Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Kaede necklace...

Yesterday I made a companion for my Momiji necklace, once again inspired by the colours of nature and, more specifically, Autumn leaves. If Momiji represents the delicate Japanese Maple, Kaede portrays the strong North-American variety, where the leaves have three lobes (instead of five, as it happens with the former).

For this piece I have used:

- One large Chinese carved jasper leaf;
- Several labradorite chips;
- Several mookaite round beads;
- Palace Green Opal AB Swarovski bicones;
- Two oval flat dragon vein beads;
- Twelve flat oval and disc multicoloured Jade beads;
- Two Swarovski large crystal pearls;
- Small labradorite round beads near the clasp;
- Antique bronze Tibetan flower clasp.

Some details of Kaede...

This is the main piece: a large carved jasper leaf, in shades of red/burgundy and khaki/taupe. Its surface is very smooth and highly reflective. It is 5cm long and quite heavy as one might expect.

The 1st picture shows a close-up of one of the lovely mookaites surrounding the leaf, labradorite chips that look really exquisite with their colour changes, one small bicone , part of a Jade oval bead and, at the top, four round small labradorites and a red mookaite. In the centre we can see one of the Swarovski pearls. The other picture shows more of the labradorite chips and Swarovski large pearl. This was my first time working with labradorites. They don't look as pretty at first, until one realises how it changes colour depending on the light. It is really subtle though, and this change can be easily seen in the pictures. Then a little miracle occurs: they suddenly become wonderful. I fell in love really!

On the 1st shot, one of the large flat oval dragon veins bead. The other gems are beautiful multicoloured jade round and oval beads, together with some labradorite chips and Palace Green Opal bicones. The other picture displays the small labradorites and more jade beads.

Some more close-ups of the jade beads and pretty mookaites. The iridescent labradorite chips and some of the Swarovski pearls and bicones can also be seen.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Hana Kotoba necklace...

Hana Kotoba is a Japanese word that means literally, "Language of the Flowers". This latest necklace has been inspired by Sei Shonagon's "The Pillow Book", or Makura no Soshi. It has been written in the Heian Era, more or less one thousand years ago, in XIth Century Japan. About its author, we know little. We know however that she was a lady-in-waiting in the court of the Empress Sadako, and this book can be read like a diary. It's very enjoyable, and memorable. Her description of people, clothes and nature is very vivid and funny at times, and I really enjoy her "lists" (like "Hateful Things" or "Depressing Things", "Splendid Things" and even "Things That Give a Pathetic Impression"!). It is a delightful book, and everybody should read it at least once. Or indeed, have it under the pillow for a quick browse before sleeping at night, or in one of those rainy days when the only thing you need is a fluffy pillow and a good reading!

So, this piece has mostly been inspired by Lady Shonagon's descriptions of nature, and passages such as...

"Things that cannot be compared: Summer and Winter. Night and day. Rain and sunshine. Youth and age. A person's laughter and his anger. Black and white. Love and hatred. The little indigo plant and the great philodendron. Rain and mist."

Here is my Hana Kotoba, a little tribute to Lady Shonagon's Pillow Book and that past, soft nature she once described so candidly:

For Hana Kotoba I have used:

- One main cherry quartz carved rose (Chinese);
- Several Swarovski bicones and light peach Swarovski pearls in different sizes;
- Several Miyuki Delica seed beads in two different shades of pink and red;
- Two oval lampwork Chinese beads with pink swirls;
- Tiny silver-plated beads;
- Four small coral beads near the clasp along with Czech glass round rose beads;
- Four big round cherry quartz beads;
- One silver-plated Swarovski clasp for two strings.

The necklace is a double one, this is why I used a double-string clasp. Double necklaces are not very easy to make (depending on the design of your piece and materials used, of course). For example, this one was a bit like making four different necklaces due to the central bead that had to be locked in place first and then having the rest of the beads strung around it. It took me more than four hours just to string it, not to mention the design phase.

Details of the piece as follows...

Detail of the carved quartz rose, very pretty and translucent. I would describe the colour as "watermelon" rose, rather than "cherry". Diameter is approximately 35mm. The 2nd picture shows the lovely oval Chinese lampwork beads with pink swirls, along with some of the Swarovski pearls and Miyuki Delicas.

Two detailed shots of the cherry quartz round beads, which are very smooth and have a lovely transparency to them. We can also see some of the Swarovski pearls and Rose Water Opal AB bicones, which look slightly yellowish in the pictures but not as much in real life. The tiny silver-plated spacers and Miyukis are also visible here. One of the reasons this necklace was a bit harder to complete is the size of the Delicas: they are indeed very tiny and sometimes it is hard to string them (I am short-sighted and have not much sense of depth left in my right eye, so...).

Two more detailed shots of the Swarovski elements, cherry quartz beads (yeah, I love them!) and Miyuki Delicas (pretty but hard to work with!). The 3rd picture shows the Swarovski clasp in detail, a flower with crystals embedded. The two hooks for the double strings can be seen here. Again, it is a very safe clasp, ideal for this kind of ornate jewel. It would not go well with other materials and styles, but if the piece is a bit more "baroque" and intricate, then it's ideal!

The Morocco necklace...

This necklace is a very simple one. I called it Morocco simply because it reminds of something from Morocco - a place where I've never been. It is probably the shape of the focal pendant, like a glass lamp. And the colours. I don't know much about Morocco, except some small bits from the stories that our Moroccan friends used to tell us in Rio, or what the old Rabbi used to recount in some of the Shabat meals at his house. And that was years, years ago.

I have used a large blown glass pendant made by a glass artist in California, Tod Brown. When I saw his stuff in the web I could not resist. They are very pretty and bold, nice vivid colours and sometimes abstract patterns, like a watercolour in glass. For such a big and lovely piece I would not need much more!

Here is Morocco then:

I have used:

- Suede leather cord to string the beads;
- Tod Brown's large focal piece in hand blown glass;
- Seven bronze beads with large holes separated by knots;
- Lobster clasp and cord ends in antique bronze.

I have no close-ups since everything is kept simple and bold. We can virtually see every detail in the picture as is.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Ai necklace...

"Ai" is the Japanese word for the colour "indigo". I always wanted a necklace that would look great with jeans, and this one will do! I have used some lovely porcelain beads that my friend Florence sent to me some months ago, in blue and white, like antiqued porcelain from Macao or indigo-dyed Japanese aizome. They are very pretty:

For Ai, I used:

- One long pendant in porcelain;
- Several Chinese porcelain beads in blue and white;
- Several Swarovski bicones in Crystal, White Opal and Comet Argent Light, as well as Dark Indigo AB;
- Some few Murano round beads in indigo;
- Japanese vintage wooden beads in different shapes and sizes;
- Small Czech silver-lined beads and smoked topaz Czech beads in different shapes;
- One Swarovski silver-plated crystal clasp.

Some close-ups now...

The 1st picture shows part of the Swarovski clasp, very safe with its clicking mechanism. I am more and more enjoying those clasps and will probably have to order some more! Also, we can see some of the Dark Indigo bicones and the starry light reflection in one of the Comet Argent ones. What I love about Swarovski elements is their shine, absolutely unbeatable. The 2nd picture shows some of the smoked topaz Czech glass beads, more bicones and Chinese beads.

On the left we can see another close-up of Florence's Chinese beads, along with a teardrop smoked topaz Czech bead and Swarovbski bicones in Comet Argent Light and White Opal. On the 2nd shot, more of the bicones and one of the Murano clear beads used.

A detail of the lovely smooth vintage Japanese wooden beads, interspersed with Swarovsky bicones in Crystal. On the other picture, some more Muranos and Chinese porcelain beads.

This is the main pendant bead, with a lovely flower and leaves pattern.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Momiji necklace...

In Japanese, Momiji is the name for "Maple Tree", and more specifically the Japanese Maple variety (Kaede would be the north-American kind). The name itself, Momiji, derives from momizu, which means to change colour (to red or yellow). The maple tree is known for being the tree that gets the redder and brighter in Autumn, and thus Momiji (the Japanese maple) became representative of that - trees changing colour in the Autumn days. And a symbol for the ever-changing, impermanent nature of things as well.

Momiji is my second necklace inspired by the Autumn leaves. The first one was the Koyo.

Here is the Momiji necklace...

Here is what I used for this piece:

- One carved red jasper leaf focal Chinese pendant;
- Several Swarovski bicones in different shades of Copper, Gold and Silver;
- Two small copper Swarovski butterflies;
- Two medium yellow turquoise round beads with black veins;
- Several mookaite small rondelles and oval beads;
- Four small fire agate beads;
- Eight large and small Swarovski crystal pearls in Copper and Burgundy;
- Several Swarovski silver-plated rondelles with topaz crystals embedded;
- Ten small burgundy faux pearls interspersed with red agate beads;
- Six small yellow jade beads approaching the clasp;
- Copper hook clasp in the shape of a leaf.

Some close-ups...

Detail of the red jasper leaf and some of the Swarovski elements used: two small butterflies between bicones in Comet Argent Light and Rosaline Gold.

The 1st picture shows a detail os the Mookaite rondelles. Mookaite is a kind of Jasper as well, very common in Australia. Texture is very smooth and colours seem to vary from pale yellow to deep burgundy. The 2nd picture shows a detail of one of the yellow Turquoise beads. We can also see the Swarovski silver-plated rondelles in both shots.

Close-up of the red agate small round beads, burgundy small faux pearls and yellow jade beads, and also two of the large Swarovski burgundy and small copper crystal pearls, alternated with some fire agate orange beads. The 2nd picture shows more of the Swarovski bicones and the smooth oval Mookaites in mustard yellow and deep brick red.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Vendemmia necklace...

Some weeks ago, I saw some really lovely lampwork beads and bought them on eBay. I received six beads in the lot. I love their colour and the patterns: grapes and wine leaves. So pretty and different. I am not sure if they are Chinese, or American, or where they were made. I think they are gorgeous and original, and that should be enough. Yesterday, I made a necklace with them and called it Vendemmia, which is Italian for "harvest", or wine grape harvest, more specifically.

Italian names once again, because when I think of grapes, that's what comes to my mind: Italy and (red) wines. My much loved Sandrone Dolcetto d'Alba, which is virtually impossible to find in the shops, unfortunately. Not that I drink a lot or know anything about wines whatsoever, but I really love that one. And I will not even describe it here, because I would not know how to do it. Still, what can I say? Hhhhmmm, I do love perfume and this Dolcetto is very fragrant. So, I love it... That's it. A very simplistic and a bit silly description, but the best I could come up with!

But it also reminds of my first trip to Italy, 20 years ago exactly, and a nice afternoon I spent in my friend Gaetano's villa in the Emilia-Romagna, where he used to produce his own wine and make his own bread. All very lovely. I was with another friend at the time, the old man Oreste and his lovely German shepherd called Coniglio (meaning "Rabbit", for the dog really had those funny long ears that made him look a bit like a rabbit, so cute). I don't know the whereabouts of both Oreste and Gaetano nowadays, we lost contact, and I knew that Coniglio died some years after my visit. Still, these are nice memories, which I tried to retain somehow in that necklace, with its grapes and sunny afternoon shades. Like the sky on that day.

For Vendemmia I used:

- One vintage long teardrop Czech crystal pendant;
- Four lampwork Grape beads in shades of lavender, cream, gold and green;
- Some few Miyuki Delicas seed beads;
- Four iridescent Czech Fire faceted beads;
- Several Swarovski bicones in different sizes, colours and effects;
- Several Swarovski pearls in powder green and powder rose;
- Swarovski round faceted small beads in a rose tint;
- Gold-lined small Czech clear beads;
- Gold-plated Tibetan spacers;
- One lovely Swarovski gold-plated and crystal old-fashioned clasp.

Close-ups of Vendemmia...

A close-up of one of the grape lampwork beads, which really looks like a little antique! They are almost 3 cm long and have a slight iridescence in the coating. The other picture shows the vintage Czech pendant, gold-foiled. and two of the Swarovski pearls. The pendant I recycled from one of my necklaces that I bought a bit before my trip to Italy, 21 years ago! But that's a coincidence and I only realise that now, while writing about it...

Another close-up of the grape beads along with the Swarovski pearls, bicones in various colours and Tibetan spacers.

On the 1st shot, a detail of the Czech faceted beads, and Swarovski elements, along with the Miyuki green beads I used near the pendant. I have tried to use for this necklace, all shades that could match the colour of the grapes: lavender, rose, greens, creamy yellows. The 2nd picture shows the Swarovski elements in more detail.

This is the Swarovski clasp I have used. It is a lovely old-fashioned, clip-on style clasp, with lots of crystals embedded on its flower-shaped filigree frame. It's the 1st time I use this kind of clasp and I really like how it looks. It is a very safe one, however not recommendable for the ladies who are always in a hurry!

Monday, February 09, 2009

The Yozakura necklace...

Hanami is the Japanese custom of admiring the beauty of the flowers, blossoming from March to May, in early to mid-Spring. These flowers are mostly the sakura (cherry blossoms) and the umé (plum blossoms). For Hanami, people gather in the parks and enjoy their time under the cherry trees. When the viewing activity takes place at night, Hanami becomes "yozakura" or... "night cherry blossom".

I imagine how wonderful Hanami must be. Night or day, it must really be a very pleasant experience. That has inspired me to make a Cherry Blossom necklace, which I decided to call Yozakura for its darker shades and red flowers that remind me of a fragrant night under the sakura and the stars, and the lights of the lanterns reflecting on the trees and the blossoms. A Hanami (or a "day" version) may arise soon, next time in lighter and pinker shades. But for now, it's the nightly Yozakura we have, and with colours somewhat similar to the ones in the picture above...

For Yozakura I used:

- Several Swarovski pearls in different sizes and shades - Powder Almond and Black;
- Swarovski bicones in Light Peach and Jet Black AB as well as two Swarovski top drilled pendants also in Jet Black AB;
- Four Chinese cherry blossom flat cloisonné beads;
- Several small Chinese glass pearls in a pink-taupe hue;
- Gold-lined small Czech beads;
- Two flower spacers in antique gold;
- Two small stardust bronze spacers near the clasp;
- One very small Swarovski faceted bead at the top of the "pendant" where the necklaces makes a "V";
- Tibetan antiqued gold hook clasp.

Some details are shown below...

On the 1st shot, detail of one of the cloisonné beads in the shape of a sakura flower, along with some of the Swarovski black pearls and a hint of the light peach bicones. Visible are also the Czech glass beads. On the 2nd one, we can see one of the Swarovski Powder Almond pearls, along with some light peach bicones and Jet AB top-drilled pendants. On top of the pearl I added a small Swarovski faceted bead right where the wire splits in two and to cover any possible gaps.

The 1st picture shows , once again, the Swarovski black pearls and also the small Chinese ones in a lovely shade of rosey taupe. Czech small beads and antiqued gold spacers are also visible here.
The 2nd one displays a close-up of some of the Powder Almond Swarovski pearls, used as a pendant. The two golden beads between them and at the bottom are Czech glass as well - not metal. The loop for creating the "pendant" effect can also be seen. I used a stainless steel gold-plated wire for this necklace.
Picking the right colour for the wire is also important because sometimes it shows through transparent beads, thus, it should match the whole thing.

The 1st picture shows a nice close-up of the black Swarovski pearls, light peach bicones and pale rose Chinese pearls. On the 2nd one, we have more Chinese pearls interspersed with more of the bicones, and also the flowery spacers.

This is a close-up of the lovely hook clasp, in antique gold. They are very safe and easy to handle, although a bit on light side. That is not a problem here since the necklace itself is already very light. I did not use any gemstones this time and this reduces the weight significantly. Gold-lined Czech beads and stardust spacers can also be seen on this picture.