Hello folks, thanks for joining me today. It has suddenly gone all sunny and warm on us here in the UK, but since Monday is a Bank Holiday I can almost guarantee that it won't last. After the debacle of the Handmade Fair I decided to take it easy - one of my oldest friends was visiting me from Vancouver and I had the pleasure of having her and others who live in the UK come and stay. It was fabulous to catch up and discuss old times and find that although so many years had passed since we last met (about 40 to be precise) we had not changed fundamentally. The weekend flew by and her visit was over too soon, unfortunately. Now that we've met up, we've pledged not to leave it so long again.
I spent some time taking photographs of the creations I had left over from the Fair. I had made some necklaces using a technique taught by Loretta Lam. The beads and pods are made from a very light clay - Ultralight - which handles like marshmallow when uncured and is very light when it comes out of the oven. The beads are cured and then a veneer and embellishments are applied in stages. They float when placed in water and are light and easy to wear.
As you can probably see, the embellishments and veneers have been applied so that the necklaces are reversible. The technique is labour intensive but interesting and the necklaces are chunky but light, different and most definitely fun.
This necklace was literally made from left overs - a veneer from a class I took in March, canes from last year, a sunflower from a tutorial written for Bead and Jewellery magazine and some orphan beads in my collection of beads that I made earlier on and didn't use up. The lady pounced on it, and tried it on - that was it, love at first sight! She refused to take it off, bought a pair of earrings to go with it and wore it around the show. I hope she gets a lot of enjoyment from it, bless her cotton socks!
I was given carte blanche to modify this necklace into something a bit more sophisticated by a client in India. She came to my show, made a few purchases and came back for more - on the second day, she carried a bag of beads which she trusted me to take back to the UK and modify in my own time, at my own pace and to my own design. Now that's a whole bowl of trust! And I mean to deliver to all her expectations, of course.
These are rather beautiful tourmaline beads, but strung together on cheap thread, with an adjustable gold thread 'clasp' and don't look terribly special.
I added rice pearls in a random manner to bring a bit of brightness to the necklace, and a beautiful diamante clasp to one side to take the degree of sophistication up a notch and I hope you'll agree that it makes the necklace fit for a queen. The lady I am designing for is sophisticated, smart and smouldering with a distinctive style of her own. Her style is certainly unique and she dresses like a diva with well thought out, dramatic accessories. I think this one will suit her personality down to the ground.
I spent the rest of the week at a conference in Leeds related to the day job and am due to be involved in some very interesting and exciting developments.
Have a lovely week, and I'll catch you next weekend, same time, same place.
Hello readers, thanks for stopping by - it is a great pleasure to meet up with you again, albeit virtually.
It gives me a great thrill to announce today that I have a new collection - a 'Luxe' collection for you, made using silver pendants I have sourced on my travels, and semi precious gemstone beads. I did a lot of shopping for Caprilicious from the earnings of my first ever exhibition in January, and it has taken me a couple of months to work away at them patiently, so that I would have a coherent body of work to display on the website.
I strive to keep my jewellery interesting, one of a kind, and affordable - the 'Luxe' range will perforce have to be at the higher end of 'affordable' - but I promise to always do my best by you, my Caprilicious ladies.
It is my birthday this weekend, and I decided that this date would be the deadline ( I like working to a deadline - although I'm usually late! ) to place before you...... (drumroll) the Silver Seduction page on the Caprilicious website.
I play this piece of music for you for no reason - other than because I love Django Reinhardt and Stephan Grapelli - they are fabulous together and this swing interpretation of J'attendrai is something else - enjoy it while you read on.
J'attendrai translated means I will wait - as do I, with bated breath to see how my Luxe collection will be received by you, my readers. I love to hear from you, so do drop me a line in the comments section and tell me what you think.
This is a sneak peek at some of the stuff I will have up on the website tomorrow...............................
There will be lots of pictures on the Caprilicious Facebook page and of course, on the website page, Silver Seduction. Mike is taking me on a short mystery theatre break to London for my birthday (I just happen to have seen the tickets as I know all his hiding places - but we wont tell him) so I will be posting these on the website a day earlier than I originally announced - on the 29th of March, before we take the train down.
That's it for today - have a great week, and I'll catch you next week, same time, same place
Last week was Thanksgiving in America, Obama pardoned a turkey - though loads of people languish in Guantanamo Bay, it was the turkey that got lucky, and I hope it was duly grateful.
But, did you know that the cranberry is probably what the early American settlers were - or should have been, most grateful for?? The Native Indians introduced the settlers to this berry, which was probably the first superfood - cranberries are meant to be high in antioxidants, and prevent heart disease, and were even then, being used as laxatives, blood purifiers, to treat fevers, stomach cramps and anaemia following childbirth. This berry kept more people in good health than a load of other cures such as the application of leeches and other fun interventions dreamed up by the medics of the time.
Cranberries are grown in the bogs in places like Wisconsin and Massachusetts and have now made their way onto the table at feasts - once it was discovered that the sour berry could be sweetened - remember the story of the spoonful of sugar, and the medicine??
The beautiful watermelon tourmalines used in this necklace give it it's name. The tiny haematite heishi beads were found in the bead fair in Newmarket a few weeks ago - I think they go perfectly together. I used sterling silver accent beads and clasp - I thought the delicacy of the necklace merited a special treatment. I do not make 'delicates' easily and struggled a bit with this piece, but in the end, I quite like it - I'm sure not everyone wants to make a 'Big Bang' of a statement - there is room for subtlety, especially during the daytime!
Persephone, the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, was skipping along, trying out this berry and that, singing softly to herself, when Hades, the God of the Underworld came crashing out of a cleft in the ground, raped her and took her off to live with him - her mother Demeter, was so distraught, she caused all the plants to wither and die and forbid the earth to produce. In alarm, Zeus set up a search party, and found her - her husband was persuaded to let her go - he was made an offer he couldn't refuse - but the wily old dog, Hades had fed the greedy woman with pomegranate seeds (she'd eat anything, obviously) - so she was condemned to return to him for four months of the year. This is meant to be a personification of the story of the seasons, and Persephone is also the Goddess of spring and fertility.
The maple leaf in this necklace was picked and skeletonised in high summer this year - I have only just found a use for it. I used my new camera and a new technique to take these pictures, and was mighty chuffed when I was complimented on one of them.
I spent the entire weekend playing with polymer clay and a tutorial by Alice Stroppel - trying to make a profile face cane - I had to learn to make tiny eyes, and lips and eyelid canes, and then put them together, stick a nose on it, and Voila! - sigh, if only it was that easy. Anyway, I made two sizes of cane - a big one and a little one, according to her instructions and they now sit proudly on my table. I have yet to decide what to do with them - Alice has some very witty and fun bracelets on her pages - I might draw some inspiration there. I have no time to play with clay during the week, so will have to wait till the next weekend for that. Here are some pictures of the process..........
This is one of my favourite genres of necklace - the torque - winding loads and loads of wire and beads around a single 2mm wire with it's integral clasp is very rewarding - this time I used snowflake obsidian fragments - this is lava that cooled very quickly, trapping white inclusions, like snowflakes - adding Czech glass, and a resin rose, a Murano glass leaf and some iridescent glass leaves as an asymmetric focal. The necklaces take a while to make - if you can imagine twisting each bead onto thin wire, and then the whole 'garland' onto the 2mm wire - but the results are amazing.
That's as much as I had time for this week folks. I have to make a load of Christmas presents, and most exciting of all, there are plans afoot to hold a little exhibition in India when I go on holiday to visit my family in January.
Have a great week, and I will catch you next weekend, same time, same place
Hello readers, I hope you are all enjoying the weather, which is slowly showing signs of getting warmer. It is so nice to be able to shed the heavy winter gear, and wear fewer clothes - can't wait to get to the point where the sandals come out of the cupboard and onto my feet.
My mother went on a little tour of South India with her niece, and very kindly brought back some beads for me. I had asked her to look out for a string of Rudraksha beads - more about them later. The ones she sent are about 20mm in diameter, and I was a bit intimidated by their size, I had really wanted them a bit smaller. However, no one puts Caprilicious in a corner, and I decided to rise to the challenge. I made some polymer clay ruffle beads from a tutorial by Christelle Van Lingen, in a blend of red and gold, and put a necklace together with a copper electroplated oak leaf skeleton.
Rudraksha is a large evergreen broad-leaved tree whose seed is traditionally used for prayer beads in Hinduism. The seed is borne by several species of Elaeocarpus. Rudraksha is a Sanskrit compound consisting of the name Rudra ("Shiva") and akṣha ("eyes").
Rudraksha beads are often worn by Indian 'sadhus' or holy men, who are devotees of Shiva.
In a complete about turn from the oak leaf necklace, I made a couple of light and pretty summery pieces to go into the English Country Garden collection - a little pendant - Primrose, and a necklace made of all the shiny, pretty floral elements I could find - The Summer Bouquet. The inspiration for this came from a throwaway comment by a presenter on last Sunday's airing of 'The Antiques Roadshow' while valuing a tiara - he mentioned that tiaras were often turned upside down and worn as necklaces in Victorian times - so I made a modern day tiara/ necklace - it is extremely light and pretty, and looks like a wildflower bouquet.
Winner - Bead Barmy Readers Gallery Competition April 2013
Linda Jones, a well known and influential jewellery designer, and author, writes a blog for the WireWorkers Guild, which is a forum for people who love wire. She offered to feature me on her blog in May, and sent me a questionnaire. I filled it out, and she emailed me back - she was so complimentary, I have had a job fitting my head through the door and am literally floating around the room. This is a screen capture of her email
What can I say - other than thank you, Linda Jones! And here it is http://wireworkersguild.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/caprilicous-jewellery.html?showComment=1366967638186#c8771846690699081699
When I finally managed to come down to earth , I finished off the last piece I made this week and took these photographs of The Spirit of Ecstasy. The art nouveau wire work surrounding the focal was behind the idea for the name.
The Spirit of Ecstasy, also called "Emily", "Silver Lady" or "Flying Lady", was designed by English sculptor Charles Robinson Sykes and carries with it a story about a secret passion between the second Lord Montague of Beaulieu, a pioneer of the automobile movement, and editor of The Car Illustrated magazine from 1902 and his secret love and the model for the emblem, Eleanor Velasco Thornton. Eleanor was John Walter's secretary, and their love was to remain hidden, limited to their circle of friends, for more than a decade. The reason for the secrecy was Eleanor's impoverished social and economic status, which was an obstacle to their love. John-Walter, succumbing to family pressures, married Lady Cecil Victoria Constance, but the secret love affair continued.
Spirit of Ecstasy
The rough cut black tourmaline gleams gently, and the severity of the black is relieved by the multi-coloured, shiny crystal spacers, and the graceful swoops of the wings of the focal. The polymer clay 'cabochon' is smooth, although its surface appears corrugated, and was made from a tutorial by Sophy Dumoulin of CraftArt Edu. I just love this technique - although time consuming, it is fabulous - and you have to wait till the absolute end, to see if the piece you have made is any good - for someone short on patience, it is a good exercise! The toggle clasp is pretty too, but this time, I put it at the back of the neck, where it should rightfully belong - when I tried to bring it to the front, as I do with a lot of pretty clasps, it fought a major battle with the focal, and lost. I consoled it by explaining that the back of the wearer is visible too, especially if she has her hair short, or swept up - or it could remain a delicious secret between the necklace and the wearer ( must be going doolally tap - I am now talking to a clasp!).
That's as much as I had time for, sweet people, I am exhausted by the repeated expansion and deflation of my head after all the accolades Caprilicious has received this week - and I know I will have to work hard to stay worthy of what has been said.
Catch you next week, same time, same place
Good day everyone, I trust you had a good week. I have been very rested, as I took some time off the day job, and found I had no pressing matters to attend to, so could chill, and make as many pieces of jewellery as I like, with little or no interruption.
This week, I tried out a new technique - chainmaille.
Chainmaille is the practice of linking rings to create interesting patterns, or more traditionally "sheets" of flexible metal for the purpose of armor or decoration. The name comes from the French word maille, derived from the Latin macula, which means a 'mesh of net'. The basic weaves use jump rings, which are open rings not intended to be soldered. For decorative use, the supportive structure of the weaves is enough to ensure the rings don't pull open.
I bought a rhodochrosite carved pendant a while ago - rhodochrosite is a reddish pink stone - the pink color of rhodochrosite is caused by the element manganese and it is formed when manganese is dissolved by ground water and combines with a carbonate material, then drips off the ceiling of caves and crevices deep underground. It is commonly found in the form of stalactites and stalagmites in the caves of Argentina. The Incas, who called it Inca Rose, believed that rhodochrosite is the blood of their former kings and queens that was turned to stone.
I am by no stretch of imagination a 'pink lady' - but I had to have the pendant - the carving called out to me - 'buy me Neena, buy me' it implored. I searched for a suitable way to tone down the pinkness - I bought Morganite - too pink, tektite - too black, rose quartz - even more 'too pink', and finally, after my bead stash was swollen with unsuitable (!) elements, I found frosted red agate - orangey pink/ red beads, smudged with inky black, and frosted over like the bloom on a grape - lovely!
The Mermaid's Song
This necklace just grrrrrew - couldnt stop it - I made a seahorse, a couple of starfish, and a 'fisherman's net' around the mermaid with fish and other shells caught up in it - and then thought I would try the chainmaille techniques out here to link the beads together - well, easier said than done - it is ever such a fiddly technique, and certainly not suited to sitting in front of the telly with a tray in your lap. But, I persevered and in the end, I am glad I did.
Love knots are very basic chain maille links, with three rings linked together, rather like a Russian wedding ring, and the individual bead links leading off the centre of the knot. All was well till I decided I didn't like the placement of one or two of the elements - it has to be just so for me - and for you - and everything needed to be taken apart and redone - but in the end, I liked the effect - a little more ornate than using just the one ring between elements, I may try this again, and who knows, one day, I might surprise myself with a bracelet made of chainmaille links (don't hold your breath, Neena!).
Diamond White is a necklace made of clear quartz needles with pewter coloured vintage focal beads from another necklace I cannibalised. It is also a cider with a hight alcohol content (12.5%) here in the UK and it had a certain following amongst my friends when I was young. I decided that I would use the name of an old favourite for this rather nice necklace. One of my friends said it made her think of winter - but hey, our non summer is almost over - and we have to face a bleak winter - what better way than to wear nice jewellery - wearing pretty stuff puts a smile on my face, anyway.
Here Comes The Sun
Confused?? - the weather here certainly is - one day it is hot and sunny, and the next it is raining cats and dogs and freezing cold - my jewellery efforts reflect that seesaw - so on this particular day, after a swim and a barbeque meal (no clearing up - yippee!), I sat down with a reel of copper wire and some peridot beads and made this.....
I love the green of peridot - wish it wasn't quite so expensive - but in common with amethysts and aquamarine, it is too expensive to buy in large amounts. Peridot is one of the few gemstones that occur in only one color, an olive green. The intensity and tint of the green comes from the iron in the crystal structure. It is also called Olivine - due to its colour, and is classed as a precious gem. I got the faceted teardrops on a visit to Capri, where they seem to have large deposits of the gemstone, and I used two of them in these copper wire earrings.
And while the barbeque was sizzling and Mike was slaving away over it, I put the polymer clay flowers I made a few weeks ago onto brooch backs and popped them in the oven to cure.
The Paisley pattern has been around for simply ages - its origins are claimed by the peoples of both India and Persia, but its Western name derives from the Scottish town of Paisley. In India, it is a common design, and thought to be a stylised mango. It was popularised in the Western world by the East India Company, and adopted by Liberty into the 'Liberty Print'. I am very familiar with this design, as it is very common in the gold thread work in South India, where I am from, originally, so I decided to make a paisley 'mango' in silver, with some delicious multicoloured tourmaline I acquired earlier, and add a fine silver daisy made from Precious Metal Clay in my kiln. I used wire netting to fill out the paisley shape with tourmaline beads, and hung it from the daisy on a silver chain - sweet!
The Wings of Love
A Hungarian jewellery maker I once bought a bracelet from posted a piece of embroidered jewellery she created around a beetle's wing - I was startled and thought then that she was joking, but not so - the naturally beautiful elytra (wings) of the Green Jewel beetle (Sternocera aequisignata) shift in color from green to hints of blue at the edges, and the surface is shiny and iridescent, giving the effect of sunlight on an oil-slick. The beetles have a short life span of 3-4 days, and when they die, they loose their wings, which are then collected up for use in various objects, and jewellery. No beetles are harmed in the making of this jewellery (phew!).
A bit more research revealed that beetle wings have been used for centuries by Indian civilizations, cut into tiny spangle shapes and sequins to adorn a range of objects, their reflective properties admired as a means to ward off evil spirits. The beetles, in beautiful colours are like living jewels, and in Victorian England it was the height of cool to have live jewel beetles tethered by tiny gold chains to your décolletage! The beetles were caged and fed, and covered with gemstones, if they weren't colourful enough, and taken on regular outings pinned to the lady's chest!
I set out looking for these wings, and found a vendor in Thailand, where these beetles are found, and am now the proud owner of a large number of these wings, this means that I will need to think up plenty of designs to use all of them, but I have no doubt that they will be liked - anyone who likes shiny, pretty things, is bound to like these. I made some earrings, just to get the feel of this new acquisition - but I just know that they will fly out of my hands real quick! I did worry a little about the word 'beetle' which does not conjure up the nicest image - but hey, if the Victorians could wear real live beetles, why shouldn't we wear the wings, beautiful as they are - just takes a bit of getting used to - and we do wear leather from dead animals all the time, don't we??
A bit more about those Victorians - they loved insect jewellery - apparently. For example, Caddisfly larvae glue together tiny stones, grains of sand, and bits of litter to form cases that camouflage and protect them from their natural enemies. When gold nuggets, shells, or semiprecious stones, were added to their cages, they incorporated these into their protective cases, which was later harvested and made into earrings, necklaces, tie tacks, and pins. Amber jewellery - or fossilised insect jewellery was also very popular, and remains so today.
Though light, the wings are quite robust. I accidentally stood on one and it didn't break (and I am no featherweight)! I will of course provide stoppers, as the earrings are very light - but the converse of that is that they can be made long as you like, without fearing for your earlobes! They make a pleasant swishing sound when they knock against each other - a sort of rustle - brings to mind long silk gowns - which is just the right mental image for these beautiful jewel coloured earrings.
The Flemish artist Jan Fabre created the ‘Heaven of Delight’ using 1.6 million of these wings! Fabre and his team of thirty people took 4 months to glue all of the beetle shells to the ceiling and a chandelier in the Heaven of Delight Hall of Mirrors, of the Royal Palace in Brussels. I would have associated the colours and the name with a more exotic place than Brussels, but Fabre really loved these beetle wings and used them extensively in a lot of his art.
I hope you have enjoyed the tale of the beetles - I really got stuck into my research about them, and found so much to talk about. The wings are truly beautiful, and I am surprised that they are not more commonly used in jewellery. I must mention Agi Kiss from Moonsafari Beads who set me off on this journey - you can see her piece here - http://www.etsy.com/shop/MoonsafariBeads
That's all for now folks. Catch you later
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.
Follow me on Pinterest
I would love to hear from you - please leave a comment on the blog or send an email to jewellerybycaprilicious(at)gmail.com
What's in the Store
Look for them by their names in the search box
Free Mini Tutorials