Dragon Scales

Hand Woven Silver Bead Fabric

 

One thing I love about this material is its allusiveness.

First it reminds me of scales – lizard scales, or dragon scales – cool at first then warming to the touch; next those shimmering flakes of sunlight that dance upon a lake when the light dazzles one’s eyes on a summer afternoon or clear, moon-lit night.

There is a sense of delicious, sensual weight. I can’t help but think of Milan Kundera’s words in the beginning of The Unbearable Lightness of Being. The densely-woven silver feels so pleasurably heavy and at the same time gleams and flows so fluidly, utterly responsive to the slightest dip, hollow, or bodily movement.

I weave this metallic fabric weaving one bead at a time into every other bead, yet it acts as a whole: Many into One. The meditative attention spent in this manner infuses the material with a kind of energetic resonance so that it becomes a sort of aesthetic armor with the feel of elemental Fire, Water, Metal and Earth.

When I patinate the silver the fabric takes on a wondrous dark hue with great depth and a subtle gunmetal shine. Left bright, the facets catch the light with purity and read bright white.

I then match my hand-woven silver fabric with the earthy brilliance and sparkle of natural druzies so that they really come alive: Modern Talismans for this age of challenge and change.

 

Dalmatian Druzy Bracelet with Diamond

Showing Up Every Day

 

I read something today written by Michelle Skiba, whose finely crafted and presented hand-bound journals with beautifully organic wooden covers I have admired for several years. It is:

Craftsmanship is something that develops slowly over time through years of steady practice. It is about showing up everyday and doing the same thing over and over.

I especially love the part about doing the same thing over and over, every day. It is the zen beauty of simple repetition that builds the hand skills and mastery of tools and techniques so that something effortless can flow from the beyond and illuminate one’s craft and art in those moments of non-effort.

Really, it means making things isn’t difficult. All you have to do is have passion, and show up.

 

Party Like It’s 1999

Just so you know, I like to dance. Late at night. In my studio. While working.

It reminds me that work is play and play is work.

I blast music since no one is around.

I thought you might like to know that I’m having excessive fun as I make . .  That each and every piece is a spark of pure joy and pure love.

Welcome to my party.

Instructions for Life – The Dalai Lama

  1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
  2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
  3. Follow the three R’s:
    –  Respect for self,
    –  Respect for others and
    –  Responsibility for all your actions.
  4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
  5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
  6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great relationship.
  7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
  8. Spend some time alone every day.
  9. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
  10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
  11. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and
    think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.
  12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
  13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.
  14. Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.
  15. Be gentle with the earth.
  16. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.
  17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
  18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
  19. If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
  20. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

FALL


I took these photos a few days ago.
Glorious autumn. Glowing months when the world is cold and aflame.

Every last nerve itches with the fantastic hunch that everything is alive, alive alive.
This autumn is flying, but so very intense. Days of billowing storm cloud with sun-dazzled trees in the foreground.
When I walk, the pine needles so slippery. The smell of pine;
The rustle;
When the wind whips through!
The silence.

 

Something Willed, Something Wild

Smoke Ring - Sterling Silver, Chalcedony Druzy, White Sapphire

 

It is said that every good artist must have her obsession.

Mine, right here and now, is Druzy. Drusy. Druzies. Drusies. Specifically, natural colored druzies – The stones with ripe, berry hues and crisp, glacial heavenly blues – Unreal, ghostly grays – Rich rare emerald greens of endless grasslands – Deep night-sky true blacks with the gleam of stars – And all a-glimmer with every movement of your body – Completely natural colors and textures but beautiful almost beyond belief –

Druzies: Natural minerals that – over aeons – form sparkling beds of even crystals like sugar-coated gemstones.

Each stone has its strong and unmistakable personality. Each tells me what to make with it, of it, around it, for it. Tiny landscapes, they are to me the natural world concentrated into the miniature realm of the jeweler and the jewel; the wearable and symbolic object; the beautifully deliberate together with wilderness incarnate.

Druzies fulfill my need for contrast in my work – Something willed, something wild. Something bright, something dark. Something polished, something very rough, ancient and barbaric.

Womankind [and mankind’s] age-old fascination with gems and precious stones – I have always skirted the edges of it, preferring the clean forms and direct workings of metal itself – but druzies have seduced me with their brilliant + color-rich character.

Watch with me. Let’s see what happens.

 

Smoke Ring + Mariko

Smoke Ring : Hand-Sculpted Ring with Sterling Silver, Chalcedony Druzy, White Sapphire. US size 6.5-7. One of a Kind.

The Importance of Attitude

Ampersand Post

I am finally getting the hang of this jewelry photography thing.

I used to think

a) It’s too difficult
b) It’s too time-consuming
c) I’m bad at it
d) I don’t like it
e) It doesn’t like me
f) I’d much rather be doing something – ANYTHING – else
g) Please someone – ANYONE – help – and take this responsibility out of my hands!

I now think

a) It’s getting easier
b) It just takes time
c) I’m decent at it
d) I’m enjoying it
e) The result are improving [concurrently with my attitutude; fancy that!]
f) Photography is its own art
g) It’s time to step up and own this part of the process. Taking good photographs is an important aspect of presenting my work to the public both clearly and stylishly – as I’d like it to be presented. It’s time to take responsibility.

Of course, a good setup, an open mind and an endless well of patience for myriad miniscule adjustments and trial-and-error shots are also KEY.

Mostly, it’s about attitude.

Enchanted

Salman Rushdie. I had tried to read his novels before, with little-to-no success. They were a jumble, a mishmash, a no-good concatenation of syllables – a literary fury – a grandeur of meaningless and intriguing language – which were completely nonsensical mystery-junk to me at the time. That is, until we reached Calcutta. Or Kolkata, as the city of 15 million should now be called: Land of the Goddess Kali.

We did, in fact, visit a large Kali temple in Kolkata. But that is another story.

The Enchantress of Florence, Salman Rushdie

When we reached Kolkata – overland from Nepal – the cacophony of India inundated us from every direction and every dimension like a myriad converging freight trains of the senses. Enveloped within that mind-destroying noise and crush of sensory phenomena I happened upon a copy of The Satanic Verses. It proceeded to grip me by the the throat. Without the experience of being in India, Rushdie might seem nonsensical; When in India, he creates perfectly excellent, well-constructed arguments for the coherence of chaos.

It’s lovely to take a hiatus from reading fiction. You begin again, and it’s like all your old friends are back with all the latest gossip. The Enchantress was there waiting for me on the shelf in her bright red cover art like a seductive future mistress.

It is a story which includes the Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great, partially set in Fatehpur Sikri. Fantastical – magical realism, they call it. It is Rushdie at his most lyrical in an irresistible story-telling trance that sucks you from one scene to another. Sleep, in this grip of this kind of fiction, is irrelevant.

It is also a story of story-telling.

I feel a special connection with Fatehpur Sikri, and with Akbar. Akbar, Akbar, Akbar, you hear in India. And Jehangir, too. And we visited those red sandstone walls, some falling into ruin, others with giant wasp or hornet’s nests in their great entrance gates. A beautiful, beguiling city. Fifteen years in the building, they say, and only occupied for fourteen years thereafter, as a sudden drought drained all the life-sustaining water away and even an emperor is a slave to water.

Here is Fatehabad when we saw it.

Fatehpur Sikri

And that’s not all. After admiring the eloquent red sandstone architecture, delicate stone pierced screens and silent mosque we emerge from wandering the deserted ancient capital and – bewildered, exit the Buland Darwaza – the gigantic central great gate – and find a flood of sari rainbows and chequed shirts, sassy street girls with heavy eye makeup shoving at us and demanding rupees, performers with fire wheels, jugglers, gaily decorated fake palanquins swaying through the streets, and gangs of youths and adults shouting an aggressive, joyous, celebratory war-like refrain over and over again with raised fists marching, dancing, prancing through the streets. When we ask we were told brusquely,  Muharram.

I still don’t know what it means, and it may be hard to explain, but it felt – and was – powerful. We caught up with Muharrem celebrations later in our travels as well, but Fatehpur was where it was most heartfelt and startling. Yet surely fitting.

We were – literally – enchanted.

Buland Darwaza

I Am Fishing for God

using my heart as bait.
It is just before dawn,
the slightest hint of

pink bleeds into the
night sky. I use my
pen knife to cut the

hole in my chest,
reaching behind the
pocket of my shirt.

What a tough muscle
to pull the hook through.
The heart is astonished

to be in this other world
and trembles and shivers like
a moth discovered in daylight.

I try to calm it by stroking it
by telling it that it will all be
ok, but what do I know.

The breeze picks up and chills the cavern
in my chest. It feels good to
be empty at last. I cast my heart

across the water. I cast it again
and again. Sometimes it floats on
the surface, other times it sinks

below. Something will strike at it
that I can’t see. I pray
I am using the right bait.

The tough outer layers
soften in the water. The heart grows
smaller, more pliant.

It has become a beautiful
blue jewel. I begin
not to recognize it.

Was this me?
It waits. I wait.
The boat rocks

slightly in the breeze
lifted and lowered
by the tide.

– Stuart Kestenbaum, House of Thanksgiving

Covet + Collect

Spotted Grey Cup by Janelle Songer

All right all right, twist my arm, I admit it :

I covet and collect handmade functional ceramics with a PASSION.

I see it, I feel it, I love it, I buy it.

Later I get a little chuckle of glee and a sparkle of wonder whenever I drink my coffee or tea or eat that piece of homemade gingerbread brownie from my delightful mug/cup/plate/bowl.

Here is my latest favoured vessel:

Spotted Grey Cup by Janelle Songer

Spotted Grey Cup – handmade with great artistry by Janelle Songer. In her words: “It is wheel-thrown porcelain which is then altered to achieve an asymmetric, organic form that looks as if it’s rising up/growing.” See more of her work here:  Janelle Songer’s Ceramics

It looks and feels different from every angle and the saturated colors are simply exquisite. It is perfectly perfectly perfectly imperfect . .

Drool all you want at those glowing conceptual art pieces floating in a white stratosphere in nanospace somewhere . . . .

I’ll sip my Tulsi from Spotted Grey Cup.