Friday, June 12, 2009

My very own Shikon no Tama...

This month I have decided to celebrate Inuyasha's last anime series and last manga books. Yes, it will be over. I will miss it a lot, for I am a big fan of Rumiko Takahashi's work, and especially Inuyasha that I have followed for some years already. This week I will order the last DVD box (series VII). As for the books, I am not sure where it stands so far, and how many more volumes are expected.

Since it's celebration time, and the last shards are to be found soon, I have decided to make my own Shikon jewel. Thus, the name of the piece is simply Shikon no Tama (Jewel of the Four Souls), a globe of light composed by these 4 principles (=souls):

- Courage,
- Wisdom,
- Friendship,
- Love.

I will not go into the plot details though, since it would take a long time. At any rate, if you found this post today, it's probably because you already know Inuyasha anyway! My version of the jewel is a bit elaborate perhaps, in comparison with the original artwork by Takahashi-san. It pretty much complies with my own style of jewellery-making: a bit "baroque" perhaps, mixing several materials and trying to convey a meaning, rather than the object "per se". Thus, if you find that it's not at all like the original Shikon (and most certainly it isn't), please bear in mind that it is simply the result of my own personal interpretation.

Here is my Shikon then:

The following materials have been used:

- One round hand blown Murano glass sphere with gold foil;
- Two faceted Czech crystals surrounding it, with Aurora Borealis coating;
- Several Swarovski bicones and two small pendants in different shades of topaz;
- Several tourmaline chips in shades of forest green, aqua, yellow and pink;
- Several vintage Swarovski molted champagne pearls;
- Small glass pearls in deep green that I brought from Prague last month;
- Small round Czech fire golden beads;
- Toggle gold-plated Bali clasp, all threaded on a metallic champagne wire.

To have a better look at the pictures next, please don't forget to click on the thumbnails to magnify:

Two close-ups of the Bali toggle clasp. The small Czech fire beads and dark green pearls can also be seen.

Two pictures showing close-ups of the Murano focal bead and the faceted Czech crystals, along with other various elements...

The above photos show detailed views of the Swarovski regular and top-drilled bicones, and also the small pearls, Czech fire golden beads and vintage Swarovski pearls. These are quite old, but still have an amazing shine and smooth texture.

These pictures display a nice view of the faceted Czech crystals, as well as some of the bicones and pearls. I have decided to include them because I really like the golden reflections and iridescence generated by the AB coating and facets. A nice play of light.

These three shots focus on the Swarovski vintage pearls. They measure 10mm each. I have included tourmaline chips between them, which made the threading process a bit harder and longer since the holes are too small, as are the chips of course (the smaller they are, the harder it gets to even hold them). Tourmalines are quite expensive when compared to other minerals, but do have a wonderful translucence. The colours (in this case yellow/amber, pink, dark and aqua green) go really well together - to my surprise, I must say!

More detailed shots of the tourmaline chips... and, below, two more views of the piece:

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posted by Andrea Leite Marques at 4:52 AM 7 comments

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:

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posted by Andrea Leite Marques at 6:43 PM 1 comments

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.

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posted by Andrea Leite Marques at 12:31 AM 0 comments

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Juuni Kokuki necklace...

This necklace I finished today was inspired by the Japanese epic anime series, "The Twelve Kingdoms" (Juuni Kokuki), written by Fuyumi Ono. It is a wonderful series and I would recommend it to anyone. The novels are wonderful too. However, only two volumes have been released so far here in our region (and by Tokyopop, of course!).

The necklace is a little tribute to Youko Nakajima, the heroin of the series, coming from Japan (pretty much against her will) to become the Empress of Kei, one of the kingdoms where the story takes place, and which is not located in our physical world.

The predominant colour in my necklace is red, like Youko's hair. And the main bead, a huge cinnabar Chinese carved disc, alludes to the Riboku tree, from where people and magical beasts are born. The story is based in the Chinese (mostly) and Japanese mythology, and is full of action, magic and political intrigue. However, I see all that as a mythical background for Youko's own personal saga: her first steps into adulthood and the changes she has to face in order to become a more assertive and confident young woman - which is comparable to her assuming her role as the Empress in that new world.

Here is Juuni Kokuki...

For Juuni Kokuki I used:

- One large carved cinnabar pendant;
- Ancient gold-plated rondelle at the top of the pendant;
- Small stardust spacers in several sections of the string;
- Chinese cloisonée beads in red and gold;
- Two Japanese Tensha beads;
- Ten small vintage Japanese red millefiori beads;
- Swarovski crystal bicones in shades of ruby red and dorado;
- Fire polished Czech tapered beads;
- Red faux pearls and stardusts near the clasp;
- Antique gold toggler clasp.

Some close-ups below...

On the left, a detail of the cinnabar bead, the large antique gold rondelle to hold the pendant in place and then the stardust spacers intertwined with red Swarovski bicones and followed by the cloisonées. Also visible are the clasp tips, faux pearls and more of the stardust beads. On the right, a close-up of one of the Japanese Tensha beads (acrylic), and more of the bicones. In the background we can peek at the Japanese red millefiori small beads.

Above, the Tensha and the golden and red cloisonées can be seen in more detail, along with the lovely Japanese millefiori, the Dorado Swarovskis and some of the iridescent Czech fire red beads.

And to finalise this post for tonight, another view of the necklace...

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posted by Andrea Leite Marques at 8:11 PM 0 comments

Friday, January 02, 2009

The Chuu-chuu necklace!

Happy New Year! My 1st post for 2009! Holidays have been hectic, as they are supposed (and expected) to be, and I did not have much time for posting or making necklaces. But I will re-start today, and hope to make much more nice things in 2009!

Today's necklace was more or less based on my previous Mori. I almost called it Mori 2, but then I looked at the focal bead and it was so cute that I changed my mind immediately. It is an Ojime bead in box wood, with little mice and leaves carved in. I even thought I might call it Mori no Nezumi (Forest Mice), but then again, I thought it might require a cuter name.

Then I came up with Chuu-chuu. "Chuu-chuu" is the Japanese onomatopoeic word for the sound mice make (which I think of as being "kee-kee"!). Also, it has to do with the little bat in the animated series "Rosario + Vampire", who always makes that squeaky sound at the end of the episodes or, well... Whenever he wants to, really!

The main piece here is the central box wood Ojime bead, which is hand carved and inspired by the ancient Japanese ojime beads - which were mostly made of ivory years ago (long before the ban). These beads are intended to work along with netsuke and inro boxes, as a way to hang items to the kimono sash (or obi). The inro boxes are the equivalent of mini-pouches/pochettes, where you would carry cosmetics, tobacco, money etc. They would hang from silk braids attached to the obi or obijime. The Ojime beads would help to keep the silk braid intact, so it would not frail. The netsuke, in the other hand, would close off the end of the silk cord.

Here is a detail of my ojime...

It is indeed very detailed and intricate, measuring no more than 1 inch. The eyes of the little mice have tiny beads embedded, as you can see here, very lovely.

For Chuu-chuu I have used as well:

- One focal Ojime bead as I babled about before!
- Swarovski bicones and round beads in Dorado. The round ones can be seen in the above picture, surrounding the Ojime;
- Six medium-sized jade beads;
-Two medium-sized dragon veins rondelles;
- Two green-striped round agate beads;
- Four small jade rondelles surrounding two flat oval dragon veins in shades of green-black;
- Six smooth round amazonite beads;
- Brown Czech faceted small beads;
- Some few gold-plated round small spacers and antique gold toggle clasp in a lovely flowery (leafy?) shape.

Some close-ups:

On the 1st picture, a close-up of the clasp I used and some of the gold-plated spacers. In the centre, you can see one of the oval dragon vein beads, a small jade rondelle, the green-stripe agate and part of a dragon vein rondelle. On the 3rd picture, a detail of the lovely Amazonite beads, in shades of blue, green, yellow, beige. All very earthy.

On the left, you can have a detail of the green-striped agate ball and the Swarovski bicones, and also one of the dragon vein rondelles. And, on the right picture, the bicones once again, placed between the jade beads.

And, to finalise this post tonight, the Chuu bat from Rosario + Vampire. Note one of his functions is to cover any shots of the girls' pantsu (aka, panties!)...

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posted by Andrea Leite Marques at 7:29 PM 2 comments