Sunday, June 28, 2009

Television Themes in Jewelry: J.J. Abram's 'Lost'

Hello hello!

Well, to start off the blog, I'll share with you a few pieces I've made that are inspired by the alternate distraction while I make jewelry: the idiot box! (Well, dad calls it that, but he's just as guilty.) I like watching TV and movies while I create; visual stimuli of all sorts is a great thing to have while creating something, sometimes even on the fly. When you find yourself immersed in these shows, you certainly find yourself creating for them!

My boyfriend, Nick, and I are huge J.J. Abrams fans, especially of the fine quality television programming that he's brought our way, like Alias, Fringe, and especially, Lost. Dexter, Heroes and Prison Break make it high up on the charts there, as well as some fantastic 'peripheral' shows like Carnivale (thanks to my good friend, Laura), Dead Like Me and Twin Peaks. A good story is intruiging, regardless of median. I'm sure if we were still listening to radio programs, our parents would still be complaining (or we would still be complaining to our children) to stop rotting our brains!

So let me present the first batch of necklaces inspired by the television show, Lost. These were the first made from this new branch of inspiration, as Nick and I were just being introduced to the show. It's a benefit when you watch a show a la DVD boxset, because you're not biting your nails down to the cuticles waiting for next week! For all us Lost fans, I'm sure we're all wearing bandages on our fingertips waiting for Season 6!

NECKLACE NO. 1: "The Island" This one was created well into the first discovery of Season 3, with the introduction of the omnipotent leader of the Others, Jacob. Amongst the paradise atmosphere, weird science hatches and experiments, and scary monsters toboot, not only are the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 lost geographically, but within themselves, with each other, and with their own values of faith, logic, destiny and survival. All the while, Jacob wants to reminds you that 'God loves you as he loved Jacob.'

Who the hell is Jacob??!? Well, for those following the series, we will certainly find out what he's all about in Season 6, the finale of this story arc. (This show, by the way, is history for television programming - it is the first show created with a pre-determined end date, i.e. even if you tried at the end of Season 6, there is no spin-off, most likely. If anyone could do it, it'd be J.J. We have a feeling he won't bother.) I won't explain the synopsis for those who are unfamiliar with the show, so you're just gonna have to ask me if you can borrow my Season 1 boxset.

Here's a list of materials used in this necklace:
  • coconut disc (from a previously owned gifted belt)
  • small shells
  • green glass leaf
  • blue glass bead
  • silver frame with media picture (cut out from magazine)
  • airplane parts (the real deal!)
  • artist wire
  • chain

Well, onto this piece. I must make a mention to my ultra-secret source at an unnamed airplane parts depot for supplying me with some really cool parts that could be incorporated into this jewelry. The small screws you see about are authentic parts specially designed for commercial craft airlines. You know, the ones that YOU board to travel? Yep, those. So, I hope there isn't a black box out there somewhere missing some pieces. The coconut piece came from a belt I didn't wear anymore, given to my by my Aunt Dru while she was in Brazil. The belt consisted of about 20 or so of these discs, and I've used most of them for some other projects. The discs themselves had 4 holes drilled into them already from the belt design, making it more accessible for me to use. So, you'll see some of the 'fruits of the sea' (shells) as well as some scattered 'airplane' parts around the 'island', represented by the coconut disc and glass leaf. The two dangling pieces from the bottom bring about some more elements of The Island. There's a small silver dolphin bead jumping over blue glass beads, and a small silver frame with some 'bleeps and boops'. I took the partial image from a Digitech magazine advertising some music-mixing software. I originally was trying to find something that looked like a Commodore 64 computer (like the computer in the hatch, where Desmond and co. punched in the numbers to save the world). This image also reminded me of the brainwashing video Karl was subjected to in Room 23. On the back, you'll see a loving message from the supposed guardian of The Island and mentor/leader to The Others, Jacob. You'll also find this message on the boxset cover of Season 3, which inspired me to do the same on this necklace.

The artist wire is an amazing tool, especially with this kind of project. I really wanted a scattered disarray of confusion and and the illusion of vertigo, trying to find the balance between the disaster that just happened and the awareness of the environment you're now in. Just know someone's watching over you.

NECKLACE NO. 2: "The Raft" Someone had to try to get off, right? It's a classic plan: someone (usually overthrown with desperation) will attempt to build a sea vessel to bring them back to civilization, to the life they had. More often than not, the builder of the raft has some sort of exceptional skill set that allows the execution of this endeavour to be a legitimate effort.

"Michael didn't build a raft, he built a boat," as Charlie points out. Michael's background in construction and art helps him build a solid raft/boat that holds its own, despite being blown up by the others in a plot to kidnap his son, Walt, the inspiration for his desperation to escape The Island and all its perils. Upon saying that, this necklace is a testimonial to his nautical efforts in not only the redemption of fatherhood and safety of his son, but to the application of skill to ensure survival.

Here's a list of materials used:
  • long wood triple-drilled beads (from a previously owned multi-strand bracelet)
  • coloured wood beads to represent fruit
  • green glass leaf
  • green glass bead to represent a wine bottle
  • airplane screws (authentic!)
  • artists wire
  • chain
  • blue glass bead and silver dolphin bead for clasp
  • paper
  • double-sided tape

More airplane parts! I had a couple of screws left, so I used them up in this one. The long wood pieces came from a bracelet that I owned and liked, but never wore. (It was only $5, I wasn't really concerned. Especially when you make your own jewelry. You'll find that a lot about me, too; I'll buy jewelry just to rip it apart for something else.) I thought they were perfect. More artist wire, what wonderful stuff. It was very easy to use, once again, to achieve the look I wanted. With some fruit for the trip (orange wood beads and glass leaf), a 'message in a bottle' from the rest of the survivors (the green glass faceted drop) and supplies, the crew of the S.S. Abrams II (my own name for it, since the first one burned down; too cheesy?) set sail in search for rescue. Everyone pins their hopes on that raft/boat, all recalling the motto of the camp, on a piece of scroll adhered to the back of the raft: live together, die alone.

NECKLACE NO. 3: "Smokey the Protector". Ah, this one's my faaaaaavourite, to make and to wear. I'm kinda coveting this, so it's not for sale yet. It might be a while. As far as its inspiration, The Smoke Monster, there's nothing else that could be so fantastically interpretive as this 'character'.

Here's a list of materials used:
  • hand-blown black glass beads
  • seed beads
  • lava rocks and coin (you can differentiate by texture; lava rocks have lots of craters)
  • nebula agate coin in green/black
  • seed pod from previous necklace
  • grey lucite bead
  • artist wire
  • airplane screw (I found another one! what luck!)

This was a necklace that I really wanted to be careful with. I wanted to make an abstract piece; something that could be interpreted not just to Lost fans, but something that could be appreciated and interpreted to wearer and admirer. (Author's note: I'll be adding pictures of myself wearing the necklace so that you can get a visual idea of what's described.) The Smoke Monster in Lost is first 'seen' and heard in the pilot episode of the series. We later get to see the Monster as a black, trailing cloud of smoke, able to pass through anything, but can throw bodies up in the air like a juggler tossing chainsaws. Danielle Rousseau, the Island's resident castaway for the past 16 years, tells the Flight 815 survivors that it is 'a security system' to protect 'The Island'. The theory of The Island representing purgatory could have resulted from the identification of The Smoke Monster as 'Cerebrus', the three-headed guard dog at Hades' gates to the Underworld, hence its' three-part form coming into one body.Think of it as if your arms can detach on their own, fix you up a cup of tea in the kitchen, and bring it back for you to enjoy. Macabre example, I know, but the only one I could effectively think of. Furthur actions of this apparent Monster/Protector are questionable and open to interpretation, and as of late, point this monster to being a mythical creature with Ancient Egyptian origins. Go to Wikipedia, look up 'Apep'. If you're a fan, you may understand where this might be going. (Thanks to 'Ben Linus' himself, Michael Emerson, for doing some research on his own and revealing this on after filming The sub-Temple scenes in the episode "Dead Is Dead", Season 5.)

The nebula agate coin and the various sizes of lava rocks were courtesy of Earthworks, a bead store just around the corner from my work. (Hi, guys!) It's also a new age/Wiccan supply and resource store, so the stones and beads come from an atmosphere of good energy. I'm a big believer in this stuff, too, especially when it comes to gemstones. Gemstones are like plants; they grow with the right amounts and combination of nourishment, environment and nurture. They are natural elements of nature, coming from the elements of the Earth. They collect and store everything around them, like a flower would collet sunlight. And, like a flower, it can wither if not taken care of properly. Stones cannot change because they are petrified, but the natural energy it provides could be altered in some way. The staff is small and friendly, the store is inviting and always smells like Nag Champa incense. Annette has helped me with coordination on some other pieces I've done, as well. I enjoy collaborations and outside opinion; it helps me reign myself in sometimes!

You'll see the black strands of the necklace part 3 ways on either side. The large lava rock coin being the head of the 'big' monster with some (real live!) airplane parts tangled about, and there's a 'little' monster over on the other side, going into one of the 'smoke holes' found around the Island, represented by the seed pod. The various shapes of the black glass beads are an awesome touch. I was so happy with the turnout, it had the effect that I wanted. It was a little tedious organizing by size, especially when they're so oddly shaped. The lava rocks were included as a little tribute to Hawaii, where the show is primarily filmed, and added a great effect beside the glass beads, with the green nebula agate coin and seed pod (snagged from a necklace gifted to me by my Grandma Turner when she went to Australia to check out the Olympics in 2000) represent The Island and its presence. Hey, and I found another screw! And had some artist wire left! Figure I'd have some fun!

This was my favourite piece to make, because I believe this is one that really showcases my versatility as a visual artist. I see jewelry as just that - wearable art, and to treat it as such makes your pieces much more appealing. Versatility in technique and materials used in the same piece adds depth and insight not only into the inspiration of the piece, but it speaks volumes of the artist, as well. I've worn this piece to work numerous times and explained what the necklace's inspiration was to fellow Lost fans, and received tons of compliments. It's always good to get reassurance, especially when you've created something based on a concept with mass appeal.

NECKLACES NO.'S 4 & 5: "Charlie: You All Everybody" and "Late/Fate" Charlie Pace of the semi-defunct one-hit-wonder band DriveShaft was one of my favourite characters. Not only for his unique struggle with fame and drug addiction, but for the desire to 'want to take care of someone'. His heroic achievements at the end of Season 3 made him a hero, regardless of the outcome.

Here's a list of materials used for the "You All Everybody" necklace:
  • Peavey guitar pick
  • [real live!] airplane screw
  • little, tiny piece of ripped sheet music
  • leather cording
  • button for clasp

... and here's the materials used for the "Late/Fate" necklace:

  • disc of mystery origin (wood? clay? bone? a mystery to investigate!)
  • green glass bead
  • long wood bead
  • leather cording

So, I'm watching the show, and it's "The Moth". I'm checking out the gear used, because I sell this stuff as my day job. Lo an' behold, do I not see some Peavey amps used in the backline, and I just happen to have a Peavey pick I was going to use in a charm bracelet. Scrap that! I used it to add to this collection, had one more screw loose to add to the artist wire wrapped around the pick (ha ha! 'screwloose!'), and wrote the title of the song that shot Charlie and his brother Liam to fame, "You All Everybody", on a little piece of music. I had found out somewhere that the song itself wasn't even considered by the time Kate had first recognized Charlie in Season 1. The phrase you all everybody, if I remember correctly, was taken from a Jerry Springer show, when a member of the audience stood up for comment to the guests and shouted at them, "You all everybody acting like you stupid people, wearin' 'spensive clothes!" That entire phrase makes up the chorus of the song. I'm still trying to find a YouTube clip of it.

Oh, and here's a little Easter egg for some of you folks, but I'm sure I'm not the first one to figure this out: during Weiss' birthday party on J.J. Abram's show Alias, Season 2, you hear DriveShaft's hit "You All Everybody" playing on the stereo while Sydney talks to her father, Jack, in another room. Yeah, I'm a geek. S'okay.

Author's note: I just found this fact on, in the Alias trivia page. Of course.

The other "Charlie" necklace is a similar concept necklace to the one the character regularly wears on the show. The disc, I believe, is bone. I wish I could remember, I plan to have it examined by a friend of mine to make sure. I had a few of these discs for a while sitting somewhere random, stuck on how to use them. I was more partial to donuts; lauriats, double-sided pendants, the centre meet for a drop pendant linked at three sides, a few other ideas that would allow me to string multiple strands, as supposed to much smaller gauges. So, I finally used my last one for this necklace.

What struck me about Charlie was the bandages on his fingers, and the subtle change that happened to his character, identified through those bandages. The first episode, you see him sitting by a small fire, wrapping gauze around his fingers. With a marker, he writes the word fate, each letter on each finger. After he is rescued from Ethan, he changes the first bandage from f to l, instead spelling late. Charlie, upon initial reaction to the crash, and everyone panic button is flashing, his first thought, as would anyone's, supposedly would be that this will be the place of your death. You were meant to be here, die here; this is your judgement. In manifestation of that belief, that 'reminder', he does something in true rock n' roll fashion with the ever-trendy knuckle writing. Changing the word to late makes a significant change. He takes control of his destiny, by kicking a life-threatening habit and becoming a valued member of the built society. He maintains friendships to build character, keeps true to his convictions (regardless of moral value), and has a big fear of abandonment. He subsides that by feeling overly protective of Claire and Aaron, and by the foolish decision of accepting the job from Lucy's father as a photocopier salesman it the episode "Homecoming". Tommy, Charlie's accomplice, reminds him that his initial mission was to 'woo the bird' to gain entry into her house, steal something of value and get out the next morning. By the time anyone would have noticed, Tommy concludes, no one would suspect it to be "Charlie Pace of the great DriveShaft, and the party continues!" He realizes the gravity of his dangerous lifestyle and tries to follow through to make good, but fails in the process with disastrous results: he is made for who he is, with no chance of redemption or a chance to explain.

I could talk on and on about character development. Lots of experience and appreciation in theatre. You'll find out more about that, too!
There will be more pieces to come based on this epic saga. Here were some other Lost ideas/themes that I had jotted down in a notebook:
  • one for each hatch (Pearl, Swan, Flame, Looking Glass etc.)
  • Jack's key for the Marshall's gun case
  • polar bears
  • Ancient Egypt
  • fried chicken (Mr. Cluck's, former employment of Hurley)
  • 'the numbers' (4 8 15 16 23 42, also known as the Valenzetti Equation)
  • 'The Caves', the first semi-permanent residence for our survivors; where 'Adam' and 'Eve' were laid to rest
  • the 'frozen donkey wheel'
  • The Dharma Initiative (think the octagon!) and hippies
  • time travel
  • pirate ships, 'The Black Rock'
  • 'Beseisdouze', the science ship that brought Rousseau and her team to The Island, also reference to the child's story The Little Prince
  • black and white; good versus evil; masculine and feminine; dualities of character
  • Mr. Eko, simple cross necklace?
  • numbered rabbits with flowers and a clock/watch
  • components from Locke's test as a child, presented by Richard Alpert
Putting my imagination to work with all this imagery is a great test of creativity and originality. I do hope that these necklaces serve as a testament to my appreciation for a great hour of television every week, and endless hours of DVD goodness from Seasons 1-4 (Season 5 to be released on DVD in December 2009! Christmas wish list!)

Photography credit: Cassandra Watsham

Background images for the photography are credited to one of my favourite books in my collection, "The Adventure of Archeology", Brian M. Fagan. Publisher: The National Geographic Society, 1985.


Cyndy said...

I am glad I found this blog. I am also a big fan of LOST.....missed most of last season due to a job, but will be catching up soon....beautiful jewelry.....

Mikiye Creations said...

*ok. everyone don't laugh...I get very excited*
I am going to write about these in my blog!
I hope you don't mind me sharing!!!!

Cassandra Watsham said...

Thanks so much, Mikiye and Cyndy!

I didn't get into the show well into the fourth season on television, but Nick and I caught up fast enough to start watching mid-fifth season live. And no, I do NOT mind sharing at all! Thanks so much for the feature!

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