Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Benifuji necklace...

This latest necklace is all about colour experimentation. This week I (re)started to study a bit of Japanese through colours. I mean, Japanese names of traditional colours: colours of nature, different flower shades, leaves, stones, and colours for most aspects of life.

Benifuji is a pale wisteria purple. The name means "crimson wisteria", but may also refer to the wonderful sight of Mount Fuji at sunset. As a colour, it is pale purple, with red/pink undertones. A "warmer" shade of purple, rather than than the usual cooler, bluish tinges that we associate to the colour.

You may visit the NHK blog, which was also an inspiration for this piece. On this blog - exclusively dedicated to Mount Fuji - you will see different views of Fuji Sama at different times of the year by wonderful photographers. A gem of a blog, really, and more than worth a visit.

As a flower, the wisteria (fuji) looks like a flowy cascade of purple petals (look at it here), and I tried to portray that using two strands of crystals, amethysts and Chinese cloisonnée beads. Here is the result:

The materials are:

- Several Chinese cloisonnée oval beads in rosy lilac, light purple with silver threads;
- Several medium light Brazilian amethyst beads;
- Swarovski bicones in different sheades of purple and various sizes and effects;
- Tiny silver-plated and blackened silver ball spacers;
- Two silver-plated rice-shaped beads and four Tibetan silver round spacers;
- One double-strand Swarovski clasp with clear crystal embedded.

Some details next...

Close-up of the silver-plated Swarovski clasp, clipping style, and also the lovely Brazilian amethyst beads. These are quite unusual, due to their light, pale tint and exceptional transparency. In Japanese, amethysts are very appropriately called "murasakizuishou" (from Murasaki = Purple and Suishou = Crystal, thus "Purple Crystal").

A detail of the smooth Chinese cloisonnée beads with silver thread and some of the Swarovski lilac bicones I used between beads. On the 2nd picture, more Swarovski bicones in other violet colours and effects, along with the silver-plated balls and Tibetan spacers used.
My only complaint about working with this kind of cloisonnée beads is that they are hollow, not drilled like a regular solid bead. So, being hollow makes it harder to string it, for sometimes the wire gets "lost" inside the bead and it takes some time for me to find the way out! I may take from 2 seconds to 5 minutes to string one single bead like that! I love cloisonnée, but dread them at the same time.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Tanabata necklace...

I made another necklace today. The idea for it came from the Japanese Star festival, celebrated around July 7th and derived from the Chinese festival called Qi Xi - or "the night of sevens".

The idea of a Tanabata necklace came from a lovely Swarovski teardrop faceted bead I had. Unfortunately, I only had one, then I had to wait to buy the 2nd bead, just like the legend behind the festival, which celebrates the meeting of two celestial lovers, Orihime and Hikoboshi, namely the stars Vega and Altair, respectively. These star-doomed lovers are allowed to meet only on the 7th evening of the 7th month, which very roughly would correspond to the 7th of July, always bearing in mind the date varies due to the Japanese calendar being lunisolar. So, it may happen some time between July and August of our Gregorian calendar.

Tanabata is a time for encounters, and wishes and vows to be written and hung onto bamboo plants or set afloat in the river, and even burnt on festive fires the night of the festival or the day after. It's lights, and that's why I have selected only Swarovski crystals that somehow resemble a night, starry sky on Summer time.

Here is my own view of Tanabata, a portable "festival" to be worn around your neck:

I have used:

- Two Swarovski 6002 disco ball faceted beads representing the two lovers Orihime and Hikoboshi, in clear AB coating;
- Three Swarovski star beads in Crystal Silver Shade, representing the Milky Way, or the stars making their way between the lovers;
- Several Swarovski bicones in five to six different shades of silver and blues;
- Ten Swarovski crystal pearls in light grey and different sizes;
- Two large bicones in metallic silver;
- Two medium sized vintage Japanese pearls in white and blue veins;
- Small vintage antique silver round spacers;
- Small Czech Fire faceted beads in shades of blue/green;
- Stardust silver spacers near the clasp;
- One silver-plated Swarovski clasp with embedded strass flatbacks.

Some details as follows...

Above, details of the two Swarovski focal beads 6002, representing Orihime and Hikoboshi, with a lovely faceted cut with AB coating. Some of the bicones, pearls and Swarovski stars can also be seen. The 6002 beads are only 15mm long, thus quite small. The necklace as a result is very delicate and short, and no gemstones were used this time.

Some details of the Swarovski crystal silver shade stars, and also the bicones and pearls.

A detail of the Swarovski clasp with embedded rhinestones and more of the 6002 beads, with their wonderful AB effect and impeccable cut.

On the 1st picture a detail of one of the vintage Japanese faux pearls in shades of white with blue veins, as well as the Swarovski pearls, some bicones and those small faceted Czech Fire beads. The remaining pictures show close-ups of the bicones in two different sizes and diverse shades of blue, silver and white. I tried to emulate a fading effect with the colours here, that is why I had to use 4 or 5 different shades and effects.

The bamboo leaves rustle, rustle,
shaking away in the eaves.
The stars go twinkle, twinkle;

Gold and silver grains of sand...
(traditional Tanabata song)

The Amaterasu suncatcher

Again, I took ages to produce anything these days. This cold seems to love me! Oh yeah, I cannot get rid of it. Still, improving slowly.

These days, I have decided to make some suncatchers with Swarovski crystals. Why is that? Just because we are ready to move to our new house and, hopefully, I will have some skylights where I will be able to hang some nice prisms! Also, it's a way to celebrate Summer, or rather, Spring.

I used one large Energy Gate prism by Swarovski, very nicely cut, along with Swarovski Clear AB bicones and vintage round faceted crystal beads, as well as some Miyuki Delica seed beads strung into a bail for the prism itself. And I called it Amaterasu. Amaterasu is the Sun Goddess, possibly the most important Shinto deity and her name means "the one who illuminates Heaven". Easy to see why I have chosen that name, I guess!

It is a very simple, decorative piece. I just used stainless steel silver-plated wire, one Energy Gate with the Swarovski logo etched in one of the facets, several crystal AB faceted beads and Swarovski Clear AB bicones, as well as one Tibetan silver ring to hang it.

Some details:

Details are all about light being refracted, shadows and transparency. On these pictures we can see the faceted beads and bicones with that lovely AB coating...

More of the crystal faceted beads, along with the Miyuki Delicas I used to make a bail for the Energy Gate prism.

The pictures may look a bit weird (grainy actually), and that's because I have used a greyish silk background, so, the fibres of the fabric are very visible and sometimes magnified by the prism. I like these pictures since the crystal cut can be fully appreciated, so precise and so sharp.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Midori necklace...

I have not been blogging for some time since I got a really nasty headcold and have been staying most of the time in bed. Actually, I caught it from Mark but, while he seems to be improving a lot every day, I am still very, very ran down and feeling quite bad.

However, this last Saturday, I made a necklace after some days of inactivity. I called it Midori (Japanese for "green"), due to its colour and the fact that I really love the word: Midori!

For Midori, I have used:

- One Murano-style gold-foiled glass heart as the central piece;
- Small stardust antique gold spacers under the heart, as a base;
- Several small faceted pyrite beads;
- Several green gold-foiled Murano beads and some smooth green ones;
- Several Swarovski bicones in different shades of green;
- Two medium-sized green dragon veins;
- Two large faceted synthetic quartz beads;
- Two teardrop Czech Fire beads;
- Eight small green agate beads near the clasp;
- Ten small Czech Fire faceted beads in gold and green;
- One antique gold Tibetan hook clasp.

Details as follows...

The first picture shows the glass heart, surrounded by two pyrites, dragon veins, Czech teardrop bead and Murano gold-foiled round beads interspersed with some Swarovski bicones. The heart is probably Chinese. It is Murano-style but not Murano as such, since I consider Murano as pieces that are handcrafted in Murano, Italy. I call "Murano-syle" anything else that uses the same technique but is handcrafted elsewhere. China, in this case. The second picture shows the top section of the heart in more detail, where the stardust spacers can be seen underneath.

On these pictures we can see the Murano beads , gold-foiled and smooth, with the Swarovski bicones in-between. On the second one, a detail of the pyrite faceted beads and more of the bicones. Pyrite is Iron Sulfide, popularly known as "fool's gold", due to its resemblance with gold, specially in its natural/brute form. It has a lovely effect in jewelry with its yellow brassy shades, and a strange, almost pungent iron smell.

Details of the dragon veins, some of the green agates, pyrite bead and Swarovski bicones can bee seen on the 1st picture. The 2nd one shows more of the Murano beads and the lovely iridescence from those Swarovski elements with AB coating.

Detail of the pyrite beads and Swarovski tourmaline bicones, and a picture of the upper sections of the necklace, showing the Muranos, Swarovski bicones, synthetic faceted Quartz beads and pyrites.

The dragon vein bead is show in detail here, along with the pretty Czech Fire teardrop bead...

Detail of the back of the heart, and the clasp in a hook shape.

Here we can see the faceted synthetic quartz beads in detail. I decided to post these because I love the reflections and glow produced by the Swarovski bicones and quartz! Could not resist!