Thursday, April 30, 2009

Yes, Virginia, Even Chainmaille Can Get ADD

Once upon a time, a sedate length of parallel chain decided it had had enough of being boring, and went on a journey of discovery. Along the way, it met an exquisite European 4-in-1 whose silvery shimmy up and down the chorus line could send shivers down any red-blooded male spine, and oh, the nights they had together. But, as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end and the 4-in-1 shimmied onto more exciting conquests. The parallel chain resumed its not-so-sedate existence but never quite forgot what it was like to dance, twirl, and get a severe case of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) while falling in love.

Parallel ADD: 0.5cm rhodium-plated copper and 0.7cm rhodium-plated steel, silver-plated copper handmade clasp.

I'm not even sure what weave that centre bit is any more; it started out as a 4-in-1 but I kept adding smaller jump rings so it's technically a 6-in-1 joined by only 2 rings instead of 3. Or something like that. Hence the name Parallel ADD.

The night of the great Venetian Ball, she could hardly sit still for anticipation and fretting about what to wear with her moonlight-silver gown. Pearls, said her sister. No, moonstones or diamonds, argued her mother. Her grandmother, however, said not a word but went to her jewellery box and drew out a pair of ornate silver-and-crystal earrings. The perfect complement, and everyone, from mother to sister, agreed.

Byzantine Baroque: 0.5cm rhodium-plated copper, Siam AB Swarovski crystals.

Inspired by the gorgeous Byzantine pendants in the gallery section over at Blue Buddha Boutique.

She needed a necklace desperately, a red one, and what she had at hand were glass beads the colour of autumn leaves and scarlet fire. What took shape made her remember the colours of the Kentucky hills in autumn, the beautiful red-and-gold-and-orange tints of falling leaves and bright scarlet berries heralding approaching winter.

Autumn Fire: Red China glass beads, gold lucite leaves, antique gold seed beads, pressed Czech glass beads, acrylic teardrop, Siam AB Swarovski crystal, rhodium-plated chain, silver-plated toggle clasp.

This piece is special because I finally got to use some beautiful lucite and acrylic beads that I got in Jakarta during the Asian Choir Games. Memories and beads, a lovely combination!

Inspired by April's lovely designs at Vanity Vault.

"...this is supposed to be a set of Byzantine earrings, yes, but couldn't it possibly be combined with a Japanese weave just for variety...err, oops, no that doesn't work, wait, let's make it 4-in-1 instead..."

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why these have been dubbed the Byzoops earrings.

Byzoops: 0.5cm rhodium-plated copper, 0.7cm rhodium-plated steel.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Necessary Presence

When I suggested, "I can make something for a present" a month ago and you said yes, sure, I was desperate. Creative rut for months and months on end, nothing to show except half-withered dreams and dry bones in a valley. I needed something, anything, to prove to myself that I hadn't lost one of the most precious things in my life - the ability to create something out of nothing, beautiful things out of the unexpected.

And we discussed designs. You talked, I sketched. Slowly, the ideas started coalescing - sluggishly, it's true, but they were there. That was the important thing.

But oh, it wasn't easy, trying to create again. And you sat through it all - the venting, the tears, the frustration at being unproductive, and you told me that eventually, I would be all right. You didn't understand much of it, but you tried anyhow - even down to shopping for supplies in a part of town you regarded as an absolute nightmare, but braved still because you were stubborn and thought it was only right you did so.

At the time it seemed impossible that I'd ever weather this barren period. But you believed in me anyway even when I didn't believe in myself.

And you were right. The creativity came back. Slowly, painfully, but it drifted, settled, and suddenly it was there one morning after I'd finished Shakti. It was such a good feeling after being so dry for so long.

I couldn't have done it without you there to scold me, to make sure my head was on straight, to listen when I needed an outlet, to remind me that it wasn't the end of the world just yet.

Thank you, acushla. For being there, and for getting me started all over again.

And to Carol, Jer, Jenn, Becca, Eloise and Laura and the rest of you who've been there through the whole ordeal and weathered it through with me: thank you all so much. All of you have been necessary presences for which I am so grateful.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Once Upon A Not-So Long Time Ago...

...Girl met Boy and immediately wanted to punch him in the nose for being completely obnoxious. Not a very promising beginning, but faerie tales don't always start promisingly either. Real Life, taking a page out of a faerie tale, decided to go that route because Girl discovered a short time later that she and Boy had a lot more in common than both of them had ever thought possible. They agreed to disagree on the things they couldn't agree upon. They argued, and agreed to argue fairly, and learned to call timeouts when things got a bit too personal or fiery. They laughed at Calvin and Hobbes, Cthulhu cats, and other matters of complete mystification to most of their friends - but it was their own 'language' which they understood and were comfortable with. Parallel thoughts, divergent paths.

Boy's birthday came, and Girl wanted to make him a present. After a lot of thought, she decided that something lasting, symbolic, and aesthetically pleasing would probably work best. She settled on a chainmaille pattern, thought about it, sat down, and made a bracelet. She named it Parallel Divergent, because of the parallel chain focal segment, and to celebrate the differences that made things beautiful.

Parallel Divergent: 0.5cm and 0.7cm rhodium-plated copper and steel rings, 19ga Argentium silver hand-made clasp.

And yes, Boy did like his present.

Shakti: from the Sanskrit shak, 'to be able', meaning 'sacred force or empowerment'...

"I'd like you to make her something," he said, and she agreed, albeit reluctantly. Little by little in the doing, her creative winter began to thaw, and by the end of her project, spring was well on the way. She named the bracelet Shakti; somehow it seemed fitting and appropriate.

Shakti: 18ga and 22ga Argentium silver, garnets, amethysts, Siam AB Swarovski crystal and Miyuki seed beads.

A commission for a friend. It turned out almost exactly like the charted design and I learned a lot along the way - the callouses are still on my fingertips from about a month ago! She finally received it, so I can post the pictures up safely now.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Jasmine Drops and Oceans Deep

I've been asked for a while to post what I've been working on this week so, Swati, Mei, here's your wish! I'm especially pleased because after 8 or 9 tries I finally managed my first pair of hammered hoop earrings, complete with detachable charms. Thank you sooo much for the tips Swati, they helped tremendously!

Rain. Steady, impervious, falling to earth, breaking into a million tiny droplets on the old, old stones of the temple.

"Do you believe in forever?" she asked, arms folded around her knees as she huddled on the steps for shelter. He started to answer, then stopped, watching the interplay of sunlight and rain on the gnarled jasmine tree beside them. Reaching out, he let the falling blossoms catch on his work-roughened hands, then held them out to her like an offering.

Jasmine Drops: Vintage lucite bellflowers, Chinese olivine faceted crystals, brass beadcaps.

I want to spread my wings --but I just can't fly
And like a string of pearls
Pretty girls go sailing by...
Ocean deep --I'm so afraid to show my feelings
I have sailed a million seas
Solitary room...

--'Ocean Deep', Cliff Richard

Ocean Deep: 22ga Argentium silver, top-drilled blue-gray cultured pearls.

Monday, April 13, 2009

On the Terrace

There should have been an earthquake. Howling. Instead, there was only silence and a heat-drugged landscape, indolent under the heavy air. When the storm came it battered down relentlessly, washing all those words - everything that was ever said on that terrace - into the churning mud below. She watched as the crushed flower petals swirled over the edge, falling like tears at a grave, and thought, So this is how the world ends - without even a memorial to mark its passing.