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, and how are you today? Everywhere around me I see frantic preparations for Christmas and I feel like I am the only calm person at the eye of a storm that rages madly around me. I have done nothing, yes, nothing towards Christmas, and what's more, am not really bothered about it!
As I type, The Last Temptation of Christ is playing on the telly on silent - there's a very good looking blonde guy in Lagenlook robes stopping a crowd of wild eyed men from stoning a beautiful woman in fabulous jewellery - perhaps they were miffed because they couldn't afford her prices? I assume it's the story of ' cast ye not the first stone - not very Christmassy, is it?
I covet her jewellery - she's wearing some fabulous silver around her neck; and his robes are quite fashionable these days - beige linen layered over a white undershirt, with strappy sandals, very modish! I'm only watching it because it is an unlikely film for Martin Scorcese to direct and all the controversy that surrounded it. Of course, watching it with the sound turned on intermittently isn't helping me much, but the bits that I watched properly haven't exactly been gripping!
The Christmas ads are getting more inventive than ever - this is the cutest one this year - and no, I'm not getting a kickback from John Lewis'.
I've been taking stock of all I've done this year - I've learned to make soutache jewellery and to solder, have made strides in my handling of metal clay although there's a long way to go, reopened my Etsy shop and had a good response and consistent five star feedback from people who shopped there. I opened an Instagram account and taught myself to use it, wrote four tutorials and have been retained by a UK magazine for jewellery makers to write four more next year, and written yet another for an online journal based in the USA to be published in the New Year.
I've continued with wire and polymer clay all year and participated in 3 little shows mainly for charity and one in India, as well as a couple of online auctions. I continue to post my blog on a weekly basis come what may, chronicling my designs. I enjoy writing it, adding music and poetry and little stories to spice the blog up.
The only technique I haven't played with is enamelling - who knows, maybe next year will be when I take it up again. Of course, I work full time, and have been crazy enough to take on the added responsibility of being the Clinical Service Lead and have been recruited to be the Principal Investigator in a national clinical trial, apart from the other daily stuff that goes on.
Before you ask, I have help with the housework, an indulgent husband and do not have any children to run around after. So yes, there's plenty of time to do all these things. I also think that if one has a passion for something, time miraculously appears in the busiest schedule to pursue it.
Making Handmade from Handmade
I'm firmly convinced that this is the way forward for Caprilicious. I love the idea of making my own pendants and clasps and even beads - if Caprilicious is to produce one of a kind jewellery, I will have to go one better than buying in components and assembling a necklace, or worse still, buying in a piece of jewellery and reselling it. Of course, both these endeavours have their merits and can be difficult. After all, loads of people can buy in the same pendant, but come up with different results with the final piece of jewellery - it's all in the way they put colours and shapes together and their own personal design ethic.
With this in mind, I've been putting out tentative feelers for people who might like to collaborate with me - with me making the basic findings and them making the jewellery. It would be a most interesting experiment to see what other people come up with using my components, against what I might make myself.
I have decided to make photo journals as I make my components, as an aide memoire so that I will remember how to remake them if needed. However, I don't really want to make too many of the same piece as then the phrase 'one of a kind' then becomes rather meaningless (and because I have a short attention span and get easily bored). Perhaps these photo journals will be the basis for other tutorials, later on.
The Octopuses Garden
Inspired by the work of Kay Bonitz, I played with my collection of Czech beads and came up with this little pendant. I used up a small collection of orphan dagger beads and eventually a credible pendant arrived on my work surface ( that's a posh term for a bead tray in my lap). I wasn't entirely happy with it as it's a bit untidy at the back, but as a first effort I thought it wasn't too bad, and I wore it to work in the morning. The blues and greens are striking together and I got loads of compliments, and that's why I have the 'cat that's got the cream' look in the photograph!
When last in Morocco we escaped from the craziness that is Marrakesh and slipped away to the beautiful and calm seaside town of Essaouira. The taxi ride there was scary and put hairs on my chest, but we were soothed by the Heure Bleue Palais hotel, which is simply fabulous. In memory of that holiday and in the hope of another in beautiful Morocco, I made this necklace with ornate Moroccan amulet beads and lapis lazuli slab nuggets.
I've been making plans for my annual show in India. My friend who previously helped out with the invitation cards is in the middle of an exciting move to China, but she showed me how to do it myself. I've had a load of fun playing with images and fonts and have come up with my own design. The room at Raintree is booked and hopefully the monetary situation in India eases by February as I am as yet unable to find a company who will provide a card reading machine to a business that isn't registered in India.
That's me for this week, folks. I will be back next Friday, as usual, have a lovely week and I'll catch you same time, same place next week.
Hello folks, thanks for joining me here again. The title of this blogpost comes from a quotation by Oscar Wilde (one of the world's biggest elitists if ever there was one - but he gave great quotes!) "One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art".
To my mind, we are all works of art - and we all deserve to wear it too. Embellishing the human body with jewellery has been around for centuries, but only recently has the concept of jewellery as art come into being.
The very first pieces of jewellery from an archaeological find were 100,000 year old beads made from Nassarius snail shells. Jewellery evolved from being functional (brooches and pins), to denote social status and store wealth (gold and diamonds), denote personal status (wedding rings), love and mourning (engagement rings and brooches) and confer protection (gemstones such as turquoise and other talismans).
Now, in the 21st century, we no longer need to wear jewellery to denote our status, and Oscar WIlde's original quotation has a chance of being adopted as the modern woman's slogan.
Once you 'get' the idea of wearing statement jewellery, it is hard to go back. You wear one piece, and you are hooked for life! Watch the irrepressible 93 year old New York interior decorator Iris Apfel, in this little video :-
Attitude, attitude, attitude - it ain't what you wear, it's the way that you wear it!
The Saga of the Bronze Clay Earrings - Part 2
If you have been following the blog, you will remember that I spent an entire week refining the design and the engineering of this piece; you can read about my adventures with bronze clay here. At the end of last week, I had a pair of components for earrings.
I put these through a long cycle in a tumbler with some stainless steel shot and a drop of liquid soap and when I drained the liquid away in a large strainer, this is what they looked like.
And this is what the earrings looked like when I finally made them up. Although they still need a some work to perfect the design, I learned a lot from making them and really enjoyed the process of being drawn out of the box into thinking laterally.
What did I make with the funny squiggles? Well, they were an experiment in setting little stones into metal clay. Here are the earrings I made with the little critters.
There are two types of opal - Common and Precious. The common opal, which comes from Peru and Africa is white, yellow, brown, black, orange, pink or blue while the precious variety is the variety found in Australia, with it's multi colored flashes.
Common opals can have markings shaped like trees, mosses and ferns - these are composed of manganese deposits in the stone. Dendritic opal is also called Merlinite and is meant to have shamanistic properties that promote spiritual growth by blending heavenly and earthly energy, helping you to remain open and approachable. If a stone can do all these things, bring it on, I say.
When I looked into the depths of this pendant I saw the tree like patterns and fell instantly in love. This photograph was taken with the pendant held to the light and you can clearly see the fern like patterns. In a less lit up situation, the pendant almost looks black, as you will see. I love the idea that there is a secret hidden inside the stone that very few people know about - perhaps that's the inner child in my psyche.
The pendant, set in sterling silver is so pretty, accented with a ruby, a white topaz and a couple of sapphires. I only needed to make a simple necklace to show it off with a scattering of pearls, tiny, shiny silver beads and an ornamental silver hook clasp.
I had an email a couple of weeks ago telling me that I had won the 'Great British Bead Off' Editors Choice - this means I need to remake the beads and write a little tutorial with photographs, for their readers. I am also required to send in the beads to be photographed and claim my prize. That should keep me busy all weekend, I think. You can read about these beads here.
Well, that's all this week, folks. I've not had too much time to play as the day job has been inexplicably busier than normal. Hopefully things will calm down a bit and I can play with beads and clay again and be as happy as a pig in muck. Have a lovely week, and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place
The sun has got his hat on, hip hip hip hooray!......... and I was finally able to go into the conservatory and use my kiln. I really don't know why we bother in Britain - conservatories are freezing cold in the winter, and roasting hot in the summer - ours is tacked on to one side of the house so we have to walk around the house to get to it. As we are stuck for space, my kiln has ended up there - but, come what may with the weather, I have decided that I am going to use it this year.
I made a start this week, and tried out some of the enamels I bought from a lady who retired from the jewellery business. With enamels, none of the colours resemble the raw powdered glass in the jar once they have been fired, and the transparent ones look different when fired onto copper than when put on silver - why must life be so difficult??? - sigh! I have perforce to keep the area tidy - with the kiln running at temperatures of 850C, there is little room for stuff falling over and general clumsiness, which is why I have this picture of my work station - isn't it tidy???
Mike has a jar of copper pennies and I used some of them to enamel onto - it was great fun, and without actually making anything, I achieved a lot. I found out what the various colours looked like and I stuck each penny on the lid of the container, so that I would find it easily again in an attempt to take the guess work out of the exercise.
This picture shows how unlike the powder the actual colours look on the pennies - at least I know what colours will be my favourites now. And, I learned that a mixture of vinegar and salt shines up the copper pennies - that old wives tale is definitely true!
Glam rock was a style of music that came out of Britain in the 70's - sparkle, sequins, purples, reds and gold, outrageous clothes, makeup and hairstyles, particularly platform-soled boots and glitter were associated with this era, with David Bowie, T Rex and Roxy Music being big stars of that genre. I am old enough, of course to have enjoyed their music, and I dedicated this next necklace to it. The clear crackled quartz, and the purple shell pearl nuggets in two strings with the pearls and silver crystals carrying an aspen leaf are most definitely glamorous. I like to contrast purple with green, so I added a green carved jade butterfly and a faceted teardrop, as well as a shimmery Czech pressed glass triangular bead to a squiggle of wire, hung from the bail of the leaf.
The Pomegranate Tree
I had a friend who had a pomegranate tree growing in her garden - as children, all we had to do was reach up and pluck one for a quick snack. I think on reflection, that the pomegranate is a very overrated fruit - there's an awful lot of pfaffing about to get an ounce of the good stuff. However, it sure looks pretty - both on the tree, and when split open. My mother found these four coral cabochons for me, and I decided to group them together into a pendant for maximum impact, as individually each one was only about a centimeter long. The minute I did this on a piece of paper, I was reminded of the pomegranate tree of my childhood. I clustered the cabochons together, and doodled around them with wire and crystals to try and recreate an organic 'tree effect'. A coral teardrop was added for movement - I love a bit of movement - otherwise the piece looses its dynamic, and is just a lump of metal and a few stones.
Have a lovely weekend folks, it is Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK, and traditionally, it always rains on a bank holiday - I shall stay indoors with the cat and play with my beads. However, if the weather is more like it should be at this time of year, some gardening/ barbeque action may be on the cards.
Catch you next week, same time, same place
I have been a doctor for thirty years now - so what is it that draws me to creating jewellery and all the other things I do around Caprilicious? - photography, writing blurbs, posting on Facebook, setting up and modifying my website regularly, writing this blog, marketing, sales, packaging and posting, trawling the internet for unusual elements and beads, entering into bidding wars with unseen enemies for beads I crave, learning new techniques on line, taking classes - and all this while keeping a stringent eye on the day job! I am a long way from retirement (it seems like a long way just now) and there is no room for error - I have to keep up with the advances in medicine as they occur, and the job itself is pretty stressful.
A good friend of mine asked me the question, and this set me thinking - what have I gained from all this activity - am I just a busy fool?
Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time ...
For 'art' insert jewellery making in my particular case! I have found friends in quarters I would never have thought to look, met some really interesting people, and of course, the people who buy from me are the tops! After all, Caprilicious is my alter ego - every piece in it speaks to, and of, me - as a corollary to this - anyone who likes my jewellery is a kindred spirit!
OK, enough of this introspection, let me show you what I made this week. And so, without further ado......
Roya was made with snow white jasper lozenges with inky blue agate nuggets and blue - black crystals. A few silver tone spacers and four Shiva eye beads add a pop of colour to an otherwise sober piece. The Shiva eye is the operculum or lid of the sea snail, and has recently become very fashionable. It is usually circular and fits snugly, sealing the entrance to the shell. These beads are filled with an orange resin, giving them their colour - if not for this, Shiva Eye beads are usually white.
ROYA is an Arabic name, meaning vision. This ties in with the Shiva Eye - according to mythology, Shiva and Parvati, his wife, were having a bit of a romp in the Himalayas, where they lived. Parvati came up from behind, and shut both his eyes with her hands, and the world went dark for a few seconds. Shiva, who had a really bad temper (and by all accounts, no sense of humour) opened a third eye in the centre of his forehead. He would rather be disfigured for life, than be blind for a few seconds??? - I don't know! someone should have sent him directions to the nearest sense-of-humour shop in Nepal!
My mother suggested that it might have been because he wanted to keep an eye on his mortal subjects at all times - who knows?? In his place, I would have added a fourth eye for good measure, this time in the back of my head, just to keep a watch for those naughty people behind my back - lack of foresight (or is it hind??) I call it!
Wake up, Titania
I spent an enjoyable day with polymer clay and wire, fashioning what looked like the seed pods of the 'Honesty' flower, a project from a book by Rie Nagumo. Translucent clay is difficult to work with as it becomes brittle very quickly, and I had to coax it and speak to it sweetly ( threats and the swear words flying around weren't working on the darn thing) to stay attached to the wire frames until the curing process was complete. I made quite a few, and only managed to lose six.
These are paintings by Kay Konrad, a German painter who painted these beautiful imaginary scenarios from A Midsummer Night's Dream. The one above is called Titania meets Oberon and the one below is Träufelnd Oberon, Titania Asleep. As the mood of my necklace was evocative of these paintings, I requested permission from him to reproduce them on these pages. Have a look at his art on http://www.kaykonrad.de . I think his paintings are so dreamy and fairy like. I sent him a link to Caprilicious and he said my jewellery was beautiful - what a nice man - I am anybody's for a compliment!
In the painting above, Oberon is just about to drug Titania in her sleep with fairy dust so that when she wakes up she falls in love with the first person she sees. A lot of people have had that problem, even without the (non) help of Oberon's magic - or there wouldn't be so many divorces in the world - so I called my necklace Wake up, Titania, in an effort to save her from falling for a wrong 'un. Seed beads and coiled segments were wired onto fairly stiff copper - I wanted the necklace to be robust, and not become misshapen too easily. The seed beads I chose were a pinky - purple to go with the mood of the paintings, but the copper wire inside the glass shines through, and only the more strongly tinted beads show up pink.
My poor Muse was exhausted after this effort, so I gave her a rest, and entertained myself by exercising my right brain - reading a fabulous book called Wire in Design by Barbara Mc Guire. It is a compendium of a whole load of wire artisans' work - I then Googled each artisan in the book and drooled all over their stuff, until I could coax my muse back through the door, all rejuvenated after a couple of days off.
Eva Cassidy was a hugely talented American jazz vocalist who died tragically of a melanoma at the age of thirty three. Terry Wogan introduced her to the UK listener by playing her music on his show on Radio 2, well after she died, and her album went to the top of the charts in the UK and Europe. This necklace is a tribute to her amazing arrangements and vocals - the silver electroplated maple leaf, with the pewter leaf spacers interspersed with faceted onyx olive shaped beads is called Falling Leaves. The maple leaf has a few onyx beads on a little chain dangling in front of it to provide extra movement to the piece, without detracting from, or obscuring the beauty of the leaf skeleton.
That's all the Muse and I had time for this week, have a nice weekend, and we'll catch up with you next week, same time, same place
Thank you to all the ladies - and a gentleman, who bought stuff in the Caprilicious Boxing Day Sale - strangely, most of the people who decided to get a piece of Caprilicious were from the USA - your stuff will be with you soon after this blog comes out - and I am sure you will love your chosen pieces. I know people have spent a lot of money at Christmas time - presents and entertaining, and travelling, but a nice piece of jewellery is something to lift your spirits, and I hope Caprilicious can do that for you.
I have been researching Trade beads this last week - they were known as African money, and were used as currency for goods, services and even slaves. They were used by European explorers instead of money, and a lot of them were made in Venice from glass. The African people were thought to love them as decorations for their attire and in jewellery, and of course, this love of colour and adornment was exploited thoroughly and ruthlessly by early visitors who exchanged glass beads for ivory, slaves, gold and other commodities. As making Millefiori is part of attempting to be a polymerista ( I don't consider myself one yet- a trainee maybe!!), I took it on myself to make some chevron beads. I found a tutorial on the internet from the multi talented Desiree McCrorey, and modified it to suit my requirements - and I think for a first attempt at this technique, made quite a creditable job of it.
A complex cane of different colours was constructed as per the instructions in the tutorial, and covered over with a transparent layer of green coloured clay - so far, so good. Then the beads were cut, rolled smooth, and cured - even better! Now for the pain in the proverbial - sanding - every bead had to be sanded smooth under water with five varying grits of sandpaper - finer and finer each time, and then with Micro mesh cloths - ever finer and finer, till the last cloth felt like there was no grit in it at all - apparently, this one is used to polish the wind shields of aeroplanes! A lot of the green/ transparent layer was sanded off, to reveal the stripy lines of the cane within.
Fortunately, I recently moved all operations from the kitchen to my 'studio' ( Ooh la la, aren't we getting grand!) and the mess there was semi contained - at least it was not in Mike's way - he has been very patient so far, but I know not to overstretch the limit of his forbearance - things could get explosive - you can't keep a man from his kitchen especially when he is chief cook and bottle washer!
And then, for the buffing wheel - the beads are so small, the wheel kept snatching them out of my hands and flinging them halfway across the room, leaving a gouge mark on the bead, which I then had to buff out again - what a load of fun! Without this bad boy, I would have to have used the Dremel, and that would have taken ages - even longer than this little lot! I moved it into an alcove, rather than have it on the table, facing the stained glass window - Yikes! - the consequences of a bead flung at the window doesn't bear thinking about.
So finally, with a lot of swearing and huffing and puffing, I produced twelve beads - two hours to roll out the clay and make the beads -and almost five hours to sand and polish them! I was reminded of the time I used to play badminton as a child - the main exercise was from picking the shuttlecock up off the floor when I missed the shot, which was most of the time - I hadn't learned to swear back then, being a good little Indian girl - my, how things change!
Real, antique chevron beads
Anyway, I hope you will all agree from this picture , that my beads look like chevron beads (please agree, oh, please, please agree) and that they shine like glass - that, they most definitely do! I am my harshest critic, and even I have to grudgingly agree that my beads are most definitely usable. I still have some of the cane left, and when I make another batch, I will shave off some more of the green with a knife prior to curing them - and so reduce the five hours of sanding and buffing and picking the beads off the floor...... to possibly, two!
But still, I like the beads, and that's reward enough, for now.
I started to put together a few necklaces this week. Of course the Nepalese pendants had to get a first look in - I have been collecting gemstone bead components with this day in mind for a couple of months - now, finally it is time to introduce them to each other, and arrange their marriage - hooray!
Coloured powders sold in a market at Holi
Holi is the Indian festival of spring. It is a riotously colourful celebration, full of dance and song, and people fling coloured powders in the air and anoint each other with daubs of colour to celebrate the coming of spring.
Of course, by the end of a hard days celebration, the revellers look bedraggled and dirty, and a lot of them are p!££** as newts, but are very smiley, happy, tired people.
As the days are now getting longer, spring will soon be here - after the holiday season is over, this is the thought that keeps us going through the grey days of January and February. Already, the daffodil shoots are poking up out of the hard ground in my garden.
My necklace was made in the colours of Holi, with an artisan- made Nepalese pendant, and dyed mother of pearl shell beads in jewel colours, with a few accents of coral, turquoise and Czech fire polished beads. The beads came all jumbled up on a string, and I spent ages separating them out into little piles of exploding colour, and I am glad I did, as it simply made the colours pop in the necklace.
It took me a while to get a decent photograph of my new creations, with so little sunlight about, and very little time due to the demands of the day job. I decided that some of my old pictures were rubbish, so I retook them as well. When I finished, I had a large pile of colour sitting at one end of the living room, and when a ray of sunlight fell on it,the colours shone like a glass picture in a kaleidoscope.
With the next Nepalese pendant, I used some amber beads - amber is pine resin which can be many years old, and contains fragments of the hapless creatures that perished when they got stuck to it, when it was still soft and newly dripping from the tree. The colours are so pretty, they remind me of the toffee my mother used to make when I was a child.
A third pendant got a coral heishi ( pronounced hee-she, as in hee - haw! ) bead necklace, with brushed silver tone accents.
I got a bit 'over - pendanted', and made a piece without one - I used some lapis chunky nuggets, with extremely pretty, and colourful, orange jade beads - a few silver tone accents, and it was done - the clasp was meant to sit to one side as a focal, but it didn't seem right, so I cut it up and started again, this time, putting it where clasps are usually - at the back of the neck - it seems such a shame though, to have something so pretty where it is not visible - the wearer will just have to present her back to people and wear her hair up - or simply revel in her secret.
Named for the orange of the jade beads, henna is a plant whose leaves when crushed give out lawsone, a burgundy organic compound that has an affinity for bonding with protein. Lawsone is primarily concentrated in the leaves, and is released more quickly when in contact with a mild acid such as lemon juice. The Henna paste is piped onto the skin like icing on a cake, in what is basically a Zentangle pattern, and when it dries and is washed off, it leaves a deep orange stain, which lasts until the skin exfoliates. I have added a video of such an application, for anyone who may be interested.
My pièce de résistance this week is a piece entitled NIGHTFALL. It is made with onyx squares which are actually meant to be wired together for bracelets - the beads have two holes each. After a lot of tweaking, cussing and manipulating the engineering, I made a necklace using turquoise spacer beads, and added a showy Nepalese triangular pendant, and some pipe shaped turquoise beads - a contrast of shapes and colours that is very very stand outy ( for want of a better word).
I am quietly pleased with my little collection of necklaces this week, they are different, and colourful - I would wear them!
That's all for this week folks, have a good week and I'll see you same time, same place next week
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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