'The little space within the heart is as great as the vast universe. The heavens and the earth are there, and the sun and the moon and the stars. Fire and lightning and winds are there, and all that now is and all that is not.' -The Upanishads.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

back sides ...

Kim from Numinosity Beads, who makes fabulous glass beads, headpins and other artifacts for jewelry makers -    (www.etsy.com/shop/NuminosityBeads)
requested a look at the back of a wire wrapped element in the previous post, so here are a few examples.  I'm no expert at doing this, but I'm willing to make dumb mistakes and redo a piece until I get it to my satisfaction.  That means basically that I want it to look interesting and fairly neat and I want everyone to think that I meant it to come out exactly that way.  Fortunately, I do get better the more experience I get.   Using precious silver wire, I never would have attempted this kind of thing, but with cheap steel wire - I am utterly fearless.

And here's an "Air" piece I just finished as a counterpoint to the "Earth" necklace I posted last time:

A Prayer for the East - Air amulet necklace

Thursday, June 27, 2013

grounding ...

I picked up a few goodies a couple of weeks ago at a local gem and mineral society show. I remembered to bring my reading glasses - the prescription pair, not the drug store ones - which is always a good thing. Fewer regrets. My budget was very limited, but there were a few things I felt compelled to pounce on and worry about paying for later: some little drilled quartz crystal points (I use 'em all the time); some very pretty faceted turquoise that I haven't used yet; some yellow opal rondelles that I just love ( I had used up the last of my stash and had despaired of finding more); some gorgeous blue kyanite; faceted amethyst beads; and (be still my heart) some raw black garnet crystals (dodecahedrons, in fact). I could swear they called me from across the room. One second I was looking at some leather cord and the next I was in front of this tall young dreadlocked hippie guy with these amazing beads in my hand.

That's the black garnet on the top

Turns out, black garnet, also known as Andradite or Melanite is a pretty intense stone. This is what I read on the Internet: "Metaphysical Properties: Black Andradite Garnet is a powerful grounding stone, which can also be used to ... evoke the mysteries of the Earth. It can help one attune to elemental forces and engage their aid. "


Grounding is one of the first practices you learn when doing magical and shamanic work. Putting your roots down deep deep into Mother Earth; looking for balance and tapping into that primordial energy.  Some people really need help to stay grounded, so the black garnet, if nothing else, is a reminder.

That's a black garnet all the way on the left...

A Prayer for the North, Earth Amulet Necklace

This piece is really all about Earth energy.  Stone, bone, clay, copper.  Very grounding.

And here's another necklace using some beautiful hand-dyed silk sari fabric I just got from Flea's Fibers on Etsy -
I'm in love with the colors in this piece - they remind me of that beautiful color that old newspapers become.

I've avoided taking a shower and getting dressed long enough.  It's overcast here on the South Shore of Long Island - perfect for getting more photos taken.  I've gotten a little too grounded to this computer chair.

Monday, June 24, 2013

transformation & remembrance ...

I don't think of myself as a packrat, but I have a few things that I've held onto through a number of moves and a house fire, things that have gone from being "new" to being "vintage" and from being "old" to being "antique".  The beaded butterfly on black silk is close to a hundred years old now, so I guess it's entering the realm of "antique".  It belonged to my late father-in-law's mother, Ida Zipkin, known to my husband and me as "Bubbe".  There are four beaded butterflies on a strip of black silk that must have been attached to a dress.  When I was younger, I thought it must have been part of a flapper's dress, but now I wonder if it might have been worn for mourning.  You know, with the butterfly being a symbol of the soul and transformation and all. 

Bubbe came to the US from Odessa as a teenager in the first quarter of the 20th century.  Whether that dress was part of her belongings or she acquired it here, I just don't know.  Maybe she just had that piece of silk trim and never actually wore it on a dress.  There's no one left of her generation - or of my father-in-law's for that matter - to ask.  His family had been in the dress business and when I started making my own clothes in the late sixties, he gave me this remnant because he knew I would appreciate and treasure it.  And so I have.

I used one butterfly on an Altoid box shrine to celebrate my becoming a crone, but it was also to celebrate Bubbe, who had died a few years before in Miami Beach at the age of 94.

I wanted to use another of the butterflies to make an amulet pouch.  It's sewn to a piece of backing fabric so there is minimal stress on the very fragile silk, but I think that it's too delicate to consider seliing.  And maybe too personal as well.

The weight of the hanging elements is all on the copper cross piece and the backing fabric.  I padded it lightly and enclosed a wrapped crystal point from my ancestor altar.  There's also a little pocket on the back to hold something tiny.  
I like the contrast of the lime green beads and embroidery thread with the black silk and beads. Death and rebirth.  It feels right.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

new pieces

I am trying to convince myself to type something to the effect that this has been a challenging week when actually the week has sucked.  Big time.  Monsoon rains and a root canal.  The highlight of the week was discovering a new app to go along with PhotoToaster - TitleFx.  Now I can put watermarks on my photos with my business name.  I have the idea that this makes them look more professional.  Not like I took them on my old picnic table with the cheapest digital camera Costco had.  At least, I think so.

These two are pretty normal for me, but then I did this one -

The challenge with this one was putting it together so that the wearer could still open the ghau amulet box to put some keepsake or affirmation in.  The solution I came up with was to use a vintage lanyard clasp.  I think I may have grunged up the faux cinnabar bead and green Tara on the ghau amulet a little too much.  When I see it, I want to run it under the faucet.

I'm working on re-doing a neckace display bust I got half off at Michael's.  Some of the necklaces really need to be photographed on a neck, real or otherwise, and believe me, nobody wants to see my neck.  NObody.

(See the watermarks?  Is that cool or what?)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

lucky duck ...

Does everyone who makes things keep the best bits for themselves?  I can't be the only one.  I don't actually trust that I'll find the older, more unusual pieces that I used to be able to find on E-Bay, at least at prices I can afford, so I tend to hoard them.  The necklace below is evidence of that dilemma.

I used of some older Tibetan beads that I bought in a grab bag of broken stuff a few years back.  I would love to know what the pendant on the right side was originally used for.  I stuck a quartz crystal point into the  cavity and  I was going to wrap it with a blessing and some silk, but now I can't get it out.  A couple of the other beads look very well used too.  The silver skin is peeling off one of the metal beads and the carnelians are cracked and broken.  The amber "beeswax"  bead was missing one of its silver caps and I found that one of the repousse' caps fit perfectly on it.  I put a new bail on the Kwan Yin shrine and glued Her back in where She had just been rattling around inside.

I wish I had the psychic ability to know all about a thing simply by touching it, to be able to read whatever vibrational memories an object might have acquired.  Jewelry in particular, worn close to the skin.  I wish I knew who owned these beads and if it was hard to part with them or if they were just broken jewelry parts and they were glad to sell them.

Maybe I'll put This neckace up on Etsy with an outrageous price tag.  I've had two complaints recently from people who actually took the time to write and tell me that my stuff is "way too expensive".  My other listings will look like bargains by comparison.  Hmmm.....

Here's another new dangly piece that I'll be listing as soon as I figure out how to describe it:

And a silver necklace that's been just sitting around waiting for a clasp:

And another older piece that I lsted on Etsy recently:

The lapis beads in this necklace really are this deep blue.  With the gold flecks in them, they look like the night sky.

You know, I've realized that this has become my job.  A job I can do in my pajamas.  I am very very lucky.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A fearful symmetry...

After a loooong but thankfully uneventful trip home (squished into the back seat of an aging Saab with two big hairy dogs and a small cooler for 13 hours), I'm reunited with all my stuff, even if my knees (also aging) are complaining about being in any position other than vertical.

the noble Tia
the goofball Tonka

The first order of business is to clear out the old to make room to buy more beads to make more stuff.

I used to use pretty much only silver, back before the prices went through the roof.  I have a bunch of older pieces that I'm putting up on Etsy to sell.  I couldn't afford to buy the materials at today's prices, but I only have one neck so there is a limit to how many necklaces I can wear.  The prices reflect what I paid for the wire and beads a few years ago, not what it would cost for them now, so I think they are a great bargain.  Here are a few - I was using a lot of silver from Bali and Karen Hill Tribe beads, pendants from Tibet and Afghanistan, American borosilicate beads - going for an urban, ethnic aesthetic.

Man, I was a slave to symmetry.  I still find myself falling back into that design solution pattern, but it's so much more interesting to achieve balance in other ways.  It just occurred to me that it's also a metaphor of sorts for my life the last few years.  About a year before I was laid off from my bookkeeping job, I developed a neurological disorder called Mal de Debarquement Syndrome.  Essentially, landsickness.  My brain perceives everything as being in motion and it's difficult to keep my balance.  So I guess if I can achieve balance in my artwork, that's satisfying some need.

Here's some new stuff too.  Uh-oh.  They're BOTH symmetrical.  Mostly. That blows that theory to hell.