Hello readers, it's nice to catch up with you again. At the end of November, Caprilicious will be four and as always, every year Mike gets me to think about where I am, and where I am going. This year is no exception and I shall share some of my thoughts with you.
When I started out on this fun journey, I learned as many techniques as I could - resin, polymer clay, wire, precious metal clay, enamelling, and beading. I steered clear of fiddly techniques that involved tiny beads and needles - although I would have loved to make soutache jewellery, the fine needles used in this technique discouraged me. Wire crochet, knitting with wire, Kumihimo, Viking Knit - I tried them too, but they didn't float my boat.
I broke so many jewellery saw blades, that I gave it up as a bad job. However, I will return to it one of these days, but not just yet, I fear - there's too much else going on just now.
I realise now that there was method to my madness - I have ended up creating jewellery where I make at least one of the components - when I look back at the pieces I have made, these are the ones I am most proud of. I'm sure it takes a discerning eye to put various colours and shapes together to make a great looking piece - but I want to be part of the essence of the jewellery I make, not merely a 'put togetherer and prettifier' of someone else's components. I embraced polymer clay enthusiastically for this reason - the possibilities with colour, shape and techniques are endless; so much fun to be had!
My design ethic is asymmetrical, quirky and hopefully joyous, fun and interesting. Caprilicious attracts similar people - the kind who are not afraid to try new things, and to stand up and be counted - shrinking violets need not apply. People who like the jewellery I make have something in common with me - a love for the bright and the beautiful, the bold and the unconventional. When my jewellery is worn, it establishes a link between me and the wearer, and we share a common ground.
Wearing the same look as everyone else is not for a Caprilicious woman, and neither is being in the same mood all day, every day.
The decorative function of jewelry has historically been to provide visual accents, colour, contrast and texture, and one cannot underestimate the power of jewellery to enhance self-image and to alter social perceptions.
I come from a culture where the word 'jewellery' is inextricably linked with precious metals and my mother mentally turns her nose up at a lot of my jewellery. Women in India sometimes wear their entire bank balance, especially at weddings.
However, in other cultures, stone, wood, glass beads, leather, animal horn, coal, feathers, beetle wings, clay, cloth, straw, lacquer, shell and human hair have all been used as adornment at one time or another. Who am I to ignore the world history of jewellery? I am not ashamed to admit that I have put all of the above except perhaps straw, and human hair to good use, and have added polymer clay and resin to the list.
Personally, I am not fussed about what the materials I use are - my intentions are to provide a rich visual experience which is fun and stimulating. Caprilicious appeals to discerning, contemporary women who are not hidebound by tradition. I would like to play to a wide audience, not just women who are lucky enough to be able to afford heirloom jewellery. So although I do have some pieces that I make in sterling and 99% silver, most of my pieces are fun and affordable, with a global feel.
I have also been thinking about what being part of the Caprilicious story has meant to me personally and I will share my thoughts with you next week. Let's take a look at this week's output from Caprilicious in the meantime.
Mini Tribal Necklaces
No, these are not for the vertically challenged of the pygmy tribe - they are smaller necklaces with a tribal feel - the tiny little pendants come from Afghanistan, and I strung them with tiny gemstone nuggets, coins, glass petals, crystals and vinyl trade beads in pretty but unconventional necklaces.
Ms Muse was in a pensive and wistful mood - a set of shiny silvery lucite flowers set her thinking about the country and Western song Wildwood Flowers - she got me to wire each one individually and then thread the loops onto beading wire. A couple of strings of shiny Aurora Borealis coated square crystals and some yellow fire agate beads and that was us done.
As this necklace is not over blingy, it can easily be worn during the daytime as my styling suggestions show - both the dresses I picked out are simple but stylish shift dresses - the checkered one is wool and the white one, leather. How would you wear it??
I know I've called this one Mayuri (2) or Peahen (2) which is a misnomer if ever there was one, but it is the 5th and last peacock feather pendant I have in my stash. The edges are fringed with gold seed beads and I've touched the tips with superglue to ensure the beads do not come off, which was a problem we found with an earlier piece, which fortunately was salvageable. Here are the other four pieces:-
And here is the latest addition to the peacock feather necklace collection.
I have recently been putting a few styling suggestions on my pages at the request of some of you. Of course, there are as many ways to wear a necklace as there are to skin a cat, and I'm sure you have loads of ideas. Do send me pictures of how you have worn Caprilicious, I would love to see them.
Have a fabulous week and I will catch you next week, same time, same place
What do you think of the new styling suggestions feature - do you have any of your own?? Do leave me a comment below, I love to hear from you.
Hello readers, tantarrararraaaa! I can finally unveil the silver earrings I made in my kiln - it took me ages to psych myself up into making them, and then I had to steel myself into soldering on jump rings so that I could hang them - but in the end, they are pretty, and I am pleased with them.
This was a song made popular at the time of the Second World War by Vera Lynn and Marlene Dietrich, although it was written well before this. It is a beautiful love poem set to music, sung here by June Tabor. I have always loved the song and as it will soon be Rememberance day, I decided to name the earrings after this haunting song.
The earrings are asymmetrical, held together by the floral motif and the orange Cubic Zirconia. Asymmetrical earrings, I am assured by the pundits from fashion glossies such as Vogue magazine are extremely 'in' now! - and anyway it is always nice to be a bit different, wouldn't you agree? Anyone and her grandma can wear ordinary, boring stuff.
Al - Kahina, or Dahlia
Al Kahina was a Berber warrior princess - she lived in the 600's AD and was a Byzantine Christian. She was tall and beautiful and charismatic, with long black hair, and huge dark eyes. She was wise beyond her years, and was probably the world's first feminist.
To her disgust, her given name was Dahlia - she didn't think that was a fitting name for a warrior princess at all. She hated her name so much that if there had been deed polls in those days, she'd have used one to change it. As it stood, she had to be more fierce than any man in her father's army and wore a permanent scowl, just to live down the dreadful shame of being named after a flower.
Legend would have it that when she was a young woman, a chieftain who wanted to marry her terrorized her tribe. He thought this was the way to woo this woman who had a reputation for being fierce. They clearly hadn't heard of candlelight and flowers in 600AD or maybe he thought they were inappropriate for her, who knows? Dahlia went into hiding for some time but eventually agreed to the marriage. On the wedding night, she slew her new husband by smashing his skull in with a club - she obviously didn't believe in amicable divorces.
That act set her on a path to ruling her clan and she consolidated all the major Berber tribes under a common purpose - driving out the invaders. She had of course learned her strategy from the success she achieved in dissolving her marriage - beat all invaders about the head with a club and they will disappear instantly!
I've recently been fascinated by arrowheads and I bought the pewter ones in this necklace around the same time. The Moroccan bead is from my little stash - I love the simple beauty of these beads. I thought Dahlia might have worn it as a novel way to store her arrowheads while she strode about the place, barking out orders to her men.
Shubha is a Sanskrit word that means auspicious. The tiny little talisman hollow box pendant from Afghanistan in this necklace combined with the turquoise nuggets and little Afghani coins is meant to confer luck on the wearer.
Argos was a hundred eyed giant from Greek mythology, who was set by the goddess Hera to guard what he thought was a sacred cow. The cow was actually Io, a nymph who had caught the roving eye of Hera's hubby Zeus. Hera, in a rage of jealousy had turned Io into a cud chewing bovine creature so that she could corralled in a field and her every movement watched by Argos' hundred eyes.
Zeus however, was determined to have his way and wasn't about to be thwarted by the fact that he was going to have to make love to a cow! He sent his son Hermes to sort Argos out so that he could get to her.
Hermes, who was probably the world's first anaesthetist, bored poor old Argos into falling asleep with the telling of stories - one by one his hundred eyes shut, and he began to snore. He was then easily beheaded and Zeus and the cow got it together.
Hera was most upset by the loss of her favourite giant, and set his eyes in the tail feathers of a peacock, so immortalising Argos and creating the beauty of this bird's tail. She also thought she'd teach Io a lesson and created a pesky gadfly to hang around the poor cow to bite her, irritating her for as long as she should live.
The polymer clay leaves in this necklace are in peacock colours - I've used them before in a bracelet, but this time, I anchored them down with slivers of golden coral and added gemstones and shiny fire polished beads to make a facsimile of a peacock's tail. The 'tail' sits close to the chest and will fill the neckline of a LBD, adding colour and cachet.
Icicles at Sunset
I fell in love with a string of delicately pale pink quartz beads at the bead show in Newbury a couple of years ago, but had no idea how I was going to use them until I happened upon this photograph of icicles at sunset recently.
I have a set of texture hammers, and when I'm feeling particularly tetchy, I hammer the hell out of some thick pieces of wire. When I'm finished, I feel so much better, and I have components that I can hold onto for when inspiration strikes, a win win situation.
That moment arrived somewhere in the middle of the week readers, and I now present the result - Icicles at Sunset.
I've decided that I shall have a little sale to try and create some space for new stock, and to give people a chance to get their gifts for Christmas in early. It will soon be Caprilicious' fourth birthday and I shall have to think of a way to celebrate that - any ideas??
That's it for this week folks, thanks for joining me. Have yourselves a fabulous weekend and I shall catch you next Friday, same time, same place
Hello readers, welcome back to the story of my week - this week was dominated by metal clay - I put my big girls pants on and strode out into a brave new world. Well, it wasn't quite that easy, being the cowering timorous beastie that I am - but almost. Why is it that when I am in a class, everything seems to be so easy? It all flows like clockwork and bish, bash, bosh, I'm looking at a lovely piece of jewellery. Once I get home, however, everything that can go wrong, does, and I am pulling my hair out in large chunks - I just hate this part of the learning curve and need to force myself to get on the ladder.
Anyway, there I was, a-shaking and a-quaking, but determined to do it. I mentally hitched my pants up high and dove into a new packet of silver clay, having drawn a little design onto a piece of paper. This gave me hives, right at the very start as I cannot draw a straight line with a ruler, but I carried on and eventually after a few false starts, I made what I thought would be a couple of pendants, but changed my mind halfway and turned them into asymmetrical earrings. I have wanted to try out this design format for a while and had a lot of fun playing with it. Eventually, on Sunday night they were almost done, but I was exhausted and didn't put them in the kiln for fear of making an error due to tiredness.
I learned the Bargello technique from Jana Roberts Benzon a couple of years ago and made this bead using the last pieces of material I made at the class. I simply put the bead away until I could make up my mind what I wanted to do with it. Put together with hand carved jade in a pale green, black engraved onyx with Chinese lettering and dragons picked out in gold, and a few African Baule lost wax beads, my Bargello bead assumed its rightful place in a beautiful fusion necklace.
Unisex Jewellery for Eco Warriors
I've always been fascinated by arrowheads, one of the most primitive implements made by man - the ones I acquired are a bit more contemporary, and chiselled from agate in shades of cream, beige and grey. I wrapped the arrowheads in copper wire which I then antiqued and polished and hung on a leather thong. I think they are suitable to be worn by both men and women and from these humble beginnings, I have a small range of unisex jewellery.
This Maori warrior face is hand carved bone, and came all the way from Indonesia from Indounik. I have had him for ages, and think he looks rather splendid wrapped in square copper wire which I twisted with a pin vise to give an interesting curly-haired look.
And finally, the metal clay pieces I crafted so carefully were ready to go into the kiln. I held my breath, put my big girls pants on and waited with bated breath till the kiln beeped at me - 'come and have a look, don't be such a scaredy cat', it said - and I did, and it was fine - phew! I thought, as long as I still had those pants on, I might as well try out a bit of soldering, and that worked as well - OMG! I will tumble and polish the earrings and have them on the website at the weekend, and on this page next week.
I shall go now and rest my weary head. The stresses and strains of the week have almost done me in, but I shall carry on with clay, now that I've been bitten well and truly by the bug.
That's it for the week folks, have a fab weekend, and I'll catch you next week, same time, same place
Good day, good folk, and welcome to the Caprilicious Jewellery blog for lovers of interesting jewellery. I've decided that I should try and eschew the words 'statement jewellery' - after all, everything you wear says something about you and states who you are and from which direction the wind is filling your sails.
Procrastination, that's been my middle name this week. Ever since I came back from the workshop in Wareham, I've been meaning to work with silver clay. I sat down at my crafting table - and that's as far as I got - everything I touched turned to rubbish and I finally gave up in disgust. I decided that the reason that nothing worked for me was because I didn't have this tool, or that one, and I spent a fortune kitting myself out with everything I could possibly need - I've even bought a small food dehydrator, for cryin' out loud! And now, I've run out of excuses - absolutely and completely. I'm going to have to buckle down and get on with it this weekend. It is certainly difficult to get out of the old comfort zone, but it has to be done.
Working with a kiln can be difficult, and when you work really hard to craft a piece of artware, it goes into the kiln and comes out a complete mess, it can be heart breaking!
However, I need to get away from the anxiety of failure and work to face my fears - and I need to keep telling myself that, or my hands seem to find other work which mysteriously becomes so interesting and overwhelmingly important that I cannot stop and go to the clay.
While I procrastinated, I made these pieces - you can see that they are mostly wirework, subconsciously chosen to keep me away from the kiln for ever longer.
The two beautiful black and white druzy agates, with shimmering crystals at their centres reminded me of a glacier - Cirque glaciers are bowl-shaped depressions on the side of or near mountains. Snow and ice accumulation in cirque glaciers often occurs as the result of avalanches from higher surrounding slopes. I have previously made a necklace from blue quartz called Glacial Fantasy inspired by a picture of a glacier, but I thought these two would benefit from simple wirework to set the stone off to it's best advantage.
As you can imagine, although these torques are 'less is more', minimalistic pieces they took a while to weave - a good excuse to keep me away from the kiln for the first half of the week.
Rolls of wire kept shoving themselves under my nose and doing a 'play with me, pleeease' dance. Pliers jumped off the shelf and landed on my toes demanding attention - what could I do but pick them up, although it meant another two days away from the kiln.
and for my next trick........ Dawn
The woman in this art nouveau brass stamping which came from Colorado, USA, looks as if she is looking out of a window at the sunrise, yawning delicately, clutching her bedclothes to her to cover her nudity. The window is surrounded by greenery with coloured crystals, gemstones and Czech glass leaves.
Equally, she might just be saying 'oops, I did it again', ruefully watching her married lover leave the premises, rushing to get back home before he is missed. She is pretty, isn't she? I put her on a pretty blue and cream necklace and I think she likes where she is.
Cookies and Cream
I very rarely design in browns and creams - these dyed jade beads arrived in a wholesale lot and I wondered what I was going to do with them - I briefly considered swapping them for other, brighter beads with ladies on a bead swap forum. And then, all of a sudden, Ms Muse came up with this three stranded necklace with one of my beautiful diamante clasps and some pewter flowers I'd been hoarding for a while. It turned out to be a sophisticated necklace in sober colours, and would suit an occasion of that ilk - perhaps a lunch with the girlfriends or an evening function in the neckline of a simple sheath dress.
And that was another evening gone, by the time I figured out the best combination of beads, how I wanted the clasp placed, and decided to add the flowers time flew by. Ms Muse was no help - she just wanted to string three different colours on the three separate strands of the necklace in a sort of ombre piece. I did as she instructed to be left with a very weird looking piece of jewellery. Mike, who was watching this go bad ways suggested I mix the beads up asymmetrically - and Cookies and Cream appeared in my hands - thank you Mike!
I sat in front of the telly one evening with a spool of sterling silver wire and made these earrings. Each earring is made with two lengths of wire, and another length of fine wire to bind the jade and amethyst beads onto the main structure. They were fun to make and will be even more fun to wear - hoops are very 'in', this year.
During this time, I had last minute tweaks to apply to my paperwork for my appraisal at the day job, spent a couple of days in London shopping and going to the theatre with one of my dearest friends who came here all the way from Boston, and even addressed a public meeting about incontinence and bladder problems in women (that, I'm afraid is my day job).
If any of you in the UK get the chance, Gypsy at the Savoy theatre is absolutely fantastic - Imelda Staunton is magnificent and deserved the standing ovation she got at the end of the performance.
I hope I will hit the kiln running this weekend, and have something to show you next week. In the meantime, have a fabulous week; catch you next week, same time, same place.
Good day readers, and thanks for joining me once again. This has been a crazy, busy week. It started with being on call at the day job all weekend, and it didn't stop all week. Consequently I wasn't able to play with clay or make anything that would take time and effort, I just managed little short bursts of jewellery making activity.
This is a video currently making the rounds on Facebook. Given my love of peacocks, I thought I'd share it with you here.
I've written about Kali or Kalika before but here is yet another version. Kalika, the dark skinned goddess with her tongue hanging out dripping blood, and skulls hanging around her neck (she was the original head hunter) was an incarnation of Parvati or Mrs Shiva.
There once was a demon who was making a real nuisance of himself, and he had the power to clone himself a thousand times stronger with each drop of blood that touched the ground (no one ever let him loose in the kitchen with a paring knife)! The gods knocked on Shiva's door to sort the demon out, but he was busy meditating and tended to get very irritable when he was disturbed. So, Mrs Shiva, who was in the middle of her ironing and a bit annoyed with hubby herself, took the form of Kalika, strode out, beat up and decapitated the demon, and stuck her tongue out and hoovered up every drop of blood before it touched the ground - Bish Bash Bosh - no more Mr Demon!
Unfortunately, the demon ran on 100 proof alcohol, and Kalika got so drunk she ran amok, like people spilling out of a nightclub in Sunderland on a Saturday night at 2am. She ran around shrieking and screeching, knocking people down, and draping their heads and limbs around her neck. Shiva had to be roused from his meditation to control the missus and when he tried, she trampled on him too - well, serves him right, he ought to have taken the call instead of sending his wife out to do his dirty work, I say!
The blue-black titanium coated quartz nuggets reminded me of the Dark Goddess, and she is also associated with the peacock feather. The sheen from the titanium coating is fabulous, and shimmers in the light, my photography may not do them justice.
Énergie Solaire (3&4)
Two beautiful slices of stalactite, or solar quartz arrived in the post and they joined the first two pendants I created a couple of weeks ago.
The Hmong Princess
The Hmong (pronounced her-mong) people were immigrants from Tibet, Siberia and Mongolia, before migrating to China where they settled down in areas around the Yellow River. They are now found in Myanmar, Laos and Thailand as well as China. To make a necklace, workers have to solder over a hundred small threads together, some as small as a pin hole.
These craftsmen work long hours and are skilled in molding, weaving, twisting, and soldering.
Both men and women wear the most beautiful jewellery and I first saw this when I went to a pageant in Xian - the jewellery was so excessive and fit for a princess with elaborate head dresses and waist belts.
At this juncture, I would like to introduce you to the legend of Nia Ngao Zhua Pa, 'a Paragon of Hmong Femininity'. This entertaining blog is written by an ex effects animator, and deals with "Rejected Princesses - Women too Awesome, Awful, or Offbeat for Kids' Movies" and is a very interesting and humorous read.
I took one look at the picture of the Hmong princess above, and thought the pendant needed something more intricate than black agate beads to set it off - after all it is used to embellishment on a grand scale! The crystalline beaded wire beads add a bit of interest and sparkle to the necklace.
That's it for this week, folks - have a lovely weekend, and I'll catch you next week, same time, same place