Beautiful Handmade Statement Necklaces and other Fabulousness from Neena Shilvock - Inspirations and Designs From the Week Gone by
Hello people, how are you? As this blog post is published, I will most likely be waiting in line for my PCR test to come back in Bangalore airport, or if I'm very lucky, on my way into town towards home quarantine for a week before I can get out and enjoy meeting people for a couple of weeks. I go with major trepidation, mixed with excitement at the thought of seeing my family. The prospect of catching the awful bug does not fill me with joy, as you can imagine. A landmark trial from Imperial College, London indicates that exposure to a single nasal droplet is sufficient to become infected with Covid-19. I am not keen to catch the damn thing, and even less keen to spread it to a 94 year old mother - just imagine the shame of it, if I'm instrumental in finishing her off!! Eep! It doesn't bear thinking about - needless to say I shall be extremely careful.
I spent the week preparing for my holiday, getting clothes together and tying off loose ends at work. Packing is always a last minute exercise and I've just got my suitcases weighed and ready to go tomorrow morning. I still have bits and bobs to throw into my hand luggage and then I'm leaving on a jet plane, leaving my lovely hubby behind for a few weeks.
This week, I took delivery of a string of rough nuggets of amber - to my mind, amber is a mystical substance, known since at least 320BC, and is the fossilized resins from extinct coniferous tree trunks. Trees usually release a form of resin to make their trunks resistant to the attacks of parasites and insects. These resins also heal internal damage, keeping the tree healthy and safe. Over time, the resin evolves as an organic fossil which we now call Amber. Because it originates as a soft, sticky tree mass, amber sometimes contains animal and plant material, trapped as inclusions. Amber can be coloured from yellow to a dark brown/ green.
The most valued form of amber is one that still has traces of the organic life which at one point was trapped in the tree trunk. Being light and buoyant, amber floats in water and is found on seashores, especially the ones in Northern Europe. Amber is commonly found on the beach after a storm.
In the Baltic regions, several glaciers destroyed resin-bearing trees. When buried, the resin in these trees fossilized as amber. It takes many many years for a piece of amber to be formed and I had read somewhere that when lit using a match, one can prove that the substance is truly amber rather than a synthetic imitation made of plastic if it burns without an odour. It can also be dissolved using alcohol and chloroform, but as I don't have the latter and wouldn't waste the former on such an errand, I pulled off a tiny piece from one of the nuggets, held it with tweezers and lit it with a match - and hooray! it burned with a gentle flame, minimal smoke and disappeared when the flame died down. This is certainly not plastic.
To bring some bright colour into the piece I added a flower made of blue dyed howlite, electroformed into the shape of a flower, and added some simple lapis beads to the back of the necklace for comfort. The piece is light, belying its chunkiness, and I love it.
As I walked back into the house I saw this tree trunk with lichen growing from it - or are they mushrooms? Whatever it is, it's beautiful and I had to take a photograph or two.
Well that's me for now, folks. I will be imprisoned in my mother's house all of next week, so I shan't have much to say. I'll catch up with you when I get back from India, at the end of the first week in March.
Until then, stay safe and keep warm