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Further evolution…

leather leaf earrings 2009

I’m not doing the “inspiration Wednesday” thing today, cause I’m just not feeling it at the moment*.

Instead, I’d like to reflect on some design progress that a friend recently pointed out. In 2009, I started playing with a new (to me) earring style that makes use of some of my smaller leather scraps. There were several styles of leaves, and of course, lots of feathers — especially raven feathers (if you scroll through this blog, you may notice that I have a thing for corvids ;). These were accented with mixed metal wire, Swarovski crystals, and assorted gem stones. I debated whether or not to add real feathers.

blue jay earrings 2009

When I created their facebook photo album, I asked my fans if they were “Good, Bad or Ugly?” — which hints at how unsure I was about the style. They were well received, and I kept playing with the designs. These were somewhat tricky at first because I’d never really done such small leather projects. They’re simple enough to make, but working with leather at this scale was new and challenging for me; in addition, I’ve never been much of a wireworker. There are people who can do amazing things with wire, but I am not one of them. My knowledge and experience with that type of jewelry design is limited to the most basic skills.

peacock earrings 2011

I’ve continued to play with this style over time, and I suspect that I’ll continue to do so.  They’re admittedly simple designs, but I think the little projects tend to be the ones that build your skills the most (see this earlier post on formative work). There are many artisans who claim that every single piece they make is a one of a kind design. That is admirable  — though I always wonder if they are actually selling their work as a substantial portion of their income. As a working artist, it seems like it would be incredibly challenging not to repeat designs, and still create enough to support oneself. But I’m getting off track — my point is that I actually find value in revisiting designs. It helps me to hone my skills and also gives me a yardstick for progress.

raven earrings 2012

The current variations are still not exactly what I saw in my mind’s eye when I began making these; I hope there will be more permutations as time goes on. Still, it’s nice to contrast then and now. I often get restless or frustrated because my “creative vision” is usually far ahead of my actual skills. This is probably a good thing in that it keeps me striving — but sometimes it leads to feeling impatient or being hard on myself. When I can stop long enough to notice progress, it motivates me to keep exploring.

 * As to the “Inspiration Wednesday” posts, I think they’ll become a bi-weekly thing. It’s a fun theme that challenges me to think about what inspires me, and having a “prompt” does get me to blog more. I love being able to share these things, and to promote other artists and creative spirits — but it’s starting to make me feel pressured and I don’t like that. Every other week seems more balanced and comfortable for me 🙂

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Raven Steals the Light

The northwest native tribes have many myths about the raven, and how he brought light to the people. In some variations it’s the sun and in others it’s the moon — this one includes the stars, fresh water and fire too.

Since it’s the summer solstice (the longest and lightest day of the year) and since I love ravens, I made these little raven feather earrings today. The feathers are made of leather, and all of the wire and earwires are sterling. The stones include rainbow obsidian, gray moonstone and rutilated quartz – all of which have fun play of light effects.

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A peacock, proper…

These leather peacock feathers are destined to become pins, fascinators and barrettes. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll add bead and/or feather work. I’ll probably try a few that way, and leave the rest plain — insomuch as a peacock feather of any type could ever be considered “plain”.

This series was inspired by the passing of an old friend, whose symbol was a peacock. I made several to give to her friends and loved ones, and the ones pictured here will (eventually) be finished and sold. A portion of the proceeds from each sale will be donated to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance  in memory of Mahala.

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Precious Things

I was cleaning out my studio recently, and it struck me that I tend to collect – and cherish – the oddest things. I have saved every little note or scribble my daughter has given me over the years, along with pebbles, feathers, sticks, bones and other random mementos.  As I tidied up, I arranged some of these things into more contained groupings. This one is my favorite:

  • The abandoned nest came from good friends – they came across it doing yard work and they saved it for me, knowing that I would love it. 
  •  The little white stones were collected over a decade ago, when I lived on the beach. My daughter and I loved to go beach combing with the neighborhood kids. They would pick a different color of rocks and shells to collect each day, and we’d bring them all back to my house and put them in clear glass jars, which we lined along the long stone wall between my yard and the beach. When we moved out, I saved this small handful of white pebbles to remind me of how much fun we had.
  • Friends of ours have an old family cabin out on Whidbey Island where they hold an annual camp out, which is where Robb and I met. We found this feather on the beach that weekend.
  • The rose petals are from one of the first rose bouquets he ever gave me.
  • The little dove skull is particularly special to me. I’ve always found beauty in the antlers and skulls that I find while hiking. A few years ago, I (very randomly) told Robb that I thought birds have the most beautiful skulls of any animal, and I wished that I would find one some day. Later that week, I was hiking in my favorite city park and I stopped to catch my breath. I noticed some owl scat at my feet, and a little voice inside my head said “maybe it’s in there?” I laughed at myself for being so ridiculous, but some hopeful part of me kicked it with my toe just in case. Out tumbled this perfectly clean and intact mourning dove skull! Whenever I see it, I am reminded that sometimes the universe grants our wishes.

Those are the stories behind this little collection. Most people will see an old pile of worthless tidbits … I see symbols of time spent with family and friends, precious reminders of childhood innocence, memories of falling in love, and proof that dreams and wishes (even really silly ones) can come true.
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