Beautiful Handmade Statement Necklaces and other Fabulousness from Neena Shilvock - Inspirations and Designs From the Week Gone by
Hello good people, how are you? Hurtling towards winter as we are, I'm not looking forward to the cold and the dark, especially as we will be putting the clock back at the end of the month. The heating is on at home and we are snuggling under the duvets, trying to stay warm for longer. However, we still have the festive period to come - if it weren't for Christmas, it would be so dull by the time December arrives.
'Persian Pickles' or Paisley
The original Persian droplet-like motif – the boteh or buta – is thought to have been a representation of a floral spray combined with a cypress tree, a Zoroastrian symbol of life and eternity. The seed-like shape is also thought to represent fertility, has connections with Hinduism, and also bears an intriguing resemblance to the famous yin-yang symbol. It is still a hugely popular motif in Iran and South and Central Asian countries and is woven using silver and gold threads on to silks and fine wool for weddings and other celebrations.
Imports from the East India Company via the ‘silk routes’ brought the textile pattern to Europe in the 18th century, and following the arrival of luxurious Kashmir shawls some of which were very expensive, the pattern took the continent by storm. The shawls were soon imitated throughout Europe, mainly in Wales and the town of Paisley in Scotland. From that point onward the English term for the motif was ‘paisley’, though it is also known in the United States among quilt-makers as ‘Persian pickles’ or in the Welsh textile industry as ‘Welsh pears’.
Arthur Liberty, William Morris and the Arts-and-Crafts movement adapted the print, and it became an integral part of the Aesthetic Movement and the Art Nouveau Movement – shorthand for sophisticated, arty bohemianism. The Beatles, in the 60's once again revived the pattern by wearing it at their concerts and it became emblematic of the ‘summer of love’ and the aesthetic of the psychedelic era. Various designers have insisted that it has a deep meaning, that it symbolises the tree of life, the seed palm, thus fertility and it has remained exotic and cool with a rock vibe.
So, that's the background of my 'Persian Pickle'. When I was growing up, my mother called it the 'mango', which was as fanciful as she got. While I was researching the paisley I read that it could signify halved fresh figs, mangoes, gourds, licks of flame, or Cypress trees (sacred to the Zoroastrians); kidneys, tadpoles, tear drops, pears, or sperm! I even came across a Jehovah's Witness message board that wanted paisley to be "taboo" because it is considered a representation of sperm! What?? Have they ever looked down a telescope at a sperm? I have, and it is definitely not paisley shaped!!
I decided to release two of the pieces of labradorite I bought in Jaipur a few years ago, into the world. The paisley pattern appealed and with inspiration from Kinga Nichols, I started out on a paisley pattern I drew on a piece of Lacy's Stiff Stuff (not a made up Harry Potterish name, I promise).
That took the bulk of an evening, and I then started to fill in the gaps around the labradorite with tiny seed beads the next day. The labradorite is a startlingly deep blue when held up to the light, otherwise it is a dull grey. Another couple of evenings of zen enjoyment went by.
Finally, the paisley was filled in to my satisfaction and I encircled it with diamante cup chain and soutache braids and made a little flourish at the top of the 'mango'. Somewhere along the line, I decided I was going to hang the finished pendant on a blue necklace cord and hang citrine nuggets from the pendant.
Before I could do that I had to decide how the paisley was going to be hung - and after a long period of deliberation I made a final decision. This was very important as I needed to sew in the jump rings for the citrine dangles, and cover them with a layer of felt, and then another layer of ultrasuede. Once that die was cast, there would be no going back!
On day four, I added to loops to use as bails to hang the necklace - as I wanted the pendant to hang asymmetrically, the loops had to differ in length, and I decided to go all the way and make them in different colours. I liked the way the pendant was shaping up when I hung it from a knob on my beading lamp, but the green bail looked a bit stark. I added blue tassels with seed beads and Czech glass petals, taking inspiration from Kay Bonitz. The seed beads in this piece are all 15/0 which are smaller than 1mm in diameter and 11/0 which are 1mm - not terribly good for the eyes, fingers and feet. Feet?? you ask? Yes, they are so tiny they often fall from your hands to the floor, and it is inadvisable to walk around in bare feet. It certainly hurts like hell if one is trod on because they are invisible when so far away.
The Finished 'Pickle' - Perfectly Paisley!!
So here it is, the finished article. It is looking for that perfectly flamboyant woman who will love it's high visibility.
One of my customers asked how it hung on a real person, so I whipped on a shawl and took a quick picture and here it is. I think it would look much better on a dark, high necked little black dress, and I'll leave you to use your imagination to produce that image.
That's me for this week, folks. This pendant took me five evenings to make and I had no time for anything else. I do enjoy the beadwork, it is a lot of fun to watch the piece grow and evolve. When I start out, perhaps on Day 2-3, it looks awful, and I often have to put it away for a few days before I can face picking it up again. This piece, however, was a delight to bead from the start, so it flowed beautifully.
Have a fabulous week, and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.