellery - and cut the fingers off her favourite jewellery makers for the privilege of creating her bijoux, just so they wouldn't replicate the necklace - so, thanks, but, no thanks Cleo, someone else can have it instead - but only if they promise to leave me my fingers.
Ode to the LBD
I love pearls, but I prefer the modern way of wearing them - in multiple strings, and ropes, swaying in gay abandon - I am not a fan of the single string. However, there are times that one requires a bit of simple sophistication, when 'swaying in gay abandon' may be inappropriate, but something makes you want to step out of the Doris Day mould - this next one is for those times. Black onyx squares in two strands interspersed with silver tone spacers in different shapes, suit this requirement. This is surely a lyrical verse inspired by the little black dress.
Forever in Blue Jeans
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I had these beautiful blue crackled agate flat beads in my work tray for ages - I had no idea what to do with them, but they were so pretty, I was happy to touch them once in a while. They look like crackle glazed pottery, are flat and gently faceted, and are so tactile - I simply love them. It came to me suddenly - to put them with a large prehnite carved flower.
I remade the necklace thrice before I was satisfied with the elements - it seemed best with shimmering Swarovski crystals in different colours and shapes between the flat cream and blue of the agate. A twisted lapis and pyrite rectangle, a jade flower and a butterfly were added to the mix, and my work here was done. The necklace, when finished looked like something I would wear with blue jeans and a casual jacket - hence the title.
I like a reel of wire and a pair of pliers in my hands when hubby and I sit in front of the mind numbing programmes we have on the telly. We aren't hooked into the satellite channels, so watch whatever the terrestrial channels and Virgin Media choose to throw at us. We must have watched some of the worst 'tax dodge' movies made in the world - but, that is our time together, and we set the world to rights, sitting in our armchairs like a pair of old 'uns - what am I saying - we are old 'uns! So, I ply away, like Madame DeFarge. This is what I made in the armchair this week.
This piece is named for the focal piece - a black onyx pendant carved with the face of Kwan Yin. She is the Buddhist goddess of mercy and unconditional love. I love the statues and sculptures they have of her in Thailand and Indonesia - she has such a beautiful compassionate, serene face, and a curvaceous feminine body. I wrapped the graceful face in square wire, and attached it to a wire collar - I thought I'd go with a monochrome pallete this time, and used white howlite beads to contrast with the pendant.
A copper wire branch with little leaves, on a sweet little necklace of coral spikes, pearls and crystals.
Enter the Dragon
A carved turquoise pendant with a dragon motif was hung on a necklace made of such diverse elements as Rowan branches cut into beads, yellow agate, coral, turquoise and even a freshwater pearl. It is a very 'on trend' Tribal Chic piece and very comfortable to wear.
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A complimentary bracelet, made with the beads left over from the necklace
In between making all of these, I played with enamels in my kiln. When I went on the enamelling course, a lady dropped by - she was selling her mother's collection of enamel colours and other paraphernelia - I picked up whatever I could lay my hands on - as always the start up costs are expensive - especially as the first pieces are usually rubbish - but I surprised myself, and Mike, and made a couple of nice pendants. I also made a little dog, a butterfly and a heavily pregnant teddy bear - but the pendant holes got blocked up by the glass - I probably overloaded them with the enamel powder - I shall keep them as souvenirs of my journey into new horizons - and to remind me not to do that again.
That's all for this week folks, I'm off to play with my Dremel, finally finish off the lentil beads I made in Polydays 2012, buff up some pendants, redo the enamel on the one pendant..... a woman's work is never done.
See you next week,
She was a lump of copper, almost discarded - a left over from my experiments with firing schedules and a new kiln. I made her from a mould (or is it mold??) I took of the ox bone cabochon I used to make The Siren - but when she was finished she was just a brown unprepossessing nugget of copper - nothing like the beautiful bone she was a replica of.
A pack rat mentality meant she didn't get thrown away, but sat in a box until I happened to get a recipe for patination of copper from a group of jewellery makers in the USA - I met them on Facebook, and they use copper and bronze which they manipulate (and torture) relentlessly to produce different surfaces with chemicals, heat treatments, paints, enamels - all sorts, really - I got a recipe using 'Kosher' salt, acetic acid and ammonia fumes and produced some fairly pretty effects last week. I found the face again, and thought I'd try some of those chemicals once more - and when she came out of the fume box - her face looked weathered and beautiful - nothing to show she was related in any way to the piece that went in, and was a lovely shade of blue - and I swear this - she spoke to me! Now I am not given to flights of fancy - but I sort of knew she was from Angkor Wat, although I have never been there - the first picture I found on the internet was the one I have posted below - I had to stop what I was doing and make her up - it was a compulsion that saw me sitting in front of the telly after work tweaking wire till she emerged, fully robed and ready for display - The Sleeping Goddess.
As I had no picture of the goddess who 'spoke' to me, I had to get one from Trip Advisor!
Patinated copper face, with a wire and seed bead crown
It wasn't possible to have her standing up - she would have been either too tall or perforce, a miniature, so I got her to lie down, and crafted her as carefully as possible out of wire - I think she is very beautiful.
Although she was the last piece I made this week, I had to write about her first - possibly for the same reason why she took over my creative process to the exclusion of all others - weird!!!
Cleopatra's Needles necklace
Cleopatra's needles are actually obelisks in London, New York and Paris - they are much older than Cleopatra and this is obviously a misnomer. I called my necklace by this name because of the needles of blue jasper in it and the nuggets and slabs of Lapis Lazuli, which has clear associations with Cleopatra as her favourite gem stone. She even had it ground up to use as eye paint. The pendant was a piece of copper from the kiln, with an image of gingko leaves impressed into it and patinated. I made a polymer clay surround and put the same pattern on it and then surfaced it to look like a building I had seen in Reykjavik - their council house has an outside stone wall which has water running down it and moss growing out of it - no, it isnt a burst pipe - they don't get service from Severn Trent Water - it has been designed to grow like that - a perennial hanging garden. I wonder whether it freezes over in the winter? - but with the geothermal energy they have lurking about underneath the ground, they probably give it enough warm water in the winter to allow it to flourish in spite of the cold - I must ask around!
The Poolside Pleasantry Collar
I was looking for a place to go on holiday in September when it starts to get cooler here in the UK, but is still just right in central Europe - where to go?? - I don't know about you, but for me the research is part of the fun. I am a Trip Advisor junkie, and faithfully put my reviews in when I get back off holiday - I never book into a hotel without reading up on it on Trip Advisor ( no, they are not paying me to say this !). We were watching the recent ads for Muller Lite yoghurt with the lady centaurs in Santorini - it is so pretty and I think that's where we will end up, especially as they have flights to Thira from Birmingham, our nearest airport. Mike fancies Aghios Nikolaos in Crete - we can get there easily from Brum too. From these images was born the Poolside Pleasantry Collar - a polymer clay piece, with a coating of resin to simulate ceramic - but in contrast to a ceramic piece that size, is light and easy to carry on holiday, in a turquoise blue and white. I made it up with a simple wooden and glass bead necklace with a couple of little white acrylic roses. It is a lighthearted, pretty piece, much like the place that inspired it.
Santorini - blue and white
The geometrical lines are softened by the pretty colours and the frills of the roses - much like Santorini, all blue and white.
I hope you have enjoyed my meanderings - have a good week and I will catch you next week xx
Last week I wrote about the naiad. This week is the turn of the siren - In the story of Odysseus, the sirens lured sailors to their death with a bewitching song. These beautiful women were formerly handmaidens of the goddess Persephone and they were sometimes depicted with the bodies of birds. When Odysseus passed by, he had himself tightly bound to the mast, and had his sailors block their ears with wax - this caused the Sirens so much distress - they couldn't believe that they had lost their appeal - that they threw themselves into the sea and drowned. Maybe that's where Bollywood got the idea that 'vamps' always came to a sticky end - in reality, bad girls have more fun! Or as Mae West famously said -Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere.
I had this exquisite ox bone 'Goddess' face and I made a Siren with it - with a serene face, 'blonde' flowing locks of hair, surrounded by the sea, made of wire and crystals, in a 3 dimensional story board. It took me simply ages to weave the hair, but I was pleased with the final result. I finished it with a gold silk Kumihimo braid and extender chain that I made myself and embellished with wire spirals.
Goddess ox bone face
Gold silk Kumihimo braid
The Ice queen's necklace
When in Reykjavik, we went to the mythological museum - and here I found this wonderful tale - Freya, the Nordic Ice Queen was a warrior goddess of sensual love. Her husband was the Norse God Od.
Freya was a spectacular beauty known for her appreciation of romantic music and stunning floral arrangements. That was her softer side; she was also known as the goddess of war and death. She was the original blonde bombshell and with her blue eyes, she was irresistible. She also owned a magical necklace called 'Brisling' that made her fascinating and alluring to all men who laid eyes on her. I found some Kyanite shards that looked to me like slivers of ice and I combined them with blue agate nuggets, sea sediment jasper and Biwa and freshwater pearls, along with metres of wire to resemble the iciness of Freya's kingdom to make a necklace worthy of an Ice queen.
Kyanite is a sedimentary rock laden with aluminium in an elongated crystalline structure, which is mined alongside quartz amongst other such substances. Its name derives from the Greek word for blue, but it can occasionally be green, and when it contains manganese, orange. It has special significance in metaphysical circles, as it thought to clear the body's communication channels and is an aid to meditation when worn close to the throat.
I love it for its unusual appearance and ethereal, icy qualities - although relatively expensive, I think it is worth it as it is so pretty.
The Ice Queen
The colours that inspired the necklace
My version of Brisling
My work with copper clay is still disappointing - I found out that it needs to be put into the kiln when it is at 930 degrees C hot - quite a terrifying thought! To do this, I have to wear Asbestos gloves, a pair of goggles to protect my eyes from the glare of a red hot kiln, put the copper pieces in a stainless steel pan filled with activated carbon, and lift it into the kiln on the end of what looks like a pitchfork, but has two tines, to fit under the lip of the stainless steel container - Oh dear, what a palaver! - but, I am not one to give up, and crack it I will.
To cheer myself up after a terrible week, and two experiments that went wrong in my kiln, I decided to go back to something I knew and could manage more easily - polymer clay. I have recently made contact with a lady called Jinny Holt - and her artwork is stunning - she is a wizard with the polymer clay, and her work is inspirational.
I dug out a picture of the Fuxing Gardens in Shanghai, from a visit in 2004 - I use that as my 'enchanted place' when I practice self hypnosis and want a calming image in my mind. The gardens in China are always full of plants in full bloom - and I realised why this was - all the plants are grown in huge hothouses in pots, and when they are at their best, they are wheeled out, and the older ones taken away - there's always a few gardeners with their wheel barrows moving plants about the place! The blooms are so beautiful, that after the initial shock of seeing the pots, one forgets all about it and concentrates the mind on the flowers.
This necklace is called the Enchanted Garden - it took me a while to make as each flower had to be shaped, and then attached to a pre made collar with liquid polymer clay, cured again, and then finished off. The piece has soothing colours - and I think it is pretty neat. A serene little face peeps out between the flowers.
Fuxing Gardens Shanghai
"Hope is a walk through a flowering meadow. One does not require that it lead anywhere." - Robert Brault on http://www.robertbrault.com
I follow Roberts blog - he is a writer in the US, and his writings and musings chime with me.
I also found this quote from the Washington Post- it isnt attributed to anyone specifically, but it sounds a lot like something Woody Allen might say -
'Why do people give each other flowers? To celebrate important occasions, they're killing living creatures????
Why restrict it to plants? " Sweetheart, let's make up, have this deceased squirrel" !!!
Anyway, if you were offered a necklace of flowers, you wouldnt need to kill a 'living creature' would you - perhaps a hint in the right ear??
The Enchanted Garden Collar
Silver lined seed bead accents between the flowers
Summer Loving - happened so fast!
I bought some marabou feathers, and in the haste to clear up the 'crafty' mess in the house threw them away by accident - in my defence, they weighed nothing and the packet seemed empty - I had to go on a rummage to find them, so used a few, before they got lost again. I taught myself to make a Viking knit chain, and used this to hold the polymer clay flowers and feathers. Viking knit is an ancient art - and involves weaving wire around a dowel to produce a hollow knitted wire tube - first described in Scandinavia, but also called a Trichinoply chain - I wondered whether it had some origins in India - but on researching it further, it would appear that it is entirely Scandinavian and the 'Trich' in Trichinopoly here refers to a hair like weave or knit and not a place in South India!
I wanted to have the feathers stand upright, rather than wired and pointing downward and with the help of polymer clay, that most wonderful medium, I was able to engineer that effect without having to glue the feathers in place - it always worries me that glue might come away that I try to use it as little as possible.
Little buds to one side
Summer loving had me a blast
Summer loving happened so fast
I met a girl crazy for me
Met a boy cute as can be
Summer days driftin' away,
to uh-oh those summer nights...
I have had a lovely week off from the day job, which I filled quite productively with my little production line. Back on Monday, nose to the grindstone, with a bit of time off to make some pretty things.
Enjoy your week and do come back next week for another instalment - see you then!!