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, I hope the sun shines on you today. I am writing this post in a bit of a rush as I have been busy at the day job all week and have to go in to work as soon as I have posted this.
Manic? I've never known it to be so hectic and have been going to bed at half past nine at night which is unheard of for me, a chronic insomniac, only to wake up at half past two in the morning, fully refreshed but with no on to play with as even the cat had gone to meet his mates on his nightly stroll about the rooftops and Michael snoring gently under the duvet.
Caprilicious has gone truly international now - my latest customer is from the island of Martinique - I was so excited when she bought a load of necklaces and even ordered some more. She wore her necklace on the day after she received the parcel and sent me a photograph. Doesn't she look thrilled with herself? I spent the weekend making a bronze clay clasp for a necklace she has ordered and made a couple of necklaces during the week.
I am still preparing for the Handmade Fair at Ragley Hall in May. A strain injury in my wrist has meant that I've had to give polymer clay a rest and have had to pull out of making the earrings I had promised for the goodie bags. The organisers were gracious about this, although I was a bit upset as I do not like to renege on a promise. Oh well, thems the breaks!
This is a mellow multi strand necklace that can be worn day or night. The wood beads are offset by the shiny crystals and there are loads of varying elements in this necklace. However they seem to fall together well in a sort of a careless tangle.
The beautiful bronze lost wax cast 'sun' bead from Kenya is the focal point of this necklace - the piece is chunky and the faux amber beads are a deep honey brown. I love the sophistication that this necklace exudes. I wear pieces like this at interviews, when I need a tiny fillip of extra confidence, and believe you me, it works!
I even put together a styling suggestion - what do you think?? How would you wear it?
Thats me for this week folks, as I have to rush off to work now. Have a fabulous week and I'll catch you next week, same time, same place.
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, thanks for joining me for this week's edition of the Caprilicious blog. I have been laid low with a cold, and spent a few days in bed, waiting for it and the jet lag to pass. There was very little time to miss my muse, although a niggly thought remained at the back of my mind - 'where on earth is she' ?? In the meanwhile, I kept myself busy between snoozes, rearranging the website and sorting out a couple of pieces that I made just before I went to India but hadn't photographed.
The Ottoman Necklace
Named for the beautiful green of the crystals and the agate in this piece, the necklace is called The Ottoman Necklace after the emeralds so beloved by the sultans of the Ottoman Empire in Turkey. The necklace is made to resemble a lariat, but has a magnetic clasp at the back which facilitates easy fastening. The bunch of crystals, agate and bling that drips into the décolletage is particularly pretty. The beautiful green of the stones is a fresh and vivid colour which conveys joie de vivre.
Monochromasia is a medical condition of complete colour blindness in which all colours appear as shades of grey. This necklace is made of three strands of rutilated quartz teardrops, a focal coffee agate bead and an onyx clasp. Rutile is an ore of titanium, which often forms hair-like crystal inclusions inside quartz. It is meant to have metaphysical properties which enhance creativity and relieve depression and loneliness, and slow the ageing process (worth a try I suppose).
And then Ms Muse was back! I woke up one morning and found that she had snuck back in without saying a word to anyone. She had already picked out the beads for my new necklace, all bright and colourful, a celebration of her return to work. We did a little joyous 'welcome home' dance together, and then I settled back in my chair, with my bead tray in my lap, Ms Muse at my shoulder, whispering in my ear.
The Gypsy In Stilletos
The most colourful and vibrant beads in my stash came out to play in these two necklaces - unashamedly bright and in your face. There's no way you'd be a wallflower if you wore one of these. By the way, a lot of the beads on this page came from Itsy Bitsy in Bangalore - Ms Muse simply loved them. I made the colourful polymer clay toggle clasp in the first one and the green and black dangle at the end of the other a few months ago.
And then she pleaded with me for a rest - 'a couple more days off', she begged. I too was just getting into the swing of things at the day job, it isn't easy after such a long time away, so though I pretended to grumble, I was secretly relieved. I allowed her a couple of days to rest up and find her feet again and this is what her imagination came up with.
She said 'imagine poor Cinderella, sweeping up after her stepmother and the Ugly Sisters, sighing over her broom - along comes the Fairy Godmother (I think Ms Muse secretly believes she is mine), and with a wave of her wand gets Cinders ready for a night on the razzle. Just before this, she'd been wearing a necklace made from lumps of coal, which was converted by the FG into a piece of Bling'.
This, then, is Cinderella's necklace, mid conversion! And because I wasn't sure whether Cinders would have preferred to go silver tone or gold, I made two versions, to give her the choice.
The black beads are made of clay and were also found at Itsy Bitsy, just before I started my second workshop. The silver tone beads are electroplated quartz nuggets and the gold tone are Kenyan lost wax casting bronze beads.
That's it for this week folks. Have a fabulous week and I'll catch you next week, same time, same place,
Hello readers, thanks for joining me this Boxing Day - I hope you have all had a great Christmas and are getting ready to usher in the New Year.
We had a quiet Christmas with a few old friends, punctuated by us moving our jaws at regular intervals - a lot of food was consumed over the day - we broke our diets with gay abandon and ate everything in sight like hungry caterpillars.
Santa brought me a Dremel press - the crafter's equivalent of buying your wife a toaster for Christmas, but so much more appreciated. Now that I've got used to the drill, I have found so many uses for it and am truly grateful that Santa took the time to listen to my request ( I can't see how he wouldn't as I mentioned it almost two or three times a week until I was satisfied that it was in the mental bag).
I was looking at all the canes I had made over the last year and decided to use at least part of the hoard in a large kaleidoscope cane - it's only when they get used up that I will have the urge to make more. I ended up with this huge block of clay and wondered - now what??
They are little ring trays - for when you are looking for somewhere to slip your jewellery onto when doing the washing up, or creaming your hands, or to place your earrings when you go to bed or into the shower. I added little bun feet in contrasting colours - they are so cute! The raw trays were applied firmly to a fishbowl that Mike bought me for this purpose (no, cats and fish don't go together), and when they came out of the oven, they were all shiny inside, as if I had spent hours polishing them.
Ashanti is a necklace made of horn beads, given to me by my friend BN - the way to find out if your beads are horn or amber rather than plastic is to stick a pin heated in a flame into one of them - you will soon smell the difference if it turns out it is plastic you are burning.
The bronze beads in the necklace are made by the lost wax casting method - beeswax is extruded in a string which is wrapped around a core of charcoal and cow dung. This is buried in a mould made of a slurry of charcoal and clay held together with palm fibre, and then put in a kiln - the wax melts and is poured out - and replaced with molten brass.
A mould has to be made for each item, as it has to be broken to release the bead when cool. The rough parts are filed off, and it is hand-polished using lemon juice and fine sand. This is a very labour intensive process, and is reflected in the price of the beads - but they are beautiful - and I had to have them. I managed to find a European vendor who was importing them in from Africa, and jumped at the chance to acquire them without all the palaver of exorbitant postage charges, Customs duty, etc.
Someone gave us a bottle of expensive brandy in a presentation case for Christmas - Mike had the brandy, and as I am teetotal, I had the satin lining of the case, which is my latest prop to photograph my jewellery on ( share and share alike, eh??) - it is edged with stiff cardboard and falls into gentle folds that the jewellery seems to nestle into - you like?? I love!
I reworked this necklace four times before I was satisfied with it. The lilac coloured agate beads are a tad too pale for me - I just had to brighten the piece up - pearls, pale green crystals, a couple of dyed jade beads and a polymer clay bead inspired by Loretta Lam in a deep shade of purple, finally did the trick and brought it to life.
Yet another 'Wings of Love' necklace followed. With the last one that I sent out - the lady who bought it hadn't realised that they were real beetles wings! Perhaps she hadn't paid too much attention to the blurb - she wrote to me saying that she wasn't happy that the backs of the wings were black, and could she have some paint to turn them the same colour as the front. When I explained that that's how nature made them, and there was no paint involved, she was surprised - and then decided she loved it. I did offer to have the piece back, should she really dislike it. I hope she wore it at Christmas and got loads of compliments - I like my customers to be happy.
Wings of Love
Rings of Saturn
I made these beads and the clasp a while ago - I sometimes make stuff just to try out a new technique that catches my fancy - and then don't know what to do with the results for a while. The idea to combine the two elements came to me at 3am - and I had to make the necklace first thing in the morning, before the inspiration evaporated from my mind. Fortunately I didn't have to go in to work till 1pm, by which time I had made the necklace, photographed it and even begun to edit the pictures! Stringing beads is easy enough - people often ask me how long it takes to make a necklace - not long at all, provided the concept has been sorted out, the bead combinations all picked out and assembled on my tray - and then bish, bash, bosh, voila - a necklace! It is the concept that takes the time, but with this one, my brain did the work as I fell asleep the night before - I just wish it would work like that with other stuff as well.
The beads are large, but hollow, so the necklace is not heavy at all and the pale green chip beads and the rectangular Natasha bead provide asymmetrical interest.
Here's a quick look at my new Dremel press - and thank you, Santa. I've come a long way from the wee, timorous beastie I was, terrified to turn on the Dremel - I'm not sure what I thought would happen - perhaps it's just a girl thing, although I'm not especially girly - well, whatever it is, I'm over it, I'm glad to say.
I hope you have a wonderful, peaceful, joyful, love-filled holiday season, however you celebrate it. And I especially hope that 2015 brings you all wonderful things. Catch you next week, next year, same time, same place,