Last weekend was Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, a three day festival which is the start of a new year in India - a lamp is lit to guide the Goddess of wealth Lakshmi, into the house, some more are lit to show Ram, the exiled prince, the way back to his kingdom, and even more, to celebrate the death of a pesky demon - the myth of the triumph of good over evil - the stuff of good Hollywood/Bollywood movies!
My mother phoned me to make sure I had lit the lamp she gave me - so here's proof, mom!
And then in the UK we had Bonfire night, where we celebrate either the execution of Guy Fawkes, or honour his attempts to do away with the government, or exult over the safety of the king/monarchy with a bonfire and fireworks - depending on your take on it.
Whatever the excuse, it is a lovely time of year - the leaves are gold and brown and crunchy underfoot, the air is clean and crisp, and the fireworks scent the air with their own sharp aroma. Time to bring out the warm clothing, sweaters, UGG boots, gloves, scarves - and jewellery needs to be large and bright, and necklaces longer, to go over winter woolies.
To go with the theme of 'lights' i made a pair of wire filigree earrings that I called 'Candelabra' - they are curved gently into the shape of the face to give a three dimensional effect.
If you read my blog last week you will know I was blown away by the stuff I learned at Polydays - I just couldn't believe that I had actually made these complicated designs - so I decided to try them out again, just to convince myself that is was possible, and it was indeed me at Polydays.
These are the pieces I made - not bad for a day spent playing, huh? Pendants and earrings and even a bead rolled off my craft table - I was most excited!
While I was in the mood to play with clay, I made a sheet of coloured clay, graduating from a forest green, to a beautiful dull gold, and I made wafer beads from it. Together with a gold coloured pod shaped bead I made earlier, The Fruit of the Forest necklace materialised in my hands as if by magic.
The tiny seed beads between the wafers make the necklace very flexible and comfortable, ideal for wearing over a cardigan. The depth of the shades of green in the necklace is just splendiferous.
A Touch of Frost
In keeping with the weather, I came up with a winter white necklace of mother of pearl shell fragments, wired on to a torque - the centerpiece being a trio of clear AB coated crystal flowers and one single red rose.
Winter white is a creamy white, richer than the glaring whites of summer, and the mother of pearl casts a beautiful glow upwards onto the wearer's face.
These pictures were taken with my new all singing and dancing Nikon 5100 - isn't it a shame that I cannot sing and dance with it - but soon, real soon, I will get the hang of it and then, watch out, my photographs will sizzle!
The Peach Blossom Pendant
Last week I made this pretty necklace, but I had a few rough quartz needles left over. I used one of them in my next little pendant, which I wound with sterling silver wire. Antiqued and polished, it looks sweet on a silver snake chain. An easy piece to wear of a daytime, for someone who has a quiet statement to make.
Work has been pretty busy, so I haven't had time to do much else. It will soon be two years since I set Caprilicious Jewellery up and we have come a long way together since then, thanks to you all - I am very grateful.
Have a great week, and I will catch you soon, same time, same place
I woke up this morning with a start - 'where am I ?', was the first thought that popped into my head - of course a large black cat sitting on my head and purring loudly, clarified matters somewhat quickly. Having been rescued from the cattery last night Harold was going all out to impress on us what a lovely cat he is and why we shouldn't dream of ever leaving him again!
I feel like I've been in a tailspin over the last few days, fortunately I have the weekend off to recover before I have to go to work again.
Polydays 2013 - the Contemporary Coven
Organised by Allison Gallant, who was ably supported by her family, and once again held in the village hall in Toddington, Polydays 2013 was like a contemporary Italian coven - all of us bent over our pasta machines instead of cauldrons, casting spells on lumps of clay which magically turned into pieces of jewellery. I stayed with the 'Carlton Cottage Gang' in Broadway once again, and the other five ladies were as much fun as last year.
Our tutors were really cool too - Lindly Haunani, who is Hawaiian and Jana Roberts Benzon, a real boho chick from Salt Lake City. Unfortunately I missed the last day with Eva Haskova and Alison Gallant, but I had a short workshop in Paris to attend that day, and then a flight to Venice for a holiday - why did I cram all this into such a short space of time?? - ask me again - the answer is that nothing seems to happen, and when it does, it all comes together at the same time! - I'm sorry if this reads like I am a jet setter - am nothing of the kind, usually.
This year it seemed to be all about textile techniques translated into polymer clay - an Ikat cane technique and a Bargello cane - this was originally a needlepoint and quilting stitch - I could never have figured these out for myself - in fact I cannot quite believe I made stuff using these techniques.
I Don't Believe It!
And then, Jana taught us how to make a Bargello cane and I made the pendant you see in this picture - I am still rubbing my eyes with disbelief! This weekend, I shall make some more stuff using this technique, just to prove to myself that I wasn't dreaming.
Too soon, it was time to drive back home, pick up the second suitcase I had packed earlier, and fly out to Venice, via Paris.
Planes, Trains, Automobiles .... and Buses and Boats!
Venice is beautiful - decaying, distressed, but somehow, miraculously still standing. A lot of the city is empty and derelict, some of the houses and hotels can only be reached by boat and have huge stone doorsteps that hold the tide back.
We went to several bead shops, and in one, I found a gentleman who collects old trade beads - when he saw how excited I was, he let me wear one of his precious chevron bead necklaces and even took a photograph of me in it for his records - I don't think he's seen too many Asian women get so excited about his collection- it was so heavy, my neck hurt when i took it off!
The glass in Murano is exquisite - but expensive! - and having been treated to a demonstration of how it is made I can understand why. Unfortunately cheap Chinese imports are everywhere, even in Venice, and the art is dying out.
We took the obligatory gondola ride, had coffee at Cafe Florian in St Mark's Square and paid six euros each extra on the bill just to listen to their music (shocking I know, but a once in a lifetime experience), and drank Bellinis at Harry's Bar. We needed a few more days to see all the sights, but saw quite a lot of the place, having taken a couple of all day walking tours - any more and we would have ended up completely bankrupt - Venice, we soon found, is one of the most expensive cities in the world.
I dragged Mike out to Burano on the vaporetti - he grumbled a bit, but the colours on that little island soon changed his tune - we just loved the quaint little place. We got chatting to a resident - he didn't seem too thrilled with his life - once the tourists disappeared of an evening, he said, there was nothing to do on the island - oh well, I suppose you can't have everything!
Once we had been to colourful Burano, the beauty of Venice seemed even more drab in comparison. We had to look for colour in the local markets, in the fruit and vegetable stalls - but we could find nothing to rival the colours of Burano.
Time to pack for home soon arrived - and our wallets heaved a sigh of relief - as did our clothes which were fitting a bit too snugly for comfort after all those gelatos, pizzas and pasta!
I'm going to finish some of the projects I started at Polydays this weekend, and get ready to go to work next week, hopefully having lost the weight I put on whilst on holiday.
Catch you next week, same time, same place
Who knew that jewellery making had a connection to engineering?? - yet, how many times have we bought a piece of jewellery that looks great in a picture, or on a mannequin, only to find that it does not sit right, twists around and looks the other way just when someone you are trying to look 'cool' for glances in your direction, or gives you a poke in the ribs ( or some other unladylike place ) when you move??
This is all down to the 'E' word - thats right - Engineering!
I always thought that engineering was all down to being able to make sense of figures - perhaps it is - and that's why I am a medic - but I have found that it impacts on jewellery making in a big way.
I bought some ox bone pieces from a Chinese trader - they were already made up into the most boring bracelets (and that's just my opinion) and there were two necklaces with pendants on them - I bought the necklaces for the pretty pendants, so I could cannibalise them, and use them in different ways - I envisaged coral, and turquoise and multicoloured gemstones to brighten the cream of the bone.
The first of the ox bone necklaces was called Cherry Vanilla Cream - which was bought last week - it had lovely red howlite beads to resemble the 'cherries' in the title, and I worked hard to reassemble the rectangular tiles from the bracelets into a necklace, and made a pendant up out of copper wire.
I had two more bracelets in another pattern, so I decided to make yet another necklace in the same style, but use one of the carved ox bone pendants with it - and so The Black and Cream Beauty was born.
A lady in India enquired if I had any more bone beads and I sent her a picture of the others in my collection. Although she was quite keen to own one of these, she waited to see what I could come up with, using some of the elements in the picture on the left. She wanted me to make something with the cylindrical beads and a pair of long earrings to match. For my part, I am always happy to try and design with a particular customer in mind, so this is what I made.
Ebony and Ivory
To me, they appeared like an extremely simplistic piece of jewellery - no jazzy colours and not one piece of wire anywhere (OH NO!) but she had indicated that she wasn't too keen on wire. However, when I photographed them on my mannequin, I fell in love with the simple sophistication of both pieces - and 'Ebony and Ivory' came out tops. Of course, the 'ebony' is actually garnet - but hey, I took a few liberties with the old artistic licence.
Having said that, I think I like both of them - they are light, pretty, and quite sophisticated. And then came the body blow - she decided on The Black and Cream Beauty - and wanted long earrings to match - and perhaps I would like to use the rectangular tiles matching the necklace?? - OMG! now what?? - no way was I going to say no, and many hours and a few miles of wire later, ( and the emergency course in Engineering) I managed to assemble a pair of earrings to match.
The problem was that the tiles are pierced vertically on two sides to allow them to be strung into bracelets - to get them to hang, and move, as all good chandelier earrings should, was always going to be difficult. But..... I did it, I did it, by jove, I got it.... and I could have danced all night.....
I wonder if I could do it again, if I had to??
I was also commissioned to remake Bewitched - and I called this one Bewitched Again. I try to send my customers a little gift, as a thank you, and a little pair of earrings with a couple of left over beads seemed to be perfect for that purpose.
Last week, I attended Polydays 2012, a gathering of people who have a common interest - polymer clay. It was organised in the village of Toddington, in the Cotswolds, by Alison Gallant, and I shared a cottage with five other ladies - my first time sharing a room with someone other than a man (!) in a long time, and the first time in a single bed since my nights on call as a junior doctor. This was the therapy I needed - 'keep busy, and do new things', I said to myself, ' and you will be OK' - and I was. There were three fabulous tutors, from backgrounds as diverse as Graphic Design, and Environmental Science - one of them had even run a restaurant for a while with her husband - poor guy was conscripted into cooking for 35 people each day - not that he showed a moment of stress! Here are some pictures taken by me and some of the others who were there. I learned a lot - and would like to go back next year - but first, to put what I learned into practice!
And so, I plod on, one foot in front of the other. I cannot deny that it has been hard going this last year - it is very difficult to be a member of a 'caring profession' when you are in pain yourself, but somehow, it had to be done. I couldn't have done it without Caprilicious, though - and it will soon be a year since I set it up! I will have to do something to celebrate - any ideas?? Do tell me if you have any, wont you.....
Catch you next 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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