Hello, and thanks for stopping by. Let's start with some music while you read on ................
This is Kevin, my latest model.
I bought her on ebay - she is a polystyrene dress form on a pedestal. In this picture, she has just been given a decoupaging (is there such a word?? - Francophiles are wincing at my poor usage of the language).
Why Kevin?? Well, it may sound silly to have an obviously female model with a male name - but I recently read an article about gender and sex (in my other avatar as gynaecologist) - and suddenly it felt necessary to give my model a gender inappropriate name. In the famous words of Simone de Beauvoir, “Women are not born, they are made.” At the end of the day, the making of a man or a woman is a never-ending process that begins well before birth. And the ritual announcement at birth that it is in fact one or the other instantly transforms an “it” into a “he” or a “she” assigning it to a lifetime as a male or as a female.
This attribution is made public and lasting through the event of naming. Mike said, why not Mabel, or Lucy - but Kevin she was named and Kevin she shall remain!
This is what Kevin was like when she first arrived and I decided to make her a bit more interesting to look at.
Decoupage was what I decided on - it has been a long time since I played with paper, glue and scissors, and a long weekend at the Bank Holiday seemed to be the best time for it. I researched it thoroughly on the internet - there is a lot of information out there, but it seemed that a lot of it was incomplete - so, I took photographs as I went along - perhaps decoupage virgins like me might be pleased with the info in my little mini tutorial.
Amit was made from a little Balinese hand carved bone Ganesh. Last week, I made Mushika and his Master, and the Ganesh in that pendant was in profile - when I was looking at images of these, I couldn't choose between the two, so bought both. In Sanskrit Amit means 'Boundless, Limitless or Infinite'. It is one of the 108 names of Hindu God Ganesh - although how one manages to have 108 names (and why one needs that many??) without a severe crisis of identity simply beats me.
These beautiful pendants from Afghanistan came to me in the post - I loved them so much, I set about making new beads to go with them straight away. It would be easy enough to just string them with beads from my hoard, but I just love the thought of hand made rustic looking beads that bring a sort of magic to a piece of jewellery.
The weekend was spent pottering away at my craft table, conjuring up some pretty beads, polishing them and getting them prepared for stringing. Here they are in the oven, curing. My poor oven hasn't seem too much food in it since I started making stuff with polymer clay. It is used on a weekly basis, almost exclusively for crafting purposes, unless Mike bungs a cottage pie in it on the odd occasion. Since we are always on a diet and our house is an almost carbohydrate free zone except for high days and holidays, polymer clay is king in our oven!
And here they are - pendants and handmade beads put together into new, one of a kind necklaces..................
The word "Arya" itself is a Sanskrit and Avestan/Old Persian word that means "noble". I strung this one with seed beads wound with wire, adding old coins studded with red glass.
The word Karishma means a 'miracle' or someone saved from an inevitable doom. This necklace has my own colourful polymer clay beads - I added little bead caps of red and blue to go with the pendant.
I seem to want to make flowers all the time - perhaps it is that time of year! These beads are flower shaped discs stacked one on top of the other, with some faux ostrich beads to provide contrast. I used every piece of leftover clay on my table, so there is a multi colour feel to this necklace, and the beads seem to be happy to be together, in spite of their disparate origins. Kareena is a name that can mean 'Flower', or 'Innocence' and I thought it would go well with this necklace. Readers who are into Bollywood will know that Karishma and Kareena are sisters from a famous Bollywood dynasty - India does seem to go with the dynastic concept and the cult of personality, right from politics, down to Bollywood.
I do love the peacock - you cannot ask for better colours that nature put into that beautiful bird, and I always have one or two pieces of 'peacock' jewellery on my books. I started this pendant a few weeks ago, and added to it bit by bit until I was ready for a reveal. I added a handmade necklace so that it would hang just the way I wanted - given my penchant for asymmetry.
The little teardrop shaped blue agate druzy glints in the light, but unfortunately, I am unable to capture that in a photograph.
That's it for this week folks, catch you next week. I have plans to use my kiln this weekend as I am on call and it promises to be dull and pi**ing down with rain. Hopefully it is better for you, wherever you are.
See you next Friday, same time, same place
Hello readers, thanks for dropping by. We've had some wonderful weather in the UK and the garden is coming along nicely, although it is way away from being at top dead centre. I have been out and about with my camera, recording what is for us, spring in full cry.
This is my neighbours Laburnum tree - it is beautiful in spring, and then fades away into obscurity for the rest of the year - but isn't it just so beautiful??
My muse decided that I would go back to my roots this week. The first piece I felt compelled to make was with the last of my Nepalese pendants - that reminds me, I really ought to go and hunt down some more.
I found the pendant in my hoard, and teamed its coral and turquoise inlay with bronze shell pearls, blue dyed jade and red agate - the birth of Zeenat, which means decoration, or adornment in Arabic.
Mushika and his Master
Ganesh, the Elephant God has the head of an elephant and the body of a man. The story my grandmother told me about this was that one day Ganesh's mom was bathing and she had asked him to mind the door against intruders. Halfway through her bath, his dad wanted to come indoors, and was refused entry by the lad - his insolence irritated his dad ( who was well known to have anger management issues) so much, that he cut off his head in a fit of pique ( he did much worse things when he was really riled! although in the picture he looks like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth). There were no social services in those days, unfortunately or dad would have been in BIG TROUBLE.
Mom then gets out of the bath, humming to herself, and is horrified when she sees what has happened to her darling, obedient son - she threatens dad with murder and mayhem, and following a ding-dong row, he agrees to put things right and is issued with a high decibel deadline .....'or else'.... - he sends someone out for a new head - the half blind idiot who went looking (the calibre of servants was shocking in those days) brought back an elephant's head - the deadline was upon him and dad thought he'd just stick the head on and hope for the best, maybe even hide mom's glasses so she couldn't see too well........and the rest is history! Ganesh is known to love his food - well, you would comfort eat too if you were a cute little boy one day and this happened to you - and besides, he is half elephant, and everyone knows elephant's eat a lot (that's his excuse and he's sticking to it).
As for Mushika, he was once a beautiful and vain celestial being, who got on the wrong side of a sage and was turned into a mouse for his pains! He made such a nuisance of himself with his bad behaviour (everyone knows that mice are ill mannered), that eventually Ganesh caught him and decided to sit on him much like other children ride on their dogs. Poor Mushika was in deadly danger of being squashed to death by this portly elephant/child, and begged him to loose some weight - but we all know how hard that is, so by a sleight of hand, the elephant god made himself lighter (wish I knew how to do that) whenever he rode the mouse, and they lived together happily ever after.
I managed to run through approximately 2 Kilos of wire and had to send off for new supplies - this is in addition to the fine weaving wire, and the silver wire I have used over the last year and a half.
I brought this piece of glass back from Murano - it looks like someone has dropped a pebble into a body of water and made a SPLASH! Embellished with miles of wire, it makes a beautiful pendant.
I am now officially the jewellery designer for Look in the Bag's new collection of silk scarves. They are a small company, founded by a graphic designer and her husband. She draws and paints the designs and then transforms them magically into silk scarves - well it is magical to me, because I have no idea how it is done - probably child's play to her! They market the scarves, each with it's own little bag and a piece of jewellery to match, on their website - I have bought some as gifts myself, and am proud to be associated with the brand. Andrew, has some fantastic tales to tell about the 'models' who wear their scarves ( He's definitely a budding novelist), and Neelam designs the scarves and draws all the illustrations - I just love the whimsical way they present their wares.
Here they are, worn by Neelam's models - my photographs are from the ones I sent out for approval as I went along making the collection to her specifications.
I made them up one design after another earlier on in the year, with Neelam abroad having the scarves made up to her satisfaction. I must acknowledge 2good claymates for the fabulous tutorial they posted on their website, from which I took some of my ideas for the scarf jewellery.
The photographs of the prototypes went back and forth, till we agreed on the design, and I made the requisite number up for her. Each time I made one of the pieces, I fell in love with the scarf and decided that I was going to have to buy it - until the next one! Fickle, huh??
That's it for this week - hope you've enjoyed the read - have a good week, and see you next week, same time, same place
My muse was in the grip of an obsession she was powerless to resist, and swept me along with her enthusiasm. Everyone loves orchids, and I once harboured a secret longing to grow them in my conservatory, and get a really good collection going. However, when I thought about it more carefully, I remembered that I was married to a renowned murderer of pot plants - and why on earth should the poor orchids fare any better than all the plants in our house which have given up the ghost one by one, and kicked the bucket, happy to depart just to get away from the over zealous attentions of Mike??
So, having managed to tame my longings for an orchid arbour, I have ended up, from time to time making orchid jewellery. I bought these beautiful orchids online - they were vanished by my house elf for a long while - I got so fed up of looking for them ( my house got a spring clean in the bargain while I turned everything over), I bought another lot - and once Elfie realised that I would not be deprived, he gave up in disgust and threw the first lot back at me. Last week, I made some earrings with them, and they were bought up almost immediately. So here are some more I made to replace them.....
And while I had these on the go, I played with wire and made......yet more orchids! They were sufficiently similar in size to turn them into earrings, once I decided how to hang them.
I made the ear wires up myself - shop bought ones simply wouldn't do - they had to be shaped and hammered into position with a nylon mallet to give the wire strength and keep it all from falling apart. The wires are coated with nylon, so that they do not react badly to skin ( or is it the other way round?? - anyway, you know what I mean).
I bought this beautiful ox bone face from Robyn of Indounik, a lovely lady who lives in Indonesia. I was looking for a face to make a piece of jewellery to fit one of my favourite songs 'Clare', by Fairground Attraction - Clare is a 'serpentine seductress' , trained in New Orleans in the dark arts of voodoo. I have other bone faces, but this one, with the design carved into it seemed to fit the bill perfectly - the piece I planned was a pendant with loads of swirling wire, with a seductive, dark look - in the end, the piece took 9 feet of 20 gauge wire and miles of fine weaving wire, and once the copper in the pendant was treated with chemicals and darkened, she looks a lot like what I envisaged in my mind - I am happy with her. I showed it to Robyn, and she remarked that the free flow of the wire must have been a bit like meditation 'Wow, Neena, that's a truly incredible piece - so intricate and so intriguing. I'll bet that's like me shunting bits of paper and photos and other things around a scrapbook page, you find going where the wire wanders like a form of meditation '.
An old friend came to spend the weekend with us, and as we chatted and rehashed old times, I played with a spool of wire and this little rose was born. It seemed to be entirely the natural thing to do once the formalities of the meal had been dispensed with.
And finally, last but not least, after all those floral offerings, I made a linear pendant, inspired by the work of Nicole Hanna - well, it has very soft lines - I used a lamp work glass bead in orange and turquoise as the focus - I am in awe of people who make pretty things with glass - it is such a difficult thing to do. I have recently bought a large stash of lamp work beads in whimsical colours and designs and no doubt you will see them from time to time.
That's all I had time for this week, folks, have a fabulous weekend, and I'll catch you next week, same time, same place
Hello readers, this week I have spent some time thinking about the essential Caprilicious Woman - the woman who wears my jewellery. I was idly looking at photographs I have taken of the jewellery I have made over the last couple of years and I realised that the jewellery on the website is extremely eclectic - there doesn't seem to be a theme running through it.
For instance, some websites I have looked at have sweet and simple, very pretty pieces that appeal to someone who dresses like a fragrant rose. Yet others have large, bohemian pieces that are a cross - cultural patchwork for people who like to dress in a more exotic manner.
The Caprilicious website, however, caters to both these tastes - in fact they may be the same woman in two different moods, on two different days. That, in essence is what a Caprilicious woman is - someone who cannot be corralled into a box, a blithe free spirit who changes her attire with her moods and looks great in all of them! A bit schizophrenic, you say?? You might think so, I couldn't possibly comment!
Why the introspection? Well, I made some sweet and pretty floral earrings in one half of the week, and then the wind changed, and so did my mood - and out came Oshun - a very tribal piece of jewellery.
As I've mentioned before, I tend to make jewellery while watching the telly of an evening, much like a knitter, and I lay the finished piece out on the coffee table till it is photographed and ready to put on the website.
I caught Mike standing at the table one morning, and he said he couldn't believe the same person had made the two pieces of jewellery - that got me thinking ....I just wondered what on earth was going on in my tiny mind that I could find both pieces of jewellery equally engaging - and then I realised - that's what a being a Caprilicious Woman was all about.
I bought these really pretty orchids - and my house elf promptly stole them from me - I turned the house upside down looking for them - I've even mentioned the story on my blog - and then one day, there they were - just sitting on the side of my table, as if butter wouldn't melt and they'd been there all the time. But I know better - I know it is my malign house elf playing games with me - so to foil him, I made them up into jewellery ( he doesn't like made up pieces, only components!) and having photographed them, put them away in my cupboard - aha! take that, malign house elf! Kapow!!
I have been trying to make Ranunculus flowers out of polymer clay - and ending up with only mush - but finally, finally, I made these really pretty flowers that actually look like ranunculi. You can't see it very well in these pictures, but each layer of petals is in a different shade of the same colour.
The Kaleidoscope Saga
This story started with a polymer clay cane I made for a friend - she was picking a design for a commissioned piece of jewellery, and this cane was a reject. I hate wasting stuff, so I put together this kaleidoscope cane, and made a bunch of earrings with it - the last one was made with the end of the cane, turned into a swirly bead. I stuck a spike on it, and connected them with some wire - here it is....
Dog Rose Earrings
I made these flowers in my kiln last year - but didn't know what I wanted to do with them. I wanted them to be different - but what would make them stand out from the earrings made by everyone elas?? - it took me an year to figure that out. I am very proud of them because they are entirely handmade - well, I bought the tear drop shaped jade beads - but you knew that - you didn't expect me to go rock hounding as well as everything else, did you??
Anyway, I finally decided that the addition of colour would make them 'pop' - and that word immediately brings to mind polymer clay, which is quintessentially mouldable colour. The ear wires were made with 20 gauge wire, hammered and polished, the headpins to carry the jade drops made with the same wire. So here, I present my very first entirely handmade pair of earrings..... (drumroll)................
Once I made these, I was on a roll - I had a pair of hydrangeas which received a similar treatment, and a little vine leaf pendant charm was hung with a polymer clay backing sheet with a real leaf impressed into it, and cut out in the shape of a leaf.
Oshun is an Orisha - the beautiful and benevolent Yoruba deity of rivers, love, feminine beauty, love, life, sex, fertility, and art. I was given the beautiful wooden tribal head by my friend BN - I gave my Orisha a shock of hair made of a clutch of beads, some shells, and made the necklace with wooden beads I found in India. My sister in law brought me the trade beads while on a trip to Kenya, and I used some of them to add colour to the piece.
The tribal look is an antidote to 'sweet and pretty' - and I have gone as wild as I dared with this piece. It can be worn with neat and tidy clothes as an almost shocking counter balance, or as an accessory to summer linens and slouchy trousers, with loads of chunky bracelets and fringes and feathers, in a sort of uncontrolled, joyful clutter. Go as Tribal as you dare - it is such a fabulous look, you can but enjoy it. I have loads of pieces on my Out of Africa page - I enjoy making them, and I certainly enjoy wearing them.
A couple of warm days at the beginning of the week, and my thoughts turned to butterflies and dragonflies - those entrancing creatures who embody summertime. Unfortunately, the rest of the week was only fit for ducks as it rained persistently - but the inspiration stayed with me and I made one of each of these, and hung them as pendants.
That's it for this week folks, catch you next week, same time, same place - have a fabulous week
When I first started to make jewellery, I was given a piece of advice which has stayed with me - a pretty clasp lifts a simple necklace to greater heights, like nothing else can. Since then, I have been a clasp junkie, spending prodigious amounts of money on store bought clasps. When I had the exhibition over in India, I watched ladies walking around the room, and to a (wo) man they all noticed the clasps. In fact, one woman chased me around the room asking me where I had got them from, and would I please sell her some, forgetting that this was an exhibition of jewellery, not jewellery findings, and that I was highly unlikely to be carrying extra clasps in my suitcases!
My love affair with the clasp has continued to the extent that I am now making clasps for myself, in an effort to make them one of a kind and different from the ones that other jewellery makers use. Tutorials from the likes of Nicole Hanna and inspiration from Sharon Solly have helped, as well as a book by Denise Peck in my latest endeavour. I sent a sample to my friend BN, and she used the clasp in ten different ways and sent me photographs to show me what she had done with it - she still hasn't told me which one of the ways was her final choice for the necklace she made!
Ten Ways to Use a Clasp, by BN
I also made some faux lamp work glass toggle clasps out of polymer clay and wire using a tutorial written by Amber of Caterpillar Arts and inspiration from work by Sharon Solly - these are colourful and playful and I will need to find the right beads for them.
Another toggle clasp inspired by Nicole Hanna was used in a necklace made of wood grain jasper and gold coloured crystals - I tried to break up the browny - golds of the necklace with blue crystal beads and dichroic glass.
Dryads are tree nymphs in Greek mythology, each one looking after a particular tree in the woods, punishing thoughtless mortals who injure their trees.
This necklace was named after the beautiful mystical, serene, angelic face in this pendant. The Archangel Ariel, predominantly in Hebrew writings, is thought to be the angel of nature - had she been Greek, she would probably have been closely related to a Dryad, as she too guards nature and trees and punishes humans who harm them.
The quartz needle points in the necklace have been heat treated and coated with titanium and gold vapour, and teamed with green crackle quartz.
I made the wire accent beads myself out of yards and yards of fine wire wrapped over a frame.
It was a beautiful weekend, the sun was shining, the peonies were out and we went to the pub for Sunday lunch. These hollow faux ebony and ivory focal beads in my hoard were just right to wear with white linen summer clothes - I strung them on waxed linen cord, with bone beads and cowrie shells - summer necklaces for the boho chick!
Spirals are a compelling shape and have universal appeal - I'm not sure why this is, perhaps because they are the most natural shape seen by our eyes and enter the subconscious right from the very beginning. The spiral shows up often in nature - in the pattern of seeds in a seedhead, in the growing tips of ferns, in the pattern that leaves grow on a stem, in the shape of a nautilus shell, and imprints itself deep into the subconscious mind, so that when seen again the shape is familiar and pleasing to the eye.
I too love spiral patterns, and made these faux bone hollow beads with spirals of bright coloured 'zippers' wound around them. Teamed with faux ostrich egg beads and a large chunk of sponge coral, they make a light but chunky necklace - another one to go with the summer linen outfits.
I found these two shell pendants in a most unlikely place in the house - I think my house elf got fed up of hiding them from me and tossed them out for me to find - I quickly turned them into pieces of jewellery, before he pinched them again. I asked my Facebook fans to help name the one and Minerva's Prize was the name bestowed on it. I called the second one the Whirly Shell Pendant. With both, I have echoed the pattern and shapes in the shells with the wire.
I hope you've enjoyed looking at this weeks 'makes' - catch you next week, same time, same place - have a fabulous week
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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