My muse was in the grip of an obsession she was powerless to resist, and swept me along with her enthusiasm. Everyone loves orchids, and I once harboured a secret longing to grow them in my conservatory, and get a really good collection going. However, when I thought about it more carefully, I remembered that I was married to a renowned murderer of pot plants - and why on earth should the poor orchids fare any better than all the plants in our house which have given up the ghost one by one, and kicked the bucket, happy to depart just to get away from the over zealous attentions of Mike??
So, having managed to tame my longings for an orchid arbour, I have ended up, from time to time making orchid jewellery. I bought these beautiful orchids online - they were vanished by my house elf for a long while - I got so fed up of looking for them ( my house got a spring clean in the bargain while I turned everything over), I bought another lot - and once Elfie realised that I would not be deprived, he gave up in disgust and threw the first lot back at me. Last week, I made some earrings with them, and they were bought up almost immediately. So here are some more I made to replace them.....
And while I had these on the go, I played with wire and made......yet more orchids! They were sufficiently similar in size to turn them into earrings, once I decided how to hang them.
I made the ear wires up myself - shop bought ones simply wouldn't do - they had to be shaped and hammered into position with a nylon mallet to give the wire strength and keep it all from falling apart. The wires are coated with nylon, so that they do not react badly to skin ( or is it the other way round?? - anyway, you know what I mean).
I bought this beautiful ox bone face from Robyn of Indounik, a lovely lady who lives in Indonesia. I was looking for a face to make a piece of jewellery to fit one of my favourite songs 'Clare', by Fairground Attraction - Clare is a 'serpentine seductress' , trained in New Orleans in the dark arts of voodoo. I have other bone faces, but this one, with the design carved into it seemed to fit the bill perfectly - the piece I planned was a pendant with loads of swirling wire, with a seductive, dark look - in the end, the piece took 9 feet of 20 gauge wire and miles of fine weaving wire, and once the copper in the pendant was treated with chemicals and darkened, she looks a lot like what I envisaged in my mind - I am happy with her. I showed it to Robyn, and she remarked that the free flow of the wire must have been a bit like meditation 'Wow, Neena, that's a truly incredible piece - so intricate and so intriguing. I'll bet that's like me shunting bits of paper and photos and other things around a scrapbook page, you find going where the wire wanders like a form of meditation '.
An old friend came to spend the weekend with us, and as we chatted and rehashed old times, I played with a spool of wire and this little rose was born. It seemed to be entirely the natural thing to do once the formalities of the meal had been dispensed with.
And finally, last but not least, after all those floral offerings, I made a linear pendant, inspired by the work of Nicole Hanna - well, it has very soft lines - I used a lamp work glass bead in orange and turquoise as the focus - I am in awe of people who make pretty things with glass - it is such a difficult thing to do. I have recently bought a large stash of lamp work beads in whimsical colours and designs and no doubt you will see them from time to time.
That's all I had time for this week, folks, have a fabulous weekend, and I'll catch you next week, same time, same place
I have recently begun to scour blogs with tips about photography in the time when I am not working or making jewellery, and found a blog post called " Thirteen Things Your Camera Wishes You Knew" and found out that apparently, I have let my inner chimp roam free - I will have to talk sternly to myself from now on!
I have spent a lot of time wishing I knew more about my camera, sometimes getting a bit annoyed with it because it seems so complicated - I never thought how I might be offending it by my ineptitude.
"Photographers call it “chimping” when someone looks at every shot on the LCD after it is taken. The name comes from people looking at the camera and repeatedly saying “oooh” like a chimpanzee."
This photograph is from Zambio.
This is a limited edition archival print by Kalyani Ganapathy, an extremely talented painter from my home town, Bangalore. Her paintings are filled with whimsy, and they speak to my funny bone - she says, sometimes my work reminds her of her own - obviously a kindred spirit thang going on here! I am the proud possessor of one of her original paintings.
I thought about what happens when gossip becomes vicious, and how rumours are born - and my next piece was conceived right there. I made some triangular flat bangles from polymer clay and added bits of coloured spots in different shapes and sizes on one side, spilling over and through the centre, turning into a completely different coloured spots on the other side - this is how Chinese Whispers work - they are converted into quite something else by the time they spread far and wide - the dark side of a good gossip.
I like the idea of quirky jewellery which is contemporary at the same time - something that makes you smile while making you look good, don't you??
We went to the German Christmas Market in Birmingham over the weekend - unfortunately, there wasn't a single thing that was German in it! Even the sausages were Lincolnshire and Cumberland - the burgers were made from kangaroo, ostrich, reindeer and Aberdeen Angus meat - not really known for hailing from Germany - the whole thing defied the Trade Descriptions Act! But I took some pictures - and here are some for you to look through.....
Meet Coral, the Goth - she is actually a pharmacist who has a degree in Infectious diseases and comes from Mauritius - I saw her in an otherwise empty Jazz club, and was blown away by her pizzazz - I overcame my natural reticence and went in to chat to her - she most obligingly posed for me - and once again, with her friend when they came out of the club. Isn't she fabulous?? - she says she doesn't feel the cold!!
This flower blooms obligingly in the dead of winter, through the snow and frost, and comes back faithfully every year - it grows in shade, so I grow it under my evergreen trees in the shade of my garden fence and I can see it from my bedroom - it is probably the only colour in the garden in winter.
The Saga of the Caprilicious Rose Giveaway
I pulled out some polymer clay and made a bunch of pretty roses in the orange, yellow and red combination on the Caprilicious logo - and then I thought, wouldn't it be nice to give them away as a birthday gift from Caprilicious - so that's what I did - a bit ( a lot) of confusion ensued from this one single light bulb moment - I didn't realise how hard it was to give things away.
I did say at the start that people would have to pay for the postage - just the jewellery was free. One of the ladies took exception to having to pay for postage - and then it ensued that she thought I was asking for payment for the pendant - too late, I had offered it to someone else by then.
Paypal began to play me up and charged people double the amount, so I had to cancel and resend the invoices, one person asked for earrings after they had all gone - but as she is a bit of a favourite, I will make more for her.
I posted news of the giveaway on the jewellery forum I belong to on Facebook, thinking to give something back to the ladies who offer constructive criticism, and stroke and soothe the old ego (stroking is always welcome) when I post my pictures on the forum, but the administrators deleted the post - no giveaways allowed! - PHEW! - it began to look like the proverbial badly organised p**s up in a brewery!
Anyway, all but one lot have been posted out now - I worried that they might be too fragile to go in the post, so had to put in a load of wadding - which in turn made the postage costs go up - remind me please, not to do this again - or to do it with more robust, easily posted items - I ought to think things through rather than acting on a light bulb moment!!
Made of the Mist
Silvery quartz points were interspersed with Czech glass teardrops that seem to glow in the light. One of the points was wrapped with enamelled copper wire and Japanese rectangular glass beads and used as a pendant - I think the silver of the quartz resembles the gray mist - there's something mystical and magical about them - it was as if sorceress had imprisoned the mist and hung it around my neck. The necklace is both delicate and substantial at the same time and deserves a good home...... any takers??
That's all I had time for this week folks. Have a good one, and I will catch you next week, same time, same place
I was at work in the day job all last weekend - and this time the Gods weren't smiling on me - it was literally the weekend from hell! I was in and out of the hospital, picking up pieces that had been dropped by others, soothing ruffled feathers - and whatever could go wrong..... did.
So I came home each day and pulled out my beads and clay and soothed myself calm - it was so nice to be able to do that - and I think the people around me benifited from that! A three day weekend can be so tedious, when everything is unravelling around you.
Shiny pretty things - to appeal to the magpie in every woman
I took delivery of a bunch of crystals from someone who was closing down a bead shop - so while I sat watching the telly with Mike, I put together some pretty chandelier earrings - I felt the need to dive straight into the crystals - I usually hoard pretty things for some crazy reason, but it would be madness to hoard half a kilogram of mixed crystals. I poured them through my fingers, sorting them into little piles and picking the ones I wanted to use - like a wide eyed AliBaba in the cave of treasures - and these are the chandeliers I made with this multicolour medley of crystal beads.
Love's Sweet Scent
This piece evolved out of my disastrous weekend - I mixed myself some pretty buttery yellow clay to make flowers from - had just about had enough of various shades of pink - someone recently said that yellow is a difficult colour to create with, and apparently, some people wont wear yellow as it causes their skin to look sallow. I thought, maybe it could be used as an accent - to brighten up a piece of jewellery - a little bit of it can't hurt - and it is so pretty after all. A floral theme seemed to evolve - I made peony type flowers - which will go into a brooches, I think, and a bunch of jasmine flowers and buds - these are the little plump jasmine that have the most delicious scent - ladies in India might wear just the one in their hair and you can smell it from a mile off, if you have a halfway decent sense of smell. They are usually a creamy white, but I claimed artistic licence and made them in the yellow of the winter flowering jasmine found in more temperate climes - they are still pretty recognisable though..... I think!
My mother has a bush in her garden which yields loads of flowers - enough to use as offerings during her prayers, and for the ladies of the house to wear in their hair should the mood take them. I remember my dad bringing home little packets of jasmine garlands, all ready for pinning into mum's hair - and she always shared them with her daughters - I wonder if it was a secret message between them!
Anyway, mindful of the edict that too much yellow would not be appreciated, I wove my jasmine into a little corsage, and teamed it with turquoise coins, pearly beads and dark blue sunstone in a statement collar - I love making those. I am sure, come winter, when the only flowers we can find easily are in the supermarket, they will gladden the heart.
These jasmine are evocative of my childhood, and the bush growing outside my bedroom window, and I called it Love's Sweet Scent. The jasmine has been set low enough so it won't jab the wearer in the neck - I just love this necklace.
I also made some silver components in my kiln - more flowers!- I need to decide just what to do with them, so will just post a little sneak peek into what is to come. The polymer clay peony has very thin petals, to try and resemble the flower as closely as possible - it may be too fragile on a piece of jewellery that may be knocked about during regular wear, and will have to go into a brooch, though I originally inteded to use it on the wrist in a wide bracelet - like a prom corsage.
Jhumkas - Indian style in Wire and Crystal
I made some beadcaps using wire and crystal - when my friend Suj saw one of them, she said - Oh you can make Jhumkas out of them - Jhumkas are bell shaped danglers, and almost every Indian woman has a pair of these. They used to be simple, in gold and pearls, but have now become so fanciful, they are almost unrecognisable. I made mine in copper wire with some of my crystal bead stash in a colour combination of green and gold - very dressy. As these are all lightweight beads, the resultant piece is pretty and ornamental, yet light and easy to wear.
My little piece of Caprilicious silver this week is a tiny fine silver bud, about an inch long, made in the kiln, antiqued and polished, with a tiny red Cubic Zirconium emdedded into it. It comes with it's own chain, and is perfect for someone who likes her jewellery a bit smaller - as you all know, a lot of my stuff is 'in your face' and cannot be overlooked when worn - maybe because I was once innately shy, (although I have grown out of it now) but there was another side to me that was a bit 'song and dance', and didn't know quite how to reflect that, so preferred my apparel to do it for me. I could not buy chain store stuff if someone paid me.
Most of my designs are made with me in mind - if you don't want it, I should be happy to wear it myself - so, the corollary to this is, if you like the stuff I make, we must be kindred souls - Soul Sisters, even!
That's all for my week this time around - see you same time, same place next week
Jewellery making has taught me a few things about myself - I always thought I was a pragmatic, sensible person with a sober, practical bent. Who knew that deep within me, lurking somewhere, was a love of pretty, romantic images - roses, fairytales, pearls, sea foam, snow blossom....
If someone had asked what sort of jewellery I would have chosen to create a few years ago, I would have picked modern abstract pieces - squares within circles - you know what I mean - clean unfussy lines, gentle curves slashed by straight soaring gashes of colour, red and orange against black.... These are images that appeal to me, and I am drawn to them in art galleries and glossy brochures of modern art - and yet... when I think about putting my own creative forces into action, the objects that spring forth from my mind and hands are very different.
It would seem that deep within me, there is a very feminine side that longs for lace and flowers - I buy my gemstones and beads to conform to that side of me, and unsurprisingly, the resulting jewellery is as it is - I will leave you to be the judge of that.
I had some exciting news this week - my designs were featured in Bead Magazine - a whole page spread - boy, was I chuffed! I have a photograph of the page - the best I could get from my little camera, but it was nice to see that other jewellery makers rate my designs.
No sooner had I just about got used to this, a friend of mine informed me that a design I had posted idly on the online gallery of yet another jewellery makers magazine - this time Beads and Beyond - had won a £10 voucher! This was almost too much to take - all in one week!
I could have danced all night, I could have danced all night, etc. etc ..... but, what I did was to cook dinner, go to bed, and go to work the next day - Oh well, such is life!
I made a pendant with a pale green agate geode, very gently faceted to accentuate the markings of the crystalline structure within - the stone is rough cut at the edges, and I allowed that to be just visible - I didn't want a neat and tidy bezel hiding the edges. A wire rose appeared, almost by magic, some leaves, a vine - I love that particular effect clambering all over my jewellery - 'rose hips' of delicious yellow agate, malachite and a chrysocolla tear - drop. I added a pretty three dimensional butterfly to the edge of the necklace for a touch of whimsy - it looks like it is just taking flight, having had it's fill of nectar. When I explain my jewellery to my mother, she smiles at me as if to say ' what have I brought up here??' and I can almost see her tapping the side of her head - 'Toc Toc' and rolling her eyes! But there are people who get it - so this is for you kindred spirits - prosaic on the outside with a soft centre within...
I wanted some straight lines to contrast with the curves of the rose and the curlicues around the geode, and I think this works well, and will sit neatly within the collar or neck of a dress. And, I just love the way the butterfly almost seems to flutter on the edge of the piece.
The next piece came about because I had promised myself that I would make a bracelet this week, and also that I would add to the Caprilicious Silver collection with at least one piece a week - so, I combined the two. I have had this intriguing gemstone in my collection forever - it is a piece of Chiastolite - found in the Almeria district of Andalusia and so, also called Andalusite. It has needles of carbonaceous material included deep within, and when viewed in cross section it looks like a crucifix. Chiastolite is also called the 'lapis crucifer' or 'cross stone' in ancient texts. It is a dull brown stone, and I thought it needed pretty and shiny elements by it, to brighten it - unless the jewellery was for a monk! So here is the Andalusian Prayer Bracelet.
The citrine nuggets, aventurine cylinders and labradorite rondelles with their sheen when they catch the light, offset the dullness of the Chiastolite, and along with the shine from the silver, this is a handsome piece.
Six strands of tiny 3mm rose quartz beads interspersed with Swarovski pearls, with a knot holding a dyed Howlite donut - some of the strands are strung on red beading wire, bringing out the pink in the rose quartz, and the others on plain wire, giving it a paler whisper pink colour. The effect is that of the Snow Blossom, which is the flower from the cherry or the plum trees, which when in full bloom looks just like snow.
Finding ways to display jewellery online can be quite challenging - my other half is useless at photography and refuses to learn, so I have to do it all myself. I had to buy a dummy to display my necklaces as the pictures Mike took were shockingly poor, and now that I am going to make a few more bracelets, and do not have the requisite 'pale hands beside the Shalimar' I bought this dummy - it comes in two pieces, with a join exactly where the bracelet rests - I spent a lot of time editing the pictures to make the join unobtrusive after photographing the Andalusian Prayer - and then I was asked politely to put the arm away - he says he hates it - any more chuntering from Mike, and I might just put it where the sun dont shine!!!
Thats all for this week folks, have a good weekend, I am at the day job all weekend, hope it doesn't get too busy and I will have something to show you next week.
I love roses - there were so many fabulous rose bushes in my mother's house at one time, and when I moved to the UK, I tried to replicate that garden - alas, I had not factored in their requirement for sunlight, and planted them willy nilly - needless to say, I was a very disappointed rose non - grower! In later years, I took the trouble to study floriculture, and realised that all my borders were in the shade, and roses were never going to do well in my garden - Phew! that was that, at least now I knew what I was doing wrong, I could stop my doomed efforts to have a rose garden. Now I just buy them in Sainsbury's with the weekly shop, and that satisfies my soul. When I set up Caprilicious, I used a picture of roses in all my banners, business cards, Facebook and Etsy shops - I suppose you could say, I overdosed my soul with roses.
I learned to make polymer clay roses and to use them in some very pretty ways. I strung them together in a necklace, wired them into ear cuffs - I put them anywhere I could - it would appear that I made these pieces when I was feeling particularly romantic - a lovely melody, or a sweet gesture from my husband perhaps, would set me to thinking of roses.
In one of these moods, I crafted the Enchanted Garden, which had a contemplative little face set in a rose strewn necklace/collar. A friend of mine saw it and asked if I could make her a bracelet - she will visit me from the USA in August, and I endeavoured to make a cuff bracelet, using a method described by the fabulous Donna Kato. I was given carte blanche with the colours, so made them a bit brighter than the Enchanted Garden.
Donna Kato uses a wire armature cured into the basic bracelet to provide strength and flexibility, and the whole piece is cured on a form. Embellished with the roses and leaves, and when buffed, sanded and varnished, it is good to go!
The final piece is pretty, and both flexible and strong, and I am quite pleased with it. I will finish it off this weekend, and you can have a look at it next week. It needs a bit of paint, and varnish, and I have not had the energy this week - best to do paint work etc when in the mood, or all that effort will be vain and the bracelet will have to be junked!
A Desert Rose is formed in arid desert conditions, when gypsum, selenite and barite form fan shaped crystals in rosettes due to naturally occurring cleavage planes, especially from the evaporation of shallow salt basins.
I saw a picture of these beautiful natural sculptures, and tried to recreate them in wire. I added some leaves and a pod shaped dangling pendant to the rose for added interest, and made a couple more roses to create a pair of extremely simple danglers on long kidney ear hooks.
Sting had this fantastic song called Desert Rose, and I have included it here - but I think he is singing of yet another kind of desert rose!
I promised myself that I would endeavour to make at least one piece of jewellery out of silver, to add to the Caprilicious Silver Collection. Missed the deadline last week, so made two pieces this week, playing catch up with myself. My raison d'etre for jewellery making was to create fantastical pieces out of wire and other components, that were at once wearable, and affordable. Unfortunately, the 'affordable' part of that statement has, so far, precluded the use of silver wire - I use so much wire in my statement necklaces, that at today's prices for silver, they would have to become heirloom pieces. One day, perhaps, but not just yet!
I have had to content myself with the use of pretty, tiny gemstone beads - to my surprise, I find that the smaller the size of the bead, the higher the price is likely to be - and of course small faceted beads cost a bomb! So, I choose carefully, and I find unusual shapes, sizes and colours will that set the Caprilicious Silver Collection apart. I made these earrings with Sterling silver wire, labradorite, peridot and apatite beads, and added a Swarovski crystal dangler - just to lift and brighten the piece. It is light and pretty little piece of jewellery, but, because of the gemstones and their colours, is extremely fetching.