Well, it's all over for another year. I hope you all had fun and Santa rewarded you for the times that you have been good this year.
As for me, I worked both Christmas day and Boxing day - well, somebody has to I suppose, and this year, I drew the short straw. Determined to make merry, work or not, I went in, dressed in the twinkliest clothes I have, armed with bottles of alcohol free champagne - let the festivities begin!!
Isn't this tree pretty?? - I heard it whistling at me from a shop in Murano, and simply couldn't resist its siren call.
We had five Christmas babies, and the workload was reasonably light, so I came back home to my craft room and played with clay all day - we postponed our Christmas dinner to the weekend and the kitchen was quiet.
I thought I should make a piece appropriate to the season - a beautiful lampwork bead, handmade by the ladies at Fyrebirds, in green and red, bought at the bead fair in Newmarket came to mind - I am in awe of people who can manipulate glass into shapes - the temperatures involved are such that it seems almost frightening - lampwork beads can seem expensive, but the work involved in their making is so arduous that they are worth every penny.
A Tannenbaum is a fir tree, and this German Christmas song, sung in the clip above by the great Nat King Cole was originally a folk song from Silesia, and refers to the evergreen tree being a symbol of faithfulness. This is the English version.....
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
Your branches green delight us!
They are green when summer days are bright,
They are green when winter snow is white.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
Your branches green delight us!
This pendant was inspired by Nicole Hanna - the technique is interesting in that almost the entire piece is made using mainly the hands as tools to shape four long pieces of wire - pliers cause dents and dinks that are difficult to iron out, although they are needed from time to time.
I made a couple of bangles for my nieces in India using the face cane I made earlier - I made them bright and colourful, and suitable for young girls - my sister will probably turn up her nose at them as being too gaudy, and my mother will dissect the face and tell me how the eyes are too big, or the nose too crooked, or even worse, turn them over in a pregnant silence, and then hand them back without comment - but I don't care, as long as my nieces like them. The bangles are inspired by Alice Stroppel and her fabulous, playful work - I am always bowled over when I look at her images.
I am always looking out for designs for quartz needles - I have some pretty heat treated ones in a silvery grey, and in a pale peach. I found a tutorial written by Nicole Hanna for this pair of lightweight earrings using copper wire - the earring are tiny and it can be quite difficult to make the smaller pieces - undaunted, I gave it a go - and this is what came out of my endeavors.....
I added long kidney ear wires, and wrapped a little crystal onto each one, to match the one in the earrings - I think they are pretty - would you agree??
Come Boxing Day, I was still on call, but the patients obligingly stayed at home. We went for a drive to the nearby village of Monks Kirby and wandered around St Edith's church - it was built in the 1300's and I love to go there and walk in the churchyard.
People had all obviously gone to the Boxing day sales, or stayed home - there was nobody on the roads and the M6 was empty - I have never seen it like this and may never yet again, so I made Michael stop the car to take a photograph.
That's all I had time for this week folks, next time I catch up with you, it will be 2014 - have a lovely New Year's Eve celebration, and a Happy New Year to you all. Catch you next week, same time, same place
Thank you to those of you who chose to accept the Caprilicious offer of free gift wrapping and delivery to your friends - it was brought home to me how far internet shopping has come over the last few years. My arms were going like bee's wings - wrapping and packing, be-ribboning and posting - not just your presents but mine as well. Besides, I made all my presents, so that went a bit crazy for a moment there.
I just wish my handwriting was better - Oh well, it's what's in the package that matters, I suppose.
This is one of my favourite Beatle's albums, and having listened to it just as I was setting out on a present making bender, everything I touched turned out quirky and fun - no bling or pretty, sweet stuff was involved - well, very little. Here is some of the stuff I made...........
This particular song - 'Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite' was inspired by an antique circus poster for Pablo Fanque's circus in Rochdale, and the fab four used calliope or steam organ music to make the record sound like it was straight from the fairground. Apparently the song was written on the spot, using a lot of the words from the poster.
Once I settled into the crazy mood of the circus, all the stuff I made followed suit. The colours too, came from the iconic cover of the album!
My muse was in overdrive, in a bright and crazy mode - I hope the recipients of these have a smile on their faces when they wear them. These slipped out of the pasta machine as well, almost as an aside.....
My very last Afghani pendant went into Soraya - named for the last queen of Afghanistan - a great beauty and a very modern woman, who ended her days in exile in Rome. I put some highly coloured handmade polymer clay beads with it, and added a couple of cowrie shells, to complete the tribal look.
This, I think, is the last necklace I shall make in 2013. I shall continue to play with clay and wire of course, it has become second nature to me now to sit in front of the telly with a piece of wire - like Madame La Farge who wouldn't let a revolution disturb her knitting - incidentally, no one said what she was knitting so furiously - I wonder whether she had a grandchild coming that she was making a layette for?? Anyway, Madame Caprilicious will weave her wire till 2014, when I shall be back with some goodies from India and Thailand - you'll have to come back and find out what they are!
Have a fabulous Christmas - and I will catch you next week, same time, same place
Hello all, I hope you have all had a good week and beat the pre Christmas anxiety bug by getting it all ready beforehand. If you haven't, don't forget, Caprilicious offers a free gift wrap service and your gifts can be sent straight out to your friends from here.
Last week was all about bracelets - Neelam Modi, of Look in the Bag kick started this orgy of bracelet making by buying one that I had tucked away somewhere, and almost forgotten about. She sent me this lovely collage, and I decided straight away that I ought to make some more in a similar style, it looked so good on her (she is a graphic designer who conjures up the most beautiful silk scarves with her own designs on them, paired with a little piece of jewellery, all presented in a bag that can be used as an accessory, as well as packaging for the scarf - what a fab gift idea).
So I looked around for stuff I could incorporate into this sort of bracelet, and here's what i came up with. The first one is a blue agate geode - not dissimilar to the one on Neelam's wrist - except that one was green. I also used an amethyst flower, and a bronzite flower that I got off my friend BN, in a bead swap. I sat in front of the telly the whole week making nets out of wire - I hope you think all that effort wasn't wasted.
Then, I had a phone call from my sister in law who suggested I make some more bracelets in the Chinese Whispers mode - out came the polymer clay and these rolled off the table a few hours later.....
Sisters go to Tea
I played with the face cane, made a week ago and under instruction from Alice Stroppel, I manipulated the cane so I got three different faces from the same cane - I wouldn't say these ladies are beauties - not by a long chalk, but their faces have character ( is that one way of saying they look like old boots!) and they look like they are related to one another - so, 'Sisters go to Tea' was the title of this little offering - since I still have some face cane left, there may be a 'Sisters...' series forthcoming. I think the bracelet is whimsical and fun, and my sense of humour ensures that I will wear it - what do you think? - do you think it's a fun bracelet or do you prefer you jewellery to be more ornate and conventional/sedate?? I think there's a place for both kinds.
For some reason, I was a busy little bee and felt like making a few more pieces - every time I took a break from the wire netting, I made a necklace!
Kyanite and opalite in different shapes and sizes carry the last of my leaf skeletons. Dyed red and blue jade teardrops were added to the leaf with a wire flourish. I love kyanite, which resembles shards of blue cracked ice, with a shimmer deep inside the stone. The molecules are arranged in sheets or layers, which give the stone it's distinctive shimmer - to me it resembles a mirage.
The main colour in the Majorelle gardens in Marrakesh is a cobalt blue, which is vivid and cheerful. At the entrance however, as if the architect wanted to ease you into the brightness, is a restful pond in a very different shade of blue. I named this necklace after the gardens, the blue chalcedony in it is such a restful colour. The yellow agate and creamy jasper provide a calm counterpoint. I know these colours are very summery - but the very drabness of winter makes me want to create in Technicolour - and these days people follow the sun for holidays, so there's no such thing as a seasonally inappropriate colour.
A song from my youth - Rose Garden!
I made some roses for the Caprilicious birthday giveaway a couple of weeks ago - and I made these two fairly robust, so that they could be used in a necklace - much like the wedding garlands worn by the main protagonists in Indian weddings. Along with an Afghani pendant, the necklace looked pretty festive - I test drove it one evening, to rave reviews!
I love that I made almost all the elements myself - in fact all the elements except the pendant and the crystal beads and clasp.
This weekend, I will bring out the tree, and put up all my decorations, get all my presents wrapped up and ready to go, and work at the day job - HELP! At least I've posted off my Christmas cards, so there's one thing crossed off the list.
Have a good weekend, and I'll catch you next week, same time, same place
Last week was Thanksgiving in America, Obama pardoned a turkey - though loads of people languish in Guantanamo Bay, it was the turkey that got lucky, and I hope it was duly grateful.
But, did you know that the cranberry is probably what the early American settlers were - or should have been, most grateful for?? The Native Indians introduced the settlers to this berry, which was probably the first superfood - cranberries are meant to be high in antioxidants, and prevent heart disease, and were even then, being used as laxatives, blood purifiers, to treat fevers, stomach cramps and anaemia following childbirth. This berry kept more people in good health than a load of other cures such as the application of leeches and other fun interventions dreamed up by the medics of the time.
Cranberries are grown in the bogs in places like Wisconsin and Massachusetts and have now made their way onto the table at feasts - once it was discovered that the sour berry could be sweetened - remember the story of the spoonful of sugar, and the medicine??
The beautiful watermelon tourmalines used in this necklace give it it's name. The tiny haematite heishi beads were found in the bead fair in Newmarket a few weeks ago - I think they go perfectly together. I used sterling silver accent beads and clasp - I thought the delicacy of the necklace merited a special treatment. I do not make 'delicates' easily and struggled a bit with this piece, but in the end, I quite like it - I'm sure not everyone wants to make a 'Big Bang' of a statement - there is room for subtlety, especially during the daytime!
Persephone, the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, was skipping along, trying out this berry and that, singing softly to herself, when Hades, the God of the Underworld came crashing out of a cleft in the ground, raped her and took her off to live with him - her mother Demeter, was so distraught, she caused all the plants to wither and die and forbid the earth to produce. In alarm, Zeus set up a search party, and found her - her husband was persuaded to let her go - he was made an offer he couldn't refuse - but the wily old dog, Hades had fed the greedy woman with pomegranate seeds (she'd eat anything, obviously) - so she was condemned to return to him for four months of the year. This is meant to be a personification of the story of the seasons, and Persephone is also the Goddess of spring and fertility.
The maple leaf in this necklace was picked and skeletonised in high summer this year - I have only just found a use for it. I used my new camera and a new technique to take these pictures, and was mighty chuffed when I was complimented on one of them.
I spent the entire weekend playing with polymer clay and a tutorial by Alice Stroppel - trying to make a profile face cane - I had to learn to make tiny eyes, and lips and eyelid canes, and then put them together, stick a nose on it, and Voila! - sigh, if only it was that easy. Anyway, I made two sizes of cane - a big one and a little one, according to her instructions and they now sit proudly on my table. I have yet to decide what to do with them - Alice has some very witty and fun bracelets on her pages - I might draw some inspiration there. I have no time to play with clay during the week, so will have to wait till the next weekend for that. Here are some pictures of the process..........
This is one of my favourite genres of necklace - the torque - winding loads and loads of wire and beads around a single 2mm wire with it's integral clasp is very rewarding - this time I used snowflake obsidian fragments - this is lava that cooled very quickly, trapping white inclusions, like snowflakes - adding Czech glass, and a resin rose, a Murano glass leaf and some iridescent glass leaves as an asymmetric focal. The necklaces take a while to make - if you can imagine twisting each bead onto thin wire, and then the whole 'garland' onto the 2mm wire - but the results are amazing.
That's as much as I had time for this week folks. I have to make a load of Christmas presents, and most exciting of all, there are plans afoot to hold a little exhibition in India when I go on holiday to visit my family in January.
Have a great week, and I will catch you next weekend, same time, same place