Thursday, April 14, 2016

Tiny is TOPS!


The components I use to make  jewelry are so small that I need magnifying glasses to see them clearly.  Often they will jump off my bench and fall into the void of my workspace, never to be found again or only appear when I'm searching on my hands and knees with a flashlight.

This drives me crazy at times, but I love Tiny Things.  Last week my assistant, Jen, and I were reminiscing about our love for all things tiny.  How did this start?  Surprisingly, we could both trace our fascination back to our first dollhouses. One of my earliest obsessions occurred when I accompanied my mother on her weekly grocery shopping and noticed a toy high atop a shelf on an aisle, prior to Christmas of 1959.   This was the original "Dream Kitchen" and came with a working dishwasher and a total of 176 pieces.  It included tiny steaks, plates, pots, pans and canned goods.  I repeatedly tortured my mother until it arrived that Christmas.  I began to create a secret dollhouse in a cabinet in my bedroom where I made curtains and doll clothes with my tiny crank Singer sewing machine.  I would work on my cabinet of curiosities endlessly until my mother would come in and force me to go outdoors, into the sunlight.  But I preferred my dollhouse, much as I prefer the time spent in my studio today.

This is a dollhouse to top all doll houses.  Fairy Castle was commissioned by silent movie actress Colleen Moore in 1928 and now resides in the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Illinois.  It took many years and countless artisans to create this masterpiece:  with its 500-year-old ornaments, pure gold and diamond encrusted chandeliers, it boasts a great hall, a princess's bathroom and a well-manicured courtyard.

Here is my "Girlie Necklace".  It features all charms that reference the pin-up girl theme.  While I do not often work in non-precious or costume jewelry, I couldn't resist it when I saw these charms.  The small binoculars are viewable with a picture of the Brooklyn Bridge. There's a pink-gold plated "Playboy" locket, an expanding cellulose fan with nudie girl pictures and a small disk that rotates viewable girlie pics… The little book expands with picture postcards of Somerset.  It is made of copper with silver accents and is truly one-of-a-kind.

The wonders of a Tiny World are infinite:  zoom in and you'll see!

Friday, October 30, 2015

New Information about "The Seeker"

After Publishing this post about “The Seeker”, a dear client took it upon herself to research the image in the vintage porcelain. Thankyou, Jane Wood, for your keen detective work!
*Aloysius Gonzag: Born in the castle of Castigione, 1568; died, June 1591.

The eldest of 7 children in a wealthy family in Northern Italy, he was chosen to be trained in the military but received “the calling” to be a priest at a very young age. His family was vehemently opposed to this but when he developed persistent health issues, he was sent to a monastery and furthered his education there. In 1591, a plague broke out in Rome and the Jesuits opened a hospital for the stricken. Aloysius volunteered to work there. Six days before his 23rd Birthday, Aloysius showed the first symptoms of being infected. He recovered, but his health was left worse than ever. He had a vision that he would be dead within the year and told several people that he would die on the Octave of the feast of Corpus Christie. On that very day, he seemed well in the morning but insisted he would die before the day was over. He died just before midnight.
Owing to the manner of his death, he has always been considered a patron saint of plague victims. For his compassion and courage in the face of an incurable disease, Alysius Gonzaga has become the patron both of AIDS sufferers and their caretakers. Aloysius is the patron of Valmontone, a town not far from Rome.

In Art, St. Aloysius is shown as a young man wearing a black cassock and surplice, or as a page. His attributes are a lily, referring to innocence; a cross, referring to piety and sacrifice; a skull, referring to his early death; and a rosary, referring to his devotion.

It is curious to me that this little porcelain was crafted by me, unknowingly into something of a shrine to the testament of knowledge and healing. I, too, feel like I live in an age of many plagues. We seek to heal.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Seeker

"They call me the seeker, I've been searching low and high.  I won't get to get what I'm after until the day I die."  Pete Townsend, 1971

"In Search of":   the constant quest. It is everyone's journey.  I seek the truth.

I am not religious, but I know that I am on a spiritual journey.  I believe everyone is and we seek to know.  The older I get, the less I know. I only know love and beauty are real.

I found this miniature hand-painted porcelain portrait in an antique store in Adamstown, PA in 1994.  At the time, I could barely afford it, but I bought it and tucked it away in a velveteen pouch in one of the drawers of my workbench.  Over the years I'd take it out every so often to touch it's smooth surface and marvel at what I called "the Seeker".  I loved his faint, golden halo and his quest for devotion looking down upon the crown on the table.  I developed a sense of comfort every time I gazed upon the upturned corners of his lips, a slight smile in the calm of his acceptance.

When I first studied the art of jewelry, I became fascinated by the work of Faberge I'd seen in the Cleveland Museum of Art.
I appreciated the craftsmanship and folly of these eggs made in his studio. I longed to hold one in my hands and discover its mystery as I'd peel it open like an intricately wrapped gift.  What an incredible experience  it must have been for the Russian Tsars to have received such a masterpiece from the studios of Faberge. I imagined these artifacts resting on a marble mantelpiece or on an elaborately carved desk, waiting to be touched and discovered like a magical toy.   But I would want to WEAR it and keep it with me always.

It took me almost two years to complete this portraiture locket.  It kept getting more and more complicated by my obsession with hardware and locking mechanisms.  This became a labor of love with my devotion to love and beauty.  It opens, it closes, it locks.  The pearls on the outside of the "ring of fire" are pearls of wisdom.  There is a gold halo because I'm earning mine.  There is a hollow ear because we must listen.  There are 3 golden tears with rubies because each tear we shed has an inner lesson. It is meant to be worn, hung on the wall or sitting on a desk, waiting to be explored and opened like the flower that blooms in the truth we seek.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Armor for the World

When I make a piece of jewelry that someone wants to wear, it feeds my passion to know that I have touched someone in a meaningful way when they choose to wear my work close to their body. It is an intimate experience and it becomes a personal talisman. I have always believed that jewelry is “armor for the world” and we all need a little protection during our travels.

I also have a passion for fashion. Even though I’m most comfortable wearing black tee shirts and jeans, I have a deep fantasy life where I wear chiffon, brocade, silk and velvet. In my mind, I dress like Brian Jones in the early Rolling Stones.
 There was a time during my life in NYC when the jewelry I made was predominantly inspired by current fashion trends. As time went on, the production schedules and fast-paced social calendars disguised as work took its toll on my spirit, mind and body. I longed for the sustenance provided by nature. Slowly I learned who I was and it became obvious that I had to return to my core and explore the art of my work. That is when I moved upstate closer to nature.  I have never looked back.

As inspiring as it is, living in the country often feels isolating yet that’s where connection comes in: modern connection. The internet is invaluable and keeps me locked into trends and conversation. Recently, on my Facebook page, I was so happy when two friends discussed my work and talent. The conversation took place between an incredible photographer who is also a client and another client who happens to be a very high-profile fashion insider. Their conversation praised my talent, but the fashion insider alluded to the fact that I should be more successful. I wasn’t successful, he hinted, because “she has her own ways of doing things”.

His words stung because it reminded me of another high-profile jewelry editor who, years ago, upon finding out that I was moving out of NYC, shook my hand, looked into my eyes and said: “Call me when you start making jewelry again“. Out of sight out of mind, apparently.

Yes, I have my own way of doing things. I think everyone does. What matters most is following your heart and your dreams. I know jewelry is not brain surgery or rocket fuel, but when we find meaning or joy in even the smallest tasks, it propels us upon our journey. I am interested in your stories and your journeys. Please take me with you. I’m delighted when you do.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Starting Over

Here we come, 2015, a New Year with a New Beginning. Every year at this time it feels like I’m starting over. 2014 has been a shedding year, much like brushing my dog, CoCo, when every season begins: her wooly coat thinning with each tuft of clumping hair I remove until I have a pile of red, silky angel hair that I throw into the wind. Sometimes I see birds swoop down and pick up a strand to line their nests as they prepare to usher in their offspring with the approaching season.
Once I had a sister who said she raised me until I was five years old, although I do not remember that. My mother gave birth to me at 40 and took to her bed with post-partum depression., removing herself for five years from the family. Beth was 13 years older than I and could do everything better than I could. She could paint and cook and she was quite beautiful with blue eyes that reflected the depth of the ocean. Over the years we lost touch and reconnected when I was 30. Beth had married at 18, raised 3 boys by herself, divorced, moved to California and then went on to become an IT engineer. Her house had burned down and her second marriage had ended with his addiction. During a visit with her while recounting one of her experiences, I asked her: “Don’t you ever get tired of starting over?”
Beth smiled and chuckled slightly, saying: “No, because that is what life is about. Starting over.”
Beth died of lung cancer when I was 49 and I was going through breast cancer. I never got a chance to say goodbye. We were literally calling each other on the phone and telling each other our diagnosis one minute and she was gone the next. I recovered and she did not.

Sometimes it is hard to imagine that with every shedding there is a new beginning and eventually, something to be gained. Often it is a remembrance of someone lost and their words of wisdom with a glimmer in their eyes. Sometimes it is selling all your belongings with an illusion of freedom and trusting only in love to propel you forward.
I feel the love when I look into the eyes of my partner or down at my hands that ache after a year of hard work. I look ahead at the path before me and see it strewn with CoCo’s angel hair and rocks that look like jewels. I look at the things I’ve created and the thoughts I’ve created in my mind that keep me asking questions.
Bring it on, 2015, let’s create (a dream).

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Opting Out

I wish there was an easy button for opting out because I would click it.  I live for those moments in life when I choose invisibility from everyday occurrences in order to dream.

Life has become so complicated  and access oriented which can be contrary to a peaceful existence.  The influx of constant information gives me sensory overload.

When I traveled to California last February, I was struck by those little moments of peace while gazing upon the snow-capped mountains in a vast desert.  As I looked upon flowers that bloom on the tips of large cacti, I was struck by the instinct of natural survival and peace.

During my visit to Palm Springs, CA I casually walked into the Crystal Palace, a crystal and healing store.  At that moment there was a "Psychic Fair" being held in the store and I chanced upon Patrick Harrington, a medium who looked quite familiar. One glance at him with his bright blue eyes, sitting at his table and I knew I had to jump on this moment and have a reading with him.  Many of the things he told me no one could have known.  I asked him about opting out and he informed me there was not 'opt out' button.  I had to 'opt in" and be more visible As a creator the process comes from within and balancing that with external output is often contradictory. 

Now, I am back on the East Coast and enveloped in a slow warming of the winter frigidity.

I adore connecting to the world, and, even though finding the balance is often elusive,  seasons change and I am ready to bloom once again as winter melts away. 

Sometimes you just have to opt out in order to opt in again.  Time for Spring's rebirthing, everyone!

Friday, January 17, 2014

A Charmed Life

Do You Lead A Charmed Life? Answering that question myself, I would say sometimes yes, sometimes no. One thing I WOULD say for sure, is that it’s been memorable. OH! The memories!
As a young girl I loved shiny pretty things. My first memories of jewelry were limited to investigating my mother’s jewelry box. She wasn’t a huge jewelry fan, but had collected a small array of interesting pieces over the years which included a pink gold Benrus watch and various hand-made pins and earrings that were purchased during her 13 years living abroad in Brazil. I would line these pieces up and inspect them closely: the clasps, the stones, and the color and texture of the metal. And then there was the shoebox full of gumball machine charms, which Sherry Carr kept under her bed. She lived across the street from me and I coveted those plastic charms with a passion that wasn’t quite admirable. These early obsessions merged with Saturday trips to the hardware store accompanying my father where I developed a fascination with hinges, nuts and bolts and how everything fit together architecturally.
Lately I’ve found myself revisiting lots of memories of people and places lost. Images that will awaken me from a sound sleep or shadows that I seem to see out of the corner of my eye as I shuffle around my studio. Often I will hear a whisper in my ear with sounds and voices unspoken that will jolt me from reality.
Seemingly “on trend” it appears that you, my friends, have been following the same path because I’ve been getting a lot of requests and packages to update your memories with your collectibles and charms. I’ve been adding charms on your bracelets, earrings and necklaces.

I’ve always loved charms: charms with moveable or secret compartments. Charms with enamel and colored accents. Gumball charms. Silver charms. Gold charms. They are so fascinating, so CHARMING, and they all mean something. Our personal lives are reflected in these tiny mementos. They have meaning and a life of their own. Truly, this is a charmed life.