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What’s with all the peacock feathers?

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.