Last week I was toasting myself in the sun, albeit gently, walking in a park where people were shedding outer layers of clothing, much like a snake sheds its skin. I wasn't quite so brave, but I did put away my winter boots - and this week - it snowed! - a frantic rummage in the shoe cupboard ensued!
Oh well, it was nice while it lasted - I just hope that's not the end of the British summer - as my husband is fond of reminding me - "Ne'er cast a clout till May is out" - if he would only tell me what a 'clout' is, I would be better equipped to deal with the weather.
I found inspiration from an unlikely source this week - a programme on the telly about leaf fossils excavated in the UK.
Leaf fossils are a window into what the Earth looked like in prehistoric times. We can look at a leaf fossil and let our imagination conjure up a field or forest millions of years ago.
About 50 million years ago, in southern England and the Isle of Wight, mangroves grew in the wet areas, and in the drier areas the plants included pines, laurel, raspberry and magnolia. The programme was about an accidental find of a laurel leaf fossil, from the Isle of Wight, probably similar to leaves of today i.e. leathery, shiny and containing aromatic oil. Laurel is widespread today, in tropical, subtropical and Mediterranean regions and is not indigenous to the area. This fossil was found in a bed of slate - Slate is a fine-grained, sedimentary rock composed of volcanic ash through low-grade regional metamorphism - there are no known volcanoes in the vicinity of the Isle of Wight.
The Leaf Unturned Necklace
I made a leaf from copper Precious Metal Clay in my kiln, polished it, and then patinated it using rock salt, acetic acid and liquid ammonia fumes till I got a lovely encrustation of the turquoise blue, akin to that found on the roofs of buildings in Liverpool - they have a fantastic copper roof on the Liver Building which is always this colour. This had to be varnished to hold the patina for posterity (!) and then set in faux slate - polymer clay which I have now found can be made to resemble almost anything - give me some wire and some polymer clay - and I will be in heaven! I made up the necklace with grey speckled ceramic beads of different sizes, a lava rock flower, snowflake obsidian, which is essentially quick cool lava rock with grey/white inclusions, and a few little dangles - I do like my dangles - to signify the field of wild flowers where the prehistoric fossil was found, and a couple of twists of faux turquoise, for colour and some freshwater pearls - an entirely grey piece would be dull, dont you think??
I read a book called Steampunkery by Christi Friesen - it is absolutely my kind of craft book - simply written, with loads of tips and pictures, with a wicked sense of humour - I have never read a craft book written so well. On further investigation, she writes free tutorials on the internet as well, and all she asks for is a mention. I have vowed never to copy anyone - and I stick to that rigidly - but as Mike is fond of saying - 'there's no such thing as an original thought' (yes, he's a wise old bird, that one - his hair ain't silver for nothing!!) - and you have to get your inspiration from somewhere, I thought Christi's book was a good place to start.
I made the next pendant, Unbreak my Heart from a popular song of that name by Toni Braxton in the 90's - the heart disgorges wires and springs and gears - much like a broken settee - it is made in the tradition of Steampunk - my first dabble into this genre.
Steampunk came into prominence in the late 80s and 90s incorporating elements of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, horror, and speculative fiction. It involves a setting where steam power is widely used— the Victorian era in Britain or the "Wild West" in the United States, or in a post-apocalyptic time with elements of either science fiction or fantasy. This technology includes time machines and airships found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, and of course, more modern writers with whom I am not familiar.
“To some, ‘steampunk’ is a catchall term, a concept in search of a visual identity. To me, it’s essentially the intersection of technology and romance." – Jake von Slatt, aka Mr Steampunk - an IT professional and 'steampunk mechanical hacker' - you can find him here if you want to know more. http://www.wired.com/culture/design/news/2007/06/vonslatt
I made the pendant, made up the ribbon necklace, took pictures and posted them on Facebook - when I got home from work, to my pleasant surprise, there was a very discerning lady (anyone who likes my stuff must have a discerning eye, right?? - right!) looking to buy it - in fact she requested earrings to match as well! - which I made up at the weekend.
" Unbreak my heart,
Say you'll love me again
Undo this hurt you caused
when you walked out the door
And walked out of my life
Uncry those tears......" Toni Braxton
A mechanical heart might be so much easier to unbreak!
Unbreak My Heart
The next piece was pure tomfoolery - how many times have we seen those sickly sweet cherubs on people's walls and in garden centres up and down the land, smiling benignly down from heaven - or wherever it is these cherubs get to - purely nausea inducing, I think - that of course is my personal opinion!
So, still under the spell of Christi Friesen, I made a naughty cherub - my kinda guy - a bit worse for wear, sticking plaster and grazed elbows, obviously been out somewhere - top hat, tails, bow-tie, monocle on a chain, blowing smoke from a fat cigar (which started life as a cigarette, but ended up as a cigar by the time I put in a wire armature to keep it upright). My dad had a record by Connie Francis from the late 50's called Stupid Cupid - and this is what I named him - I shall include this song, you can play it as you read on, for a bit of light relief!
I think he's ever so cute - I hung him on a hot pink velvet ribbon that simply ties at the back and is adjustable so he can nestle in a cleavage - which I think he would like, being the sort of guy he is, or be worn with a T shirt.
Have a Happy Easter holiday - eat a hot cross bun for me!! See you next week.