Hello readers, I hope you are all feeling better than I am today - Mike and I have had the flu for nearly two weeks now - I had a week off work and spent Easter in bed. But, things are looking up now, and I am looking forward to the weekend.
This whole week I stayed warm in my armchair, making little bits and bobs with wire and beads.
The Islamic origins of these Moroccan beads are obvious - they come from a shop in Casablanca, as do these pictures of the Hassan II Mosque.
The amazonite slab nuggets in this piece are cut in such a way that when strung, it gives an illusion of there being two strands of beads - a very clever way to cut the stones, as two strands of these undoubtedly beautiful gemstones would be too heavy - and expensive!
The Butterfly's Wedding
I acquired a pendant made of a sheet of mother-of-pearl from my friend BN, and it lay around the house for a while, my house elf moved it from spot to spot - until one day, I decided to make something with it before the elf 'disappeared' it forever! I sat down with it one evening, and played with wire - I meant to cover over the brown markings on the edge of the pendant - to my mind, they marred what would otherwise be a pretty, shiny sheet of MOP. But by the time I was done, I had used the entire pendant as a backing sheet for a profusion of leaves, vines, and tendrils in a fanciful garden populated by crystal butterflies. The piece reminded me of a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen called 'The Butterfly' - you can read it if you have the time and want to find out what happened - just click on the link - it is the story of a butterfly who was looking for a bride, and the most famous quote from that tale is “Just living is not enough, said the butterfly, one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower for company.”
I've been experimenting with using donuts as focal beads, held in an asymmetric wire weave, which is harder than you might think. These donuts have no aperture where the wire may be passed vertically through them - the central hole has to accommodate the wire, which has to pass through it gracefully, and yet securely. I tried out yet another method, using approximately four feet of the heavier gauge wire, and twenty feet of the fine weaving wire - and another evening bit the dust! The stone here is a blue agate geode with druzy, which is a coating of fine crystals on the stone fracture surface, in the centre.
More Earrings and a Giveaway
Although I felt better with each day, I hadn't the strength to summon my muse and put her to work - I felt as if I was chasing her all around the room, and boy, was she eluding me.
I gave up in disgust, and made some earrings with ideas I had had earlier, but just not executed yet.
My mother turned 87 on the 22nd - she is fit and well - in fact she's fitter than I am - she walks on a treadmill every day for an hour, and takes painting lessons, to which she has to climb two flights of stairs. On that day, I felt well enough to want to play with clay, and although I didn't spend too much time in my craft room, I managed to make these little sweetpeas, and turned them into earrings that evening. I decided to host a giveaway - yes I know the last one was a disaster, logistics wise, but what can I say, I'm a glutton for punishment. So, the earrings are on Facebook till Sunday the 27th - all people are required to do is to like them and share the image on their page - I will draw the five people who win the earrings from a random number generator.
That's me for this week folks, thanks for stopping by, have a great week and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place
Share and share alike - that's what a good marriage is all about, right?? Well, if that's the case, ours must be solid - or Mike is being too literal - he generously gave me a good lashing of his cold. Oh, the muzzy head, the aching joints, the stopped up sinuses (and now I sound just like Mike - minus the Tarzan-esque thumping of the chest)- I just crawled into bed on Saturday afternoon, and stayed there all day, every day till Thursday. The weekend was all nice and sunshiny, but I couldn't go out - nor did I have the energy to play with clay - I knew all my efforts would turn into mud!
Sitting in front of the telly of an evening, I picked up my pliers and an oxbone face - I thought I'd make something from an idea I had earlier - it took me two days to wrap the face and give it a head dress - and I just couldn't see how to take it further - a complete constipation of ideas.
I took a photograph of the half finished piece and put it on a couple of wire - worker's forums on Facebook, and posted that I was planning to cut it up to salvage the beads. It was almost as if I was punishing the little piece of jewellery for my cold - childish?? - of course, but I was way beyond rational at that time. A very gratifying hue and cry went up - after that, I had to save her from the knacker's yard and make something halfway decent with her, if only to justify comments like these -- 'you were going to cut that up are you mad, it's stunning, must be the cold, hope your feeling better', and 'This piece of art is beautiful. Please don't cut it up. It would be a crime. xx'.
So, onward I went!
This is a mask I bought last year when in Venice - everywhere you turn, it would seem that there are masks for sale - at first I said I would absolutely not buy one, but, by the end of the holiday, I had got so used to seeing them around I felt I would miss the damn things if I didn't have one of my own!
The history of Venetian masks goes way back to the fourteenth century, and there are many types, with names of their own. Colombine is the type of mask that fits over the eyes and is held on by a baton or with ribbon - probably because the first woman who wore one was too vain to hide her face in it's entirety. One can only imagine the intrigue and skulduggery that went on behind the mask, not to mention the bad hair days that were hidden by the wigs which were part of the ensemble.
I like the colours -the carnival effect is played out by the colours that my hands chose instinctively - I say that, cos I sure didn't do it consciously with that muzzy head, no way!
I slept most of Sunday and Monday away, and on Tuesday, feeling only a little better, stayed off the day job for yet another day.
While idly surfing the web, I found this image of Barbie in India - actually this is the least hideous one I found - all the others are even more over the top - I found myself wondering whether the designers at Matel had been dropping acid when they put together these caricatures of Indian womanhood. And then I remembered blue eyed, blond haired, Barbie - yes, of course they are on acid - they probably live on LSD fuelled dreams of what their dream woman/ Stepford wife would be like, and go through later life in a permanent fog of disappointment, not being able to find her when reality bites.
I decided I'd design a piece for Barbie - if she actually came from Bollywood.
Maybe I should change the name - to Pink and Pretty (using the 'say what you see' rule), rather than associate Caprilicious with Barbie ? Oh well, it's not her fault, poor thing, that she has an image problem - would you agree??
The Bollywood Barbie Earrings
Wednesday rolled by, and by now we were both deaf as well as anosmic, coughing and spluttering in tandem. The house stank to high heaven - Mike poached smoked haddock in milk - that's what his mother gave him as a lad when he was sick - normally I protest at the smell, but this time I was blissfully unaware.
The Modern Victorian
I learned a new weave called the Kokkocik weave from a wire worker in Poland and thought I'd use it to make up a little pendant. Using a beautiful labradorite cabochon, which flashes the most fire of any I've ever seen, I made a little pendant with seed pearls, copper wire and ruby quartz.
Seed pearl jewellery was especially popular from the last quarter of the 18th century and throughout the nineteenth century, when the burgeoning middle-classes of Europe and the United States grew fascinated with pearls and had the money to purchase them. The Victorians favoured the look of these delicate, almost lace-like pieces against the skin and often associated seed pearl jewellery with purity. They were especially fashionable as bridal gifts and refer to natural pearls that are 2mm or less in size.
Drilling holes into pearls of any size is difficult enough - imagine how difficult it was to drill into a pearl that was as small as a seed before the advent of lasers and other aids used today. I don't suppose the Victorians really cared too much about the eyesight of the people involved in the making of their intricate jewellery.
Each week, I tend to make three different kinds of jewellery - with polymer clay at weekends, a piece or two with beads and gemstones, and have a bit of a play with wire. With Mike and I having the dreaded lurgy, it has meant that I have almost exclusively stuck with making small pieces of jewellery with wire for two weeks - and this is the result - wire worker's thumb nail! This comes from scooching the wire along while weaving it with my right thumbnail, rather than using pliers which might mar the wire or break it. I wonder if I should submit this picture to the British Medical Journal, to the column entitled Minerva on the last page - after all, we have 'pigeon fanciers lung','malt worker's lung' and even 'hot tub lung' - I now present 'wire-worker's thumb nail'!!!
What's that you say?? - stick to gynaecology and wire work and stop this madness ?? - OK, right you are then - it must be the head cold making me go doolally!
That's all for this week folks, catch you next week, same time, same place
I deserve my halo this week, I really do - the sand from the Sahara has blown over to the UK and it feels like every grain has ( at least he thinks so) firmly settled on my poor husband's chest; making him wheeze and groan and thump his chest, in an effort to expel it.
I watched him, unmoved - and unmoving; until he began to cough like a dog - a dog with diphtheria! I had to sit up and take notice then, and thought it was time to minister to him - but now, even my halo aches with fatigue!
Mike is no different to any other man who gets 'man-flu', and he loves to exaggerate - so usually I just allow him to malinger on. This time however, the half human/ half Baskervillian-hound cough scared me (and I don't scare easily), so I bestirred myself with inhalers and steam, antibiotics and rice pudding (??!!) - he's still moaning and groaning , so I've sent him off to bed for a bit, while I write this.
Betwixt and between playing an angel, I took time out to play with wire - the easiest medium to work with, as I can put it down when summoned to fetch a cold compress to soothe a fevered brow. Having pulled out a couple of glass donuts, I made a couple of pendants and connected them together to make one piece - this was inspired by a conversation between two ladies on a wire-work forum on Facebook about the difficulties people who are left handed face when they try to follow instructions written for right handed people. I thought I'd try to make two mirror image pendants and link them together - it is good practice anyway and comes in handy when making earrings. The second donut is a bit smaller than the first, and the central bead is a little faceted agate.
My friend's daughter Meg, took me out to lunch on my birthday, and she was wearing some earrings that I had made a while ago.
In this picture she is wearing them on holiday in St Lucia - the design is quintessentially Indian - called a jhumka - a sort of an umbrella or bell shaped earring worn on a hook or attached to a flower shaped post earring. I decided I'd make yet another pair using only wire and a couple of shell beads I had bought from a friend recently. The shell beads are a beautiful silvery blue, and have black squiggles on them - they are fairly rare, and very pretty. Once the earrings were made, I put together the rest of the shell beads in a necklace, along with cylindrical beads made of wire.
The hyacinths are out in the garden - this is the first time I planted some, so I am very pleased to see them pop up for me. We have some bluebells and primroses as well, and of course, the daffs are out. It will soon be warm enough to go out and do stuff in the garden - not yet, and certainly not this week, I would only be followed by a plaintive call for a cuppa and a paracetomol and a hacking cough that was feeling very sorry for itself indeed!
My house elf has been at work again - I bought some beautiful earring components shaped like little orchids - and they have been spirited away, never to be seen again. I wonder if there is a little dead letter office-like space in my house where this elf is secreting all my lovely stuff - if so, I am in for a fabulous surprise one of these days. I only hope my stuff hasn't gone into one of our 'circular filing cabinets' and thence to the tip!
That's all I've had time for this week folks. I'd better go and fill the hot water bottle, twitch the blankets, plump up some cushions, and generally soothe the fevered brow - honestly, this angel lark isn't a barrel load of fun.
Have a good week, and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place
Good day to you readers, I trust you have all had a great week. I certainly have - but more about that later.
People in the UK awoke to find a fine covering of dust all over their clean cars this week - a sandstorm in the Sahara desert had picked up fine particles of sand and blown them all the way overland to us, and a light rain had deposited them on cars and other stationary objects. People had loads of fun writing on car windows - the favourite witticism was 'I wish my wife was as dirty as this' and the newspapers coined a new term 'Sandageddon'!
It seemed just right that I should make 'Dune' - a little pendant I made out of a composite or Intarsia cabochon and wire work.
Derived from the Latin word Intersere, meaning 'to insert', Intarsia is a form of marquetry in wood or stone. The composite is made of a number of pieces of stone, each one cut and faceted to fit exactly into an adjoining piece. Sometimes areas of the pattern are raised to create more depth. Once the individual pieces are complete, they are fitted together like a jig-saw puzzle and fixed to a stone backing which is sometimes cut to the outline shape of the image like a border.
The cabochon in the piece above contains jasper and amazonite, surrounded by onyx and marble. As the cabochon is a work of art in itself, I framed it simply, with wire curls embellished with turquoise and coral. The artisan who cut the jasper and amazonite to fit the pendant probably had a picture like this one I took in the Sinai desert last year in his mind's eye.
The amazonite sky in the pendant has to my eye, the beginnings of a sandstorm, due to a smudge like marking in the amazonite - but I'll bet the artisan who cut it didn't imagine this uniquely British reaction to a sandstorm. I saw this van in the car park of my local supermarket and was compelled to take this picture. I wonder what his wife thought when she read that??
The wire frame was antiqued and embellished with a little wire rose containing a red coral at the top right corner and turquoise beads down one side.
I had a fabulous birthday - I was treated to a long weekend at the Savoy in London as part of a theatre break - we saw The Jersey Boys which I enjoyed very much, ate our weight in food and sweets, wandered hand in hand like young foolish things (ageing by the minute) in Covent Garden and the West End, met friends, had drinks at the American Bar, were treated to lunch - all sorts of fabulousness - I hope it was a harbinger of the year to come.
What do you give a jewellery maker?? Why, jewellery that she can't/wont make herself, of course. This necklace is from Tibet and is embroidered onto a backing of cloth, with a sash to tie it around the neck - I love it - thank you Michael! The Savoy of course is lush, as one would expect and we enjoyed being waited on hand and foot, and then some. Breakfast, which is a meal I do not usually eat, was a must have and we sat down at the American bar both evenings - their mocktails, and they have but two - the Cucumberland and the Savoy Ice Tea are both to be recommended. We were there at Earth Hour, and the whole place was lit up with fairy tale candles - who needs electricity??
Earth Hour at The Savoy
Pearls are in this season as a hot jewellery trend, but I've never really been a pearls person. Being a bit of a trend watcher I have now decided after a bit of soul searching, that actually I do like them, just not in grandmotherly mode - growing old gracefully and wearing age appropriate jewellery - what's that all about?? There are tons of modern ways to wear pearl jewellery - and none of them prissy.
I have made it a personal mission to look for different ways to wear pearls and create looks that even the most non grandmotherly Caprilicious woman will love. Baroque or misshapen pearls have a more contemporary look and the design possibilities are endless.
In this necklace, I have put together five strands of pearls and interspersed them with raw uncut nuggets of garnet. The clasp is pretty too, and can be worn to one side - it is a blister pearl, which is a pearl still attached to the shell of the oyster. The necklace can be worn twisted into a rope, or with the strands still separate, with the clasp in different positions - on the back, to one side or to the front.
Pearls and garnets are a well known combination, the twist in the tale here being the raw nuggets which give the piece its Noir Baroque look.
The rest of the week was spent making little earrings while watching television of an evening - I seem to always have a project on the go, and when I don't, making earrings are a fall back way to enjoy an evening!
That's all I had time for this week folks, have a good week and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place