Beautiful Handmade Statement Necklaces and other Fabulousness from Neena Shilvock - Inspirations and Designs From the Week Gone by
Hello readers, thanks for popping by, it is lovely to see you again this week.
It has been a fabulous week at Caprilicious- all my beads and braids arrived and I spent ages sorting them into containers and getting ready for a marathon with the beading needles.
To my (pleasant) surprise the needles aren't giving me as much trouble as I expected and I haven't ended up with fingers like salt cellars, leaking blood all over my work - maybe that's whom the phrase blood sweat and tears originated from - an embroiderer.
The cotton and silks I used as a teenager used to tie themselves in knots as if by magic and the needles could have been called Beater and Biter, the amount of damage they did to my fingers. Given that I was a teenager then and my mother probably thought I was a goblin changeling, it may have been just about par for the course!
Zardosi - the Eastern version of Soutache Embroidery
Zardosi embroidery came to India from Persia. It was once used to embellish the attire of the Kings and the royals in India. It was also used to adorn walls of the royal tents, scabbards, wall hangings and the paraphernalia of regal elephants and horses. It involves making elaborate designs using gold and silver threads, studded pearls and precious stones, pure silver wire and gold leaf embellished with beads and sequins - the phrase 'over egging the pudding' does not begin to describe some of the embroidery work found on bridal garments. The design is traced on the fabric, which is then stretched over a wooden frame. A fine crochet hook is used to feed the thread through the fabric from underneath - I have a little video for you that demonstrates a simple chain stitch.
Now that I have picked up a needle again after a gap of so many years, I have a renewed respect for these artisans, who start their training usually at a very young age, while helping their parents earn a living. I was determined that the thread I used was going to be robust - there would be no bead shedding where my jewellery was concerned, thank you very much!
I decided to research the best thread available and track it down, and finally picked Fireline, which is the strongest fibre per diameter ever created. It has an unbelievably high tensile strength and has been recommended in numerous how-to articles on beadworking. Although a bit more expensive that it's alternatives, I prefer to stump up the cash than die of embarrassment when the work falls apart.
FireLine is made of gel-spun braided polyethylene thread, and perfect for when the project includes sharp-edged beads, such as crystals, semi-precious stones or bugle beads. It is highly durable when compared to regular thread that can fray and tear. It was originally used as fishing line and comes in many strengths - 4lb, 6lb and 10 lb ( I assume that is the weight of the fish that can be caught on this line - but how does the fish know this??) and goes through the eye of a very fine beading needle. I first bought crystal clear Fireline - and found I couldn't see it well enough to load it onto the needle and then discovered black which suits me just fine for now.
Messenger of Love
"it is the pleasure of the bee to gather honey of the flower,
In other words, it's all a matter of relativity and perspective!
Bumble Bee jasper is essentially a sedimentary rock matrix of volcanic ash–deep earth mud with sulfur layers. It is largely composed of layered gypsum, sulfur and hematite. This stone comes from the Solfataras surrounding Mount Papandayan in Indonesia. The natives there call it batu badar blerang, which can be roughly translated as ‘coal becoming sulfur.’ I found these fine specimens in a shop in Jaipur and the yellow and black attracted me so much, I knew I had to buy some, even though it was fairly expensive.
Metaphysically sulfur, in particular “assists one in the removal of negative willfulness and in the elimination of distracting intellectual thoughts and emotions that could affect the emotional and intellectual bodies.” Anyway, these are throwaway comments, as I mainly bought them for their beauty.
I set about embroidering a frame around the cabochon with tiny beads and soutache, creamy yellow pearls and jade, adding more and more layers till I was happy with it. It fascinates me, the way a soutache design evolves - I feel like it is happening to someone else and I am merely an onlooker, and that I cannot go to bed until I find out how it ends. Consequently, I had a few late nights making this one, and when it was done and backed with ultrasuede, I took this picture using my phone. My cat, Charlie wandered in carrying a mouse, wanting to know why I was up at 3 am and photo bombed this picture. I strung it with three rows of black onyx and tiny creamy seed pearls, finished off with a shell flower for a clasp, and then it was done!
I bought a few dragonflies from a mail order catalogue, and as it often happens, I got the size wrong. I thought I was getting tiny, light creatures that I could add to earrings. Instead, what I received was the elephantine equivalent of the dragonfly world. I've had them sitting around for a while, until one day in an Eureka! moment, I decided to play with cold enamels that I had stashed away.
I spent a relaxed evening with little bottles of coloured resin, dripping them gently into the cells in each dragonfly - I even embellished one of them with tiny crystals and left the cold enamel to set. A few days later I went back to the craft room and the enamels had set gratifyingly hard and the little insects were looking quite sweet and colourful. I haven't yet decided how I will use the little branches, they too, were a bit larger than I anticipated. I wound the dragonflies onto a torque necklace - you know I love a good torque necklace and I think they look pretty summery, don't you??
I hope you've enjoyed your read and will come back next Friday for an update. Have a fabulous week, and I'll catch you next week, same time, same place.