The Woman in Red in the clip is Kelly Le Brock, who out-Marilyned Marilyn Monroe! Poor Gene Wilder didn't stand a chance, his little bulgy eyes were out on stalks so far they were in danger of popping right out of his head!
Hello readers, thanks for joining me this evening. I am looking forward to the Bank Holiday weekend, although unless the weather plays nice there may not be much to look forward to. This week was all about the colour red. I was inspired by pictures of Hungarian dancers in national costume to make a piece using my latest love for soutache.
A Csárdás is a traditional Hungarian folk dance. It was popularized by Romany bands in Hungary and the neighboring lands of Serbia, Croatia, Ukraine, Russia, Poland, Transylvania and Bulgaria. The music starts out slow and then the tempo picks up with the female dancers in costumes of red and black whirling their skirts as they leap and move to the music.
Inspired by the colours in these costumes, I swirled soutache braids around a poppy jasper cabochon, anchored by beadwork. Poppy jasper is a beautiful stone, which gives the appearance of poppies painted onto a dark background. Apart from being pretty, it is meant to have properties such as enhancing communication and organizational abilities, relaxation, and a sense of wholeness, acting primarily on the root chakra. Of course, being pretty is more than enough for my purposes. And, I learned how to make a beaded fringe - the colour and movement in the fringe are irresistible, I love it! I'm definitely going to be making more fringes in the future - colour and movement - who could ask for anything more?
A lady from India who is due to visit Britain shortly asked me to make her a necklace in red - she had a price point in mind, and I suspect, a Caprilicious design that she has seen on a mutual friend. It took me a while to understand the unvoiced delicate issue that she wanted a necklace like the one her friends bought at my last exhibition, but my brain finally clicked into gear. Without remaking the necklace in question, I tried to make a similar piece for her. After all they both live in the same town and may end up at the same party. I wouldn't want them to wear the same piece of jewellery like a pair of twins.
My upbringing has given me a horror of this. My sister and I used to be dressed in identical clothes - my mother was obsessed with a need to dispense 'fairness' and bought us both the exact same items when we went shopping. It probably seemed like too much trouble to let us wear the outfits on separate occasions, (she was a working mum and therefore any aspersions I cast about laziness need to be taken with a pinch of salt) so we ended up looking like a pair of twins, one of whom (me) was eating all the food.
I made a couple of necklaces for the lady from Bangalore to choose from.
That is all I had time to make this week. I've started on another soutache piece, but the weather has been good over the last few days and the garden beckons.
Have a lovely weekend and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place
Hello readers, thanks for popping by, it is lovely to see you again this week.
It has been a fabulous week at Caprilicious- all my beads and braids arrived and I spent ages sorting them into containers and getting ready for a marathon with the beading needles.
To my (pleasant) surprise the needles aren't giving me as much trouble as I expected and I haven't ended up with fingers like salt cellars, leaking blood all over my work - maybe that's whom the phrase blood sweat and tears originated from - an embroiderer.
The cotton and silks I used as a teenager used to tie themselves in knots as if by magic and the needles could have been called Beater and Biter, the amount of damage they did to my fingers. Given that I was a teenager then and my mother probably thought I was a goblin changeling, it may have been just about par for the course!
Zardosi - the Eastern version of Soutache Embroidery
Zardosi embroidery came to India from Persia. It was once used to embellish the attire of the Kings and the royals in India. It was also used to adorn walls of the royal tents, scabbards, wall hangings and the paraphernalia of regal elephants and horses. It involves making elaborate designs using gold and silver threads, studded pearls and precious stones, pure silver wire and gold leaf embellished with beads and sequins - the phrase 'over egging the pudding' does not begin to describe some of the embroidery work found on bridal garments. The design is traced on the fabric, which is then stretched over a wooden frame. A fine crochet hook is used to feed the thread through the fabric from underneath - I have a little video for you that demonstrates a simple chain stitch.
Now that I have picked up a needle again after a gap of so many years, I have a renewed respect for these artisans, who start their training usually at a very young age, while helping their parents earn a living. I was determined that the thread I used was going to be robust - there would be no bead shedding where my jewellery was concerned, thank you very much!
I decided to research the best thread available and track it down, and finally picked Fireline, which is the strongest fibre per diameter ever created. It has an unbelievably high tensile strength and has been recommended in numerous how-to articles on beadworking. Although a bit more expensive that it's alternatives, I prefer to stump up the cash than die of embarrassment when the work falls apart.
FireLine is made of gel-spun braided polyethylene thread, and perfect for when the project includes sharp-edged beads, such as crystals, semi-precious stones or bugle beads. It is highly durable when compared to regular thread that can fray and tear. It was originally used as fishing line and comes in many strengths - 4lb, 6lb and 10 lb ( I assume that is the weight of the fish that can be caught on this line - but how does the fish know this??) and goes through the eye of a very fine beading needle. I first bought crystal clear Fireline - and found I couldn't see it well enough to load it onto the needle and then discovered black which suits me just fine for now.
Messenger of Love
"it is the pleasure of the bee to gather honey of the flower,
In other words, it's all a matter of relativity and perspective!
Bumble Bee jasper is essentially a sedimentary rock matrix of volcanic ash–deep earth mud with sulfur layers. It is largely composed of layered gypsum, sulfur and hematite. This stone comes from the Solfataras surrounding Mount Papandayan in Indonesia. The natives there call it batu badar blerang, which can be roughly translated as ‘coal becoming sulfur.’ I found these fine specimens in a shop in Jaipur and the yellow and black attracted me so much, I knew I had to buy some, even though it was fairly expensive.
Metaphysically sulfur, in particular “assists one in the removal of negative willfulness and in the elimination of distracting intellectual thoughts and emotions that could affect the emotional and intellectual bodies.” Anyway, these are throwaway comments, as I mainly bought them for their beauty.
I set about embroidering a frame around the cabochon with tiny beads and soutache, creamy yellow pearls and jade, adding more and more layers till I was happy with it. It fascinates me, the way a soutache design evolves - I feel like it is happening to someone else and I am merely an onlooker, and that I cannot go to bed until I find out how it ends. Consequently, I had a few late nights making this one, and when it was done and backed with ultrasuede, I took this picture using my phone. My cat, Charlie wandered in carrying a mouse, wanting to know why I was up at 3 am and photo bombed this picture. I strung it with three rows of black onyx and tiny creamy seed pearls, finished off with a shell flower for a clasp, and then it was done!
I bought a few dragonflies from a mail order catalogue, and as it often happens, I got the size wrong. I thought I was getting tiny, light creatures that I could add to earrings. Instead, what I received was the elephantine equivalent of the dragonfly world. I've had them sitting around for a while, until one day in an Eureka! moment, I decided to play with cold enamels that I had stashed away.
I spent a relaxed evening with little bottles of coloured resin, dripping them gently into the cells in each dragonfly - I even embellished one of them with tiny crystals and left the cold enamel to set. A few days later I went back to the craft room and the enamels had set gratifyingly hard and the little insects were looking quite sweet and colourful. I haven't yet decided how I will use the little branches, they too, were a bit larger than I anticipated. I wound the dragonflies onto a torque necklace - you know I love a good torque necklace and I think they look pretty summery, don't you??
I hope you've enjoyed your read and will come back next Friday for an update. Have a fabulous week, and I'll catch you next week, same time, same place.
Hiya folks, thanks for coming by to have a look at the goings on at Caprilicious. This week, I've been stretching myself and moving waaaay out of my comfort zone. As a teenager, my mother taught me some embroidery skills and I decided then that this was definitely not something I would pursue. The needles seem to spring to life in my hands, attacking me and biting me deep enough to draw blood and stain the cloth I was working on and the threads turned into snakes that moved with a will of their own and got tangled and knotted. The air used to be blue around me and I invented a few really interesting swear words. And of course, I'd never beaded - beading work in India is done by the finest artisans and I would never have thought of ever attempting to compete with them.
It surprised me then, when for no particular reason my eyes were drawn to soutache jewellery and bead weaving. Perhaps it was the beauty of the stones I brought back from Jaipur or just the need to do something different. I'm not sure what the impetus was for this new direction I am taking, but here it is!!
I want to tell you a bit about Soutache jewellery. Soutache, also known as Russian braid is a tightly woven flat braid, used mainly on the uniforms of the soldiers in France and Eastern European countries from the 1800's. The braids were used to conceal seams, create embellishments and indicate rank on military uniforms.
A textile designer from Israel, Dori Csengri was playing around with pieces of the braid one day in the mid eighties, and in an Eureka! moment she designed a piece of soutache jewellery. How amazing is that! Since then the best proponents of soutache appear to come from Eastern Europe.
Soutache jewellery can be very colourful and that idea, as always, excites me as the possibilities are endless.
The technique is painstaking and slow. The braids have to be lined up so that the weaves are all lying in the same direction, tiny stitches to be inserted invisibly into the ridge between the two sides of the braid, tension maintained, beads added, and the whole piece backed with ultrasuede - and I, Ms. Needle Hater, was dismayed. However the call of the colours in this particular form of jewellery could not be ignored.
Of course being me, I couldn't possibly do anything simple and easy, could I? I decided that I had to learn basic bead weaving to embellish the cabochons as well. The stones can be attached to the backing with glue and surrounded with soutache braids, but the wire worker in me scorns the use of glue to hold a stone in place in perpetuity. I wanted to use tiny seed beads to weave a setting around the cabochon (there goes my eyesight!) and having made a few practice pieces, I decided to take a class to consolidate my knowledge of the technique and pick up a few extra pointers along the way.
The class was in London and I booked it well in advance and organised time off from the day job. I took the train to London nice and early, at the ungodly hour of 7am ( well, as far as I am concerned 7am is an ungodly hour), took a tube to Whitechapel and then found that I had arrived a day too early!.
Oh No! I went back home and did it all again the next day, there was nothing else for it. I even met the same Punxsutawney Phil's on the train, they were obviously commuters who go up to London on the train every day. It takes an hour and six minutes to get in to Euston, and of course, it is much cheaper to live in Warwickshire, even with the train fares. I sat in the sunshine and had a coffee at the same Turkish cafe - it really was a Groundhog Day moment. I made a couple of little pieces at the class. They provided us with ugly acrylic cabochons, cheap cotton thread with Bengali writing on the packaging that snapped as soon as I looked at it and plastic pearls and I couldn't bring myself to waste my energy on making anything that resembled jewellery with that lot - I know, I am such a snob! I can't understand why they would stint on supplies as the prices they charged were steep enough for them to have provided us with halfway decent stuff. Anyway, I learned the how to's and how not to's and was happy with that.
And then the fun part - SHOPPING! I sent off for braid and seed beads, needles and strong thread, researching the best supplies and designs as I went along and adding to another Pinterest board - I really don't know what I did before Pinterest. Presently I had enough supplies to make my first piece. To my pleasant surprise the Fireline thread I bought is very strong, fishing line covered by silk and it doesn't get tangled easily - it is just hell on legs to thread the needle with it as the beading needles are tiny.
The colours of the solar quartz in this necklace look so much like the waters of Copacabana Beach and the swirls of braid are joyous. I started out with a vague idea in mind, and ended up with this piece...
The blue quartz needles go so well with the pendant, would you agree??
Here are some pictures of another piece I started this week, my eyes and fingers needed a bit of a rest and I had to wait for the green beads to arrive. This time I kept a pictorial diary in Instagram - have you looked at the Caprilicious Instagram account??
It is called caprilicious_by_neena_shilvock, and I post updates as I go along if I remember to bring my mobile phone to my seat in front of the telly.
There's a way to go yet and I may not be finished by the time this blog comes out - I'm calling this one The Girl From Ipanema! I see a definite Art Deco face here and I also have an idea of how to string it. My next piece will be from a cabochon of Bumble Bee Jasper - I love the blacks and yellows in the stone that give it it's name.
That's me for this week, folks. I hope you've enjoyed the read. Do come back next week, see you on Friday, same time, same place.
Hello readers, thanks for dropping by. I hope you enjoyed the guest post by Divya of The Jewels of Sayuri last week. I know I usually post just once a week on the Friday. However, Divya's post came in and I felt I should share it with you straight away.
We finally did it - the Number 9 that I made for the door was framed and hung on the wall under the deep eaves of our bungalow so that the weather and rain doesn't get to it. The wall was originally densely covered over with ivy and Mike spent some considerable time hacking it all away. Under the ivy there were two screws already in the brickwork, as if waiting for the frame, so on it went - I started making this piece in January and it has taken five months to finally get the finished number on the wall.
This is a necklace I made last week - big, you say? - yes, it is big and beautiful. It is a vintage Banjara choker which was probably originally made for a young girl as it is difficult to get it up around the base of an adult neck without deforming the metal severely. I acquired it last year and held on to it until I decided how I wanted to use it. It is of course, a very ethnic piece and is looking for a home with someone who likes their jewellery unconventional and dramatic - a proper Wild Child.
I restored it by cleaning and polishing it, gently hammering out all the dinks and replacing the glass that had fallen out of it's settings, finally adding a threadwork piece to the back using little colourful seed beads.
Simsim is the word for sesame in various languages of Arabic origin. I first heard the word when my mother read to me from the 1001 tales of Scheherazade, Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves being one of them. Ali Baba discovers a cave kept by forty thieves filled with treasure, whose entrance only opens with the pass word “Open Simsim”.
The beads in this necklace are Red Sesame jasper, given to me by my friend BN who found them a bit too big for her taste in jewellery. I held on to them for a while as I tend to use brighter colours usually, but I reckoned that I could brighten the mix by adding another bright colour and a few pyrite beads. Red sesame jasper has a reputation as a stone worn to alleviate stress and reconnect with Earth’s grounding energies, and a cleansing effect that eliminates negativity, stabilizing the aura. It is an ideal worry stone for soothing the nerves and restoring balance. It has other properties, including the enhancing of tantric sex - if you wish to read about this and it's other metaphysical properties in greater detail, I refer you to this site.
Bluebell Fields Forever
The May day Bank Holiday rolled up and it rained - surprise, surprise! But the forecast said it would clear up by the afternoon, so we set out to look for bluebell fields - I got Mike to drive me to Arbury Hall, a stately home which is only open to the public on Bank Holiday weekends and pay the entry fees to wander around the gardens belonging to the Viscount of Daventry. Mike walked around behind me, grumbling about the landed gentry, money made from slavery and working the poor into an early grave, tax fiddles and other such like mutterings, making it clear that he didn't want to be there and resented paying money into the Viscount's already bulging coffers. Me, I just wanted to see the bluebell fields and try and get some photographs, and so we tramped around looking for the best views - once we had them, I was bundled into the car (which I wasn't complaining about as it had started to rain in earnest) and driven back home.
When we got home, it was early yet and I had a play with clay and came up with these beads that I fancy are shaped a bit like gooseberries or Chinese lanterns. They are beige and black and chunky, but quite light as they are hollow.
And these came to me all the way from Morocco - they are so colourful, I shall enjoy putting them to use. The coin placed beside them to give you an idea of their size, is an English ten pence piece.
That's me for this week folks, hope you've enjoyed your read. Do join me again next weekend, same time, same place,
Hello readers, today I bring you an interesting guest post for your delectation - Divya is a jewellery designer, maker and educator in Chennai, India. Those of you who know Chennai know that it is an extremely conservative city, and takers for contemporary jewellery are few and far between. Divya walks the fine line between conservative and contemporary and ends up with a charming bohemian look that would not be out of place in any world capital among those of us who strive to be different.
As Caprilicious too strives to be different, the two of us struck up a friendship and I asked Divya to write a guest post, introducing Jewels of Sayuri to my readers. This is what she had to say.....
" Growing up in a conservative household that placed education and knowledge above everything else, it was only natural that I became interested in cultural studies, and by extension, design. What is called traditional today is a practice that was started by someone, somewhere, because it made sense to them at that particular point in time.
My erudite family inspired me to read and learn about my roots, which in turn made me curious to discover more about the culture and practices of people from around the world. I became more flexible, open, broad-minded and attuned to accepting multiple points of view, which I believe have made me a better teacher and designer.
Just as jewellery from precious metals is often used to mark the status of the wearer in financial terms, costume jewellery is used as the marker of intellectual standards.
Interesting and well thought out jewellery emphasises who you are, where you are from, and above all else, what makes you unique.
Blending tradition and modernity to create something new from an old concept comes more easily to me from the strong foundations of knowing who I am and where I come from.
Jewellery has always been an intrinsic part of every culture. How a person of a particular religion, status, or sect is recognised has always been governed by how they look, and jewellery plays an unmistakable role in defining that “look”. Subcultures from around the world have long relied on accessories to create inclusion.
In 2012, when I created my collection Chithiram (for a showcase on the Travel and Living Channel on TV) I had no idea that it would spark off a strong trend of inspiring the wearer to use jewellery as a tool for storytelling in India.
In 2014, my collections titled Chitra Katha (inspired by the visual narrative of storytelling in India) and Ragamala (a collection of jewellery personifying the visualisation of Hindustani music) were created specifically to be not just pieces of jewellery, but tell stories from Indian folklore that I hold close to my heart.
People make the assumption that wearing traditional attire would make one feel out of place amidst a modern crowd. However, that is so far from the truth. While meeting new people is exciting, the experience can at times be overwhelming and make you feel as though you are lost in a sea of faces.
At most events these days everyone looks the same, for in the name of modernity we have conformed to a uniform mundane identity. Wearing something that is culturally relevant to you can immediately make you unique, feel at home and the cynosure of all eyes.
The world is moving at a frantic pace and as a result, we haven't a clue about our backgrounds and what makes each of us unique. Consequently depression, frustration and feelings of inferiority spread through us creating a void.
Today's fashion and jewellery designers from around the world are increasingly turning to ancient motifs, techniques and materials to inspire contemporary designs to fill this void. A stylised modern piece can just as easily retain its original cultural premise.
With the plethora of designs now available, there are a few things to be mindful of while picking up culturally relevant costume jewellery.
Although it may make sense to start your collection with pieces from your own country or tradition, you do not have to restrict yourself to this. Pick a piece that speaks to you, tells a story and makes you feel opulent and interesting. Make sure that it complements your skin tone and use it to highlight your best features, choosing jewellery that is appropriate for the occasion. Pick up handmade pieces directly from the artist-designer rather than buying machine made mass produced items. After all, you are buying the emotion and story behind the piece, and who better to buy it from than the artists themselves. Finally mix and match, have fun and give yourself a new look every day".
Thank you Divya. I hope you have enjoyed this guest post, readers. I shall catch up with you on Friday as usual,
Divya is the soul behind the jewellery brand Sayuri that specializes in one of a kind mixed media pieces. She is a passionate design educator by day and an enthusiastic blogger by night. Visit her blog Jewelsofsayuri to find out more about her inspirations and collections.
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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