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 readers, and lovers of unusual handmade statement jewellery, it is nice of you to drop by the Caprilicious blog this week. All of last week I was blinging up my shelves in preparation for the party season and this week I decided to make the last one for a while - overdosing on bling isn't good for the eyes!
Tyrian was a purple dye used to colour the robes of kings in Phoenician times - it was extremely expensive as rather than fading with time and weathering, it got brighter and deeper. The dye came from the secretions of a sea snail and was extracted by milking the snail (how does one milk a snail?? - the mind boggles!) only tiny amounts were collected by this method, which was probably another reason why Tyrian was so expensive.
By the time I put this necklace together, I began to feel as if my eyes were dropping out of my head - I had overdosed on bling.
My reels of wire were getting really annoyed at the inattention they were subjected to - and I was getting withdrawal symptoms due to the prolonged break from wire.
I was looking through the website, and I saw a picture of a blood stone cabochon I had photographed for the magical components page about three years ago. When I bought it, I thought it had a masculine vibe and wrote that I planned to put it together with copper and possibly coral. I forgot all about it until I found it by accident the other day when looking for something else on the website and had an 'Aha!' moment.
Mellow Yellow is a colour very close to the colour of the citrine beads I used in this necklace (there is also an 'unmellow yellow - don't believe me?? - then go on and google it ) and the title of a song by Donovan in the 60's. According to legend, Mellow Yellow was about the feeling one gets when one smokes dried banana skins - I am not sure whether that is the case or not - and am not about to test that theory.
Colourful oriental components went into this necklace - porcelain beads , cinnabar, coral and black agate - I just love the vibrancy of it.
Old cinnabar beads had hundreds of layers of lacquer which contained a sulfate of mercury applied to them, which were then carved into beautiful shapes.
Today, the toxic mercury/cinnabar is replaced by combining layers and layers of colored polymer lacquer, which are then hand-carved (or in some cases, machine carved) into intricate patterns.
Caprilicious is doing a globe trotting act this week - we haven't been on a holiday for a while and I am doing it through my jewellery - a bit like leafing through travel brochures or Trip Advisor! I've been saving these beads (Ok, hoarding, really - I just love shiny, pretty things) and I thought this was as good a time as any to use them. Faceted smoky quartz - faceted beads are my favourite, the extra shine appeals to the magpie in me - and a beautiful Moroccan bead went into this simple and sophisticated necklace.
I bought three of these beads a while ago - the first couple were made up into a bright and exciting necklace called Berber Sunrise, and this one is smoky and sophisticated in a completely different style - which one do you like? Or will you be a Caprilicious Woman and match each of them to a different mood?
Jazz in The Park
These buttons were made a while ago and I sanded and buffed them as and when I had the time. Buttons are the simplest and least expensive way to embellish a garment, and these are vibrant enough to brighten up a dull outfit. They were cut from a polymer clay cane I made using a technique pioneered by Alice Stroppel. I used my fabulous cane slicer to cut even slices of the cane, and was well pleased with the result.
The Boho Babe - back to Morocco
Another Moroccan bead - this time a large one, teamed with green and black agate nuggets. I wanted the piece to be long and the bauble sized bead to sit low on the chest to avoid looking like a cow bell. I strung the beads on cream coloured genuine leather, with knots between each bead and macrame knots all the way to the clasp. I am not a fan of large nuggets and beads sitting high in the neckline - perhaps you feel differently - do tell...
The beads in this necklace came to me in the post only the other day and I had to find some way of using them immediately, they were too beautiful to put away in a drawer. Golden Obsidian is formed from cooled lava - the silica inclusions deep within the rock and patterns formed by gas bubbles lined up within the molten lava give it a golden sheen. The same post brought me a book by Lisa Barth, and in it I found a design, which when modified to suit the shape of a black and white agate pendant stone, would make a perfect focal point. I hung it on the obsidian necklace with Chinese black quartz embossed with dragons in gold, as accents - a beauty straight from the Stygian depths of the earth.
The Ancient and the Modern
A prayer box, Gau (also spelled Ghau or Gao), is a Tibetan Buddhist amulet container made of metal and worn as jewellery. They incorporate a small container used to hold and carry powerful amuletic objects such as chunks of coral, turquoise and a written prayer, or sacred mantras such as the Kalachakra. I love the secret compartment and have made a few necklaces using Ghau boxes over the years. I have made them with simple necklaces, and sometimes with outrageous wirework that none but the boldest woman would wear. The two that I have here are both inlaid with turquoise and coral - the one has been put into a simple necklace with turquoise and the second, into a necklace made of multi coloured shell beads.
You can see I have been busy all this week - but now, I have to call it a day - that's as much as I had time for - catch you next week, same time, same place
Christmas is here folks - by the time I write next week, the goose will be well digested and we will be looking forward to the New Year! Here's wishing all of you a Joyous and very merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year.
Melusine, the lady dragon
Melusine was a fresh water sprite in sacred springs and waters around Luxembourg. This tale, from medieval times, told by ladies when they sat spinning at their looms claims her as an ancestress of the rulers of Luxembourg, who
magically made the castle of Bock appear the morning after her wedding. On her terms of marriage, she required one day of absolute privacy each week (only one???). Unfortunately, her husband could not resist temptation, and spied on her in her bath - she was discovered to be a mermaid! When he let out a surprised shout, her bath immediately sank into the solid rock, carrying her with it.
Melusine surfaces briefly every seven years as a beautiful woman or as a dragon, holding a small golden key in her mouth and legend would have it that whoever takes the key from her will set her free and may claim her as his bride!
I used her as inspiration for the necklace that bears her name, of beautifully marked, glamorous, tactile dragons vein agate rondelles. The addition of sparkly crystals as spacers made the sheen of the gemstones even more prominent - I love this necklace.
This one is yet another 'wear three ways' offering from Caprilicious - the abalone clasps I have in my stash have green, purple and a golden yellow colour to them, and I have already made necklaces in green and purple - this is the golden yellow one - the colour resembles fine cognac, when poured into a crystal brandy balloon - all warmed up and ready to slip down your throat like honey.
More Arabian Nights Dreams
I hate the thought of being a one trick pony - stringing beads onto a pretty clasp is a lovely way to get instant results, but I'd get a bit bored if I did that all week - so, I alternate making up necklaces, wire work, claying (clay - polymer and precious metal) and now enamel. I don't mind admitting, I am not enjoying the enamelling quite so much, especially after my last debacle! Mike laughs at me - he says I think I should have been born with a perfect skill set - I don't enjoy the learning curve - maybe he is right. Next year, I shall set aside one weekend every month to play with enamels - till I get it right. Just now, it's a bit of a sore point.
So, I went on to play with wire - a couple of weeks ago, I set out to make a pendant in the shape of a lotus - it took me a while, and some very sore fingertips, but I cracked it. The pendant ended up extremely colourful, with the addition of loads of coloured alexandrite, apatite, jade beads, and onyx danglers, and instead of just leaving the pendant as a stand alone piece, I hung it on a necklace made of tektite - meteoric glass, from Australia, and freshwater pearls. I particularly like the tactility of the tektite - and of course the rough, sparkly centre of the druzy cabochon.
It's All Coming up Roses
I have a fairly sizeable collection of rose quartz in various shapes and shades of pink, and decided to use some of it - pale pink is a very subtle shade and difficult to design with unless the wearer is a Barbie doll. It is extremely easy to design a piece for myself, but as I am not a Barbie, I needed to think outside the box to come up with these two designs. Now that they are made up, I think the chunkier one would be what I would instinctively pick in a shop, if I had to buy pink - the addition of the bright colours in the spacers would appeal to me. I made the spacers in both necklaces myself out of wire and some fire polished beads. I do like Rosy Posy as well - it will be interesting to see which one gets picked up first, and by whom - watch this space....................
I spend as much time looking for fancy clasps, as I do beads and gemstones, as I think that often a clasp elevates a piece of jewellery from the ordinary to something special. The other side of that coin is that I design my jewellery with the clasp as an additional focal point - and I think you would agree that the butterfly in this necklace deserves to be seen, sitting sweetly on the shoulder of the wearer.
Last Tango in Paris
In a complete departure from the 'pinkness' of the last two pieces, I made use of some cinnabar beads I happened to have lying around - I meant to make one necklace with red and black elements, but in the end, two of them emerged - can't think how that happened. The combination of red and black is so aggressively sensual, that it brought to mind a Tango - The Last Tango in Paris, Bertolucci's beautiful film with the fabulous Marlon Brando. Cinnabar beads are made of a soft wood that takes a heat impression, so the beads have some very detailed design work imprinted on them. I added lava rocks and a couple of large bean shaped crystal beads, to add interest.
Flavia Cacace and Vincent Simone are Tango dancers par excellence and we were lucky enough to watch them live in a show down in London last year - I have a little clip for you here that illustrates the power of red and black when put together - sizzzzzle.......
Every day this week, a bit at a time, I wrapped a pyrite chunky fan shaped nugget with antique brown wire, added gemstone beads, dangles and embellishments till it begged me to stop - no more, please, it cried - I was surprised, as I had planned many more additions and curlicues and beads, and..... and..... and....
But, I heard the piteous cries of the pendant, and let it go - last seen, it was on a simple memory wire choker, legging it in the direction of my storage box - I wouldn't admit this to anyone but you - in the end, it seemed like it was right to stop me from over egging the pudding.
I thought I would take a short break over the next couple of weeks, and chill out over Christmas - at least that was the plan, but I found that my fingers developed a mind of their own - pliers and snips seemed to attach themselves mysteriously to me! No matter how much I try, I can't seem to get away from them - I tell you, it is an addiction!! So, I gave in and decided to make up some earrings, to replace the ones I sold at Caprilicious' birthday bash - I shall take my time photographing them and uploading them onto the page - perhaps as one lot in January.
By request from some of my favourite customers, I have put on a Boxing Day Sale for a week - please have a browse and message me with the name of any piece you like and I will invoice you with the discounted price.
Have a fabulous Christmas, catch you next week, 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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