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New Pollinator Prayer Necklace

Here’s a premonarch-leather-necklace5view of my newest “Pollinator Prayer” necklace, loosely inspired by the Monarch butterfly. This piece incorporates sculpted leather, Baltic amber, antique Victorian era “nailhead” and French jet beads, as well as quartz crystal, glass flowers and seed beads.

It seems appropriate to share during Dias de los Muertos, since Mexican folklore tells us that the monarchs are the souls of our ancestors, returning to earth for a brief visit. This is also the time when these beautiful endangered creatures are making their long (3000 mile!) journey back to Mexico <3

Monarch Necklacemonarch-leather-necklace

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Wings and Things

beetle wing earrings with vintage cabs & peacock feathers

I purchased these shimmering green elytra early last year, not entirely sure if I’d be able to use them. They’re incredibly beautiful, but the whole “dead bug” aspect kinda squicks me out a bit — and yes, I do appreciate the irony of that statement, considering that I often play with dead things (leather, feathers, bones). It didn’t take long to overcome my aversion to bugs, though. These beetle wings are absolutely stunning and they’ve been calling to me for months.

Ultimately, time was my biggest hurdle in working with these. I found myself so consumed with deadlines and custom orders, that I never really had free time to explore my ideas for these new and exciting materials. Fortunately, I did carve out a little bit of time at the end of the year just to make something that I wanted to — and it felt great! These earrings are the result. I am currently working on a collar to match — will post photos when it’s completed.

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Raina’s Ravens

“Raven Night” by Raina Gentry

Got back in to town late last night, and I’ve been a zombie all day. So much so, that I nearly forgot about the fact that I’m trying to make a habit of these “Inspiration Wednesday” posts. Fortunately, I remembered at the 11th hour, and it didn’t take very long to find something inspiring to write about…

We recently purchased a new print by Raina Gentry. It is similar to the raven shown at left, but not identical. I saw these prints for the first time when I visited Jerome last winter, and they really stuck with me. When we visited again in fall, I made sure to stop and get one.

I was pleased to find that my partner likes Gentry’s work as well — in fact, we had a hard time narrowing it down to just one print. While I’m in love with the ravens and women that she does, he’s very drawn to her heads and faces. We’ll definitely be buying more of her work in the future. In the meantime, I “liked” her fan page on facebook so that I can enjoy updates of her new work.

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Handmade Holiday Gifts Part Four

 © Andrea Adams 2010

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

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Dia de los muertos

My mother is Mexican and Spanish, and I grew up in Los Angeles, a city that is steeped in Latino culture. My abuella came from Mexico to America in a covered wagon in 1918, and my daughter and I had the good fortune to hear this story from her directly. Despite all that, my own upbringing was pretty American. My family still continues our tradition of making turkey tamales on Thanksgiving, which we’ve done since I was a little girl. I love Sandra Cisneros because her writing captures the feeling of my family in such a poetic and sentimental way, and I can speak Spanglish at a toddler level. That’s about as Mexican as I get.
  

source: www.pgmuseum.org

Similarly, my father was Native American (Cheyenne-Arapaho) and ??. He identified with his Native roots, and drew most of his spiritual and ethical principles from that. You know, the idea that “we are all connected” and we should walk in balance and with respect for mother earth. I don’t mean to cheapen those ideals with buzzwords and catch phrases — I’m just trying to convey the concept quickly. My dad’s art and ideals were deeply influenced by his Indian heritage. He passed that along to me to some degree, by taking me to pow wows and teaching me what he believed in; but I didn’t grow up on a reservation or anything. I grew up roller skating along the beaches of Santa Monica and Venice 😉

These cultures are certainly a part of me, they reflect my family and my history. They have colored my perspective, and helped to shape my thinking; but I didn’t really live them the way a first generation Indian or Mexican person would. As such I view them as my heritage, rather than my culture — if that distinction makes any sense.

There are aspects of each that resonate with me. Little fragments that I like to keep alive in my own way, however diluted. For example, my dad’s people had a great reverence for life. When they hunted, they took only what was needed, and made an offering to the spirit of the animal to express gratitude for the nourishment and sustenance it provided. Their respect for that animal’s life motivated them to use every part of the body. In keeping with this, I smudge every hide that I use in my leatherwork with sage, and silly as it may sound, I thank that cow for the sustenance (income) it provides. I do my best to use every scrap, so that nothing is wasted.

source: www.greenhouseexpress.com

My mom’s ancestors have a beautiful way of viewing death. Every year in Mexico (and much of California 😉 the people celebrate Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. It is not as morbid as it might sound. Rather than mourning the death of loved ones who have passed, this holiday (which actually spans two days) is intended to celebrate, honor and remember those who have passed. I’ve always appreciated this holiday, for that sentiment and also for the beautiful artwork that it inspires.

This year, it is especially important to me, as I’ve lost several friends and family recently. Most notably, my father. Even though we knew it was coming, it still hit me pretty hard. We did not have a perfect relationship — in fact, we butted heads a lot — but I always loved and respected him. I’ve been doing DotD inspired stuff for some time, but even more so over the past year. Silly as it may sound, it has helped me to work through my grief  for my dad and to focus on the positive. It reminds me to honor what he taught me, and to value the aspects of him that live on in me and in my daughter.

I am going to go out and grab some marigolds and candles today, so that I can create a special altar in his memory. I’ll add pictures of him and sage that he picked, along with photos and mementos of my grandparents and my friend Mahala, who died of cancer last fall. I’ll spare you the full roster (suffice to say that it is long) but know that it reflects much love for many wonderful people who have added to my life. Meanwhile, I’ve created this virtual altar over on Etsy. My online ofrenda:

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Madness takes its toll…

It’s exactly one week till Halloween (home stretch!) and I’m definitely feeling the effect of the last 2.5 months of non-stop mask making. As this photo suggests, my studio is feeling it too! I typically work within a certain degree of controlled chaos, but at this point in time, any semblance of “control” is long gone … my workspace is just flat out chaos. I had to clear a path just to get this shot.

That said, I’ve decided to slow down a bit. We’d considered setting up at the Fremont Sunday Market today, but it was pouring rain this morning and R is just getting over that flu bug. So instead of doing the show, I’ll get my studio in order and put finishing touches on a few custom orders.

If I have time and energy, I may mess around with those dark faerie wings that have been sitting on my worktable for the last few months … or possibly the sugar skulls that I started, but haven’t had time to complete. There’s also a raven queen mask that’s just begging for final details.

Yeah, this is my idea of  “taking it easy”. Fortunately, I love what I do so the majority of today’s to do list is relaxing and enjoyable … well, except for the cleaning up part 😛