Recently, I was having a discussion with a friend on how to represent sericulture as jewelry. After a while, we were stumped. The only option that I could come up with was creating silk beads by winding silk fabric over wire. However, the very next day, I got a message from another crafter friend saying that she had silk cocoons with her. She wanted to know if I could create experimental Cocoon Jewelry. It was a delightful coincidence indeed and I spent the next 10 days playing with them.
A cocoon is a protective shell of fibrous material spun by a silkworm in the larvae stage. It is soft for a shell but with a surprisingly firm structure. The fibres from the cocoons are spund and wound to create filaments of silk yarn. But before I show you some of my experiments, I must state that if you are someone who hates sericulture and silk, I suggest that you skip this post
Theme of the month – Nests
The good folks over at Art Elements now host “Theme of the month challenges” instead of the “COM” – Component of the month challenge. This they believe would expand the challenge to all art forms without restricting it to jewelry. This month is all about Nests. In her challenge post encouraged us to work with different materials and concepts without restricting ourselves to birds nests. One of the materials that she suggested was fibre. Also, I have made numerous versions of birds nests before and I wanted to try something new. Putting two and two together, I felt that this would be a great opportunity to showcase my Cocoon jewelry.
I started out with offwhite cocoons and experimented with dyes and inks to colours them. Adding metallic pigments came next. In the days that followed I tried many different designs by curing and sealing the cocoons and checking for bleeding. Adding rhinestones, findings to convert them into jewelry came next. Out of my several experiments, two designs seen in this post emerged as winners.
While I was experimenting with Cocoon Jewelry, I came across several designs by Napoleonka. I was fascinated for her designs and decided to create a variation of one of her necklaces. Her Etsy store no longer seems to stock these cocoon pretties. However, there are many of her designs on Pinterest that will thoroughly inspire you. Another Etsy store to check out for Cocoon necklaces is Batikelene.
My childhood home was a tiny corner house with a big garden. We shared a fence and a wall our neighbour whose yard had a pomegranate tree. That tree was home to tailor and weaver birds who would create beautiful hanging nests. When they fly away, the nests would eventually droop down, losing its shape at the bottom almost resembling these cut cocoons on the necklaces.
Out of the six cocoons in this necklace four are professionally dyed and the other two are colored with metallic paints. They are all knotted to a silk cord with embroidery thread. Since this was an experiment, I made mistakes. Now, I do have solutions and corrections for some of them. As I like how the cocoons fall from the cord I would be making another piece for myself soon – probably blue mixed with black. Will this piece remain as a necklace or morph into something else, only time will tell.
During my dyeing experiments, I came up with a bright cocoon casing. They looked perfect as toppers for some buttons I bought in 2014 in the markets of Ahmedabad. I bought them as they reminded me of the gorgeous interior domes of the Dhilwara temples at Mount Abu. However, they were large shank buttons they did not work well with clothes or my usual jewelry. But with cocoons they proved to be perfect. The buttons already had some pearl embellishments so I added some rhinestone chain to enhance the effect. A pair of ear wires later, viola! Accessories fit for Indian wear!
This design turned out to be exactly as I envisioned during my conceptualisation stage. I will share a tutorial on how to make it soon.
AE team members