Thank you to all the ladies - and a gentleman, who bought stuff in the Caprilicious Boxing Day Sale - strangely, most of the people who decided to get a piece of Caprilicious were from the USA - your stuff will be with you soon after this blog comes out - and I am sure you will love your chosen pieces. I know people have spent a lot of money at Christmas time - presents and entertaining, and travelling, but a nice piece of jewellery is something to lift your spirits, and I hope Caprilicious can do that for you.
I have been researching Trade beads this last week - they were known as African money, and were used as currency for goods, services and even slaves. They were used by European explorers instead of money, and a lot of them were made in Venice from glass. The African people were thought to love them as decorations for their attire and in jewellery, and of course, this love of colour and adornment was exploited thoroughly and ruthlessly by early visitors who exchanged glass beads for ivory, slaves, gold and other commodities. As making Millefiori is part of attempting to be a polymerista ( I don't consider myself one yet- a trainee maybe!!), I took it on myself to make some chevron beads. I found a tutorial on the internet from the multi talented Desiree McCrorey, and modified it to suit my requirements - and I think for a first attempt at this technique, made quite a creditable job of it.
A complex cane of different colours was constructed as per the instructions in the tutorial, and covered over with a transparent layer of green coloured clay - so far, so good. Then the beads were cut, rolled smooth, and cured - even better! Now for the pain in the proverbial - sanding - every bead had to be sanded smooth under water with five varying grits of sandpaper - finer and finer each time, and then with Micro mesh cloths - ever finer and finer, till the last cloth felt like there was no grit in it at all - apparently, this one is used to polish the wind shields of aeroplanes! A lot of the green/ transparent layer was sanded off, to reveal the stripy lines of the cane within.
Fortunately, I recently moved all operations from the kitchen to my 'studio' ( Ooh la la, aren't we getting grand!) and the mess there was semi contained - at least it was not in Mike's way - he has been very patient so far, but I know not to overstretch the limit of his forbearance - things could get explosive - you can't keep a man from his kitchen especially when he is chief cook and bottle washer!
And then, for the buffing wheel - the beads are so small, the wheel kept snatching them out of my hands and flinging them halfway across the room, leaving a gouge mark on the bead, which I then had to buff out again - what a load of fun! Without this bad boy, I would have to have used the Dremel, and that would have taken ages - even longer than this little lot! I moved it into an alcove, rather than have it on the table, facing the stained glass window - Yikes! - the consequences of a bead flung at the window doesn't bear thinking about.
So finally, with a lot of swearing and huffing and puffing, I produced twelve beads - two hours to roll out the clay and make the beads -and almost five hours to sand and polish them! I was reminded of the time I used to play badminton as a child - the main exercise was from picking the shuttlecock up off the floor when I missed the shot, which was most of the time - I hadn't learned to swear back then, being a good little Indian girl - my, how things change!
Real, antique chevron beads
Anyway, I hope you will all agree from this picture , that my beads look like chevron beads (please agree, oh, please, please agree) and that they shine like glass - that, they most definitely do! I am my harshest critic, and even I have to grudgingly agree that my beads are most definitely usable. I still have some of the cane left, and when I make another batch, I will shave off some more of the green with a knife prior to curing them - and so reduce the five hours of sanding and buffing and picking the beads off the floor...... to possibly, two!
But still, I like the beads, and that's reward enough, for now.
I started to put together a few necklaces this week. Of course the Nepalese pendants had to get a first look in - I have been collecting gemstone bead components with this day in mind for a couple of months - now, finally it is time to introduce them to each other, and arrange their marriage - hooray!
Coloured powders sold in a market at Holi
Holi is the Indian festival of spring. It is a riotously colourful celebration, full of dance and song, and people fling coloured powders in the air and anoint each other with daubs of colour to celebrate the coming of spring.
Of course, by the end of a hard days celebration, the revellers look bedraggled and dirty, and a lot of them are p!££** as newts, but are very smiley, happy, tired people.
As the days are now getting longer, spring will soon be here - after the holiday season is over, this is the thought that keeps us going through the grey days of January and February. Already, the daffodil shoots are poking up out of the hard ground in my garden.
My necklace was made in the colours of Holi, with an artisan- made Nepalese pendant, and dyed mother of pearl shell beads in jewel colours, with a few accents of coral, turquoise and Czech fire polished beads. The beads came all jumbled up on a string, and I spent ages separating them out into little piles of exploding colour, and I am glad I did, as it simply made the colours pop in the necklace.
It took me a while to get a decent photograph of my new creations, with so little sunlight about, and very little time due to the demands of the day job. I decided that some of my old pictures were rubbish, so I retook them as well. When I finished, I had a large pile of colour sitting at one end of the living room, and when a ray of sunlight fell on it,the colours shone like a glass picture in a kaleidoscope.
With the next Nepalese pendant, I used some amber beads - amber is pine resin which can be many years old, and contains fragments of the hapless creatures that perished when they got stuck to it, when it was still soft and newly dripping from the tree. The colours are so pretty, they remind me of the toffee my mother used to make when I was a child.
A third pendant got a coral heishi ( pronounced hee-she, as in hee - haw! ) bead necklace, with brushed silver tone accents.
I got a bit 'over - pendanted', and made a piece without one - I used some lapis chunky nuggets, with extremely pretty, and colourful, orange jade beads - a few silver tone accents, and it was done - the clasp was meant to sit to one side as a focal, but it didn't seem right, so I cut it up and started again, this time, putting it where clasps are usually - at the back of the neck - it seems such a shame though, to have something so pretty where it is not visible - the wearer will just have to present her back to people and wear her hair up - or simply revel in her secret.
Named for the orange of the jade beads, henna is a plant whose leaves when crushed give out lawsone, a burgundy organic compound that has an affinity for bonding with protein. Lawsone is primarily concentrated in the leaves, and is released more quickly when in contact with a mild acid such as lemon juice. The Henna paste is piped onto the skin like icing on a cake, in what is basically a Zentangle pattern, and when it dries and is washed off, it leaves a deep orange stain, which lasts until the skin exfoliates. I have added a video of such an application, for anyone who may be interested.
My pièce de résistance this week is a piece entitled NIGHTFALL. It is made with onyx squares which are actually meant to be wired together for bracelets - the beads have two holes each. After a lot of tweaking, cussing and manipulating the engineering, I made a necklace using turquoise spacer beads, and added a showy Nepalese triangular pendant, and some pipe shaped turquoise beads - a contrast of shapes and colours that is very very stand outy ( for want of a better word).
I am quietly pleased with my little collection of necklaces this week, they are different, and colourful - I would wear them!
That's all for this week folks, have a good week and I'll see you same time, same place next week