This last week it has been lovely and unseasonably warm and I have had a bit more time off from the day job, turning my thoughts to summer - a British summer can be totally washed out by rain, and indeed the last few years have been disappointing - but we live in hope of sunshine and warmth on the old bones, as always.
I decided to make jewellery that would be nice to wear to a barbecue or to work, on a hot day - nothing worse than a heavy necklace around a hot and bothered neck.
I found a cinnabar fan bead in my stash and decided to create a necklace around it. It reminded me of the Peking opera which is a traditional performing art in China which combines music, vocal performance, mime, dance and acrobatics. The dancers wear elaborate make up - the audience are allowed to watch while they are being made up and the performers adhere to a variety of stylistic movements that help audiences navigate the plot of the production (there is also a running commentary in English that runs like sub titles on an electric light board so that the poor 'Big Noses' - which is what they call Caucasians, can understand the plot - I don't know what they call Indians!!). The women wear fantastical headdresses and look ever so beautiful, waving their arms around, peering around the fan in their hand which is used as a prop to great effect - the music, I have to confess is a bit shrieky for my taste - but each to his own and maybe you will like it - I have a clip for you - it is called The Drunken Beauty - and she does sound a bit squiffy!
Cinnabar is the popular name used to describe Chinese lacquer -ware of a striking red colour, known for many centuries. The cinnabar tree is very soft and widely used because it is easily carved or moulded. Cinnabar is thought to come from the Persian word "zinjifrah" meaning dragon's blood, most likely referring to the lacquers red shade. In keeping with the ornateness of the headdress, I constructed a fluted wire ruffle on top of the fan and added a necklace with tiny gemstone nuggets of aquamarine and amazonite, aventurine cylinders and faux pearls, using both gold and silver coloured beads as spacers so the necklace can be worn with many colour ways. It is a light and flirty piece of jewellery in spite of being in three strands.
The Peking Opera Necklace
The Aquatic Dance Necklace
Finally, I got my kiln's firing schedule right, and produced a couple of pieces of copper in it. I picked a pendant at random, and created a necklace using slices of shell that I bought on my last holiday in Sharm al Sheikh. I had used a shell pattern on the pendant, which I then patinated with a verdigris patina, and wired bits of green branch coral and Keishi pearls to it, in keeping with the sea side theme. Jasper coins and chunks of Ruby Zoisite formed a pretty counterpoint.
The whole necklace reminded me of a song by Vangelis in the 90's - The Aquatic Dance - so I borrowed the name from the song - which is very soothing indeed, just like my necklace - wouldn't you agree?
The Octopus's Garden necklace
In keeping with the aquatic theme, I followed on with the Octopus's Garden - my tribute to the Beatles - a fun wire work octopus with a creamy mother of pearl coin for a body, and wire tentacles which have silvery suckers along the ends. It was wired to a frame and I put together a fantasy seascape with seaweed, shell charms, fire polished beads for a sea, and even a little green enamel and marcasite seahorse - this is over 50 years old and was recycled from a pair of earrings bought in Paris by my mother ages ago, but never used - I thought they were so pretty and had them off her - but never wore them either as they were clip ons - now donated to the cause of Caprilicious Jewellery - haven't told her yet, but, thanks mum! It is such a busy little necklace with all the detailing, I decided to hang the focal wire work on a thong, so it did not detract from the wire and bead work itself.
Here endeth this weeks blog, have a good weekend and see you next week
We all doodle - as children, how often did we mentally leave a boring lesson by doodling in our note books and get to some place in our subconscious where nobody could reach us? Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas harnessed that idea and created the Zentangle art form - Maria felt that while doodling, she felt timeless and free, engendering a sensation of well being - they recognised the signs of a meditative state, and the art form was born. Today, there are Certified instructors, it is taught in schools, there are seminars in the Metropolitan Art Museum in New York, there are numerous books written about it - amazing, and all from the humble doodle. Zentangle is a type of meditation achieved through pattern making - there are more than 100 named patterns, and combining them in an unplanned unexpected way causes one to enter into a state of flow - Yoga for the mind!
I always knew that repetitive patterns were pleasing to the eye, but never quite understood why - perhaps I have been in a meditative state most of my life - I sure have doodled prolifically during my time at school.
i decided that polymer clay canes were the best way to go, but couldn't quite abandon wire, so made a combination of the two - the piece was very complex to make, but so much fun - I was also researching Zen and Wabi -Sabi design and this inspired me to make this piece - I called it The Bold and the Beautiful - definitely not for the faint hearted - someone really gutsy would wear it as a summer piece with a white Tee, or a black dress - I wonder who that person will be.
I bought an ox bone Buddha face cabochon, and kept it in my stash for over an year - I found it while looking for quite something else and decided to use it in some way. I tend to put the bits I want to use out on the coffee table in front of me, and glance at it as I to and fro in the natural course of a days work - the first thing it said to me was 'Zen'. Zen is a Japanese form of Buddhism that believes that meditation, contemplation of ones self is a better way to look for enlightenment, rather than the mere practice of the rites and rituals of orthodox religions.
Zen architecture is modern and serene, weaving emotions into simple sculptural forms to give a deep environmental experience - dreamers are encouraged to be one with their dreams. I found this extremely evocative picture of a Zen garden, and from this was born the Zen necklace with its serene Buddha presiding over swirls of wire.
Saw a poster of 'Midnight Tango' a show at the Aldwych in London, with the fabulously talented Flavia Cacace and Vincent Simone. The outfit she was wearing in the poster reminded me so much of a showy hibiscus my mother has growing in her garden in India - it is called 'Midnight Blue'. I designed a necklace with that in mind using polymer clay to fashion the petals and a crackled agate for a moon at midnight. The necklace was so popular on the website that it sold within two days of me posting it - and I am not surprised - its inspiration was so breathtaking, that even if the necklace fulfilled half its promise, it would be interesting, to say the least. One of my friends in the jewellery making community liked it so much, she commissioned me to make her some petals, and I did - she was kind enough to promise to credit me with making the petals when she uploads pictures of her jewellery.
I am hoping to actually see the show before it closes on the 31st of March - hint hint to my husband if he is reading this.
I had quite a few days off from the day job and I have been quite prolific this month - I counted up what I made and it adds up to 17 pieces of jewellery, including two pairs of earrings - they are sometimes the most difficult as they have to be exactly equal and opposite - unless a degree of cheating is involved and they are called asymmetrical! You have to love a trier!
I hope you have enjoyed reading this and have subscribed to the Caprilicious blog - just put your email id into the slot on the right of this screen in the appropriate space, and you will get a copy each week.
See you next week, have a good weekend,
Time to indulge in my other passion - little shoots are peeping up in my garden all over the place , telling me its time to clear up winter debris and get ready for some sowing. I got some poppy seeds to sow out - poppies are my favourite flowers - if only the leaves didn't look so dreadful and straggly once the flower has died, or they lasted a bit longer - Oh well, you cant have everything. I have a little idea for poppy based jewellery, but that will have to wait. This week it is the turn of the sunflower. I have a smallish garden,with nowhere near the space I'd like to grow masses of sunflowers - like the paintings of Provence - you can feel the heat coming off the land in those paintings. So I decided to make my own with my favourite (currently) - polymer clay.
Impressionism is a 19th century artistic movement that swept much of the painting and sculpture styles of the period. It was not just a passing fad but has defined an entirely modern way of expressing one’s artistry that eventually rubbed of in other art forms like literature, photography and film making - I wondered if that could be replicated in jewellery making as well. I have a few prints dotted around the house and can spend hours gazing into the dreamy quality of the paintings. The impressionists painted by recreating the sensation in the eye that views the subject, rather than delineating the details of the subject by simply applying colours and brush strokes that took on a strange accuracy , rather than attempting to recreate a photograph with paint.
These are puffy, frilly polymer clay flowers, edged with gold - light as a feather, anchored to copper wire and adorned with gemstones. The left -over one was anchored to a memory wire choker and a wire dragonfly added to one side - and there you are, I am an Impressionist too!
It's hard to believe that a garden that looks like the first picture, can be the same one in the last - coming from the tropics I wasn't used to the aggressive changes in climate reflected in the garden, and of course mood!
It will be St Patrick's day soon - the end of Lent - and the Irish diaspora will be out celebrating - I have a very good friend who is Irish, and we spent a lot of time together in our training years - she put the story out that we were actually long lost sisters - according to the epic story her father had been stationed in India in the war...... my mother might have had something to say about that, and anyway, I'm not that old - but a lot of gullible midwives actually believed it and congratulated us on meeting so late in life and how well we got on - let's just say, I have a sister and her name is not Fidelma. So, being virtually part Irish, I am celebrating too.
Bollywood would have loved this story line - except we would have been twins, and there would have been a fire or a flood and our mother would have managed to carelessly mislay one of us in the struggle to survive, one of us would have been evil and the other a police woman - as it is, Fidelma and I are both gynaecologists - very prosaic!
With my Irish / Impressionist hat on, I created this Peter Pan collar with green howlite slab nuggets and cream wooden beads, and a sculptured bow at the neck. The Peter Pan collar was originally designed by the actress Maude Adams in 1905 for her role in the Broadway play of the same name. I called it the Tinker Bell collar though, it certainly is green enough and the collar was created for someone like her!
My friend Jinny Holt continues to make her wonderful books of spells - wierd and wonderful! - she is a true artist and can effortlessly turn her hand to lots to creative things. Read about her in her blog
Je T'aime - the necklace
The Angel's wing necklace
We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another. ~Luciano de Crescenzo
Luciano is a Neapolitan writer and film maker - now 83 - I thought this was very profound - after all , who of us wouldn't like a hug.....
I made what I thought was an angels wing in wire and silver lined shiny seed beads - an angel ought to be shiny surely .....
this is what occurred - this is, I think a night time version of the 'Spring fever' necklace
I have had to go back to my day job, my holiday at an end - have a nice week and I hope I will find you well next weekend. Happy Mother's Day and St Paddy's day to all of you.
Last week I wrote about the naiad. This week is the turn of the siren - In the story of Odysseus, the sirens lured sailors to their death with a bewitching song. These beautiful women were formerly handmaidens of the goddess Persephone and they were sometimes depicted with the bodies of birds. When Odysseus passed by, he had himself tightly bound to the mast, and had his sailors block their ears with wax - this caused the Sirens so much distress - they couldn't believe that they had lost their appeal - that they threw themselves into the sea and drowned. Maybe that's where Bollywood got the idea that 'vamps' always came to a sticky end - in reality, bad girls have more fun! Or as Mae West famously said -Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere.
I had this exquisite ox bone 'Goddess' face and I made a Siren with it - with a serene face, 'blonde' flowing locks of hair, surrounded by the sea, made of wire and crystals, in a 3 dimensional story board. It took me simply ages to weave the hair, but I was pleased with the final result. I finished it with a gold silk Kumihimo braid and extender chain that I made myself and embellished with wire spirals.
The Ice queen's necklace
When in Reykjavik, we went to the mythological museum - and here I found this wonderful tale - Freya, the Nordic Ice Queen was a warrior goddess of sensual love. Her husband was the Norse God Od.
Freya was a spectacular beauty known for her appreciation of romantic music and stunning floral arrangements. That was her softer side; she was also known as the goddess of war and death. She was the original blonde bombshell and with her blue eyes, she was irresistible. She also owned a magical necklace called 'Brisling' that made her
Kyanite is a sedimentary rock laden with aluminium in an elongated crystalline structure, which is mined alongside quartz amongst other such substances. Its name derives from the Greek word for blue, but it can occasionally be green, and when it contains manganese, orange. It has special significance in metaphysical circles, as it thought to clear the body's communication channels and is an aid to meditation when worn close to the throat.
I love it for its unusual appearance and ethereal, icy qualities - although relatively expensive, I think it is worth it as it is so pretty.
My work with copper clay is still disappointing - I found out that it needs to be put into the kiln when it is at 930 degrees C hot - quite a terrifying thought! To do this, I have to wear Asbestos gloves, a pair of goggles to protect my eyes from the glare of a red hot kiln, put the copper pieces in a stainless steel pan filled with activated carbon, and lift it into the kiln on the end of what looks like a pitchfork, but has two tines, to fit under the lip of the stainless steel container - Oh dear, what a palaver! - but, I am not one to give up, and crack it I will.
To cheer myself up after a terrible week, and two experiments that went wrong in my kiln, I decided to go back to something I knew and could manage more easily - polymer clay. I have recently made contact with a lady called Jinny Holt - and her artwork is stunning - she is a wizard with the polymer clay, and her work is inspirational.
I dug out a picture of the Fuxing Gardens in Shanghai, from a visit in 2004 - I use that as my 'enchanted place' when I practice self hypnosis and want a calming image in my mind. The gardens in China are always full of plants in full bloom - and I realised why this was - all the plants are grown in huge hothouses in pots, and when they are at their best, they are wheeled out, and the older ones taken away - there's always a few gardeners with their wheel barrows moving plants about the place! The blooms are so beautiful, that after the initial shock of seeing the pots, one forgets all about it and concentrates the mind on the flowers.
This necklace is called the Enchanted Garden - it took me a while to make as each flower had to be shaped, and then attached to a pre made collar with liquid polymer clay, cured again, and then finished off. The piece has soothing colours - and I think it is pretty neat. A serene little face peeps out between the flowers.
Fuxing Gardens Shanghai
"Hope is a walk through a flowering meadow. One does not require that it lead anywhere." - Robert Brault on http://www.robertbrault.com
I follow Roberts blog - he is a writer in the US, and his writings and musings chime with me.
I also found this quote from the Washington Post- it isnt attributed to anyone specifically, but it sounds a lot like something Woody Allen might say -
'Why do people give each other flowers? To celebrate important occasions, they're killing living creatures????
Why restrict it to plants? " Sweetheart, let's make up, have this deceased squirrel" !!!
Anyway, if you were offered a necklace of flowers, you wouldnt need to kill a 'living creature' would you - perhaps a hint in the right ear??
The Enchanted Garden Collar
I have had a lovely week off from the day job, which I filled quite productively with my little production line. Back on Monday, nose to the grindstone, with a bit of time off to make some pretty things.
Enjoy your week and do come back next week for another instalment - see you then!!
If The King said so - it must be true -do listen to the song while reading this - brings the blog alive!'
A little Madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King.'
Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (1830 -1886)
The weather is getting warmer and the plants in the garden are aching with buds - I love England in the springtime, especially after a bleak winter.
I found an Intarsia cabochon in my stash -Intarsia is the centuries old skill of combining gem materials into works of art. Each piece of stone is precisely cut and fitted for inlay into another gemstone. Once assembled the complete piece is polished to a high finish. Each Intarsia is made entirely by hand - and because of this, relatively expensive. This one has elements of pink rhodochrosite, jasper and agate, and I decided to frame it in polymer clay to resemble a picture frame and then use it as a pendant. The cabochon itself is only 2 1/2 x 1 inch, and would stand no chance being visible, given my penchant for 'big' jewellery. So this is what I made with it - added a polymer clay frame using cherry blossom millefiori cane, and stringing it with a bunch of multicolour lucite leaves and flowers, using glass and acrylic pearls and Czech crystals thrown in for added sparkle. The flowers are substantial in size but light, so the pendant anchors the necklace and makes it drape well, and I have left the back free so that it is comfortable around the neck - no one wants something prodding their neck - especially in springtime, when collared jackets are still mandatory.
The profusion of flowers is so springlike that the necklace could only be called Spring Fever.
'It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!' ~Mark Twain
On another note, I submitted a few of my designs to Rena Klingenberg's website http://www.making-jewelry-now.com - Making Jewellery Now - The Friendly Jewellery Community, and am pleased that I had quite a favourable response from her readers, most of whom are jewellery designers - there are some fascinating insights into jewellery making and marketing on her site and I have spent a lot of my time reading it.
This is the link to the Caprilicious Jewellery Etsy store - http://www.etsy.com/shop/CapriliciousJewelry
A Naiad's Treasure
There is definitely a method in my madness - my stash of beads is all jumbled up - and I would forget that I had a particular item, unless I found it quite by accident during a frantic rummage for something else. While I was looking for the lucite flowers, I found some prehnite nuggets - I love prehnite - it looks like pistachio green nuggets of frosted sugar candy, touched by a naughty child with dirty fingers, leaving black smudges on it's surface. I put it together with an ammonite fossil and khaki/gold pyrite nuggets, and a few freshwater pearls - there is an air of enchantment about this necklace that gave it it's name.
The Naiads were nymphs of bodies of fresh water.A naiad was intimately connected to the water she lived in, and if the stream dried up, she breathed her last with it.
Like all the nymphs, the Naiads were in many ways female sex symbols of the ancient world and played the part of both the seduced and the seducer. Zeus in particular is said to have enjoyed the favors of countless Naiads and the other gods do not seem to have lagged far behind. The Naiads fell in love with, and actively pursued mortals as well.
Now, don't shoot the messenger - I got this from a website dealing with the mystical properties of crystals http://www.shimmerlings.com/gemstones/prehnite.htm#GENERAL - 'Prehnite is quite a protective stone. It can protect one on all levels, as it strengthens the life force and generally increases energy as well as stimulating it. Healers use prehnite's memory skill in aiding with diagnosis of patients, if you have a patient that is particularly difficult to diagnose, have them carry this stone for one month, when they return the crystal, use it during meditation to tap into the stone's memory.' I said this to a colleague of mine - and he looked horrified - as if I had grown another head (which I have - the one that makes jewellery) - and said -'please tell me you don't believe this'.....
I wish I knew about the healing properties especially before I spent years and years in medical training - could've saved me a lot of trouble.
Pyrite is commonly called Fools Gold because of its similarity in color, shape, to gold - it is also closely related to the more silvery Marcasite.
Now, I have an idea for something I found while rummaging for the pyrite - am off to find it - who knows what else I might find - see you next week!