That's another Christmas done and dusted, and it will soon be 2013. I hope all of you had a fabulous time with friends and family, and that Santa recognised all your efforts to be good in 2012 with loads of nice things in his sack for you.
I have been requested to lay on a Boxing Day sale by my junior doctors at the hospital - now that Caprilicious is a commercial venture, they don't see why I shouldn't fall in line with the rest of the commercial world post Christmas - so, if Santa has been particularly forgetful (or mean), you can always indulge yourself here.
All this being new to me, I did not have the time (or the know how) to set up a slick system with a code at checkout and an automatic discount, so I have requested people to contact me with the names of the items they want and I will send out an invoice - apologies for this cumbersome way of doing business in advance.
I had a few days off at Christmas, and took over the kitchen to play with polymer clay. I could see my husband wincing, every time he walked into the room and saw my stuff spread out all over the counter tops - but he bore it manfully - a tiny shudder shook his frame, and was the only sign of what he was thinking! Of course, I made sure Santa rewarded him well for his forbearance - I will elaborate no further!
I cleared up to cook our turkey on Christmas day, but other than that, the kitchen looked like it had been hit by a cyclone.
This is a photograph taken of Einstein's office in Princeton, just as he had left it, within hours of his death. Now, I'm no genius, creative or otherwise, but I am quietly proud that my kitchen looked worse than this for a few days!
That's my excuse, and I stick to it!
I made a few bits and bobs, but mainly played - wallowed, really, in clay - I pulled out all the tutorials I had collected, either paid for, or freebies found on the internet and stored on Pinterest for a rainy day - and how it rained! I didn't really want to produce anything - just to know that I could, if/when I wanted to, if you know what I mean. I ended up with more scrap clay than I started with, from abortive attempts, as well as some pretty cool stuff, but that's the way it goes.
Polymer clay artists are predominantly women, and kitchen implements, and other items around the house are press ganged into service in the name of art. Thinking outside the box is the name of the game - I even used the metal tube around Mike's cigars as a form, for a faux bone/ivory tubular bead! The dinks made in the piece to distress it and give it an aged look are from rolling it in coarse and fine salt, and washing it away once the clay is cured - got that from a tip off Pinterest, and it worked well - hooray!!
Unfortunately, once used the implements cannot be reused in the preparation of food - indeed, they are quite ruined by the plasticisers in polymer clay - the surface goes all dull and horrid - Oh well, that just means one more implement taken out of commission from the kitchen, into my craft cupboard.
This is a necklace made of faux ivory made while I was playing with clay. I made a tubular bead, and few others, and had a lot of fun antiquing the pieces, and polishing them on the buffing wheel. They were teamed with onyx, lava beads in different shapes, black onyx, haematite, a hefty chunk of coral and a few jasper beads. A single turquoise nugget provided an extra splash of contrasting colour.
I love tribal inspired jewellery and this one is definitely African - the look and feel of it is rugged, chunky and interesting, and it is for someone who likes the avant garde, and is not afraid to experiment - girly girls, look away!!!
Chunky coral and lava beads add texture and colour, contemporary jewellery is all about drama, contrast and vibrancy, and I have tried to bring all of these to this piece.
A few more presents were required, and I made a couple of bracelets and earrings to be gifted to some of my favourite people at work. My pliers mysteriously jumped into my hands as I was walking past, so I made a few pairs of earrings so as not to hurt their feelings, they were feeling a bit put out when I was playing with clay.
I saw these beads on a website, and they were so colourful and pretty, I had to buy them. They are called rainbow jasper and it may be that they are a mosaic of different types of jasper - nevertheless, they were just too nice to pass up. I teamed them with ceramic electroplated spacers and turquoise and made this pretty necklace.
Once I had cleared the kitchen in time to cook Christmas dinner, I was informed by Michael that he would do it all - my presence was not required - sweet!
I sat down in front of the telly to watch Ben Hur - again - with a roll of wire and and a bloodstone cabochon. Bloodstone is a dark green, almost black coloured stone, and to my mind needs brightening in some form - you might not agree with me on that - but I am sure the pendant I made was worth the effort - it took simply ages to form all the curlicues and swirls - this is my favourite pattern from a tutorial by Gailavira, from whom I bought the tutorial originally.
That's about all I had time for this week - now to get ready for the New Year. I am working at the day job on New Year's Eve, and New Years Day - clearly, I drew the short straw this year, but somebody has to be at work, while all the rest of you have a good time partying. Catch you in 2013, have a lovely time on new year's eve if you are out and about, and stay safe.
Speak to you soon,
Good day everyone, I trust you had a good week. I have been very rested, as I took some time off the day job, and found I had no pressing matters to attend to, so could chill, and make as many pieces of jewellery as I like, with little or no interruption.
This week, I tried out a new technique - chainmaille.
Chainmaille is the practice of linking rings to create interesting patterns, or more traditionally "sheets" of flexible metal for the purpose of armor or decoration. The name comes from the French word maille, derived from the Latin macula, which means a 'mesh of net'. The basic weaves use jump rings, which are open rings not intended to be soldered. For decorative use, the supportive structure of the weaves is enough to ensure the rings don't pull open.
I bought a rhodochrosite carved pendant a while ago - rhodochrosite is a reddish pink stone - the pink color of rhodochrosite is caused by the element manganese and it is formed when manganese is dissolved by ground water and combines with a carbonate material, then drips off the ceiling of caves and crevices deep underground. It is commonly found in the form of stalactites and stalagmites in the caves of Argentina. The Incas, who called it Inca Rose, believed that rhodochrosite is the blood of their former kings and queens that was turned to stone.
I am by no stretch of imagination a 'pink lady' - but I had to have the pendant - the carving called out to me - 'buy me Neena, buy me' it implored. I searched for a suitable way to tone down the pinkness - I bought Morganite - too pink, tektite - too black, rose quartz - even more 'too pink', and finally, after my bead stash was swollen with unsuitable (!) elements, I found frosted red agate - orangey pink/ red beads, smudged with inky black, and frosted over like the bloom on a grape - lovely!
The Mermaid's Song
This necklace just grrrrrew - couldnt stop it - I made a seahorse, a couple of starfish, and a 'fisherman's net' around the mermaid with fish and other shells caught up in it - and then thought I would try the chainmaille techniques out here to link the beads together - well, easier said than done - it is ever such a fiddly technique, and certainly not suited to sitting in front of the telly with a tray in your lap. But, I persevered and in the end, I am glad I did.
Love knots are very basic chain maille links, with three rings linked together, rather like a Russian wedding ring, and the individual bead links leading off the centre of the knot. All was well till I decided I didn't like the placement of one or two of the elements - it has to be just so for me - and for you - and everything needed to be taken apart and redone - but in the end, I liked the effect - a little more ornate than using just the one ring between elements, I may try this again, and who knows, one day, I might surprise myself with a bracelet made of chainmaille links (don't hold your breath, Neena!).
Diamond White is a necklace made of clear quartz needles with pewter coloured vintage focal beads from another necklace I cannibalised. It is also a cider with a hight alcohol content (12.5%) here in the UK and it had a certain following amongst my friends when I was young. I decided that I would use the name of an old favourite for this rather nice necklace. One of my friends said it made her think of winter - but hey, our non summer is almost over - and we have to face a bleak winter - what better way than to wear nice jewellery - wearing pretty stuff puts a smile on my face, anyway.
Here Comes The Sun
Confused?? - the weather here certainly is - one day it is hot and sunny, and the next it is raining cats and dogs and freezing cold - my jewellery efforts reflect that seesaw - so on this particular day, after a swim and a barbeque meal (no clearing up - yippee!), I sat down with a reel of copper wire and some peridot beads and made this.....
I love the green of peridot - wish it wasn't quite so expensive - but in common with amethysts and aquamarine, it is too expensive to buy in large amounts. Peridot is one of the few gemstones that occur in only one color, an olive green. The intensity and tint of the green comes from the iron in the crystal structure. It is also called Olivine - due to its colour, and is classed as a precious gem. I got the faceted teardrops on a visit to Capri, where they seem to have large deposits of the gemstone, and I used two of them in these copper wire earrings.
And while the barbeque was sizzling and Mike was slaving away over it, I put the polymer clay flowers I made a few weeks ago onto brooch backs and popped them in the oven to cure.
The Paisley pattern has been around for simply ages - its origins are claimed by the peoples of both India and Persia, but its Western name derives from the Scottish town of Paisley. In India, it is a common design, and thought to be a stylised mango. It was popularised in the Western world by the East India Company, and adopted by Liberty into the 'Liberty Print'. I am very familiar with this design, as it is very common in the gold thread work in South India, where I am from, originally, so I decided to make a paisley 'mango' in silver, with some delicious multicoloured tourmaline I acquired earlier, and add a fine silver daisy made from Precious Metal Clay in my kiln. I used wire netting to fill out the paisley shape with tourmaline beads, and hung it from the daisy on a silver chain - sweet!
The Wings of Love
A Hungarian jewellery maker I once bought a bracelet from posted a piece of embroidered jewellery she created around a beetle's wing - I was startled and thought then that she was joking, but not so - the naturally beautiful elytra (wings) of the Green Jewel beetle (Sternocera aequisignata) shift in color from green to hints of blue at the edges, and the surface is shiny and iridescent, giving the effect of sunlight on an oil-slick. The beetles have a short life span of 3-4 days, and when they die, they loose their wings, which are then collected up for use in various objects, and jewellery. No beetles are harmed in the making of this jewellery (phew!).
A bit more research revealed that beetle wings have been used for centuries by Indian civilizations, cut into tiny spangle shapes and sequins to adorn a range of objects, their reflective properties admired as a means to ward off evil spirits. The beetles, in beautiful colours are like living jewels, and in Victorian England it was the height of cool to have live jewel beetles tethered by tiny gold chains to your décolletage! The beetles were caged and fed, and covered with gemstones, if they weren't colourful enough, and taken on regular outings pinned to the lady's chest!
I set out looking for these wings, and found a vendor in Thailand, where these beetles are found, and am now the proud owner of a large number of these wings, this means that I will need to think up plenty of designs to use all of them, but I have no doubt that they will be liked - anyone who likes shiny, pretty things, is bound to like these. I made some earrings, just to get the feel of this new acquisition - but I just know that they will fly out of my hands real quick! I did worry a little about the word 'beetle' which does not conjure up the nicest image - but hey, if the Victorians could wear real live beetles, why shouldn't we wear the wings, beautiful as they are - just takes a bit of getting used to - and we do wear leather from dead animals all the time, don't we??
A bit more about those Victorians - they loved insect jewellery - apparently. For example, Caddisfly larvae glue together tiny stones, grains of sand, and bits of litter to form cases that camouflage and protect them from their natural enemies. When gold nuggets, shells, or semiprecious stones, were added to their cages, they incorporated these into their protective cases, which was later harvested and made into earrings, necklaces, tie tacks, and pins. Amber jewellery - or fossilised insect jewellery was also very popular, and remains so today.
A Victorian Living Jewel pin - University of Colorado Museum of Natural History
Aren't the colours just fabulous??
Though light, the wings are quite robust. I accidentally stood on one and it didn't break (and I am no featherweight)! I will of course provide stoppers, as the earrings are very light - but the converse of that is that they can be made long as you like, without fearing for your earlobes! They make a pleasant swishing sound when they knock against each other - a sort of rustle - brings to mind long silk gowns - which is just the right mental image for these beautiful jewel coloured earrings.
The Flemish artist Jan Fabre created the ‘Heaven of Delight’ using 1.6 million of these wings! Fabre and his team of thirty people took 4 months to glue all of the beetle shells to the ceiling and a chandelier in the Heaven of Delight Hall of Mirrors, of the Royal Palace in Brussels. I would have associated the colours and the name with a more exotic place than Brussels, but Fabre really loved these beetle wings and used them extensively in a lot of his art.
The living jewel!
The ceiling in the Hall of Mirrors by Jan Fabre
A closer look at the ceiling
He sure loved his beetles!
I hope you have enjoyed the tale of the beetles - I really got stuck into my research about them, and found so much to talk about. The wings are truly beautiful, and I am surprised that they are not more commonly used in jewellery. I must mention Agi Kiss from Moonsafari Beads who set me off on this journey - you can see her piece here - http://www.etsy.com/shop/MoonsafariBeads
That's all for now folks. Catch you later
The Denise Cuff Bracelet
I finally finished the floral cuff bracelet for my friend Denise - and I named it in her honour. Last week it was almost done except for a touch of varnish, and I thought the leaves were a bit bright, so I dulled them a bit before varnishing the cuff.
Denise visits us in late August, and I will ask her to carry a gift for a friend who lives in 'Vegas. She took one look at the Enchanted Garden collar, and asked if I could make her a headband - I thought long and hard, before I made it - a clay lining to the headband would make it too heavy to wear - instant headache! I prefer to keep my friends, so decided to make some roses with the wire cured into them, and wrap them onto a headband with beads and leaves, almost like a tiara. I named it after Anna Karenina, the ultimate romantic tragedy heroine.
The Anna Headband
She looks like she might wear my headband!
I'm not sure who this actress is, but I'd make her a headband any day of the week - isn't she romantic looking? This picture is from an advertisement for the movie.
Rather than make beads, I preferred to make the individual roses around a long stem of wire each, and cure them upright, so the wafer thin petals didn't bend or fold when cured in the heat of the oven.
I took this picture on a glass dummy Mike brought back from a junk shop many years ago - it sits in a corner wearing a Chinese silk cap with a queue attached to it and a spare pair of my glasses on its nose. I wasn't allowed to use this picture on my website or Facebook page - Mike said it looked too weird (did he mean wired ??) and might put people off - wonder what he meant!!!!! I think it's quite funny, actually.
Begin the Beguine - brings back a night of tropical splendour....
I am very proud of this piece - it evolved from a butterfly I made when making some faux ivory pieces - I coloured it with alcohol ink, and put it away. Something made me bring it out again, and I made some more butterflies, and my favourite - a dragonfly to go with it. I made this necklace with some jewel coloured quartz nuggets and crystals, and it is so tropical and summery, I just had to call it Begin the Beguine.
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I love the Louis Armstrong version, but couldn't find it, so have found a French version by a woman who is fast becoming a favourite of mine - Laura Fygi - what a beautiful voice - this is music to make love to, ladies (and gentlemen)!
These are a pair of beautifully cut, matched cushion cut citrines, and they have an asterisk shape cut into the back to allow even more light through. They were wrapped in square sterling silver wire which was then fashioned into heart shapes. They are very light and pretty, and I have had to provide rubber ear stoppers to prevent accidental loss - we all know how painful it is to lose a favourite earring, I won't let that happen to any of my patrons!
Begin the Beguine wrung me out - all those intricate butterflies, each one different from the other, and then putting them together so it would look like they were all fluttering around the necklace - but it was worth it for the message I received from the lady who bought it - she loved it, and I am so happy it went to a good home.
I also had a phone call from India, from the lady who bought Meluhan Sunset - a piece conceived by her imagination, translated into a piece of jewellery by me. It was taken to India by my mother and then couriered to New Delhi, to her office, where it sat, waiting for her to pick it up. Of course, she didnt't go to her office for one reason and another that week, and mum and I sat on pins, praying that it wasn't lost.
Anyway, she has it in her hot little hands now, and said she was drooling all over it, she loved it so much - it was fantastic to hear from her, and the relief that she had it, and loved it, was almost palpable.
I made this Dove of Peace brooch a while ago - it is a wire dove, attached to a vintage brooch. It has a twig and a leaf in its 'beak'. It languished quietly on my website for a while, until it was rescued by a discerning lady, who posted a picture of her wearing it on Facebook - suddenly it had so many 'fans', and an order for another followed - so thank you Debbie!
I made the brooch myself this time with polymer clay and attached a wire dove to it. I am enjoying these little brooches - polymer clay is such a fantastic medium to play with. I concealed the wire holding the dove deep inside the brooch, and it is such a pleasure when the engineering of a piece works just so!
Last week, The Bollywood pendant was snapped up almost as I posted this blog, and an old school mate from Melbourne asked if I could make her another, with a pair of earrings to match. She is a wedding gown designer and makes evening wear as well, she says they will match the new gown that she will wear to a Fashion Award affair. Check out her designs on Facebook - Arlene D'Monte Designs and at Brides on Main http://www.bridesonmain.com.au/collection/collection.html
Here are the pieces I made for her.....
My designs on a red carpet - would you credit that??? - Hollywood next, I suppose!
That's all for this post, see you again next week, have a good weekend
I love roses - there were so many fabulous rose bushes in my mother's house at one time, and when I moved to the UK, I tried to replicate that garden - alas, I had not factored in their requirement for sunlight, and planted them willy nilly - needless to say, I was a very disappointed rose non - grower! In later years, I took the trouble to study floriculture, and realised that all my borders were in the shade, and roses were never going to do well in my garden - Phew! that was that, at least now I knew what I was doing wrong, I could stop my doomed efforts to have a rose garden. Now I just buy them in Sainsbury's with the weekly shop, and that satisfies my soul. When I set up Caprilicious, I used a picture of roses in all my banners, business cards, Facebook and Etsy shops - I suppose you could say, I overdosed my soul with roses.
I learned to make polymer clay roses and to use them in some very pretty ways. I strung them together in a necklace, wired them into ear cuffs - I put them anywhere I could - it would appear that I made these pieces when I was feeling particularly romantic - a lovely melody, or a sweet gesture from my husband perhaps, would set me to thinking of roses.
In one of these moods, I crafted the Enchanted Garden, which had a contemplative little face set in a rose strewn necklace/collar. A friend of mine saw it and asked if I could make her a bracelet - she will visit me from the USA in August, and I endeavoured to make a cuff bracelet, using a method described by the fabulous Donna Kato. I was given carte blanche with the colours, so made them a bit brighter than the Enchanted Garden.
The Caprilicious Jewellery Logo
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The Enchanted Garden Collar
Donna Kato uses a wire armature cured into the basic bracelet to provide strength and flexibility, and the whole piece is cured on a form. Embellished with the roses and leaves, and when buffed, sanded and varnished, it is good to go!
The final piece is pretty, and both flexible and strong, and I am quite pleased with it. I will finish it off this weekend, and you can have a look at it next week. It needs a bit of paint, and varnish, and I have not had the energy this week - best to do paint work etc when in the mood, or all that effort will be vain and the bracelet will have to be junked!
A Desert Rose is formed in arid desert conditions, when gypsum, selenite and barite form fan shaped crystals in rosettes due to naturally occurring cleavage planes, especially from the evaporation of shallow salt basins.
I saw a picture of these beautiful natural sculptures, and tried to recreate them in wire. I added some leaves and a pod shaped dangling pendant to the rose for added interest, and made a couple more roses to create a pair of extremely simple danglers on long kidney ear hooks.
Sting had this fantastic song called Desert Rose, and I have included it here - but I think he is singing of yet another kind of desert rose!
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The necklace has three strands - seed beads lined with silver, fluorite nuggets and copper spacers, and frosted glass interspersed with copper coloured freshwater pearls. The little pod like woven basket that dangles from the rose contains a fluorite nugget to match the necklace, and tiny leaves and tendrils finish the piece.
I promised myself that I would endeavour to make at least one piece of jewellery out of silver, to add to the Caprilicious Silver Collection. Missed the deadline last week, so made two pieces this week, playing catch up with myself. My raison d'etre for jewellery making was to create fantastical pieces out of wire and other components, that were at once wearable, and affordable. Unfortunately, the 'affordable' part of that statement has, so far, precluded the use of silver wire - I use so much wire in my statement necklaces, that at today's prices for silver, they would have to become heirloom pieces. One day, perhaps, but not just yet!
I have had to content myself with the use of pretty, tiny gemstone beads - to my surprise, I find that the smaller the size of the bead, the higher the price is likely to be - and of course small faceted beads cost a bomb! So, I choose carefully, and I find unusual shapes, sizes and colours will that set the Caprilicious Silver Collection apart. I made these earrings with Sterling silver wire, labradorite, peridot and apatite beads, and added a Swarovski crystal dangler - just to lift and brighten the piece. It is light and pretty little piece of jewellery, but, because of the gemstones and their colours, is extremely fetching.
Samarkand is a city in Uzbekistan, in the centre of the Silk Road between China and the West. It is also called 'the Pearl of Uzbekistan' and has been immortalised in many novels and early travelogues as an archetypal romantic and exotic place, full of 'Eastern Promise' - whatever that is! It is also a semi mythical place in Islamic literature - the name itself conjures up images of veiled women, bedecked in strings of pearls, with kohl rimmed eyes and hennaed feet, tinkling fountains, rubies spilling out of open caskets - basically, my idea of a harem - and the piece that grew in my hands reflects this. It is made with freshwater pearls, garnets, red chalcedony lozenges wired into a focal piece - the focal is very pretty - even my mother said so, so I have no doubts on that score - those of you who read my previous posts know that she is not a woman who bestows compliments easily! I was stunned into silence when she said how pretty it was - gobsmacked, I think they call it.
The Bollywood Pendant
I used sterling silver wire - shaped, and hammered - and wrapped it with .999% fine wire - this is really nice to use and has fantastic tensile strength - does not snap easily when manhandled. I had a number of Swarovski crystal beads in various shapes - square, rondelle, marguerite, bicone, and I went to town, wrapping them into the pendant which I finished with a large blue teardrop shaped crystal. I wrapped a couple of crystals into a simple round bail - and that was it - at the end of it, I was ready to sing a song in the rain, and look longingly and wistfully into the distance for my man (who is sitting right next to me!)---- that's the basis of a lot of Bollywood films, so, that's how this pendant got it's name.
So, I have kept my promise to myself to create one piece of silver each week - I can rest for now, and finish off the cuff bracelet for my friend later on in the day. Catch you next week, have a good weekend,