Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My little JList haul...

I have ordered some goodies from my favourite Japanese supplier, JList! They arrived today and I am super-pleased...

Matcha diet Coke... Probably the best diet Coke ever! The subtle matcha (green tea) taste makes it a must-drink for Summer. This diet Coke even tastes less sweet than normal, and much nicer with that refreshing hint of green tea. I only ordered two bottles to try and will have to get some more:

A gift for my Mother... It's a banana holder! She always complained that the bananas she brings to her shop get all mushy and bruised on the way... This is a cool, albeit a bit weird, little gadget for protecting bananas "in motion":

And finally, we got a present for our new house and these oh-so hot Irish Summer days (ha ha...). This is a katori buta, a ceramic pig where you burn mosquito coils inside. You can hang it to a tree or leave it outside in a Summer day and the burning coils (pretty much like incense, that is) will keep the nasty biting bugs at bay. It looks very cute and is a very traditional object:

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posted by Andrea Leite Marques at 11:57 PM 4 comments

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

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Tsukimi necklace

I made this necklace this week, by Sunday or Monday. I called it "Tsukimi", which, in Japanese, means "viewing the Moon". It uses bluish-gray colours and seems a bit different from my previous work, since I use no focal beads or pendants. Still symmetrical though, but a continuous line of several Swarovski elements, gemstones and glass beads (that I brought from Prague).

It is a "lunar" piece, due to the choice of cool hues that reminded me of the surface of the Moon, thus, its name "Tsukimi".

For this piece I have used:

- Tibetan silver hook clasp;
- Several kyanite round gemstones;
- Several chalcedony round beads;
- Swarovski elements in different shades of blue: cubes and bicones of different sizes;
- Several Czech glass glazed beads in bluish-gray;
- Two small fluorite beads near the clasp.

Some details of the above components to follow...

The 1st picture shows a detail of the silver clasp, the two small fluorites I used close to it, the lovely light blue milky chalcedony stones, along with some Swarovski bicones and a Czech glass bead. Second shot shows the Czech beads in detail, as well as two sizes of Swarovski cubes interspersed with some small bicones. Finally, the 3rd picture shows the string of beads: kyanites, chalcedonies, Czech glass beads and Swarovski elements, quite a simple structure. The necklace itself, since it is composed of mostly minerals, is quite heavy and I had to use a sturdier and thicker Beadalon wire, which, due to its gauge, is not quite easy to work with (the beads seem to "slip" though them a bit too easily, and crimping is very hard since the surface is so smooth and slippery). I much prefer the lighter, thinner wires due to their flexibility and slightly rougher texture.

Another detail of the gemstones, Czech beads and lovely Swarovski elements with an AB coating. Chalcedony is the stone with the light blue tint and milky texture. Kyanite is the dark blue one, a sapphire-like shade of blue almost, very vitreous and speckled with silver/metallic streaks.

Kyanites and chalcedonies in detail once again, and a nice close-up of one kyanite bead, a small fluorite with its pale green and purple streaks, and one of the small Swarovski cubes.

I love the AB effect on the aquamarine coloured cubes (larger ones). The kyanites are also splendid, but unfortunately I have ran out of them!

Some more views of Tsukimi:

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posted by Andrea Leite Marques at 9:05 PM 1 comments

Sunday, May 03, 2009

The Murasaki necklace...

Another Japan-inspired piece. Murasaki is the name of the colour "purple" in Japanese. There are several types of Murasaki shades and tints, based on different pigments and flowers. But the generic term for purple is simply "murasaki":

But Murasaki is also a woman, a writer, Lady Murasaki Shikibu. Her name, or rather pseudonym, refers to the character she has created for her book "Genji Monogatari" ("Tales of Genji"), written some time in the Xth Century Heian period and probably before she joined the imperial court as a maid of honour. She is also contemporary of Lady Shonagon, who was the inspiration for my Hana Kotoba necklace. Two formidable ladies and, indeed, very inspiring.

For this necklace I have used:

- One light brass oval bead as the focal point;
- Several dark purple cloisonnée beads with gold wire;
- Several purple round jade beads;
- Czech fire polished small "heavy metal" beads;
- Antique gold plated Tibetan spacers,
- Stardust small round spacers;
- Several Swarovski bicones in shades of purple and gold, and in different sizes;
- Antique gold plated Tibetan hook clasp.

Details next...

A close-up of the Tibetan antiqued gold clasp and stardust beads. On the second picture, we can see the Czech fire faceted beads in those lovely "heavy metal" shades, along with the Chinese deep purple cloisonée beads and some Swarovski elements. The 3rd picture is pretty much the same, under a dimmed light.

More details of the cloisonnée beads on the 1st picture, and also the jade beads, some Swarovski bicones and Tibetan lantern spacers. I decided to show the other picture because I love the light reflections forming little stars on the faceted Czech fire beads!

Close-up of the jade beads and another shot of the cloisonnées. The Swarovski bicones are shown in full force, very shiny and with a lovely AB2X coating. Please don't forget to click on the images to see it magnified though!

Now, on the 1st picture another close-up of the purple jade beads, but also the Swarovski Golden Aurum bicones in detail. This effect is nowadays a bit hard to find, but I managed to procure some for my beading needs! The second picture is just a funny one. If you click on it, you will clearly see my camera reflected in the bicone, and you can even read the word "LENS" on it, like the bicone has been "printed"! I liked that!

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posted by Andrea Leite Marques at 9:45 AM 2 comments

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.

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posted by Andrea Leite Marques at 12:01 AM 0 comments