Hello readers, lovely to see you here again. This week, I've been reading a really interesting blog by women who aren't afraid to communicate their ideas, position, or mood through their apparel and accessories. They call themselves The Idiosyncratic Fashionistas, Valerie and Jean, and their blog is just so much fun - I just hope I age as irreverently and with as much zest for life! If you have a moment to spare, I urge you to take a look.
My mother brought us girls up to be quiet shy types, to be obedient wives and sit on a cushion and sew a fine seam while we ate our strawberries and cream (or was it curds and whey?), like the Mother Goose character. She got a bit confused along the way though, and gave us a good education and the ability to use our brains. Unfortunately for her, as we grew older and escaped from mum's sphere of influence both my sister and I turned out to be more and more like Longfellow's little girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead than Curly Locks or Miss Muffet -
" When she was good she was very, very good,
And when she was bad she was horrid."
Unfortunately we revert to type on occasion, but that is happening less and less these days.
On Making a Statement and Having a Blast
What does it mean - to make a statement? - all statements claim something or make a point. According to the OED, one of the definitions of a statement is "the communication of an idea, position, mood, or the like through something other than words". What sort of statement do you think these two ladies are making? Relaxed, fun, irreverent, devil - may - care, idiosyncratic, all of the above? Any more thoughts? Put them in the comments section, why don't you? I am so going to be like them as I grow older - Miss Muffet be damned; sorry mum!
I have been busy tying up loose ends in preparation for our end-of-summer holiday. Having had a very indifferent summer, I am not looking forward to the rigours of winter, but Heigh Ho! one just has to plod on. By the time you read this, I shall be on a flight to Nice towards the sun, sea and pebbles - I'll be sure to send you a postcard!
Butterscotch and Caramel
What's the difference, I hear you ask - well, apparently butterscotch and caramel are very different things.
Caramel is made with granulated white sugar, milk and/or cream, and butter.
Butterscotch on the other hand is made with brown sugar and butter. Toffee is butterscotch that has been cooked to the hard-crack stage - and all of them are yummy and very bad for you and your teeth, as is usually the case with anything tasty!
These carnelian lentil shaped beads reminded me so much of those toffees I often longed for as a child and pestered my grandfather for, until he gave in and bought them for me. I added bronze lost wax cast beads from Kenya, and some blue magnesite paisley shaped beads for contrast.
Basket Weave Earrings
Twelve tiny pieces of copper wire were wired together, their ends hammered into little paddles to form hoop earrings. Although they look easy to make, they were actually difficult - try holding twelve 2" long pieces of copper wire in a row flat enough to wire together and you will understand why I invented some swear words that day.
Until I found this tool, lurking at the back of my tool kit. It is a ring clamp, and is meant to hold a ring steady while it is being worked on. It has two movable ends on a hinge, padded out with suede leather to give a good grip and a removable wedge that is inserted into either end to hold the ring securely. Hooray, I found a use for another one of my tools, bought long ago with a project in mind, lying unused and forlorn in a cupboard until now!
Hoops are in fashion just now and I think these are simple (OK, they look simple), light and interesting. I wanted to add some dangly bits which is why I created a wiggly border in the first place, but it just didn't look right and I gave up after a couple of attempts.
Romantic and pretty - that is the statement that will be made by the wearer of this necklace - pale apple green jade and whisper pink rose quartz leaf shaped beads, interspersed with freshwater pearls, carrying a cottonwood leaf. The bail has gemstones in pinks and greens as well as an amethyst nugget dangling from it on a 'S' shaped squiggle that was formed and hammered into shape from a length of no tarnish silver plated wire. The cottonwood leaf skeleton was electroplated with copper and coated with silver in the USA and I bought it there at my last visit in May. I envisage it worn by a woman in a flowing gown with a deep neckline, perhaps even a bride, a romantic hairstyle with curls escaping from it, long slim arms with tinkling bracelets - is that you I can see in my mind's eye??
Right folks, I have to go wash my hair and paint my nails now in readiness for my holiday. Have a fabulous week, and I'll catch you next weekend, a bit later than usual at the Caprilicious Jewellery Blog
Hello folks, thanks for joining me here again. The title of this blogpost comes from a quotation by Oscar Wilde (one of the world's biggest elitists if ever there was one - but he gave great quotes!) "One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art".
To my mind, we are all works of art - and we all deserve to wear it too. Embellishing the human body with jewellery has been around for centuries, but only recently has the concept of jewellery as art come into being.
The very first pieces of jewellery from an archaeological find were 100,000 year old beads made from Nassarius snail shells. Jewellery evolved from being functional (brooches and pins), to denote social status and store wealth (gold and diamonds), denote personal status (wedding rings), love and mourning (engagement rings and brooches) and confer protection (gemstones such as turquoise and other talismans).
Now, in the 21st century, we no longer need to wear jewellery to denote our status, and Oscar WIlde's original quotation has a chance of being adopted as the modern woman's slogan.
Once you 'get' the idea of wearing statement jewellery, it is hard to go back. You wear one piece, and you are hooked for life! Watch the irrepressible 93 year old New York interior decorator Iris Apfel, in this little video :-
Attitude, attitude, attitude - it ain't what you wear, it's the way that you wear it!
The Saga of the Bronze Clay Earrings - Part 2
If you have been following the blog, you will remember that I spent an entire week refining the design and the engineering of this piece; you can read about my adventures with bronze clay here. At the end of last week, I had a pair of components for earrings.
I put these through a long cycle in a tumbler with some stainless steel shot and a drop of liquid soap and when I drained the liquid away in a large strainer, this is what they looked like.
And this is what the earrings looked like when I finally made them up. Although they still need a some work to perfect the design, I learned a lot from making them and really enjoyed the process of being drawn out of the box into thinking laterally.
What did I make with the funny squiggles? Well, they were an experiment in setting little stones into metal clay. Here are the earrings I made with the little critters.
There are two types of opal - Common and Precious. The common opal, which comes from Peru and Africa is white, yellow, brown, black, orange, pink or blue while the precious variety is the variety found in Australia, with it's multi colored flashes.
Common opals can have markings shaped like trees, mosses and ferns - these are composed of manganese deposits in the stone. Dendritic opal is also called Merlinite and is meant to have shamanistic properties that promote spiritual growth by blending heavenly and earthly energy, helping you to remain open and approachable. If a stone can do all these things, bring it on, I say.
When I looked into the depths of this pendant I saw the tree like patterns and fell instantly in love. This photograph was taken with the pendant held to the light and you can clearly see the fern like patterns. In a less lit up situation, the pendant almost looks black, as you will see. I love the idea that there is a secret hidden inside the stone that very few people know about - perhaps that's the inner child in my psyche.
The pendant, set in sterling silver is so pretty, accented with a ruby, a white topaz and a couple of sapphires. I only needed to make a simple necklace to show it off with a scattering of pearls, tiny, shiny silver beads and an ornamental silver hook clasp.
I had an email a couple of weeks ago telling me that I had won the 'Great British Bead Off' Editors Choice - this means I need to remake the beads and write a little tutorial with photographs, for their readers. I am also required to send in the beads to be photographed and claim my prize. That should keep me busy all weekend, I think. You can read about these beads here.
Well, that's all this week, folks. I've not had too much time to play as the day job has been inexplicably busier than normal. Hopefully things will calm down a bit and I can play with beads and clay again and be as happy as a pig in muck. Have a lovely week, and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place
Hello readers, thanks for meeting me here today. It has been a long week, with the day job suddenly hotting up, guests at the weekend, and sunshiny days begging us to come out and play.
A classic piece of music, sung recently by Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett and revived all over again. I called my next piece Ermine and Pearls - or 'Oimine', as Gaga pronounces it!
Ermine and Pearls
The amethysts in this necklace are sumptuous - they are rough cut teardrop nuggets. The pendant is a slice of druzy, showing all the layers of the rock in a seam of amethyst, set in Bali silver. The amethysts always have regal connotations for me and with the beautiful baroque pearls, I immediately thought of the ermine trimmed robes worn by peers of the realm on ceremonial occasions. en departed from Westminster Abbey for the Palace.
Perseverance Pays - or Five Takes with Bronze Clay
I played with bronze clay when I had time between other activities and some of my experiments were successful, and some a total failure. I persevered - I could feel that I was close to getting it right, the design just needed to be refined a bit, and of course, I never give up!
I was given a design to work to. I drew it onto a sheet of paper to the exact size specified, transferred it to a piece of scratch foam and tested it on polymer clay - so far, so good!
I then rolled out a piece of clay and tried out the scratch foam imprint. Although less than satisfied with the precision of the imprint, I kept going - I pressed the bronze clay onto the foam to get as deep an imprint as possible. To make the lines clearer I used my new micro gouging tools from Harbor Freight to carve into the dried out pieces and was mighty happy with what I had achieved - so far, not bad at all, I said, patting myself on the back!
Unfortunately, when it came out of the kiln, I wanted to beat myself about the head, not pat myself on the back - the 'cut work' and carving had made the clay too thin and it had split. I decided that I had rolled the clay out too thin in the first place and that I needed to get a sharper imprint. I made a polymer clay imprint, cured it, and then took a 'negative'. This time, I rolled the clay out thicker than before and got a clearer imprint.
Bronze clay pieces go into the kiln twice to sinter, so it is a fairly laborious procedure. Here are the pieces going into the kiln for two firings, along with some other stuff I made up just for the heck of it with leftover clay.
Boo Hoo Hoo, one of the pieces was OK, but the other had split once again. I realised that in the process of carving the 'cut work' in the piece, I had probably created micro fractures which had split the component when I put it in the kiln - the piece shrinks by about 30% so even the slightest fracture would pull the clay apart.
So I made yet another piece and when I had finished carving it, I reinforced the areas around the carving with slip and held my breath till it came out of the kiln.........
The pieces still need to be burnished and tumbled and finished off. There is still one more sticky bit where I am going to attempt to attach a sterling silver post to the back of the earpiece using a new substance called Clay Bond - but at least I have cracked the basic component - I could have danced, danced, danced, all night! Anyway, the consolation has to be that I have now got the procedure down pat, I've even written the steps down and have a load of pictures I took as I went along to remind me not to make the same mistakes.
Through all these mishaps over the week, I felt the need to reaffirm my viability as a jewellery maker - I needed to be successful at something! Fortunately for me, Ermine and Pearls was snapped up by a lovely lady who likes her amethysts and I made Aphrodite's tears - why it has this name will be explained here as I made a similar necklace a couple of years ago. I love ammonites and think they are really beautiful - I bought three pendants, set in sterling silver. One for myself, the other I made a couple of years ago, and the third one for these pages.
Today, I shall try out the Clay Bond and let you know next week how my experiment pans out. I have visitors over the weekend, so have to get it done by the end of play today. The cats are enjoying the summer, and are out all day, only coming in to eat and to bring us little rodents and small birds as gifts. We are soon going on holiday - I'm not sure what they will think of that as they will have to go into a cattery, but I can hazard a guess.
Have a fabulous weekend, and I'll catch you next Friday, same place, same time
Hello again readers, and welcome to the Caprilicious Jewellery blog for lovers of statement jewellery.
This week has been about playing with my little kiln and making components for earrings. I had a few packs of Art Clay Silver and thought it was time I used them while I had a couple of days off from the day job.
I wrote about the medium a long time ago, when I first went to a class, and it was just as much fun playing with the clay this week as it was when I was first enthused by it. Here are some of the earrings I made with the finished silver components.
As I hadn't used my kiln for ages I had to get reacquainted with it and the silver clay. It is a real bu**~r of a medium, pardon my French -but that was the politest expletive I used that day.
I made a few pieces, dried them out on a heated tray and then decided I didn't like them and reconstituted the clay to make another design. I figured it was better to scrap the design at the clay stage when it could be reused, rather than to carry on foolishly, hoping for the best and having to scrap it eventually when it came out of the kiln.
The air was blue around my head. However, by the time I finished I was working like a well oiled machine and I ended up with these five pairs of earring components that I was happy with and could fire in the kiln. I think the earrings are pretty, don't you?
The pendant in this piece is from India - a hammered disc with an ornate pattern and a peacock picked out in wire. As the peacock dances in the monsoon, I thought it went well with the spectrolite beads - they come in a beautiful inky blue/black - a puffy rain cloud in each bead, with little flashes of lightning shooting through. A couple of shiny silver beads, and some pearls and the necklace was done. As one of my friends said, it is a traditional pendant (and you couldn't get a more traditional Indian motif than a peacock) with a contemporary necklace. It certainly fits my design ethic - a mix and match of different cultural identities, and the ancient with the modern, yet making an interesting piece of jewellery that can be worn with just about anything.
The title for this piece comes from the cinnabar beads. Cinnabar was a vermilion pigment derived from Mercury sulphate - the ore used to refine elemental mercury or quicksilver. Cinnabar generally occurs as a vein-filling mineral associated with recent volcanic activity and alkaline hot springs. Quicksilver is literally 'living silver' because of the ability of mercury to move, being the only liquid metal at standard conditions for temperature and pressure.
Until it was widely realised that mercury was poisonous, it was used in the Near East and in China since as early as the Song dynasty, where it was used in colouring lacquerware and in cosmetics. Imagine the furore when the ladies found that they were literally 'dying to look beautiful'. It was bad enough when they couldn't walk because their feet were bound and deformed, but it must have been even worse when the ladies couldn't even lie indolently on their chaise - longues, looking beautiful in their red lippie and rouge for fear of doing themselves a mischief. Where was Max Factor in those days?? He would've made a killing (sorry, couldn't resist it)!
In the modern jewelry industry, the toxic pigment is replaced by a resin-based polymer that approximates the appearance of pigmented lacquer.
The pendant, set in silver is a mosaic of abalone and black lip oyster, set with coral and turquoise and the beads are an unusual matte grey agate, set off by the cinnabar.
So folks, it is back to the kiln for me this weekend - if you come by my house and it sits in the centre of a blue fog, you'll know I am having problems with my clay - but one can only hope that won't be the case. Have a lovely weekend, and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place
Hello folks, thanks for joining me this week - it's been a funny old week, with the weather echoing my mood. A bitter Siberian wind has been blowing across the UK precluding all but the hardiest individual from going out into the garden.
IK Events, who were meant to be running the craft show last week ceased trading, leaving all of us in the lurch with a promise to return our money, requesting us to be patient - strangely, the director of the events management company, Isobel Newport, opened another company 'Solstice Commercial Limited' on the 1st of July, just the day before IK Events ceased trading. I understand that the new venture is a HR company from the spanking brand new website - I wish her the best of luck with the new venture.
I'm told that every cloud has a silver lining and while waiting for it to announce itself I plodded on with the day job and the usual hurly burly of day to day life.
I made a similar necklace last year, and loved it so much that I made this one with the beads that were left over. Since the last one has gone to a good home and I made this from memory, they are similar but different. I usually find repetition to be very boring and unstimulating and I try never to do it. However, sometimes I love a design so much that a similar piece pops out of my consciousness before I can say 'Kalamazoo'.
While on a train to a neighbouring town, going to a meeting to do with the day job, I exchanged desultory emails with a lady in Mumbai. As a result of this conversation, which was conducted while I travelled across two counties, with a change of trains in between, I have a request to make earrings and necklaces in silver and bronze for her company. I am itching to get started and have dusted off my savvy with regards to my kiln, and researched ideas and methodology for this new and unexpected collaboration. This came as the result of a throwaway conversation stemming from me telling her how much I liked her new range of clothing. I shall tell you more, once it comes into being.
Design and Engineering
I took part in Nicole Hanna's July 2015 'Finish It!' tutorial contest. As usual she gave us the beginnings of a tutorial and we were asked to make a piece with the items in the 'recipe' using the list she gave us. This time, Nicole was even more Machiavellian than usual - she stopped the tutorial almost as soon as she got to a couple of three pages.
As far as I am concerned, everyone's a winner, because she gives the tutorial gratis to all the participants. I made a pendant using all the ingredients, but got so carried away with the making of it, I forgot to allow for a place from which I could hang a bail. This is of course, completely against the principles of design, as the piece now has no function other than as a component for another, larger one.
Here it is, the useless article! It is pretty, though, so I will put it into something, sometime. Just now it is an irritating reminder of ineptitude!
There is, of course no place to hang it from and the little circle above the arch remains unfilled, because I had used up all the wire specified in the tutorial.
Obviously, I wasn't about to give up, so after a couple of days, I tried again. This is the one I submitted from attempt No. 2, using all the ingredients in the recipe.
Once I sent her my entry, Nicole sent me her tutorial and I can see that with my first attempt I was sort of going in the direction she had envisaged, until I failed to think about the engineering of the piece. However, I like the second one I made too - it has a lot of swirly movement - what do you think?? I would have shown the picture of Nicole's finished piece here, but the contest ends tonight at midnight, Nicole time, and it wouldn't be fair on the other contestants.
If you want to enter into the spirit of it, follow the link to Nicole's blog - a Pinterest board has been set up and will be available to view and vote from midnight on the 31st July until the 7th of August - you can even vote for my piece if you like!
I am satisfied with my tutorial as the prize; even though I may never actually make it, I like to know how things are done. I have quite a few tutorials that I am yet too inexperienced to use only because I feel the need to work out the mechanics of 'how did she do that?'. Curiosity killed the cat - or depleted its bank balance, as they say! (What bank balance??)
That's it for this week, folks. I have already started on my order - which shall be kept under wraps until it comes to pass. Have a lovely weekend, and I will 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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