Oh, well, I suppose if I don't do it now, there won't be much point in decking those halls at all! Hello readers, and thanks for joining me. I'll bet you've got it all taped up with presents wrapped and halls decked. We feel a bit Bleah! this year so much so I haven't even bought a single card yet. Soon, I tell myself, but with the postal strike threatened in the UK next week, there mightn't be much point. I have been wrapping presents, though. I've had a flurry of orders from mainland Europe all of a sudden and have been busy wrapping them up and mailing them out.
Last week I spent a day in London at a meeting for work, and once we were done, I thought it would be rude not to go and see the Christmas lights.
My friend wanted to stop off at Fortnum and Mason's and I have to tell you, the fabulous cakes and the heavenly Christmassy smells in the patisserie section were to die for. Just sniffing the air put a few pounds on me ( or that's what I told the Slimming World consultant).
See what i mean?? I didn't eat anything, not a thing, I promise - there was just so much on offer it just blew my tiny little mind!
I came back home, and to keep my tummy from growling at me, I took up an ammonite and started to bead around it as if my life depended on it. As i picked the colours and beads and put the piece together, I decided I'd make a cuff bracelet. I have a little stash of aluminium blanks and some sheets of leather and I used them to make a pretty little cuff bracelet. It is bright and colourful and a statement piece for the arm - arm candy, I think they call it - there you are, I'm back in the food hall again!
The necklace takes it's name from the Ashanti lost wax cast Baule Sun bead that I've been meaning to use for ages but haven't got to. The waxy black agate slab nuggets act as a perfect foil for the bronze sun, and a second string of freshwater pearls adds a contrast. There are loads of little contrasting bright coloured beads to add a splash of colour.
This is the invitation for next years exhibition, folks. Neelam, my friend told me how to do it, but I struggled with converting it from a pdf to a photograph so that I could post it here, however, I got a bit of help from Google and here I am! What do you think?? You like?? I'm hoping the monetary situation improves by the end of January as I'm unable to hire a card reader for love nor money. I've tried so hard but as my business doesn't have an address in India I cannot get one, so will need to deal in paper money , which as you know is in short supply just now in India.
That's me for this week folks, I'd best bestir myself, halls to deck and all that. Presents won't wrap themselves nor will cards get mysteriously written, I'm afraid - no elves in our house! I'm on call this weekend and hopefully it won't be too busy.
Have a great week folks, and I'll catch you next week, same time, same place.
Hello readers, I hope you are getting ready for a fabulous weekend with lots of fun and games planned.
As you read this, we will be frantically throwing things together in a suitcase in a last minute packing frenzy for our holiday in Firenze, Italy. I am really looking forward to it and a bit of sunshine, after a fairly mediocre British summer - a few rays are exactly what the doctor ordered.
In the meantime, I had a message from Empress Dianne Regisford asking if the piece I called Nomad Spirit, after one of her poems was still available. She was delighted to find it was and commissioned a pair of earrings and a bracelet to go with it as a birthday present to herself. As I had this holiday looming on the horizon, I decided to put all other projects on hold and finish off her parure first so that she could have it for her birthday. After all, who can resist the call of an Empress?
This is a photograph of the original necklace. It has an ammonite fossil surrounded by bead work and soutache braiding, carrying a blue jade Chinese pendant. The earrings needed to be long and showy, but not too heavy, and I decided to make a flexible cuff bracelet, as having never met the Empress, I do not have measurements for her. I had a 3" wide aluminium blank cuff in my store and I sent off for a strip of leather to cover it with.
The earrings were made with two ammonite fossils, and I put in all the elements that I used for the necklace, omitting the jade, of course. I found some sea urchin spines and used them as dangles at the end of a beaded fringe. They tinkle gently when they hit each other in movement and I thought they suited the ammonites perfectly. The earrings are over 3.8" long. and very showy.
The cuff was hard work, but fun - I made the centrepiece with a large ammonite surrounded by soutache and bead work, and then sewed it onto a piece of shiny metallic leather that I cut to the size of the blank. I glued the centrepiece down for extra safety and then glued on a layer of ultrasuede to the inside of the cuff. I spent a whole evening sewing on little beads to the edge of the bracelet, effectively sewing the leather and ultrasuede to one another, and trapping the aluminium blank in between them. It is certainly a statement piece and of the three, it is my favourite. By the time I finished, my arm hurt from the workout it got, pushing the needle through the leather and the Size 10 needles themselves were bent like corkscrews, from being worked so hard.
So, what do you think, which one of the three do you like best?? Do tell!!
Well, that's me for the week. I am looking forward to nodding off on the plane as I never rest well before I fly. I fall asleep instantly to the rhythm of the engines much to my husband's annoyance as he would like someone to talk to. Oh well, he'll just have to wait till we get to Florence. As we have a whole week there, we will have plenty of time to visit the countryside around us and Siena, San Gimignano and the Cinqe Terre are on our list.
I shall of course, be back with a post about my travels next week, albeit a couple of days late. Have a fabulous week and see you soon
Hello readers, thanks for meeting me here today. It has been a long week, with the day job suddenly hotting up, guests at the weekend, and sunshiny days begging us to come out and play.
A classic piece of music, sung recently by Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett and revived all over again. I called my next piece Ermine and Pearls - or 'Oimine', as Gaga pronounces it!
Ermine and Pearls
The amethysts in this necklace are sumptuous - they are rough cut teardrop nuggets. The pendant is a slice of druzy, showing all the layers of the rock in a seam of amethyst, set in Bali silver. The amethysts always have regal connotations for me and with the beautiful baroque pearls, I immediately thought of the ermine trimmed robes worn by peers of the realm on ceremonial occasions. en departed from Westminster Abbey for the Palace.
Perseverance Pays - or Five Takes with Bronze Clay
I played with bronze clay when I had time between other activities and some of my experiments were successful, and some a total failure. I persevered - I could feel that I was close to getting it right, the design just needed to be refined a bit, and of course, I never give up!
I was given a design to work to. I drew it onto a sheet of paper to the exact size specified, transferred it to a piece of scratch foam and tested it on polymer clay - so far, so good!
I then rolled out a piece of clay and tried out the scratch foam imprint. Although less than satisfied with the precision of the imprint, I kept going - I pressed the bronze clay onto the foam to get as deep an imprint as possible. To make the lines clearer I used my new micro gouging tools from Harbor Freight to carve into the dried out pieces and was mighty happy with what I had achieved - so far, not bad at all, I said, patting myself on the back!
Unfortunately, when it came out of the kiln, I wanted to beat myself about the head, not pat myself on the back - the 'cut work' and carving had made the clay too thin and it had split. I decided that I had rolled the clay out too thin in the first place and that I needed to get a sharper imprint. I made a polymer clay imprint, cured it, and then took a 'negative'. This time, I rolled the clay out thicker than before and got a clearer imprint.
Bronze clay pieces go into the kiln twice to sinter, so it is a fairly laborious procedure. Here are the pieces going into the kiln for two firings, along with some other stuff I made up just for the heck of it with leftover clay.
Boo Hoo Hoo, one of the pieces was OK, but the other had split once again. I realised that in the process of carving the 'cut work' in the piece, I had probably created micro fractures which had split the component when I put it in the kiln - the piece shrinks by about 30% so even the slightest fracture would pull the clay apart.
So I made yet another piece and when I had finished carving it, I reinforced the areas around the carving with slip and held my breath till it came out of the kiln.........
The pieces still need to be burnished and tumbled and finished off. There is still one more sticky bit where I am going to attempt to attach a sterling silver post to the back of the earpiece using a new substance called Clay Bond - but at least I have cracked the basic component - I could have danced, danced, danced, all night! Anyway, the consolation has to be that I have now got the procedure down pat, I've even written the steps down and have a load of pictures I took as I went along to remind me not to make the same mistakes.
Through all these mishaps over the week, I felt the need to reaffirm my viability as a jewellery maker - I needed to be successful at something! Fortunately for me, Ermine and Pearls was snapped up by a lovely lady who likes her amethysts and I made Aphrodite's tears - why it has this name will be explained here as I made a similar necklace a couple of years ago. I love ammonites and think they are really beautiful - I bought three pendants, set in sterling silver. One for myself, the other I made a couple of years ago, and the third one for these pages.
Today, I shall try out the Clay Bond and let you know next week how my experiment pans out. I have visitors over the weekend, so have to get it done by the end of play today. The cats are enjoying the summer, and are out all day, only coming in to eat and to bring us little rodents and small birds as gifts. We are soon going on holiday - I'm not sure what they will think of that as they will have to go into a cattery, but I can hazard a guess.
Have a fabulous weekend, and I'll catch you next Friday, same place, same time
Caprilicious is all of two years old, today -thanks to all of you for your interest and making this such an enjoyable journey. I hope you like reading the blog, looking at my images and going along with my thought processes, scatty as they are, and that Year 3 will be bigger and better for Caprilicious, - with both you and I having fun along the way, I don't see why not.
Mike and I went to the Newmarket bead fair - we spent some time mooching around Cambridge, took a little 'chauffeured punt' on the river Cam, and spent an enjoyable weekend with our friend BN who lives in Cambridge. I have enough gemstone bead stock to last me a long, long time, but I couldn't resist a few beautiful lamp worked glass beads - I know how difficult they are to make, and some of the beads were simply beautiful - it seemed a shame to leave them behind. I don't know what I shall do with them - they don't fit anywhere in my jewellery box - but they were calling out to me, and sad person that I am, I can never resist a call from a pretty thing.
Wire hair combs caught my eye at the bead fair, so the first thing I made when I got back was an embellished hair ornament - I think it will look very pretty of an evening, with an upswept hair do - an anti Rapunzel moment.
Before we set off to Cambridge, my fingers were twitching so hard, I gave them some wire to keep them quiet - sometimes it's almost as if they have a mind/persona of their own, and need to keep busy - Oh well, I suppose that's a harmless enough addiction. These pendants with wire, druzy and semi precious gemstones appeared overnight - simple designs to keep the old fingers happy................
The copper wire used here was coated with a non tarnish 'enamel' and the yellow fire agate bead suits the coppery browns of the wire - a simple, but effective pendant on a co ordinating organza necklace.
Bluish - grey and orange are a great colour combination, and the pendant is very striking. I wired the focal piece with the wire embellished druzy to one side of the frame, leaving a bit of negative space as a counterbalance - this also made the focal stand out from the frame, giving it a three dimensional effect.
The Birthday Necklace
I plan to make a necklace every year to celebrate Caprilicious' birthday - something a bit different - perhaps with an expensive focal - something to set it apart from the rest. Last year I made a necklace with a Ghau box and coral beads - it now lives in India, and by all accounts, it's new owner loves it.
This year, I picked a pendant with ammonite fossils, a Shiva eye and abalone, set in sterling silver as the focal piece. Loads of pearls and an abalone clasp later, it turned into a statement piece, well worthy of being in the category of a birthday necklace.
Pearls are the symbol of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love - pearls were tears of joy that she shed when she was born from sea froth and they translate easily into the symbolism of love and beauty. Aphrodite's followers call her Pearl, or Pearl-of-the-Sea, and she is also known as Venus - who is depicted as being born out of a shell, not as a baby, but a fully grown adult, very naked woman - the epitome of beauty.
And this is the necklace by which I chose to wish Caprilicious a happy birthday in 2013!
When I look back over the last two years, it makes my heart glad - making one-of-a-kind jewellery has led me to all you one- of- a- kind people; and when you reach back out to me, it gives me a warm glow inside - a heady feeling - and it spurs me to want to make more stuff so I can reach more of you.
I have met some fabulous people along the way through Caprilicious - some in person - Maria, Bernadette, Ben amongst others; and some in the virtual world - Lucy, Eilidh, Sravasti, Reshma, Shruthi and Mortira, Linda, Pearl - I would never have 'met' you if not for Caprilicious; people from the polymer clay world - Allison, the Carlton cottage gang - so many of you have made an impact on my life and way of thinking.
The number of people I can reach out to depends on me, and what I make - a friend suggested I should buy in more of my components, or get someone else to make my designs up for me ' if not, it will only ever be a small business/hobby ' he advised - but, no, I think the greatest pleasure is from knowing that most of my pieces come out of my hands - be it from polymer clay, wire or from my kiln - I pick my own beads, and make my own jewellery the way I want - and those of you who like my creations and are kind enough to want to wear them will be friends for life.
So, Happy Birthday Caprilicious, and catch you sweet readers, next week, same time, same place
Hello, I hope all of you reading this are having a good summer - in the UK, we are about six weeks behind the rest of Europe, hopefully we will be paid back in October when it lasts six weeks longer than it does on the Continent - but, somehow, I don't think so, do you??
I made a necklace with graduated coral heishi beads and a single fog quartz focal - I loved the idea of a fog contained in a bead - I wish we could do that, come winter. A load of people liked it - and thank you to those that did. However, one lady put a comment under the picture 'Gaudy!', she spat! I chose to think she got the spelling wrong and actually meant 'Gaudi'! People are the strangest creatures - if they don't like something, they seem to have a compulsion to make sure the designer knows it - I wonder why?
They could vote with their feet, or fingers in this case, and just click over to something that suits them better. One lady saw fit to comment that my little flight of fancy about a pendant I had made was 'pure BS' and that I should 'cut it out' - a lesson in good manners was in order, I think. At the end of the day, all designs are born from somebody's flight of fancy - I just verbalize mine, is all! Anyway, let me show you some pictures of Parc Guell in Barcelona, designed by Gaudi - I say vibrant, some say gaudy......................
I think she meant Gaudi - don't you???
If not, I invite her to use her finger..........
Ammonites are cephalopods that lived 240 - 60 million years ago, and are now extinct. They are related to the cuttlefish and octopus, and are thought to have lived in shallow water, as the predator of the day. Many specimens found in Madagascar and Alberta display iridescence. These iridescent ammonites are often of gem quality (ammolite) when polished - ammolite is very, very expensive. I just love the little critters, and buy them whenever I can - I do not understand my fascination with them, as I usually look for highly coloured objects. I decided to make some up as earrings in polymer clay, using a faux Raku pottery technique - this involves the use of real gold and silver foil, alcohol inks and layers of transparent clay - so I played, and these are what I made.......
The little elongated shapes were from left-over veneer, and I shall make earrings out of them. I made so many ammonites, that I offered them up for a swap on a jewellery makers swap shop on Facebook, and got a string of coral in return for four beads - a win, win result!
The last little critter was turned into a pendant with a bit of wire work to one side, and a wire embellished leather thong - very now, I think.
Charis is a Greek word for grace - and specifically relates to the three Charities - goddesses of beauty and were Aphrodite's attendants. When Aphrodite rose from a cushion of foam in the sea and reached the island of Cythera, where the Graces were, they dressed her in jewels, placed her in a chariot, and led her to Olympus, where Aphrodite became one of the Olympians.
They were Aglaia (Beauty or Splendor), Euphrosyne (Mirth) and Thalia (Good Cheer), the daughters of Zeus and the nymph Eurynome. Considered the embodiment of grace and beauty, they brought joy to gods and men and inspired artists. This story inspired artists like Botticelli and Rubens, and I thought this necklace could easily be worn by one of the Graces in the painting below - it is simple, and elegant.
I have been busy producing little earrings and pendants - a friend of mine up in Cheshire has offered to invite her friends round to a jewellery party for Caprilicious - my very first! I am anxious that I must get the mix right, and have something for everyone - I don't want anyone to go away disappointed, since some of them will be driving a fair distance to see what I have on offer.
These lovely ceramic flowers and donuts are in pretty summer colours, and I hung them on suede cord that can be tied around the neck - the donuts have contrasting suede tassels and lamp work beads, and look like Chinese lanterns.
Miles and miles of wire has been wrapped this week, and my hands are quite tired and sore. If you want to have a closer look at the pieces I have made specifically for the party, here's the link :- https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.512787555442719.1073741880.171880539533424&&l=fc852cbf61
I am at work at the day job all weekend, and hopefully it will remain quiet enough for me to make a few little bits and bobs - I want to make some butterflies and dragonflies in wire - I just love them and they are so right for summer.
Catch you next week, same time, same place - have a lovely week in the meanwhile
If The King said so - it must be true -do listen to the song while reading this - brings the blog alive!'
A little Madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King.'
Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (1830 -1886)
The weather is getting warmer and the plants in the garden are aching with buds - I love England in the springtime, especially after a bleak winter.
I found an Intarsia cabochon in my stash -Intarsia is the centuries old skill of combining gem materials into works of art. Each piece of stone is precisely cut and fitted for inlay into another gemstone. Once assembled the complete piece is polished to a high finish. Each Intarsia is made entirely by hand - and because of this, relatively expensive. This one has elements of pink rhodochrosite, jasper and agate, and I decided to frame it in polymer clay to resemble a picture frame and then use it as a pendant. The cabochon itself is only 2 1/2 x 1 inch, and would stand no chance being visible, given my penchant for 'big' jewellery. So this is what I made with it - added a polymer clay frame using cherry blossom millefiori cane, and stringing it with a bunch of multicolour lucite leaves and flowers, using glass and acrylic pearls and Czech crystals thrown in for added sparkle. The flowers are substantial in size but light, so the pendant anchors the necklace and makes it drape well, and I have left the back free so that it is comfortable around the neck - no one wants something prodding their neck - especially in springtime, when collared jackets are still mandatory.
The profusion of flowers is so springlike that the necklace could only be called Spring Fever.
'It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!' ~Mark Twain
On another note, I submitted a few of my designs to Rena Klingenberg's website http://www.making-jewelry-now.com - Making Jewellery Now - The Friendly Jewellery Community, and am pleased that I had quite a favourable response from her readers, most of whom are jewellery designers - there are some fascinating insights into jewellery making and marketing on her site and I have spent a lot of my time reading it.
This is the link to the Caprilicious Jewellery Etsy store - http://www.etsy.com/shop/CapriliciousJewelry
A Naiad's Treasure
There is definitely a method in my madness - my stash of beads is all jumbled up - and I would forget that I had a particular item, unless I found it quite by accident during a frantic rummage for something else. While I was looking for the lucite flowers, I found some prehnite nuggets - I love prehnite - it looks like pistachio green nuggets of frosted sugar candy, touched by a naughty child with dirty fingers, leaving black smudges on it's surface. I put it together with an ammonite fossil and khaki/gold pyrite nuggets, and a few freshwater pearls - there is an air of enchantment about this necklace that gave it it's name.
The Naiads were nymphs of bodies of fresh water.A naiad was intimately connected to the water she lived in, and if the stream dried up, she breathed her last with it.
Like all the nymphs, the Naiads were in many ways female sex symbols of the ancient world and played the part of both the seduced and the seducer. Zeus in particular is said to have enjoyed the favors of countless Naiads and the other gods do not seem to have lagged far behind. The Naiads fell in love with, and actively pursued mortals as well.
Now, don't shoot the messenger - I got this from a website dealing with the mystical properties of crystals http://www.shimmerlings.com/gemstones/prehnite.htm#GENERAL - 'Prehnite is quite a protective stone. It can protect one on all levels, as it strengthens the life force and generally increases energy as well as stimulating it. Healers use prehnite's memory skill in aiding with diagnosis of patients, if you have a patient that is particularly difficult to diagnose, have them carry this stone for one month, when they return the crystal, use it during meditation to tap into the stone's memory.' I said this to a colleague of mine - and he looked horrified - as if I had grown another head (which I have - the one that makes jewellery) - and said -'please tell me you don't believe this'.....
I wish I knew about the healing properties especially before I spent years and years in medical training - could've saved me a lot of trouble.
Pyrite is commonly called Fools Gold because of its similarity in color, shape, to gold - it is also closely related to the more silvery Marcasite.
Now, I have an idea for something I found while rummaging for the pyrite - am off to find it - who knows what else I might find - see you next week!