I have been struck by spring fever! The mild temperatures, and the emergence of buds on the trees and little plants coming through the ground in my herbaceous borders are turning me into a happy bunny - all I can think of are flowers and leaves and pretty things.
In this mood, I began to populate my new page - The English Country Garden with pieces of jewellery, but in the interim, put in a slide show of pictures taken over the last couple of summers of my own garden - just so people won't be bored if they find themselves on that page.
Last week, I made Bluebells, the inaugural piece, and this week, made Chloe, The Cat in the Window, inspired by my own cat Harold, and Wisteria Lane, which of course is the fictional street which is the home of the Desperate Housewives in the TV serial.
The central pendant in Wisteria Lane is an Art Nouveau design reminiscent of the paintings of Alphonse Mucha, it was surrounded by a frame of woven wire and tiny crystals, some of which were hung in bunches to resemble Wisteria.
Sceptre was made to break the mold and to get away from being all happy clappy/ spring has sprungy - a lovely faceted goldstone is at the heart of this piece, with turquoise beads to provide contrast.
Design credit - Gailavira.com
I am not a fan of designs that use wire as a major feature, almost as if the designer is saying
' look at what I can do' - adding more and more tortured wire, just because they can. To me these wire heavy designs resemble a cats cradle, with no light relief, and if they go wrong, they are very close to junk - I'm sure plenty of people like them, but I'm just not one of them.
Eclipse was a piece made using a tutorial by a lady who uses a lot of wire in her designs, but very elegantly, so that miles of wire are woven and curved into organic shapes. I was already doing a lot of weaving, so it seemed logical to take it one step further and see how her designs were translated by my hands. I like the way the pendant looks in the pictures - almost mystical. I am enjoying the photography almost as much as the making of the piece - almost!
Design credit - Nicole Hanna
Carol Robertson was kind enough to email me after she had been looking at the Caprilicious website - she said she couldn't read the wordage on the pages as the fonts were too grey and seemed to merge into the background. I thought I'd change that and see if people liked it any better - the fonts in the main text have all been changed to white, and they certainly show up better on a black background. Do you like it?? - if you have any thoughts, please share them with me, I would be ever so pleased to hear from you. I like the black background - it allows the photographs to stand out better, but I would like people to be able to read the words too - after all they come from me and are part of Caprilicious too.
I have checked the android version, and it shows up with black writing on a white background, for some reason, but it is definitely visible - I worried that if it was changed over to white writing, it would disappear on your mobile phone screens, and I know that some people keep an eye on the comings and goings on the Caprilicious website via their mobiles.
That's all for now folks, have a good weekend, and don't forget to tell your friends about Caprilicious, please. I'll be here next week, same time, same place - catch you then. If you read the Caprilicious blog regularly, why not sign up to follow it - all you have to do is to click the 'follow this blog' link by the side of the blog title and it will land in your inbox each week.
'Bye for now
This week I had a couple of days off from work, so I decided to try out some new stuff - I love colourful jewellery and there is no one who uses colour more successfully and with more panache than a polymer artist called Alice Stroppel. She has a tutorial for pen and ink drawings on polymer clay, and I got this from her in an attempt something different - I hoped I hadn't bitten off a bit more than I could chew, but felt like I ought to stretch myself a bit at a time, and add another dimension to what I do.
Anyway, here I was with this tutorial and after a few panic attacks and a lot of procrastination, I made two bracelet blanks - and got on with it. I say this blithely, as if it was a smooth transition from reading the tutorial to the execution of the piece, but I am a past master at putting things off - it took me four days to get to actually starting up (and I will admit, I was a bit - no, a lot, scared of making a complete idiot of myself) and three days to ink the second bracelet, bit by bit.
I kept the first bracelet simple, with flowers made of Millefiori canes, and with the leftover cane, made a pendant to match.
The pen and ink bit was kept to a simple colourful stripe - I told you I proceeded gingerly! While these were curing, I made a couple more conventional bangles, which fulfill my love for colour. Canes are also new to my repertoire, but I think I am just about ready to make some simple ones now - it takes a while to get used to a medium, and I think now is the time to dip my toes into deeper water. As you can see, I have relied on colour and texture with the bracelets below, but they do make a colourful splash.
Leaf on the Water
While proceeding very gingerly with the bracelets, I made some stuff I knew I could turn my hand to, almost as if I needed just to reassure myself of my abilities, in case I fell flat on my face. The picture above was my inspiration for Leaf on the Water, a necklace made with rectangular Peruvian opals and a Maple leaf skeleton pendant. The leaf skeleton has been electroplated with 9 Carat gold, and is a work of art by nature. The soothing blue of the opals seemed to suggest a seascape, and I added a couple of shells and a froth of little beads and crystals to signify the foam on the waves. It turned out to be a piece of jewellery that can be worn by day as well as night.
Another idea I approached with caution is the Flat Wire Twining lesson by Mary Tucker - she makes flat bracelets with what seems like hundreds of pieces of wire in a weave that resembles fabric, and basket weaves that are very realistic.
I am terrible for trying to run before I can walk, and become disheartened. I was quite determined this time that I wouldn't let that happen. I made a three dimensional wire pitcher, with 'water' pouring from its spout. Hung on a simple black waxed linen cord, the pitcher looks like it is spilling water down the décolleté.
The Lotus Eaters
While in my craft room( sounds less swanky and up myself than 'studio' don't you think?), I made a few faux ivory flowers. When I finished sanding and buffing the flowers, I teamed them with turquoise beads into a little bracelet - my muse must be on a bracelet making jag , there are that many rolling off my production line, these days. I am a mere vassal, following where Ms Muse leads!
The Button Project
Did you know there was a silk industry in England - in Macclesfield, no less - no? I didn't either.
Annabel Wills, Silk Museum curator says: “Macclesfield was the heart of the UK’s historic silk industry, and silk-related businesses are still active in the town. Handmade silk buttons were where it all began: from a cottage-based enterprise, it grew into a flourishing silk industry and helped make the town what it is today. This exhibition will celebrate that history and allow contemporary artists to exhibit and sell their beautiful buttons.”
The Silk Museum has organised a Button Exhibition and invited artists to submit buttons to be displayed in a curated exhibit. I have expressed an interest in submitting an entry, and hope it will be accepted. The buttons are required to have a link to the themes of heritage, or metamorphosis, and I have been wracking my brains to come up with an idea - that will be my project for the weekend. Obviously, I will share it on this page first, once the project comes together. I have always loved embellishment - in my opinion, the fillip a pretty button, or a bow, or a bit of edging gives to an outfit can be the making of it. My mother had boxes and boxes of pretty buttons which she carried back to India from the UK and hoarded jealously - my sister and I used to knit our own cardigans and used up a lot of them in our twenties.
If these buttons are pretty, I might just jazz up some of my suits with them, or, if you like them and want them, let me know, I will be only too happy to let you have them.
The Girl from Ipanema
This was a song recorded in the mid 60's and was an instant hit, and is the second most re recorded songs in the world, after 'Yesterday' by the Beatles. It was inspired by a real woman.
.......Heloísa Eneida Menezes Paes Pinto (now Helô Pinheiro), a nineteen-year-old girl living on Montenegro Street in the fashionable Ipanema district in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Daily, she would stroll past the popular Veloso bar-café, not just to the beach ("each day when she walks to the sea"), but in the everyday course of her life. She would sometimes enter the bar to buy cigarettes for her mother and leave to the sound of wolf-whistles. In the winter of 1962, the composers watched the girl pass by the bar, and it is easy to imagine why they noticed her—Helô was a 173-cm (five-foot eight-inch) brunette, and she attracted the attention of many of the bar patrons. Since the song became popular, she has become a celebrity. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Girl_from_Ipanema
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This is one of the very first versions with English lyrics, sung by Astrud Gilberto, who was married to João Gilberto, the Brazilian singer who first made the song famous.
I used the tutorial from Alice Stroppel again, with the second blank bracelet I prepared earlier, and spent a day creating a pen and ink drawing of The Girl from Ipanema - an hour into the process, I began to enjoy myself and have a lot of fun, and that shows through in the drawing. She has beautiful pale blue hair - I just wish I could colour mine blue too, but I think I am bit long in the tooth for that - and besides, my day job precludes such eccentricities.
This was a very work intensive project, with the bracelet blank to be made, then drawn upon, and then inked, with the inks needing to be set at each stage, so that they did not smudge. Finally, when I was happy, the bracelet needed covering with a film of protective coating and cured again, so that the inks are preserved during normal wear - I had a lot of fun doing it.
Tall and Tanned and Young and Lovely
This cuff took a lot of my time, but I didn't mind at all, it was so much fun to make. I have made up a few more blank bracelets in various colours, and will, from time to time, play with inks again.
That's all I had time for this week, folks, catch you next week, same time, same place,
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!!