Beautiful Handmade Statement Necklaces and other Fabulousness from Neena Shilvock - Inspirations and Designs From the Week Gone by
A worker may be the hammer's master, but the hammer still prevails. A tool knows exactly how it is meant to be handled, while the user of the tool can only have an approximate idea.
Hello readers, nice to catch up with you again. There are now about two and a half weeks to go till the Handmade Fair at Ragley Hall, and I approach it with mixed feelings. Excitement and a frenzy of preparation is combined with dread and anxiety. I think it is every makers secret fear that nobody will come, nobody will like their creations and that it will all be for nothing - indeed, less than nothing as there's been a load of cash spent on this venture. Oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained! Let's go for broke, and all those other cliche's with which I have been fortifying myself.
I've found a fabulous helper to see me through the setting up of the stall - Gabby Armstrong is the daughter of one of the midwives at work. She has a degree in visual merchandising and works in retail for a clothing store in Coventry, arranging their displays. She dropped by to take a look at the jewellery, and is going to do me a visual story board. She has been to the show at Hampton Court on previous occasions and knows how it works, so that's an added bonus. Gabby was quite enthusiastic about my jewellery, and had a whole load of ideas to share. And bless her cotton socks, she has volunteered to meet us at Ragley Hall and help me set up - amazing luck that I happened to have a conversation with her mother and she mentioned what her daughter did for a living!!
I thought I'd show you some of my arsenal of tools - if you've seen them before or even used them, I apologise if you find this bit boring- just scroll down a bit further to get to the jewellery.
This one is called a Chain Sta' - I saw in a brochure from the USA, and found it so quirky, I sent off for it. The two arms come off and it lays flat (this is important for storage) - each arm has a clamp at the top, and a chain link bracelet or necklace becomes ever so easy to make. The horizontal bridge at the bottom has a ruler and ensures that beads can be added at regular intervals.
I make my beetle wing necklaces using this tool, without which the chain would twist and the jump rings attaching each wing to the chain would be all over the place. I'm sure one of these can be rigged up using an aubergine, two soda cans and a spear of asparagus, but hey, I like my tools and love ones that work even more.
The next one - a pair of ceramic tipped precision tweezers - it makes it easy to pick up and set little cubic zirconia into metal clay with these babies. If they were a bit longer they could have been used to stabilise solder when using a flame as the ceramic tips would be fine at high temperatures.
And finally this weeks purchase, the bracelet bender tool. I have been making bracelets with soutache and beadwork in leather, lined with ultrasuede. Between the leather and suede is a layer of aluminium to hold the shape of the cuff without adding any weight to the piece. The last load of aluminium blanks were imported already curved into cuffs from the USA and worked out to be very expensive. I've recently found a vendor in the UK who is prepared to cut sheets of aluminium to my specification which is so much cheaper, but the aluminium strips are sent out flat. I got this tool to bend the metal over and voila! a cuff bracelet blank. What a fun tool!!
These are some of the pieces I made this week - I have'nt put them on the website, but will do so if they remain unsold after the Handmade Fair.
Branches of bamboo coral and Moroccan silver beads - simple, but very exotic. I'm reading a book about Rumi the poet, and Shams of Tabriz, who by all accounts was a very charismatic man. I went on line to read a bit more about Tabriz and what an exotic place it sounds like. The Bazaar of Tabriz, an UNESCO site in particular, sounds fabulous - I thought the Kapali Carsi in Istanbul was beautiful, but this one sounds like it would be a closely run race. A charismatic necklace, for a charismatic woman, methinks.
Yin is the Chinese female principle of the universe, characterized as sustaining and associated with earth, shade, and coolness. I made this necklace with some of the beads I bought in the Chinese quarter in Kuala Lumpur. The beads are huge, about 3cms across and carved by hand. I teamed them with Greek beads from a holiday in Santorini - they are ceramic and heavily electroplated with gold and lustre, and strung them on a piece of Brazilian leather. I tied knots between the beads as spacers, but it looked wrong, so I undid the necklace and remade it without the knots. I added a handmade chain and clasp with an extension on the back so that the necklace can be worn fairly long if necessary.
I wanted to show off my new jewellery beetle wings, and do something very different with them - when combined with gaily dyed marabou feathers echoing the colours of the wings, they look very 'carnival'.
Here's the soutache and leather cuff for which I needed the aluminium insert mentioned earlier .
I spent all weekend making this flower from bronze clay and then wrought a clasp for the necklace, from a design by Kristine Schroeder. When I looked in my stash, this string of amethyst beads called to me and I accented them with a couple of carnelian beads and a pyrite bead.
So, as you see,I have been working hard this last couple of weeks to have enough stock for three days at a fair full of handmade enthusiasts. It is Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK and it will probably rain. Have a lovely week people, and I'll catch you next Friday, 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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