Sunday, March 08, 2009

The Fiore di Neve necklace...

The idea behind this piece was just a simple one. I used white Murano fioratto beads and lots of crystal and moonstone beads, and, due to this icy appearance I simply called it "Fiore di Neve" (Snow Flower, in Italian).

The vintage fioratto beads also gave it a more traditional, conservative look, like an antique necklace. These beads I managed to win in an auction and I was very happy with them, since they are in perfect state, no chips of flaws whatsoever. I still have some left - I did not want to use them all because I think it is a pity to have lots of beads and some of them being inevitably hidden behind your neck or under the hair! I really think it's a waste, then I used some few where they are more visible and mixed it with gemstones and Swarovskis for that extra touch.

Here it is:

For Fiore di Neve I have used:

- Seven white vintage fioratto beads with gold foil and details in pink, yellow, blue and green;
- Eight medium white moonstone round beads;
- Several Swarovski crystal elements in different colours and sizes: round beads, flowers and bicones;
- Several Czech gold-lined clear seed beads;
- Antique gold bead caps for the fioratto beads;
- One clip gold-plated Swarovski clasp with embedded crystals.

Follows some details of this piece...

On these pictures we can see details of the white fioratto beads, along with the antique gold bead caps and some Swarovski elements (bicones, small flowers and round faceted beads). The 2nd picture also shows some of the nice gold-lined Czech seed beads, very small and delicate.

The 1st picture displays two of the moonstones along with lovely Swarovski Rose Water AB bicones, butterflies and faceted rounds. Moonstone is a type of feldspar that occurs in several shades and is characterised for that lovely opalescence and play of colours under different lights. This effect is known as Adularescence (from the Adula group of mountains in the European Alps) and moonstones are also called "Selenite" (from the greek Selene, Moon).
The 2nd and 3rd pictures were taken in the exact same position but using different lights. The so-called adularescence can be easily exemplified here and the surface of the stone is pretty much like soft snow reflecting the light.
One thing with moonstones is that they are very sensitive and have a low degree of hardness, meaning they can change appearance/texture under extreme heat and sweat and may break easily. Variations in texture can be easily fixed by a specialised jeweller though.

Another detail of the bead caps and Swarovski elements, while on the 2nd picture we can see the Swarovsky old-fashioned clasp, and more of the round faceted ones and gold-lined Czech beads.

Below, pictures of the necklace under different light settings:

The Kusunoki necklace...

Kusunoki is the Japanese name for "camphor tree". I made this necklace as a little tribute to the magnificent camphor tree in the anime "My Neighbour Totoro" (Tonari no Totoro), by Hayao Miyazaki. The camphor tree in the film was indeed one of the main characters, majestic, dark and fragrant. The soundtrack, beautifully composed by Joe Hisaishi, captured the night, the garden and the tree with its whistling leaves amazingly well. So well that, when listening to it, one cannot prevent oneself from smelling the pungent, refreshing scent of camphor at night.

The smell of camphor is a very dear smell to me. Since I was a little girl back in my old house, I learnt to love it. Not the camphor of moth balls (although I must say I don't dislike it!), but the pure smell of the camphor wood. We have two big old carved trunks from China, made of camphor wood. Very pretty they are, and my Mom used to keep the bedlinen inside it. When they were opened, the smell of the camphor wood - still very minty and fresh after who knows how many years - would waft through the house and, at night, permeate my dreams with its distant mystery. I loved it. I loved it so much that managed to procure myself some time ago a scent that, in many ways, duplicates that long lost sensation. The scent is called "Un Parfum de Charmes et Feuilles", by The Different Company.

In this necklace, I tried to depict many things: the colours of camphor trees at night and how do they look like in a Miyazaki film, dark night green with flecks of ancient gold. I tried at the same time, to give it a scent and a memory. A scent I love, and a memory of my early days that will no longer come back.

For Kuzunoki I have used:

- Four flat oval deep green dragon vein beads;
- Three large round gold-speckled malachite beads;
- Six medium round dark green dragon vein beads;
- Several Swarovski pearls in powder green and two different sizes;
- Several Swarovski bicones in Chrysolite Dorado, Crystal AB Satin and small Swarovski rondelle beads in Rosaline Gold;
- Two Czech Fire faceted beads in shades of antique gold and pink;
- Several green jasper small beads;
- Two tiny stardust spacers in ancient gold;
- One set of Tibetan hook clasps and links.

Some close-ups below...

A detail of the S-hook clasp in antique gold. I used a copper wire to string the necklace and it can be seen in the first picture, followed by a bronze crimp, a stardust spacer and the green jasper beads. The 2nd picture shows the Swarovski crystal pearls, some of the bicones and round dragon veins in more detail.

Details of the jasper beads, Swarovski pearls and bicones, round dragon veins and also the two faceted Czech Fire beads I used as an accent.

These two pictures show the malachite beads in some detail. The gold spots are real gold, ie, impurities accumulated in the mineral. They look quite nice, but are hardly discernible in the pictures. Tried my best though!

These shots show two of the dragon vein flat beads. I always use them (it is a type of agate) because their shine and texture are so unique. No bead is the same, there is always some little mark or vein to differentiate them. The colours are also magic. Dragon veins come in such a variety of shades that you really want to use them all. This one has black veins and the shade varies between dark green and teal. It's like a forest at night, thus my choice of stone for this piece.

Friday, March 06, 2009

The Kazé necklace...

I made another Japanese-inspired necklace tonight. It is called Kazé, or "Wind". I tried to capture the colours of a landscape where the wind blows in the afternoon: air and sand, blue and ochre tones. Maybe an Autumn wind (Aki no Kazé). Maybe simply the wind over the sea.

For Kazé I have used:

- Five dragon veins agate flat, oval beads (one used as the focal bead);
- Several Swarovski bicones in different sizes and shades (Pacific Opal and Silk) and two small Swarovski round beads at the bottom and top of the focal stone;
- Eight small Chinese glass pearls in taupe/beige;
- Several Miyuki Delicas in laminated blue;
- Two large beige dragon vein round beads;
- Several medium round blue dragon veins;
- Several small amazonite beads;
- Antique gold-plated clasp and small stardust spacers.

Some details of Kazé:

The 1st picture shows the focal dragon vein in detail. It has a wonderful pattern to it, like crackled glass, in shades of blue and ochre, a very unusual combination. The round Swarovski bead in Pacific Opal AB and a Silk bicone are also visible here. The 2nd picture shows the leafy clasp, in antique gold.

On the 1st picture we can see a detail of one of the large round dragon veins in beige along with some of the Chinese glass pearls and Swarovski bicones. The 2nd picture shows more details of the flat oval dragon vein beads. Depending on the angle, one will see different colours and patterns. They are all very unique and exquisite. I must add that this necklace is heavier than normal, due to the use of these strong and equally heavy gemstones. They are also quite large, and for that reason I made it longer than usual. I think it would go nicely with a lovely nude or pale blue linen tunic and loose trousers.

Another detail of the leaf clasp, surrounded by medium blue dragon veins interspersed with tiny Miyuki Delicas and some of the small amazonite beads in shades of blue, aqua and grey. The 2nd picture shows a detail of the bottom section of the necklace, where the focal bead is set in a "V" shape made with a loop in the wire. Swarovski bicones and round beads in Pacific Opal AB are also seen here, along with more of the blue dragon veins, stardust bronze spacers, Miyuki Delicas and one large Silk bicone.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Fragola set...

The original Fragola necklace has become a set these days. A bracelet and pair of earrings have been ordered by its owner. This is the necklace:

And these are the new earring and bracelet that I made to accompany it:

The pictures were, of course taken at different times. The 2nd one is much better, no yellow tinge to it! I have improved the technique lately, it seems, and now I can get the natural light with no problems.

For the earrings and bracelet I used:

- Several red Murano round beads;
- Faceted Czech Fire beads in gold and red and different sizes;
- Vintage glass pearls;
- One vintage cylindrical red glass bead for the bracelet;
- Tiny Czech seed beads in pearly beige/white;
- Small gold-plated spacer beads;
- Gold-plated lobster clasp and leverback earrings (base).

This set is an example of why I do not repeat designs. Mostly because - most of the time - I cannot find the same beads, the same design, the same finishes. I did not have anything similar (and a tad smaller, perhaps) to the big stripy Murano of the necklace. Well, I still do have one more of those beads but it would not be suitable for a bracelet because it is too big and round and, at the same time, too fragile to be worn in the hands. It would look too big and chunky in the wrists, whereas it has a lovely drape when placed over your breast bone. For this reason I used the glass vintage bead instead:

I still had some of the red faceted Czech glass beads and lots of the pearly seed beads, but I am running out of the vintage glass pearls already. Juggling with what I have and trying to find similar things to what I once had, that's all the fun of it!