A Foggy Day in London Town.

My eldest daughter and I were lucky enough to be in London during the Olympics this summer. My parents are in Sussex, Scotland was cold and wet and there was still a few weeks until the Scottish schools went back. I have siblings who live in London so on the pretense of going to lunch with them eldest darling and I set off on the commuter train to the big smoke.

But something very very strange had happened. People were talking to each other. The normal frosty atmosphere of London (which to a visiting Scot is amusing but not something I would like to experience frequently) was replaced by kindness and conversation. On the train into London we thought this is nice, but won’t last. We were heading to Swiss Cottage on the Saturday following the opening ceremony. All the news had been about avoiding London and traffic chaos  so we had low expectations and had allowed lots of extra traveling. Many hours discussion had taken place about the best way across London and which stations could not be alighted at.

Everything was much smoother than we had expected, and so after some negotiation (I think it involved chocolate) daughter and I got off close enough to walk to the British Museum. Apart from lots of over friendly “games makers” the streets of London were deserted and quiet.

We felt as though we had London to ourselves. It was hot and sunny and wonderful. Strangers – the few we met on the route – were walking in the middle of the road and smiling. I began to fear we had arrived in some alien city and that the film music was about to play. We discovered later that the men’s marathon route was all around us and that was why the roads were closed to traffic.

But we arrived at the British Museum without problem and walked in the main entrance. To those that know this amazing museum I hope you can understand our surprise when we arrived in the main foyer and instead of hordes of visitors we found that tourists were outnumbered by staff. My first thought was that they had just evacuated the whole building for a fire drill and that any moment thousands of people would rush back in. We rushed to our favourite gallery, the Egyptian galleries on the upper floors (darling daughter is 11) and a gallery that on many previous visits we have been unable to get past the doors into due to huge numbers of visitors. This time we had the whole floor to ourselves. Drunken with excitement we ran around for about an hour until we understood that floods of people were not about to join us.  We explored the whole museum, spent time in front of some favorites and discovered rooms we had never seen before.

One of our discoveries was a display of ammonite fossils and I was struck by how beautiful and simple they were. I had a pendant made of an ammonite surrounded in silver in my jewellery box, waiting for inspiration to strike, so I combined it with freshwater pearls and smoky quartz and the finished necklace is one I am very proud of. So proud that I may have difficulty actually parting with it. I have listed it for sale today, but it might appear on my own Christmas list instead!

This song does not reflect the sunshine or pleasure we felt at the British Museum, which could never “lose it’s charm” but it is a nice reflection of most of my London experiences and I thought it would add a nice touch to this post. Never miss a chance to reference Billie Holiday…enjoy x

Billie Holiday – A Foggy Day

A foggy day in London Town
Had me low and had me down
I viewed the morning with alarm
The British Museum had lost its charm
How long, I wondered, could this thing last?
But the age of miracles hadn’t passed,
For, suddenly, I saw you there
And through foggy London Town
The sun was shining everywhere.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jo2RaKyo5c

Play Misty for Me.

This unusual pendant is made from Ocean Jasper, a gemstone found only found off the coastline of Madagascar. Sometimes called “Atlantis Stone” the quarry can only be worked at low tide.   The pendant has spherical markings in creams, grays and pinks and so I have paired it with a necklace made of rose quartz and rhodonite to highlight the pink and grays. If you click on the photo it will take you to my folksy.com shop

When I was 17 I played baritone sax with a big band. The baritone (the largest and deepest of the saxophone family) made my jaw vibrate when I played the lower notes, and was so large that I flirted with the percussionists so my instrument would travel to gigs with the drum kit.

Ella Fitzergerald and Sarah Vaughan were my icons. Secretly I wanted to be the singer at the front,  but it wasn’t to be. I hope you enjoy this song as much as I do.

Garner / Burke 1959 “Misty”

Look at me, I’m as helpless as a kitten up a tree,
And I feel like I’m clinging to a cloud, I can’t understand,
I get misty, just holding your hand.
Walk my way, and a thousand violins begin to play,
Or it might be the sound of your hello, that music I hear,
I get misty, the moment you’re near.
You can say that you’re leading me on,
But it’s just what I want you to do,
Don’t you notice how hopelessly I’m lost,
That’s why I’m following you.
On my own, I would wander through this wonderland alone,
Never knowing my right foot from my left, my hat from my glove,
I’m too misty, and too much in love.
I’m too misty, and too much in love.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQouJdvB80U

Black as the night or don’t wander around a jewellery supplier without a list.

I write lists. I take my list to the supermarket and strictly follow the advice not to shop when hungry. I prepare and research and under most circumstances know what I am shopping for before I leave the house.

However, when I began making my own jewellery I found that all my self control was lost and all the lists in the world could not have protected me from myself.

Jewellery suppliers are wonderful. Huge Aladdin’s caves of the most beautiful and sparkly beads. Colours of every shade, stones in tiny perfect sizes or large, statement pieces. These are shops where you are encouraged to touch, pick up and examine, and put into your basket for later.

If you have not prepared (as I found out to my cost on the first few shopping expedition you can be overwhelmed by colour and choice. On my first outing I found myself unable to resist, and that is why came home and discovered that somebody had bought these striped onyx stones.

Now I’m not saying that they aren’t wonderful. I like the markings, white bands against the striking perfect black. I love how large and smooth and tactile these stones are. They make a stunning statement necklace and I have had lots of comments about this piece. But they weren’t on my list and I didn’t know what to make with them.

So, I figured that simple was best. White freshwater pearls to bring out the banding, and leave it at that.

Next time I took a list.    Joanna x

Blue Moon

Only a few nights ago we saw a blue moon here in the Scotland, not a blue coloured moon, but the second full moon in the month of August,  August 31, 2012.

 

I thought I’d show you one of my recent pieces, a blue lace agate pendant with a necklace made of small round lapis lazuli, sodalite and iolite, combined with blue freshwater pearls.

The colours are so beautiful, dark shiny lapis lazuli, paler, grey iolite, the bright blue of the freshwater pearls. The pendant has such lovely banding across to the left with grey blues. Words are difficult to describe this, hopefully the photos can do it some justice.

I wish I could claim my inspiration from something more iconic or fashionable, but I live with two toddlers who are currently addicted to the recent Smurfs movie, where where a “blue moon” is used projected above Central Park as a publicity stunt.

 

I used to have a stylish fashionable life. Maybe when the girls are a little bigger I’ll get my style back. Until then I’ll just pretend I’m Ella Fitzgerald. x

Blue Moon – Rodgers & Hart 1934

You saw me standing alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own
Blue Moon
You know just what I was there for
You heard me saying a prayer for
Someone I really could care for

And then there suddenly appeared before me
The only one my arms will hold
I heard somebody whisper please adore me
And when I looked to the Moon it turned to gold

Blue Moon
Now I’m no longer alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3FFOju3VM0

The most productive and/or creative day of the year…

Wow. Today has been a good day.

Yesterday I spent my morning (the only precious hours I get when the house is empty and I can work in peace) reading blogs, following people on pinterest, writing twitter comments and generally wasted away my time. It was great, and I made some lovely new friends, but today I had to work seriously hard to catch up with my self inflicted deadlines.

So, I ignored the dirty washing, the breakfast dishes are still (at 5pm) sitting in the sink, and when the toddlers returned from nursery told them to go play but not disturb me. I should really be brave and go and see what kind of bomb has exploded in the girls room. But later, just now I wish to share my completed projects and bask in your collective “ahhh’s”.

I made four necklaces today. (Not from complete scratch, that would be impossible – the pendants I make all at one time when I can access a friends metal working shed.)  But not to distract from my achievement, FOUR necklaces. In ONE DAY !!!  So, I present for your approval….

Number 1 – Purple turquoise and lapis lazuli necklace.

Number 2 – Red Jasper Pendant with pearls and red coral necklace.

Number 3 – Amethyst Pendant Necklace.

Number 4 – Unakite Pendant with carnelian and adventurine necklace.

Of course there is still the same matter of naming, photographing in detail, listing on folksy or etsy and spread-sheeting the costs. That will take some hours, later tonight when I have coffee to keep me going.

I feel very clever. Now heading off to find the toddlers and rescue our eldest daughter. I think she is somewhere under the mess.  Joanna x

Birthday Gemstones

It’s thought that colour was originally the major attribute determining a person’s birthstone. The connection of birthstones with particular months became enormously popular during the 18th Century, and many different lists were developed.

In 1937, Britain’s National Association of Goldsmiths (NAG) organised an “official” list, which seems to have become more or less internationally recognised. Gemstones associated with the zodiac signs sometimes coincide with the birthstones by month.
For each month there is a primary gemstone, and frequently an alternate gemstone that serve as each month’s birthstones. The alternate stone is typically less expensive but similar in color to the primary.
BIRTHDAY MONTH PRIMARY BIRTHSTONE ALTERNATE BIRTHSTONE
January Garnet Pink Quartz
February Amethyst Amethyst
March Aquamarine Bloodstone
April Diamond White Topaz
May Emerald Chrysoprase
June Pearl Moonstone
July Ruby Carnelian
August Peridot Sardonyx
September Sapphire Lapis Lazuli
October Opal Tourmaline
November Topaz Citrine
December Turquoise Blue Topaz

There is a degree of variance among lists of birthstones. For example, some lists include alexandrite as the birthstone for June and blue zircon for December. I’ve left these gemstones out of this birthstone chart as they are not commonly used for handcrafted jewellery.

If you follow this link to my Pinterst gallery you will see the images of all of these stones.

http://pinterest.com/myturquoiseque/birthday-gemstone-chart-british/

The alternate list contains some of my favourite stones. Citrine and Carnelian and Lapis Lazuli are in my humble opinion as beautiful as their highly costly rivals and just as suitable to be given as gifts.

So if you are struggling to find that perfect present, well, you know where to start perhaps.

Amazonite – Amazon Warrior Queen Necklace.

My degree started as Classical Civilization combined with English Literature. It didn’t quite end up like that, (mostly because my eldest was born the in middle of my second year,) but I adored the time I spent in the classics department.

At Glasgow University the classics professors have the offices away in the eaves of the old building, both emotionally and physically removed from the modern world. I loved spending time there where I could hide and study and pretend to be working while day dreaming about ruined temples and sun bleached stones.

The mythology of the amazon tribes, female warriors who were feared on the battle field and extremely good archers, caught my attention and I read and re-read the accounts of Herodotus and the passages in Homer’s Illiad where they are discussed.

This is a rather round about way of explaining why I love amazonite, with all the blue green and aqua variations that is is found in. To pair it with turquoise just seems such an easy combination.

So I made a necklace, which you can have a look at here. http://folksy.com/items/3562730-Turquoise-and-Amazonite-Necklace-Amazonian-Warrior-Queen-

If you would like to know more about gemstones then follow this link to an exellent site. http://www.rocksandminerals4u.com/amazonite.html