Hello and welcome again to the Caprilicious Blog, where I talk about my jewellery and other incidentals that have attracted my attention over the week.http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/photography/photo-tips/fireflies-in-the-dark-richardson/
The week gone by has been a bit warm (understatement - but who's complaining?) - those of us in the UK know how we longed for a bit of this last year. We have a Level 3 heatwave on in the UK - what that means is that you can fry an egg on the pavement at midday, and fabulous it is too, after all the sogginess of the winter gone by.
I showed you some of my latest acquisitions - little sterling silver pendants - in a blog a couple of weeks ago. A couple of them have the most beautiful fire opals - I love opals, don't you? The little lights that dance deep inside them reminds me of the fireflies I used to see in the park when I was a little girl - haven't seen one of them in ages.
Fireflies glow due to a phenomenon called Bioluminescence - to attract a mate, and they flitter around switching themselves on and off, like tiny fairy lights. They communicate with one another using a kind of Morse code - flash, flash ... flaaash - which probably means 'come and get me' or is it ' get your hat and coat, you're pulled', in firefly speak? I imagined the dance they might be doing - and the one that came to mind was a foxtrot, and this little necklace got its name from my flight of fancy. Iridescent peacock pearls fit the bill perfectly, and strawberry quartz gave the piece an extra injection of colour.
I found these photographs of fireflies in a woodland in Germany taken with a camera using a slow shutter speed - have a look, they are simply fabulous.
This necklace has a very similar pendant to the last one, except that the opals are blue. I teamed it with blue jade in two colours and some silver beads to make this necklace that seems to dance around your neck. The vibrancy of the blues imply a more fast paced dance - the fandango is a lively Spanish dance accompanied by hand clapping, guitars and castanets. It has a very lively, carnival feel to it, which is reflected in this necklace.
Once I got started, I was on a roll with the firefly theme. The last pendant was six little blue fire opals set into a sterling silver cross. To complement the chatoyance of the opals, I teamed them with faceted labradorite and blue jade beads - to my annoyance and frustration, I was unable to display the sheen of the stones in a photograph. I spent ages experimenting with different lighting and backgrounds, but was forced to admit defeat in the end. Labradorite gets its sheen from being deposited in layers - each layer shines at a different refraction angle when moved in the light, and it seems to flash at you when around your neck.
I do apologise for the pictures - I will ask a friend of mine who takes professional pictures if he will take some for me, but until then, these are the best of the ones I managed to take.
The epiphany referred to here is the sudden revelation of the chatoyance in the opals and labradorite on movement - and believe you me, the beauty of it takes your breath away for a moment when the necklace is handled.
One of the young doctors who works with me bought a necklace from me for her mother as a birthday present - I think she was hoping her mother would accept the gift, and then hand it back to her to wear - unfortunately for her, her mother liked the piece and requested two more - both of which were made to the young doctors spec - she secretly hopes that her mom will give one to her - we will have to wait and see what happens.
The weekend looms, with the prospect of more sunshine, which is just as well as we have a barbeque planned with about twenty five folks planning to attend. We host it each year for the junior doctors who move on to another hospital in August as part of their training rotation schemes, it is a sort of thank you for all the work they have put in over the year. The party can be as lively, or as sedate as they wish, and really depends on their personalities - they are allowed to invite guests from the hospital - midwives, anaesthetists and any others they choose are welcome, as are juniors from previous years. The neighbours have been forewarned!
That's my week in a nutshell folks, stay cool and we'll meet up next week, same time, same place
Christmas is here folks - by the time I write next week, the goose will be well digested and we will be looking forward to the New Year! Here's wishing all of you a Joyous and very merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year.
Melusine, the lady dragon
Melusine was a fresh water sprite in sacred springs and waters around Luxembourg. This tale, from medieval times, told by ladies when they sat spinning at their looms claims her as an ancestress of the rulers of Luxembourg, who
magically made the castle of Bock appear the morning after her wedding. On her terms of marriage, she required one day of absolute privacy each week (only one???). Unfortunately, her husband could not resist temptation, and spied on her in her bath - she was discovered to be a mermaid! When he let out a surprised shout, her bath immediately sank into the solid rock, carrying her with it.
Melusine surfaces briefly every seven years as a beautiful woman or as a dragon, holding a small golden key in her mouth and legend would have it that whoever takes the key from her will set her free and may claim her as his bride!
I used her as inspiration for the necklace that bears her name, of beautifully marked, glamorous, tactile dragons vein agate rondelles. The addition of sparkly crystals as spacers made the sheen of the gemstones even more prominent - I love this necklace.
This one is yet another 'wear three ways' offering from Caprilicious - the abalone clasps I have in my stash have green, purple and a golden yellow colour to them, and I have already made necklaces in green and purple - this is the golden yellow one - the colour resembles fine cognac, when poured into a crystal brandy balloon - all warmed up and ready to slip down your throat like honey.
More Arabian Nights Dreams
I hate the thought of being a one trick pony - stringing beads onto a pretty clasp is a lovely way to get instant results, but I'd get a bit bored if I did that all week - so, I alternate making up necklaces, wire work, claying (clay - polymer and precious metal) and now enamel. I don't mind admitting, I am not enjoying the enamelling quite so much, especially after my last debacle! Mike laughs at me - he says I think I should have been born with a perfect skill set - I don't enjoy the learning curve - maybe he is right. Next year, I shall set aside one weekend every month to play with enamels - till I get it right. Just now, it's a bit of a sore point.
So, I went on to play with wire - a couple of weeks ago, I set out to make a pendant in the shape of a lotus - it took me a while, and some very sore fingertips, but I cracked it. The pendant ended up extremely colourful, with the addition of loads of coloured alexandrite, apatite, jade beads, and onyx danglers, and instead of just leaving the pendant as a stand alone piece, I hung it on a necklace made of tektite - meteoric glass, from Australia, and freshwater pearls. I particularly like the tactility of the tektite - and of course the rough, sparkly centre of the druzy cabochon.
It's All Coming up Roses
I have a fairly sizeable collection of rose quartz in various shapes and shades of pink, and decided to use some of it - pale pink is a very subtle shade and difficult to design with unless the wearer is a Barbie doll. It is extremely easy to design a piece for myself, but as I am not a Barbie, I needed to think outside the box to come up with these two designs. Now that they are made up, I think the chunkier one would be what I would instinctively pick in a shop, if I had to buy pink - the addition of the bright colours in the spacers would appeal to me. I made the spacers in both necklaces myself out of wire and some fire polished beads. I do like Rosy Posy as well - it will be interesting to see which one gets picked up first, and by whom - watch this space....................
I spend as much time looking for fancy clasps, as I do beads and gemstones, as I think that often a clasp elevates a piece of jewellery from the ordinary to something special. The other side of that coin is that I design my jewellery with the clasp as an additional focal point - and I think you would agree that the butterfly in this necklace deserves to be seen, sitting sweetly on the shoulder of the wearer.
Last Tango in Paris
In a complete departure from the 'pinkness' of the last two pieces, I made use of some cinnabar beads I happened to have lying around - I meant to make one necklace with red and black elements, but in the end, two of them emerged - can't think how that happened. The combination of red and black is so aggressively sensual, that it brought to mind a Tango - The Last Tango in Paris, Bertolucci's beautiful film with the fabulous Marlon Brando. Cinnabar beads are made of a soft wood that takes a heat impression, so the beads have some very detailed design work imprinted on them. I added lava rocks and a couple of large bean shaped crystal beads, to add interest.
Flavia Cacace and Vincent Simone are Tango dancers par excellence and we were lucky enough to watch them live in a show down in London last year - I have a little clip for you here that illustrates the power of red and black when put together - sizzzzzle.......
Every day this week, a bit at a time, I wrapped a pyrite chunky fan shaped nugget with antique brown wire, added gemstone beads, dangles and embellishments till it begged me to stop - no more, please, it cried - I was surprised, as I had planned many more additions and curlicues and beads, and..... and..... and....
But, I heard the piteous cries of the pendant, and let it go - last seen, it was on a simple memory wire choker, legging it in the direction of my storage box - I wouldn't admit this to anyone but you - in the end, it seemed like it was right to stop me from over egging the pudding.
I thought I would take a short break over the next couple of weeks, and chill out over Christmas - at least that was the plan, but I found that my fingers developed a mind of their own - pliers and snips seemed to attach themselves mysteriously to me! No matter how much I try, I can't seem to get away from them - I tell you, it is an addiction!! So, I gave in and decided to make up some earrings, to replace the ones I sold at Caprilicious' birthday bash - I shall take my time photographing them and uploading them onto the page - perhaps as one lot in January.
By request from some of my favourite customers, I have put on a Boxing Day Sale for a week - please have a browse and message me with the name of any piece you like and I will invoice you with the discounted price.
Have a fabulous Christmas, catch you next week, same time, same place
Guess what I bought this week.......... a Dremel! - I realised that there was no way I was going to realise my ambition to get bigger and better with my ideas for precious metal clay and polymer clay unless I conquered my irrational, rather girly fear of power tools. Also, one of the ladies from the Polydays 2012 group had a lovely power tool with a cute silver carry case and she made light work of the drilling part of making the hinged bangle - I wanted one immediately (mainly for the cute case though). Alas, the one I bought has a boring case - it is cordless, and can do hands free operations though, which will be ideal for coiling wire - which is another thing I have always wanted to do - yippee!
Since I posted last, my fingers have been flying - why, I'm surprised that I have any left at all and they haven't been worn down into stumps, like an old pencil!
I was on a roll, and all the components in my stash were fighting to come out of the cupboard and join the melee'.
I used up components I have been hoarding for over a year - who knows what I was saving them for. I figured that instead of buying more, I ought to make an effort to put what I have into my designs.
This one was made with a Chinese jade carved Endless Knot, strung with rice pearls, emerald chips and other tiny beads. The Endless Knot symbolises Eternal Love and friendship - it has been integrated into many cultures, and has mystical connotations - the Celtic knot is one example.
Some beautiful Turquoise spike beads arrived in the post that morning - and I could not resist them - just had to make them up to see what they looked like in a necklace. One of my favourite ways is to add an asymmetrical focal element, but this time, the spikes themselves needed to be the focus of attention, so I chose to use dull gold pyrite chunks instead, to break up the line of spikes. I thought Cleopatra might have fancied this one - but she apparently didn't pay for her jewellery - and cut the fingers off her favourite jewellery makers for the privilege of creating her bijoux, just so they wouldn't replicate the necklace - so, thanks, but, no thanks Cleo, someone else can have it instead - but only if they promise to leave me my fingers.
Ode to the LBD
I love pearls, but I prefer the modern way of wearing them - in multiple strings, and ropes, swaying in gay abandon - I am not a fan of the single string. However, there are times that one requires a bit of simple sophistication, when 'swaying in gay abandon' may be inappropriate, but something makes you want to step out of the Doris Day mould - this next one is for those times. Black onyx squares in two strands interspersed with silver tone spacers in different shapes, suit this requirement. This is surely a lyrical verse inspired by the little black dress.
Forever in Blue Jeans
I remade the necklace thrice before I was satisfied with the elements - it seemed best with shimmering Swarovski crystals in different colours and shapes between the flat cream and blue of the agate. A twisted lapis and pyrite rectangle, a jade flower and a butterfly were added to the mix, and my work here was done. The necklace, when finished looked like something I would wear with blue jeans and a casual jacket - hence the title.
This piece is named for the focal piece - a black onyx pendant carved with the face of Kwan Yin. She is the Buddhist goddess of mercy and unconditional love. I love the statues and sculptures they have of her in Thailand and Indonesia - she has such a beautiful compassionate, serene face, and a curvaceous feminine body. I wrapped the graceful face in square wire, and attached it to a wire collar - I thought I'd go with a monochrome pallete this time, and used white howlite beads to contrast with the pendant.
A copper wire branch with little leaves, on a sweet little necklace of coral spikes, pearls and crystals.
Enter the Dragon
A carved turquoise pendant with a dragon motif was hung on a necklace made of such diverse elements as Rowan branches cut into beads, yellow agate, coral, turquoise and even a freshwater pearl. It is a very 'on trend' Tribal Chic piece and very comfortable to wear.
In between making all of these, I played with enamels in my kiln. When I went on the enamelling course, a lady dropped by - she was selling her mother's collection of enamel colours and other paraphernelia - I picked up whatever I could lay my hands on - as always the start up costs are expensive - especially as the first pieces are usually rubbish - but I surprised myself, and Mike, and made a couple of nice pendants. I also made a little dog, a butterfly and a heavily pregnant teddy bear - but the pendant holes got blocked up by the glass - I probably overloaded them with the enamel powder - I shall keep them as souvenirs of my journey into new horizons - and to remind me not to do that again.
That's all for this week folks, I'm off to play with my Dremel, finally finish off the lentil beads I made in Polydays 2012, buff up some pendants, redo the enamel on the one pendant..... a woman's work is never done.
See you next week,
If The King said so - it must be true -do listen to the song while reading this - brings the blog alive!'
A little Madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King.'
Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (1830 -1886)
The weather is getting warmer and the plants in the garden are aching with buds - I love England in the springtime, especially after a bleak winter.
I found an Intarsia cabochon in my stash -Intarsia is the centuries old skill of combining gem materials into works of art. Each piece of stone is precisely cut and fitted for inlay into another gemstone. Once assembled the complete piece is polished to a high finish. Each Intarsia is made entirely by hand - and because of this, relatively expensive. This one has elements of pink rhodochrosite, jasper and agate, and I decided to frame it in polymer clay to resemble a picture frame and then use it as a pendant. The cabochon itself is only 2 1/2 x 1 inch, and would stand no chance being visible, given my penchant for 'big' jewellery. So this is what I made with it - added a polymer clay frame using cherry blossom millefiori cane, and stringing it with a bunch of multicolour lucite leaves and flowers, using glass and acrylic pearls and Czech crystals thrown in for added sparkle. The flowers are substantial in size but light, so the pendant anchors the necklace and makes it drape well, and I have left the back free so that it is comfortable around the neck - no one wants something prodding their neck - especially in springtime, when collared jackets are still mandatory.
The profusion of flowers is so springlike that the necklace could only be called Spring Fever.
'It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!' ~Mark Twain
On another note, I submitted a few of my designs to Rena Klingenberg's website http://www.making-jewelry-now.com - Making Jewellery Now - The Friendly Jewellery Community, and am pleased that I had quite a favourable response from her readers, most of whom are jewellery designers - there are some fascinating insights into jewellery making and marketing on her site and I have spent a lot of my time reading it.
This is the link to the Caprilicious Jewellery Etsy store - http://www.etsy.com/shop/CapriliciousJewelry
A Naiad's Treasure
There is definitely a method in my madness - my stash of beads is all jumbled up - and I would forget that I had a particular item, unless I found it quite by accident during a frantic rummage for something else. While I was looking for the lucite flowers, I found some prehnite nuggets - I love prehnite - it looks like pistachio green nuggets of frosted sugar candy, touched by a naughty child with dirty fingers, leaving black smudges on it's surface. I put it together with an ammonite fossil and khaki/gold pyrite nuggets, and a few freshwater pearls - there is an air of enchantment about this necklace that gave it it's name.
The Naiads were nymphs of bodies of fresh water.A naiad was intimately connected to the water she lived in, and if the stream dried up, she breathed her last with it.
Like all the nymphs, the Naiads were in many ways female sex symbols of the ancient world and played the part of both the seduced and the seducer. Zeus in particular is said to have enjoyed the favors of countless Naiads and the other gods do not seem to have lagged far behind. The Naiads fell in love with, and actively pursued mortals as well.
Now, don't shoot the messenger - I got this from a website dealing with the mystical properties of crystals http://www.shimmerlings.com/gemstones/prehnite.htm#GENERAL - 'Prehnite is quite a protective stone. It can protect one on all levels, as it strengthens the life force and generally increases energy as well as stimulating it. Healers use prehnite's memory skill in aiding with diagnosis of patients, if you have a patient that is particularly difficult to diagnose, have them carry this stone for one month, when they return the crystal, use it during meditation to tap into the stone's memory.' I said this to a colleague of mine - and he looked horrified - as if I had grown another head (which I have - the one that makes jewellery) - and said -'please tell me you don't believe this'.....
I wish I knew about the healing properties especially before I spent years and years in medical training - could've saved me a lot of trouble.
Pyrite is commonly called Fools Gold because of its similarity in color, shape, to gold - it is also closely related to the more silvery Marcasite.
Now, I have an idea for something I found while rummaging for the pyrite - am off to find it - who knows what else I might find - see you next week!