Beautiful Handmade Statement Necklaces and other Fabulousness from Neena Shilvock - Inspirations and Designs From the Week Gone by
Hello folks, as this post appears in your inboxes, I shall be setting up at The Handmade Fair in the grounds of Ragey Hall. I've had the week off work to get organised and have been racing around preparing for the show. The weather forecast has never been watched as anxiously as it has this week and of course the weathermen are predicting low pressure and thunderstorms. Aw shucks! But surely the intrepid British won't be put off by a little thing like rain? We shall wait and see.
Earlier on I had planned a couple of necklaces and decided to make them even though it was going to be a last minute attempt. It felt like being back at medical school and swotting for exams right until the very last moment - I even used to read my notes in the car while my mother drove me to the exams, convinced that if I didn't I was sure to fail.
I made flowers from copper clay and that kept me busy all weekend. Copper clay seems to be much more forgiving than bronze and is easier to manipulate. I spent a load of time sanding and polishing and refining until the flowers went into the kiln and I could do no more. Oh joy! two of them came out looking perfect with a beautiful ready made heat patina which I decided to keep, and simply covered over with wax polish for posterity. The third one predictably, was a nightmare - it split during the first firing, so I held it back and repaired the split, and in the process accidentally broke off the bail. I then had to replace that with a new bail, all the while holding the piece like a snowflake - and believe me, it is very difficult to file a snowflake or attach something to it.
In the end, it came out of the kiln looking as if nothing had ever gone wrong with it and butter wouldn't melt. I breathed again. The necklaces were kept deliberately simple as a contrast from my multi strand pieces, to be able to offer differing designs to my customers. I made the clasps from a design tutorial by Kristine Schroeder while waiting for the flowers to sinter in the kiln.
I had a few pairs of earrings planned, and this was as good a time as any to make tham up.
These dragonflies were sent over from the USA, but I bought the wrong ones - there was no hole to hang them from.
They languished in my stash until I decided enough was enough and that I should follow my own slogan - 'have wire, can do'....
I wired the dragonflies to colourful circlets and hung them on sterling silver earwires. A couple more pairs of earrings, and I was done. I announced that the tool kit was closed and embarked on the mammoth task of organising my jewellery into piles to take, and piles to leave behind. Unfortunately the minute I decided to leave a necklace behind, it threw such a tantrum that I was forced to give in and add it to the box that was going with me, until in the finish I had only a few pieces left in the drawer at home. This of course, would only make the task of deciding which ones to display harder on the day - I knew that but simply could not find it in me to leave my babies at home.
A Tiffin Carrier Trolley
For those of you who don't know what a tiffin carrier is, it is a lunchbox, usually stainless steel, in 3 - 4 tiers which carries a lunchtime hot meal. The boxes are packed in a cylindrical PVC case, and collected by a 'tiffin carrier wallah' who delivers it to the educational institution/ office in time for the midday break. He then collects it after lunch and takes it back to wherever it came from.
I saw a friend use a make up box that closely resembled a tiffin carrier and I sent away for one - so here's my jewellery case for the show. It packs away over 100 necklaces. My tiffin carrier trolley is now all filled up and ready to go.
We were allowed onto the site to set up on the day before the show - we took some of the heavy stuff like tables and chairs to the stall. The approach road to the marquee was about half a mile long through luscious greenery and we got to park up close to it and offload the contents of the boot.
The marquee was a hive of activity with people setting up all around us. I found the forlorn little space allocated to me and a little bubble of hysterical laughter welled up from deep inside. It was so tiny that just putting my handbag into it seemed to half fill it up. And I had paid an arm and a leg for this tiny space!! Now what?? My table refused to go into the space and had to be put in on the slant. I wish I had seen this earlier, I'd have got some little shelves to put on the walls. The brochures all show the larger stalls with shiny happy people, smiling all over their faces in what appeared to be acres of space. Now, a quick rethink of the set up was required, including the contents of my tiffin carrier case.
This lady was opposite me, she probably wasn't too happy to be placed so close to another jewellery stall. I, however was not bothered as my jewellery is completely different to hers and our client base will not be the same. The Caprilicious woman wouldn't wear her jewellery, and I daresay her customers wouldn't touch my jewellery with a bargepole. I went over to chat to her - her stall is bigger than mine, but only by a tiny bit and she had paid the equivalent of three limbs to my two, for it. She told me to go to Ikea and buy another smaller table, and that mine was sticking out into the aisle, 'so you will need to get permission from the organisers.' There's no way I was going to buy another piece of furniture that I won't have storage space for at home, and might never use again. My table, although on the skew, will not be in the aisle when I finally set it up.
There's even space for me to sit behind my display although getting in and out may be impossible - ah well, I'll work that one out when I need to. Perhaps I shall just sit there, imprisoned by my jewellery! Or, swing out over my display on a rope like Tarzan, which is how the vendors in the vegetable markets in India get in and out of their overstocked stalls. You can see the rope dangling from the ceiling in the foreground of this picture, that the vendor uses to swing in and out of his stall - the first time Mike saw this he was gobsmacked - he got the guy to go back and forth just to reassure himself that this was really the way it was done, and left him a hefty tip which caused my mother to go into meltdown at her profligate son in law!
Mike got busy putting up my banner and drilling in some screws to hold picture frames in which I plan to display some of my necklaces. And then, we were done. I didn't take any stock as a night sheet with padlocks to cover the stock for security would have been an extra outlay. I had already paid extra for Wifi, for a plug point to recharge my phone if required and run my PayPal card reader as well as a couple of spotlights, and stumped up for public liability insurance for up to £5 million. So, just an arm and a leg, and a few fingers off the other hand, then!
I came home and collected all my bits and bobs together in the middle of the living room floor and went slightly green about the gills - there was just so much to carry - display items, packaging, jewellery - and all to fit in such a tiny space!
We looked at each other and shrugged, we shall just have to grin and bear it. I have always tried to do the best I can in every endeavour and this will be no different, if it doesn't go well, it won't be for lack of trying.
I shall post pictures as I go along, so do take a look at the Caprilicious Facebook page or Instagram feed. I will catch you next week with a full update. Have a fabulous weekend, and look out for me next week, same time, same place