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,
The view from the Tea Bar - is my gurning little friend trying to tell Mike something?
Hello all, I hope you have been enjoying your summer - in the UK we have had approximately 20 days of warmth, mainly in dribs and drabs - last weekend was good though, with a chance to sit outside in the sun - barbeque food flying off the shelves in the supermarkets - no one celebrates a sunny day like we do in the UK - we have so few. We have a thermometer mounted on the fence outside a kitchen window from the counter we call the 'tea bar' ( we drink a lot of tea in this house) and Mike tells me the temperature on the fence about twenty times a day - and it has been .... warm ... ish.
To celebrate our 30 seconds of summer, I made a couple of pieces with warm coral - I had some enamelled pendants made earlier, to which I had added polymer clay bezels, and I pulled out my collection of coral and turquoise and set to work. The first piece was inspired by the pendant, which reminded me of a tropical sunset, and the Flame of the Forest trees which are so common in India. We had some in school, and they had long flat seed pods, which we used to cover with silver paper from cigarette packets - we had no access to foil in those days, or Toys'rus - heaven forbid - and use them in mock sword fights. They are certainly a beautiful tree when in bloom, and the coral shards I used mimic them perfectly.
The Flame of the Forest tree in full cry
By the time I was done, it turned into a necklace full of the promise of tropical
warmth - I wore it to work even before I photographed it - and then it rained!
The second pendant was made using a cloisonne technique, where cells made of wire are used to keep the enamel colours apart - I made something resembling a 'tablet' - perhaps for a shy person as a gift to express his love - what can say it better than hearts and flowers - and very non calorific too. I added wire flowers and a heart, and more coral and turquoise, and this one is one of a kind - most definitely. A lot of people from a jewellery forum I belong to recognised it as my work, even before they read my name on my post - I think wire is truly something I love to play with, and obviously, it shows!
My newly acquired stash of crystal beads was by now feeling ignored, after all the attention it got last week, so to placate it, I made some dragonfly earrings - what better symbol of summer than a dragonfly - and here they are. The wings are made of Czech pressed glass daggers, and the earrings are on extra long kidney earwires.
I acquired a number of pendants, beads and baubles from a Nepalese artisan of the Limbu tribe in Kathmandu. The owner of the company supports indigenous tribal women, and the designs are made in the mountainous regions of Eastern Nepal, bordering on Bhutan and Sikkhim. Although relatively expensive, they are so beautiful, I was not able to resist them.
I want to make 'East meets West' fusion pieces of jewellery, that go with any sort of apparel, and have scoured the recesses of my mind for new ideas with traditional elements. The artisans themselves are well paid by the company that sold them to me, it warms my heart to find ethical vendors from the East, there is so much to be said for paying a fair price if it gets back to the right people.
Do feel free to leave me a message if you like the pieces that follow on these pages, as I use up the stuff I bought - they are too pretty to be put away in a drawer and forgotten about. I have enough for two to three weeks of enjoyable creating - it is bound to take me that long to find different ways of showing off these beauties, as I am keen for them to be as fantabulous as they deserve.
A more traditional use of the Nepalese pendant, but in keeping with its style
The Focal Bead, placed asymmetrically
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Branch coral spikes
Blue coral fossil beads
Sea sediment jasper
Hand carved bone beads and black onyx
Yes, I have been busy - what with buying these, looking at them over and over, rummaging in the old stash, making the necklaces, photographing them and putting them online, both in the Facebook shop and on this website, doing a weeks work at the day job - Phew! - but I just got so excited when I acquired these, I couldn't resist making them up. I did buy a few more, but I have had to go looking for Lapis Lazuli beads to make them up - what I have is so pretty, it needs just the right beads to go with it - so have spent time sourcing the lapis beads, as well as all the other things I have had to keep up with this week.
Next week, I look forward to a visit from an old friend - we haven't met since 1971 and I might not have time to do much in the way of jewellery making. I leave you with a picture a friend from a jewellery making forum put up on her site. See you next week.
Hello all, hope you had a lovely week.
When Mike, my husband, read the first half of title for this blog ( as I typed it in), he said 'D'you really want to advertise that fact'?? But you and I know what I mean .... you do, don't you??? then read on and all will be revealed in due course....
I went to a Paul Simon concert at the weekend, the weather was fab, and he was in good voice - of course the boys from Ladysmith Black Mambazo were fantastic too, but aren't they always???? My friend and I managed to combine the concert with a day of shopping - and boy, did our feet ache by the end of the day - and this from someone who swore never to go into a shop again for a long time - well, I suppose my mothers genes are well entrenched in me, and they come out for an airing once in a while....
Last week, I made a couple of Chinese scroll earrings with the cannibalised hand carved ox bone bracelet - a very fiddly pair of earrings to make, with all that wire and chain, so I cast about for something else to make so I could put those tiles to better use. I happened to be looking at a recipe book for a summer pudding - my friends from school are coming to visit and I want a special dessert for them - and I came across this picture - a Cherry Vanilla Cream cake - my mouth watered, and my mind raced!
All that embellishment, with the cream and cherries reminded me of some very pretty beads tucked away deep in the recesses of my bead box - after one big rummage through, I found them and that was where the seeds were sown for the Cherry Vanilla Cream Necklace. I made a little red and cream copper wire pendant inspired by the Wire Master Class by Abby Hook, and used the pendant as a focal for the necklace - I love the necklace, as it is very light and easy to wear - perfect for a summer evening. I have made this pendant a few times - it is just complicated enough to satisfy my craving for complicated wire work - I don't seem to be able to value my work if it isn't just ever so slightly complex - wonder if any of my ancestors were masochists, must remember to ask mum if there any vintage hair shirts lying around in the cupboards at home!
The 'cherries' are dyed red howlite beads and I used cream coloured wooden beads, bone beads and of course, the tiles. A couple of lucite flowers dangle from the end of the pendant to add some movement to it.
I just realised that I could have my very own fruit bowl - apart from the cherries above, I also have grapes in different colours, and strawberries. Maybe I should aim to make more varieties of fruit and have some sort of display in a hat - what next - oranges and lemons, bananas, pineapples?? - Carmen Miranda, eat your heart out!
Strawberry Fields Forever
Cherry Vanilla Cream
I spent most of Saturday, which was a dismal, rainy day, playing with polymer clay, whilst looking balefully up at the sky, muttering and cursing and shaking my fist at it - it must have listened to my threats, I'm sure that's why the weather was halfway decent for the concert on Sunday!
The school emblem
I have a bunch of ladies from my year at school coming over for what has become an annual reunion. Considering we left school in 1975, and scattered in many directions, I think it is an achievement that we have found each other in the UK, thousands of miles from where we first met, and that we make the effort to meet up - we have such different lives, but don't seem to have any of the envy thing that goes on at School Reunions - and we have a really good weekend. To commemorate this year's meet, I made brooches/pins in a heart shape for each of us - we are from Sacred Heart's Girls High School, and used to wear a little silver coloured tie pin in the shape of a heart, which was the school emblem. I lost mine a long time ago, and I am sure the others have as well, so I made replacement pins for us girls in the UK, from the Class of '75. My pins aren't true to the emblem's shape - which is like an artists impression of an anatomical heart - with an aorta sticking up out of it! - anatomical hearts are not really pretty, so I went for the populist Valentine's day image that most people would come up with when asked to draw a heart.
I used the same impression mould and four different techniques for four very different pins - I shall let them pick the one they like - and if they like more than one, I shall just have to make some more - after all, what good is a friend who makes jewellery if she can't rustle up an extra bit for you to order, eh?
The last one will probably be mine - unless someone likes it and asks for it - one needs a bit of a strange sense of humour to like it - I adapted it from a design by Christi Friesen, whose book 'Steampunkery' is an especial favourite of mine.
The gemstones for the centre of the Rainforest Symphony (Mark 2) necklace finally arrived - when I bought the original set, it had four pieces. It took me so long to decide what to do with it, I quite forgot where I got it from. I hunted high and low for another set, but wouldn't you know it - when you look for four pieces, you find sets of three or five, or even seven, or you find four, but in absolutely the wrong colour. In despair, I bought a set of seven, and another set of three, just in case I didn't like the ones that I picked first. In the event, the seven piece set seemed quite nice, and I turned it into quite a nifty little number, even though I say so myself. I just hope the lady who ordered them thinks so too - OK let me be a bit more positive - I am sure she will like - no, love it (difficult, this 'being positive' lark - self effacement is a way of life in the UK!).
The set of seven gemstone beads
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That's this week in a nutshell - I hope the weather is better for all of us soon, or summer will soon be over. See you next week,
Last week I was toasting myself in the sun, albeit gently, walking in a park where people were shedding outer layers of clothing, much like a snake sheds its skin. I wasn't quite so brave, but I did put away my winter boots - and this week - it snowed! - a frantic rummage in the shoe cupboard ensued!
Oh well, it was nice while it lasted - I just hope that's not the end of the British summer - as my husband is fond of reminding me - "Ne'er cast a clout till May is out" - if he would only tell me what a 'clout' is, I would be better equipped to deal with the weather.
I found inspiration from an unlikely source this week - a programme on the telly about leaf fossils excavated in the UK.
Leaf fossils are a window into what the Earth looked like in prehistoric times. We can look at a leaf fossil and let our imagination conjure up a field or forest millions of years ago.
A real leaf fossil from www.bgs.ac.uk
From www. global.rakuten.com
About 50 million years ago, in southern England and the Isle of Wight, mangroves grew in the wet areas, and in the drier areas the plants included pines, laurel, raspberry and magnolia. The programme was about an accidental find of a laurel leaf fossil, from the Isle of Wight, probably similar to leaves of today i.e. leathery, shiny and containing aromatic oil. Laurel is widespread today, in tropical, subtropical and Mediterranean regions and is not indigenous to the area. This fossil was found in a bed of slate - Slate is a fine-grained, sedimentary rock composed of volcanic ash through low-grade regional metamorphism - there are no known volcanoes in the vicinity of the Isle of Wight.
I found this poem written by a man who calls himself simply Dominic D, he comes from Wisconsin and writes random thoughts, poetry, Haikus and short stories on Helium - which I am rapidly becoming addicted to as a repository of interesting writing that might not have been lucky enough to have become a published work - well, published on paper.
An image of time
trapped in the Earth
stays there waiting
with priceless worth.
A discovery is made
deep down below
remains are uncovered
from so long ago
on the face of the stone
perhaps back then, it
was shelter it was seeking,
but trapped it became instead,
not knowing centuries later
it would become a work of art
studied and admired,
but all it ever wanted to really do was
The Leaf Unturned Necklace
I made a leaf from copper Precious Metal Clay in my kiln, polished it, and then patinated it using rock salt, acetic acid and liquid ammonia fumes till I got a lovely encrustation of the turquoise blue, akin to that found on the roofs of buildings in Liverpool - they have a fantastic copper roof on the Liver Building which is always this colour. This had to be varnished to hold the patina for posterity (!) and then set in faux slate - polymer clay which I have now found can be made to resemble almost anything - give me some wire and some polymer clay - and I will be in heaven! I made up the necklace with grey speckled ceramic beads of different sizes, a lava rock flower, snowflake obsidian, which is essentially quick cool lava rock with grey/white inclusions, and a few little dangles - I do like my dangles - to signify the field of wild flowers where the prehistoric fossil was found, and a couple of twists of faux turquoise, for colour and some freshwater pearls - an entirely grey piece would be dull, dont you think??
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Ruskin: "Between the earth and man arose the leaf. Between the heaven and man came the cloud."
I read a book called Steampunkery by Christi Friesen - it is absolutely my kind of craft book - simply written, with loads of tips and pictures, with a wicked sense of humour - I have never read a craft book written so well. On further investigation, she writes free tutorials on the internet as well, and all she asks for is a mention. I have vowed never to copy anyone - and I stick to that rigidly - but as Mike is fond of saying - 'there's no such thing as an original thought' (yes, he's a wise old bird, that one - his hair ain't silver for nothing!!) - and you have to get your inspiration from somewhere, I thought Christi's book was a good place to start.
I made the next pendant, Unbreak my Heart from a popular song of that name by Toni Braxton in the 90's - the heart disgorges wires and springs and gears - much like a broken settee - it is made in the tradition of Steampunk - my first dabble into this genre.
Steampunk came into prominence in the late 80s and 90s incorporating elements of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, horror, and speculative fiction. It involves a setting where steam power is widely used— the Victorian era in Britain or the "Wild West" in the United States, or in a post-apocalyptic time with elements of either science fiction or fantasy. This technology includes time machines and airships found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, and of course, more modern writers with whom I am not familiar.
“To some, ‘steampunk’ is a catchall term, a concept in search of a visual identity. To me, it’s essentially the intersection of technology and romance." – Jake von Slatt, aka Mr Steampunk - an IT professional and 'steampunk mechanical hacker' - you can find him here if you want to know more. http://www.wired.com/culture/design/news/2007/06/vonslatt
I made the pendant, made up the ribbon necklace, took pictures and posted them on Facebook - when I got home from work, to my pleasant surprise, there was a very discerning lady (anyone who likes my stuff must
have a discerning eye, right?? - right!) looking to buy it - in fact she requested earrings to match as well! - which I made up at the weekend.
" Unbreak my heart,
Say you'll love me again
Undo this hurt you caused
when you walked out the door
And walked out of my life
Uncry those tears......" Toni Braxton
A mechanical heart might be so much easier to unbreak!
Unbreak My Heart
The next piece was pure tomfoolery - how many times have we seen those sickly sweet cherubs on people's walls and in garden centres up and down the land, smiling benignly down from heaven - or wherever it is these cherubs get to - purely nausea inducing, I think - that of course is my personal opinion!
So, still under the spell of Christi Friesen, I made a naughty cherub - my kinda guy - a bit worse for wear, sticking plaster and grazed elbows, obviously been out somewhere - top hat, tails, bow-tie, monocle on a chain, blowing smoke from a fat cigar (which started life as a cigarette, but ended up as a cigar by the time I put in a wire armature to keep it upright). My dad had a record by Connie Francis from the late 50's called Stupid Cupid - and this is what I named him - I shall include this song, you can play it as you read on, for a bit of light relief!
I think he's ever so cute - I hung him on a hot pink velvet ribbon that simply ties at the back and is adjustable so he can nestle in a cleavage - which I think he would like, being the sort of guy he is, or be worn with a T shirt.
Have a Happy Easter holiday - eat a hot cross bun for me!! See you next week.