Sunday, December 18, 2011

Snowshoes, Skijoring, Ski Buggies

Yesterday my friend Jena and I fled the gray skies of western Washington and headed over Snoqualmie pass to Stampede Pass for a little snowshoe trip in a flatter countryside.  The location is very popular with snow mobilers, dog sledders, snowshoers, track skiers and skate skiers -- and thanks to the Sons of Norway with a lodge nearby, Trollhagen, the trails are well marked, mapped, and the various kinds of users have resources to keep from competing.  Washington State has provided some of the trail grooming, as well, and for a permit fee, we can park there and head for the trails we want to explore.

A Son of Norway is all set up to let his Malamute Husky cross breed take him for out a fine winter glide.  On return, he said, she is happiest when she is very tired.  Too bad I couldn't get the happy smile on her face, too.  The sport is called "skijoring."  A perfect reason to have a husky in the house.

Here a new papa is converting the stroller to a sled by replacing the wheels with skis.  Baby and mom waited in the warm car while dad got things ready.  He told me that when baby is big enough for her own skis, they could sell the rig, but I suggested he save it for the next one.  This drew a skeptical sigh from him, and he said "no, I think I'll plan on selling it."

Here comes the distinctly Viking Trollhaugen snowcat to pick up passengers bound for the lodge.  It's a long time since we prayed to be delivered from the rage of the Norsemen and things that go bump in the night -- now we're happy to see them coming our way to take us up hill easily to their warm, fragrant sunny and hospitable lodge and network of beautiful groomed ski trails.  My own ski skills are so humble, I hope I can reincarnate as one qualified to join the Sons of Norway and ski with the best of them!

And now for an array of images from my happy day wearing my favorite footwear, my "instruments of  happiness and delight," snowshoes, with a nice backpack cargo including the 10 essentials, a thermos of hot tea and a tasty Orchard Bar:

Winter is really not so bad around here!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

sunlight, frost, rime ice, climate change

We've had a full week of thermal inversion here in Seattle, with sprinkles of sunshine, fog and frost.  The freezing level has retreated to 11,000 feet, below the summit of 14,410 Mt. Rainier, except it is "on the deck" in the passes at 3,000 to 4,000 feet.  We get great, thick pea soup fogs at night, that begin to freeze just before dawn.  Morning driving is hazardous and our usual commute snarl has gotten much worse.

 Yesterday, on a walk at Tiger Mountain, I was delighted with the frozen fog on foliage, quickly thawing in the morning sun.

This phenomenon is called "rime."  It doesn't happen only on this small scale -- summits of the Great Northwest westernmost Peaks, like volcanic Mt. Shasta, often are covered with rime ice from the moisture laden winds that come in from the Pacific and condense as they rise to go inland.  When I climbed Shasta in 1996, the entire summit looked like a big, frozen cauliflower -- today, sadly, climate change has left Shasta mostly snow and ice free.  This is true of all the great summits and glaciers I have known; they have become noticeably bare in just the last 10 years.  Glaciers have retreated as ablation zones grow wider.  Climbing routes now entail slogging through loose dirt, mud and stone before getting onto any proper mountaineering ground.

Still, on  a pretty, frosty morning, lower down, you can see the rime ice making beautiful lace of the winter leaves and grasses, ephemeral as it is, appreciate the beauty, and hope we can turn ourselves around in time to save ourselves and the great glaciers and summits that are the top of our watershed, where the winter snows and ice save the waters for us until summer.

The day before, on a walk in woodland Meadowdale Park, the sunlight slanted through the canopy and shone through maple leaves, sword fern, and Oregon grape.  The woodland floors in the Northwest are incredibly dense, and evolved shaped by moisture that rolls in from the sea through the high canopies of fir, hemlock, and  lowlands maple and alder -- all have lived and worked together to provide pure, clean water and bless us and our rivers with pure and abundant water, trout and salmon.  What will become of this wealth if we steal it away?  You cannot hold it in your hands, yet it shapes your life, each day.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Folk-Tech Metal Masters

 My most favored metal techniques involve pushing the stuff around with hammers and punches and stuff and cutting it up.  These techniques would be "chasing," "repousse," and "piercing" -- all of which are hand techniques, and usually executed in silver, which is a nicely ductile and biddable metal.  Oh how I have wished to carry these techniques over to steel, which, in my, book rules.  I must be a throwback to the days when the value of the metal was in its utility, not some sort of abstract measure of exchange or beauty.  If you had just one warped bottle cap in King Arthur's court, you would be hanging around with Merlin.  Well, now I've discovered some real magicians in Haiti are doing those beloved techniques in very large scale on recycled steel drums.  Do follow the link and visit, and you will see a team of steel drum makers and an artist who have turned from making music to making visual art.  And I hope you'll understand their mastery, as I do, when you see a picture of the work in progress!  I am inspired to continue in my search to work more steel better, and quit complaining about my lack of equipment, like why don't I have a press or a blowtorch and a few extra apprentices to help me out!  Feh!  These guys deserve our respect and appreciation in more ways than one.  You can see that adversity does not get in the way of their sublime self expression.  Take that and keep it in your heart when you think you are discouraged, and keep calm and keep on keeping on!

We don't need no stinkin blow torch -- we can set fires inside the drums to anneal them.  You may not know that annealing steel isn't such an easy thing for the average craftsman without a forge to heat it red hot and cool it slowly so it stays soft (quenching hardens the stuff, just the opposite of non ferrous metals).  But then, these guys are not average craftsmen.  They have been working steel to musical specifications for generations and making beautiful music with it, which means they already know how to anneal and temper the stuff to specification.

Under the spreading banana tree, the village smithy ... no, not that!  Here an expert smith is preparing the metal for working, I think, that is, with his ball peen hammer, he's flattening it into sheet for the next step.  And I'll bet it's not as noisy there on the sand, and do you notice his technique for holding it down while be bangs on it?  Don't need to steenkin' vices or clamps, either.  And look at what a fine condition his work keeps him in.  He's really buffed.

And the result of all this -- a graceful dove bearing the olive branch of peace, just right for this season.

I think I'm going shopping in Haiti!  It's a nice way to spread a bit of cash where it's needed.

Thanks to Mimi and her team of metalsmiths for the beauty they are sharing with the world.

So, click on this link to go there, too :

Peace, joy, courage and determination out there to all of you, and pass it on!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

It Came From Outer Space

Over in Eastern Washington, where the rock climbers go to test their mettle, is a fine outcropping of pure granite named Snow Creek Wall -- stellar climbs there are named Outer Space, Orbit, and such. Have patience, I'm getting to it -- so these two climbs are considered journey pieces and when one gets a few pitches led on one of them, one is chuffed, which calls for a post-climb celebration in the Snow Creek Parking lot, of good brew, frosty and wet, fresh from a stash hidden in Icicle Creek on a hot day.

This results in bottle caps that lie in the gravel parking lot through seasons of snow and blistering sun until they have reached found object perfection. Hence, the jewels here, caught in riveted steel orbits, to swing and sway seductively at your ears.

They are all hand wrought hammered steel, nicely grunged with genuine Washington state dirt, and waxed to preserve the finish that makes them look as though some future archaeologist had found them, wondering what ritual significance the votive offerings at this sacred gathering place may have had.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Devil and Paganini

Inspired by a biographical essay of the great Nicolo Paganini, published in The Musician, Vol. XI, No. 5, May, 1906, I present a haunting stickpin of hand wrought steel, with a gorgeous skull hand carved in Bali. These skulls were not used as jewelry, but as some sort of ritual item, and prior to the ban, were carved of ivory. Now, buffalo bone is used. This particular skull was made prior to the advent of electrical tools for carving. The artisanship is so fine and true it transcends simple frightfulness! So true also of the virtuosity of the greatest violinist to have lived, born impoverished, a prodigy, with a turbid history mixed of fatal love, accursed health, imprisonment, and sublime genius.

I have kept the form simple and straightforward to show off the fine carving. The pin has the feel of a time when a jabot billowed at the neck of a gentleman. It could work as well now as a shawl clasp, for the time traveler's cravat, or an ornament for the adventurous lady.

And just a note about the word "forged" -- in metalworking terms that word means a piece has been worked red hot, hence from the forge, typically iron or steel. This piece was annealed but worked cold, hence, "hand wrought" or "cold forged" would be the applicable term. The taper of the pin was hammered, rather than filed, to add strength and a certain gravitas to the workmanship.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Last Heretic

Heretic or Martyr?  It just depends upon which side of a doctrinal debate you find yourself.  Personally, I think the whole idea that a person should be put to death for a belief is evil in itself.

In times when personal choice is criminalized, it's wise to look into the long history of heresy. Roman officials executed the first heretic 385, 5 years after the "Edict of Thessalonica" of Theodosius I, which criminalized divergence from established dogma.  In 1836 The Spanish Inquisition condemned its last heretic, Cayetano Ripol, a teacher accused of teaching Deism in his Spanish classroom. The Church held out for burning, but the state executed him by hanging.  His body was then placed in a barrel, painted with flames, and buried in unconsecrated ground.  Deism holds that while God created the world, he does not interfere in the affairs of man. The last heretic apparently proved that.   Incidentally, the word "heretic," comes from the Greek, αἵρεσις, which originally meant "choice." Time travelers, be aware of history, know that bad ideas are never extinct, and plan a good escape route.

One of the joys of working with old found objects is tuning into them and seeing what they may evoke.  This cuff is an altered brass escutcheon embossed with acanthus and urn, funereal in the true Victorian spirit, which I hand painted with flames. The brass chain closure is a vintage chain from Alchemyshop, in Latvia, to which have been added a milagro as toggle closure and a rough garnet crystal as a counterweight.

And remember, one person's heretic is another person's martyr, so keep a sharp, skeptical eye on all true believers and dogmatists.

You have been warned!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bargains in Art Jewelry!

It's that time of year, when the artist is preparing many new things for the coming season, and wanting to send along some things to new homes.  My Etsy shop has a Bargain Basement (shh!) with free shipping in the US.  You might want to take a look.  Here's a sampling -- check my shop on Etsy (link to the right) for prices.  How can you lose?

An Edwardian style layered necklace in honor of Lady Shackelton, who braved the husband who braved the South Pole. Antique bugle beads and a pendant cobbled from an antique furniture escutcheon.

A big statement assemblage necklace, featuring a 50s era enameled crest and two Spanish coins, along with vintage rhinestones, a drawer pull, and quite a bit of attitude.

I can't believe I put this piece on sale; it is quite special, even if I say so myself.  The focal point is a fine, handmade highly detailed volcanic clay bead, set in a reliquary of upcycled tin.  Theese beads were carved of very fine black volcanic clay and fired to a matte sheen, soft reflections, and deep black color.  Along the leather chord, you'll see more of those beads, plus some antique African beads and one rectangular 1920s brass costume bead with engraved Egyptian motifs.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Autumnal Morning Mist, Bittersweet

Here in the Pacific Northwest, autumn brings not only new colors, but the fog we all know and love.  It dampens everything, even sound, so that things become quiet-still.  A brilliant maple tree can cut through the fog, though.

I love the way the misty air makes trees vanish into fading silhouettes, receding into an unseen, mysterious world .

The fog is a gift of the sea, coming in with moisture laden air, and sometimes you can smell the tangy sea-smell on the air, when the breezes are just right.

The fog condenses on everything and drips watery jewels from vines of fruiting bittersweet in my back yard.  Good night, Summer.  It's time to sing a lullaby to the trees, as they undress themselves for sleep.

Now you can see a network of branches and appreciate the moist texture of lichen.  Welcome a new beauty in the woods as nature settles for a winter nap.

There are things to love about autumn and the fleeting light of shorter days.  I'll start with the foggy maple tree and the dripping bittersweet vine.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Hummingbird Caught Sitting Still

Here's a fine Anna's Humming Bird in a rare pose:  sitting perfectly still,
with a tummy full of nectars of salvia and late summer roses.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Innocence Rewarded: A Boudoir Doll

She should have suspected when Herbert, second cousin twice removed, next in line to inherit the mine, invited her to dine al fresco on a windy moor, that it would not go well.  He claimed there must have been something wrong with the mushroom pate.  Alas, another case of mistaken mycological identity.

Chloe is approximately 27 inches long, all cloth and ragged remnants of hand dyed lace.  Her face is hand drawn, and I do beg you to take a look at her pretty little hands and feet as well.  Of course, children should admire her from afar; she is intended only for the boudoir of an adult.  She may be acquired in my Etsy store, link to the right.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tinkham Tarns

The glory of living in Seattle is that it takes only about 45 minutes drive time to reach a trailhead that can take you to a place like this!  During the holiday weekend, I joined friends Paul, Sami, Jeanne, and Daisy (one year old the day before, making her about 7 in human years), for a glorious 5-lake hike up to the last of the Tinkham tarns, just below Tinkham Peak.

Here you will see the cliffs of the northeast face of Tinkham Peak, with talus slope and the remains of snow shed from their sheer heights.  It is this snow that feeds the tarn.  The tarn in turn, hosts a nice population of trout, most likely humped up there in a barrel on Drunken Charlie's back years ago.  Charlie was a sort of Johnny Troutseed, you might say.  I have tried to find more about him, but so far, no luck.  He's a legend around here and my brother tells me he stocked a lot of these mountain lakes.

The water was so clear you could see them, looking as though they were flying.

Such a thing must drive the fishermen absolutely nuts, to have to watch the while the smart ones turn up their noses at one's flies.  I think that day, though, they were eating mosquitoes, which is the only justification I can think of for mosquitoes.  Trout must be fed.  We humans were happy with light, cool breezes blowing mosquitoes away.

Sami, who likes to take a dip in cold waters gave the tarn a toes up rating of quite cold, and got out quickly to dry in the sun.

What a beautiful day!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Prepare Early for Halloween

Well, they moved in and just took over; they are noisy, untidy and they won't be budged. They don't get along even with each other. We'd evict them, but no one has the guts to go in there and kick them out.

Two ghoul dolls (they were once called "Hershey's kisses gone bad") occupy a thinly veiled cigar box with bones, rusty tin, and a tattered lace curtain. The assemblage has been finished so that it may stand on a shelf or hang on the wall.

Nasty, nasty little boogers -- I don't know why you would want them in the house, but I am trying to get rid of them.  You may inquire further at my Etsy shop, link on the right!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Tins Just Waiting for Upcycling

Shh!  Don't tell those commercial thrifts, they'll jack up the prices again and make these things too expensive to use for resale.  This is a closeup up of my stash, just waiting to be scratched up, cut up and upcycled into things quite unexpected.  I prefer to use reclaimed metal, which sets me free from the worry about waste and preciousness.

Now the next thing to consider is how not to do the expected, as in just cut out motifs.  I like to do as Jenny and Loran do, use the metal structurally, for my own imagery.

I don't think I can cut up the salve and toffee tins, though.  Those are too wonderful just the way they are!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Jenny Fillius Queen of Tin

I was lucky enough to meet Jenny after she saw my work on Etsy and messaged me to say we had to get together, because we are from the same tribe.  What flattery!  I consider Jenny to be foremost among the artists who are using tin.  Her wit and her sharp edges are always uplifting, especially on those days when I am taking myself way too seriously.

Feeling low, got those end-of-summer blahs?  Do yourself a little favor:  you can find deep healing at Jenny's place.   And if you get curious about the great inner depth that creates these wonderful things, more shall be revealed at Design Faith.  Get hip, get tin!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A World of Cookies: Babyboomer Nostalgia

This highly collectible item was discovered in Palouse, Washington, a very old small town, on a blue-sky, sunny afternoon, just poking about, following my nose. It belonged to someone who loved it, since still has its Fred Roberts Company label, reading "Made In Japan." That phrase alone gives strong indication of its age:

"In 1939, the United States imposed trade restrictions on Japan as a result of the Japanese aggressions in Asia. (You will find nothing imported between 1939 and 1945.) Trade resumed in 1945 with the same 'made in Japan' mark required but Japanese manufacturers found that 'made in occupied japan' was an easier mark to sell to the Americans. That label was widely (but not exclusively) used until 1952 when the occupation ended."  (Text from, linked above.)

So I would guess it is most likely post WWII to early "mid-Century Modern." It has raised cursive writing on it that reads "A World of Cookies." It stands 10-1/2 inches high with lid, and has an inside diameter of 7-1/4 inches. It's a real prize for the aficionado!

Because I often turn up neat things like this, things I can't resist and for which I have no room, I pass them along, so if you're interested, check my Etsy shop section, "Sundries."  You can find a link to the shop in the right column, below.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Very Old Ghost

She's so far back on the family tree, she's hardly more than an elusive waft of fragrance, though she was once a Civil War era belle. She is the image of a very old tintype printed on muslin, adorned with shredded lace and old jewelry components, very gothic, Victorian, and creepy.  She is filled with a combination of polyfiber and my own Northwest Gothic sachet, and if you hang her on the door knob or another place where she may gently flutter just a tiny bit, the scent will please you. From the top of her head with its tattered lace fascinator to the tip of her train, she is 16 inches long.  Look closely and see the black lace mitts on her hands.

I bought the original tintype long ago; it is among the first of my collection.  She is tightly corseted, which may explain her expression, but her face and hands caught my attention, and the cruel set of her jaw; her eyes very unusual, perhaps pale, pale blue, true "white eyes," that appear to be blazing with hard determination.  A close look at her hands shows fine black lace mitts, but it also reveals hands that are coarsened, which is incongruent with her fine taffeta gown that must have been silk and taken as much as 20 yards to construct.  So, to own the dress, she must have had some wealth, but to have those hands, she had to work with them, too.  This set me to imagining a wife who had to contribute to the great labor required to keep to keep the plantation running.  I know that the set of her jaw may be due to poor dental care or a painful corset, but it does look cruel to me, and so I imagine her as a slave owner, too, much like those revealed in Edward Ball's Slaves in the Family.  Such ladies even found it fashionable to have small pearl handled whips, for dealing with their unhappy human possessions.  For that, she deserves to have to haunt us for an eternity, and I don't care if it was fashionable, or the "custom of the country," a term used to euphemize a brutal, dreadful failure of the human heart.  For a bit of fiction, well researched and set in old time New Orleans, a beloved city not without its shadows, read A Free Man of Color by Barbara Hambly, which is where I encountered that phrase, "a custom of the country."  You know, there really are ghosts, and they haunt us yet.  Slavery is one of the worst of them, but there are more. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


“Tobacciana” is that class of antiques devoted to tobacco products and accessories, and all I can say is, given the cost of tobacco use to me and mine, I hope to see them pass into history peacefully, along with the rotary dial telephone and steel boned corsets. But the advertising graphics can be irresistibly cute, as they are here, in this bracelet cobbled from tobacciana: the base of the cuff is a flattened matchbox holder advertising Raj-era Taj Brand Cigarettes, topped by a tobacco tag (these were used to mark tobacco leaf purchases for the companies that would process them) for P. Lorillard Co., “3 Black Crows.” The nicely scratched and patinated assemblage is secured with bolts, eyelets and buttons to a giddy polka dot velvet and muslin band, and fastened with an antique copper chain and vintage copper plated bead. If you’ve quit, it’s a reminder of your great accomplishment, and if not, it can serve to defend your choice or help you make another choice. The choice is yours alone!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Summer White

I grew up in Atlanta just on the border of women’s liberation. There were certain codes about seasonal dressing that had acquired the weight of propriety. We hadn't heard yet that propriety is not important for women who make history. Hoggirl of states the Rules well. One must not:

"(1)  Wear white on the bottom half of my person before Easter or after Labor Day; (2) Wear open-toed shoes before Easter or after Labor Day; (3) Wear linen or cotton voile before Easter or after Labor Day; or (4) Wear velvet before Thanksgiving or after Valentine's Day."

Somewhere in there is also a seasonal restriction on patent leather shoes. Of course, the exception to the rules was Resort Wear, if you were fortunate enough to be in Deauville for the season. To this day, I just can’t wear velvet in the summer. The very idea makes me perspire ... not just the heat and humidity, but the social embarrassment.

When Memorial Day had passed, Rich’s, The Store for Everything, stocked its jewelry counters with loads of cucumber-cool, chalky white jewelry: “ear bobs” of Haskell-esque wired-on white beads, necklaces of mixed chain and milk glass, white bangles to pile on the suntanned wrist. Just looking at them seemed to lower the temperature at least five degrees; they were cool to the touch and appropriate for the season.

Here’s a summer white treat for your neckline – a statement assemblage necklace of many elements gathered together to evoke those days when a lacy shirtwaist and the right accessories made you quite respectable, so long as you also had on clean, white shorty gloves.

The elements are an antique Dresden doll’s head of a boy in cap, a white enameled bow that was a lingerie pin in a former life, white beads from ear bobs, and a brass plaque from a fine furniture manufacturer, the well-known Maple & Co., which, with the antiqued, pale, syrupy Czech beads calls up the memory of maple ice cream. Oh, so cool and smooth!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Singing Bird Pistols

Christies recently auctioned this precious and lovely pair of automatons for $5.8 million.  It is one of two known such treasures, created by the Swiss watchmakers, Freres Rochat, in the early 19th Century.  Don't expect bullets, expect something wonderful and sweet, embellished with diamonds, pearls, gold and enameling.  Ditch the Game Boy and visit the Age of Enlightenment.  Feed your imagination and give your thumbs a rest!  These beauties call to mind the poem of W.B. Yeats, "Sailing to Byzantium":

THAT is no country for old men. The young
In one another's arms, birds in the trees
- Those dying generations - at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God's holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

Many thanks to my Honorary Cousin, Bambi, for bringing this exquisite kernel of delight to my attention!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Chaucer's Purse

The Complaint of Chaucer to his Purse

To yow, my purse, and to noon other wight
Complayne I, for ye be my lady dere!
I am so sory, now that ye been lyght;
For certes, but ye make me hevy chere,
Me were as leef be layd upon my bere;
For which unto your mercy thus I crye:
Beth hevy ageyn, or elles mot I dye!

Now voucheth sauf this day, or yt be nyght,
That I of yow the blisful soun may here,
Or see your colour lyk the sonne bryght,
That of yelownesse hadde never pere.
Ye be my lyf, ye be myn hertes stere,
Quene of comfort and of good companye:
Beth hevy ageyn, or elles moote I dye!

Now purse, that ben to me my lyves lyght
And saveour, as doun in this world here,
Out of this toune helpe me thurgh your myght,
Syn that ye wole nat ben my tresorere;
For I am shave as nye as any frere.
But yet I pray unto your curtesye:
Beth hevy agen, or elles moote I dye!

Lenvoy de Chaucer
O conquerour of Brutes Albyon,
Which that by lyne and free eleccion
Been verray kyng, this song to yow I sende;
And ye, that mowen alle oure harmes amende,
Have mynde upon my supplicacion!

A marvelous antique coin purse battered for generations, despite supplications that it be full, suspended on an old spliced wooden rosary chain and a brass chain from Latvia (Alchemyshop, again), fastens with a vintage lanyard hook, a collection of Victorian buttons (always more of them than cash) and one evil eye bead to discourage thieves, with a pendant watch fob, most likely Victorian, but indeed quite as battered as the purse. A sweet embroidered basket of posies relieves the dark patina with green details to attract something green to go in there.

The real wonder of it all -- how did I remember Chaucer wrote a poem to his purse, when I often forget where I put my reading glasses?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Cat Who Walks Alone

HEAR and attend and listen; for this befell and behappened and became and was, O my Best Beloved, when the Tame animals were wild. The Dog was wild, and the Horse was wild, and the Cow was wild, and the Sheep was wild, and the Pig was wild -- as wild as wild could be -- and they walked in the Wet Wild Woods by their wild lones. But the wildest of all the wild animals was the Cat. He walked by himself, and all places were alike to him.

Rudyard Kipling, Just So Stories, 1902.  A wonderful story in its full length.

A marvelous (even if I do say so myself) bit of repoussage and chasing in hefty copper) creates a portrait of the Cat Who Walks Alone. A plaque of fine dimensional handwork has been riveted to a deep cuff. This piece is from my earlier work, made in 1982.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Daily Lessons

I have boxes of ephemera and a box of scraps left from using the ephemera.  So yesterday I began a personal challenge -- a collage a day.  What popped up?  Scraps from a very old grammar, with labeled lessons.  It's funny how the lessons pop up from odd scraps of things, and you are able to put the simplest things you learned very young into a higher context.  For instance, "don't cry over spilt milk" seems to be a teaching from Lord Buddha.

My friend Jenny Fillius of Lady Bug Circus gave me the beautiful hand-made paper cards, three-and a half by two, which add so much to this exercise.  There's a link to her wonderful website over on the right column here.

I recommend this daily effort to anyone out there who feels caught in a creative block.  Grab what comes to hand, clip it, shove it around, and a Lesson may come your way.  Enjoy floating.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Between Wars

The years between WWI and WWII were difficult for all Europe and the US, as well, almost as though one war had not truly ended before the next began. A whole generation of young men, those who had survived trench warfare, mustard gas, artillery, and hand combat, came home wounded in body, mind, and spirit. In France they were the "blesse de guerre," in the US, we sang "Buddy Can You Spare a Dime," in Germany, the Weimar Republic experienced hyperinflation and cultural decadence, culminating with the rise of Adolph Hitler.

This bracelet is made of old, antique, and vintage parts from that time -- a huge British penny with the image of King George, the reluctant king who took the throne abdicated by Prince Edward, his brother, in favor of Wallis Simpson. The main link came to me from Alchemyshop, of Etsy, as a bracelet link, beautifully patinaed to the color of khaki, with a distinctly martial air. To this I have added a segment of gorgeous three-sided chain, also from Latvia, a huge, natural crystal of garnet, very rough with matrix visible, and finished it with a steel clasp. It is 8 inches long.

Different millennium, same old stuff. Those who cannot remember history are condemned to repeat it.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Reliquary for A Castaway

Supposed to Be Written by Alexander Selkirk, During His Solitary abode in the Island of Juan Fernandez:

I am monarch of all I survey,
My right there is none to dispute,
From the centre all round to the sea,
I am lord of the fowl and the brute.
Oh solitude! where are the charms
That sages have seen in thy face?
Better dwell in the midst of alarms,
Than reign in this horrible place.

William Cowper, 1854

A reliquary for the castaway, made of a sea bean (entada giga), hollowed and filled wiith curiosities and a scrap of antique text (said curiosities are: a bit of egg shell, a bit of nacre from a seashell, skull of tiny mammal from an owl's cast; glass beads, kanji script, a scrap of skeletonized leaf), held fast on waxed died cotton twine, suspending also a mysterious nut that looks like a chicken heart that I can't find anywhere on the net (it originally came on a string of tulsi, most likely from India). For more on the use of natural seeds, beans and such, visit the lovely collection of Ruth J. Smith, online.  You won't find the mystery nut there, however, but if you know what it is, please, please oh please, leave me a comment, otherwise I'll be thinking there's a chicken heart tree out there in India somewhere.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Androgyne

Australia is the first nation to issue a passport to a person with gender unspecified.  This rustic necklace celebrates the idea that one need not shoehorn oneself into strictly defined genders of male or female, but that we all fall somewhere on a continuum, just as temperatures range from cold to hot.  My idea here is that whoever you are, you are Hot! 

 A fine old porcelain hot water faucet handle, no telling how long hidden in the ground, emerges as an audacious pendant, with agate and moonstone inlay, hanging from a hand wrought steel chain, with rough nuggets of howlite to cushion the neck.  It’s quite hefty, and you could defend yourself with it if it came to that – but I am thinking the times are changing and we can all benefit by accepting each other, even when we don’t understand.  Open your hearts, my friends.  And three cheers for the Aussies!

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Visitation

Ya’ll coulda swore you left Aunt Hessie back at the old home place, up on the hill at Perpetual Rest, when the family moved west, but now here she is, putting off that soft old scent she wore, carrying her handbag and trailing tatters of lace.  She never left the county once in her whole life, but you might say now she’s a free spirit, and she knows where you live.

Scented Door Knob Doll, with old mother (or auntie?) of pearl buttons, tatters of lace, and a sweet old dried rosebud, stuffed with dried rose petals, Spanish moss, and my special blend, Northwest Gothic, composed of patchouli, balsam, cedar and lavender.  Left on your boudoir door, she’ll alert you with a soft clatter and wisp of fragrance when the door moves.

You’ll never be home alone again, BWA HA HA!!  Just listed at my Etsy shop.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Neo Victorian Allegorical Salvage Cuff

The story of Cupid (Eros) and Psyche has been adopted by Jungians for an allegory of the journey of a woman to individuation -- Venus was jealous of Psyche's pure beauty and imposed her will in the relations between Cupid, her son, and Psyche. To win permission from Venus, Cupid went on strike and refused to fire his golden arrows. After months of no one — man or animal — falling in love, marrying, or mating, the Earth starts to grow old, which causes concern to Venus, for nobody praises her for Cupid's actions. Finally, she agrees to listen to Cupid's demands, according him one thing to have his own way. Cupid desires Psyche. Venus, upset, agrees to his demands only if he begins work immediately. He accepts the offer and takes off, shooting his golden arrows as fast as he can, restoring everything to the way it should be. People again fall in love and marry, animals far and wide mate, and the Earth begins to look young once again. Here, in this reconstructed antique drawer pull, Cupid lies sleeping. When he awakes, that is, when love is in action, the Earth can become young again.   This piece is actually an antique drawer pull escutcheon that has been altered to hold the inlaid resin image of Cupid.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea

Named for the resin inlaid bezel focal piece that reminded me of  Yukio Mishima's novel, The Sailor Who Fell from Grace With the Sea, a story of a man with competing passions, a woman and the sea that he feels is his true and only home.

This neck piece is made completely of things found in the process of decay (or change, more accurately), and it is meant to continue changing.  Collaged to the surface of the old leather pouch is antique text, hand stitching, cotton tatters, recycled sari silk and fragrant beeswax.  It's definitely a statement piece, and not for the faint of heart.  Wear it to remind yourself of the sad outcome of warring passions or hang it on the wall.