Hello readers, thanks for stopping by. This has been a productive week, made difficult by the lack of a camera. I realised how important a camera was to Caprilicious when my little Canon IXUS went to the 1st Aid Centre (no, I'm not joking - it is called just that) to have it's LCD screen replaced. I have no camera phone, and so was unable to take a single picture all week.
I generally take pictures of almost everything I make as I go along - it's amazing how minor flaws, like a wire end going awol, or a crookedly placed gemstone show up clearly on camera, but cannot be seen when I eyeball them. The camera hospital were kind enough to return it in three days time - phew! and I was off and away again. While I waited for the return of the invalid, I played with wire and made some earrings - wire filigree is so much fun.
This is not a colour I would generally pick - but I fell in love with the delicacy of the iridescent peachy pink of these quartz needles. I sent off for glass teardrops to put in between them - I think this is such a pretty piece of jewellery - I might even wear it myself, and sit down demurely sipping a cup of tea, and nibbling on a cucumber sandwich, just so I can suit the necklace, as I do love it. I am sure it will find a home with someone who is a bit more ladylike than me.
This next necklace was inspired by my crab apple tree, and made with wire and Czech glass beads. Why Rula?? - well, Rula Lenska is an English actress of Polish origin - in the late eighties she was in a TV commercial, and her line was "My hair is a brilliant red, my eyes a dazzling green and if you're not seeing that you're not watching on an RCA television"... besides, the piece is so theatrical, I could see Rula Lenska wearing it.
I think this most definitely qualifies as an Explosion of Colour!
For those of you who celebrate it, a Happy Diwali to you, and I'll see you again next week, same time, same place
I woke up this morning with a start - 'where am I ?', was the first thought that popped into my head - of course a large black cat sitting on my head and purring loudly, clarified matters somewhat quickly. Having been rescued from the cattery last night Harold was going all out to impress on us what a lovely cat he is and why we shouldn't dream of ever leaving him again!
I feel like I've been in a tailspin over the last few days, fortunately I have the weekend off to recover before I have to go to work again.
Polydays 2013 - the Contemporary Coven
Organised by Allison Gallant, who was ably supported by her family, and once again held in the village hall in Toddington, Polydays 2013 was like a contemporary Italian coven - all of us bent over our pasta machines instead of cauldrons, casting spells on lumps of clay which magically turned into pieces of jewellery. I stayed with the 'Carlton Cottage Gang' in Broadway once again, and the other five ladies were as much fun as last year.
Our tutors were really cool too - Lindly Haunani, who is Hawaiian and Jana Roberts Benzon, a real boho chick from Salt Lake City. Unfortunately I missed the last day with Eva Haskova and Alison Gallant, but I had a short workshop in Paris to attend that day, and then a flight to Venice for a holiday - why did I cram all this into such a short space of time?? - ask me again - the answer is that nothing seems to happen, and when it does, it all comes together at the same time! - I'm sorry if this reads like I am a jet setter - am nothing of the kind, usually.
This year it seemed to be all about textile techniques translated into polymer clay - an Ikat cane technique and a Bargello cane - this was originally a needlepoint and quilting stitch - I could never have figured these out for myself - in fact I cannot quite believe I made stuff using these techniques.
I Don't Believe It!
And then, Jana taught us how to make a Bargello cane and I made the pendant you see in this picture - I am still rubbing my eyes with disbelief! This weekend, I shall make some more stuff using this technique, just to prove to myself that I wasn't dreaming.
Too soon, it was time to drive back home, pick up the second suitcase I had packed earlier, and fly out to Venice, via Paris.
Planes, Trains, Automobiles .... and Buses and Boats!
Venice is beautiful - decaying, distressed, but somehow, miraculously still standing. A lot of the city is empty and derelict, some of the houses and hotels can only be reached by boat and have huge stone doorsteps that hold the tide back.
We went to several bead shops, and in one, I found a gentleman who collects old trade beads - when he saw how excited I was, he let me wear one of his precious chevron bead necklaces and even took a photograph of me in it for his records - I don't think he's seen too many Asian women get so excited about his collection- it was so heavy, my neck hurt when i took it off!
The glass in Murano is exquisite - but expensive! - and having been treated to a demonstration of how it is made I can understand why. Unfortunately cheap Chinese imports are everywhere, even in Venice, and the art is dying out.
We took the obligatory gondola ride, had coffee at Cafe Florian in St Mark's Square and paid six euros each extra on the bill just to listen to their music (shocking I know, but a once in a lifetime experience), and drank Bellinis at Harry's Bar. We needed a few more days to see all the sights, but saw quite a lot of the place, having taken a couple of all day walking tours - any more and we would have ended up completely bankrupt - Venice, we soon found, is one of the most expensive cities in the world.
I dragged Mike out to Burano on the vaporetti - he grumbled a bit, but the colours on that little island soon changed his tune - we just loved the quaint little place. We got chatting to a resident - he didn't seem too thrilled with his life - once the tourists disappeared of an evening, he said, there was nothing to do on the island - oh well, I suppose you can't have everything!
Once we had been to colourful Burano, the beauty of Venice seemed even more drab in comparison. We had to look for colour in the local markets, in the fruit and vegetable stalls - but we could find nothing to rival the colours of Burano.
Time to pack for home soon arrived - and our wallets heaved a sigh of relief - as did our clothes which were fitting a bit too snugly for comfort after all those gelatos, pizzas and pasta!
I'm going to finish some of the projects I started at Polydays this weekend, and get ready to go to work next week, hopefully having lost the weight I put on whilst on holiday.
Catch you next week, same time, same place
Hello readers, thanks for stopping by the Caprilicious Blog. The next two weeks promise to be extremely busy with a lot of social activity, a short spell of creativity and a holiday tagged on to the end - I will need a quiet November to recover.
Last year I went to Polydays 2012, and learned a whole bunch of tricks with polymer clay - this year it is Polydays 2013 - but unfortunately this coincides with a holiday in Venice which cannot be moved to a more convenient time. Glutton for punishment that I am, I have arranged to go to Polydays for two days out of the three, drive back on Saturday night, and fly out early the next morning to Venice. As the course is pretty intensive and is sure to stretch my creative capabilities, I shall be quite exhausted - hopefully, I will have time to recover - most likely on the flight out to Venice!
I have been playing with clay for a few weeks now, and suddenly began to have wire withdrawal symptoms - my reels of wire were feeling quite neglected, and were crying out to be used. Just to keep them quiet, I decided to make a couple of pieces using my favourite techniques.
The Garden at Night
This is a painting called 'Titania Sleeps' by Frederick Cadogan Cowper, now in the Kapitan Museum in Tokyo. She looks so sensual in her beautiful art nouveau dress, lying in the dark woodland. I tried to pick up on the mood of this painting in this piece of jewellery.
The garden looks so different in autumn - all russets and golds replacing the flowers from summer - but still beautiful. The cold damp air first thing in the morning is delicious - but in just a few weeks, it will all be over - on a more prosaic note - time for some real hard work - cutting down all the dead stalks, raking the leaves, mulching the flower beds, putting in the spring bulbs and getting it all ready for 2014. Is it worth it, I hear you ask - and the answer is a resounding yes - I couldn't do without my garden.
Dance Until Dawn
That's about all I had time for this week - I will have tales of our exploits in one of the most romantic cities in the world the next time we catch up - until then au revoir - see you next week, same time, same place
Seven Ways to Make a Statement
Hello readers - relax now, I'm not about to give you chapter and verse on fifty ways to wear your jewellery - I wouldn't want to bore you, and besides why go for fifty when just seven will do?? I'm often told 'Oh, you can carry it off, but it would look odd on me', so I thought I'd write a few pointers down if you want to give statement jewellery a go.......
OK, homily over now, let me tell you about the pieces I made last week.
Walk on the Wild Side
This necklace is in fabulously wild fuchsia pinks, bright greens and cobalt blue - the pendant is from Afghanistan inlaid with colourful glass, complemented by polymer clay beads - little wavy chips, and a couple of faux trade beads. This is just the kind of necklace that could be paired with jeans and a tee for an afternoon at the pub, and with your LBD and Louboutins at night - a go-anywhere necklace - well, perhaps not to an office - the bells on the chain fringe of the pendant might just put your work colleagues off a bit, although they would certainly see ( hear?? ) you coming!
Since the end of the Cold War and the toppling of the Berlin Wall in 1989, a chromium bearing diopside, (originally found in eastern Siberia, close to the diamond mines) has become available as an alternative to the much more expensive emerald. The green in this stone literally glows - however, in larger sizes the tone can be very dark. Careful cutting is required in the larger sizes to keep the angles slightly shallow to maintain the colour. In smaller sizes the color is exceptionally vivid and fresh.
I found an extremely contemporary pendant, set in silver, with chromium diopside, contrasted with mystic quartz, onyx and an agate druzy, and paired it with a string of fluorite. The greens in the fluorite beads were a bit too muted, so I added another string of acid yellow tinted, tiny seed pearls and onyx beads - this seemed to lift the colour value of the necklace, and set the beautiful green in the pendant off beautifully.
Now, this one will definitely go to the office with you, as well as on an evening out. Oh, and a White Russian is someone who comes from the area of Russia now known as Belarus, and also a cocktail made of vodka, coffee liqueur and cream, or a strain of marijuana!
Timbuktu is a town in Mali in West Africa - spindle whorls are African trade beads made predominantly in Mali.
Spindle whorls have been used worldwide for thousands of years, originally as tools in the cotton spinning industry to increase or maintain the speed of spin. In more recent years they have become much sought after as interesting beads and incorporated into the very fashionable genre of 'Tribal' jewellery.
The whorls were made from clay, amber, antler, bone, coral, glass, metal and wood. Local materials such as chalk, limestone, mudstone, and soapstone, have been used in those found in Mali and Guinea.
Used as weights for traditional cotton spinning, the whorls are fitted at the bottom of the spindle shafts, which are used as supported spindles to spin very fine threads. The bottom tip of the shaft rests in a small bowl placed in the weavers lap or on a table to one side.
As you can imagine, the clay/wood whorls are quite heavy and can be difficult to wear in a necklace. I designed mine out of polymer clay in three pieces, joined together to make a hollow, light bead. Strung on a handmade red and gold Kumihimo braid, they make a very effective, elegant and light daytime necklace. The beads, though light and hollow are robust and give the impression of being chunky and heavy, which is an integral part of the tribal look.
These red beads with a silver motif, made of polymer clay last weekend, and the blue chips will go into a necklace next week. Polymer clay is a very addictive medium, and I am increasingly seduced by it - I love the process of working out how something is made - the more complicated the better - there is so much fun to be had!
That's it for this week folks, catch you next week, same time, same place
'When a woman puts on a heel, she has a different posture, a different attitude. She really stands up and has a consciousness of her body.'
I was raised to be a mouse, shy and quiet, dressed in simple clothes that helped me to merge with the crowd - that was the way good little Indian girls were brought up when I was a child - very Victorian - unfortunately, my personality wouldn't be repressed and the mismatch when "I" escaped was sometimes very odd.
Eventually, I said to myself, to hell with being quiet and nondescript - I shall be me - and then, it was like a weight dropped off my shoulders - I was free! The habit of being shy and quiet though, has been ingrained into me, and rears its ugly head when I am in a roomful of people I don't know - that is when I need my piece of statement jewellery to give me a boost with a soupçon of extra confidence, and help me regain my equilibrium.
When I make a piece of jewellery for the Caprilicious Woman, this is what I aim for - the wearer walks tall, knowing she wears a distinctive piece of jewellery, marking her as a feisty, interesting woman, who cares about herself, has ideals and dreams and is capable of taking her destiny in her hands and running with it - she is the 'Caprilicious Woman'.
Just as your Louboutins give you that 'attitude', a piece of Caprilicious jewellery should help you stand out from the crowd, be noticed and most importantly, feel good about yourself.
Mike and I watch Some Like it Hot, with Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon at least once a year - it is a standby favourite for rainy Sunday afternoons, along with Singing in the Rain, and Top Hat. Isn't Marilyn cute?? Apparently she was four months pregnant when she shot this scene - I couldn't tell - clearly, she has some really good foundation garments on here.
I was looking to use these Moroccan Berber tarnished silver metal beads I recently acquired - they are large but light, as they are hollow. Teamed with a couple of hot pink agate beads, and rough cut black tourmaline, I used fuchsia pink pearls as spacers - I had to call this necklace after my favourite film.
Some Like it Hot
I used both my little point and shoot camera and my brand new Nikon to take these pictures - I can see why I am going to enjoy the Nikon once I understand it better - just now it feels like I am driving a car for the first time, coordinating all it's functions seems like an impossible task.
Sruthi Singh, a design blogger who calls herself the East Coast Desi, featured our house and garden on her blog - she was curious about how the design ethic in the decor of the place I live in matched up to the jewellery I make. You can read her article here - the photographs were taken by a friend, and the piece was written by Sruthi. Don't forget to leave a comment on her blog - she will be really chuffed to hear from you.
I took delivery of these exciting and colourful pendants from the Afghanistan/ Turkmenistan area and decided to make some colourful beads to go with them. Armed with a tutorial from a Russian polymer clay artist,
Ms Kopilka and my extruder, I set out to put some really bright colours together and see what happened.
The extruder reminds me of an implement from my mothers kitchen, used to make deep fried savoury snacks. I have never made these snacks myself, my excuse being that I don't deep fry anything ( although this hasn't stopped me eating them!) I find it really ironic that I, the most un-domestic goddess, am now using kitchen implements in my avocation that I would never have dreamed of using to cook with!
This is how the beads from this technique came out - pretty colourful, eh? I still have loads of the cane I made in the picture above and more beads to come from it later on. I also made some Kumihimo braid using Chinese satin thread and nubbly sari ribbon fabric ..........
The first of these beauties went onto the Kumihimo braided cord, which I then festooned to my heart's content with coins made of shell and pewter - very pretty, with a tinkle and a rustle reminiscent of belly dancers in Istanbul.
As the story goes, people threw coins at the feet of Ottoman street dancers, and having nowhere else to store them to protect against theft, the dancers sewed the coins into their belts and scarves. After a while, it became an issue of prestige - the belly dancer with the most coins was obviously the best one, so they began to wear their coins attached to their clothing, visible for all to see, as a sort of clanking, rustling, curriculum vitae cum bank account. They add rhythm and colour to the costumes and the dance, and I certainly think they suit this necklace down to the ground - what do you think ?? It would have been a boring necklace without them, in my opinion.
That's all I had time for this week, folks, stay well and have fun, and I'll catch you soon, same time, same place