Hello folks, and how are you today? Have you been watching the Presidential campaign and the debate?? Truly!! I cannot believe that morons and/or the morally corrupt will have their finger on the nuclear button for the next five to ten years - the world is going to hell in a hand basket, whichever one of them wins! I rushed off to rummage in my stash of gemstones and began to bead around them furiously in an effort to alleviate the pain behind my eyes.
Cariba is a necklace made from sea sediment jasper tusk beads in beautiful greens and browns reminding me of a tropical sunrise. The pendant was made from three cabochons of solar quartz, surrounded by beads and soutache braids in coordinating colours. The beads themselves are unusual and the whole ensemble is very fetching. Making it certainly took my mind off the world's troubles.
I do so love pearls - their luminescence when worn close to the face gives one a healthy glow. However, I'm not keen on granny's pearl necklace - I like mine to have a modern twist.
On a visit to China, we visited a government run pearl farm, and watched as they injected particles of sand into the oysters before lowering them into freshwater pools to wait for the pearls to form. I didn't know that pearls were merely Calcium Carbonate - how depressingly mundane! The Chinese eat ground up pearls as a calcium supplement, grind them up for face powder and add them to lanolin, beeswax and cocoa butter to produce face creams and exfoliants, as well as antiseptics.
Drilling holes in pearls can be tricky as the calcium is likely to crumble if handled wrongly - which is possibly why tiny pearl beads can be more expensive than the larger ones.
The pearls in this necklace are dyed in grey with an iridescent sheen, and drilled from side to side at the top, which means that they hang in a manner that suggests a double string. A hand carved mother of pearl shell clasp worn to one side like a corsage complements the piece beautifully. Hand fulls of waxy prehnite teardrops were strung onto all three strands, and the necklace was finished.
La Mamounia is an opulent hotel in Marrakesh, originally a palace built in the 12th century. Prince Mamoun who owned it turned it into a hotel in the 20th century and it certainly is one of the most beautiful and opulent places I have visited. We were fairly recently married and Mike took me there, sat me down in front of the grand piano in the foyer and played 'As Time Goes By' for me, the romantic sap that he is. I have to say I was a bit overwhelmed by the beauty of the hotel - the floors are so shiny that I swear that one could see the underwear of the women who walk upon it in skirts!
The enamelled amulet in this necklace comes from Morocco, and the beads are bamboo coral teardrops dyed a vibrant green, reminding me of the beautiful gardens surrounding the Mamounia.
The large coloured beads are cat's eye's - they have a reflective fibre-optic thread running through them that gives them a sheen.
I've now booked my annual trip to see my mother back in India and will take some of my jewellery back with me for my third show in Bangalore. I do look forward to meeting old friends and relaxing in the environment that I grew up in and remember with great fondness and the rose tinted glasses of the retrospectoscope.
That's me for this week, folks. Have a fabulous week, and I'll catch you next week, same time, same place.
Hello readers, I hope you have all had a good week and are ready to relax at the weekend. I have been slowly getting over the visual overload of the last week - so many sights, so many statues and pieces of art, so much to take in that the photographs I took were only a drop in the ocean of memories I wish to hold on to.
We went to the Ponte Vecchio, a 13th century bridge over the river Arno. It connects the Oltrarno ( the artisan district) to the main city of Florence. Butchers initially occupied the shops but the present tenants are jewellers, art dealers and souvenir sellers. In the 16th century the Vasari Corridor was built on top of the bridge by the Medici rulers of Florence to move freely and safely from their home in Palazzo Pitti to the Palazzo Vecchio and the Uffizi, which is when the butcher's shops changed hands to become goldsmith's shops. As the rents were very high, the goldsmiths extended their shops outwards and they still hang over the water as if by magic, in a charming, higgledy piggledy manner.
I peered into the jewellers windows as we crossed the bridge. They had hundreds of Euros worth of silver and gold in them and at first I was quite fascinated.
Unfortunately there was no place to sit down and a load of other people including pick pockets, street vendors who shook fists full of leather bracelets in your face in an alarmingly threatening manner if you didn't look like you'd buy from them, a colourfully dressed African man who informed us that 'Yoo arrr maai fadder and yoo arrr mai maader', and tried to extract money from us to care for his siblings, presumably also our children, caused us to walk briskly away and seek refuge in a cafe on the other side of the bridge.
Pity, that, I'd have quite liked to have spent a bit more time there.
And then I found Angela Caputi - a fabulous boutique in the artisan district selling art statement jewellery made of resin, lucite, and acrylics.
Her jewellery has caught the attention of haute couture stylists and museums. She is displayed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York, at Museo degli Argenti and Galleria del Costume in Florence. Very contemporary and hi-falutin', but the prices - OMG! they made me go weak at the knees - given the materials used, they were highly overpriced, but I guess one is paying for the store in the centre of Florence and all the other overheads, as well as the name. I took in all the beautiful things around me and came away shaking my head muttering, like the woman from Goodness Gracious Me, ' I can make this at home for nothing!!'
Well, of course I cant, but it gave me solace to think so.
This is a necklace I had planned before I went on holiday. I made the faux amber beads myself out of translucent polymer clay coloured with alcohol inks, antiqued and inlaid with 'coral' and 'turquoise' and 'repaired' using wire. The Moroccan amulet is extra large and very colourful and needed the balance of the large amber beads. I added a bit of colour with red resin beads - I figured that if Angela Caputi can do it, so can I!
I saw a necklace on a tourist in Florence and immediately thought of a way I could create a similar one using beads I recently rediscovered when rummaging around in my stash. I think there is a method to my madness as far as the untidiness of my work surfaces goes - I have the compulsive need to tidy up as I go along and while doing this find strings of beads bought long ago and forgotten, just waiting to be found. I sent off for Czech glass flower beads to match and when they arrived put them together with a beautiful little silver clasp.
These little embellishments make a piece for me - a pretty clasp, a charm dangling from the back of the necklace, a beautiful focal bead. I collect them obsessively and jealously, and am slow to release them, which is a bit stupid, I know, but hey, a girl has to have some fixations in her life. Little lever back earrings with a couple of the left over flowers finish off this ensemble.
Well people, this has become the story of Little and Large! I hope you have enjoyed your read and liked the pictures of Firenze I had for you. That's me for the week, I'll catch you next week, same time, same place. Until then,
Hello readers, how are you today? Hasn't January just flown by? It is already the 22nd, and in two weeks I will be back in India in the sunshine, having escaped from the miserable cold weather we are experiencing recently. I've started packing stuff in boxes for my show and making the last few pieces I intend to take with me. I've decided to call it a day now, and pack a few things every day - to stay away from my jewellery altogether would give me the DTs.
And now I have a small favor to ask. (Don't worry, it doesn't involve lending me money.) All I'm asking is, if you have the opportunity, that you help me get the word out about the exhibition on any social media platform you happen to participate in. It can be something as simple as a tweet, or a mention on Facebook, or Tumblr, or Pinterest, or Instagram, or even Google+.
Anything to raise awareness would be great! Please tell your friends - and of course come yourself, I'd love to see you.
It even managed to snow this week, and although it didn't last long and melted away in a couple of days, it messed up my weekend as we had planned a little shopping trip on the very day it snowed and my credit card heaved a sigh of relief.
The Tuareg Oasis
This year, it feels like I've thraped the Tuareg theme to death - but I love the tribal motif and it gives me a great opportunity to play with colour and shapes - to me the word 'colour' instantly calls for polymer clay in some form. As the Tuareg amulets and pendants came strung simply on black braided thread or black glass beads, there was no limit to where my imagination could take me and no precedent to block my flights of fancy.
I totally agree with the Rajasthani tribal people - the desert they wander is so sparse, and well, sandy, that their clothes have to be colourful to light up their lives. If I had my way, I'd get the Tuareg people walking about bedecked in bright colours too.
The green of this pendant though pretty, is not one that I would generally pick - I like the brighter green of the parrot, or even the chili - this one is a gentle leaf green, which is soothing to the eye, but not really vibrant. Prehnite is a vaseline green colour, with inky black random smudges and goes well with the pendant to give it a soft, sophistication which isn't 'in your face', which is usually my wont. Just to vary the shapes, I added a tribalistic imitation spindle whorl bead made of polymer clay in a silvery black.
I played with clay at the weekend and made these Shibori Seashell earrings designed by Carol Blackburn - love the icecream colours, don't you? A bit fed up with the cold weather, I also made some snowdrop earrings. Where are you, spring??
I did a happy dance - I entered a giveaway on the blog written by Pearl Blay - 'The Beading Gem's Journal' and won! I won a free webinar on how to photograph jewellery. I spent Sunday rushing around the house finishing all my chores to free myself up for seven pm which was the time allocated. I have a Canon point and shoot as well as a dslr, and have been to a couple of lessons on how to use my camera - but not with jewellery specifically. She managed to talk to dslr users, point and shooters and camera phone users all at the same time and made sense to all of them.
I wasn't sure what exactly I hoped to gain, but I know that product photography is of the utmost importance and any help with this is welcome. I wanted to learn how to get a clear white background, and how to keep shiny objects looking shiny - in my opinion, silver and pearls are very difficult to photograph. Pearl gave us some really great tips on this and what sort of lighting to use. I took loads of notes and am having a lot of fun experimenting with my new-found knowledge. Before I knew it, two and a half hours had flashed by - time does fly when you're having fun!
On Golden Wings
I found a vendor who had Jewellery Beetle's wings that have a golden tinge to them. I simply could not resist them and just had to make them up for the show - they are not freely available in India (or if they are, I've never seen them) and I thought it would be nice to offer something exotic. I've made jewellery with Elytra before, so I tried to do something completely different with them on this occasion, using earring connectors to give them a unique look.
I couldn't resist showing my pictures to my teacher - 'Look miss', I cried. And she was suitably pleased with my homework and sent me to the top of the class, which is more than I've ever achieved at school!
"Can do better," my report cards always said, which I took as a compliment - at least they didn't say "DUNCE".
Indian schooling is very competitive and my entire childhood was spent looking crestfallen at being made to feel a bit of a duffer. When I got to the UK, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that children were not put through the mill with hundreds of exams each year. If I wasn't such a resilient character, I might have believed that I was stupid.
Happy Dance No 2
At the end of last week, HOLY S*1T ( I mean WOW!), I HAD MY FIRST SALE IN MY ETSY SHOP !!! Pardon me for shouting, but I was so excited, all of it could have been in capitals, and we all know how annoying that can be. Anyway, it turned out that my first Etsy buyer is an artist called Julie Dumbarton who won Visual Artist of the Year in 2013 and 2014 and is totally in love with colour. OMG, pressure, or what?? I chewed my nails until I couldn't wait any more and sent her mail asking if she'd received it. Eventually that day it reached her in Scotland and I had an email from her to say she loved the piece - Phew! I can breathe again.
That's me for this week, folks. Here's a picture of my boys having a snooze on my bed - aren't they sweet? Have a fabulous weekend and I'll catch you next week, same time, same place.
Dear readers, how nice of you to drop by, I love meeting you here like this. I despair of Ms Muse, I really do - she refuses to come out of holiday mode. She's been galvanising me into using the most colourful beads in my hoard and this week's pieces have all come out bright and beautiful as a consequence.
I thought I'd play you some music as well, it has been a while, so here we are.
The lovely red crystal beads I had leftover from making 'Mandarin' were turned into a necklace of two strands using diamante set connectors. They do look like holly berries, don't they?
Kind of Blue
The pendant and the silver beads in this necklace are from Jaipur and are made with 925 silver. The capsular pendant has little dangling bells and is on a necklace of the most beautiful lapis lazuli teardrops contrasting with bright green dyed jade beads. I named the necklace after a record by my favourite Jazz and Blues musician, Miles Davis. Ms Muse remembered a statue of him made by Niki Saint Phalle outside Le Negresco in Nice. My necklace I think, is no less colourful. A pair of earrings with the lapis teardrops and a tiny peridot bead echoing the green of the jade accompanies the necklace.
I've had all the elements for this necklace in my stash forever - they just sat there quietly until one day the carnelian leaf shaped pendant jumped out of it's box and demanded, yes, demanded to be used. I rummaged around in my bead drawers and the red jasper needles and citrine nuggets came out to join the party. The citrine nuggets are so pretty, and remind me of the crystalline unrefined sugar my grandma used to hand out to us kids when we'd been especially good. Mum used to go mad, claiming that she had spoiled our appetites for dinner, but my grandma knew that if she bribed us with brown sugar, we were sure to return to keep her company in the hope of more coming our way.
By the Grace of the Griot
The word “Tcherot” means “message” or “paper on which something is written” in the language of the nomadic Tuareg tribe. The Tcherot is often a metal or leather lozenge shaped box which holds magic letters, numbers, names of days, stars and planets, or signs representing the eye, revealing the esoteric practices well known by the Griots or holy men. At other times a Tcherot may contain desert sand, small 'lucky' objects, or simply the “whiff” of the Griot, at the request of the person who needs protection from the evil eye, curses and diseases or to receive favors or luck.
I bought a Tcherot from a trader in the UK - and one look at the price and I wondered if would be subsidising her next airfare to Niger. However when I rechecked the prices on other websites and realised that I was getting a fair price I simply had to buy it. It is made of camel's leather and studded with bronze.
I decided to make some dull gold beads using polymer clay and gold foil - thankfully I had written an aide memoire for silver foiled beads which was easy to follow.
That's it for this week, folks. I am publishing the blog a day earlier this week as I am going to a precious metal clay class in the south of England which I am combining with a medical meeting and visiting friends in Bournemouth.
Anna Mazon is coming in from Poland to teach her herbarium pendants and I have long wanted to learn a bit more about using precious metal clay - and there's nothing like learning from a professional. I have only made fairly simple and straightforward pieces of jewellery in my kiln, and am really looking forward to learning some new techniques from her. I shall tell you all about it next week.
Have a lovely week, folks, thanks again for joining me. I shall catch you next Friday, usual time, same place
I love the imagery conjured up by Walter de la Mare in his poem 'Silver', and I made this necklace in tribute.The pale blue quartz beads have gentle facets which make them reflective, as if touched by moonlight. An aspen leaf skeleton that was wide enough to fit easily in the palm of my hand seemed like it needed a bit of elongation and movement to balance the piece, so I added a dangle of little silver electroplated glass beads and blue chalcedony, killing two birds. The bead caps were made when trying out an idea a while ago, and seemed to set the blue agate bead off, this in turn giving the necklace a pop of colour. I think Mr de la Mare would have approved, don't you?? Here's the rest of the poem, in case you don't remember it.
Moving swiftly on, I swung from lunar to solar imagery - my muse certainly keeps my brain ticking over!
Reliquary from the Sun
Solar quartz is a natural agatized quartz cut from stalactites. The centers and the edges of these stones are translucent and there are dendritic or tree like inclusions at the very centre of the stone. For believers in crystal healing, solar quartz is probably the most versatile multipurpose healing stone, quartz amplifies energy and healing, draws and sends energy, and stimulates natural crystals in the body’s tissues and fluids to resonate at new healing frequency.
I just think it is so pretty - I cannot resist it, whether it heals or not.
When I hold and look at solar quartz it immediately draws my eyes towards the center of the stone, like diving into a beautiful pool of water - it is almost hypnotic. Non-traditional elements are gaining in popularity and I embrace the use of wild & rough-cut gemstones in my designs.
These little silver amulets came from India. Amulets are meant to preserve magical contents in the form of sacred texts written on a leaf, or paper. They are usually worn close to the skin and hidden away from the eyes of onlookers who might decrease their powers.
The Romans definition of an amulet was a bit broader; they did not have to wear the object for it to be considered an amulet. A bat carried around a house three times and hung up side down in a window was considered an amulet. The gallbladder of a male black dog was used to protect the home from magic.
This, then, is the necklace I made with four little amulets or reliquaries, and the solar quartz pendant.
Many years ago, I read the story of the Alhambra by Washington Irving - this book was written by this American author who lived in the palace of the Alhambra while he wrote about it in a semi historical, semi fantasy manner. I was really keen to see the palace that inspired those fabulous stories, and on a holiday to Malaga, managed to travel to Granada on a day trip. The Alhambra was described as a 'pearl set in emeralds' and its grounds are filled with the most beautiful plants. It looks fairly forbidding, as the exterior is very plain sandstone, but once inside, it is lavishly decorated with swirling Arabic script and arabesques, fountains, courtyards, lace like carved windows, column arcades, pools - it is easy to sense the aura of romance that emanates from it.
Zayda, Zoraida and Zorohayda were the three daughters of king Mohamed IV, also known as 'Mohamed the Left handed' according to Washington Irving.
The king kept them imprisoned in the Tower of the Princesses to guard their virtue, but the two older sisters escaped with a couple of Spanish cavaliers. Zorohayda, however, was too timid to leave, and spent the rest of her life in the Alhambra, and then became the resident ghost, singing sweetly and playing a silvery lute, until she managed to get a young maiden to sprinkle her with water from one of the fountains. She bequeathed the maiden her silvery lute.
As the story goes, over the years, the lute was melted down for it's silver content, but its strings were used in Paganini's fiddle - from which of course, sprang the most beautiful music, once again.
This web edition of Washington Irving's book 'The Alhambra' is published by eBooks@Adelaide.
The pendant in this necklace reminded me of the lace work in the windows of the Alhambra palace, and teamed with green jade and brushed silver tone beads, this necklace is redolent with the romance of that beautiful palace.
I'm sure the romantics amongst you will appreciate this little tale, and the necklace that goes with it - the story is well worth reading, and the Alhambra, and Granada are most definitely worthy of a bucket list.
I hope you have enjoyed my little flights of fancy - that's it for this week, have a good one, and I will catch you later, 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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