It has finally happened - after an year, and many avoidance tactics, I have had to bite the bullet and move a lot of my jewellery making stuff to a little bedroom - the smallest one in the house. This bedroom used to be an occasional room for the previous owners grandchildren, and when we extended the house, we put a room for the TV on the outside, thus blocking off the window and all natural light - this is not ideal for any sort of crafting activity, but unfortunately is the only space in our house I can use. To camouflage this lack of a view, we had a stained glass window put in with jewel colours, from a design by Frank Lloyd Wright, made by an artist in Warwick, and that now, is my view! The mannequin in the corner is called Betty, and I use her to photograph the necklaces I make. I had already taken over part of the conservatory with my kiln and enamelling endeavours, but needed somewhere indoors to house all my other tools - crunch time came when I acquired a bench buffer - I simply had to have a place to put it. But, it has all been worth it - 'omelettes and eggs'..................... !!
I took an online class with Melanie Muir, and between her techniques and a book written by Bettina Welker, I made these cuff bracelets, and got them to shine like glass using the bench buffer. I was a bit afraid of it and started out with some practice pieces which I ruined completely, but now, I think I have cracked it, and had a lot of fun making the bracelets. They are lightweight, and have a metal form hidden inside, so can be bent around the wrist to give a snug fit - I love cuff bracelets, next only to necklaces, and wear them all the time. Have a look and see what you think..........
I also made these puffy, swirly 'lentil' beads - they draw your eye repeatedly to the centre of the bead, and put them on a necklace made of golden yellow wooden beads. I love the little lock and key shaped clasp - I found those on one of my random browsing expeditions and had to get them - I think a pretty clasp simply elevates a piece of jewellery from the ordinary to the interesting, don't you?
I have developed a mad obsession for Malachite - the green is so stunningly deep and rich, and the markings so beautiful. It is named for the Greek word for "mallow", a green herb.
And to think it is just the verdigris 'rust' in the copper content of the stone that gives it that colour - I'm not keen on this most prosaic of explanations for the beauty of the stone! I bought some faceted beads, with fabulous black markings and teamed it with puffy snowflakes and electroplated silver glass beads. As someone said, malachite is 'impossibly chic' - malachite green can be teamed with most neutral colours, notably teal, aubergine, cream, and navy blue - excellent to ward off those winter blues.
Eastern Promise - Lapis and Turquoise
I recently went back to the Nepalese site I love, and bought a few more pendants - I tend to hoard the pieces I love and these pendants are no exception - this one was from a batch I bought last year, and have taken out of its box every so often, stroked it gently in a gollum - like way - ' yesssssssssssss, my pretty' I said lovingly, and put it away in the dark recesses of my cupboard - well, I finally shook myself out of that bit of craziness and made it up into a piece of jewellery. Unfortunately for you and I, artisan made pendants are a little more expensive than we would like - as would be expected, I suppose. But, these pendants certainly live up to the 'pretty' tag! I echoed the lapis and turquoise in the pendant with lapis and turquoise beads, added a toggle clasp - and 'hey presto' - a necklace appeared, replacing the component from the cupboard!
That's all I've had time for this week folks, thanks for reading the blog, have a great weekend, and catch you next week - same time, same place.
I don't know how you are faring, but we have had a fantastic week here in the Midlands, warm and sunny, culminating today in thunderstorms. For a while it didn't feel like this was the UK at all - could have been in the Southern Mediterranean - fantastic! - you could almost feel the country holding its collective breath - terrified that this was it - and our summer was going to be a flash in the pan.
It is no wonder my thoughts turned to warmer climes and I made some faux ivory using polymer clay - I made quite a few beads and pendants and mindful of the promise I made to myself to use at least one of my moulds each week, I made a little butterfly, which will eventually end up as a focal piece for a necklace. These were all from a tutorial by Tina Holden (http://beadcomber.blogspot.co.uk/ )- she makes some fantastic stuff, and her tutorials are very explicit - and the best thing about them is --- they work! There's nothing worse than shelling out hard earned cash for tutorials and then wasting time, energy and material on turning out a duff object - it really hacks me off. Tina's shop however, has the real deal and I have bought a few tutorials from her.
I played with some alcohol inks to colour the butterfly, forgetting to put my gloves on - and what an unholy mess I made - my hands looked like I had gone to bed with fake tan on - shan't be doing that again in a hurry!
I was on quite the ecology kick this week - I made a necklace to resemble coral using little opaque red seed beads and a pendant I sourced from my favourite Nepalese shop in Kathmandu. Coral reefs are home to fish, molluscs, crustaceans and other sealife, and are endangered from climate change, overuse of reef resources, pollution of the sea causing overgrowth of harmful algae, over fishing and the use of cyanide and blast fishing.
My husband took one look at it and remarked how ethnic it looked - the reds and golds, and of course the pendant which is unmistakeably Eastern, of course. However, as the week went by, I seemed to make one ethnic looking piece after the other - a bit of Asian, a pinch of African, and in the latter part of the week, a dollop of Peruvian - who knows what was going on in my head??? Next, my muse decided I was going to be elephant / ivory friendly - so the faux ivory beads I had made went into two necklaces, celebrating the African elephant at dawn, in bold yellows and reds, and at dusk, in the blues of the watering hole.
Serengeti Dreams - Sunrise and Sunset
I really enjoyed making the bunches of grapes for my Bacchanalia necklace - I thought people who didn't like statement pieces may, however, enjoy little bunches of grapes to wear as pendant and earring sets. Of course I went overboard when I was ordering the beads - they were soooooo pretty and almost irresistible - so I bought more than one colour and made them up into my first ever 'range' - Ooh, Caprilicious is growing up - ' A range', no less! I thought to myself!
Of course, if one of you wants a Bacchanalia necklace - I can be persuaded to make one for you - it wont be the same of course, but very similar to the one in this picture. It has glass bunches of grapes, and polymer clay leaves and twigs, with blue dragons vein agate grapes on the other side. The design is in the customers photograph gallery of a large jewellery wholesaler in the USA - Fire Mountain Gems - I sent it in and after about a week was delighted to receive an acceptance email - and I must tell you, they don't accept stuff easily. It is a very busy necklace, but very pretty, even though I say so myself.
I buy a few things from this chap who travels to Peru regularly and brings back little bits and bobs - something different - I get bored if I use the same stuff over and over - and I like the challenge of putting together items that wouldn't normally be seen in the same room, let alone the same piece of jewellery - so when he showed me this pendant, I had to have it. It was so delicate and sweet, I made it up with dyed peacock blue baroque pearls and Czech crystal beads into an Art Nouveau inspired piece - with two strands of linked chain - it was fun making the links of the chain - almost hypnotic - indeed, so hypnotic, that I dozed off, and when I woke, there was more than I needed, and I had to cut some off! The whole piece is set off by a vintage crystal clasp - this is so pretty and shiny, it appeals to the magpie in me. Anyway, here is the Peruvian Princess - I think she is very sweet and youthful - what say you??
This has been a fun and busy week - my mother arrives next week and will be with me for a month - I will endeavour to keep going with my creations. I have booked into an enamelling course for a couple of days at In The Studio in Kegworth, but will spend the rest of the four weeks pampering her - she is 84 - and she deserves a bit of pampering after the year she's had!
I hope to have a few things to show you next week, see you then,