This has been a week where I have run my fingers ragged - and put all my mental and physical energies into making this piece - Meluhan Sunset. One of my FaceBook fans commissioned me to make her a statement necklace, and I was determined to come up with something that would justify her faith in my abilities. In the meanwhile, I also had to keep my mother happy and rested, with her regular quota of shopping, and I think I have managed it all - no wonder I feel like a wrung out dishcloth!
When this young lady asked me to design something for her she said ' i loveeeeeeee mountains...particularly high altitude ones...barren...with a slew of colors splashed & snow...& the sun shining ever so brightly on them'. My mother shook her head in despair -'this is all too much to imagine' she muttered under her breath - 'Oh me, Oh my - can this girl not just buy something you already have on your pages'??
However, I am made of sterner stuff, and decided, with my imaginative friend, that snow capped mountains would have to be made with druzy, which is a fine coating of crystals on a rock fracture surface.
Movement of the earth's crust and inner layers are responsible for the formation of these beautiful gemstones. Heat and pressure from molten lava and the gases arising from this created cavities within the rock, and many years later, new minerals were deposited onto it's surface from the cool ground water that trickled over it.
I love druzy, as it looks like crystalline sugar, growing on a gemstone and its colours are based on the minerals deposited many years ago. It can be coated with silver, gold or titanium vapour, but for this purpose I chose agate with black and white accents. I bought 3 stones, meaning to use one of them in this piece, but in the event, I used two - it just seemed right.
The inspiration was this picture of an afterglow over the Himalayas I found, and I decided that the two druzy stones would be set asymmetrically to one side like the mountain tops in this picture, and I would create an afterglow using Swarovski crystals and knot less netting with fine wire.
Once I had created the bezels with wire lace, I made a frame for the necklace and wired the gem stones to the frame. After this, I had a fine old time, with my stash of Swarovski crystals, and about 25 metres of 26 gauge wire! Of course, I know that a bunch of crystals wired together would never look like a photograph, but, this, in it's own modest way is an artists impression of an afterglow - I just know that it will be loved and enjoyed. My mother quite shockingly said, off her own bat, that she liked it - I couldn't speak for a couple of hours - and that is most rare for me!
Coincidentally, I am reading a book called 'The Immorlals of Meluha' by Amish Tripathi, (http://shivatrilogy.com/index3.html ) which mum brought with her - Meluha was set in the Indus Valley civilisation and was a near perfect empire, where they had found the secret elixir that kept people young and alive forever. The land of Meluha was close to the Himalayas and I named this necklace Meluhan sunset - to my mind, the people of Meluha must have enjoyed the beauty of the mountains and the sunsets that go with that part of the world. I have been to Nepal, and got pretty close to Mount Everest (no, I didn't climb it) - the mountains are certainly pretty fabulous. We stayed in a place called Everest Lodge, and watched the mountains all day - the views were breathtaking. However, it wasn't till I met and married my husband Mike, that I learned to truly appreciate the beauty of a sunset ( we are very rarely awake at sunrise, although I am sure they are just as beautiful) - he is absolutely crazy about the mountains, and sunsets. So it is with pride I present.....(drum roll).....MELUHAN SUNSET...
As you can imagine, all this took me a long time, fortunately, I had time off from the day job to be with my mum - she will carry the necklace back to India and courier it to Delhi, which is its final destination - so I had to finish it before she left the UK.
I made a pair of complimentary earrings to match - had to force myself - I hate complicated earrings - measuring with precision is boring and I always struggle to make 2 pieces that look exactly equal and opposite. I decided to make the effort - the necklace is so ornate, I felt I needed to. I am not sure whether they should be worn together - would it be over egging the pudding? I suppose it depends where you are going to.
Strawberry Fields Forever
I made some seed bead and wire berries, and along with lucite flowers and leaves I put together this necklace. I also made a pair of simple complimentary earrings to complete the ensemble.
And, that's all I had time for - I think I did pretty well, considering. Mum is with me for another week - the countdown has begun - she is now hooked onto my way of shopping - on line! - so more goods are flooding into the house, adding to the beads I buy - Oh well, long may she enjoy herself! The only problem is that she has now learned to use ebay - and is a vicious bidder who checks on her stuff two or three times a day - so now instead of going to the shops, we are glued to the settee and the computer screen - plus ca change, plus cest la meme chose!
Catch you next week
My muse has had to take a back seat this week, and I have had time out to spend with mum, showing her around the shops, with a short interlude spent with friends and family in Bolton and a visit to the Lake District. I took a quick class at In The Studio, to learn enamelling techniques, and am itching to get started - but no, I will wait till my mother leaves at the beginning of July, to get my creative juices flowing in earnest. In the meantime, I have played with wire and a few beads to put together a couple of little bit and bobs to satisfy the old fingers that I am still able to create a bit of magic, and haven't quite forgotten the art and that my muse and I have not parted company.
These are a few of the little bit and bobs I learned to make at the enamelling course - and am now raring to use my new found knowledge.
I made a pendant using a large pressed glass bauble shaped bead, which I had bought already made up as a necklace on a gunmetal coloured chain - I thought it would be fun to add a crystal studded beadcap, but when I finished, I felt it could do with some more shiny stuff, so I added another beadcap which I filled with dyed pheasant feather in a royal purple, and some yellow to contrast. The inspiration was Shangri La - the utopian Buddhist country which had the reputation of being a permanently happy land, isolated from the outside world - evoking the imagery of the exoticism and riches of the orient. I think I succeeded with this pendant, which I then rehung on it's original chain, so that it would be wearable with a casual outfit.
My mother brought me some pretty green glass rice shaped beads from India, so I added one of my faux ivory pendants, and combined the two with a multitude of gemstones - shiny haematite, dyed howlite flowers, which were ever so pretty, carved bone beads, jasper coins, and moss agate beads, added some wire and produced a very sweet two strand necklace which I called The Green Goddess - after the pretty greens in the necklace, although the more famous green goddess is the Bedford fire engine used by the British Armed Forces - I hope they don't mind that I stole the name.
I would have loved to make a few more little pieces, but I have been handed an interesting challenge for next week - a commission to produce a piece using the inspiration of 'stark snow capped mountains with a slew of colours' in a statement necklace. I decided early on that the snowcapped mountains would have to be represented by druzy and bought a few stones from a dealer on the internet - I have picked out two of the best and started to wrap them in wire, prior to affixing them into the necklace, the shape of which is yet to evolve. The slew of colours will be from a picture of a sunset - an afterglow, using knot less netting and Swarovski crystals, I think. This is how far I have got with the piece - I hope to have it more or less finished next week - am keen to make a fabulous job for this lady - she appreciates and believes in my Muse - I hope the old muse is listening to this, and working away to come up with the bestest, most stupendiferous idea.
I hope they look like mountains to you - well if they don't, squint at them with your head to one side, and breathe deeply - in, and out - and hey presto! - they will - by the time I have finished with them, they will look like mountains in a mountain sunset scene. I am off now to torture some wire into behaving itself for me, have a nice week, and catch you next week, same time, same place,
I have realised one thing - no matter how old I get, I will seek approval from my mother - which is hard won, let me tell you. She has been resolutely unimpressed with most of my achievements - no less was expected of me ! - it is hard to compete with a parent who is an achiever and I feel sorry for anyone who tries.
So, I took another tack - at 84, my mother who is visiting me in the UK for 4 weeks, has her own routine, which I have allowed her to continue, in spite of being in an alien environment. Not a word did I say about my jewellery making, or my day job, I just continued my thing - twiddling away with my wire and pliers in silence - until 48 hours into her visit, she was sitting next to me, checking out the photographs I was editing, making suggestions and obviously wanting to see more - and then one day I caught her moving the mouse all by herself, with no prompting ( she has never used a computer before) - and checking out the stuff on my website, which I happened to leave open when I nipped to the kitchen for a cuppa - gotcha!!
So bit by bit, she started to ask about my jewellery and has now grudgingly accepted that what I am doing is 'quite nice' - high praise indeed from my mother! - can't ask for more! - she isn't one to give me a swollen head, I can tell you. It's a good thing I know her well or I might have been offended!
I had some pretty sodalite beads - Sodalite is lapis lazuli with a high calcium carbonate content and looks like a marbled blue and white bead, and added some lucite rice shaped beads and silver tone flowers to make a multi strand necklace - mum said 'the design is a bit simplistic, isn't it' - until I added a wire focal piece on one shoulder, which was meant to resemble pools of water and called the piece Raindrops. By this time, she got into the swing of things and started to make suggestions about my photography and how I should display the piece - and to her surprise (I think), someone actually bought it after a couple of days. Phew!
At my mother's behest, I made an armband, and the photographs were taken under her supervision - she wasn't happy with the first ones I took, and made me redo them all - and actually, I have to admit that she was right. The band is made of a strip of wire woven copper and has a crystal and glass bead focal which trickles from the armband to the elbow and sways with the movement of the arm.
I made a polymer clay and wire piece using a faux lapis lazuli technique with gold foil that glints through the clay after it was sanded down and polished. I had to really think hard for an idea to make the piece up - I wanted to hang a simple copper Ghau box from it - it has an Om on one side and the Endless Knot motif on the other, but is otherwise simple and sweet. I made a wire torque necklace and attached the 'lapis' focal to it, but it needed something else to set it off - I had a few tiny dyed pheasant feathers that I attached to a hollow cone shaped bead I made from the same clay as the focal, but that still didn't do it for me - until I added crystal studded bead caps, which set the whole piece off - I have been 'test - driving' it ever since I made it, and although bold, it is fabulous. It looks like something a medieval queen would wear - a sort of breast plate, so I called it Warrior Queen.
That's all I had time for - my feet are tired from all the tramping around shops with mum, and my arms are elongated from carrying the booty back to the car! - no, actually I am enjoying having her around - will miss her when she goes back home to India in a few weeks. Her grand daughters will, however, love the stuff she has brought back - at least they will have more modern stuff than my mum would have picked - she would like them dressed like mini Audrey Hepburns - which is fine, as it is a classic style - but do teenagers today want to look like Audrey? - I think not - I wasn't allowed to buy the festival 'grunge' look so favoured today, but Manali and Alisha should be well pleased with their pressies.
That is all for now - next week is the turn of the grandsons pressies - boys are easy to buy for, so that should be much easier on my little tootsies. Catch you all next week, xx
Oh well, it would seem I spoke too soon - even as I hit the 'publish live' button with the last instalment of my blog, it started to rain, and has continued to, in sporadic bursts ever since. Just the kind of weather to snuggle up with a pair of pliers - so I did!
We have been busy with last minute preparation for a visit from my mother who will be with us for four weeks. So, I had to put my foot down with a firm hand - no more playing with wire for a bit! - having given myself a good telling off for putting it off till the last minute, I set to with a Hoover, dust pan and brush, picking tiny bits of wire off the floor, and bringing in fresh flowers and food supplies, and generally behaving in a daughterly manner!
So this means I haven't made too many pretties this week - I decided to stick to little things that would take small amounts of time - every time I tired of housework, I made a pair of earrings - judging by the number of earrings I made, it is obvious that I tired soon, and often!
Mum turned up - she's 84, and made the journey from India to Birmingham looking fresh as a daisy - that's scary - cos I always look wiped out when I make that journey - she says she doesn't suffer with jet lag, so having unpacked her bag and handed out the presents, she is raring to go - shopping to refill her cases - excuse me while I go and lie down for a bit!
This seems to be the time for me to work on objects I got from Tina Holden's shop, Beadcomber, on Etsy. The first was a blue glazed pearlescent face cabochon, and I fell in love with it - when it spoke to me, it said 'Medusa'.
Now, most people would be forgiven for thinking that Medusa was ugly, because one look at her, and a man would be turned to stone - this of course is the legend, but prior to the legend she was a beautiful maiden, who was extremely vain and knew just how alluring she was. She p***ed off Athena, the Goddess of beauty, and guardian of Athens by boasting about it constantly. This, Athena could put up with, with gritted teeth - you don't want a reputation for being mean to a pretty virgin now, do you? but the straw that broke the camel's back was when Medusa had torrid sex with Poseidon in Athena's temple - that was it - she was cursed into being ugly forever - not just any old ugly, but so plug ugly that anyone who looked at her would turn to stone. Not happy with that, her innocent sisters were made to meet the same fate as well - I suppose they got theirs by association!
Mike, my dear other (and much better) half, took mum off for a walk in the park, and I had time to play for a while.
My Medusa ( or more accurately, mine and Tina's Medusa ) is pre curse Medusa - a precursor?? - sorry, bad joke - she is still beautiful at this time, but the wire work around her prophesies her fate. The wire work is from a tutorial by Donna Spadfore, once again on Etsy, but I had to adapt it from fitting a smallish pendant bead to a large cabochon, by adding a wire bezel and frame. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it once wrapped, but when finished, it was ornate enough to be a stand alone piece, so I added a wire bail and an organza ribbon, and that was Medusa finished.
Medusa has become a symbol for female empowerment in recent times, and is also on the logo of Versace - not as pretty as my Medusa, though!
The Coral Tide Pool Necklace
I had a sea urchin I made using one of Tina Holden's moulds, to which I had given an antique bronze effect, and I put it together with some branch coral in a creamy white and gold tone cloisonne beads and Chinese electroplated crystals in a honey tone. To set these off, a copper segment appeared as if by magic, in blue jewel colours with Czech fire polished beads, and shells that I tinted gold and varnished, to match the sea urchin.
I also had the time to string together two rows of Royal blue Swarovski crystals with some lovely channel set rhinestone spacers to make what I called the 'Bewitched' necklace. I put the spacers in at an angle, to make their own pattern in the necklace, rather than using them as spacers normally are.
That's all for this week folks - catch you next week - need to go shopping with my shopaholic mother now :)
I don't know how you are faring, but we have had a fantastic week here in the Midlands, warm and sunny, culminating today in thunderstorms. For a while it didn't feel like this was the UK at all - could have been in the Southern Mediterranean - fantastic! - you could almost feel the country holding its collective breath - terrified that this was it - and our summer was going to be a flash in the pan.
It is no wonder my thoughts turned to warmer climes and I made some faux ivory using polymer clay - I made quite a few beads and pendants and mindful of the promise I made to myself to use at least one of my moulds each week, I made a little butterfly, which will eventually end up as a focal piece for a necklace. These were all from a tutorial by Tina Holden (http://beadcomber.blogspot.co.uk/ )- she makes some fantastic stuff, and her tutorials are very explicit - and the best thing about them is --- they work! There's nothing worse than shelling out hard earned cash for tutorials and then wasting time, energy and material on turning out a duff object - it really hacks me off. Tina's shop however, has the real deal and I have bought a few tutorials from her.
I played with some alcohol inks to colour the butterfly, forgetting to put my gloves on - and what an unholy mess I made - my hands looked like I had gone to bed with fake tan on - shan't be doing that again in a hurry!
I was on quite the ecology kick this week - I made a necklace to resemble coral using little opaque red seed beads and a pendant I sourced from my favourite Nepalese shop in Kathmandu. Coral reefs are home to fish, molluscs, crustaceans and other sealife, and are endangered from climate change, overuse of reef resources, pollution of the sea causing overgrowth of harmful algae, over fishing and the use of cyanide and blast fishing.
My husband took one look at it and remarked how ethnic it looked - the reds and golds, and of course the pendant which is unmistakeably Eastern, of course. However, as the week went by, I seemed to make one ethnic looking piece after the other - a bit of Asian, a pinch of African, and in the latter part of the week, a dollop of Peruvian - who knows what was going on in my head??? Next, my muse decided I was going to be elephant / ivory friendly - so the faux ivory beads I had made went into two necklaces, celebrating the African elephant at dawn, in bold yellows and reds, and at dusk, in the blues of the watering hole.
Serengeti Dreams - Sunrise and Sunset
I really enjoyed making the bunches of grapes for my Bacchanalia necklace - I thought people who didn't like statement pieces may, however, enjoy little bunches of grapes to wear as pendant and earring sets. Of course I went overboard when I was ordering the beads - they were soooooo pretty and almost irresistible - so I bought more than one colour and made them up into my first ever 'range' - Ooh, Caprilicious is growing up - ' A range', no less! I thought to myself!
Of course, if one of you wants a Bacchanalia necklace - I can be persuaded to make one for you - it wont be the same of course, but very similar to the one in this picture. It has glass bunches of grapes, and polymer clay leaves and twigs, with blue dragons vein agate grapes on the other side. The design is in the customers photograph gallery of a large jewellery wholesaler in the USA - Fire Mountain Gems - I sent it in and after about a week was delighted to receive an acceptance email - and I must tell you, they don't accept stuff easily. It is a very busy necklace, but very pretty, even though I say so myself.
I buy a few things from this chap who travels to Peru regularly and brings back little bits and bobs - something different - I get bored if I use the same stuff over and over - and I like the challenge of putting together items that wouldn't normally be seen in the same room, let alone the same piece of jewellery - so when he showed me this pendant, I had to have it. It was so delicate and sweet, I made it up with dyed peacock blue baroque pearls and Czech crystal beads into an Art Nouveau inspired piece - with two strands of linked chain - it was fun making the links of the chain - almost hypnotic - indeed, so hypnotic, that I dozed off, and when I woke, there was more than I needed, and I had to cut some off! The whole piece is set off by a vintage crystal clasp - this is so pretty and shiny, it appeals to the magpie in me. Anyway, here is the Peruvian Princess - I think she is very sweet and youthful - what say you??
This has been a fun and busy week - my mother arrives next week and will be with me for a month - I will endeavour to keep going with my creations. I have booked into an enamelling course for a couple of days at In The Studio in Kegworth, but will spend the rest of the four weeks pampering her - she is 84 - and she deserves a bit of pampering after the year she's had!
I hope to have a few things to show you next week, see you then,
I'm Neena Shilvock, and I'm crazily addicted to jewellery. I've been designing and making quirky and interesting statement necklaces for the last five years and my passion hasn't cooled off one little bit - in fact it has got worse, such that I'm even dreaming jewellery.
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I would love to hear from you - please leave a comment on the blog or send an email to jewellerybycaprilicious(at)gmail.com
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