A worker may be the hammer's master, but the hammer still prevails. A tool knows exactly how it is meant to be handled, while the user of the tool can only have an approximate idea.
Hello readers, nice to catch up with you again. There are now about two and a half weeks to go till the Handmade Fair at Ragley Hall, and I approach it with mixed feelings. Excitement and a frenzy of preparation is combined with dread and anxiety. I think it is every makers secret fear that nobody will come, nobody will like their creations and that it will all be for nothing - indeed, less than nothing as there's been a load of cash spent on this venture. Oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained! Let's go for broke, and all those other cliche's with which I have been fortifying myself.
I've found a fabulous helper to see me through the setting up of the stall - Gabby Armstrong is the daughter of one of the midwives at work. She has a degree in visual merchandising and works in retail for a clothing store in Coventry, arranging their displays. She dropped by to take a look at the jewellery, and is going to do me a visual story board. She has been to the show at Hampton Court on previous occasions and knows how it works, so that's an added bonus. Gabby was quite enthusiastic about my jewellery, and had a whole load of ideas to share. And bless her cotton socks, she has volunteered to meet us at Ragley Hall and help me set up - amazing luck that I happened to have a conversation with her mother and she mentioned what her daughter did for a living!!
I thought I'd show you some of my arsenal of tools - if you've seen them before or even used them, I apologise if you find this bit boring- just scroll down a bit further to get to the jewellery.
This one is called a Chain Sta' - I saw in a brochure from the USA, and found it so quirky, I sent off for it. The two arms come off and it lays flat (this is important for storage) - each arm has a clamp at the top, and a chain link bracelet or necklace becomes ever so easy to make. The horizontal bridge at the bottom has a ruler and ensures that beads can be added at regular intervals.
I make my beetle wing necklaces using this tool, without which the chain would twist and the jump rings attaching each wing to the chain would be all over the place. I'm sure one of these can be rigged up using an aubergine, two soda cans and a spear of asparagus, but hey, I like my tools and love ones that work even more.
The next one - a pair of ceramic tipped precision tweezers - it makes it easy to pick up and set little cubic zirconia into metal clay with these babies. If they were a bit longer they could have been used to stabilise solder when using a flame as the ceramic tips would be fine at high temperatures.
And finally this weeks purchase, the bracelet bender tool. I have been making bracelets with soutache and beadwork in leather, lined with ultrasuede. Between the leather and suede is a layer of aluminium to hold the shape of the cuff without adding any weight to the piece. The last load of aluminium blanks were imported already curved into cuffs from the USA and worked out to be very expensive. I've recently found a vendor in the UK who is prepared to cut sheets of aluminium to my specification which is so much cheaper, but the aluminium strips are sent out flat. I got this tool to bend the metal over and voila! a cuff bracelet blank. What a fun tool!!
These are some of the pieces I made this week - I have'nt put them on the website, but will do so if they remain unsold after the Handmade Fair.
Branches of bamboo coral and Moroccan silver beads - simple, but very exotic. I'm reading a book about Rumi the poet, and Shams of Tabriz, who by all accounts was a very charismatic man. I went on line to read a bit more about Tabriz and what an exotic place it sounds like. The Bazaar of Tabriz, an UNESCO site in particular, sounds fabulous - I thought the Kapali Carsi in Istanbul was beautiful, but this one sounds like it would be a closely run race. A charismatic necklace, for a charismatic woman, methinks.
Yin is the Chinese female principle of the universe, characterized as sustaining and associated with earth, shade, and coolness. I made this necklace with some of the beads I bought in the Chinese quarter in Kuala Lumpur. The beads are huge, about 3cms across and carved by hand. I teamed them with Greek beads from a holiday in Santorini - they are ceramic and heavily electroplated with gold and lustre, and strung them on a piece of Brazilian leather. I tied knots between the beads as spacers, but it looked wrong, so I undid the necklace and remade it without the knots. I added a handmade chain and clasp with an extension on the back so that the necklace can be worn fairly long if necessary.
I wanted to show off my new jewellery beetle wings, and do something very different with them - when combined with gaily dyed marabou feathers echoing the colours of the wings, they look very 'carnival'.
Here's the soutache and leather cuff for which I needed the aluminium insert mentioned earlier .
I spent all weekend making this flower from bronze clay and then wrought a clasp for the necklace, from a design by Kristine Schroeder. When I looked in my stash, this string of amethyst beads called to me and I accented them with a couple of carnelian beads and a pyrite bead.
So, as you see,I have been working hard this last couple of weeks to have enough stock for three days at a fair full of handmade enthusiasts. It is Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK and it will probably rain. Have a lovely week people, and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Hiya readers, thanks for coming back to the Caprilicious blog today. Easter came and went and everyone scoffed their chocolate eggs and hot cross buns - squillions of calories all in one large collective gulp. I was curious about the Easter egg and tried to find out it's significance.
Apparently, the custom of giving eggs at Easter celebrates new life. For Christians the egg is a symbol of Jesus' resurrection, and when they are cracked open they symbolise the empty tomb. Eggs are rolled by children as a symbolic re-enactment of the rolling away of the stone from Christ's tomb and they are painted (originally red, but now in every colour imaginable) to commemorate the blood of Christ.
The Easter bunny is a throwback from pagan times when the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Spring, Eostre, had a hare as her companion. The hare symbolises fertility and rebirth, and so does the egg. Later Christians changed the symbol to the Easter bunny which is fluffier and cuter than a hare.
While everyone else was eating their eggs, I was being industrious and making up a few pieces of jewellery for the Handmade Fair. Everyone who reads this blog know that Caprilicious is going to the fair, but if you've just joined us, welcome, I have put this poster on these pages just for you, in case you should wish to come to it.
This week I was attracted to shiny - all the beads that came out of my stash were shiny, quartz chunks and needles electroplated in a precious metal or titanium vapour. I felt like the proverbial magpie that is supposedly attracted to shiny objects.
It started with a remake of my fantasy flower out of bronze clay. I went very slowly and carefully and was rewarded with a large flower that fit in the palm of my hand, about 5" across when I finally opened my kiln up. Here it is, strung on a necklace of Titanium coated quartz needles.
By this time, 'shiny' had engraved itself deep into my psyche and everything I was compelled to make was that way inclined. Without ever making a conscious decision, I was soon well on the way towards making part of an evening wear collection of necklaces.
Both the Hamsa pendant and the beautiful tassel came from Turkey and I made all the clasps myself, to add further interest to the jewellery. The brown rough cut nuggets in the tasselled necklace are gold vapour coated quartz and they have a lovely dull sheen that a still photograph cannot really do justice to.
While my bronze clay flower was going through it's cycles of creation and drying before going into the kiln I sat with Mike and watched a couple of old musicals while I stitched beads around an ammonite fossil, to end up with this cuff bracelet. The bracelet has an aluminium form inside it to keep it flexible, light and adjustable.
I also put together another version of Berber Sunrise, with faux amber beads, some of which I made earlier right here at Caprilicious and others that I bought in India. The pretty little green patinated beadcaps came from the USA and the enamelled bead came from Morocco.
And that's a wrap for this week, folks. I aim to finalise the way my stall looks this week - it has to be stylish but simple to set up and I have a friend who is going to show me how to do this as she is a 'visual merchandiser' and knows all about these things. Have a lovely weekend, I'm on call at the day job and hope it won't be too busy. Take care of yourselves and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place,
Hello good people, and a very happy Easter to those of you who celebrate it. Easter eggs are everywhere and I'm going to resist them this year, as always figting a loosing battle with the flab. This year I have the whole of Easter off work and nothing planned, and it feels glorious to think I have no responsibilities except to relax for four whole days. I shall however be making more pieces of jewellery for The Handmade Fair. I spent ages thinking that I had a lot of stuff ready and then someone bought up a bunch of necklaces, leaving me with a hole in my inventory which needs filling, and quick!
Seal of Approval
I love pendants made of handcarved jade and buy them regularly, forgetting each time how irritatingly annoying they are as they never have an integral way to hang them. Perhaps they are meant to be displayed on a plinth or little easel - but as far as I'm concerned, as jewellery, I need to find an engineering solution each time. Each one is different, so one answer doesn't fit all, unfortunately. However, I've always loved finding solutions to problems and enjoy a bit of a challenge.
I managed to hang the pendant on an improvised bail made of coiled wire and added prehnite nugget beads in a lovely shade of pale green. I left the necklace overnight, and by the time I woke up, had decided that it needed a bit more 'Zhoosh'. Four more strands of beads were added, and only then was I satisfied. Turquoise, ruby with zoisite and Czech glass seed beads went into the necklace in a tousled, bohemian look.
I started to make a soutache bezel around an ammonite fossil, not sure what exactly I was going to do with it - perhaps a centrepiece for a cuff bracelet? or a bail for one of my jade pendants? - in the end it seemed to cry out to be strung simply on a strand of Biwa pearls, rather than be part of another piece. The reds and greens reminded me of the military uniforms worn by the Cossack Guards and the Russian folk song 'Kalinka' began to play in my head.
Beetle wings are a tour de force of nature - the jewel colours are amazing. This will be my sixth necklace made from these beautiful wings that once belonged to the Indonesian Jewellery Beetle. My very first necklace was commissioned by Meghna who wore it to a cocktail party thrown by her parents.
Two rows of wings, with a glass tear drop adding a bit of weight to the centre of the piece, drawing it down into the decollete' - a simple, yet effective piece. These necklaces are difficult to photograph lying flat, the wings seem to have a mind of their own. I used up my entire stash in this necklace and hadn't planned on buying any more. Mike was aghast and twisted my arm into placing another order from the shop in Thailand, so it would appear that there are to be more of these on my pages. I will have to think up new and novel ways to make the necklaces as I don't really like to repeat myself. As an aside, the owner of the online beetle wing shop in Thailand is called Ronnie Biggs!! It is either a joke or he is named after his notorious ancestor, in which case, Trains, beware!
That's all I have for you folks. Have a fab Easter break and I'll catch you next week, same time, same place.
Hello readers, good day to you. I had a fabulous couple of days off in Chester last week, and am now raring to go with the Handmade Fair at Ragley Hall. It would appear that there are quite a few stalls, and it ought to be fun. I've drafted in the help of a couple of ladies at the hospital one of whom has agreed to help me on the stall. The other had a bridal shop in town a couple of years ago and still has a lot of the fittings and furnishings and I'm hoping to scavenge some from her. Here's the blurb for the shopping village at the fair.
Chester is an ancient city, which still has the original Roman wall encircling it's centre. One of the entrances to the wall was right by our hotel, and we spent a half day walking around on it. As it was a lovely day, tourists and children were out in full force and we watched as a crocodile of little uns walked around on the 'Roman Tour' all dressed as centurions, complete with shields. There were also older kids in blazers and boaters, congregated around an old fashioned sweet shop that looked like they had strayed from a Harry Potter film set in Diagon Alley. The cathedral was beautiful, but they wouldn't allow too many pictures inside it as the choir was practising. We sat in the courtyard in dappled sunlight listening to the angelic voices of the choristers filtering out to us. Here are some pictures of Chester for you.
I hope my pictures made you want to go and visit Chester, I'd certainly reccommend it for a weekend out.
We got back and picked up the cat from the cattery where he had spent the night, no doubt cussing and swearing at his humans, who dared to go off and leave him in prison. And then almost seamlessly, I slipped back into beads and wire, happy as a pig in muck!
Nicole Hanna was running a 'Finish It' competition and I had only a couple of days to enter. As usual, she gave out part of a tutorial and the entrants had to finish it without changing more than one component. All the entrants received the whole tutorial for our pains and there is now a Pinterest page with all the entries. I already constantly challenge myself by remaining solder-free, torch-free and casting-free but it's nice to have a ready made challenge to help push the envelope of what's possible in wire jewellery by engineering, layering and weaving ever more complicated and intricate sculptural pieces, using fine-gauge wire for embroidering and beading my 'sculptures'.
One of the midwives at work had a donut that she wanted zhooshed up and I made a little bail like contraption for it in copper wire. I tend to prefer the non tarnished, shiny look. I know that loads of people like bare copper, and oxidise it with Liver of Sulphur and ammonia fumes and even boiled eggs to bring out the texture, but I'm quite happy with shiny - I wonder if it's a throwback to my youth where gold was the only thing I wore as my mother turned her nose up at base metals including silver.
An Oshun is a Yoruba Orisha of the sweet or fresh waters. She is widely loved, as she is known for healing the sick and bringing fertility and prosperity, watching over the poor and bringing them what they need. As Orisha of love, Oshun is represented as a beautiful, charming and coquettish young woman. In some tales she is said to be a mermaid, with a fish's tail. I made the pendant with an ancient block of faux ivory cane. It cracked beautifully over the core of the bead, and when antiqued, the pendant looked like authentic aged ivory.
I added some tassels to signify braided hair, and pulled together beads I had made earlier. I had red rugby ball shaped wooden beads that I'd embellished with strips of clay, gooseberry shaped polmer clay beads and wooden discs I bought in India. I'd been saving a pack of rustic ceramic beads I brought back when on holiday in Greece and I thought they went well with the beads in this necklace.
And then, spring sprang - the sun shone, the top came down in my little Miata, and the Snakeshead fritillaries and bluebells made an appearance. I began to imagine in pastels, pale pink or green floaty dresses, scarves, walking by the sea barefoot in the sand and a completely different vibe developed in the second half of the week. It's amazing how our outlook on life is governed by a tiny bit of sunshine, in the Northern Hemisphere. I dug out all the labradorite beads I had in my stash and put them together with a beautiful abalone clasp and large baroque pearls. I apologise for the photographs, but labradorite is very difficult to picturise, it flashes with movement, but the beautiful flashes of colour seem to hide when photographed.
I know that small business advisors say that one ought to develop a brand identity and make similar pieces, so that people know when they are looking at a piece of jewellery that it has been made by Caprilicious. I'd be bored to death with this strategy and so I'd like to think, would be my Caprilicious women. This is my particular design ethic - to make different styles of jewellery to suit the ever changing personalities and moods of a woman. The two designs from this week are poles apart, but I would wear both of them on different occasions, and be equally happy with them.
That's me for this week folks. Have a fabulous week, and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
I'm Neena Shilvock, and I'm crazily addicted to jewellery. I've been designing and making quirky and interesting statement necklaces for the last five years and my passion hasn't cooled off one little bit - in fact it has got worse, such that I'm even dreaming jewellery.
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I would love to hear from you - please leave a comment on the blog or send an email to jewellerybycaprilicious(at)gmail.com
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