Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Michael Jackson 1958-2009

Death registers in different ways for different people. For me, I wear my heart on my sleeve. I found myself grieving with the rest of the world, but I also had a much different, personal reaction.
At the time of Michael's death, we were also surrounded by a number of other celebrity deaths that shocked and rattled the media. Farrah Fawcett, most famously known for her television work in 'Charlie's Angels', becoming a seventies sex symbol, finally succumbing to her battle with cancer. Steve McNair, nicknamed 'Air McNair' for his prowess on the football field, was killed by his alleged mistress after she turned the gun on herself. Martin Streek, a Torontonian radio deejay credited for bringing the alternative music scene to the forefront of Canada's music appreciation, committed suicide, leaving his suicide note on his Facebook status update. Even reports of attempted suicides in extraordinary circumstances can be a bit much for anyone. (A young woman in Arizona attempted to hang herself with a scarf from a ceiling fan after an argument via webcam with her boyfriend turned hostile. The boyfriend witnessed her attempt, and called her father who was in the same house to stop her. They saved her life.)

Author's note: At the time of revision, a new death had surfaced in the media: world champion boxer Arturo Gatti was found dead in his Brazilian vacation residence a few days ago. His wife has since been arrested for his murder.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Repurposing A Broken Flute!

I remember tearing stuff apart when I was a kid just to see how the little parts that made the whole worked together. I'm waiting to acquire some piece of electronic equipment to see what I can salvage, but I was even more excited when a student-model flute beyond repair was handed to me at work. There was a deep fold underneath the A flat key that couldn't be smoothed out, and it was offered to me. I had first used it to study the instrument, as I am a flute player myself. The flute, in its rudimentary form, is documented to be the oldest instrument in the world, with its most current discovery to be more than 40,000 years old! The flute that we know today is traditionally known as the Western Concert flute. The flute keys used below were acquired from a Buffet-Crampton student model.

Repurposing Bangles Into Pendant Necklaces

I was shopping at a local Value Village and found myself floating towards the jewelry section ... like I always do. There, I was struck by vibrant hues of colour and metals in a bag of bangles, traditionally worn by Indian women. I had purchased them on the fly, inspired by their colour, and wondered what the hell to do with them now?? Well, as seen in the 300 necklace, I used the coloured bangles as a template for a pendant design, and found some rich and inviting colour combinations, inspired by the bracelets themselves. So, next time you see something that makes you smile, think 'outside the box' and make something that will make someone else smile! Here's a photoblog of the necklaces that I've made with these lovely bangles.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Comic-to-Movie Inspirations: Frank Miller's '300'

I am familiar with the Battle of Thermopylae, where Leonidas, a great military leader of Sparta (a nation of free men, being one of first city-states to abolish slavery at the time), gathers his personal bodyguard of 300 men to defend a narrow passage leading to their city from the oppressing Persian conqueror, Xerxes, believing himself to be a 'man-god'. Had Leonidas not been betrayed by an exiled citizen, his tactic of 'bottlenecking' Xerxes' troops into the narrow passage would have been successful, and most likely had forced Xerxes to retreat, allowing Leonidas to rally Spartan politics to give more support for harder defense for his return. Hence, was not so. Said traitor had shown Xerxes' military command a passage that allowed them to surprise the Spartan 300 from behind. Leonidas, with many other city-state armies fighting with him, bellowed them to retreat, staying behind with his own soldiers and only a handful others who refused to run. Most were killed, and Xerxes had captured the region and it's Spartan capitol, but not without cost: suffering massive losses at the hands of the Spartans, Xerxes was not able to hold control over the Greek nation, and fled to Asia with his troops, leaving the task of conquering Greece in his name to Mardonius, his leading military commander, only for him to be defeated at the Battle of Plataea. Ancient writer and modern historians have used the Battle of Thermopylae and these brave 300 Spartan soldiers as "an example of the power of a patriotic army of freemen defending native soil." (from Wikipedia.org)
I confess, I haven't read the graphic novel. I am a huge fan of comics and graphic novels. My favourite so far are a tie of two: The Watchmen (after seeing the movie, I defend that the graphic novel is much better) and Kingdom Come, taking place after The Justice League abandon their protective posts of our fair cities as the public rallies behind a new 'metahuman' named Magog kills villian The Joker while on his way to trial for the massacre at the Daily Planet offices, resulting in the death of many of Clark Kent's friends, including photographer Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane. Without the guidance of role models like the classic superheroes, the new age of 'metahumans' become more violent, territorial, resulting in a complete breakdown of social systems. The government threatens extreme action, and The Justice League is called back into action under an extremely stressful condition. As with Frank Miller's 300, I just haven't had a chance to read it quite yet. The movie, although Mr. Miller didn't really give it his blessing (shame!), was rather exceptional, and gave an interesting interpretation of the heroic Battle of Theropylae.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Fourth of July! Photography: New York City, 2006

To celebrate the independence of our neighbours to the South this weekend, I'd like to share one of my favourite photography collection in appreciation of one of the greatest cities of the world: New York, New York! These photographs were taken during a spring break trip in March 2006 to New York City with my good friend, Jenna, and her parents. These pictures served as an inspiration for many of my new earrings, more notably the City Winter earrings in my recent collection, and serve as their backing cards. Framed photographs will also soon be available in the shop. Enjoy!

Short Story: 'The Sea Gypsy'

I had made these earrings first. I had a bunch of shaped shell pieces. To pair with these shell hoops was only common sense. As I was writing the product description for my shop on Etsy, I was suddenly overcome with the urge to tell an original story behind these earrings. The earrings have yet to be posted for sale! Here are the earrings and the short story. Tell me what you think!

With her flowing, full skirt, she dances around the bonfire to the hollow cedar guitar played by the young man sitting on a piece of driftwood. He watches her; his music, her dance have become the same song and movement. The more intent his playing, the more fluid her body, and the energy was brought in full circle to him. They walk on the beach after his serenade to ‘the Sea Gypsy’, and as they held hands, he marveled at the beautiful creature Mother Nature and the Sea had created: such a beautiful spirit, within and without.
Having become a self-taught luthieur; having made a various number of musical instruments, he was a gifted person with his hands. As a child, he would amuse his mother by creating a number of adornments for her to wear. She was always so pleased, and sincerely impressed, and wore his creations for all to astonish and compliment. With the overwhelming desire to please her and present her with a gift, he began to gather the most perfect and colour-rich pieces of shell to use in his creation. He hunted by moon- and sunlight, overturning stone after stone, throwing away so many, until he had just enough for his creation in mind. He went home, and made a beautiful pair of earrings, with elements of his love and devotion to her. He had even managed to find a few beautiful pieces of shell, the exact green that matched her eyes; an enchanting, sparkling sea green, like in an island paradise. He cut and polished the shell pieces so perfect, in hopes to recreate the perfection she deserved. For a final touch, he included two special pearls, unlike none he had ever seen before, to boast the most original gem. He had finally finished his handiwork. He was ready to present his beautiful gift to her.

Alas, night after night, she would not return. The young man sat on the driftwood log, where he had gazed upon her that fateful night, dancing around the bonfire, and started to wonder if that night he had conjured a mischevious spirit with his music. Nevertheless, she had never returned, but he still waits with his guitar. You will still find him, waiting there, playing his serenade to The Sea Gypsy in hopes it will bring her back to him.

I'm certain this won't be the only time creativity strikes in different ways!

Photography credit: Cassandra Watsham

Friday, July 3, 2009

Design Insight: 'Carnivale' necklace

I've had lost of people compliment me on execution of my pieces, so, in this blog, I thought I'd go through the design processes for the Carnivale necklace!

My boyfriend, Nick, is the guilty one for this necklace's inception. We were in one of my favourite stores, Earthworks, when he flashed a sun charm and moon charm, followed by the bug planted in my head, "You should make that Carnivale necklace with these." The sun and moon are the most classic icons for light and dark, good and evil; the dualities of man and nature that we witness every day. These icons are most prominently featured in the show's title sequence logo. Take a look at the promo shot above, featuring the Season 1 cast.

The characterization of 'light' and 'dark' are in Ben Hawkins (seated by truck wheel, played by Nick Stahl) and Rev. Justin Crowe (far right, fist in air, played by a brilliant Clancy Brown). As the series plays out, the audience is witness to the actions, intentions and motivations of these characters, whether they are suited to benevolent or sinister means. The best lesson learned from this show would be not to judge a book by its cover!

This piece is merely meant as a basic theme piece; everything selected was to achieve an overall look that matched the atmosphere the show had created. The selection of stones used were for colour representation of the show's setting; the show takes place during the 1930s in the American Dustbowl, known in history as the Dirty Thirties. The Dust Bowl (geographically defined as western Canadian and American prairie lands) suffered periods of severe dust storms causing major ecological and agricultural damages. With the already stagnant drought that has dried up the soil, the winds pushed the dirt eastward and southward creating huge storms known as "Black Blizzards" or "Black Rollers", with visibility no more than a foot in front of you, sometimes as far as New York City and Washington, D.C. Many farming families (known as 'Okies', as many had migrated from Oklahoma) had deserted these useless farm lands and homes and travelled to California and other states, finding much better living and working conditions, although they were often viewed upon in contempt by state residents. Experts and historians will say that the Dust Bowl, leading to the Depression, "was a human and ecological disaster caused by misuse of land and years of sustained drought." In a land of dirt and sand, broken dreams and displacement, a travelling carnival would provide some distraction to the difficult times of the era. Enough of the history lesson, onto the necklace!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Television Themes in Jewelry: 'Dead Like Me' & 'Carnivale'

Well, being 'under the weather', and so is the weather at present moment, I figure I could show my latest pieces based on two of my favourite television shows from HBO, Dead Like Me and Carnivale. I found Dead Like Me on television one night in syndication, while Carnivale was introduced to me through my friend, Laura, who was eager to 'spread the love' of the show by lending me Seasons 1 and 2 on DVD. Both of these shows deal with some rather darker issues than most shows on cable (hence airing on HBO) and creating something of a cult following. The imagery and concepts in both these shows provided me with a lot of themes to work with.

Knowing how my brain works, there'll probably be lots more!

Dead Like Me introduces the viewer to a pagan story about Frog and Toad and the Jar of Death. When Toad was commissioned by God to take car of the Jar while he was busy creating everything else, Frog was eager to help. Unfortunately, Frog was so eager that he jumped on the Jar, causing it to break. That is why everything must die, Georgia Lass muses, played by Ellen Muth. "Makes you wonder how much better the world would be if frogs just stuck to hawking beer. So there you have it, the mystery of death finally revealed. We all die, some of us sooner then later. For me it's going to be much sooner. But that's only the beginning of my story."

Georgia Lass was 18 was she was struck by a toilet seat that fell from an orbiting space station into the atmosphere. Instead of being ushered into the afterlife, she remains on Earth as a grim reaper working in the Accidental Death/Dismemberment and 'Outside Influential' department. Every day, she receives a Post-It note giving her a name, place, and ETD (estimated time of death). Her job is to find the person at said location before mentioned time and take their souls before they 'bite it', so to speak; a courtesy offered so that said person about to expire (always in some violent manner) wouldn't feel any pain when said person died. 'George', as she prefers to be called, appears as another person to the living (credited as 'non-George' in cast listing) and still has to maintain the life and responsibilites of a living person, such as employment and housing, because reaping doesn't get paid through 'proper channels.' George, her boss Rube (played by Mandy Patinikin) and her merry band of reapers live amongst the living merely as observers, but even that can prove to be dubious!
I had made two necklaces as a tribute to the story that introduces the series, as well as the recurring imagery of the frog and toad. George even has a pet frog named Mr. Blinky!

DEAD LIKE ME necklace, no. 1. I really wanted to make something special, so I opted to spend a little bit more money on materials and the luxe look of gemstones at one of my favourite local bead stores, Earthworks.

Happy Canada Day!

We're hoping the weather will stay this good for some frisbee tossin'. Happy Birthday, fellow Canadians! We'll be at Chingacousy Park in Brampton, ON. Amanda Marshall's performing! Hope whatever you're doing today will be just as awesome.

Colour Inspiration: Pantone Fashion Colour Report 2009

Every season, Pantone Inc., the world's leading innovators and authority in colour, pays a visit to the New York Fashion Week to survey featured designers and receive feedback "on prominent collection colors, color inspiration, color philosophy and each designer's signature shade." The result this year is the Pantone Fashion Colour Report, revealing fashion-forward optimism in Spring 2009's selection of pops of colour over deep, translucent neutral tones. In-your-face colour without being overtly offensive, all underneath it, a strong neutral colour to tie it all together. I look at possibilities like a rose-based beige with purple, black and blue-green, or a yellow-based calcite stone with dyed turquoise and tourmaline (one of my latest necklace projects!) Bright colours look best when it's 'stabilized', so to speak, by a base tone that can make the accent colour a 'complimenting contrast' (holding a fresh red rose up to a clear blue sky).

I have not attended any fashion institutes of the like, or worked under any prominent, let alone any, designers and shadowed their work, so it certainly does not make me an 'expert', so they say. No, I'm certainly no 'expert' in fashion, but I know what I like, and I know what colours make me feel good. I wouldn't stop a clothes either; I would imagine these colours in gardens, interior design, visual art. It has been proven that colour plays a large role in our everyday attitude and psyche. In China, a study has proven that green (used in doctor's and dentist's waiting rooms) helps calm breathing, and red (prominent in most restaurant decor) increases desire and hunger. Think of what colours make you happy, then click on the link below the table! This past spring season was one of my absolute favourites and will probably play a role in my palette of colours for a while.

Click here to take a look at some other colour samples. Have fun!

reference: Fashiontribes.com

Photography: Gemstones

My boyfriend, Nick and I took a trip to the Royal Ontario Museum to see an exhibit for the Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, which will be on display until January 2010. I love museums because they're another source of inspiration that can be shaped into something contemporary. Studying some of the most mystical times of our civilization has always been an interest of mine. As we were walking around the rest of the museum, I was fortunate enough to snap some pictures of the Gemstone Exhibit for a pallate of colours and combinations. Just check out the first few pictures of the showcases! The vibrancy of these colours are breathtaking, and what I strive to accentuate in a lot of my pieces. Take a look, and become inspired, as well!

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