Good day, good people and thanks for joining me today. I hope the summer weather is treating you all well, wherever you are. We've had a few nasty rain storms here in the UK and that has meant that I have spent more time indoors than I would like.
I played with cold enamels and coloured a few dragonfly forms that I had - I made one of these necklaces earlier and having given it away to a friend I was requested to make another. I enamelled a whole bunch of dragonflies, sprinkled them liberally with tiny crystals and made three more torque necklaces, each one slightly different from the last. The first one sold almost immediately.
I created a couple of mosaic centrepieces for a friend who makes wooden bowls using segmented turning. Segmented bowls and vessels are made up of dozens or hundreds of small wooden blocks. Woodturners glue these often very tiny pieces into rings which become part of a stack. The process is exacting and critical, but it must be fabulous when the final bowl emerges. I have a couple of Shekhar's simpler bowls on the website and I have talked about them before. Let me show you how this particular bowl evolved.
This was the bowl when he first brought it round to mine.
These were the two mosaic polymer clay inserts I made for the bowl - I just loved the process so much, I couldn't stop with one. Anyway, the man needs a choice, I thought, and he can use the second one in another piece. They were made before I went on holiday to India in February, and I forgot all about them for a while.
He brought it home the other day with the mosaic set in place - however, I thought it required a beading to connect the mosaic with the side walls of the bowl. I offered to make a piece of beading from polymer clay for it, and deliver it to him to attach, but he trusted me enough to leave his baby with me - Boy, was I anxious that that I should meet his expectations that I would do a good job!!
A snake of clay from my trusty extruder was segmented to resemble the 'rays' of the sunburst and to hide the join, cured in a gentle curve, and set into place around the mosaic. I thought it finished the bowl off perfectly, Shekhar was pleased with the final result when I sent him a picture, and I could finally stop holding my breath! He needs to remove the chuck that attaches it to the lathe before he can finish it off completely and I can't wait to see the bowl when it is done.
All week, I've laboured over this little piece of soutache, and little by little it seems to be coming together. It's amazing how it looks terrible when I first start out, and I have to steel myself to continue - sometimes I even need to put it away and come back to it at another time with fresh eyes. And then suddenly, something clicks, like a switch in the dark and I can see just where I am going with it. This one is half finished and will be completed at the weekend, unless of course the sun comes out to play!
I've spent some time reevaluating Caprilicious and the direction in which I am going. When I started out my only thought was to make interesting, colourful pieces of jewellery. Vibrant and bold, when I wore a piece by Caprilicious, I wanted it to grab attention. Not for me were the little, tiny delicate pieces that a lot of others make - I do not denigrate them, but they don't really interest me and I'm happy to leave it to others to make, and wear them.
As my skills continued to evolve over the years, I have attempted to recreate the ZING!! factor from the kind of statement pieces that one usually sees in boutiques at exorbitant prices, usually from the USA where people seem not to shy away from the bold and bright - and I've tried to keep it affordable.
I also enjoy the fact that I make a lot of the components myself, be it from wire, polymer clay, metal clay and now soutache. Caprilicious is not assemblage jewellery, and never has been, and this gives me great pleasure.
This train of thought came about from reading an article that said that designers should develop a style that made them easily recognisable. That is an anathema to me, as it means churning out multiples of the same idea. The only elements that link my design ethic together are my love for colour and asymmetry, and I think there's room in everyone's closet for different types of jewellery for different occasions.
I think I prefer this thought from WhoWhatWear -
'In my opinion, we’re in such a fun time for fashion, one in which personal style reigns supreme. There is no reason you can’t be a glamazon one night and channel a member of a ’90s boy band the next. We are living in an age of self-expression, and there’s no better way to flex your creativity and individuality than with what you choose to wear. So, is it time to ditch the antiquated notion of style types?'
What do you think? Do leave me a comment.
That's me for this week folks, introspection and all. Have a fabulous week and I'll catch you next Friday, same place, same time. Until then
Hello readers, thanks for popping by, it is lovely to see you again this week.
It has been a fabulous week at Caprilicious- all my beads and braids arrived and I spent ages sorting them into containers and getting ready for a marathon with the beading needles.
To my (pleasant) surprise the needles aren't giving me as much trouble as I expected and I haven't ended up with fingers like salt cellars, leaking blood all over my work - maybe that's whom the phrase blood sweat and tears originated from - an embroiderer.
The cotton and silks I used as a teenager used to tie themselves in knots as if by magic and the needles could have been called Beater and Biter, the amount of damage they did to my fingers. Given that I was a teenager then and my mother probably thought I was a goblin changeling, it may have been just about par for the course!
Zardosi - the Eastern version of Soutache Embroidery
Zardosi embroidery came to India from Persia. It was once used to embellish the attire of the Kings and the royals in India. It was also used to adorn walls of the royal tents, scabbards, wall hangings and the paraphernalia of regal elephants and horses. It involves making elaborate designs using gold and silver threads, studded pearls and precious stones, pure silver wire and gold leaf embellished with beads and sequins - the phrase 'over egging the pudding' does not begin to describe some of the embroidery work found on bridal garments. The design is traced on the fabric, which is then stretched over a wooden frame. A fine crochet hook is used to feed the thread through the fabric from underneath - I have a little video for you that demonstrates a simple chain stitch.
Now that I have picked up a needle again after a gap of so many years, I have a renewed respect for these artisans, who start their training usually at a very young age, while helping their parents earn a living. I was determined that the thread I used was going to be robust - there would be no bead shedding where my jewellery was concerned, thank you very much!
I decided to research the best thread available and track it down, and finally picked Fireline, which is the strongest fibre per diameter ever created. It has an unbelievably high tensile strength and has been recommended in numerous how-to articles on beadworking. Although a bit more expensive that it's alternatives, I prefer to stump up the cash than die of embarrassment when the work falls apart.
FireLine is made of gel-spun braided polyethylene thread, and perfect for when the project includes sharp-edged beads, such as crystals, semi-precious stones or bugle beads. It is highly durable when compared to regular thread that can fray and tear. It was originally used as fishing line and comes in many strengths - 4lb, 6lb and 10 lb ( I assume that is the weight of the fish that can be caught on this line - but how does the fish know this??) and goes through the eye of a very fine beading needle. I first bought crystal clear Fireline - and found I couldn't see it well enough to load it onto the needle and then discovered black which suits me just fine for now.
Messenger of Love
"it is the pleasure of the bee to gather honey of the flower,
In other words, it's all a matter of relativity and perspective!
Bumble Bee jasper is essentially a sedimentary rock matrix of volcanic ash–deep earth mud with sulfur layers. It is largely composed of layered gypsum, sulfur and hematite. This stone comes from the Solfataras surrounding Mount Papandayan in Indonesia. The natives there call it batu badar blerang, which can be roughly translated as ‘coal becoming sulfur.’ I found these fine specimens in a shop in Jaipur and the yellow and black attracted me so much, I knew I had to buy some, even though it was fairly expensive.
Metaphysically sulfur, in particular “assists one in the removal of negative willfulness and in the elimination of distracting intellectual thoughts and emotions that could affect the emotional and intellectual bodies.” Anyway, these are throwaway comments, as I mainly bought them for their beauty.
I set about embroidering a frame around the cabochon with tiny beads and soutache, creamy yellow pearls and jade, adding more and more layers till I was happy with it. It fascinates me, the way a soutache design evolves - I feel like it is happening to someone else and I am merely an onlooker, and that I cannot go to bed until I find out how it ends. Consequently, I had a few late nights making this one, and when it was done and backed with ultrasuede, I took this picture using my phone. My cat, Charlie wandered in carrying a mouse, wanting to know why I was up at 3 am and photo bombed this picture. I strung it with three rows of black onyx and tiny creamy seed pearls, finished off with a shell flower for a clasp, and then it was done!
I bought a few dragonflies from a mail order catalogue, and as it often happens, I got the size wrong. I thought I was getting tiny, light creatures that I could add to earrings. Instead, what I received was the elephantine equivalent of the dragonfly world. I've had them sitting around for a while, until one day in an Eureka! moment, I decided to play with cold enamels that I had stashed away.
I spent a relaxed evening with little bottles of coloured resin, dripping them gently into the cells in each dragonfly - I even embellished one of them with tiny crystals and left the cold enamel to set. A few days later I went back to the craft room and the enamels had set gratifyingly hard and the little insects were looking quite sweet and colourful. I haven't yet decided how I will use the little branches, they too, were a bit larger than I anticipated. I wound the dragonflies onto a torque necklace - you know I love a good torque necklace and I think they look pretty summery, don't you??
I hope you've enjoyed your read and will come back next Friday for an update. Have a fabulous week, and I'll catch you next week, 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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I would love to hear from you - please leave a comment on the blog or send an email to jewellerybycaprilicious(at)gmail.com
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