Hello readers, how nice to see you again. Last week has gone by in a blur that has been mostly about metal clay. I went to a workshop at Metal Clay Ltd in Wareham - the teacher was the delightful Anna Mazon of Drakonaria who came to us from Krakow in Poland. I fell in love with her Herbarium pendants and when I saw that she was running a class, I decided that I just had to go to it.
Anyone who knows me well knows my phobia for driving, but I was determined to face my fears and drive the 175 miles - the four hour drive was hell on my nerves, especially with all the roadworks, traffic and diversions - but the class was so worth the effort, I learned so much and am determined to put it into practice over and over again.
Anna gave us a few templates to design our pendants with, but I, who am rubbish at drawing, took the bull by the horns and decided to draw a gingko leaf and design a pendant from it - after all it is easier to be brave when you have an experienced teacher to correct your errors. That said, I didn't need too much correction and the template made, I cut out the clay and made the pendant. All the other ladies had much more experience than me and had been working with metal clay a lot longer. However, the experience I had with repairing broken greenware came very handy when I accidentally broke bits off the pendant a couple of times, and repaired them with panache. Oh, come on, it's just as important to know how to correct your mistakes as it is to learn never to make them! I just went 'oops!' and repaired my piece. Eventually it was ready to fire, and then I was given a lesson in soldering a setting for a stone, which is an entirely new skill that I got to learn.
The Appassionata is Beethoven's 23rd symphony, written at the time when he realised that he was becoming progressively and irreversibly deaf. It is thought to be a very technically challenging piece to play - all I know is that it sounds fabulous and that it is at least 25 minutes long, or I would have played it for you - if you have a free half hour to spare, you can listen to it here. I hung my pendant on a necklace made of blue sunstone and mother of pearl beads and added a dangle of dark blue jade.
I thought it deserved a beautiful name.
Morgan Le Fay
Arthurian legend has long been of interest - as a young girl, I sighed over The Lady of Shalott, handsome Galahad, and tales of King Arthur and Guinevere. Morgan Le Fay or Morgana was Arthur's half sister, and hated him and Guinevere with a vengeance. She was a sorceress and practiced the dark arts to plot their downfall and her name always invoked a shiver down my spine. And now, even though I am all grown up, the stories still haven't lost their magic.
As an adult I came across Marion Zimmer Bradley's book 'The Mists of Avalon', where she tells the story of Arthur from the perspective of the women involved. Morgan is portrayed as a victim of circumstances, a story in which there is neither black and white nor good and evil, but several truths, much like real life itself. I developed a sympathy for the character since I read the book. The rough cut amethyst nuggets in this necklace brought Morgana to mind - they are dark and Autumnal, and just right for the season.
That's all I had time for this week, thanks a lot for stopping by folks, catch you next week, same time, same place
Dear readers, how nice of you to drop by, I love meeting you here like this. I despair of Ms Muse, I really do - she refuses to come out of holiday mode. She's been galvanising me into using the most colourful beads in my hoard and this week's pieces have all come out bright and beautiful as a consequence.
I thought I'd play you some music as well, it has been a while, so here we are.
The lovely red crystal beads I had leftover from making 'Mandarin' were turned into a necklace of two strands using diamante set connectors. They do look like holly berries, don't they?
Kind of Blue
The pendant and the silver beads in this necklace are from Jaipur and are made with 925 silver. The capsular pendant has little dangling bells and is on a necklace of the most beautiful lapis lazuli teardrops contrasting with bright green dyed jade beads. I named the necklace after a record by my favourite Jazz and Blues musician, Miles Davis. Ms Muse remembered a statue of him made by Niki Saint Phalle outside Le Negresco in Nice. My necklace I think, is no less colourful. A pair of earrings with the lapis teardrops and a tiny peridot bead echoing the green of the jade accompanies the necklace.
I've had all the elements for this necklace in my stash forever - they just sat there quietly until one day the carnelian leaf shaped pendant jumped out of it's box and demanded, yes, demanded to be used. I rummaged around in my bead drawers and the red jasper needles and citrine nuggets came out to join the party. The citrine nuggets are so pretty, and remind me of the crystalline unrefined sugar my grandma used to hand out to us kids when we'd been especially good. Mum used to go mad, claiming that she had spoiled our appetites for dinner, but my grandma knew that if she bribed us with brown sugar, we were sure to return to keep her company in the hope of more coming our way.
By the Grace of the Griot
The word “Tcherot” means “message” or “paper on which something is written” in the language of the nomadic Tuareg tribe. The Tcherot is often a metal or leather lozenge shaped box which holds magic letters, numbers, names of days, stars and planets, or signs representing the eye, revealing the esoteric practices well known by the Griots or holy men. At other times a Tcherot may contain desert sand, small 'lucky' objects, or simply the “whiff” of the Griot, at the request of the person who needs protection from the evil eye, curses and diseases or to receive favors or luck.
I bought a Tcherot from a trader in the UK - and one look at the price and I wondered if would be subsidising her next airfare to Niger. However when I rechecked the prices on other websites and realised that I was getting a fair price I simply had to buy it. It is made of camel's leather and studded with bronze.
I decided to make some dull gold beads using polymer clay and gold foil - thankfully I had written an aide memoire for silver foiled beads which was easy to follow.
That's it for this week, folks. I am publishing the blog a day earlier this week as I am going to a precious metal clay class in the south of England which I am combining with a medical meeting and visiting friends in Bournemouth.
Anna Mazon is coming in from Poland to teach her herbarium pendants and I have long wanted to learn a bit more about using precious metal clay - and there's nothing like learning from a professional. I have only made fairly simple and straightforward pieces of jewellery in my kiln, and am really looking forward to learning some new techniques from her. I shall tell you all about it next week.
Have a lovely week, folks, thanks again for joining me. I shall catch you next Friday, usual time, same place
Hello readers, nice to see you all here again. I am back at the day job after my fabulous holiday in the South of France, and it has felt very surreal, almost as if I am in two time zones and alternative realities. The Cote d'Azure certainly is a lala land, which doesn't seem to have any connection with reality - Ferraris and Lamborghinis jostling with Bentleys and impossibly svelte women and well oiled men with rippling biceps posing and posturing on the promenade by their yachts.
I allowed the colours from the holiday to creep into my designs this week, I simply couldn't help it. The weather outside my window at home is not terrible, but the predominant colours here are green and gray, with a bit of blue. However, my muse this week was having none of that, she was still basking in the sunshine of the Promenade du Paillon. The spray fountain for the kids was amazing, but when we enthused over it, one of the locals observed sourly that it wasn't so much fun when the children ended up in A&E with broken bones from skidding on the film of water that remained on the floor - Ah well, you can't please everyone, but it did make for some lovely, colourful photographs.
These two pendants were made using a couple of slices of solar quartz, which are cross sections of a stalactite, coloured in bright yellows, greens and blues. I used sterling silver wire to surround them in a very simple setting as I wanted the beauty of the stones to be the focus of the pendants. I did put in a few swoopy swirls and curlicues, though - I couldn't help myself!
This pendant comes from China - it is marketed as blue jade, but methinks they missed out the word 'dyed' - nevertheless, it is very pretty and serves my purpose well. Unfortunately, a lot of the stuff that comes from China has to be taken with a large pinch of salt, and I have to decide whether the piece is pretty enough for me to permit the vendor to attempt to pull wool over my eyes. As I do not pass on the deception to my customers, a beautifully carved dyed pendant is a 'must have', in my opinion.
Once again, the brights in my stash seemed to want to come out and play and the pendant ended up teamed with three strands of red opaque crystal beads, Ghanaian lost wax cast bronze beads in a dull gold, and blue turquoise hexagonal beads.
Aren't these colours fabulous together? I like necklaces that can be worn day or night and this one certainly fits the bill.
I was commissioned by a friend to make her a crystal necklace - party time will soon be here and I made this one for her.
That's a wrap for this week folks. Truth be told, I've had difficulty getting back into the swing of things after such a fabulous week on such a brilliant holiday. The month of September promises to be busy with a lot going on at work, including all those New Year's Eve party babies, conceived as a result of a lot of alcohol and very little thought or time for contraception - yes, September is always a busy month in maternity units up and down the UK.
Have a lovely weekend and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place
Bonjour Mesdames et messieurs, thank you for joining me today. Mike and I have just got back from our end-of-summer holiday in the South of France, stocking up on some Vitamin D before winter hits us in the face like a wet kipper.
We stayed at the weirdest and most wonderful place - Le Negresco in Nice. The Negresco is one of the last singly owned luxury hotels in the world - it is owned by a nonagenarian, Madame Augier, now confined to her room through ill health.
She has treated it like her home and the decor reflects this - she has filled it with eclectic objects which at times have no connection with one another - extremely modern sculptures such as a 'Nana' by Niki Saint Phalle coexisting peacefully under a Baccarat chandelier made originally for Tsar Nicholas, in a cupola designed by Gustave Eiffel.
Here's another Saint Phalle statue, this time of jazz trumpeter Miles Davis at the entrance to Le Negresco.
I was right at home there, as I like mixing things up without a thought or care for their origins or provenance - at the Negresco, everything is a work of art and one can find a sculpture made from metal parts from a car, living cheek by jowl with a painting by Salvador Dali.
The look was a bit difficult to get used to to start with - it felt a bit like someone had hired an interior designer to do up their house, and then, when the last painter/decorator/designer had left, scattered their own belongings about the place to make it feel like home.
The cupola of the ball room from inside and out, designed by Gustave Eiffel.
Just outside the hotel was the Promenade Des Anglais, where we spent time people watching, eating gelatos and drinking in the sea air. The beach looked mighty uncomfortable and we didn't bother with it - the pebbles were just a bit more than we wished to contend with.
We travelled out, taking trains and coaches into Villefranche Sur Mer, St Paul De Vence, Gourdon, Tourette which were within easy reach of Nice and of course we had to visit Monte Carlo, Cannes, Juan les Pins, Antibes and Cap Ferrat, just to see how the other half live, for a tiny millisecond.
As you can see, my camera was working overtime - and this is as far as I managed to get with the post production editing. Once this is all done, I can quite easily post a link here to the rest of the pictures on Facebook, for those of you who feel like a browse. In the meantime, have a fabulous weekend, and I will find you next Friday, at the usual time, same place