Friday, August 19, 2016

Camping :: Adirondack Style

When I think of camping, I think of the Adirondacks. We go up every year to our little house on the lake. It is not what they call 'winterized' which means that there is no insulation. 

Anyone been in Northern NY State in the dead of winter? Believe me when I say you need insulation. So each year we 'open camp' in the spring once the snow has melted and we 'close camp' in the Fall once the leaves turn.

What makes the place special is that it is quiet. Just you, the birds and the water. Well and in our case a few dozen families with cousins, extended cousins, long-time friends through the generations. It is the kind of place where families hand down the camp to the next generation, which is what happened with our camp. 

Originally my husband's grandfather (Alfred) and his brothers discovered this remote location. They bought the camp we own, and built several more along the lake. Our camp is full of the memories that Alfred brought back from his decades of living in India. Nothing of great value, just the memories and stories of another place and time. But I have told you all this in a previous post, or on Instagram where I have lots of pictures from the lake.

This post is actually in response to a challenge Erin has going over on Earrings Everyday asking for our designs inspired by camping and the deep colors you see in the campfire. She wanted to know what images or memories it brings. For me it will always be this place. There are many gatherings around the dock campfires (it is safer to have an open pit fire near the water), or on cold days we will sit in front of the fireplace (in the camp) to roast marshmallows with the girls with the same long camp forks my husband used as a child. 



My design uses sea urchins in an orange - brown color and gold-orange beads with an Indian flare. And of course one of my two favorite models is showing us how they look. Thanks Kate. I will miss you more than words when we take you off to college in September. You can see everyone else's designs at the reveal over on Earrings Everyday.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A Weekend In Vienna

Rathaus at night
Ah Vienna. What a beautiful, beautiful city. Last year at this time Dave and I were traveling through central Europe and spent a weekend in Vienna. We absolutely fell in love with its old world charm, touches of Bohemia, coffee houses, architecture, glorious statues everywhere (previous post) and endless gardens. One weekend was not enough and I am sure we'll be back to visit.

We spent our first evening in the old city center at an outside film festival in the Rathaus Square. We slid in to the audience with the locals and enjoyed the city through their eyes. Something that I just love to do. 

The following day we got up early to explore the city and returned to find a jazz festival back at the gardens that surround the Rathaus. There was a light rain, but no one cared. We grabbed a late lunch and a table under an umbrella and sat back to listen and enjoy the music. We were there all afternoon and into the evening just listening to great music, sampling local food, wine and beer. One of things about the places we visited last summer was that at the heart of so many of the cities it wasn't an endless tourist trap full of souvenir shops. It was a place that the locals still enjoyed themselves. As much as I love to travel, I absolutely hate feeling like a tourist. 

Each morning we found another one of the coffee houses of Vienna to try with my favorite being Cafe Mozart. We tried the more famous Cafe Central, but it was absolutely over run with tourists. Cafe Mozart was the right blend of tradition, amazing food, perfectly steeped tea and a current newspaper in English. Exactly how I wanted to spend Sunday morning. After breakfast we took off for more walking through the side streets of Vienna. Anyone who follows me on Pinterest knows I'm slightly obsessed with doors. The older the better for me. I love how they capture history and architectural beauty. 

We ended our weekend with a walk through the gardens of Schonbrunn Park and a tour of the palace. Hard to believe anyone lived this way, but leave it to the Habsburgs. The grounds were originally created as a fenced hunting grounds, and a little hunting lodge Palace was built as an addition to the original mansion. Seriously, click the link and check out how expansive this place is. The shaded walking gardens were beautiful and a welcomed relief in the heat of summer. We spent quite a bit of time strolling through them as we waited our turn to tour the palace. It was redecorated in the 1740s in a Neoclassical style with plenty of ornate gilding. Not really my style, and I would have been happy to just keep wandering the park for the afternoon. 

We loved our time in Vienna and have since talked about returning and spending more like a month to explore the city as there is just so much to see and do in this beautiful place. For the rest of photos from the weekend you can see them over on my Pinterest.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Summer Design Series :: RAW Crystals

RAW. A stitch I don't use very often. but sometimes it can be just the right texture and rhythm for the beads. 

These are a gun metal color of crystals that I got from ZnetShows and I absolutely love them. I used a variation on the stitch to include two smaller beads (size 16) to each crystal and it created a beautiful, simple bracelet band. 

I added a slide clasp and silver charm with the tree of life. Which I think looks quite nice as the focal to the bracelet. This piece was the last one I made. And so it was just a tad late, and isn't shown in the recent Spark Magazine. But I thought you all might like to see just one more design as I finish out my Summer Design Series.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Summer Design Series :: Rustic Boho

I love this dress that Kate's wearing in this second photo session. But then I did pick it out on a recent shopping trip into NYC. She slipped it on, and It fit her perfectly. So there you go.

We were a good hour into our session, and Kate starting to wonder if I was ever going to stop asking her to put yet another pair of earrings into her ears. You'd be surprised how sore your ear can get after a few 20 times or so of this. So can't say I blame her for wanting to switch to bracelets.

After I made the multi-strand necklace I posted a few weeks back, I had just two yellow sea glass nuggets left sitting there on the bead table. I always hate to leave bead orphans in a bowl just waiting to be used in some other piece. So I went on the hunt through my stash. I've been trying very hard to use up my beads vs. running out to buy more beads. I found these sweet lotus charms and decided to pair them with more crystals and a touch of leather. The look gave me a nice, light weight rustic boho pair of earrings.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Summer Design Series :: Oranges of Summer

I love this carnelian orange color. It reminds me of those deep colors of late summer and fall. I guess some would call this 'burnt' orange, or even tangerine which is what ZnetShows calls these tube beads of sea glass.

The thing about color (at least for me) is all in how you pair it. Sometimes you need to give a vibrant color a little breathing room. So when I paired it with some hematite and gun metal colored crystals I noticed that it seemed to deepen the orange color and create a very rich combination. Where black might have been striking, the grey was rich. It does really pop paired with Kate's pale blue boho dress.

This is the last multi-strand necklace that I created for this summer design series. All of these necklaces were the same pattern, but I changed up the colors and textures between ribbon, leather and beaded accents. Funny how just a small adjustment can seemingly create a whole new look.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Summer Design Series :: Water Dance

Of all the pieces I made for this series I believe these earrings are my favorite. I have had these silver twist connectors for years, but have never been able to find the right use for them. But for some reason when I saw these gorgeous little crystals in a color called 'lake blue' I knew exactly what I was going to do! I could just see them set as cluster drops for these earrings. 

They are perfect, long and dangling earrings for summer that are feather-light to wear. They like to twist in the wind. And when the light catches them they sparkle like the sun dancing across the water. 

I made two pair of these which are both featured in the recent version of Spark Magazine. The other pair have single crystal drops vs. these that are in clusters. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Along the Saugatuck

Saugatuck River at Westport, CT
Kate and I have been working our way through photographing my growing pile of jewelry. We took a stroll down by the Saugatuck River near the downtown area of our little New England town. There is a wonderful wooden walk way that runs out into the tall grass that grows in the upper marshes of the river. 

It was a gorgeous day, and perfect to get our photography started. I still have quite a lot to photograph, but at least we're putting a dent in it!









This photo of Kate features a piece I've already shown on the blog back in April. It's a simple long, boho necklace with a bit of leather fringe. I do so love fringe in jewelry.

Through the winter I was trying to get my mojo back and started out slowly with some classic beading stitches that just felt good in my hands. I had swatches of beaded patterns all over the place with no clasps or closure. Yes, you can read closure anyway you like here. But sometime in the late spring my mojo sheepishly arrived and I started completing one piece after another. The simplicity of the patterns and closure to the project felt good. 

But my blogging muse was still on vacation somewhere North of the border. As you can see I've got posts stacked up and rolling out at this point. Perhaps my blogging partner has also decided to arrive; even if a bit late to the party.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Summer Design Series :: Matching Earrings

Sometimes you just need to do the matching set. Although I am a believer in not wearing it all at once. It can seem like over kill, and as one of my friends likes to say it is too 'matchy-matchy.' I tend to agree.

That said, this pair is a matching set. It is that same yellow sea glass and sand colored Chinese crystals I used in the previous post. These are hoops with some serious fringe ---that swings. Not sure why exactly, but I have been in to fringe earrings lately. Can you ever get too much fringe? I think not.

Another set of photos with Kate, but this time lounging in the yard in my husband's favorite Adirondack chair. He walked out in the middle of this session grumbling that we'd stolen his chair. 

.... that would be the look on Kate's face wondering if she was about to be kicked out. And the smile when she heard me say you'll have to find another chair since we were in the middle of the photo shoot and I had earrings, bracelets, scarves, necklaces, camera lenses ... strung out carefully placed all over the yard. Last thing I needed was him to step in the middle of my work! 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Summer Design Series :: Beach Boho

So, this is the second in a series of multi-strand necklaces I've created with Sea Glass from ZnetShows. This one uses some beautiful silk to tie at the neck by Marsha Neal. I love the combo of necklace and Kate's cute baby-doll dress. Hard to believe just how grown up she is these days.

My daughter Kate has been doing quite a bit of modeling for me lately. And I have to admit that I am so enjoying spending the time with her. I don't have a lot of time left as she'll be off to college come August. I am feeling so nostalgic about her leaving, and it probably doesn't help that we've been cleaning out her bedroom and we're finding all kinds of things from when she was younger. It seems like yesterday that she was still small enough to crawl up in my lap and snuggle. So many sweet memories.

Summer Design Series: Yellow Sea Glass


NOTE: for some reason I deleted this post and lost all my comments. Thank you to everyone who did stop by and leave me a comment!

Recently Hope sent out a call for designers to work with some ZnetShows beads. As always, there were some great choices of Cultured Sea Glass. But there was also an amazing choice of Chinese crystal beads. I'm not normally one for crystals, but these caught my eye. And once I opened the package from Hope it was love at first sight. These have a deeper texture to the colors than your typical Swarovski. I much prefer this colorway.

I created a series of these clustered, double strand necklaces for this round of designs. I have two others but I thought I'd start with this yellow one. It uses beautiful honey colored sea glass with the Chinese crystals (in a sand color). I wanted to keep the tone light and so added a blond leather. The result is a beach-boho look for summer.

I have a whole series of photos for these designs as I think it makes such a difference sometimes to see them modeled. So check back this week to see my other designs modeled by my daughter Kate. You can also see them featured in the magazine here. Bonus, Hope surprised me with featuring this necklace on the cover!

Thank you all for your comments (I didn't want to lose them):
Karin: What a perfect combination of colors and materials, I love multi strand necklaces and this one has a lot of softness to it.
Duni: That's gorgeous!! Such a unique design and congrats on the feature :)
Linda: What a beautiful design and beautiful model. Love the monotone color scheme in this piece. Great job. Congrats on the cover. This piece is definitely a summer winner.
JoJo: Beautifully done!!!
Val: Oh I love it! The pale yellow is not a color we see to often in jewelry. It really makes it unique and so perfect for summer. It looks so pretty on Kate!
Patti: That magazine was certainly a feast for the eyes! I can count on one hand the times I have used yellow ...but this necklace is so soft ...you know?! Gorgeous! Love EVERY piece that you contributed!
Susan: very pretty and looks just right for a Summer party. I really like how you paired the crystals with the honey colored leather.
Margaret: fabulous design! Kate makes a lovely model!
Alice: I love the yellow beads. Just right for summer that blond leather is just the thing to finish the necklace.
Keith: it's absolutely beautiful :)
Stacy: Gorgeous!!! Unique and beautiful! I love your creations! Congrats on the magazine!!! Big Hugs! 
Claudia: Lovely yellow color, perfect for summer!
Amy: It was a perfect choice for the cover!!!! Bravo! Love your work in this recent issue of Creative Spark!
Edi: The yellow is such a pretty color and looks great on Kate :) Congrats on the cover feature!
Sharla: So pretty! Clever use of the sea glass! Congrats on the front page too!
Marcela: Beautiful necklace!!! Nice photo!!! Have a nice day!!!:))) Besos, Marcela

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Currency of Beads

Beads are a medium to create and express yourself. At least I see them that way. 

I am often asked why I don't wear much of the jewelry I create. I'm not sure exactly, but I can say that when I bead it is more like creating art then designing for fashion. I suppose that makes sense given my love of understanding the history and culture of specific styles and patterns. 

While Native American beadwork dates back to prehistoric times, these early beads were crafted by hand with crude tools and tended to be large. The beads themselves were crafted from bone, quills, shells and stones. It wasn't until Europeans began traveling the Americas that the use of 'seed beads' in Native American designs appeared. Most explorers, traders and missionaries carried glass beads with them to use as gifts or barter with native people. Thus, beads became a local currency.

One story alleges that the 'sale' of Manhattan to the Dutch colonists (c. 1620) was for $24 worth of beads. Most likely the Native Americans thought that the newcomers were giving them a gift, not buying the land with their strings of beads. It is likely a cultural misunderstanding that Native Americans did not have a sense of 'owning' the land. They were a nomadic society. So the notion of selling land would be a large misconception of European settlers. 

Before the Europeans brought seed beads, the Native Americans were using shell beads. You can see their value and significance as archaeological findings will trace shell beads thousands of miles from seacoasts, which indicate trade routes among the ancient peoples. As seed beads were introduced they appeared through a network of trading posts but quickly spread through an exchange network among Native American tribes.

Beads became a popular trading item as they were light weight to carry along the trading routes; particularly through the northern woodlands area where treks were on foot with backpacks through the forest trails. Two types of trade beads were popular: large ceramic 'pony' beads (a quarter to half inch in size with a large hole to use as a focal) whose name comes from decorating pony reins and other horse gear. The other popular trade bead would be the tiny seed beads which supplanted the more difficult, time-consuming porcupine quill work.

The beads themselves came from Bohemia (Czech Republic) and Italy. Probably starting in Venice Italy where there was a flourishing industry dating back to the 14th Century. For centuries the Italians kept production techniques a secret, which gave them a monopoly over the production of glass beads. The beads were valuable and used as currency by European traders through West Africa to buy gold, ivory, palm oil and slaves. This is where the term 'Trade Beads' originates. 

Today the distinct tribal patterns blend into a more modern use of beads. Marcus Amerman is one of the most celebrated bead artists today with his work deeply steeped in his Choctaw roots. Born in Phoenix, but grew up in the Pacific Northwest. He has created a movement of highly realistic beaded portraits. He is an example that history can influence art, but take on a modern variation. I like the way he rolls. My beaded earrings here are of no specific pattern, but clearly have that Native American feel to them. I have been wanting to try this style and I've been playing with colors and bead types. 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Mojo :: On Vacation

I know a lot of us out there in beadland have been suffering from a loss of mojo. Not exactly sure where it went but there appears to be a large group of mojo off on vacation touring somewhere without us.

I've started beading again. It comes in bursts with gullies of nothingness in between. At least it is a start. 

I decided that if I could just weave some patterns my hands know perhaps I could find some rhythm again. The funny thing is that the first stitch I turned to was herringbone. I can hear Christine giggling as I say this. It is so unlike me as it usually is my least favorite. Perhaps an unconscious sabotage attempt? Luckily it didn't stop me, and I moved on to other stitches. 

The piece here is a chenille rope with soft creams and copper. I wanted to highlight the jasper focal with similar flecks of colors. I do love the earthiness of the stone and the inclusions are always my favorite. They make the pattern interesting, just like the bits and pieces in life. Life would be dull indeed if everything were simply smooth. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

When Worlds Collide :: Queen Victoria

In the center of Nassau you'll find the old and the new worlds coming together. Rawson Square features a new beginning with a bronze of Sir Milo Butler who was the first governor-general for an independent Bahamas. And on the other side of the street is Parliament Square with Queen Victoria representing a colonial past.

The commercial port of Nassau was established around 1670. It was overrun for more than a century by lawless, seafaring men, and it was twice destroyed by both Spanish the French. The port also saw its share of pirates who would loot the heavily laden cargo ships. So by the early 1790s, the British decided they'd had enough and built several fortresses to restore order and protect the island from invaders. Fincastle was built on top of Bennet Hill and has two 24-pound cannons, two 32-pound, two 12-pound and a Howitzer. The fort never fired once even with all this firepower. 

Toward the end of colonial rule (late 1700s) local African slaves carved a gorge, more than 100 feet deep into a solid limestone hillside with pickaxes. At the far end of this passage they included a staircase of 66 steps to provide a shorter route to Fort Fincastlethe highest point on the island. The task took 600 slaves 16 years to complete. The Queen's Staircase were named decades later (1837) when Queen Victoria signed a declaration to abolish slavery on her ascension to the throne. Later, the staircase was modified to 64 steps, each representing a year of Queen Victoria's reign. 

It is a short 10 minute walk up from the port to the staircase where a wall of vines and overhanging brush offer a cool oasis on a hot day. Climb the stairs and you arrive at Fort Fincastle where you will get a stunning 360 view around the island and a birds' eye perspective of the enormous cruise ships coming and going in the port. You'll see the hoards of tourists scuttling off the ships to the straw market or one of the touristy bars, but very few venture beyond the couple of streets that surround the port. A shame because there is so much more to see on the island.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day :: Clifton Heritage Park

Sacred Space Sculpture Garden
One of the most interesting places we visited while in the Bahamas was Clifton Heritage Park on the Western tip of the island of New Providence where slaves were brought ashore. A place where European ships dock after a grueling Middle Passage sail across the Atlantic with human cargo in their hulls. It is the Bahamas first national park that protects and preserves a deep history of slavery. Not to celebrate it, but to learn and remember those that lived their entire lives on this plantation. While exact counts vary, it is estimated that 11 to 15 million Africans were kidnapped from their homes and forced into slavery during the 16th - 19th centuries.

Slave home ruins
There is a sculpture garden by Antonius Roberts that he calls Sacred Space with African figures carved from driftwood. It is a tribute to the first wave of those who came ashore here. The figures face to the East, in the direction of Africa. The area is remote, but not far outside of Nassau. No public transportation extends this far, but it is easy to hire a car for a short 15 minute drive out to the park. 

The plantation at one point was owned by William Wylly, the Attorney General of the Bahamas. He is said to be one of the more benevolent slave owners, if that is a term you'd use to talk about slavery? He would encourage his slaves to marry and when they did he'd build them their own home. You can see the remains of these homes in the slave village ruins. He also employed a plantation overseer that was of African origin, who also happened to be the local pastor of the church that served the African community.

Coral reef underwater sculpture garden overlook
The beauty of the beaches around the point has made it a popular place to visit. But it also attracted developers who wanted to exclude the public and build a gated community. Bahamians protested to preserve the area as a park with historical significance and what they call a 'cultural treasure' to the local people.

We spent the day hiking around the plantation and snorkeling in the cove where there are sunken statues. Since I have no idea how to do underwater photography I'll give you a link so you can see what is under the surface. The fish were amazing and everywhere. It is a stunning location with panoramic views of the ocean along the cliffs.

Cotton growing wild
The Bahamas is associated with 'Loyalists' who fled the US following the Revolutionary War. They moved to the Bahamas to continue the production of cotton which was in decline due to boll weevil infestations, and a series of devastating hurricanes. Within 20 years, the economy collapsed and many of the landowners abandoned their plantations and returned to England. The slaves were left to fend for themselves.

The British emancipated slavery in 1834 throughout the Empire. At this point the Bahamians were "free to establish their lives according to their own beliefs and in pursuit of their individual happiness." The British establish an apprenticeship program through August of 1838 where they were required by law to teach their former slaves the needed skills to work and provide for themselves. One thing I found fascinating is that the US abolishment of slavery came some 31 years later. What took so long? Too bad the American's didn't take a page out of Bahamian history and not only abolish it earlier, but help to usher them in to a life of freedom.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Fallen Sky Stone

The Navajo believed that turquoise was a piece of the sky that had fallen to the earth and called it Fallen Sky Stone. It was believed to be a great healing stone. I could use some healing powers this weekend.

The memorial for our friend was on Friday, and there were many tears shed by the people who loved him. From the friends, family and his children who he leaves behind. I wish he could have been there to see how much he was loved.

The weather at the moment looks as I feel. Cold, rainy and grey. Usually I enjoy the rain. It is that Pacific Northwest in me that needs the rain to refresh. It makes me want to sit by the fire and go deep into my own thoughts. I believe that is where I am this weekend. 

The Native American legend celebrates the relief felt when the rains came. Water was the symbol of life.  When the rain began the people would dance and rejoice with tears streaming down their faces. The rain and their tears would mix and seep into Mother Earth to become Sky Stone. A beautiful way to symbolize the cycle of life. There are just moments along the journey that are more difficult than others. And so I may walk in the rain today just to feel it on my face.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Lanie's Heart

Nothing I like better than to make jewelry for a friend. Especially someone who appreciates handmade. 

This piece was made for a friend that enjoys hearts. But as she's grown up her style has changed a bit. She's wearing more leather, and more sophisticated things. So I decided that I'd have to up my game a bit if I was going to design a piece for her birthday this year.

I saw a vintage Czech glass button that I really liked and decided that if I cut the back off I could turn it into a cabochon focal necklace. The Bead Girl says she thinks this has a bit of a steampunk look to it. Perhaps. I just like its old world feel to it. I'm hoping that it looks great with her leather jacket and that she enjoys wearing it.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

A Permanent Solution to a Temporary Problem.

Posted on Instagram by another friend from work
This is not my normal type of post, but I feel compelled to write about suicide. A horrible event to all involved. There is no doubt that a person who decides to end their life is at a point where this seems like the only way out of the pain. But the people left behind in that wake of pain is deep. 

I have known several people in my life who have attempted suicide, and luckily they were unsuccessful. And today they live very happy lives. Suicide would have been a permanent solution to a temporary problem in their lives. One of these people is one of my closest friends. She is married to a wonderful man and has two teenage boys who would not be with us today if she had been successful all those years ago.

This winter there were several teen suicides locally where I live. Two were related to competitive grades at school. These two jumped in front of trains. A third was in the school where my oldest daughter attends and was due to bullying. It is so tragic to see young lives ended because they don't have the experience to know that today's pain is a moment in time and that if anything is for certain; life will continue to change. If only they had lived another day understand that.

Recently, a friend from work committed suicide. I was shocked. She was so full of curiosity for life; constantly pushing herself to explore and understand. But a car accident brought pain into her life, and ultimately she took her life. With a gun that should never had been sold to her. This is Kate pictured here a few months before she died.

Yesterday we found out that one of my husband's best friends has taken his life. In the last few years he had been through a rough divorce, but he made it through and it seemed as though he'd found peace with his ex-wife. He has three teenage sons he leaves behind who now have to figure out how to live life without their father. Somehow suicide later in life seems even more difficult to comprehend. My husband has known him since college. We've been with him before he met his wife, after he met his wife, during the births of his sons, after his marriage ended. He knew both how amazing life is and how painful it can be. And that if anything is for certain that tomorrow brings another day. Why he would choose a permanent solution to a temporary problem is hard to understand. The wake of pain he leaves to all that cared about him is deep. I always wonder if the person who commits suicide could just see how much they were loved if it would change their mind. And if that would encourage them to live another day.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Spring Thaw

Spring is in full swing at this point. My hubby's favorite flowers (iris) are just starting to bloom, and my favorite flowers (peonies) are up and will bloom shortly. 

I've been working on a pattern called Spring Thaw created by Christine of OneKissCreations that I seem to be slightly obsessed with at the moment. I've made three of these back to back for some reason. I sit down and bead it start to finish in an evening. 

They really do feel lovely around the wrist, and so I'm trying to decide if I will 'love it, or list it' (for those of you who enjoy the HGTV show!). While I decide, I think I'll put it on and head out to the garden and snap pictures of the flowers. If you follow me on instagram you'll find them over there.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Hathor :: Goddess of Motherhood

After my post yesterday you all are likely wondering how I could possibly have more to say on the topic of turquoise? There is more, lots more. But I'll try to keep it short today and show you a turquoise cuff edged in leather. I think it has a sort of old world basket weave feel.

Since yesterday was Mother's Day, I decided to highlight Hathor the Egyptian goddess of motherhood including feminine love and the principles of joy. She seems to have covered a lot of topics (like most moms) as she was also the goddess of music, dance and foreign lands. I don't know about you, but my daughter's room seems to classify as a foreign land most days with an abundance of ancient artifacts under the bed, severe 'off roading' to get to her closet and a look of 'lost in translation' when I ask her to pick up. Just call me Hathor, goddess of teenage girls.

So what's Hathor got to do with Turquoise? Well, funny you should ask. She also appears to be the patron goddess of miners. Yep, that's right. She really had a full plate this one. And so she also picked up names like "Lady of Turquoise" and "Mistriss of Turquoise." This goddess was a real multi-tasker, but then I suppose motherhood includes a lot of juggling, some feminine love and occasionally principles of joy ... most days.  

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Ancient Stones :: Turquoise

One of my favorite stones of all time has to be turquoise. The veining in it is like a heartbeat frozen in time. I love the idea that this stone has been held in the hands of so many people and cultures through the ages. Mined, carved and adorned. It is a rock of rugged beauty.

It is rare to find stones naturally colored blue, and likely even more rare in ancient times without 'man-made,' synthetic stones. From across the globe people have treasured its blue color thought to represent the heavens to the ancient Persian, fertility, good luck and protection against evil to the Egyptians. 

In the Americas it had great healing powers and brought prosperity. Which is why the Aztecs offered it to the Gods and the Anasazi (known as the "Ancient Ones" and the ancestors of the modern Pueblo) used the stone to treat the sick. They believed it could prevent accidental injury, prevent blindness or ease stomach pains. The shaman would grind the stone and have the person ingest it to heal the stomach. Truly, turquoise has such a storied history.  

Persia (Iran) is known for the purity of its turquoise. Some describe a bright blue turquoise as "Persian blue" based on the prized high quality of stone. 

I actually prefer the American version of this stone. Full of inclusions, deposits and other minerals like iron which can infuse a green hue to the stone, or copper which gives it a blue color. Deposits from its host stone show up like a spiderweb of brown or black that stone cutters refer to as its matrix. Green turquoise and heavy matrix are less valuable, but I love to see the patterns in the stone. Today, the American Southwest produces some of the world's best turquoise, with Arizona and Nevada supporting more than 120 active mines. People who know turquoise can often tell which specific mine the stone came from, such as the Sleeping Beauty Mine which is known for its light blue turquoise without matrix. It is some of the most sought after (and most expensive) turquoise in the world.

My design is influence by the Mayan calendar which is comprised of two interlocking calendars working simultaneously: the Haab (civil) and the Tzolkin (sacred). The calendars work like a continuous churn of gears in a machine, and represent life as one eternal cycle. While the Mayans did predict centuries into the future, they did not see an end. That's the funny thing with the western interpretation that the Mayan calendar predicted the end of the world. That would have been a foreign concept to them. The turquoise in my design is actually a flaw as the Mayan did not allow anyone to wear it and reserved it as an offering to the gods. I just liked how the copper focal brought out the veining in the turquoise. C'est la vie. Sometimes the flaws in life are more interesting.

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