New - from the Out of Africa Collection
I have never been to sub Saharan Africa, but have increasingly been seduced by the beautiful imagery from that continent.
This recently came to a head when I bought a copy of the eye wateringly expensive book 'Africa Adorned' by Angela Fisher - with page after page of colour and vivacity leaping out of it. It brings to mind the jewellery and colours in the desert lands of Northern India - the women wear large jewellery and head dresses, and bright colours, almost as if to combat the drab brown of the sand and scrub land surrounding them. Tribal sophistication is bold and dramatic, calling forth of the fierce nature of our human spirit to overcome all obstacles. That's what jewellery was originally worn for in ancient cultures ....to remind the wearer of her strength and purpose. Jewellery never was just about baubles and beads. It had purpose. And power. And beauty.
Clothes and accessories should be as bright as you are comfortable with - if you want to be noticed - the key however, is to be comfortable.
Sweet little gemstones on tiny chains are lovely, in their own way - but the statement they make is completely different from what the Caprilicious Tribal woman is all about. I have some of these 'little sweeties' in my own little collection, mainly bought for me by my mother, who is into pastel colours and whites - get the picture? - but as I grew older, I realised I had to find my own style, and dress to project the image I have of myself in my minds eye - and that image is bright colours and stand out jewellery (sorry, mum).
I am a strong believer in that old adage (or have I just made it up?) - you are what you wear - ergo, if you dress well and feel confident, you walk tall and are undaunted by the curve balls that are thrown at you during the course of the day.
I set up a new section on my website and Facebook page - Out of Africa - the intention is to make urban - contemporary pieces influenced by tribal jewellery to sit on those pages - and hopefully on you. This section is all about big, bold and eclectic mixing to complement the romantic patchwork of chunky knits, flowing attire and a bohemian Lagenlook. I am keen to make these at affordable prices so that all my readers are inspired to try them out - I am sure they will go down well. Tribal style is more about attitude than a place. So whenever you want to show off your fun and free-spirited side, tribal jewellery is the way to do it. This collection will be full of vibrant pieces to add a whimsical and artistic touch to anyone's wardrobe
I have been gearing up to this for a while now - I made some chevron beads, faux bone and this week, faux amber which will fit in with this, my new venture. The necklaces are meant to be bright, bold and in your face, some more so than the others - to the ladies who model themselves along the lines of heroines from the novels of Jane Austen, I say - perhaps you might want to look at my other pages.
As you can see, the beads gleam in the light - no varnish was involved - each bead was buffed with my trusty bench buffer, 'Buffy' - I would never have imagined that I could love a rotary, fast moving tool so, I am usually girlishly afraid of them - but, I couldn't do without my darling Buffy now. Mike's task this week is to find me a little table and a box to house Buffy so that the dust is contained, a la Melanie Muir, not to mention catching the beads that sometimes ping around the room like bullets - Oh, that Buffy - he likes to keep me fit, diving after those beads!
I made a Hamsa pendant out of wire and hung it on a necklace made using a few Chevron beads, a couple of faux amber beads, with glass millefiori beads and real carved bone beads, reminiscent of Berber jewellery from Morocco. The Hamsa is a stylised hand - if you want to read about it, here's a link to a post I wrote earlier - http://www.capriliciousjewellery.com/3/post/2012/11/where-i-keep-calm-and-play-with-wire.html
It is called Flower Power because of the Millefiori beads - which is Italian for a thousand flowers - and also because Marrakesh was on the hippie trail in the seventy's and eighties. It is bright and colourful and is bound to brighten up your day - who says the desert in the only place where one needs cheering up - look outside - the rain and slush and snow is just as dreary.
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Mike took this pic - clearly I need a better photographer, urgently
Is that a Gauntlet (or are you just happy to see me)??
I have been issued with a challenge by one of my customers - if you can help, do feel free to drop me a line. I am required to take the beads from the first picture below and turn them into a piece that will evoke the feeling of being in the second picture - which is a frozen river in Ladakh.
Her last challenge was to request a necklace evoking a stark cold mountain scape, snow capped, with sunlight hitting the mountain tops. I created Meluhan Dreams for her with wire, crystals and druzy - she sent me this picture, and is clearly delighted with it. She even phoned me all the way from Delhi to say how happy she was and to have a chat with me about Caprilicious - I was so thrilled. I have to make sure I rise to this challenge as well.
I have a couple of months to decide how I am going to work this miracle!
From The Vineyard
I found this string of almost perfect amethyst nugget beads while sorting out my bead box - each one looked like a grape - the gems in this string are almost edible. Teamed with some peridot beads and the tiniest freshwater seed pearls, they went into this necklace with a gold plated birch leaf. I hung a bunch of crystals, pearls and amethyst on the front of the bail to resemble grapes. I know it should have been a vine leaf, but this is England and vineyards are not so plentiful out here - so please indulge my poor muse here.
A lentil bead, made with polymer clay
I love the idea of making my own beads and components, and fashioning my pieces from all the images floating around in my head - mixing polymer clay with gemstones and crystals - Mixed media jewellery is the way forward, I am convinced of this. I made Aloha with this bead, and a string of sea sediment Jasper. It was named by Mike, who said it has a Polynesian feel to it - who am I to argue??
Om is a mystical Sanskrit sound of Hindu origin, sacred and important in various religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. It occurs at the beginning of every prayer or invocation and can be used repetitiously in a mantra for meditation. I acquired this conch shell pendant, inlaid with a turquoise Om - It sat in my collection for a while, until, the beads that go into this necklace fell out of a box into my hands - if I believed in mystical stuff, I would say that was really weird!
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I love this clip - it is of Diana Vishneva dancing to Deva Premal's 'Moola Mantra' - the forms she makes with the simplest movement and accessories are astonishing and beautiful - rather like the courtship display of a bird. I loved it so much, I bought the CD - but alas, neither do I look like Diana, nor can I dance like her - the best I can do is a booby bird's dance.
That's a wrap for this weeks jewellery folks, have a fab week and I will catch up with you, same time, same place, next week,
Who knew that jewellery making had a connection to engineering?? - yet, how many times have we bought a piece of jewellery that looks great in a picture, or on a mannequin, only to find that it does not sit right, twists around and looks the other way just when someone you are trying to look 'cool' for glances in your direction, or gives you a poke in the ribs ( or some other unladylike place ) when you move??
This is all down to the 'E' word - thats right - Engineering!
I always thought that engineering was all down to being able to make sense of figures - perhaps it is - and that's why I am a medic - but I have found that it impacts on jewellery making in a big way.
I bought some ox bone pieces from a Chinese trader - they were already made up into the most boring bracelets (and that's just my opinion) and there were two necklaces with pendants on them - I bought the necklaces for the pretty pendants, so I could cannibalise them, and use them in different ways - I envisaged coral, and turquoise and multicoloured gemstones to brighten the cream of the bone.
The first of the ox bone necklaces was called Cherry Vanilla Cream - which was bought last week - it had lovely red howlite beads to resemble the 'cherries' in the title, and I worked hard to reassemble the rectangular tiles from the bracelets into a necklace, and made a pendant up out of copper wire.
I had two more bracelets in another pattern, so I decided to make yet another necklace in the same style, but use one of the carved ox bone pendants with it - and so The Black and Cream Beauty was born.
A lady in India enquired if I had any more bone beads and I sent her a picture of the others in my collection. Although she was quite keen to own one of these, she waited to see what I could come up with, using some of the elements in the picture on the left. She wanted me to make something with the cylindrical beads and a pair of long earrings to match. For my part, I am always happy to try and design with a particular customer in mind, so this is what I made.
Ebony and Ivory
To me, they appeared like an extremely simplistic piece of jewellery - no jazzy colours and not one piece of wire anywhere (OH NO!) but she had indicated that she wasn't too keen on wire. However, when I photographed them on my mannequin, I fell in love with the simple sophistication of both pieces - and 'Ebony and Ivory' came out tops. Of course, the 'ebony' is actually garnet - but hey, I took a few liberties with the old artistic licence.
Having said that, I think I like both of them - they are light, pretty, and quite sophisticated. And then came the body blow - she decided on The Black and Cream Beauty - and wanted long earrings to match - and perhaps I would like to use the rectangular tiles matching the necklace?? - OMG! now what?? - no way was I going to say no, and many hours and a few miles of wire later, ( and the emergency course in Engineering) I managed to assemble a pair of earrings to match.
The problem was that the tiles are pierced vertically on two sides to allow them to be strung into bracelets - to get them to hang, and move, as all good chandelier earrings should, was always going to be difficult. But..... I did it, I did it, by jove, I got it.... and I could have danced all night.....
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Well, OK, lets just say I was very pleased - no need to go overboard, for cryin' out loud!
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The way they were meant to be!
I wonder if I could do it again, if I had to??
I was also commissioned to remake Bewitched - and I called this one Bewitched Again. I try to send my customers a little gift, as a thank you, and a little pair of earrings with a couple of left over beads seemed to be perfect for that purpose.
Last week, I attended Polydays 2012, a gathering of people who have a common interest - polymer clay. It was organised in the village of Toddington, in the Cotswolds, by Alison Gallant, and I shared a cottage with five other ladies - my first time sharing a room with someone other than a man (!) in a long time, and the first time in a single bed since my nights on call as a junior doctor. This was the therapy I needed - 'keep busy, and do new things', I said to myself, ' and you will be OK' - and I was. There were three fabulous tutors, from backgrounds as diverse as Graphic Design, and Environmental Science - one of them had even run a restaurant for a while with her husband - poor guy was conscripted into cooking for 35 people each day - not that he showed a moment of stress! Here are some pictures taken by me and some of the others who were there. I learned a lot - and would like to go back next year - but first, to put what I learned into practice!
So peaceful outside, but........
Mokume Gane class
Posing for the camera
The infamous bracelet - I love it now!
Broadway High Street
A hum of noise inside the village hall - spot the pasta machines - 3-4 to a desk an Italian mamma would be proud of us
A hive of activity
My silkscreen tile
The guillotine - to slice really fine shavings of veneer
The gang from Carlton Cottage
And so, I plod on, one foot in front of the other. I cannot deny that it has been hard going this last year - it is very difficult to be a member of a 'caring profession' when you are in pain yourself, but somehow, it had to be done. I couldn't have done it without Caprilicious, though - and it will soon be a year since I set it up! I will have to do something to celebrate - any ideas?? Do tell me if you have any, wont you.....
Catch you next week,
It has been a horrendous year for our family - my brother - the baby of the family died unexpectedly last year on the 15th, having celebrated his son's 17th birthday the day before. I have spent the year in a fog of denial, and Caprilicious Jewellery and my husband Mike have been the two bedrock elements that have saved my sanity. I have yet to come to terms with the loss of my brother - perhaps it wil hit me when I go back to India the next time - and I am putting that off for as long as possible. Just as the family and I were sorting ourselves out, I lost my aunt on the 13th - she was my role model and mentor, and I went into my 'Day Job' mainly because of her. When I first qualified in 1983-4, I worked for her, and learned my craft at the feet of a master.
Caprilicious Jewellery started up as a way out of my grief at the loss of my brother - to keep me occupied and safely away from sinking into the deep depression that threatened to engulf me at the time. I thank all those who supported Caprilicious, appreciated my jewellery, 'liked' my Facebook page and bought my jewellery - you have all helped me without even being aware of it.
We had some time away in Santorini - what a truly beautiful place - even better than in the Muller lite advert - but one would need to be a mountain goat/or centaur - or very fit, to be truly comfortable there. I nipped into every jewellery shop in town - and was very pleased - no one had any wire jewellery for sale, and I had taken a lot of mine with me - the shop keepers were all drooling over what I was wearing, and I had to take stuff off so they could examine it in greater detail - mind you, no one offered to buy some off me, but they do try to stock local artists, and of course, the recession is biting them - hard!
Before we went I made a necklace with an ox bone pendant I bought from a Chinese trader - I alternated the creamy bone with shiny haematite beads, and the pendant is a four leaf clover - we could all do with some luck!
I was casting about for something to take me away from my problems, and found the perfect solution - four days in the Cotswolds sharing a cottage with five other ladies, who all shared a passion for polymer clay. I had never met any of them before, but this sojurn turned out to be the perfect antidote to my distress. We went to classes with Bettina Welker, Carol Hemmings, and Alison Gallant who organised the whole affair and had press ganged her entire family into helping - and a fabulous job they made of it too. I learned a lot, came home dog tired ( and at the end of three days, I look and feel like one!) and had no time at all to think about anything except a warm single bed at the end of each day. The ladies were lovely, and so friendly - I relaxed in their company almost immediately, and they gave me so many tips and tricks that will make my life easier - there is nothing more frustrating than the gap between trying to achieving something, and knowing that it would be so easy if only a small modification could be made to your technique - but not knowing what that is.
So, soon, very soon, I will be making jewellery with the really 'modern' look I would like to achieve - wire, polymer clay, precious metal clay, enamel work - in amazing shapes and colours - I am filled with enthusiasm.
Now to finish off all the little incomplete projects I brought home before setting out on this most ambitious adventure...........
Catch you later
This week, I put together a small collection of fine silver pieces, made in my kiln. I have restricted myself to copper and silver plate so far, but I think the time has now come to treat myself - and you, of course, to a precious metal. I have been laying the ground work for a while now, collecting supplies of silver chains, jump rings, head pins, clasps and all the other bits and bobs I needed for this task. Obviously, this has taken a while, but it has been so much fun, to compare prices, pick out pretty, shiny chains - this of course, is a never ending process, but at least I now have the basics to start up a small collection. I made some little earrings and pendants from Precious Metal Clay - this is silver combined with a starch binder in the form of a clay - it needs to be shaped and prepared with a design in mind - when this goes in the kiln, the starch binder burns away to leave an almost pure silver - 99.9% silver.
To go with these I bought some very pretty semi precious gemstones - faceted apatite, carnelian, citrine, tourmaline, labradorite, blue chalcedony - all shiny and so pretty - I am really enjoying this!
One of my earrings is a semi lunar shape, embossed with a design, one in the positive, and the negative on the other. I was thinking of the 'far side of the moon', which we earthlings never get to see - the hemisphere that faces away from the earth, and was first seen by the Soviet Luna 3 probe in 1959. The earth's gravitational force has stopped the moon from rotating, and the far side of the moon was found to be smoother, with fewer craters when finally seen by human eyes, when Apollo 8 orbited the moon in 1968.
Another of my earrings was stamped with a cherry blossom motif, and I added pink jade butterflies and Swarovski pearls. I also made a snowflake shape in two sizes - a pendant with a pair of earrings, which I wire wrapped with sterling silver wire, little coral Heishi beads and Swarovski pearls. A slender sterling silver chain was added to the ensemble, pretty!
I had a couple of tiny enamelled charms, just one of each, so I used them as charms on curb chain bracelets, with tiny gemstones as added charms - pretty everyday jewellery. A motley collection, but I think it is a good start. I intend to make at least one item with silver each week - so I shall be busy - I have to start the enamelling up as well - my kiln awaits me eagerly!
So there you are folks - my first bits of silver - perfect for little inexpensive trinkets or presents, I have done my best to stay with the Caprilicious ethos of being just that bit different from what is found on other sites and in the High Street - I hope you like them.
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This is the best jazz rendition of 'That Old Black Magic' I have heard - I know this is one of ole Blue Eyes' famous numbers, but I like this version - have a listen, I bet you agree with me.
I had a faux bone/ ivory leaf - the last but one piece I made before my mother arrived in the UK, and decided to use it with some leaf shaped spacers and black pressed glass beads in a pretty and light necklace. I tried my best to add an asymmetrically placed brightly coloured bead - but for some reason, I was dissatisfied with the result - so in the end I gave up and the necklace is all black and white and silver. I did in the end add a tiny chunk of turquoise - just to confound my Muse - I stamped my foot with a firm hand, and added a molecule of colour - I was going to have some, no matter what! Some earrings appeared in my hands, as I sat in front of the TV with my husband, they have an extra wire loop in the centre, to add to the swaying movement with movements of the wearers head - by that I mean, instead of making it all with one piece of wire, I used two. I was sorely tempted to keep the piece for myself - but I think I enjoy the pleasure people who wear my jewellery get, more than wearing it myself. Anyway, as the designer, I get to test drive it first! - just to iron out any problems and kinks, of course!
I love carved ox bone - now that ivory is banned - and rightly so, the artisans who learned to carve it have turned their hand to ox bone. Because of the intricacy of the work involved, and the wastage of the raw material, carved ox bone is expensive, but I have managed to find a dealer in China who seems to be fairly reasonable. He says, absolutely correctly, that Chinese carving is superior to that from the Indian Subcontinent and this is probably because the ivory trade flowed mainly from poaching the Indian and African elephant, and exporting the tusks to China. However, I don't much like the conventional pieces this vendor has for sale - he has some beautiful pendants and bracelets, on cheap elastic, with ugly clasps, all put together, to my mind, most boringly, one bone bead after another with no relief whatsoever. I bought a few bracelets and necklaces from him, and cannibalised them. This throws up its own engineering problems because of the way the pieces of bone are pierced, but I spent much thought and time on this knotty problem and came up with a pair of earrings - I will look for different ways to use the bracelet tiles as the weeks unfold - my motto is, have wire, can do!
So here is the first of my Chinese ox bone offerings - it is now as far from the original as is possible, I think. Anyway, lots of possibilities have opened up, and I will address them as I go along. It is all about engineering, as well as beauty, and is a challenge I will relish.
Chinese Scroll Earrings
Beautifully carved ox bone tiles
I am still waiting on the Chrysocolla with Lapis Lazuli gemstones I need to make a Rainforest Symphony Mark 2 necklace, so while watching TV, I put together some rainforest insects for when the stones arrive which should be any time now. There appear to be two dragonflies, a butterfly like insect and a cross between a dung beetle and a lady bug. Here is a picture of the first one - hopefully, next week should have the second one made and sent off - and loved!
Rainforest Symphony Mark 1!
Catch you next week folks - I hope you have enjoyed this weeks offerings