Beautiful Handmade Statement Necklaces and other Fabulousness from Neena Shilvock - Inspirations and Designs From the Week Gone by
Hello folks, nice to catch up with you this week. I hope you're all getting ready for spring which is bustin' out all over the place here. My craft room has had a long awaited spring clean after I got back from Polymania - I thought it would be a shame not to wipe the dust from my table when I had the opportunity, before unpacking my tools from my suitcase.
It was a fabulous, but extremely tiring long weekend in Bristol. Our tutors came from Croatia, Utah and Scotland with their projects and each one had a list of tools and ingredients they required us to bring. I had to schlep them all the way to Bristol on the train. Fortunately I had to change trains only once, in Birmingham, and people helped me lug a heavy suitcase on and off, allowing me to save wear and tear on my back. I packed carefully and had just the one suitcase with tools and a few clothes. Other ladies who had driven down, had brought everything they could carry, including the kitchen sink!
Just over sixty of us converged on Bristol all with the intention of playing with clay, having fun and learning new techniques.
There were rows of ovens and Emily was appointed by Cara to tend to them. She took her job very seriously indeed, and scooched along in her stockinged feet from one oven to the other with a stopwatch, taking stuff out, and popping stuff in, resembling The White Rabbit. We were allowed use of the room till midnight each night, and loads of us stayed late, munching chocolate, drinking wine and making stuff in perfect companionable silence every night.
I couldn't shop much, as I was worried about lugging a heavy suitcase across the country, and my wallet was mightily pleased with that result.
Parallelogram, Parallelogram, Triangle!
Nikolina Otrazan brought us a technique all the way from Croatia - she showed us how to cut a slab of clay with a few deft incisions and end up with parallelograms and triangles which, when put together formed an arabesque. 'Simple', she said, 'all you have to do is put together a parallelogram, parallelogram, and triangle, and this design appears', but I couldn't do it for the life of me. In the end, I gave up and left the room, and sat outside drinking tea and catching up with social media, before I slit my wrists in despair. Poor Nikolina was very upset and kept getting me to try again, until I begged her to leave me alone. Here are some efforts from the others in the room - it shows that it can be done, but just not by me!
I decided that this is going to be my new mantra when I am annoyed about something - I shall go 'parallelogram, parallelogram, triangle', and no one will know that these are swear words as far as I am concerned.
Jana Benzon Roberts came from Utah with an abstract brooch on Day 2, and I was relieved that the techniques seemed well within my abilities. I haven't finished my brooch yet, but loved learning the techniques which I can put to use on other pieces of work.
Melanie Muir, from the Highlands of Scotland, with her dry wit and interesting technique, templates and texture plates, was there to teach us mokume gane, and although I haven't finished that project either, I had a great time learning how to do it. I've brought the makings home and will do my best to complete it shortly.
Wine o'clock arrived when the sun went over the yard arm each day, and bottles and corkscrews appeared as if by magic from Mary Poppinesque handbags - clay and wine seemed to go together without any effort at all. I quickly nipped down to the bar and brought back a large pint pot of Diet Coke, just to be companionable.
Each one of us handed in a 2" cane in black and white. These were gathered up into large triangles - the resulting kaliedoscope was then reduced in size and we were all given a piece of the resultant cane. Jana gave us a demonstration of how to reduce a large cane, which involved beating the cane against a hard floor. As the room was carpeted she tried a ceramic tile first, which promptly shattered with the force of the blow. We ended up huddled around her in the disabled toilet, watching her, Cara and another lady beat the bejeezus out of the canes on the tiled floor. You can see from the photographs below that the exercise was a success.
I was in Bristol for three days and this is all I saw of it apart from the railway station from the window of our giant claying room!
I had the foresight to book a couple of days of annual leave after this marathon and rested up on Monday and Tuesday. I've developed a repetitive strain injury in my wrist, probably from all the polymer clay I've been handling and kneading (unless I've turned into a teenage lad while I wasn't looking!!).
That's me for this week, friends. I need now to concentrate on the Handmade Fair which is around six weeks away. Have a fabulous week and I'll 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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