Beautiful Handmade Statement Necklaces and other Fabulousness from Neena Shilvock - Inspirations and Designs From the Week Gone by
Hello again readers, and welcome to the Caprilicious Jewellery blog for lovers of statement jewellery.
This week has been about playing with my little kiln and making components for earrings. I had a few packs of Art Clay Silver and thought it was time I used them while I had a couple of days off from the day job.
I wrote about the medium a long time ago, when I first went to a class, and it was just as much fun playing with the clay this week as it was when I was first enthused by it. Here are some of the earrings I made with the finished silver components.
As I hadn't used my kiln for ages I had to get reacquainted with it and the silver clay. It is a real bu**~r of a medium, pardon my French -but that was the politest expletive I used that day.
I made a few pieces, dried them out on a heated tray and then decided I didn't like them and reconstituted the clay to make another design. I figured it was better to scrap the design at the clay stage when it could be reused, rather than to carry on foolishly, hoping for the best and having to scrap it eventually when it came out of the kiln.
The air was blue around my head. However, by the time I finished I was working like a well oiled machine and I ended up with these five pairs of earring components that I was happy with and could fire in the kiln. I think the earrings are pretty, don't you?
The pendant in this piece is from India - a hammered disc with an ornate pattern and a peacock picked out in wire. As the peacock dances in the monsoon, I thought it went well with the spectrolite beads - they come in a beautiful inky blue/black - a puffy rain cloud in each bead, with little flashes of lightning shooting through. A couple of shiny silver beads, and some pearls and the necklace was done. As one of my friends said, it is a traditional pendant (and you couldn't get a more traditional Indian motif than a peacock) with a contemporary necklace. It certainly fits my design ethic - a mix and match of different cultural identities, and the ancient with the modern, yet making an interesting piece of jewellery that can be worn with just about anything.
The title for this piece comes from the cinnabar beads. Cinnabar was a vermilion pigment derived from Mercury sulphate - the ore used to refine elemental mercury or quicksilver. Cinnabar generally occurs as a vein-filling mineral associated with recent volcanic activity and alkaline hot springs. Quicksilver is literally 'living silver' because of the ability of mercury to move, being the only liquid metal at standard conditions for temperature and pressure.
Until it was widely realised that mercury was poisonous, it was used in the Near East and in China since as early as the Song dynasty, where it was used in colouring lacquerware and in cosmetics. Imagine the furore when the ladies found that they were literally 'dying to look beautiful'. It was bad enough when they couldn't walk because their feet were bound and deformed, but it must have been even worse when the ladies couldn't even lie indolently on their chaise - longues, looking beautiful in their red lippie and rouge for fear of doing themselves a mischief. Where was Max Factor in those days?? He would've made a killing (sorry, couldn't resist it)!
In the modern jewelry industry, the toxic pigment is replaced by a resin-based polymer that approximates the appearance of pigmented lacquer.
The pendant, set in silver is a mosaic of abalone and black lip oyster, set with coral and turquoise and the beads are an unusual matte grey agate, set off by the cinnabar.
So folks, it is back to the kiln for me this weekend - if you come by my house and it sits in the centre of a blue fog, you'll know I am having problems with my clay - but one can only hope that won't be the case. Have a lovely weekend, and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place