Hello folks, thanks for joining me once again. We are now midway through summer and the streets in the towns and cities of England are quiet, as everyone has gone on holiday. The kids are on their school break and people have taken the opportunity to go abroad to wreak havoc in far away places.
I've been playing with the leftover pieces of copper from my efforts with fold forming - I'd originally thrown them into the bin until I realised how wasteful I was being and that I ought to practice my soldering skills on the remnants.
I 'sweat soldered' textured strips of copper to the front of rectangular pieces of copper, spot soldered silver wire to the back and converted them into stylish angular ear wires to suit the shape of the earrings. They are light and easy to wear with little turquoise dangles, and I was quite happy with them. By the time I'd filed, burnished and antiqued them, I was exhausted but carried on trying to make another pair. I melted a couple of bezels, and eventually gave it up as a bad job.
Note to self; do not play with fire when tired! This time it was the bezels that were toast, next time it could be something not quite so easy to abandon - Ah well, one lives and learns.
I've hoarded a string of kyanite 'icicles' for over two years as I couldn't think what I wanted to do with them, and then one day, Alakazam! it came to me. I combined them with Biwa pearls and as both the kyanite and the pearls have a glow of their own, they were bound to go well together.
As I went along, crystal teardrops jumped out of the box to join the party and The Shard came into being. I've used kyanite before and I love the cool silvery sheen of the icicles - I do find them difficult to use, as on their own they are dull and need to be lifted out of their pale serenity. Pearls with their warmth seem to be the obvious choice in my mind, although I have used coral in the past for the same effect. I named it after The Shard, one of London's landmarks.
I took one look at the topaz stones in this pendant and fell headlong in love. It was bought on my trip to Jaipur a couple of years ago, and I've been hoarding it ever since. The necklace with the faceted onyx and little silver beads which have been cleverly cut to catch the light, turned out to look as beautiful as a dance move, hence Arabesque.
In my youth I always wanted to learn to dance, but my mother wouldn't support my ambition for reasons unspecified. With this necklace I feel I've achieved something akin to being able to perform a dance move myself.
That's all I have for you this week, folks. Have a fabulous week and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Hello folks, how are you today - still rocking the statement jewellery look, I hope. The sun is shining, well, most of the time out here in the UK and all's well with the world.
I decided that I have done all I can in readiness for the Craft Fair next weekend. As you know, it was cancelled a few weeks ago and rescheduled to the Guildhall in Worcester on the 25th of this month. Now that the date is fast approaching I find that I am packed and ready to get on with it, and in my mind I have already moved on to other things.
I bought a couple of leaf skeleton pendants when I was in the USA. I made them myself in previous years, and it isn't a difficult process; just a bit laborious and time consuming. However, this time, I took a short cut and brought a few leaves back with me.
Oh, to be in Baja, California where the sun shines relentlessly, the sea is a deep blue, with dolphins and whales frolicking around you when you go for a swim, and the surf is always up. Pamela Anderson lookalikes, all bosoms, teeth and blonde hair jog along the beach in tiny bikinis, and golden athletic men in budgie smugglers ride the waves towards you (no, not the Hoff, never the Hoff, this is my daydream, thank you very much) ........and POP! the bubble bursts - I am in green and cloudy England with my lovely silver top man and I am content. I can lounge around in my PJ's and not worry about sucking my tummy in, or the state of the hair on my legs - yes, readers, all women do that when they see good looking men in budgie smugglers, it isn't the prerogative of the young!
The cottonwood tree is indigenous to America and provided wood for dugout canoes to the Native Americans. The leaves are very distinctive, but what I liked best was that there was space between the veins for me to embellish the leaves further - if you know me, you'll know that I can embellish in my sleep - Mike swears he'd wake up with braided eyelashes with pom poms on the end if he lay still for any length of time (and I wondered why he thrashed around so much through the night - it is out of fear of being a sitting duck target for my creative talents). I added little turquoise seed beads, labradorite and faceted red jade - and as if that weren't enough, a wire swirl carrying gemstone dangles in front of the leaf.
I love the kyanite nuggets used in the necklace, but it felt like they would make the necklace a bit dark, so I jump started it to a brighter level with seed pearls between the nuggets and luminous coin pearls as accent beads. A butterfly toggle clasp, and I decided I could do no more. Kyanite is a beautiful gemstone - an inky blue with a silvery tinge which comes from aluminium deposits in the stone. I am sure that wherever it ends up, this necklace will be well loved.
Listen to the Rain
A maple leaf skeleton on a turquoise bead necklace, broken up by dyed blue paisley howlite beads and crystals makes this a beautiful summer necklace, light and easy to wear with summer whites. I bought a pair of Xuron super fine Round Nose Pliers to satisfy my inner tool junkie, and wanted to try them out. I undid a string of tiny apatite beads and wired them into a chain. It was very hard to do as the beads are tiny and the bead holes smaller still and I had to use very fine wire. However, it was worth it in the end, though my hands were sore and I was going blind from squinting at it. The addition of Czech glass 'raindrops' at the end of the chains reminds me of raindrops dripping from a windowsill.
I have to share this email with you - this is from a lady I have never met, all the way from Singapore. She took the time to write to me, and she doesn't even like necklaces! I was fit to burst with pride when I saw it. Thank you Mary, I really appreciate the gesture.
That's all I have to share with you this week folks. The garden is responding to all the care we are lavishing on it, but the cats are turning into murderers. In fact we might just as well call our garden 'The Killing Fields', the number of decapitated, dismembered bodies we find regularly in it. The bodies were at first brought indoors as gifts, but I soon disabused them of the illusion that I like cheap presents - I like mine boxed and beribboned, thank you very much!
Have a fabulous weekend - we are looking forward to some sunshine and I, like everyone else in the UK have got into the habit of looking at the long term weather forecast and tapping the barometer hopefully on a daily basis.
Catch you next Friday, same time, same place
Hello all, I hope you have all had a good week and beat the pre Christmas anxiety bug by getting it all ready beforehand. If you haven't, don't forget, Caprilicious offers a free gift wrap service and your gifts can be sent straight out to your friends from here.
Last week was all about bracelets - Neelam Modi, of Look in the Bag kick started this orgy of bracelet making by buying one that I had tucked away somewhere, and almost forgotten about. She sent me this lovely collage, and I decided straight away that I ought to make some more in a similar style, it looked so good on her (she is a graphic designer who conjures up the most beautiful silk scarves with her own designs on them, paired with a little piece of jewellery, all presented in a bag that can be used as an accessory, as well as packaging for the scarf - what a fab gift idea).
So I looked around for stuff I could incorporate into this sort of bracelet, and here's what i came up with. The first one is a blue agate geode - not dissimilar to the one on Neelam's wrist - except that one was green. I also used an amethyst flower, and a bronzite flower that I got off my friend BN, in a bead swap. I sat in front of the telly the whole week making nets out of wire - I hope you think all that effort wasn't wasted.
Then, I had a phone call from my sister in law who suggested I make some more bracelets in the Chinese Whispers mode - out came the polymer clay and these rolled off the table a few hours later.....
Sisters go to Tea
I played with the face cane, made a week ago and under instruction from Alice Stroppel, I manipulated the cane so I got three different faces from the same cane - I wouldn't say these ladies are beauties - not by a long chalk, but their faces have character ( is that one way of saying they look like old boots!) and they look like they are related to one another - so, 'Sisters go to Tea' was the title of this little offering - since I still have some face cane left, there may be a 'Sisters...' series forthcoming. I think the bracelet is whimsical and fun, and my sense of humour ensures that I will wear it - what do you think? - do you think it's a fun bracelet or do you prefer you jewellery to be more ornate and conventional/sedate?? I think there's a place for both kinds.
For some reason, I was a busy little bee and felt like making a few more pieces - every time I took a break from the wire netting, I made a necklace!
Kyanite and opalite in different shapes and sizes carry the last of my leaf skeletons. Dyed red and blue jade teardrops were added to the leaf with a wire flourish. I love kyanite, which resembles shards of blue cracked ice, with a shimmer deep inside the stone. The molecules are arranged in sheets or layers, which give the stone it's distinctive shimmer - to me it resembles a mirage.
The main colour in the Majorelle gardens in Marrakesh is a cobalt blue, which is vivid and cheerful. At the entrance however, as if the architect wanted to ease you into the brightness, is a restful pond in a very different shade of blue. I named this necklace after the gardens, the blue chalcedony in it is such a restful colour. The yellow agate and creamy jasper provide a calm counterpoint. I know these colours are very summery - but the very drabness of winter makes me want to create in Technicolour - and these days people follow the sun for holidays, so there's no such thing as a seasonally inappropriate colour.
A song from my youth - Rose Garden!
I made some roses for the Caprilicious birthday giveaway a couple of weeks ago - and I made these two fairly robust, so that they could be used in a necklace - much like the wedding garlands worn by the main protagonists in Indian weddings. Along with an Afghani pendant, the necklace looked pretty festive - I test drove it one evening, to rave reviews!
I love that I made almost all the elements myself - in fact all the elements except the pendant and the crystal beads and clasp.
This weekend, I will bring out the tree, and put up all my decorations, get all my presents wrapped up and ready to go, and work at the day job - HELP! At least I've posted off my Christmas cards, so there's one thing crossed off the list.
Have a good weekend, and I'll catch you next week, same time, same place
Hello all, hope you are having a better time of it than us in the UK - it is freezing outside with plenty of snow on the ground, ice underneath and more blizzard conditions predicted. The supermarket shelves were empty as Britain prepared to hunker down and stay warm in siege conditions - fortunately, I was off during the worst of the bad weather, and stayed home to play with my beads and wire and clay - what more could a girl ask for??
This is our little effort to keep the fauna outside fed .....
and this is Frosty the snowman's table - look at the undisturbed cake of snow on it - all in one morning!! - The pictures are grainy because the snow was still falling - it was cold enough for icicles to form on the edge of the car door.
I received a package in the post with some weather appropriate items - I had collected some leaves and had their skeletons electroplated and made into pendants - I found a fabulous company in Scotland who will electroplate anything - even a human being if they stand still long enough! They do a good line in plating babies' first bootees and suchlike items. They made these most amazing pendants for me, and I shall be making them up into jewellery in the coming weeks. The leaves were all picked up during walks in and around the grounds of Coombe Abbey in Coventry - I just love that ex Cistercian monastery (who said there's no money in religion??), and the hotel now attached to it. Each leaf is only tiny - about one or two inches long - I wasn't sure how it would look and this was a trial run - I think they did a fabulous job, don't you?? Next time, I shall get a mix of tiny and larger leaves so I can make earrings as well.
I shall call this series 'The Leafy Glade' - just so they can be found easily on the website, and on the Facebook page.
I made my first piece of the Leafy Glade series with a silver birch leaf and fluorite cubes in grades of colour - the deepest purple to a pale sea green, with lucite Miracle beads in between - these beads are coated on the inside with a special substance, and this seems to make them glow in artificial light - amazing stuff!
Various crystals and garnets were wired to the bail, to provide some movement to the piece.
Tiny, 0.5" long bead caps were fashioned out of wire - and turned three dimensional by bending the petals outwards - hung on extra long stainless steel kidney wires - these are an hypoallergenic alternative to silver, and Hey Presto! Snowdrops! They are pretty, though I say so myself - I would wear them, except my ear lobes cannot take even the slightest weight and tear ever so easily - how I long to wear the chandeliers I make - but instead, just have to look at other people in them and drool over the loveliness of it.
The snow meant that we were voluntarily housebound for four days - well, the weather was so awful, we just stayed in and kept warm. That meant I could hit the pasta machine and play - with clay. I made some 'potato chip' spacer beads - these look like what it says on the tin - potato chips - or for those in the UK - crisps, especially since I made them in a dull gold colour. Just to make it a bit more complicated, I imprinted a stamp on them (and practised what is known as 'Mica Shift' in the polymer clay world), and then figured out how to shine them to a glassy finish without using varnish - I love this medium - so many challenges. I was quite pleased with them when I finished, and put them into a necklace with some roughly faceted black tourmaline.
Apparently, ruffles are the way couture is going in spring ( and now I am a Fashionista?? - is there no end to my madness?? - no, don't answer that!!) and this necklace fits the bill - the polymer clay 'chips' look just like golden ruffles.
Kyanite is such a beautiful, ethereal blue, almost pearly - when put into silver tone jewellery, it has a cold, almost icy effect. I thought I'd try it out with the warmer tones of a copper maple leaf.
As I put the necklace together, I was transported back in time, walking in the grounds of the Abbey, picking and discarding leaves to bring back home to dip in chemicals to bring out their skeletons - and I remembered the bee that had been buzzing around on that sunny morning - almost the last bee of that year, so I decided to add it to the necklace - a wire bee, of course, with gauzy copper wings, that I eventually attached to the bail of the pendant, and threw in a few pressed glass flowers for good measure - a bit of whimsy - and of course I couldn't resist the pun - the necklace is called BEE HAPPY - sorry!
That's me for this week, catch you later, same time, same place
This is one of my all time favourites and I named a necklace after it - I sold two in a royal blue, and decided to make another to use up the left over spacers. This one was in a pretty peacock blue with an Aurora Borealis finish - I called it Beguiled!
( didn't think it would be quite right to call it Bothered or Bewildered )
This is probably one of the few pieces I can remake easily - I know the bead sizes, the sizes of the spacers, where to source them from, and the exact numbers of the beads required to make it all written down - so, I shall make it from time to time in different colours - my threshold for boredom is very low! so it will have to be different in some way.
The Aurora Borealis (AB) finish is where a crystal has been coated on the outside, covering about half the crystal face. When the crystal is turned, you can see the colour of the crystal on one side and the AB finish on the other. The more facets the crystal has, the better the effect, and a rainbow effect appears when the bead is turned.
I just love this finish, and buy most of my crystal with it - they are usually a little more expensive than normal crystal, but the shine is worth it. Unfortunately my photography skills have not kept up with my magpie skills - so I get a bit frustrated - but I really cannot find the time to read the entire manual of my little camera (which is larger than the camera), anyway, it all reads like Double Dutch to my simple mind.
So, my plan is to lie in wait till some unsuspecting person walks through the door who can teach me a thing or two about the camera, arm wrestle them to the ground, and make them divulge .....or else!
The lady who bought Bewitched took one look at Beguiled - and was a bit fed up - she thought that it was better than the original - maybe she will have the second one as well, who knows??
This one was made of black and silver crystal in three strings - the AB finish on black gives the bead an oil slick, shiny finish that no longer looks totally black. I added a couple of Lava rock beads - they have a channel cut through the middle and little rhinestones have been applied by hand in the Swarovski factory. Due in part to the painstaking work involved, the beads are expensive - but, Christmas comes but once a year, and every one likes to look their best - a few pennies extra towards this may well be in order. The lava beads, due to their weight, cause the necklace to drape beautifully around the neck.
I played with polymer clay all weekend - curing and sanding- and buffing! I made some earrings to donate to my favourite charity, and once these were all packaged up, I felt I could go back to my bead stash, which has been sitting forlornly in the corner, while I play with crystals.
In the colours of the midnight sun in summer in the northern - most part of the world - this was taken in Norway last year.
I used some Kyanite slices, resembling the blue of the sky, and I added some coral and black agate geode beads to make this necklace. The geode beads are pretty - they are cut and rounded off to reveal the crystalline structure of the minerals inside the gemstone, and they sparkle in the light. The sponge coral chunks are earthy, and a beautiful deep red.
Eastern Promise - Royal Blue
It was that time again, time to dip into my stash of Nepalese artisan made pieces - they are so pretty, albeit rather expensive - but in my opinion, if one considers the work that goes into a handmade piece of wearable art, it is well worth the price. I knew I wanted to put this pendant on a lapis lazuli necklace, and had been collecting enough to make this piece. As it is rather a large pendant, it needs a robust necklace to balance it, so I put a four stranded necklace together with lapis, coral and stardust beads.
This one is named for Princess Tiana - from the story of the Frog Prince - you know the one, where you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince ( and then if you're totally unlucky he turns into a pig )- the original story came from Russia - Disney set it in New Orleans, and there are some incredible jazz sounds in that movie. The pale green Czech pressed beads, the tiny silvery crystals, and the lava rock in a multi strand necklace looks very sophisticated and simple - Bling for the daytime!
La Belle Epoque
There is a lot of nostalgia for 'The Beautiful Era', just before the onset of the First World War, when all was golden and glowing - the 'retrospectoscope' has been liberally applied to this memory, complete with rose tinted glass. Beloved by the French, La Belle Epoque is thought to be a time when relative peace and prosperity in the land allowed art to flourish, parties to be gay and wild, and women to be louche, and men to have a rakish Rhett Butler smile and not give a damn - what more can you ask for?? Louche women and wild parties demand - yes, you guessed it - BLING!
This necklace will take you to any party - three strands of black and silver with an AB finish, a Blinged up Lava rock bead focal, and peacock coloured crystal on one side.
Next week we take a short break in Rome, and I will have very little time to make anything. I shall of course spy on what the European women are wearing - at this time of year, it is usually all about scarves, and earrings, necklaces don't get a look in.
Have a good week, and I will catch you when I get back,
Last week I wrote about the naiad. This week is the turn of the siren - In the story of Odysseus, the sirens lured sailors to their death with a bewitching song. These beautiful women were formerly handmaidens of the goddess Persephone and they were sometimes depicted with the bodies of birds. When Odysseus passed by, he had himself tightly bound to the mast, and had his sailors block their ears with wax - this caused the Sirens so much distress - they couldn't believe that they had lost their appeal - that they threw themselves into the sea and drowned. Maybe that's where Bollywood got the idea that 'vamps' always came to a sticky end - in reality, bad girls have more fun! Or as Mae West famously said -Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere.
I had this exquisite ox bone 'Goddess' face and I made a Siren with it - with a serene face, 'blonde' flowing locks of hair, surrounded by the sea, made of wire and crystals, in a 3 dimensional story board. It took me simply ages to weave the hair, but I was pleased with the final result. I finished it with a gold silk Kumihimo braid and extender chain that I made myself and embellished with wire spirals.
The Ice queen's necklace
When in Reykjavik, we went to the mythological museum - and here I found this wonderful tale - Freya, the Nordic Ice Queen was a warrior goddess of sensual love. Her husband was the Norse God Od.
Freya was a spectacular beauty known for her appreciation of romantic music and stunning floral arrangements. That was her softer side; she was also known as the goddess of war and death. She was the original blonde bombshell and with her blue eyes, she was irresistible. She also owned a magical necklace called 'Brisling' that made her
Kyanite is a sedimentary rock laden with aluminium in an elongated crystalline structure, which is mined alongside quartz amongst other such substances. Its name derives from the Greek word for blue, but it can occasionally be green, and when it contains manganese, orange. It has special significance in metaphysical circles, as it thought to clear the body's communication channels and is an aid to meditation when worn close to the throat.
I love it for its unusual appearance and ethereal, icy qualities - although relatively expensive, I think it is worth it as it is so pretty.
My work with copper clay is still disappointing - I found out that it needs to be put into the kiln when it is at 930 degrees C hot - quite a terrifying thought! To do this, I have to wear Asbestos gloves, a pair of goggles to protect my eyes from the glare of a red hot kiln, put the copper pieces in a stainless steel pan filled with activated carbon, and lift it into the kiln on the end of what looks like a pitchfork, but has two tines, to fit under the lip of the stainless steel container - Oh dear, what a palaver! - but, I am not one to give up, and crack it I will.
To cheer myself up after a terrible week, and two experiments that went wrong in my kiln, I decided to go back to something I knew and could manage more easily - polymer clay. I have recently made contact with a lady called Jinny Holt - and her artwork is stunning - she is a wizard with the polymer clay, and her work is inspirational.
I dug out a picture of the Fuxing Gardens in Shanghai, from a visit in 2004 - I use that as my 'enchanted place' when I practice self hypnosis and want a calming image in my mind. The gardens in China are always full of plants in full bloom - and I realised why this was - all the plants are grown in huge hothouses in pots, and when they are at their best, they are wheeled out, and the older ones taken away - there's always a few gardeners with their wheel barrows moving plants about the place! The blooms are so beautiful, that after the initial shock of seeing the pots, one forgets all about it and concentrates the mind on the flowers.
This necklace is called the Enchanted Garden - it took me a while to make as each flower had to be shaped, and then attached to a pre made collar with liquid polymer clay, cured again, and then finished off. The piece has soothing colours - and I think it is pretty neat. A serene little face peeps out between the flowers.
Fuxing Gardens Shanghai
"Hope is a walk through a flowering meadow. One does not require that it lead anywhere." - Robert Brault on http://www.robertbrault.com
I follow Roberts blog - he is a writer in the US, and his writings and musings chime with me.
I also found this quote from the Washington Post- it isnt attributed to anyone specifically, but it sounds a lot like something Woody Allen might say -
'Why do people give each other flowers? To celebrate important occasions, they're killing living creatures????
Why restrict it to plants? " Sweetheart, let's make up, have this deceased squirrel" !!!
Anyway, if you were offered a necklace of flowers, you wouldnt need to kill a 'living creature' would you - perhaps a hint in the right ear??
The Enchanted Garden Collar
I have had a lovely week off from the day job, which I filled quite productively with my little production line. Back on Monday, nose to the grindstone, with a bit of time off to make some pretty things.
Enjoy your week and do come back next week for another instalment - see you then!!