Hello readers, thanks for coming by the Caprilicious Blog. This week has been coloured in blues and greys as we attended the funeral of a much loved friend at the weekend. I wasn't in much of a mood to make anything after the funeral, but I conditioned a load of old polymer clay, and the physical effort of moving that plasticizer around helped to put things in a better light.
So, how does one buy jewellery from a person who has identified herself as the designer and maker? During my shows in India, I am in attendance for the two days, walking around, smiling until my face aches, helping people try on pieces of jewellery, greeting people as they walk in and straightening out displays as they get mussed up by enthusiastic customers.
I try to be unobtrusive and let them wander around, just mentioning to each of them that they should give me a shout if they have any questions, but moving in quick smart to help, when it looks like they need help undoing a clasp.
I don't sit around chatting with friends, scrolling through messages on a telephone, chewing gum or generally behaving as if I don't care - because I do, I care very much. My friends who come along to help all take my lead and get with the programme. So what happens? Let me tell you the story of a few pieces I sold at my shows.
There was the lovely pair of earrings in the picture. I followed this couple to the display when it appeared that they might have an interest in them and the gentleman was turning the earrings over in his hands.
He asked 'silver?' and I go 'yes'. And that was all. He said 'I'll take it', while the lady stood by with dead eyes and an unsmiling face. I was about to launch into an explanation about the earrings, but he just pushed past me and went to the counter to pay for them. I wondered whether he was buying them for his girlfriend with the wife standing by ( or the other way around)! Surely not? But why then was she so disinterested? I wasn't expecting her to clap her hands together like a seal, but a smile, and a casual 'they're pretty' wouldn't have choked her.
Then there was a necklace made of white coral and fire polished Czech glass beads. I carry most of my stock to my shows on the premise that if no one sees it, no one's going to buy it. This one was making it's second appearance at a show.
And along came this couple. He picked up various pieces of jewellery and turned them over in his hands, peering at them through thick bottle top glasses. She followed two paces behind like a good Indian wife, obediently trying on the ones he liked so that he could see them on a 'real' person. She didn't say a word through the entire time, not even a nod or a squeak, as far as she was concerned the lights were on but no one was home.
He leaned towards me and in a loud stage whisper 'give me a good price and I'll buy it', he said. I am no good at this game. My prices are fair, and I even lower them a tiny bit to compensate for the money I will save from not having to make a Paypal transaction. But in India, bargaining is a sport, and I had to learn quickly how to play the game. I asked him what he thought was a 'good' price, and then moved up from there.
'Ha,ha, haaa,' I laughed 'I can't do that!'. 'How about .....' and so on - after all I have been brought up by my mother who is a champion at the art. I probably would've been too, I've just lived in the UK too long and lost it.
And all the while, the lady stood by, looking vacantly around, completely uncaring whether her husband actually bought the damn thing or not.
The Gypsy in Stilettos is a statement piece made using large, colourful beads, and I love it. My friend Sheela was standing by it when a woman walked in, looked at it in disgust and said 'this necklace should have had just the one bead, these beads are too large'. Sheela, who is one of the best salespeople I know, and can talk the hind leg off a donkey and make sense while she's doing it, was nonplussed - after all the customer's always right (allegedly). Was the woman accepting that she had no personality? Amazing!!
There is no answer to such an inane statement, but I am happy to report that the necklace was bought by a lady with bags of 'personality' who wore it home with a big smile, and allowed me to take a photograph of her wearing it as she walked out the door.
There were the seemingly enthusiastic ladies who tried on everything, moving jewellery from one table to another, leaving us to put them back and then walking out with nothing.
And an old classmate who said 'why is the necklace you are wearing so expensive - look at what I have on, it's only ......' and then conceding that her necklace was made of glass beads, and mine of semiprecious gemstone beads and an Ethiopian Coptic Cross which is expensive, but beautiful and irresistible to someone in the know.
And the lady who said that her older daughter had an art jewellery shop herself and she was looking for a birthday gift for her. Unfortunately, according to the mom, said daughter "didn't wear 'junk', only gold and diamonds, although she displayed it in her shop". I said "perhaps I ought to contact your daughter, maybe she'd like to put some of my 'junk' in her shop" and she had the grace to look shamefaced at her laissez faire usage of the word. 'No, no no', she said 'I didn't mean your jewellery was junk, just that it wan't gold and precious stones'. The younger daughter who was with her tried on a load of stuff, and looked great in them but wouldn't buy any, even though her mother offered to pay - who knows what that was about.
So, thus far, I've told you how not to do it. If this was the norm, it would've been a soul destroying experience and I wouldn't have gone back again. However, I've been back for not just a second, but a third helping, so it can't have been all bad.
These ladies put their pieces of Caprilicious on as soon as they bought them and had a picture taken at the show. It was such a nice moment and it felt so good to be appreciated. These are just a few of the ladies who make it a pleasure to carry my jewellery all the way to India. I am happy for people to come home and look through my cases after the show if they couldn't make it on the day and I never mind taking them out and putting them away over and over again - it feels like a privilege when I find people who like Caprilicious.
I found this meme on Mortira Van Pelt's blog, Inspirational Beading and thought I'd share it here.
At the tail end of the week, I received proofs for my tutorial in Bead and Jewellery Magazine. The editor is working flat out through Easter to get the magazine on the shelves for the 9th of April, and it is looking good, isn't it? I thought I'd give you, my readers a sneak peek. It perked me up no end!
That's me for this week folks. Have a fabulous week and I'll catch you next week, same time, same place. Oh, and Happy Easter!
Hello readers, thanks for joining me today. I am awaiting the spring equinox, and once that is done with in a few days, the green buds on the trees will begin to unfurl, the weather will get warmer and my beloved garden will stretch, yawn and awaken like a sleeping giant. The days will grow longer and we can finally throw open the doors to the house and let in some fresh air.
Until then, I've contented myself with buying a few props to cheer the garden up - a fake bonhomie to give the impression that all is well until the greenery emerges.
I was driving back from the hospital the Saturday before Mothering Sunday and I saw a metal peacock on the forecourt of the florists shop by the hospital. I wanted that bird so much, my car turned around on itself and parked outside the shop. I handed over my credit card in a daze, and Mr Peacock the second came to join his friend in the garden.
The colourful gypsy chandelier we had hung from a branch of our crab apple tree grew faded and dull in the sun and we had been thinking of getting a new one for a while. This time I wanted one that wouldn't fade, and without the swathes of beads strung on nylon. The nylon stringing material perished and I spent ages picking up little beads, and restringing the lot using a metallic beading wire which was such a waste of time and energy, it bordered on the criminal.
This is the one we finally plumped for. I'm not sure whether we didn't just settle for convenience over beauty, but it is slowly growing on me. There are no beads that might go astray and the metal of the arms may grow faded or rusty, but it can just be touched up with lick of paint when it gets a bit shabby from being out in all weather. I do miss the colours of the last one though - it always made me smile when I looked out of the window. Neither chandelier is wired to the mains, they are entirely decorative.
I grew up with this record, it was one of my dad's and it actually survived a move from the UK to India and is back now in our house in the UK. Nina and Frederick called it Maladie d'Amour but everyone else who has sung it calls it Melody d'Amour.
The floral beads in this necklace were made for my tutorial published in Bead and Jewellery Magazine. They were sent out to the magazine office to be photographed and recently returned to me. I made hollow beads using polymer clay from a tutorial by Orly Fuchs Galen and covered them with extruded strips of ombre clay. The beads are big, some of them about 16 mm in diameter, but very light. This necklace is definitely a Melody!
I spent the rest of the week redoing some of the pictures for my next tutorial in Bead and Jewellery Magazine that is due to be out in a short while. I should have the proofs to read shortly and I am quite excited about that. This will be a piece that incorporates both polymer clay flowers and wire work, and that's all I'm allowed to say about it at the present moment.
The Art Abandonment Project
Michael deMeng, an assemblage artist with a surrealist bent from Vancouver, Canada started a little group on Facebook, called Art Abandonment, which involves abandoning ones art in random public places. In the first week of its creation the group went from zero to 2500 members, and now numbers almost 27, 000.
According to deMeng,
"It is important to be able let one's art live a life beyond its creator. I love imagining what becomes of my art after it is gone…whether given or sold.
Some folks can't seem to let go of their work…even when they sell it. This is a great way to learn to move on.
It's also a way sharing work with an unsuspecting patron. In this day and age when money is tight, this is a way of encouraging folks to stay involved in the arts.
This is good for the soul. A random kind act, a bit addictive…and fun"
I've joined up as well as I'm up for anything that's reportedly/ allegedly good for my soul, and will be 'abandoning' pieces of my jewellery in random places. The group has created templates for little cards to attach to the abandoned art, giving a centralised email id so that people can contact the giver and we get to find out where our pieces end up. The ceramic bowl above was abandoned somewhere in San Fransisco.
One of my colleagues at work said it was all a bit creepy and that he wouldn't pick up a piece of art even if there was a label attached, exhorting him to take it. He was worried that there might be a microphone or surveillance device attached and that this was a Trojan Horse that would then find it's way into his house - I thought that was a bit paranoid. What do you think - would you pick up a piece of art and give it a good home or would it creep you out?
That's me for this week, have a fabulous weekend and I'll catch up with you next week, same time, same place.
Hello readers, how nice of you to join me here today. I am still recovering from a terrible cold and jet lag hasn't helped me feel any better. I've decided that I shall spend a few months this year attempting to take Caprilicious Jewellery to places where it is likely to be seen more easily, rather than just the website and Facebook, although I have quite a few sales from these. I started by making a contact list and phoning around. The first lady I called said she'd love to take a look at my 'lookbook' - so I decided to make one. As I intend to show others my jewellery, I figured that I'd better sort it out once and for all.
I began the dreary process of researching how to put one together and collating a catalog of the jewellery I would like to show people, should they display the least interest. I know what I have made in the last week isn't the slickest effort, but Hey, one has to start somewhere. I decided that for a first effort, all I would make was a slideshow catalog with the photographs of the jewellery and wholesale prices displayed. As it evolves, it will become an all singing, all dancing affair - just now I'm not terribly proud of it.
I know it is fabulous to have wonderful packaging, both virtual and real, but I prefer to spend my resources on the substance within - the jewellery! Maybe one day, Caprilicious will become a high fashion brand and I will have the packaging I would like and I can hire someone to write my lookbook - one can but dream.
While Sneezy, Sleepy, Grumpy and Dopey played a string quartet concerto in my head, I've stayed away from my pliers. However, the ideas have not stopped and I've put them all in the fabulous scrapbook in the sky that is Pinterest. Caprilicious Jewellery has a page on Pinterest with a number of boards and over 9.5K pins.
Pinterest looks to collect pictures only, it will not collect verbiage from an image free page. I find images that interest me and Pin them onto one of my boards straight away - eventually hoping to take inspiration from a bit of this, and add a soupçon of that to my creative cauldron. The fear is always that if I lost the idea I may never find it again. Do feel free to take a look at my Pinterest page.
When Pinterest first started a couple of three years ago, the crafting community was up in arms - there was a suspicion that the people at Pinterest were waiting to devour our ideas, and sell our souls for a few shekels, and other artisans were going to copy designs left, right and centre. However, now that the dust has settled, I don't know anyone who creates and crafts who doesn't have a Pinterest page. There, now that I've said this, plenty of people will come out of the woodwork as 'non Pinterest users' - but even then, they will be in a minority.
As I've now built up a library of almost ten thousand pins you can imagine my anxiety that it might all disappear in a puff of smoke. Pinterest also stores the origins of each Pin and it is easy to then revisit the site, should one wish to. I can easily while away a morning flicking through other people's pages, referencing and cross referencing ideas, all the time adding to my own cache of Pins - in other words wasting a load of time without feeling an ounce of guilt.
So, now that I'm completely and totally hooked, I'm terrified that something dire is going to happen to my Pinterest page and it will go the way of Latitude, Google Friends and now Picasa which is being threatened, and vanish completely, sweeping my pins into the dustbin as it goes. Facebook too has suddenly become so commercial that it doesn't allow more than a handful of people to see a post unless it's visibility is boosted by advertising revenue. The thought of it is enough to make me hyperventilate into a paper bag!
Seeing that I haven't made any jewellery this week and this is a jewellery blog, let me show you some of the pieces I bought in India for my own personal collection. I know you probably think I'm crazy to buy more jewellery when I already have, or can make most of what I want. Oh well, I shall concede the point, but I cannot promise that I won't go out and do it all over again. These are pieces made by master craftsmen in India and I have picked those that can be worn with both Eastern as well as Western gear, which makes sense as I very rarely get to wear Indian clothes in the UK.
These are all made from 0.925% silver and I love them. The snake vertebra chain at the end is a particular favourite - and to all those detractors of wire work, it is entirely made from wire coils that are linked together invisibly.
That's me for this week folks, have a fabulous weekend and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Hello readers, thanks for coming back to the Caprilicious blog today. I have made absolutely nothing this week as I have had to reacclimatise to the day job and the weather. I spent most evenings snoozing in front of the TV and going to bed early, the jet lag compounded by a head cold I brought home from India and generously shared with my husband.
Last week I promised to show you my booty from Jaipur, and I took some pictures even though it was snowing in Nuneaton and my body was going 'Eek!'. I found the origin of the word 'Bootylicious' amusing - it is attributed to a group called Destiny's Child - do you know them?? I thought not, but you might have heard of their most famous member, Beyonce Knowles. No?? Then you have truly been living in a cave all this time, and it is my pleasure to introduce them to you.
I'm not quite sure what these lyrics mean -
"I don't think you ready for this jelly
I don't think you ready for this
'Cause my body too bootylicious for you babe"
And now that I've woken you up with the music, let me show you my booty from Jaipur which exciting though it is, cannot compete with Destiny's Children and their derrieres.
I am a clasp junkie - I just love to complete a statement necklace with a pretty clasp, so I decided that a treasure hunt for clasps would be at the heart of my search. While I looked for clasps, I allowed other beautiful things to distract me and ended up spending a day and a half in the wholesale silver market.
I hunted high and low until I found these beauties - and now I love them so much, I may never use them. I couldn't possibly share them with anybody, I want them all for myself!
I pounded the streets of the drab Chameliwala market working the shops one by one to see what I could find. Each one of them was tiny with space for only a couple of customers, the shopkeeper and his assistant. The bustling, colourful ambiance I had grown to expect in Jaipur was completely missing here - it was all about the grim business of commerce. The word 'Chameli' means Jasmine and if ever there was a misnomer, it was in the naming of this dreary place.
I'd open the door and peer inside - if there were too many people, I'd stick my head back out of the door like a turtle and move on to the next shop. If it seemed relatively empty, I'd slip my shoes off and go in - a lot of them have mattresses on the floor and expect you to sit on them to look at your beads and silver and make your choices. The shopkeepers seemed quite surly and unhelpful until they realised I wasn't a time waster and then out came the goods. By the end of the visit, they were quite animated, calling out for tiny plastic beakers of tea that held about 50 mls of disgustingly sweet milky brown liquid and shouting to their assistant to bring out stuff from the back of the shop. I thought 'what back??' until I saw a little boy on all fours appear clutching a packet of beads out of a hole in the wall that had hitherto been covered by a wall hanging.
The streets were narrow and cars couldn't get onto them, thankfully. There were even narrower side streets that led to little guest houses - I was amazed that anyone would consider walking down those dangerous little streets, festooned with naked wires where people had probably hijacked electricity from someone nearby. There was even a Western Union on one of these streets and the reason for this soon became apparent - there were a load of Dutch, American and French people in the surrounding streets buying gemstones and beads, living in cheap accommodation and generally having a grand old time. I got talking to a couple who were walking around the market. Dirty, unwashed, in baggy Indian trousers with filthy fingernails, and festooned with beads and silver bracelets, they were actually serious buyers and had the respect of the traders in the market for driving a hard bargain.
These are just a few of the bits and bobs I bought, and by no means an exhaustive catalog. I wanted to pick my own labradorite and moonstone so that I could find the stones with the best 'flash', and found the bumble bee jasper in black and yellow irresistible. Solar quartz cabochons in ice cream colours, faceted lapis lazuli and hollow silver beads filled with wax were some of my other finds.
The shopkeepers and tuk tuk drivers seemed to have learned their facial expressions from the ubiquitous camel - while bargaining with them, if I mentioned a price that they thought was derisory, they looked down their noses at me and snorted 'Harrumph!' - and we took it from there, with regular snorting, punctuated by head shakes, eye rolls and then, finally the smiles, out came the beakers of vile tea; and the transaction was sealed. I know they probably got the better of me on a few occasions, but by the end of the day, I was going like a goodun!
A few pendants found their way into my stash, along with some strings of carnelian, tiger eye and amazonite and I was done. I took a tuk-tuk to Johari bazaar and walked around for a while, but my little legs were exhausted and I couldn't get into the spirit of bargaining with the traders, which I knew was fatal, as they would soon sense this and close in on me like a pack of wolves.
I decided to call it a day and go back to the hotel to rest my weary legs and rifle through all the stuff I had bought. Fighting my way back to the hotel was a mild form of kamikaze warfare where I had to bargain with the tuk tuk drivers who deigned to stop, while I dodged the other vehicles on the road that were doing their best to annihilate me. I know I was overcharged in the end, but didn't care, all I wanted by then was a nice hot shower, so I got in and that was the end of my shopping expedition.
So readers, that's the story of my amazing adventures in Jaipur. I did have a day dedicated to sightseeing and found a couple of non jewellery items to buy. Mike got a lovely Pashmina scarf and I got some colourful reversible waistcoats and then it was time for the flight back. I hope you enjoyed my little travelogue and I'll be back next week, same time, same place,