Hello readers, and a very Mery Christmas to you all. I hope Santa has put a lot of thought into the presents he is bringing you, especially those of you who are getting pieces of Caprilicious Jewellery.
Life at the day job has been very hectic recently and I'm quite looking forward to the long break over Christmas. I shall lie in, have long bubble baths in candlelight, light a fire and cook roast beef for Christmas lunch with a few friends, eat chocolate and drink champagne (no, that's one step too far!). When my friends have gone, there will be loads of time to play with clay and beads - plus ça change, plus ça même chose!
An Epic Fail - I've Been Humptied!
Last week, I was inspired by previous successes to make clay flowers. I love the pale gold of bronze, and the beautiful play of colours when the pieces come out of a hot kiln after being fired in a closed, carbon filled container at 800 degrees C for two hours. I opened a fresh package of bronze clay which looks just like a mud pie when it comes out of it's plastic wrap, and got started.
I made three flowers - a poppy, a violet/pansy and a hibiscus. Working out the making of the pieces was so much fun and I got carried away with the hibiscus. I fired the two smaller pendants while I lovingly gazed at the hibiscus, stroking the petals sensuously like one would the thigh of a lover, sanding it to remove any irregularities and prettifying it with little shiny cubic zirconia.
Perhaps I knew I was in over my head and that the hibiscus was doomed to fail? Anyway, I prevaricated, telling myself I had to get it perfect before firing it - until eventually I could do no more with it. I came home early from work one afternoon, and my heart quickened - finally, it was time to fire my beauty.
So onto the steel mesh she went, lovingly snuggled up in a fibre blanket, with supports for the petals and pistil that might just go floppy in the kiln.
Just ten minutes in the kiln at 500 degrees to burn off the binder and I brought her out to cool while I raised the temperature in the kiln to 800 degrees C.
When cool enough to touch, I picked her up and put her on a bed of carbon, gently nestling her into it so she wouldn't flop at high temperatures. And suddenly, it happened - crunch! came a little sound, and one of the petals had broken in three. OMG! Oh well, I could take it indoors and fix it, I reckoned. So I sat down with clay paste, trying to fix the hibiscus - unfortunately it was a bit like trying to fix Humpty Dumpty and eventually, the whole thing disintegrated in my hands.
Oh yes, I learned some lessons, and yes, there will be another hibiscus - and I shall persevere till it works. I have kept a photo diary of what I did, and will take pictures again so that when I do get it right, I will know what works, for future reference.
At least I had the two other flower pendants to play with! To stave off the depression that threatened to descend on me after the loss of my beauty, I made two necklaces with them. I sat down with wire and made a couple of clasps to go onto the ends of the necklaces and picked out a few strings of gemstone beads, spacer beads, accents, generally busying myself with putting the elements together for a couple of necklaces. Every now and then a self pitying thought surfaced for having Humptied such a beautiful pendant, but I refused to allow it to overwhelm me and forged on. Here are the necklaces I made.
The little flower could just as easily be a violet as a pansy and the purple agate was interspersed with loads of tiny little colourful gemstone beads, and a little bronze leaf I made earlier dangling from the clasp.
The centre of this flower was purposefully made rough and darkened with alcohol ink. A couple of lost wax cast Kenyan beads pick up the colour of the flower and provide and accent. Along with the blue dyed jade, the necklace looks rather pretty, even though I say so myself. What do you think??
While I spent daylight hours making and refining the flowers including the hibiscus that got Humptied, I sat in front of the telly in the evenings sewing tiny beads and braids around a druzy cabochon and came up with this little pendant hung on a non tarnish copper torque necklace. It looks a lot like a sun, and is rather bright and so named after a Beatle's song, Here Comes the Sun.
That's me for this week, folks. All that's left is for me to wish you a very happy Christmas, and I shall catch up with you next week, same time, same place.
Hello readers and lovers of statement jewellery everywhere, it is nice of you to drop by the Caprilicious blog. Sun?? What is she talking about? I hear you ask - well, the UK has had the most beautiful September and we cannot believe that winter and Jack Frost will soon be here. But the real raison d'etre for the title is the solar quartz I recently acquired.
Solar Quartz is a slice of agatized stalactite, with mossy inclusions. It is usually pale grey or white, and can be dyed in brilliant colours. The radiating central core of the stalactite, with the mossy inclusions makes the cut section resemble a flower, or if you want to use your imagination a bit more, the sun. If you believe in the metaphysical qualities of gemstones, here's a little snippet for you...
These were the two pieces I got from a vendor in Jaipur - they were so irresistibly beautiful, I had to put them into a setting straight away. I used sterling silver wire for one of them, and copper for the other. They were quite hard to wrap, considering all the wavy edges I had to contend with, but a bit of perseverance, a lot of grunting and growling, muttering and mumbling, sweating and swearing, and hooray! two pendants appeared.
The quartz reminds me of a cocktail served at a restaurant I once went to in Drogheda, Ireland - it is called Paradise and contains light rum, Malibu, Blue Curacao, Pineapple juice and Grenadine. The way the liqueurs are layered makes the cocktail visually appealing though quite disgustingly sweet (that's just my opinion) - drink two of them and everything (one) becomes appealing!
I own one of these torq necklaces, and they are fabulous especially when travelling - one just needs to pack a bunch of pendants and there's an instant change of jewellery and a very contemporary necklace that no one else is likely to have.
These faux 'lapis' beads were made from polymer clay - with this necklace in mind. The pendants from Afghanistan are on the heavy side and when teamed with gemstone beads ( they aren't called 'stones' for nothing) the weight of the piece could become unwearable, especially with the larger slab nuggets I wanted to use.
I wasn't prepared for how beautiful the Afghani pendant and the 'lapis' nuggets would look when put together in a piece of jewellery - I was astounded and the only way to describe it was 'Lush' - hence it's name.
I made a trek up to the Cotswolds for a two day polymer clay workshop - this is the third year running that I have gone to it - we carry our own selection of tools, including pasta machines - everything but the kitchen sink, in the boots of our cars, and stay at hotels, pubs and B&Bs around Broadway. We were around 40 of us this year, who came and went over 3 days, and it was a lovely atmosphere of camaraderie and sharing of ideas and techniques.
We had teachers from France and the USA this year and although I didn't actually finish any of my pieces while I was there, (too busy gassing and looking around in awe at the other students - if one of my teachers from school was reading this, she'd ask 'what's new?' ) I came back home and was sufficiently enthused to complete the most colourful piece I had begun.
There is a second piece that I will probably finish this weekend - it is pale and contemporary and interestingly beautiful - but I plump for colour, every time!
The inspiration for the colours in the piece below came from this picture - Loretta Lam, our teacher, got us to mix the colours in the right proportions, and make the beads for the necklace out of Ultralight clay - which is just as well for such large beads which otherwise would have felt like the heavy bells around a cow's neck - I don't fancy making jewellery for the bovine!
This necklace has strong sculptural shapes and is hard work to make - the beads are first shaped and cured, then segments of veneer, made beforehand in the colours required, are applied piece by piece, and cured as they are applied one at a time - the beads spend almost a whole day in the oven being cured - and then of course they need to be sanded and buffed to a shine. The necklace is reversible and I love it for being so colourful and modern. I've even made a second one using some left over beads and veneers I transported home carefully between sheets of deli paper.
Challenge - Wire Bracelet
The challenge allowed us three beads and three pieces of wire, 10" long each, and an unspecified amount of fine wire or solder to bind them with. I used non tarnish enamelled copper and made this bracelet.
That's this week's shenanigans folks, have a good week and I'll catch you next week, same time, same place
Hello readers, how nice of you to drop by - autumn will soon be here and the colours of my new statement jewellery collection are reflecting this. No, they are not brown and grey - they are bigger and brighter than ever, to zhush up the autumnal hues of rust, must and dust that most dress designers pick as being suitable for us during this season.
I will let you in on an open secret - I am a very shy person - and when I tell people this, they laugh at me disbelievingly. I am even intimidated by hairdressers because I cannot relate to them, and small talk with a stranger is a no go area for me - I usually come out looking like someone else's mop - they seem to have a pack instinct when they see me coming - there's no 'Hello moddom, would you like a coffee?' - it's all snip, snip, snip - and when they've finished, they make me look like the person they perceive - a raggedy Orphan Annie type on a bad hair day - and that's cos she's exactly who they see when I slink in, looking apologetic for breathing the same air!
At the age of - well, older than many of you - I am now qualified to tell you how I overcame this using my passion for jewellery, and perhaps you will find you can do it too.
1) Spark A Conversation - Effortlessly
This is where Caprilicious comes in - wear one of your pieces of statement jewellery and you will find people coming up to you and complimenting you on what you are wearing. It doesn't have to be a massive piece of jewellery and you don't have to be blinged up to the eyeballs.
Take Glamour Puss - one of the pieces I made this week - all it is is a piece of pink and black agate - but it is presented on a pink stainless steel torque, wire wrapped, with an extremely shiny Swarovski crystal square wrapped onto it - a definite conversational opening gambit if ever there was one.
Obviously, no one can guarantee that people are going to walk up to you - you may have to do the walking - find someone in a nice ensemble and tell them you like it - instant spark! they will compliment you back ( people love a compliment and usually reciprocate - I'm sure you've noticed that) and Bob's your uncle!
2) Have Something to Say Prepared
When someone compliments your jewellery, don't just mumble your thanks or go the 'this old thing??....' routine- smile widely, tell them a little story about it - perhaps even how clever you were to find it - if it's a piece by Caprilicious and you have read the blog, there's a backstory all ready for you to tell.
At Caprilicious, I attempt to make jewellery that is interesting and different - I have the occasional daytime, everyday piece - but even that is usually different from the norm - you have plenty to talk about.
These little lampwork beads were turned into daytime earrings, but they are so pretty, I'm sure you will be noticed when you wear them. I turned the leftover beads into bracelets with braided leather, so you can have a whole ensemble if you want one.
They are made to resemble the spinning top I had as a child - I was only allowed to play with it if I promised to be very, very careful (?), and eventually it was used by both my siblings, probably with the same proviso, and in turn, by their children. It still exists in my mother's cupboard - waiting for her great grandchildren, I guess! Unfortunately, their toys of choice are likely to be an internet enabled mobile phone, so mum has wasted her efforts to save what has now become an antique heirloom - perhaps it will be worth something one of these days.
3) Ms. Attention - To - Detail
Be Little Miss Attention-To-Detail - wear the right piece for your neckline, to coordinate with your outfit - and if you are in Caprilicious Woman mode, dare to wear jewellery in a completely contrasting colour to your outfit - after all, an orange necklace with the outfit in the picture would be drowned out by the colour of the vest - the blue necklace is definitely the better fit.
4) Get Up Close and Personal
Once you have complimented someone about their jewellery, and received one in return, you have chatted about your sources for said jewellery and smiled at each other, you are fast becoming friends - after all you have found something in common - your love for pretty jewellery!
Introduce her to someone you know, she reciprocates - and before you know it, you have a networking session going on right there, under your very shy nose - did you know that was going to happen?? I did! There are a few more tips on Reggie Darling's fabulous blog - Reggie's Advice For the Tongue-Tied Guest at Table Amongst Strangers, and I recommend this post to you. And of course, you must never get so carried away by your success by turning into a Conversation Hog! Click on the link to find out how not to do it.
5) Be Different - and Revel in It
When I was younger, all I wanted to do was to be like everyone else, to merge seamlessly into the background - I blame my mother for this (as I type I can hear her grumbling in the background 'you blame your mother for everything') - I was expected to be a Little Miss Muffet - but I was also expected to go out and fight my corner in the world of modern medicine when I grew up!
And then I ended up in Britain, and have found that a lot of the time I stick out like a sore thumb, and there is no Marks & Spencer camouflage that works. It took a bit of getting used to, but I'm over the worst. I'm happy to be me and revel in being different.
I wear Caprilicious all the time, and that helps me walk tall ( I'm only 5'2") and people come up to me and talk about my jewellery. I like to take the stuff I make on test runs, but sometimes they get sold before I get a chance - here's one of the pieces I made last week that lasted fifteen minutes on my pages...
It is most definitely evening wear, and I didn't have an occasion to wear it before someone from work snapped it up.
A statement jewelry piece by Caprilicious will give you confidence, help you stand out in the crowd of 'samey people', and allow you to start a natural conversation - the death knell to shyness. The end result is a helpful, natural connection. The best part? It’s a great excuse to start shopping!
That's it for this week folks. Have a good weekend and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place
Last week was Thanksgiving in America, Obama pardoned a turkey - though loads of people languish in Guantanamo Bay, it was the turkey that got lucky, and I hope it was duly grateful.
But, did you know that the cranberry is probably what the early American settlers were - or should have been, most grateful for?? The Native Indians introduced the settlers to this berry, which was probably the first superfood - cranberries are meant to be high in antioxidants, and prevent heart disease, and were even then, being used as laxatives, blood purifiers, to treat fevers, stomach cramps and anaemia following childbirth. This berry kept more people in good health than a load of other cures such as the application of leeches and other fun interventions dreamed up by the medics of the time.
Cranberries are grown in the bogs in places like Wisconsin and Massachusetts and have now made their way onto the table at feasts - once it was discovered that the sour berry could be sweetened - remember the story of the spoonful of sugar, and the medicine??
The beautiful watermelon tourmalines used in this necklace give it it's name. The tiny haematite heishi beads were found in the bead fair in Newmarket a few weeks ago - I think they go perfectly together. I used sterling silver accent beads and clasp - I thought the delicacy of the necklace merited a special treatment. I do not make 'delicates' easily and struggled a bit with this piece, but in the end, I quite like it - I'm sure not everyone wants to make a 'Big Bang' of a statement - there is room for subtlety, especially during the daytime!
Persephone, the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, was skipping along, trying out this berry and that, singing softly to herself, when Hades, the God of the Underworld came crashing out of a cleft in the ground, raped her and took her off to live with him - her mother Demeter, was so distraught, she caused all the plants to wither and die and forbid the earth to produce. In alarm, Zeus set up a search party, and found her - her husband was persuaded to let her go - he was made an offer he couldn't refuse - but the wily old dog, Hades had fed the greedy woman with pomegranate seeds (she'd eat anything, obviously) - so she was condemned to return to him for four months of the year. This is meant to be a personification of the story of the seasons, and Persephone is also the Goddess of spring and fertility.
The maple leaf in this necklace was picked and skeletonised in high summer this year - I have only just found a use for it. I used my new camera and a new technique to take these pictures, and was mighty chuffed when I was complimented on one of them.
I spent the entire weekend playing with polymer clay and a tutorial by Alice Stroppel - trying to make a profile face cane - I had to learn to make tiny eyes, and lips and eyelid canes, and then put them together, stick a nose on it, and Voila! - sigh, if only it was that easy. Anyway, I made two sizes of cane - a big one and a little one, according to her instructions and they now sit proudly on my table. I have yet to decide what to do with them - Alice has some very witty and fun bracelets on her pages - I might draw some inspiration there. I have no time to play with clay during the week, so will have to wait till the next weekend for that. Here are some pictures of the process..........
This is one of my favourite genres of necklace - the torque - winding loads and loads of wire and beads around a single 2mm wire with it's integral clasp is very rewarding - this time I used snowflake obsidian fragments - this is lava that cooled very quickly, trapping white inclusions, like snowflakes - adding Czech glass, and a resin rose, a Murano glass leaf and some iridescent glass leaves as an asymmetric focal. The necklaces take a while to make - if you can imagine twisting each bead onto thin wire, and then the whole 'garland' onto the 2mm wire - but the results are amazing.
That's as much as I had time for this week folks. I have to make a load of Christmas presents, and most exciting of all, there are plans afoot to hold a little exhibition in India when I go on holiday to visit my family in January.
Have a great week, and I will catch you next weekend, 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
Smile - easier said than done today - I should have been wishing my brother a Happy Birthday - Oh well, one foot in front of the other, I plod on, as one does.
The Scapular Bangles
The faux bone was made using instruction from Lynda Moseley of Diva Design ( http://www.etsy.com/shop/SCDiva )and the bangles themselves from an idea taken from a tutorial on Vicky Turner's blog post Claymagination
( http://claymagination.blogspot.co.uk) - a big thank you goes out to both these artists. I imagined a camel fair, with the traders wearing these made out of camel bone in the middle of the desert. I have been a bit heavy handed with the distressing, but, if these bangles were worn in that particular situation, surely they would look as ancient and distressed as these. The secret to being able to make them so thin ( they are only 2 mm thick) and yet, durable, is to reinforce them with a piece of card between layers. I was amazed at how easy this was to do, and how much fun.
I sourced the beautiful quartz needles in my next piece all the way from Russia - they come from a mine just outside St Petersburg. They have been treated to a titanium vapour coating which makes them iridescent in beautiful shades of blue, violet and gold. I could not wait to use them and made this necklace immediately - I did not have to do anything to embellish the beauty of the stones - just hang them on a beading wire with violet tear drop shaped beads as spacers - the teardrop shape helps the quartz to spread out more easily. I did hoard a couple of them - one perfect crystal for a 'point' pendant, and two little ones for earrings - I just couldn't bear to part with them all at once.
From Russia With Love
I was asked to turn the beads on the left into a statement necklace reminiscent of this glacier in Ladakh on the right.
The stones are Blue Ice Quartz, and I have seen them on many occasions all strung in a row in a choker. I bought some blue agate geodes, and each of these has beautiful markings - shards of white surrounded by blue.
The picture of the glacier in Ladakh was taken by Manish Lakhani - visit his pictures on Flickr for more pictures of this desolate, but beautiful place at .
and his blog on
This is what I came up with - Glacial Fantasy.
After I finished that, in my spare time, and just for a laugh, I took a tutorial on making faux jade from Lynda Moseley and tried it out, made a faux bone scapular necklace, and attended a Webinar on jewellery making tools from CraftCast- sound busy, don't I - I forgot to mention that I had a few days off from work - had some annual leave owing to me, and decided to take it, and use the time productively. Here are some pictures of the faux jade and bone. Buffy truly came into his own, shining the pieces I made so that they didn't look so 'faux' any more. Anyway, all this activity kept me out of mischief, and Mike was content to let me play while he pottered around. Our dishwasher was on the blink, and it took 3 days to find the parts to repair it - I refuse to wash dishes by hand, so I lived on protein bars -until it was repaired - no cooking was done!
You must wonder why I keep raving on about 'Buffy' - have a look at this picture of faux black jade I made, courtesy of instruction from Lynda Moseley, and you will see why.
It takes literally two minutes to get that perfect sheen if Buffy cooperates and doesn't go flinging them around the room ( actually that's my fault for presenting them to him wrong, but I won't admit that). I made a couple of pairs of earrings with my faux black jade pieces, here they are -
I loved the faux bone bangles so much, I decided to make a torque necklace using the same technique. However, torques need a space in the back for the neck to go through, and I wasn't too sure the piece would be flexible enough. I made it anyway, and held my breath till it was all finished, and Buffy had had his wicked way with it, and then - it worked, wow! I love it. It sits like a Masai necklace, or a ruff - the flanges are not shaped to the neck, but it is light, only 5 mm thick, strong and flexible - the engineering works well. Now I need a really adventurous woman to want to try it out - do you know any?? - send them my way please.
Oh, and I was very pleased with myself - I made a signature stamp - C J , for Caprilicious Jewellery and there it is on the back of the necklace - the cat's whiskers - that's what I felt like when I had stamped my first piece - I have arrived!
That's a wrap for this week, folks, thanks for stopping by. Catch you next week, same 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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