Good morning people, and welcome once again, to the Caprilicious Jewellery Blog. Bonfire night went by on the 5th of November, the clocks went back for us in the UK and suddenly we are plunged into winter. The world is going to hell in a handbasket all of a sudden and although this is not a political blog and I don't tend to comment about recent events, this one's a doozy and will affect all of us, so I had to say something! To hope that four years pass by without mishap is a bit much, I think - one can only wish the world the best of luck.
Linda Jones of The Wire Worker's Guild posted a little tutorial for Christmas angels on her blog and I decided to try it out - It was freeform enough for me to make it any which way I liked and I mainly played with the shapes of the angels wings. I used up a collection of acrylic beads I had - they have a luminous core and are called miracle beads, they shine beautifully in reflected light. If ever there was a time to need our guardian angels this is it! These will look great hanging from the tree.
I spent a lot of the week making a bronze clay clasp using a tutorial by Barbara Becker Simon - I've made one of these before and my Slimming World consultant has the necklace in her collection now. This time, I had a gremlin attack, but as I was determined to forge on, I bought another wood gouge to carve the design in the clay. Of course, as soon as it arrived in the post, the gremlin tossed the other two back onto my table, so now I have three of them.
The last time I made the clasp, I funked it at the very last moment and made it single stranded for fear of attaching a piece to the back of the clasp. This time, I forged ahead with making it suitable for three strands of beads and held my breath while it was in the kiln. The kiln gods were kind to me - I took pictures along the way, and here are a few from the final stages.
I know a lot of arthritis sufferers and some of them wear copper bracelets which they claim helps them tremendously in their fight against the disease. I think it is such a shame that no one caters to these ladies - just because the bracelet has a medicinal function, it doesn't mean it shouldn't be pretty. So, I have a little page with copper bracelets on the go just for them, and replenish it at regular intervals as the previous ones get sold. I sold the last one a couple of weeks ago, so this is the replacement, made from a design by Lisa Barth. It is one of the most difficult in the book - eighteen strands of wire are bound together with six feet of fine binding wire in a criss cross pattern. It was a lot of fun to make and I hope it affords the lady who finally wears it a lot of pleasure as well as relief from pain.
That's it for this week folks, thanks for dropping by. To those of you who played the Caprilicious Treasure Hunt, I hope you love your jewellery, and those of you who still want to play, it is open till the 14th. I've enjoyed the game, and the lady at the post office now knows Mike well from all the parcels he drops off at her counter.
Take care, 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 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
When I first started to make jewellery, I was given a piece of advice which has stayed with me - a pretty clasp lifts a simple necklace to greater heights, like nothing else can. Since then, I have been a clasp junkie, spending prodigious amounts of money on store bought clasps. When I had the exhibition over in India, I watched ladies walking around the room, and to a (wo) man they all noticed the clasps. In fact, one woman chased me around the room asking me where I had got them from, and would I please sell her some, forgetting that this was an exhibition of jewellery, not jewellery findings, and that I was highly unlikely to be carrying extra clasps in my suitcases!
My love affair with the clasp has continued to the extent that I am now making clasps for myself, in an effort to make them one of a kind and different from the ones that other jewellery makers use. Tutorials from the likes of Nicole Hanna and inspiration from Sharon Solly have helped, as well as a book by Denise Peck in my latest endeavour. I sent a sample to my friend BN, and she used the clasp in ten different ways and sent me photographs to show me what she had done with it - she still hasn't told me which one of the ways was her final choice for the necklace she made!
Ten Ways to Use a Clasp, by BN
I also made some faux lamp work glass toggle clasps out of polymer clay and wire using a tutorial written by Amber of Caterpillar Arts and inspiration from work by Sharon Solly - these are colourful and playful and I will need to find the right beads for them.
Another toggle clasp inspired by Nicole Hanna was used in a necklace made of wood grain jasper and gold coloured crystals - I tried to break up the browny - golds of the necklace with blue crystal beads and dichroic glass.
Dryads are tree nymphs in Greek mythology, each one looking after a particular tree in the woods, punishing thoughtless mortals who injure their trees.
This necklace was named after the beautiful mystical, serene, angelic face in this pendant. The Archangel Ariel, predominantly in Hebrew writings, is thought to be the angel of nature - had she been Greek, she would probably have been closely related to a Dryad, as she too guards nature and trees and punishes humans who harm them.
The quartz needle points in the necklace have been heat treated and coated with titanium and gold vapour, and teamed with green crackle quartz.
I made the wire accent beads myself out of yards and yards of fine wire wrapped over a frame.
It was a beautiful weekend, the sun was shining, the peonies were out and we went to the pub for Sunday lunch. These hollow faux ebony and ivory focal beads in my hoard were just right to wear with white linen summer clothes - I strung them on waxed linen cord, with bone beads and cowrie shells - summer necklaces for the boho chick!
Spirals are a compelling shape and have universal appeal - I'm not sure why this is, perhaps because they are the most natural shape seen by our eyes and enter the subconscious right from the very beginning. The spiral shows up often in nature - in the pattern of seeds in a seedhead, in the growing tips of ferns, in the pattern that leaves grow on a stem, in the shape of a nautilus shell, and imprints itself deep into the subconscious mind, so that when seen again the shape is familiar and pleasing to the eye.
I too love spiral patterns, and made these faux bone hollow beads with spirals of bright coloured 'zippers' wound around them. Teamed with faux ostrich egg beads and a large chunk of sponge coral, they make a light but chunky necklace - another one to go with the summer linen outfits.
I found these two shell pendants in a most unlikely place in the house - I think my house elf got fed up of hiding them from me and tossed them out for me to find - I quickly turned them into pieces of jewellery, before he pinched them again. I asked my Facebook fans to help name the one and Minerva's Prize was the name bestowed on it. I called the second one the Whirly Shell Pendant. With both, I have echoed the pattern and shapes in the shells with the wire.
I hope you've enjoyed looking at this weeks 'makes' - catch you next week, same time, same place - have a fabulous week
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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