Hello folks, I hope you have had a satisfying week and are ready for some fun this weekend.
A piece of great news - Caprilicious Jewellery is soon to be available at an outlet in Abu Dhabi - I have sent off the first consignment, and if the jewellery sells well there, I might do regular business. More about this next week.
I had to share this - I sold this pendant last week to a lady who asked me what inspired me to make it - she was obviously well into Art Nouveau jewellery - she had written a thesis on the subject, and she said the pendant reminded her of Lucas von Cranach's Tintenfisch und Schmetterling - I had actually seen the aforementioned pendant on a website during one of my periodic browses of the internet - but to be compared with a master jeweller - very humbling.
Who knows what stays in your brain when you look at images constantly, as I do - or, if this pendant was indeed influenced by Lucas von Cranach - all I can say is, I see the octopus, but not necessarily the butterfly - I leave you to decide whether they do actually have some resemblance to one another.
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Tintenfisch und Schmetterling (Octopus and Butterfly; 1900) by Wilhelm Lucas von Cranach, a master jeweller who liked his octopuses - strange bedfellows, I say!
I went to Shrewsbury this week, to the workshop of the lovely Jules Harper to learn how to prepare precious metal clay pieces for the application of enamel. I went on an enamelling and a precious metal clay (silver) course last year at In The Studio, but this time around, wanted one on one tuition. Now that I have a bit of experience, there were so many questions bothering me - one cannot keep bobbing up and down in a class with loads of people - you sound like a smart aleck and eat into other peoples time. Jules taught me how to fire copper and bronze clay
properly, and to prepare them and enamel them - most exciting of all, the little lentil bead I made with copper clay and enamelled on both sides - it would look so sweet in earring designs, and is light because it is completely hollow. She is a very patient teacher, and the time just flew by - that's a sure sign of a lot of fun - maybe not quite so much for her, though. I thought it was around 5pm when I left her place, and it was only when I was halfway home, I realised it was in fact well past 7pm - sorry Jules!
Here's a link to her website if anyone is interested http://www.artclayjewellery.co.uk/
Now that the weather is slowly getting better, I want to play with my kiln and make some colourful pieces in it, and thanks to Jules now, it wont be such an anxiety ridden operation.
Having 'borrowed' the necklace on the right in reds and golds, to wear to a dinner party, I received so many compliments that I felt i needed to make another, this time in the cool colours of blue and silver - to my eye, it looks like the necklace has been bathed in moonlight - but, I will leave it to you to decide if the name is apt, and which one you prefer.
The Greek word "amethystos" may be translated as "not drunken", from Greek a-, "not" + methustos, "intoxicated". Amethyst was considered to be a strong antidote against drunkenness, which is why wine goblets were often carved from it. According to a 16th century French poem, Dionysus, the god of intoxication, of wine and grapes was pursuing a maiden named Amethystos, who refused his affections. Amethystos prayed to the gods to remain chaste, a prayer which the goddess Artemis answered, transforming her into a white stone. Humbled by Amethystos's desire to remain chaste, Dionysus poured wine over the stone as an offering, dyeing the crystals purple.
Amethyst is a purple quartz found deep within volcanic rock, and its colour comes from manganese and iron impurities. The Agapanthus or Nile lily is an amethyst coloured flower, and the little nuggets of amethyst in this next necklace brought the buds of this very pretty flower to mind. I had a load of these in my garden, but unfortunately, as the name suggests, it likes warmer climates and all of my plants died. I might try to grow it indoors this year. I love the geodes/ druzy form of any gemstone, where the natural striations are left in, as part of the stone, and the pendant I used was sourced with great difficulty. It came to me all the way from Brazil, after a lot of bargaining with the vendor, to secure the best price. I thought it was so regal, I crowned it with a scroll of wire filigree work. A little jade butterfly, prehnite nuggets and some green crystals set the purple of the amethyst nuggets off beautifully.
That's all I had time for this week folks. We are off to Giverny, and will visit Monet's garden, and then on to Paris where I want to see his paintings at the Musee de l'Orangerie.
I have enjoyed the Impressionists for ages and have a few prints on my walls - can't wait to see the real thing. The poor cat will be most unhappy to go into the cattery , but, needs must. I hope the weather will play nicely with us, and I will catch you when I get back,
Have a great week,
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
Hello all, have just got back from a fabulous short break in Rome - the weather was fantastic, and the sun shined on us throughout, allowing us to cafe hop between trudging wearily from monument to museum - watching the world go by - checking out what people are wearing, the way they walk - women seem to walk differently from the rest of the world in Europe - little staccato steps, on tottery high heels, in tight short skirts. The cobbled streets of Rome are particularly suited to clickety - clacking along in stiletto heels, the women so chic, in artfully draped scarves, long dangling earrings and bracelets stacked up halfway up the arm.
Exhausted, feet hurting, and happy to be back, we rescued the cat from the cattery, and now, back to real life - at least I have a couple of days to relax and get the feeling back in my feet, before getting back to the day job - thank goodness for that!
Before I went, I spent a lot of time on the internet researching a way to use my collection of Swarovski squares - these are either square, or with rounded off corners, and boy, do they shine! The only problem is I had to find some way of connecting them - unless I gave up and used them singly in earrings. I do not do bead weaving, which is the most common way to connect circles or square elements - sewing with beads is hard on the eyes, and excruciatingly time consuming - really, the artisans who work with tiny seed beads are to be commended - and good luck to them!
After all that, I found I had to learn a few simple tricks with seed beads to make this next piece or I would never have managed it - just connecting them with jump rings would never be an option for me - too easy! I set out to Square the Circle - an euphemism for an impossible task - the original was a geometric challenge to construct a square with the same area as a given circle using a finite number of steps, which was proven to be impossible in 1882!
Squaring The Circle
I managed to connect the squares - but found that the necklace was too light, and twisted on itself - it needed a focal point to add weight to the centre, and so, the little 2" square pendant of wire and knot less netting was constructed - it also gave the piece some added colour, and plenty of Bling! I used some pretty chainmaille knots between the beads - I have more of these Swarovski rings, and there will be more on these pages, as time goes by.
I got some new tools this week - a new dapping block and doming hammers - working round blanks into gentle dome shapes raises the game just that little bit and allows them to catch the light - I would like to use this technique before I apply enamel to the copper blanks I have earmarked for earrings - they will catch the light every time the wearer moves their head - pretty!
Of course, I had to have a play - I had some Chinese coins and got them out for a good bashing - I'm afraid I smashed some of them by hitting too hard - but, when I worked out all it needed was a light touch using the wrist, rather than the shoulder, I got some pretty good results. Notice the silk cushion I am using as a way to soften the blows on my dining table - I really need a work table - and am coming round to that way of thinking, fast. A few more hammering sessions on the old dining table, and Mike will rush out and buy one - see, there's method in my madness!
The gypsy queen was made from the coins - I punched holes in the dapped and domed coins, patinated them using a proprietary patina, buffed and polished, applied a sealant, and made a couple of pairs of earrings.
I liked the effect, so I patinated the rest and attached them to a hand woven copper collar. I liked it so much, I wore it in Rome - it did attract quite a bit of attention - and strangely, while walking around the Pantheon, I saw a shop displaying earrings just like these - these were copies of Roman artefacts found in the archaeological digs around the area . I must try this with other coins from my travels - not Euros, though - I need those!
The Soleil D' Orient was a vessel that set sail from Siam in 1681, owned by the French East India Company, it is one of the three richest shipwrecks in the world. There were 60 crates of presents to Louis the Fourteenth and probably sank off the coast of Madagascar following a cyclone. It has been looked for by treasure hunters fruitlessly over the years - but it is thought that the treasure is now spread out over many miles - maybe I have a piece here?? - The coins were antiqued by rubbing with sandpaper after being patinated, and then sprayed with a varnish to prevent loss of the rest of the patina - I really like that effect.
Hope you all had a good week too - I will catch up with you later
She lost one of a much loved pair of earrings - tears were shed, the house was turned upside down, the path taken the night before searched and turned over stone by stone - and yet, sigh - still no sign of it. Her mother kept it for her in the hope that one day, it might miraculously re-appear - but alas and alack, it didnt.
So, it was brought to me with the remit - 'do something with it' - so I put it on my table and touched it every day, praying for inspiration - till one day, lightbulb moment!!, and Bingo!!!!!!!! - the idea was born.
Back to good old e-bay, bidding for vintage diamante jewellery and crucifixes - all sorts of shiny stuff, - every day yet another parcel arrived - I dont know what that post man thought - all my booty was collected carefully in an envelope labelled Rock Chick - and than one day, when I had about 20 bits and pieces and was ready to flex my creative muscles - this is what came of it.
I have been a fan of Tom Binns since forever - and love his work, I came across it well before Michelle Obama wore it and made his name more widely known. I have always wanted to try out his style of jewellery - it looks like someone (probably Madonna??) has worn every piece of jewellery they own - piled it on willy-nilly, almost shamelessly - but as someone said if you have to ask how much it cost, you cant afford it - his cheapest piece ( that I covet) is about $ 1500 - I already have a mortgage, thank you very much! So I made one inspired by his design ethic myself - a bit difficult as none of the pieces were engineered to go together, so a lot of jewellery makers 'cut and paste' type magic had to be used, and sometimes redone and tweaked as the pieces wouldnt sit right, as I wanted them - and Abracadabra - heres a Rock Chick necklace!
I left it on the mannequin one night and walked past it to the kitchen for a drink of water - it glittered in the light from the street lamps shining into the dining room window - this is one piece of jewellery that probably looks even better with indirect lighting, 'cos it is so glittery and 'big'.
So, it was posted out today - hope I have done the earring justice and that the necklace is as much loved as the earring it was conceived of - and that she has as much fun in it, as I have had making it.
The earring - the cause of all the trouble!!
The Caprilicious woman - fiesty, fearless, edgy and cool - who could ask for anything more??? - I hope to be posting pictures of her in her Rock Chick necklace soon.