It has been a bitter sweet year - in the effort to take my mind off the loss of my brother, I ended up creating a monster that has taken me over - what has now become my passion - the reason I wake up every morning - I now dream, sleep and think jewellery when I am not at my day job, and have to tear myself away from my jewellery making to go to bed at night. It is official - Caprilicious is my obsession!
I have learned to bead, make wire jewellery, use a kiln, enamel, and overcome my fear of power tools to now become comfortable with my Dremel, and even a bench buffer! Who would've thunk it!
It is very difficult at a certain stage of competence in one field (not to mention a certain age), to try and learn an entirely new skill and become a beginner - all fingers and thumbs, being told off by the teacher for making a basic mistake, and feel like a complete fool. I now have a lot of sympathy for my juniors at work - indeed, I have become a much more patient teacher, as a result of revisiting my learning skills!
I am used to learning in a class and by following a teacher on a one to one basis, so I chose this route - and I think I benefited from it - although expensive this way, I cut to the chase and learn the little tips and tricks that click into place when I fly solo - especially with quality control!
I had no idea I could be creative - but the ideas seem to come - and people seem to like what I make - I even surprised my mother - getting a compliment from her is like extracting hen's teeth ( and you have to catch the dratted hen first!) - and she has volunteered her approval - WOW!!
Michael, my long suffering husband, has been very supportive throughout, but I tend not to take his compliments too seriously - he gives them to me easily, and I can't help thinking that his vision is a bit rose tinted where my endeavors are concerned - sweet man, but I don't want to make the mistake of believing my own hype!
I have been on a crazy-mad spending spree at my Nepalese artisan's shop, and bought a few bits and bobs. Having used up the last of the previous stash in the weeks before, I felt I could justify buying more. I have some truly beautiful pendants, and have promised myself that I will make a necklace using the Ghau box as the focal for Caprilicious' birthday this week, and have bought loads of little turquoise beads to this end. As this ghau box is a bit more expensive than the other pieces, I have spent a lot of time designing the necklace in my mind - it will have to be as spectacular as the box deserves.
While mulling this over, I made a necklace with coral, free form lapis lazuli nuggets and a turquoise and coral pendant - very colourful and bright.
A real winterberry on a bush
Winter months can be so dark and dreary, rain and snow, mist and fog - enough to drive the most hardy soul demented - my necklaces are designed to raise the spirits and drive all vestiges of Seasonal Affective Disorder out of the wearers consciousness - that is my raison d'etre.
I picked some colourful crackle agate beads - they have such beautiful markings, and are gently faceted - smooth and cool to the touch, and ever so pretty. These were teamed with crystals in many colours and shapes, and silver tone spacer beads in a seemingly random manner - the whole time, the gemstones reminded me of berries and it was all I could do to restrain myself from trying to eat them - they look so very edible! This, then, is ..............................
I love beads that aren't round - if they happen to be round, I like them to be faceted, or marked beautifully - in other words, I just like them a bit different to the general idea of a bead being round, with a hole running through it. Imagine my surprise and pleasure, when I started making jewellery, when I discovered that anything with a hole running through it is classified as a bead - it doesn't have to be round to qualify - Hooray!!!
I bought these graduated pale pink sponge coral rondelles - now, I am not a pale pink person, but the texture and the shape of the beads appealed to me. I thought long and hard about how I was going to brighten the necklace - and then - in an 'Eureka!' moment, I teamed it with a clasp inlaid with lapis lazuli and coral from my favourite Nepalese artisan - I set the clasp so that it was to one side of the graduated beads and added stardust gold tone beads and a few lapis beads to tie in with the clasp - I think it looks Very Elegant
For the last two or three months, I have been slowly accumulating a stash of bling - both vintage and new items, to assemble into a Tom Binns inspired necklace - after all it is party time, and in my youth (!) I would have given anything to own one of these. I made two last year, and thought I would do the same again. Michelle Obama is a dedicated follower of Tom Binns, among others.
Of course, Tom makes his necklaces from scratch, although he was known as the 'King of Junk Jewellery' and why ever not?? - his necklaces start from about £500. Caprilicious brings you a toned down version with vintage diamanté (always more plentifully available at Christmas time) - a sort of Tom Binns meets Desperately Seeking Susan, they fall in love and run off together - a happily ever after kinda story.
A couple of weeks ago, I offered to take the pain out of Christmas gift giving - a gift wrapping and delivery service - this was accepted with alacrity by one poor chap, who confessed to being all fingers and thumbs when it came to tying his own shoelaces, let alone a package for his special lady. He bought a pretty piece of Bling! and I wrapped it for him in boxes I have in for this purpose - it is now under his bed - or wherever he hides his presents, waiting for the big day.
'All earrings in the Caprilicious shop reduced by 10% - have a browse and send me a message with the name of the piece you want so I can invoice you correctly and take it out of the shop.'
I have a birthday week offer running in my Facebook store, with 10% off all the earrings in store, and am happy to extend it to the website as well - if any of you reading this fancy a pair of earrings as a treat, or to buy for friends as a gift, send me a message via the contact page with the name of the earrings you like and your email id, and I will sort it out for you.
I know I am a bit early with this weeks blog, but I wanted to post on Caprilicious' first birthday. I have some ideas about what I will make today with the Ghau box, and I will post them later on, at the week end, as usual.
Once again, thanks for all your support, and the wishes I have had on the Facebook page today - couldn't have done it without you, catch you soon, wonderful people,
Jewellery making has taught me a few things about myself - I always thought I was a pragmatic, sensible person with a sober, practical bent. Who knew that deep within me, lurking somewhere, was a love of pretty, romantic images - roses, fairytales, pearls, sea foam, snow blossom....
If someone had asked what sort of jewellery I would have chosen to create a few years ago, I would have picked modern abstract pieces - squares within circles - you know what I mean - clean unfussy lines, gentle curves slashed by straight soaring gashes of colour, red and orange against black.... These are images that appeal to me, and I am drawn to them in art galleries and glossy brochures of modern art - and yet... when I think about putting my own creative forces into action, the objects that spring forth from my mind and hands are very different.
It would seem that deep within me, there is a very feminine side that longs for lace and flowers - I buy my gemstones and beads to conform to that side of me, and unsurprisingly, the resulting jewellery is as it is - I will leave you to be the judge of that.
I had some exciting news this week - my designs were featured in Bead Magazine - a whole page spread - boy, was I chuffed! I have a photograph of the page - the best I could get from my little camera, but it was nice to see that other jewellery makers rate my designs.
No sooner had I just about got used to this, a friend of mine informed me that a design I had posted idly on the online gallery of yet another jewellery makers magazine - this time Beads and Beyond - had won a £10 voucher! This was almost too much to take - all in one week!
I could have danced all night, I could have danced all night, etc. etc ..... but, what I did was to cook dinner, go to bed, and go to work the next day - Oh well, such is life!
I made a pendant with a pale green agate geode, very gently faceted to accentuate the markings of the crystalline structure within - the stone is rough cut at the edges, and I allowed that to be just visible - I didn't want a neat and tidy bezel hiding the edges. A wire rose appeared, almost by magic, some leaves, a vine - I love that particular effect clambering all over my jewellery - 'rose hips' of delicious yellow agate, malachite and a chrysocolla tear - drop. I added a pretty three dimensional butterfly to the edge of the necklace for a touch of whimsy - it looks like it is just taking flight, having had it's fill of nectar. When I explain my jewellery to my mother, she smiles at me as if to say ' what have I brought up here??' and I can almost see her tapping the side of her head - 'Toc Toc' and rolling her eyes! But there are people who get it - so this is for you kindred spirits - prosaic on the outside with a soft centre within...
I wanted some straight lines to contrast with the curves of the rose and the curlicues around the geode, and I think this works well, and will sit neatly within the collar or neck of a dress. And, I just love the way the butterfly almost seems to flutter on the edge of the piece.
The next piece came about because I had promised myself that I would make a bracelet this week, and also that I would add to the Caprilicious Silver collection with at least one piece a week - so, I combined the two. I have had this intriguing gemstone in my collection forever - it is a piece of Chiastolite - found in the Almeria district of Andalusia and so, also called Andalusite. It has needles of carbonaceous material included deep within, and when viewed in cross section it looks like a crucifix. Chiastolite is also called the 'lapis crucifer' or 'cross stone' in ancient texts. It is a dull brown stone, and I thought it needed pretty and shiny elements by it, to brighten it - unless the jewellery was for a monk! So here is the Andalusian Prayer Bracelet.
The citrine nuggets, aventurine cylinders and labradorite rondelles with their sheen when they catch the light, offset the dullness of the Chiastolite, and along with the shine from the silver, this is a handsome piece.
Six strands of tiny 3mm rose quartz beads interspersed with Swarovski pearls, with a knot holding a dyed Howlite donut - some of the strands are strung on red beading wire, bringing out the pink in the rose quartz, and the others on plain wire, giving it a paler whisper pink colour. The effect is that of the Snow Blossom, which is the flower from the cherry or the plum trees, which when in full bloom looks just like snow.
Finding ways to display jewellery online can be quite challenging - my other half is useless at photography and refuses to learn, so I have to do it all myself. I had to buy a dummy to display my necklaces as the pictures Mike took were shockingly poor, and now that I am going to make a few more bracelets, and do not have the requisite 'pale hands beside the Shalimar' I bought this dummy - it comes in two pieces, with a join exactly where the bracelet rests - I spent a lot of time editing the pictures to make the join unobtrusive after photographing the Andalusian Prayer - and then I was asked politely to put the arm away - he says he hates it - any more chuntering from Mike, and I might just put it where the sun dont shine!!!
Thats all for this week folks, have a good weekend, I am at the day job all weekend, hope it doesn't get too busy and I will have something to show you next week.