“You need music, I don’t know why. It’s probably one of those Joseph Campbell questions, why we need ritual. We need magic and bliss, and power and myth, and celebration and religion in our lives and music is a good way to encapsulate a lot of it.”
An old friend posted this to Facebook the other day. Her words are such an apt (and eloquent) summary for my own feelings; I wanted to save them, and to share them in hopes that others might be moved as well:
This is for all of the people from all walks of life that stand in unity with the people that died in Orlando and say “We are All Orlando.” In a greater sense it is true. We all could be killed at a bar or a dance club (Orlando). We could be killed at a work holiday party (San Bernardino), at a school (Sandy Hook), a concert (Paris) a college campus (Virginia Tech) or a restaurant (Paris, also McDonalds USA). We could be killed for having a sense of humor (Charlie Hebdo, Paris). Everyone’s life mattered. Everyone was important. Thank you for knowing that.
At this time we mourn for those that died in Orlando.
Please do something to foster harmony in remembrance. Volunteer at local center, help your neighbor, sign a petition, give someone you love a hug, and know that you are lucky to be here. Live more. Love more. Be better. Everyone.
Those of you who follow my blog (all two of you) may remember way back when I used to do this thing called “Wednesday Inspiration”. It served two purposes: one was to celebrate and promote other artists that I admire, and the other was to give myself a writing prompt in hopes that it would get me to blog more regularly. So every Wednesday (or every other Wednesday… or as often as I could find the time) I would share images and links from artist friends and strangers who inspire me to be more creative.
I’m bringing that back – in part because I’m trying to post more often, and partially because I realize that I fret and complain too much about copycats and jackasses. While the latter concerns are real and should not be swept under the rug completely, there is GOOD stuff happening in the creative community too. I’d like to make a greater effort to celebrate that. My motivation for this is summed up nicely by this quote: “Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate”.
So without further ado, today I’m sharing a few pieces by Mermaiden Creations. My friend Julie creates work that”is the stuffs of fairy tales and legends; curious offerings of nature, weird beauty, wild and fey-inspired organically imperfect designs”. She moves fluidly from jewelry design to millinery work, to hair accessories and home decor.
Her work is imaginative, dreamlike, organic, untamed… and skillfully crafted. I own a few pieces of her jewelry and one of her scarves, so when I attest to the quality of her work, I am speaking from affection and experience. I’ve showcased a small handful of my favorite pieces here, but I encourage you to visit her Etsy shop or to follow her on facebook in order to see more of her beautiful work!
This photo was taken at the Grateful Dead’s 4th of July “Fare Thee Well” shows. It’s particularly special to me, not only because it’s a photo of some of my favorite people, but because it represents a much needed realization and a shift in perspective. Sales have been lean since Etsy jumped the shark, and it’s been hard not to take that personally. The lull in business has made it hard to get by and frankly, it has caused me to question my creative work as well as my sanity!
There were several times that weekend when I looked up and realized that ALL of the beautiful women surrounding me were wearing my beadwork! These ladies are not only beautiful, they are powerful… healers, teachers, mothers, artists and so much more. It dawned on me that all of these goddesses that I admire are rocking MY work — and many of them have chosen to do so for decades! Seeing this was an incredible affirmation that my work – and its maker – will be just fine.
So at the risk of being long winded and/or sappy, I’d like to say thank you to the life long friends who have supported me all these years, to my loyal customers, and to everyone who shares and encourages my work today. It means more than you know, I’m deeply grateful <3
My leather peacock feather designs are quite popular, which pleases me to no end. I love making them, and I continue to find new and different variations on the theme… peacock feather hair slides, barrettes, brooches, cuffs, collars, pendants, masks and more. Sometimes I create them in “traditional” peacock greens and bronzes, other times, I use fantasy colors. These pieces are dear to me; beyond the simple fact that I enjoy making them, they represent something special. Back in 2010 when I was working on the first set, an old friend was battling cancer. Odd as it may sound, my peacock feathers are about her.
Jackie was a wise gardener as well as a major history and science geek. She was also an avid SCA enthusiast for well over 20 years. In case you’re not familiar with the SCA, it’s “an international organization dedicated to researching and re-creating the arts and skills of pre-17th-century Europe”. Participants study and re-enact the skills and lifestyle of that time period, often creating fictional personas for these events. Jackie’s alter ego was Mahala de Sorbonne, and her argent (crest? sigil? – forgive me SCA peeps, I’m not well versed in this stuff – was “A peacock proper in his pride”.
During her many years in the SCA, she researched passionately and shared her immense knowledge with others. She achieved the rank of baroness and cardinal, but most importantly, she was an integral part of a community of creative and interesting people that she loved with all her heart. The love that she felt for this community was certainly reciprocated; this was always evident, but especially so when she was diagnosed with cancer. Her friends banded together to support her and her husband in myriad ways, ranging from practical tasks like cooking and cleaning, to the more emotional work of raising her spirits. I could tell when she had recently visited with her SCA friends, because she was significantly happier and more alive afterward. Unfortunately, she did not beat her cancer, but I think she was incredibly fortunate to die at home, surrounded by her husband, candlelight, and this close circle of friends. When my time comes, I can only hope to be so loved.
My first batch of peacock pins and barrettes was distributed at her wake. I asked her husband to give them to some of the women who had helped her most, but I suspect that I did not make enough to acknowledge the many people who stood by her. (On that note, if any of you happen to read this, and would like one of my peacock pins, just drop me a line. Tell me something about Mahala so that I know that you’re legit, and send me your mailing address. I will gladly send you a pin.). Since that time, I have worked to honor her memory by donating a portion of every peacock sale to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance or the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
She’s been on my mind lately — maybe because its around the time that I usually make my annual donation, or maybe it’s because life in our new home brings up many questions about dogs, horses and gardening. These topics were among her (many!) areas of expertise, and I really wish that I could pick her brain. These things make me miss her, and remind me that I was fortunate to know her.
I didn’t mean to write a eulogy. This post was supposed to be a simple explanation for those
who ask why I’m obsessed with peacock feathers. As you can see, I’m not actually “obsessed” with them – I simply enjoy their beauty and the special association that they have for me. They remind me of an old friend, and about the powerful healing properties of love and connection.
This series about handmade holiday gifts has been a lot of fun to write. I really like being able to promote other independent artists, and it’s been so nice to hear from others with similar ideals. I actually have three more posts drafted for this series, but I think I am going to stop early. Not because anyone offended me, or anything silly like that. It’s just that between holiday planning and orders and year end business tasks, I’m very pressed for time.
I’m also starting to feel a bit bombarded by commercials and the pervasive pressure to shop, shop, SHOP! That intensely commercial aspect of our culture can be really overwhelming for me (and judging by the other shoppers that I encountered today, I’m not the only one feeling that way). So rather than contribute to all of the commercialism and holiday pressure, I’m going to slow down and shift my focus.
Again, it has been my pleasure to promote my fellow artisans; and I do hope that my posts inspired you to buy handmade, buy local, or make your own special gifts this year. There are so many more talented artists that I could showcase (and I am brainstorming on ways to do this all year long) but for today, I’d like to share a very different kind of gift guide:
“To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.”
~ Oren Arnold
Many thanks to my friend Talia for sharing this with me at the exact moment that I needed to hear it <3
I went down to Oregon in early July to visit with old friends, and to work in their booth at the Oregon Country Fair. The weather was perfect, and the event was absolutely lovely. The Pacific Northwest is stunning in the summertime.
The morning that I headed home, we had a good downpour (which is not too bad, considering that we enjoyed a full 6 days of sunshine). By the time I got back to Seattle, I had a nasty head cold, which is still lingering two weeks later. So I’m a bit sluggish, and running very behind on email and custom work. (If you are one of the people who’s been affected by this, please bear with me — I’m doing my best to get healthy and caught up quickly!)
As terrible as that must sound, I assure you that the trip was well worth it. The OCF is an amazing gathering of artists, musicians, dreamers and doers. I’ve attended this event a handful of times over the past 22 years, and it is always a memorable experience… this time was certainly no exception.
I deeply enjoyed the performances, art and ideals that were reflected there, but the very best part (for me) was the chance to reconnect with people that I love! Even though my body is still paying for this trip, it was so good for my soul. I would do it again in a heartbeat 🙂
I’d try to expand on that concept, but as I mentioned above, I’m still moving slowly and trying to get caught up. Hopefully these pictures (courtesy of my amazingly talented friend, Alyson) will give you a good sense of what a magical experience it was!
This fellow was sitting in a shady spot between the trees, just off of one of the paths. The image was taken moments after he gave a reading for, and bestowed a magic rock upon a young girl.
Many of the attendees wore extravagant costumes. This group of raven people randomly mingled amongst (and heckled 😉 the crowd.
I was pleasantly surprised to spot this gal, wearing one of my fairy masks. She makes it look great, doesn’t she? I was so happy that Aly was there to get this shot 🙂
“When life hands you lemons, say — I like lemons, what else you got?” ~ Henry Rollins
I’m back from my trip to sunny southern California. It was beautiful, and I had a wonderful time with my friends. The show that I was planning to do did not pan out as expected …. apparently, there were permit issues and the event was cancelled moments after we arrived to set up. I was beyond let down, as I’m not really in the position to take extended vacations like that unless they’re working vacations. In addition, this event took place on Mother’s Day weekend, which is typically a big day for craft shows and festivals. With that said, this last minute cancellation translated to a pretty big loss for me.
Village Grind, Wrightwood CA
Fortunately, my hosts have connections! Allison creates wonderful handcrafted soap and polymer clay jewelry, which she sells at a local coffee house called The Village Grind. She gave them a call to see if they’d let a few of the displaced vendors set up our wares on their deck, and they graciously agreed. It just so happened that they had an event planned for that day — their “Hedonist Days” event, which was a full on toga party.
They had singers and bands, and even a bellydancer. It was a gorgeous sunny day, and the friendly, tight knit community showed up in full force. I had a few good sales (which at least helped me to recoup a portion of my travel expenses) and I met so many great people! Seriously, I cannot say enough about our kind hosts Greg and Linda, or about the people of Wrightwood. It is a beautiful town with a friendly, vibrant community. If you’re ever in the area, I strongly encourage you to stop by and check it out for yourself ; and if you do, be sure to pop in to the Village Grind — they have fun events and music all the time.
As you can tell, I quickly fell in love with this beautiful mountain town and the awesome people who live there. I’m considering heading back down in July for their Mountaineer Days Festival. I’m undecided at the moment, but the event that I’d originally gone down for has been relocated and rescheduled around the same time, so it could work out. I would certainly welcome the chance to visit this town again.
Hopping on a plane tomorrow to go visit one of my oldest friends down in southern California. Kim and her daughter are crafty too — Kim makes beaded jewelry and really cool wine bottle decor, and Alli does a little bit of everything (poly clay, gourds, henna, soap making) — so we’re going to share a booth at one of the local festivalson Mother’s Day weekend. The show is called “Dead on the Mountain” and it’s a great big hippie fest with tons of Grateful Dead cover/inspired bands.
I’ve been beading a lot the past week or two, which is a nice change of pace since I’ve been so focused on leatherwork for the last several months. So I’ll have plenty of beaded jewelry for this event, as well as a good selection of leather barrettes, fascinators and hair slides. Not sure how well the masks will do, but I’m bringing a bunch for good measure. Hopefully, we’ll do well there as I’d love to have a reason to visit more often. I miss the sunshine, the redwoods, the ocean and mostly, my peeps. I’m very excited for a chance to see them!
Now that my mask making mayhem has quieted down a bit, I’ve been able to turn my attention back to completing the vintage bead & cameo site. Building this site has been a labor of love on so many levels. First and foremost, I really hate coding. I’m not a dumb girl by any stretch of the imagination, but HTML, CSS, java and the like just make my eyes glaze over. Add to that a litany of computer woes that has been almost laughable — at least, if you have a very dark sense of humor. And let’s not forget the sheer minutiae of researching, photographing, editing and describing thousands upon thousands of itsy bitsy beads; plus the agony of having all of that data lost in a computer crash shortly before I was ready to launch. I’ll stop before this rant reaches the point of no return, and simply say that it’s been a long road. A very long, dark road…
The past three weeks have found me alternately re-counting every bead, cabochon and rhinestone that I carry — or holed up at the keyboard, with my eyes glazed over and a litany of expletives frothing from my lips. During this time I have avoided friends and family, not only because I can’t afford to get distracted, but because I’m just not fit for human consumption when I do this type of work. I expected today to be more of the same, but guess what? I had a paradigm shift! As I worked on the site I was reminded (yet again) of how grateful I am to my talented, beautiful and inspiring friend Julia Pretl, who designed my adorable new bead site. Yes, I am gushing and no, it is not over the top. As painful as this process has been, my agony would have been tenfold if it weren’t for her help. So a million thank you’s, Miz Julia. I appreciate you more than I can say.
Also, I was able to complete the preliminary work of loading and coding all of the product, and move on to something surprisingly fun: building the customer gallery! The images scattered throughout this post reflect the work of a few of my fabulous clients and beady friends (simply click on the captions to visit their sites). As I looked through these images, I was reminded of the creative and inspiring people that I’m able to connect with in the course of my work. It may sound silly, but beads have brought many beautiful friendships into my life. Somewhere in the midst of my CSS induced psychopathy, I realized how very grateful I am to do what I love for a living … yes, even if it means that sometimes, I have to write code. There’s a light at the end of this tunnel. The site is (knock on wood!) almost ready, and I’m feeling particularly grateful for my amazing friends, talented customers, and good fortune.