Beautiful Handmade Statement Necklaces and other Fabulousness from Neena Shilvock - Inspirations and Designs From the Week Gone by
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,
I'm Neena Shilvock, and I'm crazily addicted to jewellery. I've been designing and making quirky and interesting statement necklaces for the last five years and my passion hasn't cooled off one little bit - in fact it has got worse, such that I'm even dreaming jewellery.
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