Beautiful Handmade Statement Necklaces and other Fabulousness from Neena Shilvock - Inspirations and Designs From the Week Gone by
Hello readers, thanks for meeting me here today. It has been a long week, with the day job suddenly hotting up, guests at the weekend, and sunshiny days begging us to come out and play.
A classic piece of music, sung recently by Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett and revived all over again. I called my next piece Ermine and Pearls - or 'Oimine', as Gaga pronounces it!
Ermine and Pearls
The amethysts in this necklace are sumptuous - they are rough cut teardrop nuggets. The pendant is a slice of druzy, showing all the layers of the rock in a seam of amethyst, set in Bali silver. The amethysts always have regal connotations for me and with the beautiful baroque pearls, I immediately thought of the ermine trimmed robes worn by peers of the realm on ceremonial occasions. en departed from Westminster Abbey for the Palace.
Perseverance Pays - or Five Takes with Bronze Clay
I played with bronze clay when I had time between other activities and some of my experiments were successful, and some a total failure. I persevered - I could feel that I was close to getting it right, the design just needed to be refined a bit, and of course, I never give up!
I was given a design to work to. I drew it onto a sheet of paper to the exact size specified, transferred it to a piece of scratch foam and tested it on polymer clay - so far, so good!
I then rolled out a piece of clay and tried out the scratch foam imprint. Although less than satisfied with the precision of the imprint, I kept going - I pressed the bronze clay onto the foam to get as deep an imprint as possible. To make the lines clearer I used my new micro gouging tools from Harbor Freight to carve into the dried out pieces and was mighty happy with what I had achieved - so far, not bad at all, I said, patting myself on the back!
Unfortunately, when it came out of the kiln, I wanted to beat myself about the head, not pat myself on the back - the 'cut work' and carving had made the clay too thin and it had split. I decided that I had rolled the clay out too thin in the first place and that I needed to get a sharper imprint. I made a polymer clay imprint, cured it, and then took a 'negative'. This time, I rolled the clay out thicker than before and got a clearer imprint.
Bronze clay pieces go into the kiln twice to sinter, so it is a fairly laborious procedure. Here are the pieces going into the kiln for two firings, along with some other stuff I made up just for the heck of it with leftover clay.
Boo Hoo Hoo, one of the pieces was OK, but the other had split once again. I realised that in the process of carving the 'cut work' in the piece, I had probably created micro fractures which had split the component when I put it in the kiln - the piece shrinks by about 30% so even the slightest fracture would pull the clay apart.
So I made yet another piece and when I had finished carving it, I reinforced the areas around the carving with slip and held my breath till it came out of the kiln.........
The pieces still need to be burnished and tumbled and finished off. There is still one more sticky bit where I am going to attempt to attach a sterling silver post to the back of the earpiece using a new substance called Clay Bond - but at least I have cracked the basic component - I could have danced, danced, danced, all night! Anyway, the consolation has to be that I have now got the procedure down pat, I've even written the steps down and have a load of pictures I took as I went along to remind me not to make the same mistakes.
Through all these mishaps over the week, I felt the need to reaffirm my viability as a jewellery maker - I needed to be successful at something! Fortunately for me, Ermine and Pearls was snapped up by a lovely lady who likes her amethysts and I made Aphrodite's tears - why it has this name will be explained here as I made a similar necklace a couple of years ago. I love ammonites and think they are really beautiful - I bought three pendants, set in sterling silver. One for myself, the other I made a couple of years ago, and the third one for these pages.
Today, I shall try out the Clay Bond and let you know next week how my experiment pans out. I have visitors over the weekend, so have to get it done by the end of play today. The cats are enjoying the summer, and are out all day, only coming in to eat and to bring us little rodents and small birds as gifts. We are soon going on holiday - I'm not sure what they will think of that as they will have to go into a cattery, but I can hazard a guess.
Have a fabulous weekend, and I'll catch you next Friday, same place, same time
I'm Neena Shilvock, and I'm crazily addicted to jewellery. I've been designing and making quirky and interesting statement necklaces for the last five years and my passion hasn't cooled off one little bit - in fact it has got worse, such that I'm even dreaming jewellery.
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