Hello readers, and thanks for dropping by the Caprilicious Blog. I hope you have all had a good week - we have rising temperatures here in the UK, and this has naturally turned our thoughts to the summer that is so tantalisingly near, but yet,..............
But first, I took on a couple of challenges this week - I do so love a good challenge. To my mind, it sets the creative juices flowing, and focuses ones mind on a task, rather than thoughts aimlessly milling around like a swarm of ants.
I spotted the first challenge on Facebook - it was a 'finish this' challenge by Nicole Hanna - she published half a tutorial for a piece of wire-work jewellery, and the competition was open to anyone who cared to join - I saw the notice only two days before the competition ended, so I set to work almost immediately. I'm aiming for the completed tutorial that she is offering to all the participants, that's prize enough for me.
The Unfinished Symphony
We were given a recipe for the ingredients, and weren't allowed to make more than one substitution, or add any others. The results will be shown in an album on Flickr, and when I have the whole tutorial, I will make the pendant accordingly and am most interested to see how different it will be from mine.
I played with clay all last weekend, and made up a bunch of scarf jewellery for my friends from Look in the Bag. Once I had finished, my workspace looked like a bomb had gone off over it and I despaired of ever tidying it. I find it hard to work in a messy environment, and when I saw the next challenge, it inspired me to try and clear my table of all the stuff I had on it.
"Clean-up, Fix-up" your workspace BLOG HOP
Sharyl McMillian-Nelson of Sharyl's Jewelry and Reflections challenged us to clear up our workspace and blog about it. She has a long list of participants from all around the world - jewellery making, chronic untidiness and the internet, have brought us together. If you clink on the link above, you will find the list of the other participants in this challenge.
Well, I have two workspaces - one for the weekends, when I have time to play with clay, and another where I sit of an evening, in front of the telly with Mike, and the beads and wirework come out to play. There is a third, in the conservatory where I have my kiln and enamels, but as it isn't very active, there isn't much point talking about it for now, although I hope this will change fairly soon.
I had just finished making the multi strand necklace with beads, and wire and polymer clay pieces you will find below, and my stuff was all over the place. I keep a limited amount of beads and some findings right by my chair, in boxes on the floor, being too lazy to get up and walk to my storage area each time I need something. Unfortunately, I do not have a 'before' picture to show you, just the 'after' one - you can see the boxes balanced precariously on each other, but all the beads went back into their respective boxes without too much trouble, and the wire was coaxed into going back onto the shelf, so the area looks relatively tidy - and that's the best I could do! As you can see, the pliers refused to move and stayed sat on one of the last naughty spools of wire in a sulk - they should have gone onto the plier holders on the top shelf - I left the refuseniks be, as I didn't have any energy left after that monumental effort.
This is the room where I play with clay - it is only tiny, and I have a trestle table to work on, a trolley with paints and stuff on it, a computer table with the buffer, all jostling for space with a filing cabinet, a cupboard that holds our coats and outdoor wear, another cupboard meant for cleaning implements which I share with my cleaning lady ( and am sneakily encroaching on when she isn't looking, shelf by shelf ), a wall that is lined with books, and shelves that hold photography equipment - a lot to fit into that tiny space. I consider it nothing short of a miracle that I can see the white ceramic tile I use as my work surface.
I took all the clay off the table and put it back into boxes under the table, all my implements were wiped down with wet wipes, and stashed in their mugs and glasses - all the mugs that get chipped in our house find their way to my work space - they know I'll give them a good home in my efforts to stay organised. A set of library steps have been encroached on - I use any flat surface to hold something temporarily - and that quickly becomes a permanent fixture, but as these steps are my husband's pride and joy, I daren't do that for longer than a day or I will find all my stuff unceremoniously dumped on my table when he goes in to look for a book!
Anyway, this is as tidy as it gets - but very far from being all shipshape and Bristol fashion. I have to tell you that before I went all 'crafty' the room was a third bedroom, converted into a sort of library for all the books Mike and I own. I used to play with clay in the kitchen, but that meant I had to clear up my clutter every evening, and projects had to be finished or binned at the end of the day - we all know, that doesn't work one little teeny weeny bit!
I made this polymer clay veneer for another project, but then ended up using it to make a few small pendants instead. I used one of these pendants in a bohemian necklace in bright colours - just right for the summer ahead. The inspiration was beach jewellery from Thailand - usually made with macrame, but I decided to use the look, and recreate it in my own way.
There were a pair of earrings to match, and I think this necklace will look great with summer whites. I used polymer clay beads, wire, African trade beads, which my sister in law kindly found for me when she was on a safari holiday, and I had a ball putting this piece together.
That's it for this week folks, cleaning up after myself has exhausted me and I need to lie down with a cold compress on my head, catch you next week, same time, same place - have a lovely weekend
The oldest child always has it bad - conformity, and the setting of a good example are phrases one hears ad nauseum. So I conformed, people, I did as I was bade, until I was sick to the back teeth - but yet, somehow, I didn't fit in - wherever I went and no matter what I did, I couldn't put my finger on it, but I just didn't fit the mold. Of course, I soon tired of the quest to conform - I do what I do, in my own way - take it or leave it - I guess that's what's called growing into your own skin - or even growing up!
The magic of making my own jewellery has allowed me to be non conformist in glorious technicolour - now, my quest is to find other people, who like me have gone with the flow in their murky past, but are ready to shake their bootees and sing! C'mon out people, wherever you are................. let's have some fun!
One of my role models is a woman called Kat O'Sullivan - she makes and markets upcycled sweaters - they are snapped up within minutes of being posted on ETSY, and I am the lucky owner of a couple of them. She owns a house called Calico, otherwise known as 'The House That Sweaters Built'. She is most definitely a non-conformist par excellence. She is only a young thing, and I admire her self assurance and insouciance.
The Grow Your Blog Party Giveaway
Jennifer LaVite wins Jungle Drums - a bangle, earrings and pendant set. I hope she reads this and contacts me with her address so I can send it on to her.
I bought these beautiful hollow beads from a shop that sells Moroccan artefacts. The first piece I made was with rough cut black tourmaline nuggets fuchsia pearls and agate beads, and I called it Some Like It Hot. My friend Sheela picked it up while helping to arrange the display for my exhibition. 'Just to save you from finding somewhere to display it' is how she put it - not that space was at a premium, but we didn't argue the point too strenuously. She wore it to the exhibition, 'as a walking advertisement' she said - and then halfway through the day, she found other things she liked, and changed into them instead.
Now that the first bead had found a home, I decided to use a second one from my stash - but this time make it as different as possible from the first. It is always a temptation to make the same thing over and over again - but, that is laziness, and no longer a 'one-of-a-kind' endeavour. I have two more beads, and will endeavour to make each necklace as different from the last one as possible - a challenge! - I love challenges!!
Here's Sheela looking very pleased with herself for snafu-ing Some Like it Hot, and beside it is Mountain Mist, the second necklace I made using the Moroccan bead.
I made this necklace using some of my collection of 'vaseline glass' beads. The colours are very soothing - the pale blues and greens in the original African vaseline trade beads came from uranium mixed in with the glass - these beads of course are contemporary, and thankfully they have no uranium content - you will not glow in the dark!
The Kiss of the Dragon
An ox - bone carved Chinese dragon was the focal point for this piece. Embellished with antiqued copper wire and red howlite beads, it was ready to be hung on a necklace, which I made using fire agate - it seemed appropriate to have a dragon on a fire agate necklace.
I spent a pleasurable weekend, wallowing in clay making scarf jewellery for my friends at Look in the Bag. It has been fun translating my friends ideas into my work - a learning experience for me as I usually make my jewellery to my own specifications. It is nice to have a focus, while I am having fun creating something pretty.
Before I go, let me share this with you - a friend of mine who couldn't come to the show sent a couple of her friends instead - this is what her friend had to say about Caprilicious - I was deeply touched.
That's all I have had time for folks, have a great week, and I will catch you next week, same time, same place
The show is over, my babies have been sent off to their new homes like blushing brides in their palanquins, tenderly wrapped in tissue paper to absorb any knocks they might sustain during their journeys.
Back at home, I feel at once bereft and elated - the weather outside isn't helping, and a streaming cold is making matters a million times worse. I have been lying in bed, nursing my cold, reminiscing about the Caprilicious exhibition.
Some Memorable Customers
It is a great feeling to have people look at one's creations, and like them enough to put their money where their mouth is - the downside is that one's creations have to go home with a new mistress. However, if they go to people who will wear them with pleasure, it's a win - win situation.
I had a gentleman come in to the exhibition with his wife and sisters who were visiting from out of town - he inspected some of my necklaces minutely, turning them this way and that - it then transpired that he liked the workmanship, and that he was actually a jeweller who dealt in gold and precious stones - now, that was a compliment, and he even assisted his sister in choosing a piece for herself.
About an hour later, a lady came into the room - I'd seen her walk into the grounds with a companion, but didn't think anything of it - she didn't look like she'd be interested in Caprilicious - a browser, I thought, as I smiled and said hello.
She asked me questions about everything, she didn't trust a word I said - she asked who had made the jewellery, and a sardonic 'I don't believe you' smile came to her face when I told her - she even cross checked with Mike when she went to the cash desk that I hadn't been telling her porkies!
When I told her that some of the beads in a pair of earrings were from Murano, she scoffed at me. 'I've been to Murano' she said. 'These aren't Murano beads'. I had to almost give her directions to the shop where I bought the beads - 'turn left from the factory where they take the tourists, go over the little bridge, and hang a left', before she believed - or appeared to believe me.
All the time she picked over the jewellery, she snapped out questions, hoping to catch me out in a falsehood - to her mind, I was a jumped up sales assistant with delusions of grandeur!
At the end, she had eight necklaces in her hot little hands, and she bargained me down to a discount in a loud, hoarse stage whisper, looking theatrically over her shoulder to see if anyone else had heard.
Off she went to the cash desk, and pulled out a huge overstuffed purse - people in India do tend to pay using cash, and when I went to pick up the necklaces to wrap them, she barked 'I want each one in a separate box, mind'! By this time, I was too exhausted to say anything, I just nodded, dumbstruck, fighting the tiny bubble of hysterical laughter that threatened to erupt out of me, and handed her the jewellery. Off she waddled, perspiring in the air conditioned room, bewhiskered and mustachioed, bellies and chins moving to their own beat, quite separate from her steps, and I could relax.
I do wonder how my babies are faring with her, though. She said she'd come back the next day with some beads for me to make up into a necklace, but she never showed.
The beads in this necklace are a gorgeous sunrise yellow/orange and come from Africa. Amber was treasured in Africa, being a rare commodity, and all sorts of imitation amber was produced, as the colour was thought to be extremely attractive. These beads are made of bakelite and are teamed with Moroccan enamelled silver to make a very colourful necklace, my first for this year.
Earrings to match with triangular polymer clay tiles I happened to have lying around, and a pair of enamelled Moroccan beads complete the ensemble.
I have been commissioned by Look In the Bag to make scarf jewellery to be sold exclusively on their pages. They design the most exquisite range of silk scarves, and I am honoured. These are just a couple of pieces I made this week, to go into their spring/ summer collection, due to be unveiled shortly. I did enjoy shaping and forging the wire - I have made pins before, but not quite so many - I shall be thinking up new ideas so that there are a variety of designs.
That's as much as I have had time for this week, folks. Thanks for stopping by, and I will catch you next week, same time, same place.
Happy Valentines Day
Back at home in my own little nest, trying to fight off the jet lag (and failing miserably), I can feel myself morphing back slowly but surely, from holiday maker into my two conjoint avatars - gynaecologist and jewellery maker. I have also been sorting out the beads I bought in the wholesale market in Bangalore.
I used to go to Raja market as a medical student to buy small trinkets - in those days, we would bunk off from a class, and walk down from medical school, stopping on the way for a bite to eat to fortify ourselves for the onslaught.
Today, Avenue road (a misnomer, if ever there was one) allows traffic in one direction only, but even so, it is maniacal and I cannot understand how people do not get killed while they are standing stock still in that street.
To get there, we needed to negotiate a rat- run of tiny streets, and I swear the chap who drives my mother around went pale under his tan at the mention of taking us there.
He offered to drop us off at the top of the road, go around the back way and pick us up on the other side. No way was he Driving Miss Daisy through that traffic - he feared for his life, his passengers and the car - not necessarily in that order. I could not see my 86 year old mother, (who would be most offended if I suggested that she stayed home) surviving the walk in that vast wilderness of people - one look at the pictures below will tell you why.
So we hit on a compromise - we took a 'bone shaker' - the infamous auto rickshaw - small enough to negotiate the tiny gaps in the teeming mass of humanity, with an angry hornet's buzz of a horn, 'burrring' pedestrians into getting out of the way. We just had to hope our driver wasn't as crazy as they are all made out to be - mum assured me that all the stories were just that - stories!
Anyway, to cut a long story short, we got there and back in one piece, although, for a few moments, I did wonder if the driver was taking me entirely in the wrong direction and I would end up a slave on a galley ship, pulling the oars en - route to Madagascar. Mum of course took it all in her stride, and sat serenely in the rickshaw while I did all the worrying. It didn't help that Bangalore has changed enormously since I was a girl, and that none of the landscape is familiar anymore.
But when I look at all the stuff I found, it brings a smile to my face - it was so worth the effort. I was also glad that I had left Mike at home - he would never have made it - I would have had to take him to a hospital to resuscitate him on the way back!
I have not woken my muse up - she sleeps the sleep of the righteously exhausted - now and again, she remembers a certain bunch of beads, and thinks of something to make with them, twitches a bit, then shakes her head and goes back into slumber - there's not much point till I have the cases sorted, my jet lag banished and then, I certainly have enough material to be getting on with - perhaps next week, I will have something to show you.
While we were in Bangalore, we celebrated our fifteenth wedding anniversary - undeniably, Mike deserves a medal for putting up with me for this long. It was the second day of the exhibition, and we were tired - happy, but exhausted. We made an effort to go out to dinner to the Sheraton, and my sister in law organised us a cake - Aaah!
I had very few clothes to wear, having filled my cases with jewellery - and four saree blouses, so I spent three weeks in borrowed finery - still, it was a good excuse to wear a saree, and I don't do that very often these days.
Now I shall go back to bed, to join my muse - I have a cold coming on, and I am on call at the day job this weekend - so much for the holiday!!
Catch you next week, same time, same place
Hello readers, thanks for stopping by. I am now back home in the UK, and have spent the day unpacking and putting stuff away. It's bad enough unpacking clothes when you come back off a holiday - this time, I had jewellery too, left over from the exhibition, and of course more beads and stuff I had picked up in the wholesale markets in Bangalore - not for the faint hearted, those markets, I can tell you!
That meant, of course that the website had to be updated, and the Facebook page - you must think jeez, this woman is never satisfied - I am, I am - you can tell by the smile on my face when I rattle the almost empty boxes of stock!
To those of you who supported my endeavour, even if it was just by rooting for Caprilicious, thank you very much, it was much appreciated. The exhibition, in my opinion was a success - the jewellery was well appreciated and most people who wandered in to take a look went away clutching a few goodies.
Mike, my other half, stood by the board, soaking up the sun and doing a 'roll up, roll up' - when he saw people walk by - persuading them to go into the shop to see his wife's 'beautiful, hand-made jewellery' - and that strategy worked - loads of them couldn't resist this gentle persuasion ( they just aren't used to Englishmen doing that any more, having forgotten their colonial past - or perhaps just too young to remember the silver tongued English that got them tied in knots, years ago), and they came in, liked what they saw and walked out holding a bag full of Caprilicious - thanks Mike!
A whole bunch of friends swung into action on my behalf in Bangalore - lending me display items, sending out my invitations to people on their mailing lists, publicising the event to their friends. My friend Sheela came to help me set out my stall, and stayed to help out at the event, so Caprilicious was ably supported by a fabulous team of volunteers. The air conditioned venue is almost a little mall, with exhibitions popping up twice a week on average, so customers tend to drop in on the off chance that they might find something interesting to buy. The beautiful old bungalow, with well tended grounds, and a little cafe serving light bites to peckish customers provides a cool haven for shoppers who are looking for that little special 'something' that sets them apart from the hoi polloi at the next party or social event - and man, do those Bangaloreans socialise!
We set up by 10 am on the first day, and for the first hour and a half, it seemed like no one was going to bother to turn up - and then, all of a sudden, there were what seemed like torrents of people flooding the little room where my stall was laid out. A lot of them were friends and relatives, who had in turn brought their friends, but there were quite a few people who had no knowledge of what Caprilicious was all about.
I was unable to carry any display aids from home, so relied heavily on stuff donated by friends. I wandered around my mother's house pouncing on unwary ornamental boxes, emptying them of their contents, so I could take them with me. One of my friends gave me some fleece like material she used in a shop she once owned - I did wonder if it would look a bit like adorning a sleeping polar bear with jewellery - but hey, beggars can't be choosers, and I accepted anything thrown my way gratefully. In the end, although the display wasn't necessarily what I envisaged, it was much better than expected.
One of my cousins arranged for her publicist to put little write ups in all the local papers, and that worked really well - quite a few people turned up saying that they had read about the exhibition that morning. Another cousin brought two car loads of her lunch group, and they all obligingly spent their money with gay abandon. As all this happened on the first day, I worried that the second day was going to be quiet - but as it turned out, just as many people came, and it was extremely satisfying to watch people I did not know make some extremely complimentary remarks about Caprilicious.
We were so tired, we went to bed by 9pm - all that smiling and chatting to strangers certainly takes a toll on the energy levels. But, at pack up time, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had significantly less than a third of my stock remaining. My sister in law did some last minute shopping, and then my sister decided to buy up a whole bunch of pieces from the left over stock!
Eventually, my suitcases came back virtually empty, and I had a huge smile on my face - yippee! Then the painful part - I had to take all the jewellery that was sold off my website, and update my Facebook page - ah! the pain that goes with being successful!
Now back, safe and sound, all unpacked and a wash on the go, website and Facebook page updated, all that remains is a long soak in the bath to wash the travel dust and weariness out of me. I have to move my mindset from being a jewellery designer to a gynaecologist within the next 24 hours, as they are expecting me at work, all bright eyed and bushy tailed tomorrow morning, well rested after a three week holiday and raring to go. I have performed this juggling act every day for the last couple of years, so it shouldn't be too much of a problem.
Catch you next Friday as usual, same time, same place