Hello readers, thanks for joining me this Boxing Day - I hope you have all had a great Christmas and are getting ready to usher in the New Year.
We had a quiet Christmas with a few old friends, punctuated by us moving our jaws at regular intervals - a lot of food was consumed over the day - we broke our diets with gay abandon and ate everything in sight like hungry caterpillars.
Santa brought me a Dremel press - the crafter's equivalent of buying your wife a toaster for Christmas, but so much more appreciated. Now that I've got used to the drill, I have found so many uses for it and am truly grateful that Santa took the time to listen to my request ( I can't see how he wouldn't as I mentioned it almost two or three times a week until I was satisfied that it was in the mental bag).
I was looking at all the canes I had made over the last year and decided to use at least part of the hoard in a large kaleidoscope cane - it's only when they get used up that I will have the urge to make more. I ended up with this huge block of clay and wondered - now what??
They are little ring trays - for when you are looking for somewhere to slip your jewellery onto when doing the washing up, or creaming your hands, or to place your earrings when you go to bed or into the shower. I added little bun feet in contrasting colours - they are so cute! The raw trays were applied firmly to a fishbowl that Mike bought me for this purpose (no, cats and fish don't go together), and when they came out of the oven, they were all shiny inside, as if I had spent hours polishing them.
Ashanti is a necklace made of horn beads, given to me by my friend BN - the way to find out if your beads are horn or amber rather than plastic is to stick a pin heated in a flame into one of them - you will soon smell the difference if it turns out it is plastic you are burning.
The bronze beads in the necklace are made by the lost wax casting method - beeswax is extruded in a string which is wrapped around a core of charcoal and cow dung. This is buried in a mould made of a slurry of charcoal and clay held together with palm fibre, and then put in a kiln - the wax melts and is poured out - and replaced with molten brass.
A mould has to be made for each item, as it has to be broken to release the bead when cool. The rough parts are filed off, and it is hand-polished using lemon juice and fine sand. This is a very labour intensive process, and is reflected in the price of the beads - but they are beautiful - and I had to have them. I managed to find a European vendor who was importing them in from Africa, and jumped at the chance to acquire them without all the palaver of exorbitant postage charges, Customs duty, etc.
Someone gave us a bottle of expensive brandy in a presentation case for Christmas - Mike had the brandy, and as I am teetotal, I had the satin lining of the case, which is my latest prop to photograph my jewellery on ( share and share alike, eh??) - it is edged with stiff cardboard and falls into gentle folds that the jewellery seems to nestle into - you like?? I love!
I reworked this necklace four times before I was satisfied with it. The lilac coloured agate beads are a tad too pale for me - I just had to brighten the piece up - pearls, pale green crystals, a couple of dyed jade beads and a polymer clay bead inspired by Loretta Lam in a deep shade of purple, finally did the trick and brought it to life.
Yet another 'Wings of Love' necklace followed. With the last one that I sent out - the lady who bought it hadn't realised that they were real beetles wings! Perhaps she hadn't paid too much attention to the blurb - she wrote to me saying that she wasn't happy that the backs of the wings were black, and could she have some paint to turn them the same colour as the front. When I explained that that's how nature made them, and there was no paint involved, she was surprised - and then decided she loved it. I did offer to have the piece back, should she really dislike it. I hope she wore it at Christmas and got loads of compliments - I like my customers to be happy.
Wings of Love
Rings of Saturn
I made these beads and the clasp a while ago - I sometimes make stuff just to try out a new technique that catches my fancy - and then don't know what to do with the results for a while. The idea to combine the two elements came to me at 3am - and I had to make the necklace first thing in the morning, before the inspiration evaporated from my mind. Fortunately I didn't have to go in to work till 1pm, by which time I had made the necklace, photographed it and even begun to edit the pictures! Stringing beads is easy enough - people often ask me how long it takes to make a necklace - not long at all, provided the concept has been sorted out, the bead combinations all picked out and assembled on my tray - and then bish, bash, bosh, voila - a necklace! It is the concept that takes the time, but with this one, my brain did the work as I fell asleep the night before - I just wish it would work like that with other stuff as well.
The beads are large, but hollow, so the necklace is not heavy at all and the pale green chip beads and the rectangular Natasha bead provide asymmetrical interest.
Here's a quick look at my new Dremel press - and thank you, Santa. I've come a long way from the wee, timorous beastie I was, terrified to turn on the Dremel - I'm not sure what I thought would happen - perhaps it's just a girl thing, although I'm not especially girly - well, whatever it is, I'm over it, I'm glad to say.
I hope you have a wonderful, peaceful, joyful, love-filled holiday season, however you celebrate it. And I especially hope that 2015 brings you all wonderful things. Catch you next week, next year, same time, same place,
Hello readers, thanks for joining me. Finally the frantic preparations for the big day are at an end - every last parcel wrapped, every last one mailed out. Thank goodness for that!
Now I can look forward to my Christmas meal - we're having roast beef this year with all the trimmings, especially as I'm not working this year - if Mike ever get's over the man-flu he's had for over a week. The sighs and groans emanating from his corner of the room have been getting louder and more piteous all week and he must have developed bruises on his chest from all the thumping he's been giving it. 'My chest, my chest' he moans while I steadily go about my business, handing him pills and potions as I keep a wall eye on him and I carry right on with whatever I am doing.
Another one of the pendants from Afghanistan went into this necklace along with handmade polymer clay beads. The beads were made a while ago and it was about time I put them to good use. I saw a picture of a tribal necklace worn with a mini dress and boots and it struck me that there are no boundaries any more - only those we apply in our own minds. 'East is East.....' and all that jazz is just that.... a whole load of Jazz!!
Although you might not want to wear a piece of jewellery that jingles to work - teamed with leggings and a T shirt, a loose cardigan and slouchy boots, Boho tribal jewellery is an excellent choice for a casual evening or lunch with friends down the pub.
Last week I made earrings with the offcuts from a polymer clay cane I constructed, attaching them to a wire framework. With a few more offcuts left in my stash, I made a wire torque to match.
I enjoy the versatility of polymer clay and that through this medium, I am making jewellery that is definitely one of a kind - even I cannot make another - similar, perhaps, but never the same. Making a lot of the components myself gives me a lot of pleasure - it is great fun to string beads and make a piece of jewellery, that is all about style, and the ability to put colours and shapes together- however, it is so much more satisfying when you have made the beads yourself, in the colours you want, and the clasp, and perhaps even the pendant! Flower Festival was an absolute pleasure to make.
Now that all the presents have been handed in, I can show you what I made for my juniors - Pixie People necklaces. I give them something I made each year - it seems so much more personal than handing out smellies or chocolate - unfortunately the men on my list got chocolate, I haven't got around to making man jewellery - yet.
These cuties were made with little polymer clay elements I made a while ago - they seemed to fit together. In shades of froggy green, the little shield shape seemed to be sitting under a floral umbrella - I am quite taken by these earrings, they are certainly unusual.
The postman delivered a hank of coloured freshwater pearls - and I just had to make this necklace with every colour in the package. They looked so perfect, all twisted into a hank of multi colored beads and I didn't have the heart to separate them when they were playing together so nicely. There were seven colours of teardrop shaped pearls, but the seven strands looked extremely bulky at the back of the neck. Replaced with a string of colourful agate beads, the necklace was less bulky and sat comfortably around the neck.
Well, here we are, the weekend before Christmas. Have a fabulous Christmas with your families and I'll catch you next week. I hope Santa brings you all you wished for - provided you have been good - I of course have been an awful good girl and I'm expecting to be rewarded amply for that!
Catch you next week, same time, same place,
Hello readers, here's this weeks bulletin from Caprilicious for lovers of statement jewellery everywhere. Twelve shopping days left to Christmas - I love the festive cheer in the shops. Mike and I don't celebrate a religious festival, but the homemade (no, not by me) mince pies are safely in the freezer waiting patiently for Christmas dinner. I've just braved the cold wind and rain and brought in some ivy to replenish our wreath for the front door and Mike's on starters orders to fetch the rest of decorations in from the garden shed this weekend.
For those of you who don't like the crowds in the shops, you have time till the 20th of December to shop online - Caprilicious will post your parcel to the recipient of your choice with a Christmas card from you. If the recipient will feed me a mince pie and Mike a carrot, we will even drop down their chimney with their present on Christmas Eve.
Let me do the packing and posting for you while you put your feet up with a glass of mulled wine. Here are the Christmas dates from the Post Office for inland mail in the UK:-
Thursday 18 December 2nd Class and Royal Mail Signed For®
I had time to make a necklace and a pair of earrings with Indonesian Jewellery beetles wings. The necklace is very simple, and the colours in the wings are so gorgeous that the set was snapped up straight away. I happen to have another length of chain left as well as the earring findings, so I thought I might try and make up another set - I adore that colour.
The WIngs of Love
The most written about asp was the one that Cleopatra used to commit suicide - she clasped it to her bosom when she thought she had been deserted by Marc Anthony - she chose this method because its bite was said to cause sleep and a feeling of heaviness without pain, and because the asp could be smuggled into her chambers easily in a basket of fruit.
This necklace is made of 3 lengths of wire, with a fourth, fine wire used to weave them together. A few crystals later and Hey Presto! Alakazam! - an asp snaking around your neck.
My neighbour gave me a broken string of pearls to repair for her - I was required to knot them to match a second string in the necklace. I sent away for some silk for it, the remnants from which I used in these delightful pieces. I got an opportunity to use some very pretty clasps in my stash and I really enjoyed making them.
These are my favourite statement pieces - because they pose a conundrum at the very end - how to finish them neatly and professionally. Each one of these throws up it's own particular challenge. These silk used in these necklaces allows them to drape well around the neck.
These necklaces can be worn in many ways, depending on where the clasp is positioned.
Peaches and Caramel
Pretty peach pearls and toffee coloured carnelian nuggets held by a hand carved rose made of black lip shell.
These rose quartz teardrops are extra special because they are translucent, and the clasp is also pink quartz - the focal agate is in a luscious shade of raspberry.
To my tiny mind, this is what the surface of the moon looks like - I love the Mabe pearl in the clasp - a blister pearl with part of the nacre from the freshwater mussel in which it was cultured - seriously stunning.
By the time I finished these, I could knot a necklace with my eyes shut.
A beautiful solar quartz cabochon was set in a wire and seed bead surround in a necklace of opalite - three lampwork flower beads strewn around the necklace and a dragonfly clasp placed eccentrically turned it into a party - the lampwork flowers are rustic and remind me of the little blue flowers that grow in the sand on beaches everywhere - that is why this particular soirée had to be located at the seaside.
Last week I made a flower cane - I cut the ends off, but was loath to throw them into the 'scrap pile'. I sliced them further, cured, sanded and buffed them, and inspired by an Italian who has a website she calls Alkhymaeia, I made a couple of earrings using wire and slices of flower cane. You have to agree that I was right not to throw these bits of clay away.
That's me for this week folks, have a fabulous weekend and I will catch you next week, same time, same place
Hello readers, and lovers of unusual handmade statement jewellery, it is nice to see you again here at the Caprilicious blog this week. The week at the day job has been a bit quieter than the last and I had some spare time to play with beads and wire.
Success at Last - Coralie
A couple of weeks ago I cut up two wirework surrounds to a fossil coral cabochon - I decided a long time ago that if I wasn't happy with a design, into the dustbin it would go. I was so fed up with the whole thing after two evenings of failure, I put it away for a while - this week I tried a third design and Eureka! success at last.
A coral fossil is formed when the organic matter in a coral dissolves, gets washed away and is slowly replaced by calcium carbonate. Some of the patterns formed when the fossil is sliced open and polished are extremely beautiful. This cabochon is a pale salmon pink, and I visualised it with grey spectrolite - a form of labradorite which has the same glints of labradorescence deep within - pink and grey are a very sophisticated colour combination and go well together.
I added a couple of quirky lampwork glass beads and Shiva eye shell beads to add more colour and interest, and was eventually satisfied with the necklace.
Coralie(a French name meaning coral), took a lot of energy and angst out of me and I thought I'd make some simpler necklaces, just to ease the pain!
Alicorn - from the horn of a unicorn - was named thus because the beads are made of horn - as I didn't know what creature sacrificed it's horns to this necklace, I picked the unicorn - and why not??
The twisted blue beads are lucite, and turquoise and coral beads add to the asymmetrical beauty of this interesting mixed media piece.
Here's another simple yet sweet necklace called Columbine - I didn't think anyone would mind if I reused the name - I made a similar necklace with purple agate beads exactly two years ago - and I had these waiting in my stash for just such a moment.
The colours in this necklace come from a painting by David Miller, a well known marine artist. I love the blues and greens in this painting, and when I looked deep into the solar quartz cabochon, I could see the enchanted pool .
The green fire agate beads are vibrant and set off beautifully by the twisted rectangular lapis lazuli beads.
Rummaging in my stash idly one evening, I found some prehnite beads - prehnite is a waxy, almost translucent vaseline green stone, with black smudges on it as if touched by an untidy child - I am so reminded of my very first pen which regurgitated ink all over my pristine pages and school uniform, earning me a good telling off - it wasn't my fault, obviously that I came home covered in ink blots, but my mom didn't wait to find out. A Moroccan bead from my stash went into 'Tangier'.
Just as I began to feel ready for a challenge, a piece of carved black jade appeared in the morning's post - I have so many cabochons and beads in my stash that haven't seen the light of day, but yet, I have this urge to acquire more - an affliction I call magpieism. I spent two evenings making the frame and embellishing it with a fish to go with the carving - a simple leather thong seemed to be just the thing to add that extra bit of je ne sais quoi - I didn't want to over-egg the pudding.
Inch by tiny inch, I have very slowly taken over the conservatory - I now have a kiln, enamelling paraphernalia, a light box and tripod, as well as other photography props stashed in it. Mike's electric pianola, which used to take pride of place is now squeezed into a corner and looks extremely uneasy, completely sidelined by all my stuff. My most recent acquisition is a photography background and collapsible rail to give my photographs a more professional look.
I had an afternoon to play with polymer clay and I had a bit of fun constructing a flower cane. I cut the end bits off to take a look at it, and it was quite pretty - I will definitely find a use for it one of these days.
My friend BN gave me some clasps - they originally had some extremely ugly blister pearls set into them - I dug these out and refilled the clasps with polymer clay - most certainly an improvement, don't you think??
And somewhere, in between all these other pieces, I found a spare evening to make a copper bracelet out of a design from Lisa Barth's book.
That's me for this week - you can see that I've had plenty of fun! Well a girl has to enjoy herself whenever she can - who knows, if next week is busy, I might not have time to make anything at all. Have a great week, and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place