Hello readers, how are you today? Hasn't January just flown by? It is already the 22nd, and in two weeks I will be back in India in the sunshine, having escaped from the miserable cold weather we are experiencing recently. I've started packing stuff in boxes for my show and making the last few pieces I intend to take with me. I've decided to call it a day now, and pack a few things every day - to stay away from my jewellery altogether would give me the DTs.
And now I have a small favor to ask. (Don't worry, it doesn't involve lending me money.) All I'm asking is, if you have the opportunity, that you help me get the word out about the exhibition on any social media platform you happen to participate in. It can be something as simple as a tweet, or a mention on Facebook, or Tumblr, or Pinterest, or Instagram, or even Google+.
Anything to raise awareness would be great! Please tell your friends - and of course come yourself, I'd love to see you.
It even managed to snow this week, and although it didn't last long and melted away in a couple of days, it messed up my weekend as we had planned a little shopping trip on the very day it snowed and my credit card heaved a sigh of relief.
The Tuareg Oasis
This year, it feels like I've thraped the Tuareg theme to death - but I love the tribal motif and it gives me a great opportunity to play with colour and shapes - to me the word 'colour' instantly calls for polymer clay in some form. As the Tuareg amulets and pendants came strung simply on black braided thread or black glass beads, there was no limit to where my imagination could take me and no precedent to block my flights of fancy.
I totally agree with the Rajasthani tribal people - the desert they wander is so sparse, and well, sandy, that their clothes have to be colourful to light up their lives. If I had my way, I'd get the Tuareg people walking about bedecked in bright colours too.
The green of this pendant though pretty, is not one that I would generally pick - I like the brighter green of the parrot, or even the chili - this one is a gentle leaf green, which is soothing to the eye, but not really vibrant. Prehnite is a vaseline green colour, with inky black random smudges and goes well with the pendant to give it a soft, sophistication which isn't 'in your face', which is usually my wont. Just to vary the shapes, I added a tribalistic imitation spindle whorl bead made of polymer clay in a silvery black.
I played with clay at the weekend and made these Shibori Seashell earrings designed by Carol Blackburn - love the icecream colours, don't you? A bit fed up with the cold weather, I also made some snowdrop earrings. Where are you, spring??
I did a happy dance - I entered a giveaway on the blog written by Pearl Blay - 'The Beading Gem's Journal' and won! I won a free webinar on how to photograph jewellery. I spent Sunday rushing around the house finishing all my chores to free myself up for seven pm which was the time allocated. I have a Canon point and shoot as well as a dslr, and have been to a couple of lessons on how to use my camera - but not with jewellery specifically. She managed to talk to dslr users, point and shooters and camera phone users all at the same time and made sense to all of them.
I wasn't sure what exactly I hoped to gain, but I know that product photography is of the utmost importance and any help with this is welcome. I wanted to learn how to get a clear white background, and how to keep shiny objects looking shiny - in my opinion, silver and pearls are very difficult to photograph. Pearl gave us some really great tips on this and what sort of lighting to use. I took loads of notes and am having a lot of fun experimenting with my new-found knowledge. Before I knew it, two and a half hours had flashed by - time does fly when you're having fun!
On Golden Wings
I found a vendor who had Jewellery Beetle's wings that have a golden tinge to them. I simply could not resist them and just had to make them up for the show - they are not freely available in India (or if they are, I've never seen them) and I thought it would be nice to offer something exotic. I've made jewellery with Elytra before, so I tried to do something completely different with them on this occasion, using earring connectors to give them a unique look.
I couldn't resist showing my pictures to my teacher - 'Look miss', I cried. And she was suitably pleased with my homework and sent me to the top of the class, which is more than I've ever achieved at school!
"Can do better," my report cards always said, which I took as a compliment - at least they didn't say "DUNCE".
Indian schooling is very competitive and my entire childhood was spent looking crestfallen at being made to feel a bit of a duffer. When I got to the UK, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that children were not put through the mill with hundreds of exams each year. If I wasn't such a resilient character, I might have believed that I was stupid.
Happy Dance No 2
At the end of last week, HOLY S*1T ( I mean WOW!), I HAD MY FIRST SALE IN MY ETSY SHOP !!! Pardon me for shouting, but I was so excited, all of it could have been in capitals, and we all know how annoying that can be. Anyway, it turned out that my first Etsy buyer is an artist called Julie Dumbarton who won Visual Artist of the Year in 2013 and 2014 and is totally in love with colour. OMG, pressure, or what?? I chewed my nails until I couldn't wait any more and sent her mail asking if she'd received it. Eventually that day it reached her in Scotland and I had an email from her to say she loved the piece - Phew! I can breathe again.
That's me for this week, folks. Here's a picture of my boys having a snooze on my bed - aren't they sweet? Have a fabulous weekend and I'll catch you next week, same time, same place.
Itchy feet, that's what I have!
Hello folks, nice of you to join me. Yes, as I was saying, it's been a while since I've packed my bags and ventured out to pastures fresh. My next trip will be to India to visit my mother, but that isn't for another couple of months, so I'm having to travel vicariously through Caprilicious. Last week, I was in Rio, and this week I am in Africa, with the Tuaregs. Here are some of the necklaces I made with Tuareg/ Berber tcherot amulets, there have been quite a few of them in the last couple of weeks.
The most striking attribute of the Tuareg is the indigo veil, worn by the men from the age of twenty five, giving rise to the name 'the Blue Men of the Sahara', or 'Men of the Veil'. The women do not veil themselves, and are the boss of the family - good for them!
The Tcherot is an amulet that protects the Blue Men when they cross the desert. This one is made of tooled camel leather, with engraved silver and copper set into it. I added the most colourful beads I could find - polymer clay, coral, fire agate, shell pearl, a couple of lapis lazuli nuggets - anything colourful in my stash, and then added beaded tassels to either side of the Tcherot (just in case it wasn't colourful enough!!). Tiny African trade beads and ceramic beads from India went into the making of the tassels, and at last, I was satisfied.
Escape Arts is a charity enabling adults and young people to become involved in creative projects. They are based at the Old Slaughterhouse, The Yard, Sheep Street, Stratford Upon Avon and are running an Artisan Christmas Market on the 12th and 13th of December. For the love of Caprilicious, I decided I'd brave the cold weather and give it a go - if any of you are down there do come and say hello, I'd love to see you.
In the run up to the market and Christmas, I've made a load of little earrings - if there are any left over after Christmas, I shall upload them onto the website as I haven't photographed them as yet.
With the last little Tcherot amulet I have in my collection, I made a colourful necklace using vinyl trade beads with a splash of even more colour from a couple of polymer clay beads I made earlier. The vinyl beads are in turquoise and mango and as the amulet is small in comparison with the others on the website, I made a three stranded necklace to give it some Oomph!
The Ginkgo Angel
Oh, come on, be fair, it is Christmas! I love the shape of the gingko leaf - I had never come across it until I began to make jewellery. The ginkgo tree is originally from China and is also called the Maidenhair tree. The leaves are bilobed and pretty, and the lady who ran the jewellery school where I went for my classes had a tree growing in her backyard. When it came to making a piece of jewellery with silver clay using a leaf, I picked a ginkgo leaf that had come off the tree. As it was autumn at the time, the leaf was slightly worse for wear, and even had a hole in it - which I thought was part of it's charm.
The pendant was made by painting over the leaf over and over again with liquid clay and drying it between coats. When it was eventually put in the kiln, the leaf burned off along with the binder in the clay, and a perfect 'death mask' of the leaf was left behind. I kept the silver leaf for a couple of years and this year, I added a couple of sterling wire bilobed ginkgo leaves and lo and behold, there appeared an angel in the room ( quite unexpectedly, as is their wont - angels, I mean) - well, the rest is seasonal history! I added coral teardrops and tiny slivers of brilliant labradorite that glint in the light to make this bright and pretty Christmassy necklace.
Over the years, I have made a number of pieces of jewellery with the imagery of ginkgo leaves and I dug out the pictures and compiled a little collage for you.
This little pink crescent moon pendant is from Afghanistan. Teamed with silvery glass beads and a few pink agate beads it make a pretty necklace which can be worn in the neckline of a shirt to make a simple but effective statement.
That's it for this week folks. I intend to spend the weekend packing the pieces of jewellery for the Artisan Market in Stratford on Avon. If you happen to be in the vicinity or fancy a drive into the countryside, do come and say hello. Introduce yourselves as readers of this blog, and I will give you a 15% discount - a kick start to your Christmas shopping!
Catch you next Friday, same time, same place, have a fabulous week,
Hello readers, it has been such a long and heart wrenching week with the events unfolding in Beirut and Paris. The world has shrunk and is suddenly a scary place to live in, with one bunch of people blaming another, and violence erupting around innocent bystanders. In the words of Albert Einstein, "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." My thoughts are with all the victims of the horrific attacks, as well as all those who will undoubtedly suffer serious discrimination as a result of the actions of a few mass murderers in the name of religion.
It seems almost frivolous to talk about jewellery with the next breath, however, life goes on, and this is a jewellery blog. I almost had nothing to talk about, I couldn't bring myself to pick up my beads, my heart was so heavy. I made some earrings in a desultory manner, just to keep my fingers and mind occupied. Eventually, I picked up a hank of tiny African trade beads and began to string them. My subconscious seemed to crave colour on these depressingly grey days, glued to the television, watching events unfold with
retaliation and retribution going back and forth until I was reminded of that age old question about the chicken and the egg.
The term "Trade Beads" typically applies to beads made predominately in Venice, the Czech Republic and other European countries from the late 1400's through to the early 1900's, and traded in Africa and the Americas.
The Venetians dominated this market and produced the majority of the beads sold during this time. One of the most intriguing aspects to these beads is how they survived over a hundred years of wear and travel, back and forth through at least three continents. Another mystery is who wore them before and who will have them next.......after us! I managed to get an eight stranded necklace from the hank. The bright colours were cheerful and uplifting, and I certainly needed it this week. I recently acquired a few Tuareg pendants all the way from Rabat in Morocco. The one I used in this necklace is made of ebony, inlaid with 0.925% silver.
Tuareg culture has a long matrilineal strain: the Tuareg consider themselves descendants of a great female ancestress, Tin Hinan. Historically, women have held positions as tribal leaders, and they still enjoy great behavioral freedom. They go about unveiled (while the men cover their faces), they may divorce at will, own the family tent and control their own property.
Amulets are worn to ward off evil, to protect family and livestock, and to cure diseases. They are traditionally worn by both genders and are part of everyday wear. Religious symbols may be carved into the amulets, and they are expensive. Silver is traditionally considered as pure and lucky, while gold is thought to be malevolent, unclean and wasteful.
I love the versatility of tribal necklaces and am just as likely to pair them with T shirts as I am with more formal attire. There's also the allure of wearing accessories with a meaningful backstory.
Here's another necklace, this time with a silver Tcherot amulet. The word Habibi means loved one, or darling. I added multicolour African vinyl beads, Krobo beads from Ghana and some polymer clay beads I made myself. The unique thin, multicoloured disc (heishi) beads are made with vulcanite, a vulcanized hard rubber and traces of vinyl. These beads were most likely produced in Europe (Czech Republic or Germany), and then exported to West Africa.The tcherot amulet in this necklace is three dimensional.
That is all I could bring myself to make this week, readers. I unconsciously used bright colours in an effort to cheer myself up and hope you have enjoyed them too. Take care and stay safe, I cannot see this crazy conflict ending any time soon. In the meantime, have a good weekend, and I'll catch you next Friday, same place, same time
Dear readers, how nice of you to drop by, I love meeting you here like this. I despair of Ms Muse, I really do - she refuses to come out of holiday mode. She's been galvanising me into using the most colourful beads in my hoard and this week's pieces have all come out bright and beautiful as a consequence.
I thought I'd play you some music as well, it has been a while, so here we are.
The lovely red crystal beads I had leftover from making 'Mandarin' were turned into a necklace of two strands using diamante set connectors. They do look like holly berries, don't they?
Kind of Blue
The pendant and the silver beads in this necklace are from Jaipur and are made with 925 silver. The capsular pendant has little dangling bells and is on a necklace of the most beautiful lapis lazuli teardrops contrasting with bright green dyed jade beads. I named the necklace after a record by my favourite Jazz and Blues musician, Miles Davis. Ms Muse remembered a statue of him made by Niki Saint Phalle outside Le Negresco in Nice. My necklace I think, is no less colourful. A pair of earrings with the lapis teardrops and a tiny peridot bead echoing the green of the jade accompanies the necklace.
I've had all the elements for this necklace in my stash forever - they just sat there quietly until one day the carnelian leaf shaped pendant jumped out of it's box and demanded, yes, demanded to be used. I rummaged around in my bead drawers and the red jasper needles and citrine nuggets came out to join the party. The citrine nuggets are so pretty, and remind me of the crystalline unrefined sugar my grandma used to hand out to us kids when we'd been especially good. Mum used to go mad, claiming that she had spoiled our appetites for dinner, but my grandma knew that if she bribed us with brown sugar, we were sure to return to keep her company in the hope of more coming our way.
By the Grace of the Griot
The word “Tcherot” means “message” or “paper on which something is written” in the language of the nomadic Tuareg tribe. The Tcherot is often a metal or leather lozenge shaped box which holds magic letters, numbers, names of days, stars and planets, or signs representing the eye, revealing the esoteric practices well known by the Griots or holy men. At other times a Tcherot may contain desert sand, small 'lucky' objects, or simply the “whiff” of the Griot, at the request of the person who needs protection from the evil eye, curses and diseases or to receive favors or luck.
I bought a Tcherot from a trader in the UK - and one look at the price and I wondered if would be subsidising her next airfare to Niger. However when I rechecked the prices on other websites and realised that I was getting a fair price I simply had to buy it. It is made of camel's leather and studded with bronze.
I decided to make some dull gold beads using polymer clay and gold foil - thankfully I had written an aide memoire for silver foiled beads which was easy to follow.
That's it for this week, folks. I am publishing the blog a day earlier this week as I am going to a precious metal clay class in the south of England which I am combining with a medical meeting and visiting friends in Bournemouth.
Anna Mazon is coming in from Poland to teach her herbarium pendants and I have long wanted to learn a bit more about using precious metal clay - and there's nothing like learning from a professional. I have only made fairly simple and straightforward pieces of jewellery in my kiln, and am really looking forward to learning some new techniques from her. I shall tell you all about it next week.
Have a lovely week, folks, thanks again for joining me. I shall catch you next Friday, usual time, same place
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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