Hello folks, and how are you today? Cold, is the answer on this side of the globe - we count the 5th of November as the oficial start of winter, so these temperatures are still a bit autumnal. There are some good things about winter, although you have to think for a while to enumerate them. I suppose Christmas heads the list with all the festivity, open fires a close second, toast dripping with butter ( not for me as on a diet), mulled wine (ditto), and loads of other food related fabulousness which unfortunately, will never be my lot (apart from a cheeky, sneaky bite).
I love colourful jumpers and jackets and overcoats, my patent leather riding boots - they are so comfortable, yet stylish ( don't you find that with shoes the two adjectives rarely go together?) and I love striding about in them. Unfortunately, necklaces are hard to wear with roll neck jumpers so this week, I made a necklace that is long enough to wear with sweaters, and yet can be folded over to wear close to the neck, should the need and opportunity arise. I named it Varuna after the God of the wind - probaby because the wind was howling down the chimney while I made the necklace.
I fell in love with the crackle agate beads - they are a matte white, with fine crackles running through them, and I added a rhodochrosite seahorse clasp that I've had for ages (it is beautifully handcarved and tactile with a sinuous shape), and some colourful crystals to add a bit of zing! The necklace can be worn long, or inside a collar with the seahorse on show. You probably cannot see the fine crackling in the beads unless you enlarge the pictures below.
I've always loved seahorses - as a child I really, really wanted to hatch them out in a fish tank and watch them swimming about, and have retained my fascination for them.
More Copper Bracelets
I played with wire while snuggling up in front of the TV watching the usual frightfest on TV around Halloween time. I love copper and have used both the non tarnish and bare wire in the first bracelet - my friend Divya mentioned a 'kada' in a comment on my last post and that inspired me to make the adjustable wire bracelet. The non tarnish wire sits around the wrist, without turning it green and the bare copper heart is antiqued to bring out the wire weave - the heart was designed by Nicole Hanna. The other bracelet with the blue jade beadsis an age old design and I made a little bracelet for a small wrist and then thought better of it and added an extension chain with a little citrine nugget dangling from the end.
Playing with Metal Clay
All this year, when the weather was warm I sat indoors, playing with tiny seed beads and fine needles, making soutache jewellery. And now that we are in for a cold spell, what does Ms Muse have me do? Why, go out into my freezing cold, unheated studio to play with the kiln, of course! My kiln and other heat related tools are out in the conservatory along with the few props I use for photography (the conservatory roof acts as a natural light box, filtering out glare and allowing me to take pictures in natural light). Photography of course takes just a few minutes, setting up and working with the kiln, a lot longer.
Loving the flowers painted by Georgia O'Keeffe at an exhibition at the Tate Modern, all of a sudden I came across Lynn Cobb who, inspired by Ms O'Keeffe interpreted the beautiful flowers in silver clay. Lynn picks ginkgo leaves, which she coats with silver clay paste and assembles into the most beautiful pendants. I love the ginkgo leaf and have made many pieces of jewellery inspired by them and immediately could see a way forward. I cut out freeform ginkgo leaves from textured copper clay and dried them in my dehydrator over Wilton flower formers.
Et Voila - Ginkgo Leaves!
I assembled five of these into a flower, added a couple of Cubic Zirconia and dried the flower on my mug warmer. The other flower was made from the left over clay out of the package.
I wrapped the flowers in fiber blanket to prevent slumping and put them in the kiln to burn away the binder for ten minutes, then took them out to cool while the kiln heated up further.
And then, woe, woe, thrice woe, disaster struck! It was my usual impatience that was my undoing. While the kiln was reheating, I tried to put the flowers into the carbon container for their second firing. Of course they were too hot to handle and I had to pick them up using long tweezers. While snuggling my O'Keeffe flower into the carbon, I handled it by the bail, which to my horror snapped off from the pendant. I looked up and caught sight of my face in the window - and burst into loud hysterical gales of laughter. 'Serves you right for doing such a stupid thing,' I thought. 'Why couldn't you wait for ten minutes longer, until the damn thing had cooled down?' Having administered myself a swift bollocking, I brought it back indoors and proceeded to repair it with copper clay spackle.
Kiln ready - again!!
And now, it is finally in the kiln and hopefully sintering, as I type. I will tell you more next week,
Have a great week, and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Copper Bracelets for Arthritis/ Rheumatism
Copper has always interested me - a lovely colour, that can be patinated and heat treated and turned into the most beautiful objects. My grandmother owned a number of copper vessels and bowls, and used to drink a glass of water from a bowl left to steep overnight - she swore that it helped her aches and pains (she also swore at her aches and pains, but that's another story).
Loads of people swear by copper - health shops abound with bracelets and amulets that are worn by people with painful joints - it is well known that copper worn on the skin is absorbed in small quantities - this got me thinking - why should copper bracelets be ugly, and tucked away under clothing to be invisible - lets celebrate copper and wear it with pride - so I made up a bunch of bracelets that while allowing for supposed medicinal properties, would also look pretty enough to be worn as a piece of jewellery. Then, I began to add gemstones to the bracelets - whilst enhancing the beauty of the bracelets - the spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down - c'mon, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a bit of Mary Poppins - gemstones themselves are thought to have healing properties. Now whether I believe this or not is not the issue - they look pretty, and if you believe in gemstone lore - who am I to argue? The prettiness coefficient is very high and I have explored various gemstone sites to find the best ones to work on the spiritual.
Copper has been associated with good health and archaeologists have been unearthing copper jewellery for a long time. Gold and silver are now so expensive - perhaps why there is a resurgence in the 'boho' requirement for copper jewellery. This suits me just fine - why colour gold 'rose' with a copper polish - wear the real thing - less expensively - its very rare to be able to say that!
Have a look - will give you a couple of examples here, but there are many more on the way! Copper will tarnish over time as it reacts with the air and it will develop a patina. That patina will be different depending on whether the item is inside or outside, and I have tried to delay this by applying a varnish/ wax - if you prefer, it can be left off. The varnish can be reapplied at points of wear and will last a long time. Copper reacts with certain skin types and may turn the skin bluish from the sulphur in the perspiration - this is easily washed away. The only way to find out if you react to copper is to wear some. However the varnish will minimise this. Indoors, copper will gradually reach a dark antique colour of penny brown. If you add rain to the mix, the patina will eventually turn to an attractive verdigris - a blueish green - a look many people find very desirable (think of old copper roofs or the Statue of Liberty).So, for those who want the patinated look, minimal cleaning is required and certainly no polishing! Many do, and I antique some of my pieces with chemicals, and then varnish so that the patina doesn't rub off. Heat treating copper gives it further colours - looks like an oil slick in a pool of water with colours ranging through metallic blues and greens to black - beautiful - on the copper, not anywhere else, I hasten to add.
Copper is easy to clean - a weak solution of vinegar and water, lemon juice or even ketchup smeared overnight will make it shine - it is the acetic acid in the home remedy that does the trick. However, it may need re varnishing after this.
Next week, I will have my kiln delivered - and then, many hours of fun, more pictures - I cant wait, am so excited (clapping hands like a seal!!)