Hello dear readers and lovers of statement jewellery, how are you all this fine Friday in January? I am in all of a tizz, picking out my best pieces and packing them carefully so that they arrive intact for the show - have I mentioned this show before?? I'm sure I have (once or twice - at least!), but just for good measure, I've included an invitation for people who might not have been paying attention, have had an outage of their internet facilities, been living in the Outer Hebrides, meditating on one foot in the Himalayas or simply not caught up with the blog these last few weeks.
I've talked to you before about my friend who makes the most exquisite bowls out of wood. Indeed, I have a couple of them for sale on this website, right here. He brought this beauty around to ask if I would be able to make a central insert using a polymer clay mosaic. He brought along a design for a yellow mosaic flower which I faithfully reproduced. It was sanded and buffed to within an inch of it's life and then handed over to be inserted into the bowl. When it was finally finished, he brought it to me to be photographed and here it is in all it's glory.
My contribution to this beautiful work of art is but paltry in contrast to all the woodwork, but Shekhar seemed to think it 'lifted' the piece - and who am I to argue with a free compliment?? He obviously liked the way it turned out as he has brought me another bowl, and this time, I am to have a free hand in the design of the central insert.
Bead and Jewellery Magazine Project
I woke up to this - I'd been waiting for ages for this announcement, and here it was - Bead and jewellery magazine No 68 will be on the stands on the 1st of February with my very first project published in it. On the basis of the job I did with writing this tutorial, the editor has agreed for me to contribute two more projects this year, one of which is already completed and sent in. I really enjoyed writing up the project and taking step by step photographs. I hope there is good feedback from the readers as I would love to do more of them.
These are the original beads I submitted and the necklace I made with them.
I played with beads and wire to make a few pairs of earrings - it didn't feel right to sit in front of the TV without a pair of pliers and a few beads in my hands, and herein lies the makings of an addiction.
I don't really need any more stuff to carry to the show, but I just can't seem to stop myself reaching for the wire and the beads.
These little bowls were made from a tutorial by Melanie West. I made them over a wet weekend in December, but they needed sanding and buffing to bring out the colours and shine on the outside. They are great fun to make, and just over 2.5" in diameter and about 2" in height. They will hold a couple of rings or a pair of earrings - I've actually got a sample piece which didn't quite turn out perfect, and I've been using it to hold tiny seed beads on a little tray in my lap.
The BLue Lotus
A pendant set of three chrysocolla stones has been sitting in my stash, reproaching me for not showing it any love for ages. I bought it waaay back, when I was commissioned to make a rainforest necklace by one of my customers - I bought three sets of multi stone pendants and used two of them in the necklaces above. It was great fun making dragonflies and ants and other little beetles which were supposed to look as if they were supping at a pool made of these stones in a clearing in the rainforest. Obviously there's only that many bugs one can make so the third set of stones got tucked away until their piteous wailing was heard even with the lid tightly shut. Out they came, but I was completely stumped for ideas. Not wanting to make yet another rainforest necklace, I was scratting around at the bottom of the barrel for ideas. When a piece of jewellery that is so evocative is conceived, it is difficult to move away from it and make something completely different. That probably explains why jewellery designers often make variations on the same theme over and over again in a series.
I decided I was going to try and make a peacock - much like an old favourite piece I made a couple of years ago, with the stones fanning out into the peacock's tail. By the time I finished, a couple of days later, I realised it would be impossible to balance the stones in such an awkward position, so after a hurried rebranding, we now have Blue Lotus! I enjoyed making this pendant - the original inspiration was a design by Lisa Barth, but I made the whole thing more difficult by weaving the frame for all three stones with the same length of wire - did I ever tell you that I love wire work? - I thought I might have let it slip once or twice!
The necklace arrived from a vendor in Tibet and I thought it was robust enough to carry and enhance the pendant.
I had been trying not to make any more jewellery before my trip to India, but unfortunately, I cannot sit still without a pair of pliers and a bit of wire in my hands, it seems almost criminal and a terrible waste of time - oh well, C'est la Vie! If something pretty comes from it, who am I to stop myself?
That's all I have for today folks, have a lovely week and I'll catch you next week, same time, same place before I board the plane to India.
Hello readers, thanks for joining me today. It is unusual for me to write a mid week post, but this is an unusual subject for the Caprilicious blog to talk about.
A short while ago, I saw a colleague of mine at the day job write up his operation notes with the most beautiful fountain pen. When I complimented him on it, he let slip that he had made it himself.
My interest was piqued as I hadn't expected that answer - after all, the last hand-made writing implement I have heard of was probably the quill! I spent some time with him chatting about it and was invited to his house to take a look at his workshop.
The idea of making something beautiful out of the most unprepossessing beginnings really appeals to me. And, very much like what goes on at Chez Caprilicious, my friend's house is full of his stash and detritus relating to his hobby. Various corners of the house are taken over by woodworking implements and the double garage is full of lathes and work benches - the poor cars are relegated to the drive.
There are shelves full of bowls and boxes that he has made himself, and a longbow that was made a few years ago as a limited item sits in the bay window. Mike, who loves wood items went quite cross eyed from the effort of restraining himself to his usual nonchalance (he didn't make it) , a bit like me in a contemporary jewellery store.
When he talked about his hobby, Shekhar's eyes gleamed with a fanatical fervour, he became animated, and once he found he had an appreciative audience in Mike and me, he brought out everything he had made. I can tell you now, some of the stuff just took my breath away. He brought out a little bowl, and I took a nice photograph - then out came another, and I had to have that on film too, and then a third, and a fourth - you get the picture. My camera's battery started to flash and I began to panic that I would soon run out of juice, forgetting that I had a spare battery in my camera case in my excitement and awe at all the treasure before my eyes. I realised the trick was to wait until all the pieces of a similar genre had been brought out and then take the picture - but how was I to know when the end was in sight?? There just seemed to be an endless supply of beautifully made bowls and boxes.
Shekhar is a plastic surgeon, a hand surgeon no less, and the finesse he uses to reconstruct and repair parts of the body has been utilised to good effect in his avocation. Some of the pieces I am about to show you are made of a single piece of wood, and others are made of layered wood, hundreds of pieces glued together and then turned on the lathe - I am totally in awe. And although he hasn't quite got to the point where he can make gold from wood, what he can make is probably more interesting, precious and one of a kind - all adjectives that are very close to my heart.
Part of a personal collection
I was amused to hear that just as I bring beads back from my travels, Shekhar brings home lumps of wood in his suitcase, which he then turns into beautiful objects. The lump of eucalyptus wood in an earlier photograph came back with him from a holiday in Australia. Yes, he is happily married, and his wife doesn't seem to mind that the house is full of wood, she loves the objects he makes too and encourages him in his hobby.
I enquired about the beautiful pen that had first caught my eye. I was told that it was actually made of metal Mokume Gane - this is a Japanese metal working procedure, which produces a mixed-metal laminate with distinctive layered patterns using pressure and heat. Mokume gane translates closely to "wood grain metal", describing the way the metal takes on the appearance of natural wood grain. Though the technique was first created to decorate swords, the art survives today mostly in the form of jewelry and hollowware.
Polymeristas learn this technique too - but we use multiple colours of clay sliced from a stripy stack impressed with a texture plate, to make beautifully coloured and patterned mokume gane pieces of jewellery.
The fountain pens, however, are hollowed out from blanks that can be bought ready made - the patterning is extremely tight in order to ensure that there are plenty of markings in the smaller pieces. Though the blank or billet is a metal composite, it cannot be forged, soldered, rolled or bent around a mandrel. Instead it is turned on a lathe or cut from flat stock using standard woodworking tools, which, of course is where Shekhar comes in.
Anyway, the outcome of all this, to cut a long story short, was that I offered to place a couple of items on a separate page on the Caprilicious website. I know they are not jewellery related, but the bowls we are testing the water with have been made out of single pieces of wood, and are beautifully made works of art. He has even consented to have one of his pens on the page.
I brought the items home, took some photographs and returned them to him. If some discerning person decides that they too, are in love, and one of the bowls is a 'must have' item, Shekhar will courier them out himself, so that I don't have to get involved with that side of things. If someone wants an inlaid bowl, do let me know and I can put you in touch with him.
Now on the 'WoodCraft' page
And since this appears to be a wood related post on a jewellery website, let me show you what I've been up to. I love masks and look for them when I travel. I have a couple of wooden ones - a fierce warrior from China we call Ghenghis, and a Nubian mask from Egypt. Mike hung them in the conservatory for a while, and then moved them onto a wall on the back of the house where they are quite sheltered from the elements by the deep eaves on the roof of our little bungalow. In spite of this, the pigments on the Nubian mask faded and I took it down, intending to repaint it.
It took me a couple of years to actually get around to doing this and I spent an evening happily putting the dots and dashes on this chappies face. I don't really work with paints and was terrified lest my hands became unsteady or a large glob of paint landed on the poor thing's nose like an unsightly wart - but it all worked out in the end.
I have varnished his newly lovely face with floor wax and he will go outside, back to his original spot next to his Chinese mate, guarding our back door.
Thanks for joining me today, folks. I hope you have enjoyed reading about something a bit different from what I usually put on for you. I have had a couple of days off from the day job and have been playing with beads and baubles and will be back this Friday, at the usual time, same place - see you then