Hello readers, I hope you are all enjoying the weather, which is slowly showing signs of getting warmer. It is so nice to be able to shed the heavy winter gear, and wear fewer clothes - can't wait to get to the point where the sandals come out of the cupboard and onto my feet.
My mother went on a little tour of South India with her niece, and very kindly brought back some beads for me. I had asked her to look out for a string of Rudraksha beads - more about them later. The ones she sent are about 20mm in diameter, and I was a bit intimidated by their size, I had really wanted them a bit smaller. However, no one puts Caprilicious in a corner, and I decided to rise to the challenge. I made some polymer clay ruffle beads from a tutorial by Christelle Van Lingen, in a blend of red and gold, and put a necklace together with a copper electroplated oak leaf skeleton.
I added a blue agate bead and a copper Bali style bead to provide a pop of colour and extra interest, and little gold plated crystal beads to add some sparkle to the piece - I was quite pleased with the way the necklace turned out. I like the juxtaposition of an ancient, traditional seed bead, and the polymer clay, which is as contemporary as you are going to get - and very different, too from anything i have seen, made with these seeds.
Rudraksha is a large evergreen broad-leaved tree whose seed is traditionally used for prayer beads in Hinduism. The seed is borne by several species of Elaeocarpus. Rudraksha is a Sanskrit compound consisting of the name Rudra ("Shiva") and akṣha ("eyes").
Rudraksha seeds are covered by an outer shell of blue when fully ripe, and are also known as blueberry beads. The berries are strung into a rosary, used for repetitive prayer. The seeds are classified on the basis of the number of divisions that they have, and different qualities are attributed to the rudraksha based on this. A common type has five divisions, and these are considered to be symbolic of the five faces of Shiva.
Rudraksha beads are often worn by Indian 'sadhus' or holy men, who are devotees of Shiva.
The plant and the blueberries that produce the Rudraksha seed
Sadhus, wearing strings of the Rudraksha beads - the one on the right looks pretty pleased with himself!
In a complete about turn from the oak leaf necklace, I made a couple of light and pretty summery pieces to go into the English Country Garden collection - a little pendant - Primrose, and a necklace made of all the shiny, pretty floral elements I could find - The Summer Bouquet. The inspiration for this came from a throwaway comment by a presenter on last Sunday's airing of 'The Antiques Roadshow' while valuing a tiara - he mentioned that tiaras were often turned upside down and worn as necklaces in Victorian times - so I made a modern day tiara/ necklace - it is extremely light and pretty, and looks like a wildflower bouquet.
Winner - Bead Barmy Readers Gallery Competition April 2013
I had news that Katrina won in the 'We've got the Blues' category, and that it sold, all on the same day - I must remember to tell the new owner she has a winner!
Linda Jones, a well known and influential jewellery designer, and author, writes a blog for the WireWorkers Guild, which is a forum for people who love wire. She offered to feature me on her blog in May, and sent me a questionnaire. I filled it out, and she emailed me back - she was so complimentary, I have had a job fitting my head through the door and am literally floating around the room. This is a screen capture of her email
What can I say - other than thank you, Linda Jones! And here it is http://wireworkersguild.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/caprilicous-jewellery.html?showComment=1366967638186#c8771846690699081699
When I finally managed to come down to earth , I finished off the last piece I made this week and took these photographs of The Spirit of Ecstasy. The art nouveau wire work surrounding the focal was behind the idea for the name.
The Spirit of Ecstasy, also called "Emily", "Silver Lady" or "Flying Lady", was designed by English sculptor Charles Robinson Sykes and carries with it a story about a secret passion between the second Lord Montague of Beaulieu, a pioneer of the automobile movement, and editor of The Car Illustrated magazine from 1902 and his secret love and the model for the emblem, Eleanor Velasco Thornton. Eleanor was John Walter's secretary, and their love was to remain hidden, limited to their circle of friends, for more than a decade. The reason for the secrecy was Eleanor's impoverished social and economic status, which was an obstacle to their love. John-Walter, succumbing to family pressures, married Lady Cecil Victoria Constance, but the secret love affair continued.
Eleanor died on 30 December 1915 when the SS Persia, on which she accompanied Lord Montague on his journey to India, was torpedoed off Crete by a German submarine, four years after she had been immortalized by her lover.
Spirit of Ecstasy
The rough cut black tourmaline gleams gently, and the severity of the black is relieved by the multi-coloured, shiny crystal spacers, and the graceful swoops of the wings of the focal. The polymer clay 'cabochon' is smooth, although its surface appears corrugated, and was made from a tutorial by Sophy Dumoulin of CraftArt Edu. I just love this technique - although time consuming, it is fabulous - and you have to wait till the absolute end, to see if the piece you have made is any good - for someone short on patience, it is a good exercise! The toggle clasp is pretty too, but this time, I put it at the back of the neck, where it should rightfully belong - when I tried to bring it to the front, as I do with a lot of pretty clasps, it fought a major battle with the focal, and lost. I consoled it by explaining that the back of the wearer is visible too, especially if she has her hair short, or swept up - or it could remain a delicious secret between the necklace and the wearer ( must be going doolally tap - I am now talking to a clasp!).
That's as much as I had time for, sweet people, I am exhausted by the repeated expansion and deflation of my head after all the accolades Caprilicious has received this week - and I know I will have to work hard to stay worthy of what has been said.
Catch you next week, same time, same place
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
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
Thank you to everyone who voted for my design 'Glacial Fantasy' in the Artbeads Jewelry Design Star Competition. It only went and won!! I am speechless and so, so, so, thrilled. I was informed by email, and they have had my details as well as a couple of other designs from Caprilicious for their website. When I hear more from Artbeads.com about the official announcement, I will let you know. In the meantime, I have another pair of earrings made, to complement Glacial Fantasy - the first two were not deemed 'delicate' enough, and I was politely requested to think again - the customer is always right - right? So.........
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These were made with wire crochet and crystal beads, and the pictures sent on for approval - I hope she likes them, or, its back to the drawing board for me. They look pretty delicate to my eyes, but I am not the one going to be wearing them, so I shall just have to wait and see. I have no problems doing them over and over until I get it right - I just see it as another challenge.
I thought Betty was a bit lonely, so I found her a friend - meet Barbara - she is a half bust, but what is especially nice about her is that I can insert an earring so I can get a good picture of the way the earrings dangle from the ear lobe. I had just made this pendant with a red banded agate stone, and I hung it around Barbara's neck - her neck is a bit scrawny, but, hey, anything's possible if allowed a bit of artistic license. The pendant looks huge around Barbara's neck, but that is because she suffers from turkey neck disorder, but one mustn't mock afflicted chickens!
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'Grace', the pendant in question is made of banded red agate - a beautiful waxy, translucent, rectangular stone. About six feet of wire went into the swirly wraps, and a few more feet of fine wire for the web like weave. I had to add a bit of movement, and a shiny Aurora Borealis coated crystal from my stash was just the ticket.
I played with polymer clay and alcohol inks and produced these faux red jade pieces from a tutorial by Lynda Moseley of Diva Designs. I love the large 25mm focal beads, with a floral etched pattern and I made a chrysanthemum type flower to be the pendant in this necklace. It is called Cinnamon because of the beautiful burnt sugar colour of the faux jade. The other alternative for a name was Creme Caramel - betraying my sweet tooth and secret gluttony - a Freudian slip, if ever there was one! Three strands of carnelian nuggets, held together at intervals by pewter spacers toned well with the focal pieces - a monochromatic necklace, which is quite rare for me - I don't know how I resisted the impulse to add a bit of green or turquoise blue, but I do like how Cinnamon came together in the end.
From Russia With Love
I made this necklace a few weeks ago, and I saved three rainbow titanium coated quartz needles to make a pendant and a pair of earrings. When they were made up the three little pieces resembled the Matroshka dolls sold to tourists in Russia - except, of course that I have attempted to match the earrings, as far as possible The quartz was mined near St Petersburg and has an extraordinarily beautiful sheen from the fine coating of titanium vapour wafted over it.
I spent most of this week catching up on paper work and other stuff at the day job - sometimes it doesn't pay to have too much time off, everything is just waiting for you when you get back to the grindstone - no rest for the wicked!
I did have time to tidy up my website, move my necklaces around - I have new pages now - Chinese Inspiration, Out of Africa, and Leafy Glade are now added to a Treasury of Statement Necklaces, and all the other bits and bobs are grouped under Mini Statements - I believe that all jewellery makes a statement - it tells you about a woman's inner self and expresses her thoughts, feelings, and mood, sometimes, who she would like to be but finds difficult to express - an alter ego. I know that this is certainly true about me - what about you?? Have you ever thought about what your choice in apparel says about you to the world - a non verbal clue to those who might wish to detect what makes you tick! Have you ever thought what women who don't wear jewellery are saying - I think it may be that they don't want people to get clues to their personality - you have to work just that bit harder to know them and what their raison d'être is.
That's all I had time to make this week folks, catch you next week, same time, same place, thanks for stopping by my blog, and once again, thank you for voting for my design in the competition
I hope you have all had a good week - I had the week off from work and decided to use it productively - was meant to drive to Shrewsbury, an hour away, to take an enamelling class, but snow and ice precluded that enterprise, and we had to reschedule. So I was forced to stay at home, and play on my own with my baubles and beads, and my computer.
I entered Ariel onto a colour palette design challenge and bloghop hosted by Bonnie Coursolle of Jasper's Gems from Ontario, Canada. http://www.jasper-moon.ca/JaspersGemsBlog.htm
She posted three colour palettes, and Ariel was made in the colours of the first one she gave the participants to work with. It is nice sometimes to accept a challenge and work within its confines - it gives the mind a focus.
Just after I posted last week, I found out that I had won a £10 voucher from a trade magazine called Beads and Beyond - I had submitted a picture well before Christmas 2012 to their inbox, and quite forgot about it - in fact, I had to ask members of a jewellery forum if it was true that the picture had been published when I got the email that I had won the voucher, I thought it might be some sort of pre April fool prank. One of the ladies sent me this picture - I should really go out and buy the magazine now.
I entered Glacial Fantasy in a 'Jewellery Design Star' competition on Artbeads.com - this is a company in the USA that sells jewellery making supplies. I don't usually have time to hunt down competitions, and enter my jewellery, so it was nice to be able to do it this week.
I sent Pearl Blay, the author of The Beading Gem's Journal a picture of Glacial Fantasy. She writes a daily blog http://www.beadinggem.com/
where she posts
'the best Free Jewelry Tutorials,
Tips,Trends & More'. I have been following this blog since the day I started to make jewellery, and have learned a lot from her writings. Her blog lands in my inbox with a 'ping' every afternoon - she is in Canada-her advice is sound, and she has an archive of tutorials on almost everything to do with handmade jewellery making. I have approached her twice in the past, and only got as far as being allowed to submit a picture of one of my necklaces to her 'Readers Gallery of Inspirational Designs', but Glacial Fantasy piqued her interest and she wants to do a feature on Caprilicious Jewellery sometime in April. She contacted Manish, who took the picture of the glacier in Ladakh, and will put his picture on the blog as well. It is a big deal for Caprilicious, as her blog is extremely zealously curated, and I am suitably thrilled and grateful to Pearl. I will keep you posted when the feature comes out - it is fabulous to have one's work recognised by one's peers, especially someone who has been there, done that and seen it all.
I had a vague idea of what I wanted to make, so I made these little pieces - I embellished black clay with real gold leaf from Thailand, and made a few faux bone elements. I wasn't sure how I was going to connect them, till I remembered a roll of hemp tucked away at the back of my supplies cupboard. While I pondered this weighty question, I was thankful that there wasn't much clearing up to do - this was a clean technique and my table didn't look like a bombsite at the end of it.
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As my school reports said - 'could be tidier' !
I watched a late night movie, with subtitles, from Senegal - I watched the griot sing his soulful song - the Mandinkas pass on their history from generation to generation through songs sung by griots, accompanied by a kora-a stringed instrument. The marabout (and the protagonist visited quite a few in this movie to help restore his potency) was laden with bones and cowrie shells, and all I could think about was how this scene could be incorporated into a piece of jewellery. I think this necklace was conceived that night - there has to be some benefit to being an insomniac .
Cowrie shells were used as currency in Africa . Their symbolic qualities and beliefs led to them becoming a popular and valued object of currency for hundreds of years. During early colonial times, many Africans preferred being paid with cowrie shells over gold coins- which was a surprise (and an unexpected windfall) to the first Europeans who went to trade in Africa.
Cowrie shells are also tagged with a mystical quality, and have played a role in West African fortune telling, and are an integral part of music and indigenous instruments, as well as gambling games. They are also used as fertility symbols and brides wear them in a waist belt. One of these found its way into my hands, but it was all broken and tattered, so I rescued the cowrie shells from it - reuse and recycle - that's my motto!
I was trying to replicate the mood of the music, and the picture above in my photograph. I was clearly underemployed this week, so I played with my little camera - I lit a joss stick and tried to take a picture inside my light box, with the smoke wafting over the necklace - but I soon found out that this was easier said than done - smoke just doesn't do as it is told - I discarded a whole bunch of pictures - thank goodness for modern technology - imagine how expensive all this would have been if I had to develop all those pictures to find one that I liked!
My most recently ordered leaf skeleton pendants arrived, and I wasted no time putting the aspen leaf into a necklace of lemon quartz and pyrite. The pale gold of the quartz contrasts with the dark gold of the pyrite - Lemon quartz is so pretty, it reminds me of the weak first rays of the sun, the first thing in the morning - a wistful light, yet so beautiful. My husband liked it so much, he even wore it for a couple of minutes - yes, I got a picture, but I am not allowed to post it ( thank goodness, you say?? - you are absolutely right).
I was asked to make some earrings to go with Glacial Fantasy - I decided to have another look at Manish's pictures from Ladakh for inspiration - I found a couple that set me thinking of icicles, and I made these for the ladies who had commissioned necklaces from me.
Zahra - the Luminous one
The pearls I chose for this necklace, brought the word 'luminous' to mind - when I looked for a translation in Arabic/Persian, this flowery language came up with 'Zahra'.
We have some large holly bushes in front of the house, and I boiled up some leaves - I thought that their skeletons would be an interesting shape - but in the end, it was all 'Bubble. bubble, toil and trouble' for no reward - man, those holly leaves sure are tough! Eventually I gave up, and when I rang the lady who electroplates the leaves for me, she said she had the same problem, so she just electroplated the entire leaf as it was. I cheated, and bought this pendant from her - I was fed up with the whole holly debacle by then.
Being used to the delicate skeletons I am now accustomed to, I was a bit surprised by how substantial the holly leaf was, but in the end, I think it came good and I love the way it turned out.
I ended the week with a birthday, my colleagues from work threw a surprise lunch party for me, and some of them even wore their necklaces from Caprilicious, as did I. It was a lovely thought, and a really nice afternoon - thank you to all the ladies who turned up and made me feel special.
And, that was the week that was! Catch you next week, same time, same place, take care and have a great Easter break
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,
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,
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
My poor (much) better half has been reduced to scrabbling around in skips on behalf of Caprilicious. I charged him with finding a box to house Buffy so that I could take him off the shelf where he currently lived - I watched a video by Melanie Muir which showed how a casing could be made for a buffer out of a cardboard box, which collected all the fine dust, and caught the beads if they flew out of your hands. This is what Mike found for me, along with a second hand computer desk on wheels, to put it on. Buffy is quite happy in his new home, and easily accessible - I had a lot of trouble trying to reach into the shelf where he lived earlier on and almost put my back out . I was so happy, I spent the weekend playing with clay, and shone everything to a glassy finish - including the stuff that could have done with being a bit rough and ready. There is room for a dust mask on top of the box, so I can avoid breathing in particles of clay, and a towel can be attached to the back of the box, to catch the beads when they get flung away from me - Buffy has a short temper - all I need to do is glance at him wrong, he grabs stuff out of my hands and flings them as far away as he can - and sometimes right at me!
JuJu refers to talismans used in sorcery by Shamans - I had this design in my mind's eye, inspired by a picture from Africa Adorned, and made some faux bone talismans - the real ones have 'eyes' carved into them to protect against the evil eye, and I reproduced these talismans as faithfully as possible. I then strung thirteen strands of seed beads - I am told they have to be an odd number, and hung the talismans on them with individual seed bead bails. I wore it to work, and had quite a few compliments from people in my clinic - something tells me that this necklace wont last too long on my shelf.
Paul Newman did all his own stunts on the bicycle in this song - imagine, all that and a trick cyclist too......
One of my favourite movies, with one of my favourite actors.
Raindrops keep falling on my head
And just like the guy whose feet are too big for his bed
Nothin' seems to fit
Those raindrops are falling on my head, they keep falling
So I just did me some talkin' to the sun
And I said I didn't like the way he got things done
Sleepin' on the job
Those raindrops are falling on my head, they keep falling
I made this necklace with tiny faceted apatite, which is an icy blue, flat rondelles of flashy labradorite, and the tiniest of seed pearls. It was a bit difficult to make as the holes in the beads and in the leaf are tiny - I had to wear magnifying loupes to find them - and even so, the beading wire wouldn't fit through some of them. I wanted to come out of my comfort zone and make something sweet and simple - I seem to make bold and bright quite easily - this was a challenge to make, and I hope you like it. I decorated the leaf - I think it is an aspen leaf - with tiny apatite beads which look like raindrops, and to add a bit of movement - there has to be movement in any necklace from Caprilicious - I wired a tiny pressed glass Czech leaf to one side, satisfying my requirement of asymmetry. The necklace is very pretty, and a complete departure from usual, yet retaining the design elements I am so fond of.
An Orisha (also spelled Orisa or Orixa) is a spirit or deity that reflects one of the manifestations of God in the Yoruba spiritual or religious system. Wikipedia
I made some large hollow beads from polymer clay to resemble spindle whorls from Mali - spindle whorls were used to spin thread, and were made of clay and stone. I strung them with blue dyed howlite and a hollow gold coloured polymer clay bead. The necklace is very light - this has to do with these beads being hollow - it always surprises me how much a small amount of clay weighs when strung around the neck. The clay beads were constructed to be very light weight, in muted tones so this necklace is not as colourful as some of my regular offerings, nevertheless, it is pretty - dif'rent strokes for dif'rent folks.
I made a few more pieces with faux ivory and mounted them on colourful pendants, using embedded wire as both bail and decoration, using an idea from a tutorial by Barbara McGuire. The pendants are show pieces in themselves, so I hung them simply on black organza ribbon, rather than add any further embellishments. One of them has a 'signature' in Chinese lettering - this idea was born after I read that there was a large Chinese presence in Africa from the 18th century onwards - they were brought in as indentured labour by Europeans, and their descendants still live on in Africa to this day. One of juniors at work tells me they are so well integrated that they speak the language, and join in African society - however, whether they inter-marry is another question. The green of the pendant reminded me of jade, so prized by Chinese people everywhere.
That's as much as I have had time for this week - thanks for stopping by and I hope you've enjoyed my ramblings. Till next week then, 'bye.....
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
Romeo and Juliet,
Act 2, Scene 2
People have often asked me how and why I name my jewellery, and occasionally, when short of inspiration, I have berated myself for starting this, my very own little tradition. However, mid moan, even I have to agree that it is better to have a query about a piece with a name - than have someone ask me -' how much is SC24590? '.
I have now been doing this consistently for an year, and have now got quite used to it. It gives a piece a character - sometimes, I design the piece to look like a concept I have dreamed up - and sometimes, the piece is made, and then I look at it and a name comes to me. This usually happens fairly seamlessly - and the few times I have been unable to find a name for it, I have realised it was because I was not happy with the piece for one reason or another, and have taken it apart. Ergo, if I cannot name it, it will not be allowed to exist ( insert a throat slitting movement of the right hand here).
I love tutorials - freebies are nice, but when folk take a load of time to photograph every little step, and make a living out of teaching all they know, I am happy to support them. Most times the tutorials work out and make life so much easier - who want's to waste time reinventing the wheel?? CraftArt EDU is a website that has all sorts of tutorials, and I indulge in them on and off - one such was a tutorial by Sophy Dumoulin for hollow polymer clay fossil beads. I spent an enjoyable evening making four beads - when finished they looked like dragon eggs - I imagined incubating them in a warm place only to find a baby dragon tapping it's way out of the eggshell - that's how the name Dragonseed was born.
My buffing wheel truly came into its own and the beads have a lovely soft sheen. I was dying to make them up into something, but had to wait - I had some very dear friends visiting us over the weekend to help celebrate our wedding anniversary.
A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned the painting I bought for my (most definitely) better half, from Kalyani Ganapathy. It came back in a lovely shiny black frame and I am pleased to say that Mike loved it. We are running short of wall space, but we found a little niche for it - I have a little nook with a little pressed glass plate from Iceland which resembles a geyser, an antique Victorian plate, a silk rose and a metal frog with an emergency cigarette in its mouth on a plinth made of a single piece of oak - an eclectic collection of whimsical objects - and my pomegranate fish fitted in there as if they were painted for that little corner. Have a look at Kalyani's Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/kalyaniganapathysart?fref=ts
It is filled with grown up whimsy, and the colours are so fabulous, they send my right brain spinning with delight, my heart aching with lust to acquire more and my fingers itching to get to my credit card!
My mother, who still takes painting lessons at 85, was a bit peeved that I paid for a painting - she probably reckons ' why pay for something when she could do it at home with a smaaallll aubergine' .... a classic line from Goodness Gracious Me, one of my favourite TV series. This particular sketch is a parody of Indian mothers, every one, bless them - but my answer to that is there's aubergines, and there's AUBERGINES - and this one is an AUBERGINE!! Thank you, Kalyani Ganapathy!
I decided I would wrap the 'fossils' in wire, rather than drill holes into them and hang them as pendants ( I think I am still secretly afraid of the Dremel - but I'm not telling anyone, including me). I wrapped them in copper wire and enjoyed making the curlicues and spirals I learned from Rachel Murgatroyd at In The Studio, many moons ago - the pendants are large at 3.5 to 4.5" long, but light and pretty, and, most definitely different!
This must be the week of the dragon for Caprilicious - I found this wonderful black Hetian Jade Chinese pendant in the shape of a dragon - black jade is actually a very dark green, and comes from the depths of the earth where lava has solidified with mineral inclusions such as carbon and iron. Hetian jade is best known as 'mutton fat jade' when it is a creamy white, and can be very expensive. The black form, though less expensive, is still very beautiful, and I found this pendant in my quest for unusual shapes and colours. I teamed this pendant with green aventurine and faceted onyx beads in a two strand necklace. The name Tanita derives from Semitic roots meaning "serpent lady" - the ultimate serpent being the dragon, of course. This was also the name of the Phoenician goddess of love, fertility, the moon and the stars.
My friend's daughter whom I have known since she was knee high to a grasshopper (Omigod, I am old enough to say that - and for it to be true!) fell in love with a pair of earrings made with the wings of the Thai Jewel Beetle (or Sternocera aequisignata, when it's at home). Both my friend and I thought she might have been squeamish about the fact that the jewellery was made out of insect wings, but, no, to my surprise she even asked for a necklace to be made to go with it! The wings are weightless and rustle pleasantly in a beetlish (!) manner, and I came up with a simple but effective design for a single layer of wings around her neck. As her hair has been coloured green recently - it should look perfect on her - I hope she will send me a picture when she wears it.
The earrings that started the ball rolling
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The necklace will look fabulous on her!
That's all for this week folks, thanks for stopping by - catch you next week, same time, same place,
Have a good weekend,