Hello folks, how are you today? It has started to rain again across the UK -and I never thought I'd say this, but thank goodness for that. Hubby has suffered terribly with hay fever and at one point his breathing was so bad that I thought I'd have to take him down to A & E. The beautiful May flower has been in bloom all over the UK and there has been so much tree pollen in the air that even I have been sneezing and spluttering from it. I've spent most of the week ministering to his needs and soothing the fevered brow.
This week I felt like making a mood elevator - something to wear when you're feeling Bleh! Something showy, colourful and bright that would do the talking so that everyone would know you're in the room even if no words escape your lips. After all, if jewellery, clothes and make up are mere camouflage that brighten dull areas and hide lumps and bumps while accentuating your good points, a showy statement necklace that is easy to wear and draws more attention than your red nose, puffy eyes or dull hair is just the ticket.
I wanted something light and easy to wear yet showy, and settled on making a necklace of Lava stone beads - they are formed when volcanoes erupt, much like obsidian stones. The lava shoots out of a volcano and runs down its side. Once this incredibly hot liquid rock dries, it becomes a lava stone. Because of this process, lava stone is considered to be a stone of rebirth. Naturally formed holes and irregular surfaces are characteristic of the stone, making each bead unique, and because they are basically pumice stone in a very compact form, they are very light. Let's face it, who wants to wear a heavy necklace when they aren't feeling well - yet that's precisely the time when a statement piece is an absolute necessary camouflage.
Lava beads are believed to promote strength and fertility and are a grounding stone that strengthens one's connection to Mother Earth - believers in the power of the gemstone think it grounds and stabilizes the root chakra because of the stone’s strong connection with the earth. When the root chakra is stabilized, the body and mind feels positive, safe and anchored to the earth.
A quick rummage through my box(es) of beads, looking for elements that would go with the lava beads revealed Tibetan beeswax resin pendants, resin beads, turquoise tyre shaped beads, two kinds of chank shell beads with silver bead caps, and little silver plated haematite spacers. Three strands, and yet so light, I love this necklace. It's versatility means that it can be worn with all sorts of outfits - T shirts, shirts, jumpers, drab grey dresses; indeed, the drabber the better. It makes me smile and uplifts my mood almost immediately.
Heat of the Moment
That's me for this week, folks. I'm working all weekend, and hopefully it won't be too busy. Have a wonderful week and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Hello people, how's tricks? The sunshine's back in the UK and things feel like they are looking up at last, with the weather, the vaccination program and the slowing of the Covid infection rates in the UK. Now, all we have to do is to wait for the rest of the world to get there so that we can begin to think about travel and all the other things we have hitherto enjoyed. Poor hubby has had hay fever - we have some beautiful flowering Hawthorn May blossom trees in front of the house and the masses of pollen they release every spring, as well as the sunshine and warmth have conspired against him. He even missed our first trip since lockdown began to the pub, being dosed up with antihistamines and sniffing himself to sleep.
My next project was to be an embroidered cuff bracelet, but it has been so busy at work that I was unable to bring myself to face a tube of beads or even a needle. I picked up a pendant that was actually one of a pair of earrings made by the Hmong tribe in China. It has a low silver content and is pretty heavy for an earring. The term 'Miao' is used today by the Chinese government to denote a group of linguistically and culturally related people (including the Hmong, Hmu, Kho Xiong, and A Hmao). Both men and women from the Miao tribes wear the most fantastical jewellery and put on a beautiful show for the tourists wearing what looked like the entire silver reserve of the country when I was in Xian, many years ago. I have a couple of the necklaces myself, but the earrings are too heavy for me - stretched earlobes must be in fashion out there!
Blue and white decoration first became widely used in Chinese porcelain in the 14th century, after the cobalt pigment for the blue began to be imported from Persia. I always thought Delftware was the definitive blue and white porcelain, but no, the Chinese made it first. It was widely exported, and inspired imitative wares in Islamic ceramics, and in Japan, and later European tin-glazed earthenware such as Delftware and in the 18th century, European porcelain.
The yellow beads are of resin and the asymmetrically placed red bead is dyed howlite. I like the added zhoosh the flash of red contributes to the piece.
Here are some pictures from a little photoshoot over the weekend we spent with a friend who originally came to me through Caprilicious. We hadn't seen each other for a while and by the time we actually went out into the garden, the light was fading - I'm not 100% happy with a lot of the photographs. I have picked out the best ones for these pages.
That's me for now, folks. Have a wonderful week and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Hello folks, how're you? It is wonderfully sunny out here, and our lockdown in the UK is reversing, albeit slowly and gingerly, which is probably the best way. I've even booked a table at our favourite pub for lunch on Saturday afternoon and am so looking forward to it. Sitting out in the sunshine and having a meal is a simple pleasure that has been denied us for so long, it feels decidedly decadent to finally be able to do it. Apparently it's going to get even warmer next week -oooh! bring on summer. If it gets any warmer I shall sit on a bench in the sun and eat grapes, which hubby will have to peel and pop into my mouth one by one. Yes, I know it's meant to be the other way around, but that's not how it works in our house, I'm afraid.
That's enough of my orgiastic daydreams, let me show you some jewellery!
I made this one early on in the week, while the weather was decidedly cooler. Biwa and baroque pearls with accents of titanium vapour coated quartz shards and a silver pendant are the elements in this piece. The blue of the quartz jives with the blue chalcedony that dominates the art nouveau silver pendant.
Blue ice occurs when snow on a glacier becomes compressed by further snowfall. It eventually becomes part of the glacier, but during the process of compression, air bubbles are squeezed out, and consequently large ice crystals enlarge.
Ice in small amounts appears white because of air bubbles inside it. Small quantities of ice/water appear to be colourless. In glaciers, the pressure of fresh snowfall causes the air bubbles to be squeezed out, increasing the density of the created ice. A large piece of compressed ice, or a glacier, appears blue, just as large expanses of water are blue - this is because the red (long wavelength) part of white light is absorbed by ice/water and the blue (short wavelength) light is transmitted and scattered. The longer the path light travels in ice or water, the more blue it appears.
There are large quantities of blue ice in Alaska, which, being so well compressed, can take the weight of a plane and are therefore used as runways.
Let me show you the beautiful necklace before I blind you with facts. I don't mean to bore anyone, but I do like to say a few words about the inspiration for a piece and its name.
Although the main stone is a deep blue, it is offset by an amethyst and a garnet as well as another blue chalcedony teardrop.
I wore the necklace to work this morning - and so many people stopped to say how nice it was and how much they loved it, that was really nice. My friend quickly took a couple of pictures before I changed into my scrubs, and here they are. The pearls reflect a glow onto the face.
Hubby had his second dose of the vaccine today and I was really anxious as he has a nasty propensity to develop allergic reactions to various things - and that would put a kybosh on my weekend plans (only joking - I was on tenterhooks until I drove him home and he scoffed a couple of sausages and kept them down). He seems not to have suffered any ill effects, so the weekend's back on, hooray!!
Both of us got haircuts as well as soon as it was legal - I cut Mikes hair during lockdown and he was quite pleased with it which led me to think I might develop another sideline as a hairstylist - until I was tutted at disapprovingly and the woman told me off- she said that I was a 'hairdressers nightmare'. I think she was just safeguarding her job, he didn't look that bad to me. She's now almost shorn him, her excuse was that she was repairing my errors. Poor Mike!
That's me for now, folks. Have a fabulous week and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Hello people, how are you? Our ordeal is almost at an end now, with the lockdown in the UK set to be seriously relaxed on the 12th of April. People - well, sensible people anyway, have had their vaccinations, knowing that the risk benefit ratio is loaded against those who choose not to get their jabs. However, travel is still prohibited, and unless one can furnish a good enough reason a fine of £5000 is likely to be involved (ouch!). I have no plans to go anywhere till the end of August, and who knows whether it will actually happen.
I thought it had been ages since I used my kiln, so I made tiny earring components with Art Clay Silver - I didn't put any holes in the components on purpose, as I intend to practice soldering techniques once the weather is warmer so that by the end of the exercise, I shall be an expert. All flame making activity is restricted to the conservatory which has no heating so I can't use it in the winter apart from a bit of photography. I don't want to risk burning the house down though, so summer is when I shall play with my torch.
I finally finished the beetle wing necklace that has taken me ages - I think it was because I did the whole lot in black beads apart from the gold edging. I'm used to loads of colour, texture and shapes and the single colour became a bit monotonous. Here's the piece from its conception to completion.
A few more pictures for you - this necklace is called Belle, the beautiful green wings of the jewellery beetle could easily be wings from the absinthe fairy, or La Fee.
This is an art nouveau depiction of the Absinthe Fairy by Pearllight studio, a blog written/drawn by a mixed media artist.
Now that lockdown is easing a bit, I had a friend come and visit me and we had some fun taking photographs of her wearing a few pieces by Caprilicious. Rachel is a journalist from India and we met a number of years ago through Caprilicious. I meet up with her every year when I'm in India on holiday and was pleased that I could have her over while she was in the UK at a course. She picked up a few pieces from Caprilicious and we spent a sunny afternoon taking pictures and trying on jewellery.
That's me for today, folks. Have a wonderful week and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Hello folks, how are you this week? In the UK, the end of the tunnel is nigh upon us with lockdown set to ease (not end, though) gingerly on the 12th of April, and we take faltering baby steps into the wide blue yonder. Foreign travel is still going to be limited for a while and with the rest of the world still poorly vaccinated and a lot of Europe in lockdown, it makes sense to stay put.
My fritillaries, wood anemones and narcissi are out in the little patch on the front of the house and as ever, they are a joy to behold. I even have my first camellia - we bought the little shrub last year in full flower, so I'm enjoying the buds blossoming this time around.
The slab nuggets from this piece were cut from a piece of citrine druzy such as the one depicted here. As with all druzy, the edges glint in the light, and the beads look like sugar slices half immersed in coffee. The pendant is set in silver and contains moldavite and turquoise as well as a single green onyx. The accents pick up the turquoise in the pendant with antique silver beads I found in India. The blue brightens up the yellow/brown of the citrine - an entirely brown necklace is not my idea of fun, however beautiful the beads may be individually! The piece was inspired by photographs I took on a trip to Positano a number of years ago, with its dramatic vertical panorama of colors; the green of the Monti Lattari, the white, pink and yellow of the Mediterranean houses, the silvery grey of its pebble beaches and the blue of the sea.
I have been plugging away at my embroidered piece and it is almost done - well, it may be finished come the end of next week, unless something else crops up. I'm quite happy with the way it is turning out, slowly but surely. I've never done a whole piece in one colour and it's doing my head in a bit, but I'm restraining myself from going into my usual frenzy of multi colour beads.
That's me for this week folks, have a wonderful week, and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place. Oh, and before I forget, Happy Easter, to those who celebrate!
Until next week,
Hello lovely people, how are you today? It turned a year since the UK first went into lockdown on the 23rd of March - a time for introspection and for being grateful for all the hard work put in by my colleagues in the NHS. I lit a candle in my porch that night in gratitude, and in memory of those who didn't survive, notably a wonderful woman called Dawn Downes, who was a theatre practicioner when I first came to Nuneaton over 20 years ago - she was a load of fun, larger than life, and an all round good egg. We became friends over the patients we cared for and later on over Caprilicious when she helped out with displays at shows. I will miss her cheerful presence in the hospital.
Ebony and Ivory
Before any one gets on the 'OMG! ivory!!' bandwagon, there's neither ebony nor ivory in this piece, the name is just a play on monochrome. The hand cut chunks of black tourmaline have their crystals aligned in parallel, vertical lines which make a beautiful pattern on the outside of the beads. The most spectacular tourmaline crystals are formed by hydrothermal activity when hot waters and vapors carry the elements needed to form tourmaline into pockets and fractures, which offer space for crystal growth. The tourmaline crystals formed in these cavities range in size from tiny millimeter crystals to massive prisms weighing over 100 kilograms.
The baroque pearls come from Bali and are heavy, large, creamy and luscious. Baroque pearls are pearls with an irregular non-spherical shape. They aren't all regular and round like grandma's pearls. Shapes can range from minor aberrations to distinctly ovoid, curved, pinched, or lumpy shapes. Most cultured freshwater pearls are baroque because freshwater pearls are mantle-tissue nucleated.
I started embroidering a new necklace this week - this one will be simple, but still hopefully gorgeous in all its simplicity. Here are some pictures from the first few steps.
And now for the strange dichotomy of the painful, yet enjoyable process of filling in the blank spaces between the beetle wings with tiny black beads. I want the necklace to highlight the beauty of the colours of the wings and the crystals, so a plain black background seemed the obvious answer.
I've had a few days off from work, trying to finish as much of my annual leave as possible before it expires on the 1st of April. However, I made the fatal mistake of bringing my work laptop home and have found myself joining meetings on Teams, writing proformas and checking my emails. However, it's nice not to have to actually go in and to be able to slob around in my PJs, bare faced and hair uncombed in a knot on top of my head. People at work probably wouldn't recognise me if they dropped in!
I saw these flowers when I went out to the conservatory to take my photographs - this one has sat at the back of my border for 15 years and comes back every winter - I rarely look at it because it is tucked away in the garden at the back of the house, and blooms only in winter - I almost never go out into the garden in the cold, being a tropical person. It is called Helleborus foetidus - not sure why as it isn't particularly stinky. I keep meaning to get some more, but haven't bothered - it is a boring green plant all year and flowers when it knows I'm not looking!
That's me for this week, folks. Have a good week and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Hello lovely people, I hope you're all well today. Spring is in the air - I don't know about you but it seems like we've had a very short winter to me. Perhaps because we haven't been anywhere, or done anything all year - it's as if 2020 was a damp squib all round.
2021 hasn't got too much to say for itself either - the first quarter has gone by without too much fanfare.
I'm about to have my second Covid jab on Monday and I fully expect to be filled with enthusiasm, to be greeted with bells and whistles, and confetti to shower upon me. 'You're immune, You're immune' sing the bells of St Godeberta, the church of the patron saint of epidemics.
But a little voice in my head goes 'Ah, but the vaccine has only a 75% efficacy rate - how d'you know you don't belong in the other 25%?'. And the bells fade away in the distance and eventually go muffled and silent.
There's no way of knowing, is there? One just has to plod on, masked face forward.
I've been looking at these photographs everywhere, beautiful women in their acrylic chain link necklaces - the first time I saw one, I didn't think much of it, but eventually the trend grew on me and I found myself sending for acrylic chain links and making one of them myself. I added some colour with a carabiner clasp from my collection, and a couple of dangles, including a bright green cloisonne dragonfly and a large baroque pearl. Each of the links clicks into the next one, so the necklace can be shortened easily if required. I actually like the look of it. What d'you think? I gave it a practice run and people at work loved it.
The silver pendant in this necklace came from Jaipur, India - the focal stone is a red jasper crowned by moonstones. I've had it for a while and had no idea what I was going to do with it until it's moment arrived and bang! the idea descended upon me like a bolt from the blue. Rutilated quartz beads that are faceted and reflect the light, accented by even more sparkle from faceted haematite that has been electroplated with silver seemed to be the perfect match, and so they were, when I put them together in a necklace of four strands.
The tiny rutilated quartz beads are in shades ranging from clear to grey, orange-brown and black and they match the jasper and the moonstone in the pendant perfectly. The light bouncing around this necklace when it is prismed over and through the little facets cannot be picked up in any still photograph.
If you wish to read about the properties of red jasper, you can do so here, and here's a link to an article about the healing properties of rutilated quartz.
That's me for this week, folks. Have a wonderful week, and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place,
Hello people, how are you doing today? It's raining cats and dogs where I live, but I guess that's OK as there's nowhere to go and nothing to do because of the lockdown, which hopefully, will begin to relax bit by bit soon.
This week, I finally finished the necklace I was making last week and sent it off to its new owner. This is the second necklace I've made of this design and I'm not sure if I'll ever make another again. I've been asked about a bracelet in that vein and that's most likely a goer.
And there it is, folks, sans lizards, with bees as requested; and in a predominance of red, as that is the new owners favorite colour. The labradorite flashes a deep and vibrant blue unashamedly - the last picture was taken in the sunlight. I put it in the post this afternoon, after work and will now wait until she receives it early next week to find out what she thinks of it.
Another of my lovely clients in the USA bought this pair of earrings, but when they arrived, she felt they were too long for her and she gifted them to a friend. I was asked if I would come up with a shorter pair and once the necklace was finished, I gave that a go. The first pair, I thought were a bit longer than the remit set for me, and I had some teal coloured Shibori ribbon left over, so I started over.
Although they are in the same tones, with similar beads they are quite different. It is next to impossible to make the same narrow shape in the original pair in a shorter style, as it's beauty is because of the length which gives it a degree of grace, and the profusion of sumptuous pearls and beads. That being said the new ones are just as elegant, light and easy to wear. If the lady doesn't want them they will go onto the website next week.
That's me for this week, folks. Have a wonderful week, and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Hello lovely people, how are you?
We are already ankle deep into March and this year seems to be shaping up very much like the last one. However, for some folks, things are moving, just a little bit.
As of today people in care homes in the UK can have one member of their household visit them indoors after having a Covid test. It won't make a difference to me because I don't know anyone in a care home, but I'll bet this news is making thousands of people very happy - I'm not sure if they are allowed to hug the people they visit, but at least they can get past talking to them through a closed window. Anyway, surely this means that things are moving in the right direction?
I haven't anywhere to go apart from work and the supermarket and nobody wants to visit me - or they can't even if they want to, unless I move to a care home. I draw the line at that move though - I'm not ready for that just yet!
Having spent the most part of last weekend on the Earrings Show, I went back to work, right into the thick of it. I have been attempting to perfect the art of not needing any sleep - or at least needing very little, so I can read my books, play with social media, make jewellery and watch a bit of TV after work. Some of these activities can be done together fortunately, so multitasking is the name of my game.
It feels like all I've done this week is to add little beads, one by one to the Woodland Fantasy sans Lizards necklace and finally my persistence has paid off and all the beadwork is finished. Here are a few pictures of the work in progress - if I carry on at this pace, it should be finished, lined, edged and the beads attached to the back by the end of next week.
For some reason, I've been obsessing about these tiny beads - I haven't played with any of the other things I so loved in the recent past - wire, or polymer clay or metal clay. I must remedy that soon, but the joy of painting with beads is so uplifting that I don't seem to want to create with anything else. I have orders for another necklace and a pair of Shibori earrings, so it may yet be a while before I move back to older techniques.
That's me for this week, folks. I shall now go and get all dressed up to go to the supermarket - heaven knows there's nowhere else to go.
Have a good week, and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Hello all you lovely people, how are you? I've been relaxing at home - I haven't gone out for the entire week, apart from the one foray into Sainsbury's to do the weekly shop on Saturday. I'll say one thing for mask wearing - you don't have to bother with make up! Anyway, hopefully our crazy, uneasy existence with masking and distancing will grind down to a slow halt at the end of this long tunnel. I hope that those of you who have been offered the vaccine have gone out and had it. I've had my first dose of the Pfizer jab with no problems at all to report, and the next one is mid March. Hubby has had his too, the Astra Zeneca one this time with no side effects either, and he has to wait till April for his second dose.
I've been prepping for the Earrings Show on Saturday/ Sunday - 27th/28th - it starts at 830 pm on the 27th, so if you can come along and support my act, please do - just click on the link or look for The Earrings Show on Facebook. This time, I've got plenty of new bead woven pieces, and they are an inexpensive yet colourful way to brighten up your outfit. I have spent a small part of each evening embroidering the new necklace I've been working on since last week - Woodland Fantasy sans lizards. A few more flowers and I'll be ready to work on some leaves.
And here are my earrings, all photographed and ready for the Earrings Show - tell me what you think. Would you wear them? If not, why not? If you like them, what is it that attracts you? I'd love to know for future reference.
The last pair were made with faceted onyx and Japanese Tensha beads - Tensha beads are handcrafted beauties, each individually made and are imported all the way from Japan. Each bead features an intricate decorative pattern of flowers, or swirling feathers. The patterns are very precise, and are actually housed within the bead - this makes the bead very durable and resistant to the scratches of wear and tear. The word Tensha means to transfer. Each delicate design is carefully placed on top of a durable acrylic round, then fully lacquered with another layer of crystal clear acrylic to protect the beautiful art from abrasion. Tensha beads are believed to have originally been created as a substitute for more traditional porcelain beads, as porcelain was harder to work with, took longer to paint, and was far more fragile. Tensha beads are made of a special acrylic that makes them lightweight. They are also provide an easier canvas so the artist can transfer even more detailed imagery without fear of loosing elements of the design in the process. I saw them used in a necklace on Pinterest and hunted them down for Caprilicious - I didn't want to swamp the detail on the beads with loads of other design elements and the earrings may be relatively simple, but they are simply beautiful and ever so light.
That's me for now, folks. Have a good week and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.