This article showcases my range of leather peacock feather jewelry and accessories, inspired by my friend Mahala back in 2010. These remain some of my favorite designs to create and expand upon, and I’m very thankful for the opportunity to share this story.
As with all of the publications by Stampington & Company, Belle Armoire Jewelry is an exceptionally beautiful and well curated magazine. I’m honored to work with them again, and I look forward to future opportunities.
Upon returning from the Thanksgiving holiday, I promptly came down with an epic flu. Two weeks later, I am finally moving and functioning again – albeit slowly. Last night I managed to list most of the goodies that I’d been working on before we left.
But before I get ahead of myself by talking about what I hope to make next, let me tell you a little more about today’s offering: these are small to medium sized hair stick pairs, measure between 5.5″ and 5.75″ long. The shape is a graceful wave that slides easily into a small bun or half up.
The laminated birch options include 3 color variations: burgundy/grey/violet striped, autumn stripes, and summer stripes. The natural hardwoods include walnut, paduk, and cherry. All have been hand sanded down to 600 grit, and finished with a blend of mineral oil and beeswax so the rich color comes through without being too shiny or shellacked.
I’m excited about this new direction, and eager to hear your feedback!
Also included in this update are a handful of my jeweled leather feather pendants. There’s a beautiful mixed media barn owl feather pendant necklace with faceted Botswana agate teardrops and a large copper circle, a barred feather in rich earth tones with dark titanium quartz crystal and semiprecious stones, and six of my classic leather peacock feathers.
Each peacock feather is unique, and they range from about 3″ long on up to 4.5″. Some are low key with simple wire work spirals, while others are more ornate with faceted cobalt beads and Swarovski crystal dangles. For the neckline, you have your choice of an antique copper chain, a glass bead and Swarovski crystal necklace, or a hand dyed ribbon neckline. As always, a portion of every peacock feather sale will be donated to cancer research, in memory of my friend who inspired this series.
These little feather pendants are simple and affordable, but they’re definitely statement pieces! Every time I wear one, it sparks conversation (and compliments). They are striking worn alone, and you can also layer them for a more dramatic look.
There are more semiprecious stone briolettes and quartz crystals, along with some blue jays (in three sizes!), green oak leaves, peacock feathers, red rose vines, and owl feathers.
It’s a small sampling, to be sure. If I’m up to it, I may trickle in a few more pieces before the weekend – but I’m not going to push myself. I hope you’ll enjoy these offerings, and thanks so much for your support this season and always!
I finished up all those hair accessories that I posted about last week. Now I’m on the rather tedious step of getting them all photographed. While I’d much rather be creating, this part of the process is not entirely awful. As I crop and edit the photos, I see my work with fresh eyes and find new details.
This one’s my favorite … at least for today. A fantastical peacock feather in shimmering purples and greens, with an artisan crafted wood stick topped with a genuine amethyst point. Very magical, if I do say so myself. You can find it here.
These photos show some of the leather hair accessories that I’ve been working on recently. They’re mostly finished, they just need findings (hair sticks, French clips, or alligator clips). I’ll be finishing these up in the week(s) ahead, and getting them all photographed and listed here on the website.
At this point, the bulk of the work is done, but it can still take a while to get the finishing touches done and to get them all photographed. If you spot one that you love, but you don’t see it listed yet, just drop me a line (either via my contact form, or in the messages below).
At this time, I have a variety of leather oak leaves, as well as peacock feathers and birch leaves.
This is the 6th version in this series of masks since 2009. Each one is a bit different, but they’re all made from the same pattern. This one is a gorgeous electric blue, accented with peacock, parrot and pheasant feathers in shades of blue, green and bronze. At the forehead is a shimmering green beetle wing, set in a bezel of glass seed beads.
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 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. Though 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 was distributed at her wake. I asked her husband to give them to some of the women who had helped her, but I suspect that I did not make enough to acknowledge all 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 the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and other cancer orgs.
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 just wish that I could pick her brain. It makes 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 create so many peacock feather designs. I 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.
I’m thinking of adding a new section to my Etsy shop, called “Good Karma” or something along those lines. This section would feature products whose sales help to support different charities, as well as highly discounted items (such as older works that are a little shopworn, or items that just don’t fit well with my current style) and maybe even a few “Pay it Forward” listings for destash supplies. My intentions are good, but I find myself second guessing a few points and I’d appreciate a little input. Please feel free to skip to the “abridged version” below 😉
My hope is that the charity listings will highlight some of the causes that I believe in, which could raise awareness (and of course, money) for those issues. It also might give buyers a sense of who I am and what inspires me. For example, for every one of my peacock products that I sell (barrettes, pins, necklaces and cuffs) a portion is donated to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance in memory of my friend who inspired that series. I also donate to several environmental groups, the Xerces society, a local Domestic Abuse shelter, Native American charities and disaster relief efforts for events like Hurricane Sandy. Still, I question if this is information that customers want to know, or will sharing this in the context of my business come off poorly?
As far as the discounted items, it’s a way to clear out my studio and offer some really sweet deals at the same time. I have quite a few earrings, barrettes and buckskin pouches left over from when I was doing more southwest inspired work; they’re quality pieces, but they’re rather incongruent with what I’m doing now. Items like these might be nice stocking stuffers, or inexpensive options for group gifting. Similarly, I have a few pieces that are a bit shopworn from being handled too much at show. They’re clean, well crafted pieces… but they do have imperfections so I don’t feel right about selling them at full price. This subsection would offer some serious bargains, but could it make my shop look discordant or sloppy?
The abridged version –
Pro’s: A section like this might enable me to better connect with buyers, highlight causes that I love, offer great bargains AND clear out my studio.
Cons: The charity stuff might seem preachy or just be TMI, and the scratch and dent stuff could make the shop look sloppy, haphazard or just cluttered.
The lovely Aquariann is hosting a giveaway for one of my peacock feather hair slides. These pieces are hand cut from high quality tooling leather, and then carved, shaped and painted. The colors are shimmering hues of green, bronze, turquoise and cobalt.
I cut these pieces freehand, so each one is a bit different. The winner will receive a hand crafted hair toy very similar to the one shown, but the stick length and hole spacing will be tailored to their preference.
I’m still having loads of fun with my leather peacock feather designs. Shown here are two new leather cuff bracelets featuring carved peacock feather designs with real body feather accents. They’re embellished with vintage glass cabochons and fine seed beadwork.
The one to the left is done in an emerald green, and the overall design is a tad simpler. The one below is done in a shimmering olive green, with more elaborate shaping and beadwork. Both close with button loop closures, so they’ll stretch from about 6.5″ – 7.5″.
Hera’s Cuff – to be listed soon
There are a few more peacock designs on my work table right now. I’m excited to see how they’ll turn out. Hopefully I can squeeze in some studio time and get them finished up soon!
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 🙂