I hope you have all had a good week - I had the week off from work and decided to use it productively - was meant to drive to Shrewsbury, an hour away, to take an enamelling class, but snow and ice precluded that enterprise, and we had to reschedule. So I was forced to stay at home, and play on my own with my baubles and beads, and my computer.
I entered Ariel onto a colour palette design challenge and bloghop hosted by Bonnie Coursolle of Jasper's Gems from Ontario, Canada. http://www.jasper-moon.ca/JaspersGemsBlog.htm
She posted three colour palettes, and Ariel was made in the colours of the first one she gave the participants to work with. It is nice sometimes to accept a challenge and work within its confines - it gives the mind a focus.
Just after I posted last week, I found out that I had won a £10 voucher from a trade magazine called Beads and Beyond - I had submitted a picture well before Christmas 2012 to their inbox, and quite forgot about it - in fact, I had to ask members of a jewellery forum if it was true that the picture had been published when I got the email that I had won the voucher, I thought it might be some sort of pre April fool prank. One of the ladies sent me this picture - I should really go out and buy the magazine now.
I entered Glacial Fantasy in a 'Jewellery Design Star' competition on Artbeads.com - this is a company in the USA that sells jewellery making supplies. I don't usually have time to hunt down competitions, and enter my jewellery, so it was nice to be able to do it this week.
I sent Pearl Blay, the author of The Beading Gem's Journal a picture of Glacial Fantasy. She writes a daily blog http://www.beadinggem.com/ where she posts
'the best Free Jewelry Tutorials Tips,Trends & More'. I have been following this blog since the day I started to make jewellery, and have learned a lot from her writings. Her blog lands in my inbox with a 'ping' every afternoon - she is in Canada-her advice is sound, and she has an archive of tutorials on almost everything to do with handmade jewellery making. I have approached her twice in the past, and only got as far as being allowed to submit a picture of one of my necklaces to her 'Readers Gallery of Inspirational Designs', but Glacial Fantasy piqued her interest and she wants to do a feature on Caprilicious Jewellery sometime in April. She contacted Manish, who took the picture of the glacier in Ladakh, and will put his picture on the blog as well. It is a big deal for Caprilicious, as her blog is extremely zealously curated, and I am suitably thrilled and grateful to Pearl. I will keep you posted when the feature comes out - it is fabulous to have one's work recognised by one's peers, especially someone who has been there, done that and seen it all.
I had a vague idea of what I wanted to make, so I made these little pieces - I embellished black clay with real gold leaf from Thailand, and made a few faux bone elements. I wasn't sure how I was going to connect them, till I remembered a roll of hemp tucked away at the back of my supplies cupboard. While I pondered this weighty question, I was thankful that there wasn't much clearing up to do - this was a clean technique and my table didn't look like a bombsite at the end of it.
I watched a late night movie, with subtitles, from Senegal - I watched the griot sing his soulful song - the Mandinkas pass on their history from generation to generation through songs sung by griots, accompanied by a kora-a stringed instrument. The marabout (and the protagonist visited quite a few in this movie to help restore his potency) was laden with bones and cowrie shells, and all I could think about was how this scene could be incorporated into a piece of jewellery. I think this necklace was conceived that night - there has to be some benefit to being an insomniac .
Cowrie shells were used as currency in Africa . Their symbolic qualities and beliefs led to them becoming a popular and valued object of currency for hundreds of years. During early colonial times, many Africans preferred being paid with cowrie shells over gold coins- which was a surprise (and an unexpected windfall) to the first Europeans who went to trade in Africa.
Cowrie shells are also tagged with a mystical quality, and have played a role in West African fortune telling, and are an integral part of music and indigenous instruments, as well as gambling games. They are also used as fertility symbols and brides wear them in a waist belt. One of these found its way into my hands, but it was all broken and tattered, so I rescued the cowrie shells from it - reuse and recycle - that's my motto!
I was trying to replicate the mood of the music, and the picture above in my photograph. I was clearly underemployed this week, so I played with my little camera - I lit a joss stick and tried to take a picture inside my light box, with the smoke wafting over the necklace - but I soon found out that this was easier said than done - smoke just doesn't do as it is told - I discarded a whole bunch of pictures - thank goodness for modern technology - imagine how expensive all this would have been if I had to develop all those pictures to find one that I liked!
My most recently ordered leaf skeleton pendants arrived, and I wasted no time putting the aspen leaf into a necklace of lemon quartz and pyrite. The pale gold of the quartz contrasts with the dark gold of the pyrite - Lemon quartz is so pretty, it reminds me of the weak first rays of the sun, the first thing in the morning - a wistful light, yet so beautiful. My husband liked it so much, he even wore it for a couple of minutes - yes, I got a picture, but I am not allowed to post it ( thank goodness, you say?? - you are absolutely right).
I was asked to make some earrings to go with Glacial Fantasy - I decided to have another look at Manish's pictures from Ladakh for inspiration - I found a couple that set me thinking of icicles, and I made these for the ladies who had commissioned necklaces from me.
Zahra - the Luminous one
The pearls I chose for this necklace, brought the word 'luminous' to mind - when I looked for a translation in Arabic/Persian, this flowery language came up with 'Zahra'.
We have some large holly bushes in front of the house, and I boiled up some leaves - I thought that their skeletons would be an interesting shape - but in the end, it was all 'Bubble. bubble, toil and trouble' for no reward - man, those holly leaves sure are tough! Eventually I gave up, and when I rang the lady who electroplates the leaves for me, she said she had the same problem, so she just electroplated the entire leaf as it was. I cheated, and bought this pendant from her - I was fed up with the whole holly debacle by then.
Being used to the delicate skeletons I am now accustomed to, I was a bit surprised by how substantial the holly leaf was, but in the end, I think it came good and I love the way it turned out.
I ended the week with a birthday, my colleagues from work threw a surprise lunch party for me, and some of them even wore their necklaces from Caprilicious, as did I. It was a lovely thought, and a really nice afternoon - thank you to all the ladies who turned up and made me feel special.
And, that was the week that was! Catch you next week, same time, same place, take care and have a great Easter break
This week, there were some very difficult decisions to be made - I had to submit a single button to the Button Project picking for my theme 'Silk' , 'Metamorphosis' , or 'Heritage' - I could eventually add another three to a set of four to be sold off by the organisers when the project ended.
I decided to go with 'Metamorphosis' as my theme, loosely interpreted by me as the change or transformation that occurs as night follows day. I thought that there would most probably be too many butterfly/ larva buttons as the other theme was Silk- and anyway, who wants to make or wear a dead caterpillar? - not me, that's who!
I made the four buttons in polymer clay, and took my pictures, I was quietly pleased with the way they turned out. I planned to give each one a gradation from a dark blue to a pink/yellow/orange, and I added a leaf motif in the background, so the button would eventually resemble a fossil. The method I used was pioneered by Sophy Dumoulin of CraftArt Edu. However, with this technique, there is no way of telling what the piece will look like till it is cured, sanded and buffed - sanding reveals the true design, hidden inside, almost like a metamorphosis in itself - I held my breath till, lo, and behold, the buttons appeared - not entirely the way I envisaged, but near enough.
I was now faced with the choice of button - I had to decide which one was the best and was destined to be the original exhibit, with the others sitting in a box, waiting to hear if someone loved them enough to give them a home. How bad would they feel, if they had to come back home to Nuneaton in a padded envelope - how could I put my sweet button babies through this?
And once I decided which one I liked best, should I send the required photograph on a dark background, or on white?
Having agonised over this for a long while, I gave up and decided to listen to some music instead, till the Aspirin cleared my head.
The one at the top left is the one I chose eventually, with the dark background. Now, all that is left is to wait and see whether the organisers will accept my entry.
Through Caprilicious, I met a lovely lady I shall call BN - she makes jewellery too and is like me, a doctor. She loves Caprilicious and took the trouble to come all the way to Nuneaton to see me - I was ever so pleased to meet her and we talked jewellery for hours - it was nice to find someone to chat with on a topic that is so dear to my heart, without fear of their eyes glazing over with boredom - I'm sure I do that a lot at work, and have to restrain myself, quite often, when my radar picks up the glazed expression I used to get when my mother lectured me on my many misdemeanors as a teenager. I only hope I am quicker to spot 'the look' than my mother was!
BN gifted me some beads - she said it was like a goody bag on Ready Steady Cook - I had to make pieces of jewellery using the ingredients from her bag, the only difference being there was no stipulated time limit. In return, she had some of my polymer clay faux amber and a few other bits and bobs. After she left, I made Bedouin Oasis, with some of her beads, one of my handmade polymer clay pendants, with two pairs of earrings to match.
I teamed Tiger Ebony wood bicone beads and shell segments in an asymmetric necklace and the colours so reminded me of an oasis - calm and serene - the pendant seemed to work well with that theme, its center looks like a rippling body of water to me - I wore the necklace to work, and got a load of compliments - I was very pleased with the response.
This necklace stemmed from BN's question - 'could you create small?' - I wasn't too sure that I could rise up to the challenge - Caprilicious seems to have become all about the large, flamboyant piece - but I am sure there are plenty of capricious women who want their delicious pieces small and dainty. So, I went off with my thinking cap and sat in a corner for a while ( should that be a dunce's cap you sit in a corner with??) and came up with Indigo Evenings. The iolite I picked is a beautiful deep blue, the colour of twilight in the tropics, and I looked in my gemstone stash in vain to find a green to complement it - I finally found the perfect green in my box of crystals, and added some tiny pearls to make a piece that is so dainty, it looks almost fragile in my hands - so, BN, if you are reading this, have I fulfilled your challenge?
Ariel is a fictional character and the lead protagonist of Walt Disney Pictures' film The Little Mermaid (1989). Ariel is voiced by Jodi Benson in all animated appearances and merchandise.
In the mid nineties, I used to borrow this little girl from my friends, and she and I would stay up all night, watching cartoons, eating ice cream and Jelly and crisps in bed - she loved to come and stay with me, and her parents had the weekend to themselves - The Little Mermaid was one of the movies we watched, over and over, without ever tiring of it.
I made this cuff in memory of those days, using the pen and ink technique learned from Alice Stroppel. It took simply ages to get her hair just so, fortunately, I now have a table where I can leave all the makings without feeling guilty about the mess. The place looked like a bombsite for days and days, while I struggled to juggle the demands of the bracelet, and the rigours of the day job.
Lipstick on Your Collar
BN gave me some slate grey veined jasper - the stones look like little pebbles from a river bed - initially I thought I would put them with coral ( and I might, yet) but while doing a rummage in my bead stash, I found these lipstick coloured pink dyed howlite, and they seemed to be clamoring to be let out of the box - I think they go really well together. As I have said before, I am not a particularly 'pink' person - but this necklace found its way from the light box where I photographed it, straight around my neck, and hence, to work. The grey jasper lends the piece a bit of sophistication, and raises its game. One look at it, and I don't have to say another word about how it got it's name.
The gentleman whose photograph I used as inspiration for Glacial Fantasy
( http://www.flickr.com/photos/manisholiday/ or http://kingdom-of-sky.blogspot.co.uk/ for more pictures) liked the necklace so much, he ordered another for his girlfriend! Kudos, indeed - such kind gestures make it all worthwhile!
That's all this week sweet people, thanks for stopping by - catch you next week, same time, same place,
This week I had a couple of days off from work, so I decided to try out some new stuff - I love colourful jewellery and there is no one who uses colour more successfully and with more panache than a polymer artist called Alice Stroppel. She has a tutorial for pen and ink drawings on polymer clay, and I got this from her in an attempt something different - I hoped I hadn't bitten off a bit more than I could chew, but felt like I ought to stretch myself a bit at a time, and add another dimension to what I do.
Anyway, here I was with this tutorial and after a few panic attacks and a lot of procrastination, I made two bracelet blanks - and got on with it. I say this blithely, as if it was a smooth transition from reading the tutorial to the execution of the piece, but I am a past master at putting things off - it took me four days to get to actually starting up (and I will admit, I was a bit - no, a lot, scared of making a complete idiot of myself) and three days to ink the second bracelet, bit by bit.
I kept the first bracelet simple, with flowers made of Millefiori canes, and with the leftover cane, made a pendant to match.
The pen and ink bit was kept to a simple colourful stripe - I told you I proceeded gingerly! While these were curing, I made a couple more conventional bangles, which fulfill my love for colour. Canes are also new to my repertoire, but I think I am just about ready to make some simple ones now - it takes a while to get used to a medium, and I think now is the time to dip my toes into deeper water. As you can see, I have relied on colour and texture with the bracelets below, but they do make a colourful splash.
Leaf on the Water
While proceeding very gingerly with the bracelets, I made some stuff I knew I could turn my hand to, almost as if I needed just to reassure myself of my abilities, in case I fell flat on my face. The picture above was my inspiration for Leaf on the Water, a necklace made with rectangular Peruvian opals and a Maple leaf skeleton pendant. The leaf skeleton has been electroplated with 9 Carat gold, and is a work of art by nature. The soothing blue of the opals seemed to suggest a seascape, and I added a couple of shells and a froth of little beads and crystals to signify the foam on the waves. It turned out to be a piece of jewellery that can be worn by day as well as night.
Another idea I approached with caution is the Flat Wire Twining lesson by Mary Tucker - she makes flat bracelets with what seems like hundreds of pieces of wire in a weave that resembles fabric, and basket weaves that are very realistic.
I am terrible for trying to run before I can walk, and become disheartened. I was quite determined this time that I wouldn't let that happen. I made a three dimensional wire pitcher, with 'water' pouring from its spout. Hung on a simple black waxed linen cord, the pitcher looks like it is spilling water down the décolleté.
The Lotus Eaters
While in my craft room( sounds less swanky and up myself than 'studio' don't you think?), I made a few faux ivory flowers. When I finished sanding and buffing the flowers, I teamed them with turquoise beads into a little bracelet - my muse must be on a bracelet making jag , there are that many rolling off my production line, these days. I am a mere vassal, following where Ms Muse leads!
The Button Project
Did you know there was a silk industry in England - in Macclesfield, no less - no? I didn't either.
Annabel Wills, Silk Museum curator says: “Macclesfield was the heart of the UK’s historic silk industry, and silk-related businesses are still active in the town. Handmade silk buttons were where it all began: from a cottage-based enterprise, it grew into a flourishing silk industry and helped make the town what it is today. This exhibition will celebrate that history and allow contemporary artists to exhibit and sell their beautiful buttons.”
The Silk Museum has organised a Button Exhibition and invited artists to submit buttons to be displayed in a curated exhibit. I have expressed an interest in submitting an entry, and hope it will be accepted. The buttons are required to have a link to the themes of heritage, or metamorphosis, and I have been wracking my brains to come up with an idea - that will be my project for the weekend. Obviously, I will share it on this page first, once the project comes together. I have always loved embellishment - in my opinion, the fillip a pretty button, or a bow, or a bit of edging gives to an outfit can be the making of it. My mother had boxes and boxes of pretty buttons which she carried back to India from the UK and hoarded jealously - my sister and I used to knit our own cardigans and used up a lot of them in our twenties.
If these buttons are pretty, I might just jazz up some of my suits with them, or, if you like them and want them, let me know, I will be only too happy to let you have them.
The Girl from Ipanema
This was a song recorded in the mid 60's and was an instant hit, and is the second most re recorded songs in the world, after 'Yesterday' by the Beatles. It was inspired by a real woman.
.......Heloísa Eneida Menezes Paes Pinto (now Helô Pinheiro), a nineteen-year-old girl living on Montenegro Street in the fashionable Ipanema district in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Daily, she would stroll past the popular Veloso bar-café, not just to the beach ("each day when she walks to the sea"), but in the everyday course of her life. She would sometimes enter the bar to buy cigarettes for her mother and leave to the sound of wolf-whistles. In the winter of 1962, the composers watched the girl pass by the bar, and it is easy to imagine why they noticed her—Helô was a 173-cm (five-foot eight-inch) brunette, and she attracted the attention of many of the bar patrons. Since the song became popular, she has become a celebrity. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Girl_from_Ipanema
I used the tutorial from Alice Stroppel again, with the second blank bracelet I prepared earlier, and spent a day creating a pen and ink drawing of The Girl from Ipanema - an hour into the process, I began to enjoy myself and have a lot of fun, and that shows through in the drawing. She has beautiful pale blue hair - I just wish I could colour mine blue too, but I think I am bit long in the tooth for that - and besides, my day job precludes such eccentricities.
This was a very work intensive project, with the bracelet blank to be made, then drawn upon, and then inked, with the inks needing to be set at each stage, so that they did not smudge. Finally, when I was happy, the bracelet needed covering with a film of protective coating and cured again, so that the inks are preserved during normal wear - I had a lot of fun doing it.
This cuff took a lot of my time, but I didn't mind at all, it was so much fun to make. I have made up a few more blank bracelets in various colours, and will, from time to time, play with inks again.
That's all I had time for this week, folks, catch you next week, same time, same place,
Sara is a lady who draws, paints and crochets - she also runs a Flickr group to support 'quality art and handmade'. She selects five designs as her favourites of the week and allows people to vote for them on her blog. My JuJu Woman necklace was selected this week - if you have a moment to spare, do visit her site and cast me a vote in the next seven days, please. http://sara-artstudio.blogspot.co.uk/
The pictures above are, from left to right, jaggery, citrine nuggets, and brown sugar. Jaggery and brown sugar are cane sugar with a higher content of molasses than white sugar - this makes the partially refined sugar moister. Jaggery is sold in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean, and I have seen it piled high in the Asian shops in the UK just before Asian festivals, and sold in 5 kilo doorstop sized lumps wrapped in jute sacks.
My mother always had some in her pantry, and as children, we would sneak in and steal a few chunks, stuffing them into our mouths with a handful of raisins and cashew nuts and run into the garden, before we were caught and given a good hiding for our trouble. It is no wonder then, that I love citrine nuggets - they remind me of my childhood.
I have come to the sad conclusion that I am a bit of a glutton - I often describe beautifully marked gemstones as 'almost edible', though why anyone would choose to eat a stone is beyond me. It may be because I fall in love with the gemstone on the basis that more than one sense is excited - it not only looks good, but it looks like it might taste good! I do, however, stop short of actually putting them in my mouth - even though they have no calories.
When I made this necklace with citrine nuggets, all I could think of was brown sugar, no other name seemed to fit -so, that's what I called it.
I have had the carnelian leaf pendant in my collection for ages, as well as the opalite leaf in the next piece I am going to show you. The waxy translucence of the carnelian seemed to go perfectly with the crystalline structure of the citrine.
The opalite leaf in the next piece glows as if it has been touched by the light of the moon. I teamed it with faceted blue chalcedony and banded blue agate - I made the entire piece up, and then felt that the leaf, on its own, was too small for the size of the stones in the necklace, so I unpicked the whole piece, and make a wire frame for the pendant.
I had a new weave I wanted to try out, taught by a wire artisan called Mary Tucker. Her weaves have a flat appearance, almost like a woven fabric - I tried out a short segment, and when I separated the wires, I liked the result so much, I incorporated it into the frame for the pendant. Once I had enlarged the pendant, it fitted well amidst the large stones in the necklace. I originally bought the blue chalcedony because the blue reminded me of the baroque palace of Catherine the Great in St Petersburg and I remained true to that idea with the name for the necklace. Until St Petersburg, I had never seen such a brilliantly coloured palace - and it is indeed magical - I was there so many years ago, but have never forgotten its beauty.
Some beads are too pretty to languish in a dark corner, and these Nepalese wooden beads, as well as the coral, fall into that category. The coral has been dyed black - it is illegal to make jewellery out of real black coral, as it is a protected species by international law. These tear drops are made of sponge coral, which is from a sustainable source, and dyed black. Nevertheless, the tear drops are very pretty, and I have tried to use them to their best effect in this necklace. The origin of the name is Arabic where it means 'dark as the night, and mysterious', but when I dug a bit further, it would appear that the Urban Dictionary has claimed it as a noun - the definition of 'a laila' is interesting, to say the least.
I love agate beads that have markings on them - they are so delicate, it is almost impossible to believe that this artistry is wrought by nature. With these waxy translucent whisper pink Dragon's vein agate beads, I found it easy to design a piece adding just a soupçon of bling - a couple of magenta agate beads and a carved amethyst dragon bead, a few spacers - and there it was - the colours remind me of a fuchsia.
Fuchsias have always brought to mind a lady in a ball gown being twirled around in a fast quickstep that imbues her antebellum gown with a life of its own, ballooning around her, so her ankles and delicate dancing slippers are visible .
Thanks for stopping by my blog folks, I hope you have enjoyed this weeks efforts. Catch you next week, same time, same place
Smile - easier said than done today - I should have been wishing my brother a Happy Birthday - Oh well, one foot in front of the other, I plod on, as one does.
The Scapular Bangles
The faux bone was made using instruction from Lynda Moseley of Diva Design ( http://www.etsy.com/shop/SCDiva )and the bangles themselves from an idea taken from a tutorial on Vicky Turner's blog post Claymagination
( http://claymagination.blogspot.co.uk) - a big thank you goes out to both these artists. I imagined a camel fair, with the traders wearing these made out of camel bone in the middle of the desert. I have been a bit heavy handed with the distressing, but, if these bangles were worn in that particular situation, surely they would look as ancient and distressed as these. The secret to being able to make them so thin ( they are only 2 mm thick) and yet, durable, is to reinforce them with a piece of card between layers. I was amazed at how easy this was to do, and how much fun.
I sourced the beautiful quartz needles in my next piece all the way from Russia - they come from a mine just outside St Petersburg. They have been treated to a titanium vapour coating which makes them iridescent in beautiful shades of blue, violet and gold. I could not wait to use them and made this necklace immediately - I did not have to do anything to embellish the beauty of the stones - just hang them on a beading wire with violet tear drop shaped beads as spacers - the teardrop shape helps the quartz to spread out more easily. I did hoard a couple of them - one perfect crystal for a 'point' pendant, and two little ones for earrings - I just couldn't bear to part with them all at once.
From Russia With Love
I was asked to turn the beads on the left into a statement necklace reminiscent of this glacier in Ladakh on the right.
The stones are Blue Ice Quartz, and I have seen them on many occasions all strung in a row in a choker. I bought some blue agate geodes, and each of these has beautiful markings - shards of white surrounded by blue.
The picture of the glacier in Ladakh was taken by Manish Lakhani - visit his pictures on Flickr for more pictures of this desolate, but beautiful place at .
and his blog on
This is what I came up with - Glacial Fantasy.
After I finished that, in my spare time, and just for a laugh, I took a tutorial on making faux jade from Lynda Moseley and tried it out, made a faux bone scapular necklace, and attended a Webinar on jewellery making tools from CraftCast- sound busy, don't I - I forgot to mention that I had a few days off from work - had some annual leave owing to me, and decided to take it, and use the time productively. Here are some pictures of the faux jade and bone. Buffy truly came into his own, shining the pieces I made so that they didn't look so 'faux' any more. Anyway, all this activity kept me out of mischief, and Mike was content to let me play while he pottered around. Our dishwasher was on the blink, and it took 3 days to find the parts to repair it - I refuse to wash dishes by hand, so I lived on protein bars -until it was repaired - no cooking was done!
You must wonder why I keep raving on about 'Buffy' - have a look at this picture of faux black jade I made, courtesy of instruction from Lynda Moseley, and you will see why.
It takes literally two minutes to get that perfect sheen if Buffy cooperates and doesn't go flinging them around the room ( actually that's my fault for presenting them to him wrong, but I won't admit that). I made a couple of pairs of earrings with my faux black jade pieces, here they are -
I loved the faux bone bangles so much, I decided to make a torque necklace using the same technique. However, torques need a space in the back for the neck to go through, and I wasn't too sure the piece would be flexible enough. I made it anyway, and held my breath till it was all finished, and Buffy had had his wicked way with it, and then - it worked, wow! I love it. It sits like a Masai necklace, or a ruff - the flanges are not shaped to the neck, but it is light, only 5 mm thick, strong and flexible - the engineering works well. Now I need a really adventurous woman to want to try it out - do you know any?? - send them my way please.
Oh, and I was very pleased with myself - I made a signature stamp - C J , for Caprilicious Jewellery and there it is on the back of the necklace - the cat's whiskers - that's what I felt like when I had stamped my first piece - I have arrived!
That's a wrap for this week, folks, thanks for stopping by. Catch you next week, same time, same place,