Happy New Year to all of you, my readers. Now that we have survived the end of the world, we'd better make a good fist of it - so, onward and upwards we go!
One of my presents from Santa was a book about Salvador Dali - I love the wackiness of the man - he even created some pieces of jewellery - he treated them as mini sculptures, which of course is what they are - and I thought I'd share a few pictures of my latest inspiration with you.
Mine of course, was made out of wire, an aventurine bead for the green iris and a couple of crystals. It is called JEALOUSY- the green eye lending itself readily to the title - and of course, the crystal tear drop -there are plenty of tears associated with that particular emotion!
It is to be worn as a pendant, although it can easily be converted into a pin. I didn't think anyone would want to wear it on an eye patch, that might just be going a little, teeny weeny bit too far! The pendant is made out of two long pieces of wire, bound by another extra long, slender wire. Fun to make, although extremely fiddly, all those wires wanting to go every which way but where you want them to!
I picked up a two foot length of copper enamelled non tarnish wire and made a Chinese PIPA knot which I embellished with beads - it was so pretty, I made another and paired them into earrings. I love Chinese knots, but they are very difficult to put together - sometimes the instructions sound like they are in double Dutch. I would love to find someone who could teach me on a one to one basis, but in the meantime, these are what I can do ..............
I read up on the history of knot making in China, essentially a folk art. When I was there, every gift, every wine bottle, came with a tag made of knotted cord. Wire of course is another entity altogether - it stays put when bent into a shape - but if bent into the wrong shape - OMG!- near impossible to tidy up invisibly, so..... practice, practice, practice is the key.
..........endless and repetitive pattern evokes one of the fundamental truths of Buddhism and the cyclical nature of all existence. In essence, knot work serves to create an atmosphere of well-being, good luck and health, longevity and harmony. As gifts, they are emotional, sentimental, and are often keepsakes between lovers and friends.
Waresa, or to give her her full name - Mbaba Mwana Waresa is the Zulu goddess of rain, rainbows, and is credited with the invention of the fermentation process and therefore, beer!! (probably a cooking experiment gone wrong or a long forgotten drink taken out of the cupboard and served to her menfolk inadvertently) - my kinda Goddess!!
This pendant, also a wire knot, was affixed to a copper frame which was embellished with tangled fine black wire and silver lined seed beads to resemble raindrops. A beautiful lapis lazuli faceted oval sits in the middle of all of this. I hung it on a leather thong, embellished with copper wire curls at each end. This is a large but light piece, and can easily be worn with jeans and a jacket during the day, or on bare skin, at night. For some reason, I seem to have gone all tribal on me - but I just go where my beautiful muse takes me - I'm easily led!
After the holidays, I received a little parcel with a little rectangular piece of labradorite in it - the colour of the piece captivated me, and it went straight into this pendant. The stone is surrounded by ruby quartz beads, and copper wire lace, both the pendant and the lace resemble the sea foam - Aphrodite, of course was the Greek goddess of love, who was born out of the sea foam -and she was known to be a beauty by all that looked on her.
This was meant to be a 'take a break, have a Kit Kat' period - but I am absolutely bonkersly obsessed - wire, beads and tools attach themselves to my ankles as I walk by, begging to be joined together in holy matrimony - hence all the little bits of jewellery that are on these last few blogs - only to keep the whine of the beads quiet. Now, I am left with a little pile of pendants and earrings that have been photographed and set aside, and will have to find a place to put them away before they get stomped on by a galumphing husband or eaten by a hungry cat! These are a few earrings I made - as you can see, I made simple dangles on frames I bought earlier, and then the wire wanted in on the act, so I had to wrap some more crystals around the edges - pretty, though.....
So, this is what I made in my 'rest' period - I have been itching to get my hands on some of the beautiful gemstone beads I bought, and Nepalese pendants - I have at least six of those, and learn a new modern style of wire work from a lady called Lilian Chen and... and.... and... - there will not be enough hours in the day for all that I want to do, and all I have to do at the day job - it certainly promises to be a lot of fun. Do stay with me through the year, wont you, and I will do my best to entertain you.
See you same time, same place, next week
There are loads of jokes around Christmas - the best ones I read recently go like this .....
I once bought my kids a set of batteries for Christmas with a note on it saying, toys not included. ~Bernard Manning
The one thing women don't want to find in their stockings on Christmas morning is their husband. ~Joan Rivers
The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, D.C. This wasn't for any religious reasons. They couldn't find three wise men and a virgin. ~Jay Leno
Santa is very jolly because he knows where all the bad girls live. ~Dennis Miller
Christmas is a time when you get homesick - even when you're home. ~Carol Nelson
The last one isn't a joke, and it would seem to me that when people have friends and family visiting them, they squabble and scowl, and sit around harrumphing over their sherry and the Queen's Speech, and others, who have no one to visit would give their all to have someone to go to - its a weird old world!
I love Hollywood's version of Christmas - snow, Cary Grant raising an eyebrow and looking all square jawed, rugged, and manly, and Yuletide egg nog. Listening to a reading of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas is guaranteed to bring a little smile - or tear!
I wouldn't really know, not having any family in the UK - Indian Christmases are entirely different - colourful, crazy, and weirdly/wonderfully unexplainable to the uninitiated, as most things Indian are!!
It is time to thank people for all they have done for me during the rest of the year, and in the last few years, I have been making jewellery as gifts for people. It would be so much easier and less time consuming to just go out and buy a whole load of stuff, all neatly packaged, and walk around handing it out like a (rather well tanned!) Mrs. Santa Claus, but I think it is fabulous to give a part of oneself - I am proud of my jewellery and think that it is almost a gift of a piece of me and my alter ego - Caprilicious - a lot of time, effort and care has gone into the design and creation of my gifts.
All last week, I made three necklaces and bracelet sets, and twelve pendants - polishing, buffing, checking for imperfections (reject, reject!!) packing, writing cards, and loading all of them into the boot of my car took simply ages, but now, I can rest, decorate my tree, and generally make plans for the simple Shilvock Christmas.
I will give you a sneak peek at some of the gifts I made - no one on my list reads this blog ( I don't think) so you are safe to have a look.
Crystal necklaces with bracelets to match
Pendants on organza necklaces / wire chokers
A school mate of mine from India bought Aurora - and she asked for a pair of earrings to match - I made these with tiny labradorite beads and wire. Aurora is a fairly somber piece, and I thought to lighten the mood a bit, and also to make the earrings light. However, she objected strenuously... This is what she had to say ......
" Neen..the earrings you made are not just pretty...they are very pretty :) just felt that Aurora has a classic look to her..you know all beautiful and quiet and strong and dignity flows out of her...and the earrings came across as pretty lil' fun things to wear, plus the turq and wired silver in the earrings are a lot lot more than the Aurora has.
Chunky labradorite earrings is what will go with Aurora..as she is chunky too :)
Thanks a mill. Neen for your patience in listening to my ravings on what is your area of expertise :))))"
Of course, the customer is always right!! So, suitably chastened, I have sent off for some more labradorite, as I had used up all my faceted nuggets, and will send her another pair a bit later on. Have a look at what I made - I would love to hear your views. The colour is a bit mismatched as the pictures were shot at different times of day, in different light, and different backgrounds, so do please bear that in mind.
The earrings that don't match!!
After that stint of wire weaving, my finger tips were sore, so my muse led me by the hand to my bead stash, to make up some strands of beads I bought recently. These beautiful purple agate beads are translucent, and very slightly striated - like a crayon colouring held up to the light. I had just received the amethyst beads in the post that morning - they are carved with a dragon, and inlaid with gold - The Chinese are fabulous with this sort of art - I have some Ink sticks with dragons inlaid into them - gorgeous and opulent, just like the colour of the agate. Matching them was easy, and I teamed them with one of my most recent finds - a toggle clasp with a framed dragonfly - it was too beautiful to be placed at the back, so I put it to one side of the necklace - I love that look and make a lot of my pieces in this way (my jewellery style reflects my personality - what you see is what you get! - I am not from the school of hidden, unplumbed depths which have to be searched for).
Columbines, or aquilegias are spring meadow flowers - they are also called Granny's Bonnets in the UK. I love the delicate flower heads, and they are so easy to grow - and best of all, they are hardy, and come back year after year - I shake a few seeds into my hand from ripe seed pods in my garden, and scatter them into the flower beds - I have had great success with this method - my kind of gardening - eazy peazy lemon squezee!
The Sea Sprite
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Ondine is the story of a sea sprite and her doomed love affair with a knight who betrays her - same old same old - but the music is beautiful and the ballet brings a tear to the eye - I'm an old softie!
This necklace was made with a string of sea sediment jasper, a couple of Nepalese artisan designed beads and an enamelled bead from my cupboard. The Nepalese beads are made of wood, coloured and inlaid with brass wire in the shape of flowers. The sea sediment jasper is so beautiful it doesn't need much effort to create a pretty necklace out of it.
Cool Water Woman
The lovely blue of these dyed lava rock beads reminded me of the ad for Davidoff's Cool Water Woman - these beads are flat and lie against the wearer in a most flattering way. A pair of Nepalese wooden beads and a dragonfly clasp, as well as a pyrite slab nugget add interest to the wonderfully tactile necklace. The Nepalese beads have a Yin Yang design with inlaid brass wire, and are coloured blue and lavender, a fairly rare colour combination - very pretty!
That's all for this week folks, have a fab weekend and don't wear yourselves out over Christmas. I will catch up with you next week, same time, same place,
No, I don't mean blood from a stone, you read it right first time - Light from a Stone - this epitomises Labradorite. This greyish brown stone is, at first sight boring - in fact it resembles something you might find lurking at the bottom of a cat litter tray - but, wait .... move the stone till it catches the light - and you get that fabulous flash of light from within it's depths - a flash of yellow, blue and green - and you are hooked!
Labradorite is a feldspar, first found in Canada, formed by the slow cooling of magma, giving the crystals time to arrange themselves in large clusters before being locked into place in layers - these layers reflect light at different angles, giving that characteristic flash - the Schiller effect.
The Inuit thought the Northern Lights had been captured by the stone, it is that beautiful. I once bought a bracelet with a large slab nugget - and was immediately hooked - grey brown is difficult to design with, and of course, the stone needs to move to catch the light, so still photographs do not do it justice - Oh well, I can but try - I am not sure if any one will be discerning enough to actually want the necklace, but I love it, and will happily wear it myself.
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This is a little National Geographic clip of the Northern Lights - I have tried heroically to get the stones in my necklace to bring forth the fire in the stones - but this tends to happen when they are moved in the light - so do bear with me.
We were lucky enough to catch a tiny glimpse of the Northern lights last August around the coast of Norway - and they are mighty beautiful - but it has to be really cold and clear to get a good display - Brrrrrrrr - I say, stay warm and wear my necklace!
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These are the hardest photographs I have had to take - I positioned each bead so it would catch the light, and unfortunately this is the best a still camera could do - you can see flashes of fire here and there.
The Harnessed Peacock
This is my nod to Mary Wesley, whose books I read and enjoyed a long time ago - she published her first book at the age of seventy, and wrote a number of best sellers after that - the women in her books are all extremely unconventional, and she has a sharp and dry wit. Harnessing Peacocks is one of her books, and it was also made into a motion picture. Mary had a red lacquered coffin made for herself by a local artisan, and kept it in her living room - she offered to be photographed in it for an interview by a magazine - politely declined, of course! I love that story, she must have been such fun - even her biography is called Wild Mary.
The copper non tarnish wire bird has a crystal tear drop dangling from its beak, and brilliant green and blue crystal and glass 'tail feathers'. I kept the chain simple, but not so simple that I didn't embellish it with a few crystal dangles.
This one was made to complement a turquoise clasp - I used zebra howlite, square onyx beads, shiny crystals, blue glass beads, dichroic glass rectangles and pressed glass beads in the shape of pansies all the way from Czechoslovakia. I love Czech glass - they have some beautiful beads, and I buy them whenever I can find them. They looked like sweeties from my childhood when I finished the necklace, hence the name.
The real deal - I like mine better - no calories!!
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I love this clip of Scherezade by Rimsky Korsakoff - I have played it before on this blog - but am playing it again, as it is appropriate here - this is only part of it, but the music is so haunting - do listen to it - and of course, the Kirov - Mariinsky ballet needs no introduction.
I made these pendants for Scherezade - to wear when she told her prince stories, night after night, holding his interest by withholding the ending - just to live another day, and tell yet another story - a cruel tale, but, we got all these stories from her plight, and she got a stay of execution - and he got the girl - a win win (win) situation, by all accounts!
The druzy cabochons came all the way from Jakarta, I love the crystalline centres that sparkle in the light - once again difficult to photograph. I have been taking online photography lessons and tips, but might make my way to some real ones at the local college come January, I so hate not being able to share my enthusiasm with you. Lashings of wire, and tiny gemstone beads embellish the druzy, but I have kept the whole thing simple, on a ribbon instead of making a whole necklace around it to keep the focus on the pendant itself - this will turn heads anyway, so a whole 'statement necklace' will probably be a bit of overkill.
I have just about managed to capture a bit of the sparkle at the centre of the gemstone here
I have a few more cabochons, and have been trying to set one into a pendant in the shape of a lotus - and struggling, I don't mind admitting. There's something missing, and I just can't put my finger on it - don't you just hate that feeling - but I have put it away for the time being and hope that when I look at it again, inspiration will strike me like a bolt of lightning and I can show it to you next week. Till then, have a lovely weekend, and a fabulous week. See you same time, same place,
Jewellery making has taught me a few things about myself - I always thought I was a pragmatic, sensible person with a sober, practical bent. Who knew that deep within me, lurking somewhere, was a love of pretty, romantic images - roses, fairytales, pearls, sea foam, snow blossom....
If someone had asked what sort of jewellery I would have chosen to create a few years ago, I would have picked modern abstract pieces - squares within circles - you know what I mean - clean unfussy lines, gentle curves slashed by straight soaring gashes of colour, red and orange against black.... These are images that appeal to me, and I am drawn to them in art galleries and glossy brochures of modern art - and yet... when I think about putting my own creative forces into action, the objects that spring forth from my mind and hands are very different.
It would seem that deep within me, there is a very feminine side that longs for lace and flowers - I buy my gemstones and beads to conform to that side of me, and unsurprisingly, the resulting jewellery is as it is - I will leave you to be the judge of that.
I had some exciting news this week - my designs were featured in Bead Magazine - a whole page spread - boy, was I chuffed! I have a photograph of the page - the best I could get from my little camera, but it was nice to see that other jewellery makers rate my designs.
No sooner had I just about got used to this, a friend of mine informed me that a design I had posted idly on the online gallery of yet another jewellery makers magazine - this time Beads and Beyond - had won a £10 voucher! This was almost too much to take - all in one week!
I could have danced all night, I could have danced all night, etc. etc ..... but, what I did was to cook dinner, go to bed, and go to work the next day - Oh well, such is life!
I made a pendant with a pale green agate geode, very gently faceted to accentuate the markings of the crystalline structure within - the stone is rough cut at the edges, and I allowed that to be just visible - I didn't want a neat and tidy bezel hiding the edges. A wire rose appeared, almost by magic, some leaves, a vine - I love that particular effect clambering all over my jewellery - 'rose hips' of delicious yellow agate, malachite and a chrysocolla tear - drop. I added a pretty three dimensional butterfly to the edge of the necklace for a touch of whimsy - it looks like it is just taking flight, having had it's fill of nectar. When I explain my jewellery to my mother, she smiles at me as if to say ' what have I brought up here??' and I can almost see her tapping the side of her head - 'Toc Toc' and rolling her eyes! But there are people who get it - so this is for you kindred spirits - prosaic on the outside with a soft centre within...
I wanted some straight lines to contrast with the curves of the rose and the curlicues around the geode, and I think this works well, and will sit neatly within the collar or neck of a dress. And, I just love the way the butterfly almost seems to flutter on the edge of the piece.
The next piece came about because I had promised myself that I would make a bracelet this week, and also that I would add to the Caprilicious Silver collection with at least one piece a week - so, I combined the two. I have had this intriguing gemstone in my collection forever - it is a piece of Chiastolite - found in the Almeria district of Andalusia and so, also called Andalusite. It has needles of carbonaceous material included deep within, and when viewed in cross section it looks like a crucifix. Chiastolite is also called the 'lapis crucifer' or 'cross stone' in ancient texts. It is a dull brown stone, and I thought it needed pretty and shiny elements by it, to brighten it - unless the jewellery was for a monk! So here is the Andalusian Prayer Bracelet.
Citrine nuggets- sugar cubes dipped in gold
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The citrine nuggets, aventurine cylinders and labradorite rondelles with their sheen when they catch the light, offset the dullness of the Chiastolite, and along with the shine from the silver, this is a handsome piece.
Six strands of tiny 3mm rose quartz beads interspersed with Swarovski pearls, with a knot holding a dyed Howlite donut - some of the strands are strung on red beading wire, bringing out the pink in the rose quartz, and the others on plain wire, giving it a paler whisper pink colour. The effect is that of the Snow Blossom, which is the flower from the cherry or the plum trees, which when in full bloom looks just like snow.
Cherry trees with 'snow blossom'
Finding ways to display jewellery online can be quite challenging - my other half is useless at photography and refuses to learn, so I have to do it all myself. I had to buy a dummy to display my necklaces as the pictures Mike took were shockingly poor, and now that I am going to make a few more bracelets, and do not have the requisite 'pale hands beside the Shalimar' I bought this dummy - it comes in two pieces, with a join exactly where the bracelet rests - I spent a lot of time editing the pictures to make the join unobtrusive after photographing the Andalusian Prayer - and then I was asked politely to put the arm away - he says he hates it - any more chuntering from Mike, and I might just put it where the sun dont shine!!!
Thats all for this week folks, have a good weekend, I am at the day job all weekend, hope it doesn't get too busy and I will have something to show you next week.
I saw a peacock with a fiery tail.
I saw a blazing comet drop down hail.
I saw a cloud with ivy circles round.
I saw a sturdy oak creep on the ground.
I saw a pismire swallow up a whale.
I saw a raging sea brim full of ale.
I saw a Venice glass sixteen foot deep.
I saw a well full of men’s tears that weep.
I saw their eyes all in a flame of fire.
I saw a house as big as the moon and higher.
I saw the sun even in the midst of night.I saw the man that saw this wondrous sight.
If anyone is interested - a pismire is an ant!!
Have any of you read this nonsensical nursery rhyme - it is a piece of nonsense until you add punctuation marks - specifically commas in the middle of each line - and then hey presto, it all reads absolutely right. Of course, you also have to delete all the full stops - go on, try it -
It would then read like this - and make more sense - but who looks for sense as a child??
I saw a Peacock, with a fiery tail
I saw a Blazing Comet, drop down hail
I saw a Cloud, wrapped with ivy round
I saw an Oak, ...... etc. etc.
I was playing with the silver ginkgo leaf I posted on last weeks blog - having attended an on - line class by Patrik Kusek I decided it was an ideal piece to combine with polymer clay. And then it struck me in a light bulb moment - even though it was a leaf, it doesn't have to spend the rest of its 'life' as one - so I decided to give it a new Avatar - as a peacock. Very ambitiously, I decided to go the whole hog and make a necklace and add the pendant to it and turn it into one large statement piece. Much kneading and slicing, swearing (at the pasta machine) curing and varnishing later, I had the bare bones of the piece - it would have to wait another day to be made up - exhaustion had set in and put its foot down with a firm hand!
Art Clay Silver - 0.999% pure - purer than Sterling Silver which is 0.925% - impression of a dry ginkgo leaf
Inspiration - the light bulb moment
The Fiery Peacock Necklace
Enough for one necklace??? - sure hope so!
The focal piece - for once it was going to be central
The pendant with a peacock blue dyed dangle
Close up view of the clasp
The whole necklace
With a little help from my friend
Handmade toggle clasp attached with seed beads
This necklace turned out to be hell on legs to photograph - the elements are so busy visually, I could almost hear my camera's brain whirring as it decided where to focus on - added to that the high gloss varnish reflected the light off the pendant and the silver element at different wavelengths - I apologise to the poor little thing, it was quite worn out after one session with this necklace - I had to recharge its batteries straight away, before it expired through exhaustion.
Got news that my Sea Urchin necklace has been featured on Cuteable.com - this is a daily blog to which you submit your offerings and they pick a few to go on - I am thrilled to bits - really fantastic to have ones work validated. Now I can put a 'cuteable' badge on my blog!
The sea urchin necklace - cute as damnit!
The Kumihimo disc and bobbins I ordered arrived today - Kumihimo is the ancient Japanese art where with a complex set of almost mathematical repetitive moves, upto 16 threads can be braided. Each set of moves creates a variation of the braid, and changing the materials / textures and colours produces an infinite variety of results.
I had originally bought silk knotting thread to tie Chinese knots, which are so beautiful, but hell to reproduce from a book - they are probably better taught in a class, but I simply haven't the time or the patience - so jumped at the chance of using the thread in Kumihimo. Apparently, there are specific cords for this braiding - called rattail, and a thinner one called bugtail! and wire can be used too. So I bought me a book and braided away happily all morning, producing a very pretty black and silver round braid with 8 strands - well done me!
The disc or Maru Dai
16 thread braid
The Kumihimo braid I made for my necklace
The Madame Butterfly necklace
I had a beautiful labradorite cabochon in my stash for a while, and I was getting wire withdrawal, having made the peacock earlier on in the week without a whiff of wire in it. So I decided to make another (yes, yet another) necklace. I learned how to wire wrap a cabochon over two years ago in my first wire work class at In The Studio, Kegworth. But now that I have moved on from that point, just making a pendant out of the little cabochon - it is just about three and a half cms long - didn't appeal to me much.
My design ethic has always skewed me towards the asymmetrical, so this time I decided to go almost Baroque - this is a style from the 1700's which is dramatic, opulent, exuberant and grand - completely unrestrained and over the top - less if definitely not more with this lot! The word Baroque is derived from the French or Spanish, meaning a rough or imperfect pearl, and Baroque jewellery is usually crawling with pearls. It is a linear style with curved exuberant forms which are symmetrical - Labradorite lends itself well to this - it looks gray /brown to a casual glance, but when in the light it is greenish/blue, and has yellow sheen - it has to be seen to be believed. The play of colour is called labradorescence. The stone comes from an island in Labrador, Canada, and you also get Indian Labradorite as well as some from Madagascar.My husband is an opera buff and we watched Madame Butterfly the night before last - and I thought, what could be more symmetrical than that? - so this is my take on a butterfly.
I wire wrapped the cabochon and used it as the centrepiece - the body of the insect - and put as many curlicues as I could get away with, a bit of weaving and every other thing I could think of - after a while, even I had to say enough is enough - there has to be an end to embellishment - I then realised to my horror that I hadn't included any pearls - there is no such thing as 'Baroque Jewellery' without pearls - so I managed to find 2 empty spaces where it seemed that a pearl would fit, and they were duly added in - hopefully they look as if they belong there and not an afterthought - Rachel Murgatroyd, of Wire Wrap Jewellery, who taught me wire work has a favourite saying ' There's no such thing as a mistake - just a design feature'!
Malcolm McLaren and Robby Kilgore adapted Puccini's opera and added these lyrics to the music.
'Calling Butterfly, Madam Butterfly
Butterfly, Butterfly have no fear
I'll be back to wipe your tears
Oh sweet Butterfly, so sweet Butterfly'
I think this is a rather sweet butterfly - don't you?
Have a nice week, catch you later.
Madame Butterfly - my Baroque butterfly necklace - spot the pearls!
Labradorite by day
Labradorite photographed at night takes on the sheen from artificial light
I have some time off from the day job next week, so will be setting out an Etsy outlet, to go live on my brother's birthday, on the 2nd of March, dedicated to him.
See you next week folks.