"To live in the world without becoming aware of the meaning of the world is like wandering about in a great library without touching the books.".....The Secret Teachings of All Ages

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Still Playing After All These Years

My husband and I just got back from spending four days playing pirates at the HUGE Northern California Pirate Festival...or as us insiders know it, NorCal. Held every year over Father’s Day weekend in Vallejo, CA, it is an event we look forward to every year. We get to hang out with all our pirate buddies, dress up and act silly, listen to music, dance, eat good food, and best of all, be part of the crew of the schooner Aldebaran, and fire cannons! So, at an age when I’m expecting my first Social Security check, I am still playing—and loving every minute of it.

Playing—it’s not just for kids. Playing is good for you. Playing keeps you sane, gets you away from the doom and gloom of the news headlines, gets you away from your job worries, keeps you interested in things, keeps you from becoming the stogy old fart everyone avoids like the plague. I never want to get to a point in my life where I no longer want to throw on a costume and go play...at whatever.

Trying new things. I never want to get to a place in my life where I am afraid to try new things. As part of the crew of the Aldebaran we get to help sail her to the event site. When Captain Hayden, midway through the sail from Richmond to Vallejo, asked if anyone wanted to take the helm and see how it felt to steer a 72’ schooner, I jumped at the chance. For fifteen minutes I got the experience of a lifetime, feeling how truly alive a ship is, how to keep her pointed in the correct direction—nothing like driving a car—and getting just a hint of the thrill and also the responsibility of being at the helm of a ship. It was scary and exciting, and I loved it!

I’m lucky, in that at age 62, I am still physically fit, still active, and the only health issue I have to deal with is a mildly annoying hyoidal hernia—which I gave to myself by each winter lugging in heavy boxes of fire wood for the wood stove for twenty years. I still ride my horse, do barn chores, and work in a large garden all Spring through Fall. All that helps keep me moving and limber. For now, when I ask my body to do something, it pretty much answers, “Right.” I know my limits, and I tend to push them, but not to the point of stupidity. So far, that plan works for me.

So, pirate or Steam Punk, Medieval or barbarian, or just fooling around on Halloween, I’m there, still playing dress-up, still learning new things, and best of all, still playing. If I’m lucky, eventually I’ll drop dead in the middle of, “Oh wow, that was so much fun, I can’t wait to—”

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Process

I noticed that on a lot of blogs by artists, they post pictures of the process they go through in order to create a piece, whether painting, drawing, collage, sewing, or...jewelry. So, I thought maybe I should do the same, and talk a little about how I work. Not riveting stuff, but since I like to see how people go through the creative process, I thought others might like to see mine.

I try to do a lot of recycling in my pieces. I haunt junk shops, antique stores, and garage sales—why let all that great old stuff go to waste? When I do this, I have a price ceiling...I won’t pay more than $20 for anything...whether it’s a bag of parts, or a complete piece that I can take apart and turn into many pieces. Usually I end up spending anywhere from $1 to $10 average. Many of my friends pick up things for me, or if they are thinking of sending old stuff to the Goodwill, they let me look it over first. That’s always fun.

When I start a piece, I have a vague idea of what I want, and then I start pulling out beads, bits, charms, old pendants, buttons, etc. and play around with them. It’s usually the color that grabs me, and I go from there. An arrangement will finally satisfy me, and then I put the whole thing together. Next, I take it for a test run. I wear it, making sure everything stays where it’s supposed to, and that it drapes/hangs nicely, and is comfortable—nothing poking anywhere. If that all checks out, then it’s done, and I put it up on my Etsy shop. If no one seems interested after a certain length of time, I may take the piece apart and make something else.

So, that’s it. Here are the elements I used in the necklace pictured.

Red sections from an old necklace (ca. 1960s, I think) that I took apart. It has purple, light purple, and red sections. I used only the red, so have lots of other sections left over to use on something else. That old necklace was long, and I have made other pieces from it already. Since it was given to me by a friend, it didn’t cost me a dime.

Gold metal leaves that I inherited from my husband’s mother after she passed away. She had a ton of craft stuff, and Robert’s sisters were kind enough to share it with me. I’ve used these leaves on lots of things, and will be sad when they are finally gone.

“Gold” covered copper wire. I am still learning how to work with wire, which has a mind of its own. The links for this necklace were made with 1” pieces of wire, a black bead added, then twisted in an S-curve. I like making my own links, because I can add any type of bead/chip I want, to match the rest of the elements.

Misc. beads and small metal leaves. These are all over-the-counter bits, purchased at either Michael’s, JoAnn’s or Craft Warehouse. So are the jump rings, clasp, and head-pins.

The pictures are of the work in progress, and then the finished piece. I wear a lot of black, so I’m thinking this little gem I will keep for myself. But since I am getting rather addicted to making chain and bead links, another one will be in the works soon. Who knows, I may like the next one better and give this one up.