Hello folks, thanks for joining me today, it certainly is good to catch up with you and I'm very pleased you dropped in to take a look at the goings on at Caprilicious. As you read this, I shall be elbow deep in polymer clay, learning new techniques, meeting old frineds, making new ones and having a great time at Polymania in Bristol. I was there last year and had a whale of a time. My only anxiety about this year is that once again on Sunday, when I'm due to travel back home on the train we are expecting bad weather in the UK - oh well, time for the thermal underwear, and I shall keep everything crossed that the trains will run, and run on time.
Lugging pasta machines and other heavy articles on a train across the country is not my idea of fun, but the great time I shall have there will most definitely be worth it. We have no less than Donna Kato, Kathleen Dustin and Carol Blackburn teaching us this time. I've been so keen to learn from these ladies for ages and ages, and now my wish will come true!
This week has been a productive one for Caprilicious - I've been trying out Amazon Prime for a month and binge watching movies. Of course while I'm watching all these movies, my hands have been busy with wire and beads. The parlous state of the NHS has meant that elective operations were cancelled and I got to come home early and make beads with polymer clay, and then turned them into a necklace.
Art Nouveau Torque Necklace
I bought a tutorial for a wire bracelet on Etsy from Doras Accessory and decided to use it as a template for a necklace instead. It has been sitting in my document cloud for an year and I finally found the sticking point - it calls for a frame of really thick wire. I didn't want to use copper, as nobody wants a green ring around the neck. Finally, I found 12g stainless steel wire and then had to hunt for a pair of wire cutters that would work as it is a very hard wire to cut without ruining my usual snips. Eventually I used the cutters I have for memory wire, and this just about did the job. A turquoise cabochon was trapped in squiggles and curlicues of wire and embellished with yet more wire and rutilated quartz beads.
More Polymer clay beads and another Fiesta necklace
I had some beads left over from the last necklace I made, and they were just sitting there staring reproachfully up at me. 'Use us, please, oh puhleeease', they moaned. Oh well, I'm a sucker for a hard luck story, so I quickly threw a few more into the oven to make up the numbers and made yet another Fiesta necklace.
I made these two torque necklaces last week, and as they were less than perfect, decided to keep them for myself. I wore one singly to work, and then a couple of days later, wore them together over a roll neck top. I think the torque necklace is great and am happy to wear one any time.
One of my colleagues at work asked me to make her a sun catcher and I made her one with a copper wire dragonfly. She liked it so much, she immediately ordered a couple more. They are very difficult to photograph but the little beads in the wings are made of silver lined glass seed beads and they pick up the light like wet cobwebs.
I love the picture with the sun shining behind it, although it's not the best photograph I've ever taken.
That's all I had time for this week people, have a fabulous week and I'll catch you next weekend, same time, same place.
Hello folks, thanks for coming back today. Thankfully the snow is gone and the lovely, rainy British weather is back. I can tell you there will be no more complaints from me about the rain, it is so much better than the snow.
It was International Women's Day yesterday, although I'm not quite sure why we need a day to honour women. Surely it would be good to stamp out injustice against women, stop domestic abuse, give them educational and pay parity and generally play nicely as a society - after all that makes more sense than just patting them on the head for a day and saying, 'well done' - how patronising is that?
Last week I showed you the 'Fiesta' necklaces I made at the request of a lady from Australia. Of the three I made, she liked the one I was wearing in this photograph, but wanted me to remove the coins in the bottom row. That would have meant cutting up the necklace and changing all three strands substantially. As I was pondering whether I really wanted to do that, another lady from India asked to buy it, so I decided to make more beads in the colours the Aussie lady liked and put together another necklace just for her. Here it is....
As I woke up this morning to post the blog, I found that it has been paid for, so after this I will sort out a courier to take it to it's forever home.
This necklace was inspired by the wedding necklaces worn by the Maasai. They are usually beaded and worn one on top of another in a stack. I didn't think more than three rings per stack would be acceptable for wear by non Maasai people who live in the UK so I made three tubes of polymer clay over wire that were connected together at the back and allowed to sit one on top of the other around the neck. This one is so much fun, so vibrant and interesting.
I loved it so much, I made a single ring - I've always loved the torque necklace and wanted to make one that I could wear easily to work. I think I'm going to keep this one! It is easier to wear and less conspicuous, and can be worn when there is a requirement to be a bit understated.
That's what I've been upto this week, folks. Have a lovely week and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Hello folks, I am so happy to be home in one piece to be able to write this blog today. I've been to London (not to see the queen) to a Safety Collaborative event - we got there nice and early and wondered what the fuss was all about. There were warnings for snow and ice all over the UK and my colleague and I debated long and hard about whether we ought to risk it. Eventually we got the train at 730 am yesterday and reached London, easy peasy. There was a bit of snow on the ground, nothing to write home about. It was bitterly cold though, but I was dressed for it in multiple layers of clothing. We spent a nice day at the QEII centre outside Westminster Abbey, and got back to Euston early. And then the nightmare began! A horrendous journey back, with delays, stoppages on the track, everyone being decanted off the train in Rugby which is only 20 minutes from home to stand like a horde of zombies from Sean of the Dead on a freezing cold platform in the dark, in a bitter wind and snow, waiting for another train to pick us up to continue our journeys. Two and a half hours later I fell into Mike's car and heaved a sigh of relief. I was lucky - some of my colleagues ended up getting home after 4 and 5 hours on other routes!
It all began when I posted a necklace I made a couple of years ago on Instagram. A number of people got in touch asking if I could remake the necklace for them. The beads were made from polymer clay using tutorials written by Marie Segal on her blog, to resemble African Trade Beads. It took me ages to make the beads last time and even longer to make the canes to embellish them. I thought I ought to give it a go and dug out the tutorials, made the canes, rolled out the beads, made up the necklaces - and remade them, and remade them yet again. And now I dont like two out of three of them and am having to remake them once more this weekend. On much reflection and soul searching, it turns out that the elements I dislike are metal three hole connectors that I thought were a good idea to use at the time and I shall take them out.
I thought I'd show you the process that has evolved over the last few weekends, just so you know what it entails. Polymer clay canes are made much like sticks of Blackpool rock and every slice ought to look the same, or have the same pattern.
The beads were rolled out in long tubes and embellished with slices of a cane, then cut randomly into various sizes before being cured in my oven.
When beads of random lengths are put together, there is always a risk of awkwardness, and I had to remake them a number of times before two of them hung to my satisfaction and I went out into the cold conservatory and took some photographs. The third necklace was made with leftover beads and looked so awkward, I didn't bother to get a decent picture of it.
And then I found that I didn't like any of them at all and would have to take them all apart and start again. Oh no!
I really, really didn't like them at all. As it was the third one that wasn't right in every possible way, I remade it and realised that it was the connectors that were bothering me.
That's all I had time for this week folks, Thanks once again for joining me. Have a fabulous week and I'll catch you next week, same time, same place.
Hello folks, thanks for joining me again. Last week, Mike and I went to the ballet - he got us tickets to The Sleeping Beauty in Birmingham. To avoid the nuisance of having to find a parking space and driving around the one way systems which are totally clogged up due to repairs and urban regeneration projects, we took the train in to Birmingham and made a day of it. I love all dance forms, and this ballet, with the evocative music of Tchaikovsky is close to my heart. Mike has the music on vinyl which he sometimes plays when we are in the garden and it is quite magical.
Before the matinee they had a short programme about how the show was made and set out costumes and ballet slippers for kids to try on and have their pictures taken. While I waited for Mike to deposit our coats in the cloakroom I saw this young family with their two daughters delighting in the costumes and took some of my own pictures with their permission. These kids were a delight to watch - just look at the expressions on their faces, they were quite the divas!
This pendant has been a long time in the making. I made it bit by bit, gently feeling my way through the mist of a lack of formal design - I started with a butterfly and then added a flower, and then snaky vines and a waterfall of a tassel and created a mini scene from a rainforest, with the butterfly flitting over an exotic flower. I added three rows of crystals and a beautiful abalone clasp and suddenly it was done! As with many other Caprilicious pieces it is a showstopper, for extroverts only!
And if you think my made up flower is a bit strange, check out this flower that grows in the rainforest - when I first saw this picture I thought it was 'fake news' but no, it is called the Hot Lips Flower (Psychotria poeppigiana). It grows on a small shrub that lives under the rainforest canopy. The bright red color attracts birds to pollinate it.
Well, that's all I had time for this week folks. I hope you enjoyed your little read of my ramblings. Have a great week and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Hello good people, how are you today. It has been a cold week in the UK with snow flurries and freezing temperatures. However, I've had a couple of days off and have spent them at home, keeping warm and staying out of mischief.
The last couple of weeks have been exhausting, traipsing up and down to Manchester, and then being on call at the weekend, so this was a welcome respite.
I got the story of Li Chi, The Serpent Slayer from a website called Rejected Princesses, about "women too awesome, awful, or offbeat for kids' movies". It celebrates women who are unbiddable. "Part art project, part standup routine, part book report, this site imagines what if we made animated musicals about the women of history and myth who refused to behave."
Li Chi was a teenager who, at the age of thirteen, volunteered to become a human sacrifice to a serpent who lived in the hills above her village. The serpent demanded a young girl to eat every year as a price for leaving the village alone for the rest of the year. She proceeded to slay the serpent and release the villagers from slavery with a little sword.
Do read the story on the website. Jason Porath writes well, with a lot of humour. I've only given you the bald outline of the story as I cannot improve on Jason's telling of it.
The cinnabar pendant came from China and has a serpent/dragon on it appearing to reach in to sniff the fragrance of a peony. The intricacy of the carving is beautiful and I added bone beads, hand carved into chrysanthemums, and bone discs dyed black, with characters etched into them. A few turquoise beads provide a pleasing contrast, as do the bronze lost wax cast brass beads from Kenya.
Citrine and smoky quartz necklace
This necklace was commissioned by a lady who saw another one worn by customer. Unfortunately I had too few of the beads from the original strand left and sent off for others. As the first strand had come back with me in my suitcase from Jaipur, I couldn't find the same ones, but the ones I did find are pretty too. The lady requested smoky quartz spacers instead of the iolite I used in the original necklace.
I sent a parcel to Australia last week with a courier and spent hours tracking the package all the way from Nuneaton to Victoria. The parcel was given a bar code which I had to print off and stick on the front - so why oh why can't the couriers scan the damn thing at every stage as it moves from place to place? Surely that's not too much to ask! I spent hours staring at my phone, waiting for the parcel to move - sometimes it didn't move at all for two days, and then whoosh, it had moved miles and miles.
I feel like someone who has spent a day watching a spin dryer, my brains are completely scrambled. Add to that mix an anxious customer and the levels of craziness rose exponentially until the parcel reached its destination safe and sound, it was opened, and the jewellery admired and worn. I wonder what would happen if I had a number of international parcels all going out at the same time - I'd probably have to be sectioned!
That's me for this week folks. We have tickets to the ballet - Sleeping Beauty, at the Hippodrome in Birmingham and were going up on the train to make a day of it. Have a wonderful week and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Hello folks, thanks for joining me today. Another very cold week has gone by and I've been up and down to Manchester to take part in interviews on behalf of Health Education England, thankfully on the right side of the table. It was mighty cold up there with the freezing air blowing off the Pennines, turning my breath into little icicles. Back home, I turned the heating up full volume and thawed my bones out by an open fire and turned my attention to my beads and baubles once I felt human again.
The interviews were held at the Etihad Stadium which is the home of Manchester City football club - the club is owned by Sheikh Mansour of Abu Dhabi who reputedly bought it for a mere £210 million. Well, what's 210 million to someone who owns a £400 million yacht!
Ornaments have been made from shells for aeons - conch shells come to a point at both ends and the inhabitants of these lovely shells are marine gastropod molluscs. The molluscs are used as food and fish bait, and can even produce pearls. I found slices of conch shells in a shop in Portobello market in London and thought that they were so pretty that I had to buy them. I've hoarded them for over four years now and decided to finally use one of them in a piece of jewellery. I wrapped the slice of conch shell in yards of wire and decided that it needed a rather special necklace to go with it. Shell beads are used in shamanistic rituals in tribes all over the world. I used beads in keeping with this notion and added Chinese bone, Nepalese coral, and African turquoise to the necklace in generous amounts, making it suitable for an international shaman.
Nefertari came into being when I wrapped a couple of citrine teardrop beads that had slightly misshapen points in wire to disguise the tips. I liked the effect so much that I wrapped all the beads I had in my stash as I watched television, and then had to find a way to use them in a necklace. I'm very fond of the teardrop shape and have made a number of necklaces in the past with colourful crystals, and I reused that template to make a two stranded piece, along with turquoise and sea sediment jasper. When finished the colours in the necklace reminded me of the bust of Nefertari in the Museum in Berlin - The bust of Nefertari was created around 1340 BC by the court sculptor Thutmoses. The limestone core has several layers of stucco on the crown and shoulders, and there are also small areas of stucco patching on the face. The necklace on the bust is coloured red, blue and gold, and must have been stupendously beautiful in its day.
I see this one worn with an evening dress, but also over the buttoned up collar of a plain shirt during the day - have you any other styling suggestions?
I've been active on Instagram recently, having been encouraged to do so by a friend and posted a picture of a copper bracelet I made a few years ago. A lady got in touch with me and asked me to make one for her - who says copper bracelets have to be boring? It's bad enough that one suffers with joint pain without having to add insult to injury by wearing ugly copper bracelets. This is what I came up with for her.
That's all I had time for, folks. I am working all weekend and I'm keeping everything crossed that it will remain quiet for me. Have a fabulous week and I'll catch up with you next Friday, same time, same place,
Hello folks, thank you for joining me again today. I've been a bit under the weather this week and have had to will myself to better health. The latter half of the week has been spent in Manchester at a meeting to do with the day job, that had to be attended as part of a long standing commitment.
I took delivery of a bunch of little silver pendants from a vendor in Indonesia and this time I went for bright colours and contemporary shapes. The pendants look lovely on their own, and I hope that any way I choose to string them will enhance them. I especially love the black pendant - it is pyrite in black magnetite and the stone at the bottom is a rough black tourmaline. I have no plans for any of them as yet, and that's part of the fun of it all - I never know what's going to emerge until it does.
The pendant is made from a stone called Rainbow Calsilica - it is a manmade stone, but nevertheless very pretty. It reminds me of Fordite which is basically layers of paint cut into slabs and cabochons. Rainbow Calsilica is bright and colourful and this pendant has a dragonfly hovering over it and is accented with peridot and garnets. The pendant has such a happy vibe that I thought it would be a complete shame to string it with a monochromatic necklace.
I borrowed a bit of style and penchant for colour from the Italians for inspiration and pulled out a bunch of colour enhanced jade teardrop beads. I've been people watching in quite a few Italian cities, and the women always look relaxed and elegant, as if they take ages to put themselves together. But, as I discovered when I met a couple of them, their secret is in the casual flinging on of a colourful accessory over a simple and well cut monochromatic outfit. There's always a splash of colour - a scarf, a necklace, a belt or coloured shoes. Describing Italian women, I have several thoughts in my mind - mainly 'easygoing sex appeal' and 'bombshell'. I have tried to put these thoughts into this piece of jewellery - I want it to shriek sunshine and Vespas, Roman Holiday and fruit trees in the summer. I was idly leafing through my pictures from a visit to Venice and these are some of the pictures that inspired the necklace I called Mambo Italiano
So here it is, Mambo Italiano in Burano colours........
I made this one a couple of weeks ago - it is of silvered blue glass and freshwater pearls - pretty, simple and easy to wear. It looks very pale in comparison to the one above - but hey! some people like bright and some like pale and interesting. Me? I'm a true Caprilicious woman - it depends on my mood, the lunar cycle, the weather, and whatever dictates my capricious little mind!
So as you're reading this, I am up in Manchester at the Safety Collaborative waiting to get back home to Mike and Wilfred. That's all I have for you this week, folks. I'll catch you next Friday, same place, same time, in the meanwhile, have a great week
Good morning, fabulous people, and thanks for dropping by today. I've spent the week making plans for my annual trip to India - I'm normally there around this time of year, but have delayed my holiday on this occasion to be present at my mother's 90th birthday. The original plan was to have a very fancy party and my mother was coyly accepting of it. 'Why do you need to waste money on an old woman' she simpered, until she realised she quite enjoyed a party and wouldn't have to do anything but turn up and look as good as her 90 years would allow. My only surviving sibling however, decided conveniently to take her at her word, and isn't prepared to join in and play ball, so that plan bit the dust, with mum retreating into a 'what's so special about 90, it's just another number' routine, to save face (I think).
We plan a scaled down celebration and hopefully if all goes well, the weather will be kind to me. I will be flying from chilly and cold, to swelteringly hot, and hopping from one air conditioned space to the next, turning into a massive sweatball between the two. It will certainly unclog the old pores and my hair will go frizzy in the humidity - oh well, it sure doesn't sound like I'm looking forward to it - and I'm not, weather wise. However, the rest of the trip should be fun.
This is a very simple necklace, but each of the elements in it are so beautiful that the piece in its entirety is alluring. Rainbow pearls and a large box clasp of a blister pearl when put together are blindingly beautiful and unsurprisingly, this necklace is already spoken for. Blister pearls are bumpy growths formed on the inside surface of a mollusc shell. They are hemispherical or irregular in shape and are cut out with the shell. They are grown intentionally by using a hemispheric nucleus, rather than a round one; and by implanting it against the oyster's shell, rather than within its tissue. The pearl then develops in a hemispheric form, with a flat back.
The necklace can be worn in three ways, with the clasp at the bottom, to one side, or at the back.
The Ottoman Necklace
This necklace looks like something straight out of a seraglio - this is the second one I've had on my website, and I just love the greens, the bling and the heft of the tassel. It is a faux lariat and drips luxury into the decollete' - a blissfully opulent evening necklace.
A Fabergé egg is a jeweled egg created by the House of Fabergé. They were manufactured under the supervision of Peter Carl Fabergé between 1885 and 1917. The most famous are those made for the Russian Tsars Alexander III and Nicholas II as Easter gifts for their wives and mothers. Known as the Hens Egg, the very first Fabergé egg was crafted from a foundation of gold. Its opaque white enameled "shell" opened to reveal a matte yellow-gold yolk. This in turn opened to reveal a multicolored gold hen that contained a minute diamond replica of the imperial crown from which a small ruby pendant was suspended, but these last two elements were misplaced or lost..
I found a diamante egg shaped pendant on a website from the USA and was immediately reminded of the Faberge' creations. It hangs from the necklace of blue jade and baroque pearls by a removable bail which has a cunning clasp mechanism that enables you to take it off the necklace - although I cannot imagine why anyone would do that, and a tassel of blue jade beads dripping from it.
The Purple Cross Necklace
The purple cross is reserved for nobility, royalty and courageous animals - and now, one gorgeous and discerning Caprilicious woman. This one is made of titanium vapour coated druzy, set in sterling silver and accented with peridot. I hung it on a gothic necklace of dark blood red garnets and I can imagine it with a dark evening dress and maroon lipstick, and equally in the neckline of a simple shirt and leather jacket. The necklace is meant to sit close to the neck, almost like a choker. The green beads are Murano glass to match the peridot in the pendant.
I've been playing with soutache - the intention is to turn the piece into a butterfly flitting over some very exotic flowers - perhaps from a jungle in the Amazon. I am halfway through it and may have something to show you next week. Just now, it is unfinished and looks rather strange, and like a mother with an ugly infant I love it because it's my creation, but am not sure how it will look in its final avataar. Hopefully it will make more sense as time goes by and it gets over the 'awkward phase'.
That's all I have for you this week, folks. Have a lovely week and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Hello folks, another week has gone by with storms lashing the UK and high winds of over 60mph. We had a bit of damage in our garden - a couple of large pots blew over and smashed to smithereens - I cannot imagine how that could have happened as one of them was planted with a large rhododendron bush and was weighed down with broken bricks and tiles at the bottom. That was one wild and wooly night! The trees were bent over double and the cat decided to cause a disturbance indoors by bringing in a live mouse at 2am - the mouse ran off (not quite up a clock as under a bed), so now we have the pleasure of sharing our accomodation with a mouse. It's a good thing I'm not squeamish, but still, I'm not sure how I'll react if the mouse runs out in front of me.
As you might have read last week, it was Mike's birthday last week, and we celebrated in London. His birthday presents had been ordered in December, but only turned up a week after his birthday, which was a shame. However, he loves them, so that made up for the disappointment on the day. I wrote in 2013, and it seems like yesterday, of a kitsch collection of animal figurines called Tom's Drag. We saw them on a trip to Berlin and we loved them so much I made a point of taking a picture of the logo by the side of the figurines so I could find them again.
Unfortunately Tom died in 2012, but his partner Arno Mueller still runs the company using Toms designs, and we are now the proud owners of three little cats, only two of which have arrived from Germany, the third to arrive in March.
I made a necklace of little citrine teardrops with iolite beads between them The citrine beads are gently faceted and appear like crystals made of unrefined sugar. I posted a picture on instagram and the necklace was picked up even before I gave it a name or had good pictures of it on file. I had to rush to get some photographs before I posted it out to its forever home with a little pair of earrings to match.
Hematite is the mineral form of iron oxide and has a striking metallic lustre, similar to polished gunmetal. The word hematite comes from the Greek work "haima" meaning blood, referring to the mineral's red color when in powdered form. When heated enough, hematite becomes a paramagnet, where the atomic magnets just randomly point all different directions, making it weakly magnetic. Hematite helps to absorb negative energy in times of stress or worry. I've had these beads for a while now, as well as the amethyst druzy pendant and suddenly they appeared in the same drawer of my bead stash and demanded to be put together. Whether this was by magic or serendipity, I shall never know, but I think they look good together. Purple and black can look a bit gothic, but not in this case as the amethyst pendant is a pale lilac. The colours in amethyst are also from iron ore so the two seem made for each other. The word Confluence means two streams meeting to become the source of a river of a new name, as did the iron ore in the two materials of this necklace.
That's me for this week folks. Have a lovely week and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Hello folks, how are you faring now that the craziness of Christmas and New Year's Eve is over? Clear heads all around, I hope! Our celebrations tend to go on for a little while longer than the 1st of January as hubby has a birthday in the second week and I am only just getting over the feeling of being constantly exhausted from organising food and drinks, and tickets, and events. Phew!!!
This birthday I treated Mike to a London theatre break - we went to see An American in Paris which suited both of us - we love jazz and Gershwin and I love the ballet - this show had both of these combined in a stupendous extravaganza. He was also treated to an evening at Ronnie Scott's in Soho where we had another fix of jazz. Shopping at Selfridges followed, where I found two pairs of boots in the sales the next day after a full English breakfast, and we were finally ready to get the train back to Warwickshire. We stayed at the Grosvenor House Hotel and I can't say much more than it was fantastic - we felt totally pampered.
We took some time out to visit Grenfell tower and the little shrine in front of the church. Three sad little fir trees stood outside the church, decorated with a wooden heart for each child that died in the fire. We met the vicar and put some money into the collection.
We'd seen Grenfell on the TV a number of times, but nothing prepared us for the eerie silence in the streets around it, as if it was a ghost town.
A number of windows carried 'Justice for Grenfell' banners and our hearts went out to the people who died or were bereaved there.
I bought a couple of strings of quartz teardrops from a vendor in Germany - one string is clear and the other a pale blue. The beads are gently faceted and shine in reflected light. They remind me of fat little raindrops on a wire or dripping from a blade of grass. I've had them a while and hadn't come up with any ideas, until it all seemed to fall into place this week.
I used tiny 2mm seed pearls to separate the quartz droplets - it amazes me how expensive these tiny pearls are relative to their size, but then, if you think about how difficult it must be to handle them and drill them, it seems understandable. Stringing them is difficult enough, it makes me shudder to think how hard it must be to make the central hole without crushing them.
It is indeed a very pretty necklace - and is winging its way to its forever home, as I type.
Thank you to all those who participated in the various promotions I set up for Caprilicious' birthday week. The earrings in the giveaway were won by Robyn Gilchrist from Shreveport, USA - can you contact me please with your full address so that I can mail them out.
There is a second pair of similar earrings left on the website on the Mixed Metals page, and the 10% discount promotion runs till the 15th of January. Do visit the shop to use the code if you fancy them or anything else.
That's all I have time for folks - have a fabulous week and I'll catch you next week, same time, same place.