Beautiful Handmade Statement Necklaces and other Fabulousness from Neena Shilvock - Inspirations and Designs From the Week Gone by
Hello readers, thanks for joining me again this week. Still in an introspective mood, I have spent time thinking about how and why I am here today, writing to you about my intense involvement with Caprilicious and jewellery making.
The story goes back to five years ago - I was quietly pootling along, minding my own business, having taken a class or two in a jewellery school near me, making gifts for friends, when Wham! life threw my family a curve ball. My youngest sibling, my much loved brother passed away suddenly at the age of 46 - there was no inkling that this was about to happen and it was a major shock.
I returned to the UK and the day job. But readers, I found I just couldn't do justice to a caring profession when I was walking around in a thick fog of sadness. Apart from my husband I was on my own, with very little support. Of course I carried on, but when I got back home after work however, I found that I had acres of time with nothing to fill the long winter nights. In danger of falling apart I had to find something pretty darn quickly to fill my time. And so, I brought out the beads and the wire and made a whole bunch of 'things' - that's the best word for those early attempts. But of course, as time passed, the 'things' began to resemble something that I might actually wear.
A short while later, I was having a chat with a friend who said that I ought to set up a Facebook page - 'You are so ready', she said. So I bestirred myself and soon after, a Facebook page called Caprilicious Jewellery was in the pipeline. I started off by posting a few photographs, and earned a bollocking from my friend - 'for God's sake take better pictures', she said.
That was the next hurdle. I spent ages researching how to take a decent picture with my little Canon IXUS. I had a very small start up budget which I had already blown on supplies and tuition, so I had to do all the work myself - I found Picasa and Weebly and wrote my own website, bought a domain name and even started this blog. I had eleven comments almost straight away on the blog, be still my palpitating heart! Wow! I had arrived!!
HA! They were all spammers, as I did not have the know how at the time to switch on comment selection, but the plus side to it was that I found out where to buy fake Raybans, weight loss pills and penile enlargement agents, sometimes from the same outlet.
SInce then, I've learned many interesting techniques, opened and closed online outlets on Facebook and Etsy, had two successful exhibitions in Bangalore, and have not lost my enthusiasm for jewellery one bit.
I've continued to write and modify my website and enjoy posting this blog religiously each week on a Friday.
I've recently acquired a fabulous new DSLR camera, taken lessons on how to use it and set up a little home studio, having decoupaged a second hand dress form and put up a backdrop to ensure that I never get another bollocking from my friend again.
My latest endeavour has been to set up a soldering station and warm connections will be the direction in which I will take Caprilicious in its fifth year.
I love wire, and the ability to connect two pieces of metal without the application of heat is a very tricky and intricate process, but now the time has come to add another string to my bow.
So, why do I feel the need to sell my jewellery, to put my heart on the line in an already crowded market and risk rejection, time after time? It certainly isn't for the money it brings - thankfully I am not dependant on my income from Caprilicious. Any money I make here is used to buy more supplies, although I dream of a successful business by the time I am ready to retire from my day job.
I am intimately connected to each piece I produce and it gives me so much pleasure when someone likes my jewellery enough to put their money where their mouth is. To actually part with their hard earned cash for my work is a validation of my efforts.
Caprilicious is my alter ego, and people who buy from me are almost buying a piece of my soul - they are my soul sisters. I send their jewellery out as soon as possible and then wait with bated breath for them to mail me and tell me how much they love the piece of my soul that they hold in their hot little hands - and so continues the Caprilicious sisterhood.
I make most of my jewellery of an evening, sitting with my husband in front of the television, and I never know what I am going to make that day. It all depends on my mood after a day at work and the beads that choose to emerge from my stash.
Now that the Infection Control Police at the day job have brought in the 'bare below the elbows, and no jewellery' rule, I don't have that many places to wear my pieces - I have to share them with the other Caprilicious women of the world before I end up needing a new house with enough storage room for all the stuff I create.
I make around two or three pieces each week - it would be rude to hide them all away in a cupboard and so I put them on my website for anyone who fancies them to enjoy.
Time is a great healer - that cliche is certainly correct, and I am not as manic about my requirement to keep myself busy any more. I still think of my brother, of course I do, but the pain in my heart has dulled with age.
I have made many new friends since starting Caprilicious - women I would never have met if I had carried on walking in my narrow path as a medic, and that is a fantastic byproduct. I couldn't imagine not knowing Rachel or Neelam, Bernadette or Divya to name but a few and it's amazing how this has happened.
I am usually quite reserved, and to make friends literally out of the ether was extremely unexpected. Also, I have found it easier to start a conversation when I am wearing a piece of Caprilicious - people seem to come up to me and talk about my jewellery, and when I tell them I made it, that is usually the beginning of a long chat. In a strange way, the jewellery seems to do the talking - well, perhaps that's why it is called 'statement jewellery'!
This has been a slow week for Caprilicious - I have a few projects in the pipeline, but nothing finished, photographed, and blog worthy. I will have something - in fact I should have plenty for the blog next week. In the meantime, I made a necklace with a Chandiya - the pendant comes from the Banjara peoples of India and is so called because of its shape - a crescent moon (chand). The Banjaras are said to be descendants of the Roma gypsies of Europe who migrated to India through the mountains of Afghanistan and finally settled down in Rajasthan. The colourful stream of the Banjaras began to travel down to the South in the 14th century. Thanks to the number of cattle they owned, the Banjaras worked for the Moghuls, transporting provisions and arms, setting up camps on the outskirts of army encampments.
I made polymer clay beads to resemble resin amber and Yemeni ebony prayer beads with a silver inlay - the 'silver' in my beads is aluminium wire. I spent time refurbishing the pendant and restored a missing end cap with faux amber and added a bunch of hotfix crystals where they had gone missing. This yielded a handsome piece of jewellery, very ornate, yet easily wearable.
This is my output for the week. As I said, I have a few things in the pipeline, which will be on next week's blog. Until then, have a fabulous week and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place