Hello folks, thanks for joining me today. My friend Neelam from Look in the Bag and I were meant to be at a craft fair tomorrow, but we had news early this week that the events organiser had gone out of business on the 1st of July - so, that's that, I'm afraid. Oh well, we tried. It just means that all the energy that had been concentrated into putting a collection together for the fair was wasted, and I am now left with a load of bits and pieces that I will have to catalogue and find a venue for.
Over The Rainbow
This week I was totally inspired by pink! I came upon a picture in a magazine of a dress made in magenta and orange - wow, what an explosion of colour! I immediately wanted to make a piece of jewellery with it.
And so was born a vibrant crystal and dyed jade necklace, all the colours of the rainbow seemed to be in it. One of the strands was made with orange crystals, to which I added jade teardrops, dyed in a deep magenta. As the crystal beads are opaque and do not glitter, the necklace can be worn during the daytime and I even test drove it at work, toned down even further with a white shirt. The clasp is a carved aventurine which I imported from Malaysia and the necklace can be worn with it at the back, or to one side. A very versatile mood elevator for a modern lover of statement jewellery, and most definitely an explosion of colour!
Colour is an old Friend
It is my view that one should never shy away from colour. I have taken a critical look at my wardrobe and it would appear that most of it is quite conservative - monochrome seem to dominate the palette. My jewellery therefore, is a welcome addition to my outfit and immediately takes it to another level. See, I always knew there was method to my madness!
And this makes a lot of sense as you get more bang for your buck out of simple clothes, just by swapping your accessories around. I love white, probably influenced by my mother who had the largest collection of starched white cotton sarees. The injection of a shot of colour is always welcome and an otherwise sombre garment can become a fabulous outfit in an instant.
In The Pink
Still influenced by the photograph in the magazine I referred to earlier, I sat down and made a couple of large beads from a tutorial by Donna Kato, one of my heroes from the polymer clay world. I made the bead itself using a material called Ultra Lite - which is rather like working with marshmallow. The beads though large, are so light that they float; which was perfect, as I then added them to a necklace of silver foiled glass beads I brought back from a trip to India a couple of years ago, and have been hoarding for just this moment. A few magenta jade beads between the glass beads jazzed the necklace up even further.
My friend who makes these wonderful pens on his wood turning lathe - you know the one, I've talked about him in a previous blog post, made some pens from gemstones. He brought them round for me to have a look at and asked if I would take some pictures of them for him. I was quite flattered to be asked, as I have really started to enjoy using my camera. It's always nice when other people recognise that you are making a fairly decent fist of what is actually a spin off of the original hobby - jewellery making. These pens are not for sale - but they are so drool worthy, I have sneaked pictures of them onto this post. You can find a couple of items from his lathe on my website, but sadly not these. If you like them, I could always ask him to make some for you.
Be Careful What You Ask For,You Might Get It!
I was looking on Pinterest for a way to display my earrings - if you are one of the very few who don't know what Pinterest is, it is a virtual scrapbook, a place to put pictures, ideas, recipes - anything you find on the internet that you might wish to go back to at a later date, and share with friends. I have a little corner of it and I don't mind admitting that it is very addictive - there are loads of ideas on it and I live in fear that a wicked witch might find out how important it is to so many people, and with a cackle of glee, turn it off with a 'poof' of her wand.
Anyway, what I found was a rustic wooden frame with chicken wire stretched across it. I asked Mike if he could make me one, pretty please - 'nothing is too much trouble, darling', says Mike and off we go, me happy that I'm going to have this lovely display item, and him to find his odd job man (sneaky!).
Now, the odd job man was originally a carpenter by trade before he retired, so I accepted that he might be the one to ask. I wanted it all rustic looking and distressed, but with a leg on the back on a hinge, so that it could be freestanding like an easel, or placed on top of a chair. I wanted inexpensive material, about ten quids worth, to go into it. I even said, perhaps it should just be four pieces of wood nailed together without the need for the mitred joints seen in the frame above, to make it even more rustic looking - how much simpler could the remit be? Well, have a look at what appeared in my house a few days later.
The saga of the earring display board reminds me of my childhood when we used to take material to a tailor with a pattern, only to find weeks later that the finished article looked nothing like the drawing, and all our anticipation and hopes were dashed! Life is so much simpler now that ready made clothing is available in India. I wish it had been that easy in my childhood. Some of those encounters with the tailor have left my psyche scarred for life!
That's it for this week, folks. The Killing Fields continue in our garden and bodies are strewn all over the place. The cats prowl the flower beds, hoping to ambush an unwary mouse or bird, and we are afraid to go out in the garden in our bare feet for fear of what we might tread on. Have a fab weekend, and I'll catch you next week, same time, same place
Hello folks, how are you today - still rocking the statement jewellery look, I hope. The sun is shining, well, most of the time out here in the UK and all's well with the world.
I decided that I have done all I can in readiness for the Craft Fair next weekend. As you know, it was cancelled a few weeks ago and rescheduled to the Guildhall in Worcester on the 25th of this month. Now that the date is fast approaching I find that I am packed and ready to get on with it, and in my mind I have already moved on to other things.
I bought a couple of leaf skeleton pendants when I was in the USA. I made them myself in previous years, and it isn't a difficult process; just a bit laborious and time consuming. However, this time, I took a short cut and brought a few leaves back with me.
Oh, to be in Baja, California where the sun shines relentlessly, the sea is a deep blue, with dolphins and whales frolicking around you when you go for a swim, and the surf is always up. Pamela Anderson lookalikes, all bosoms, teeth and blonde hair jog along the beach in tiny bikinis, and golden athletic men in budgie smugglers ride the waves towards you (no, not the Hoff, never the Hoff, this is my daydream, thank you very much) ........and POP! the bubble bursts - I am in green and cloudy England with my lovely silver top man and I am content. I can lounge around in my PJ's and not worry about sucking my tummy in, or the state of the hair on my legs - yes, readers, all women do that when they see good looking men in budgie smugglers, it isn't the prerogative of the young!
The cottonwood tree is indigenous to America and provided wood for dugout canoes to the Native Americans. The leaves are very distinctive, but what I liked best was that there was space between the veins for me to embellish the leaves further - if you know me, you'll know that I can embellish in my sleep - Mike swears he'd wake up with braided eyelashes with pom poms on the end if he lay still for any length of time (and I wondered why he thrashed around so much through the night - it is out of fear of being a sitting duck target for my creative talents). I added little turquoise seed beads, labradorite and faceted red jade - and as if that weren't enough, a wire swirl carrying gemstone dangles in front of the leaf.
I love the kyanite nuggets used in the necklace, but it felt like they would make the necklace a bit dark, so I jump started it to a brighter level with seed pearls between the nuggets and luminous coin pearls as accent beads. A butterfly toggle clasp, and I decided I could do no more. Kyanite is a beautiful gemstone - an inky blue with a silvery tinge which comes from aluminium deposits in the stone. I am sure that wherever it ends up, this necklace will be well loved.
Listen to the Rain
A maple leaf skeleton on a turquoise bead necklace, broken up by dyed blue paisley howlite beads and crystals makes this a beautiful summer necklace, light and easy to wear with summer whites. I bought a pair of Xuron super fine Round Nose Pliers to satisfy my inner tool junkie, and wanted to try them out. I undid a string of tiny apatite beads and wired them into a chain. It was very hard to do as the beads are tiny and the bead holes smaller still and I had to use very fine wire. However, it was worth it in the end, though my hands were sore and I was going blind from squinting at it. The addition of Czech glass 'raindrops' at the end of the chains reminds me of raindrops dripping from a windowsill.
I have to share this email with you - this is from a lady I have never met, all the way from Singapore. She took the time to write to me, and she doesn't even like necklaces! I was fit to burst with pride when I saw it. Thank you Mary, I really appreciate the gesture.
That's all I have to share with you this week folks. The garden is responding to all the care we are lavishing on it, but the cats are turning into murderers. In fact we might just as well call our garden 'The Killing Fields', the number of decapitated, dismembered bodies we find regularly in it. The bodies were at first brought indoors as gifts, but I soon disabused them of the illusion that I like cheap presents - I like mine boxed and beribboned, thank you very much!
Have a fabulous weekend - we are looking forward to some sunshine and I, like everyone else in the UK have got into the habit of looking at the long term weather forecast and tapping the barometer hopefully on a daily basis.
Catch you next Friday, same time, same place
Hello readers and lovers of statement jewellery, thanks for joining me again today. I had a couple of 'catch up' days off from the day job this week,doing nothing but lounging around the house, catching up on the energy that needs replenishing from time to time.
We had news that the show in Worcester that was cancelled a few weeks ago has been replaced by a smaller one-day affair, this time in the Guildhall in Worcester city centre. The event is on the 25th of July and if you are in the area, do come up and say hello, I'd love to see you.
The Pink Planet
The pink planet was discovered by NASA in 2013 - they haven't as yet given the poor little orphan a name - it is called GJ 504b and is dark cherry blossom/magenta in colour. The quest to find out more about it began in 2009, and the astronomers say GJ 504b is about four times the mass of Jupiter and has a temperature of around 237 Celsius. It's star is slightly hotter than the sun, and the pink planet orbits its star at nearly nine times the distance Jupiter orbits the sun. Don't my polymer clay beads look exactly like the pink planet?? I was really struck with the resemblance, which is entirely coincidental.
The beads for this necklace come from all around the world. The brass lost wax cast beads come from Kenya, the luminous ceramic beads, from my visit to the USA, the crystals are Chinese and I picked up the flat blue ceramic bead in India, and of course, the polymer clay pink planet beads were made by me here in the UK from a tutorial by a Frenchwoman on her blog Parole de Pâté - a truly international effort!
A Moroccan enamelled pendant teamed with dyed branch coral in black and gold form the basis of this necklace. The coral beads are light and because they are separated by tiny seed beads, they sit comfortably around the neck. The vendor of the pendant sent me the little Sufi dervish as a gift and I hung it on a chain on the back of this necklace to add a pretty touch to the back.
A beautiful silver tone bead came from Morocco, in the same parcel that delivered the pendant for 'Maroc'. I had a strand of amazonite slab nuggets and I decided to remake a necklace I had made previously, albeit slightly different from the first one.
When first put on, the necklace beads have to be settled around your neck by gently arranging them so that the ends of each consecutive bead faces in the opposite direction and gives the appearance of two rows of beads. Once that is done, it stays put for the entire time the necklace is around your neck. I love the seafoam green of the amazonite - very cool and refreshing on a summers day.
I love the teardrop shaped coral beads that go into this necklace - I've used these beads in various necklaces in all sorts of colours, but red is the one that attracts my eye the most. As I strung the necklace it struck me that the scarlet of the coral looked so much like poppies. Cats eye beads give the necklace pops of contrasting colour at irregular intervals, and a large Moroccan bead in contrasting navy blue provides focal interest.
The origin of the name of this necklace is instantly obvious, given the colour of the beads. Turquoise blue is one of my favourite colours and teamed with copper coiled wire beads and a handmade clasp, this necklace is made so that it can be worn in two ways and still have the copper beads to one side in an asymmetrical presentation - with the clasp at the back, or to one side. The copper wire was coiled on a mandrel, and the resulting coil was coiled again on a thicker piece of wire. The wire is coated invisibly with a coat of polymer so that it does not tarnish or react with the skin.
Although I had loads of time on my hands, I didn't spend any of it cooped up in the house playing with wire or polymer clay. It was sunny and warm, and a lot of my days off were spent playing the hedonist, lying in the garden under an umbrella, drinking pink lemonade, eating al fresco, reading and playing with Charlie and Wilfred.
I know a lot of my regular readers were surprised that I wrote a mid week post - didn't you see it?? Well, it was called Alchemy and you will find it here. It was entirely unrelated to jewellery and you will have to take a look to see what it was all about.
That's me for this week folks. I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place - have a lovely week in the meantime
Hello readers, thanks for joining me today. It is unusual for me to write a mid week post, but this is an unusual subject for the Caprilicious blog to talk about.
A short while ago, I saw a colleague of mine at the day job write up his operation notes with the most beautiful fountain pen. When I complimented him on it, he let slip that he had made it himself.
My interest was piqued as I hadn't expected that answer - after all, the last hand-made writing implement I have heard of was probably the quill! I spent some time with him chatting about it and was invited to his house to take a look at his workshop.
The idea of making something beautiful out of the most unprepossessing beginnings really appeals to me. And, very much like what goes on at Chez Caprilicious, my friend's house is full of his stash and detritus relating to his hobby. Various corners of the house are taken over by woodworking implements and the double garage is full of lathes and work benches - the poor cars are relegated to the drive.
There are shelves full of bowls and boxes that he has made himself, and a longbow that was made a few years ago as a limited item sits in the bay window. Mike, who loves wood items went quite cross eyed from the effort of restraining himself to his usual nonchalance (he didn't make it) , a bit like me in a contemporary jewellery store.
When he talked about his hobby, Shekhar's eyes gleamed with a fanatical fervour, he became animated, and once he found he had an appreciative audience in Mike and me, he brought out everything he had made. I can tell you now, some of the stuff just took my breath away. He brought out a little bowl, and I took a nice photograph - then out came another, and I had to have that on film too, and then a third, and a fourth - you get the picture. My camera's battery started to flash and I began to panic that I would soon run out of juice, forgetting that I had a spare battery in my camera case in my excitement and awe at all the treasure before my eyes. I realised the trick was to wait until all the pieces of a similar genre had been brought out and then take the picture - but how was I to know when the end was in sight?? There just seemed to be an endless supply of beautifully made bowls and boxes.
Shekhar is a plastic surgeon, a hand surgeon no less, and the finesse he uses to reconstruct and repair parts of the body has been utilised to good effect in his avocation. Some of the pieces I am about to show you are made of a single piece of wood, and others are made of layered wood, hundreds of pieces glued together and then turned on the lathe - I am totally in awe. And although he hasn't quite got to the point where he can make gold from wood, what he can make is probably more interesting, precious and one of a kind - all adjectives that are very close to my heart.
Part of a personal collection
I was amused to hear that just as I bring beads back from my travels, Shekhar brings home lumps of wood in his suitcase, which he then turns into beautiful objects. The lump of eucalyptus wood in an earlier photograph came back with him from a holiday in Australia. Yes, he is happily married, and his wife doesn't seem to mind that the house is full of wood, she loves the objects he makes too and encourages him in his hobby.
I enquired about the beautiful pen that had first caught my eye. I was told that it was actually made of metal Mokume Gane - this is a Japanese metal working procedure, which produces a mixed-metal laminate with distinctive layered patterns using pressure and heat. Mokume gane translates closely to "wood grain metal", describing the way the metal takes on the appearance of natural wood grain. Though the technique was first created to decorate swords, the art survives today mostly in the form of jewelry and hollowware.
Polymeristas learn this technique too - but we use multiple colours of clay sliced from a stripy stack impressed with a texture plate, to make beautifully coloured and patterned mokume gane pieces of jewellery.
The fountain pens, however, are hollowed out from blanks that can be bought ready made - the patterning is extremely tight in order to ensure that there are plenty of markings in the smaller pieces. Though the blank or billet is a metal composite, it cannot be forged, soldered, rolled or bent around a mandrel. Instead it is turned on a lathe or cut from flat stock using standard woodworking tools, which, of course is where Shekhar comes in.
Anyway, the outcome of all this, to cut a long story short, was that I offered to place a couple of items on a separate page on the Caprilicious website. I know they are not jewellery related, but the bowls we are testing the water with have been made out of single pieces of wood, and are beautifully made works of art. He has even consented to have one of his pens on the page.
I brought the items home, took some photographs and returned them to him. If some discerning person decides that they too, are in love, and one of the bowls is a 'must have' item, Shekhar will courier them out himself, so that I don't have to get involved with that side of things. If someone wants an inlaid bowl, do let me know and I can put you in touch with him.
Now on the 'WoodCraft' page
And since this appears to be a wood related post on a jewellery website, let me show you what I've been up to. I love masks and look for them when I travel. I have a couple of wooden ones - a fierce warrior from China we call Ghenghis, and a Nubian mask from Egypt. Mike hung them in the conservatory for a while, and then moved them onto a wall on the back of the house where they are quite sheltered from the elements by the deep eaves on the roof of our little bungalow. In spite of this, the pigments on the Nubian mask faded and I took it down, intending to repaint it.
It took me a couple of years to actually get around to doing this and I spent an evening happily putting the dots and dashes on this chappies face. I don't really work with paints and was terrified lest my hands became unsteady or a large glob of paint landed on the poor thing's nose like an unsightly wart - but it all worked out in the end.
I have varnished his newly lovely face with floor wax and he will go outside, back to his original spot next to his Chinese mate, guarding our back door.
Thanks for joining me today, folks. I hope you have enjoyed reading about something a bit different from what I usually put on for you. I have had a couple of days off from the day job and have been playing with beads and baubles and will be back this Friday, at the usual time, same place - see you then
Hello people, I hope you are all enjoying your summer. We are in the middle of a heat wave in the UK and roasting gently - it doesn't last very long so it is important to wring every possible moment of enjoyment out of every day. Summer in the UK is fabulous when the weather is good. Because of all the rain we get, the greenery is lush and intense. Most everyone has a garden and those that don't, grow stuff in pots. The owners of the local garden centres are laughing all the way to the bank as the queues at the till grow longer and longer, but we don't begrudge them a penny - do we?!?
We went to the Upton on Severn jazz festival last weekend and I wore an Indian gypsy necklace I found in a shop on Ebay - it was from a vendor in the USA and I had it sent to my friend's address and carried it back home with me. By the time it arrived, the glass in the central motif had shattered and I replaced it with polymer clay and embellished it with a couple of bindis I had in my collection - they were bought when I was about fourteen, and they came with a glue with which they were meant to be attached to the forehead. The glue perished a long time ago, but the bindis remained with me only because I am loath to throw away pretty things, and I think I put them to good use. I tried the necklace on - one look at my friend's face and I knew she was thinking "what th........?", but was too polite to say it out loud - well, this picture is for her - yes, it can be worn - well it was worn, and I loved it.
Here's a little clip from the morning parade - Mike and I were in the crowd and the dancing was impromptu (although the girls appeared to have a routine practiced and set up) and free for all - down at the end you will find the delightful chap in the red waistcoat - he was a hoot!
Christianity in Ethiopia dates to the 1st century AD. The largest and oldest Christian group is an Oriental Orthodox church that was part of the Coptic Church. Ethiopian Coptic Crosses are worn by Christians in Ethiopia, and all around the world. They are cast using the "lost wax method", and bring together a variety of historical influences including Egyptian and Celtic design styles.
The Ethiopian Empire also known as Abyssinia, spanned a geographical area covered by present-day Eritrea and the northern half of Ethiopia. It existed from approximately 1137 until 1975 when the monarchy was overthrown in a coup d'état.
This necklace was made with a vintage coptic cross - being a heretic/infidel type who would once have been burned at the stake for her beliefs has not made me shy away from beautiful objects, even if they have religious symbolism written into their DNA - and I truly believe that these crosses are the most beautiful I have seen in a long time. I wanted to make a necklace worthy of this pendant and I put together glass, shell, polymer clay, ceramic, haematite, rose quartz and jasper beads in four strands with a beautiful mother of pearl clasp - most definitely a statement necklace worthy of any Caprilicious woman.
Birds do it, Bees Do It......
I have a number of these beautifully crafted, handmade heart shaped lampwork beads which I plan to turn into pendants. I started with a design in the style of Nicole Hanna, and the design has become embellished and ornamented more and more with each time I have remade it. This time I used bare copper wire to bind tarnish-free enamelled copper, so that when I antiqued the pendant in a chemical bath, the bare copper wire turned black and showed the weave up to it's best effect. I also added a wire coil in tarnish -free silver plate, which I wound around with bare copper - this too turned dark in the chemicals and when polished with steel wool, the whole thing had a contrasting effect that pleased me greatly.
Clarice - another bracelet
Last weekend, I sliced the remaining pieces of the leaf cane I had made, cured the leaves and varnished them to a high shine. I had about 14 'leaves' by the time I was done making holes in them with my Dremel, so I decided to make a little bracelet with a few of them in a free form wire style.
I made wire leaves for the back as the polymer clay leaves might be too fragile to withstand repeated injury and the effect is delicate and pretty.
I received a substantial slice of labradorite in the post, all the way from Rajasthan. It is at least 3.5" x 2.5" and at first look, I was so disappointed with it. It was only when I took it into the sunlight and moved it about and the labradorescence shined through that I was happy - no wonder the Inuits thought that the Northern Lights were imprisoned in this stone. It reminds me of the silks in India when two different colours are used in the warp and the weft and one can only see the colours with movement.
That's all I had time for this week for folks. The sunshine, the garden, the day job and the cats have kept me so busy (although not necessarily in that order) that I have had very little time to play. We have been going out at night picking off slugs and snails with a torch, guarding my Hostas zealously and I have been rewarded by pristine, un-nibbled edges on the lovely leaves.
What are you doing this summer, do tell - whatever it is, I wish you all a great time. Catch you next Friday, same time, same place