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The little garnishes that mean so much


The other day, I was standing in my closet naked, except I was wearing one of my handmade, clay and glass bead necklaces.
Mark walks by the door, pauses and says, “That’s a good look for you.”
Very funny.
I said, “This is where I start nowadays. I begin with the jewelry and pick clothes that match.”
He said, “You’re odd. But I’ll keep ya.”
Later, he made fun of me for this system of dressing. He said some people put their socks on one at a time, and others put both socks on before their shoes.  Most people put their pants on before their shirts. He doesn’t know many women who begin with jewelry and move on to the outfit as an afterthought.
What does he know? He’s a man.
(Perhaps I should mention here that you know you’ve been married a long time when your husband walks by you naked, in nothing more than a glistening necklace, and his reaction is to make fun of you. Sigh.)


The thing is, I have about forty, original handmade necklaces made with these fabulous intricate clay beads (example above) that we design as a family on “craft nights” for fun. You begin with lumps of solid colored clay, then layer rolls of it, cutting and relayering it to make the tiny designs in canes that you next cut and reessemble to make a more detailed design. Finally you shape different beads. Remarkably facinating how each design turns out. It’s something we can all do (even Neva) that keeps us away from the television, and the beads look dynamite on Mark’s baskets or in my jewelry, so it is practical too.  These beads involve a variety of contrasting colors, which I match with crystal or glass beads for varied texture, to make all kinds of different pieces. With this jewelry as inspiration, I can always pull shirts and pants or skirts together to make it look as if I have a perfectly coordinated, “artistic” outfit. It would be impossible to achieve this effect if you started with an outfit and tried to find jewelry with the exact colors. It also allows me to put together clothing in ways I might not otherwise choose. I find my wardrobe has infinite possibilities now. Dang frustrating that I never go anywhere now that I’m looking so smart. However, the donkey thinks I’m stylish as all get-out.


Denver and Dianne keep making fun of me because I have made so many necklaces. It is some kind of sickness. I have necklace-itis or something. I make matching watchbands and earrings too, or course. I have a full wall of this pretty jewelry hanging on display in my closet. When I wear them (which is often), people always stop me to comment and ask where I get such remarkable pieces. Women find the jewelry different.
I always say, “I make them, it is sort of a fun project I do with my girls. Like playdough, only different.”
They say, “Professionally? Do you sell them?”
“No.”
“You should. I’ll buy one.”
Well, then I wouldn’t be original now, would I.
However, I’ve agreed to make them as gifts for friends who really gush. For example, my hairdresser goes crazy every time she sees me in a new necklace, so I agreed to make her one. It will be my special tip next time I visit her. Others will ask her where she got it, and might want one too. This is how it begins…should you allow the ball to roll.
 
Denver insists that I will have to start selling my jewelry soon, because no one woman can wear this many necklaces. They would sell for 50 or so bucks at the craft fairs – maybe more with earrings.  But, I’m not inspired. Once I start making things to sell, creating jewelry will become a job. Yuck.
 
Dianne has been making earrings, which she sells at the flea market. She is always trying to find the right thing to sell at a booth she runs on weekends. (she is currently selling handbags). I kept telling her beaded earrings would be a hit, but she wasn’t convinced. Then, one day I showed her how to make simple earrings, and she made about a dozen pair with me in an hour. She sold half of them at 5-6 dollars a piece the next day at her booth. She was hooked. She doesn’t want to bother with the intricate designs of necklaces though, because it takes so much time. Personally, that is what I like, because each necklace is different and the uniqueness makes it more fun. And I know I wouldn’t have occasion to wear two thousand earrings, which is how many I would have if I only made them.


Anyway, Dianne finds the earrings with the original clay beads most popular, because they are artsy. So, last night we scheduled another family craft night to make beads so she could stock up. Mark is always the teacher, and he guides us through the layering and design process to make intricate canes, then he demonstrated how to get different shapes. He always gives me his beads after the evening, which is the best part, because his are so much better than mine are. I tend to like making necklaces out of his beads, or Neva’s or Kent’s, the best anyway – I guess it makes me feel as if the piece has meaning that is more personal.


For fun, I made a few simpler (and shorter) necklaces for a few of our former dance students this Christmas. I thought they would appreciate something to remember us by, so I specifically made the necklaces out of Mark’s beads with my design. That way they could wear a bit of us both. I don’t know if those necklaces are anything they will really want to wear (kids have style issues I could never presume to guess), but it was a token sent with love. I miss those kids. Worry about them. And I hate leaving and their not having something concrete to remind them we cared. I still plan to make a few more gifts for several other dancers. I just have to wait until I turn in my thesis, because time is heavily prioritized right now.  
 
Anyway, Denver has been making jewelry, has created her own logo, and is setting up a small business on the side. She is more into detailed bead weaving, which takes time and patience. She’s made some gorgeous stuff. She recently made a wristband that is the face of the Mona Lisa. I kid you not. It is in sepia tones – remarkable. She took it into a local jewelry store and said, “What could I sell this for?” She’d like to get 50 bucks because it took her a long time. The woman at the store said, “You should take this to an art gallery. They could sell it for 300 dollars! I’ve never seen anything like it.”


Denver was all jazzed about that, but she only has one piece, and this pattern is not original, (she got it out of a book) so she felt she needed more original pieces to make a name in the jewelry art biz. So she is making original patterns of famous paintings. She is working on “Starry night” now. I think it’s amazing, and I’m impressed. I keep trying to talk her into going to a craftsman school for jewelry design – they have these six-month schools that teach metal design, welding, stone setting etc. that would really suit her, I think. And I could help her turn her talent into a strong business. That is my specialty.  I don’t know why she is dragging her feet. She left school, and hasn’t picked a profession or direction for her life. At an impasse like this, when you are young and unencumbered by a spouse or mortgage or career, you should throw practical caution to the winds and follow your heart. Maybe she still will. Time will tell.


Anyway, with this entire jewelry making going on, we girls decided we would have to do a booth at one of the big craft festivals this fall. That is when the tourists are visiting the mountains and the festivals are booming. Denver and Dianne want (and need) to do this for income. I will participate to be sure they have a wealth of stuff on display and to participate in what will be a novel experience for me. At last, they have cornered me into selling some of my work. I’m thinking it will be fun to sit around in a booth behind our work and take turns selling or walking around the festival to scope out the other art. We can eat caramel apples and talk about people as they walk by. We will (good-naturedly) have a silent competition to see whose stuff sells best. Don’t need it to be mine.


One day, when talking to Denver about her Mona Lisa, I said, “I can’t imagine your being able to give up something so wonderful. How can you stand putting all that effort into creating something and then allow it to be worn by a stranger who simply writes a check.”


She said, “When I put so much time into something, I can’t justify keeping it for me. I have to sell it. My time is too valuable to waste on myself.” (She doesn’t have a single piece she has kept for herself).


I said, “When I put so much time into something, I can’t justify selling it. My time is worth more than what anyone would pay for jewelry. It has to be for me, or a gift.”


That is the difference in attitude when you are at different stages of life. When you are young and broke, you know you can always create more later for yourself, but what you need now is income. When you are old, you see the significance in original creation, the meaning behind it, and you know that real income is easier had from other sources. And you long to preserve what you love, which demands not putting a price tag on it.


But I hope she sells her original masterpiece art-bracelets for a fortune and has a ball making them. Mostly, I hope I get one eventually. For my birthday or Christmas. Heck, I offered to buy the Mona Lisa, but she wants to keep it as a sample for dealers. Bummer. I suppose if I made a play for it, she’d relent and give it to me for my birthday, but I don’t want to take her most remarkable piece (yet.) There will be time later for me to get one of these coveted bracelets so I can carry a piece of my daughter with me throughout the day.


So, the Hendry girls are going to begin a jewelry empire. Well, it will be more like a little hot dog stand than an empire. But we are going to have fun doing it. It’s gonna kill me to have to give up any of my fun pieces. I guess I’m selfish.


In the meantime, I will continue dressing from the necklace down, barely acknowledged by my husband when I am in my skivvies. Ah well, at least I am well coordinated and have a style all my own. That counts for something.
 
 We made these beads last night. I just threw them on a towel, so they don’t show so well. And my camera flash kills the vibrant colors and detail, but it gives you the general idea. You have to imagine them with accompaning earrings, and assorted bangles and extra’s to bring out the colors. But trust me, they look might good on a naked middle-aged gal, if I say so myself. Alas, I can’t show you proof in a picture because this is a PG rated blog. Pity.



A few simple necklace designs. I make some more intricate, but they get heavy and too much “stuff” takes away from the beads. I’ve discovered the more “wearable” jewlery is on the simple side. But occationaly, I overdo just because I like to mess with possibilty.



 

About Ginny East Shaddock

Director of Heartwood Retreat Center, Ginny is also a writer. This is her personal blog with essay form writing about life and reflection. My entries are often lengthy and random, because I'm not here to promote or sell anything. I'm not expecting followers - just find this format a good place to think with the pen.

4 responses »

  1. So, you’re a “jewelry first” girl? I must confess that I always choose the shirt first. Perhaps this stems from not owning any supplemental adornments besides my wedding band and a copper bracelet Sharon made for me, both of which stay on at all times. I have about twelve pairs of pants in my closet. I work about three hours a day, and I’m horrible about laundry. This results in the common sniff test. (As a somewhat-practicing Buddhist, the pants are neither clean nor dirty!) But the shirt must be fresh. I need the Downy stimulating my olfactory nerve as I couple the aroma with my Iced quad-shot venti nonfat, nowhip, half-pump mocha from Starbucks. Let’s me know I’m still alive! And no, I never understood the whole “sock, shoe, sock, shoe” thing, although I have seen it practiced by my children’s friends when they spend the night.

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  2. in your country is switching to winter time?

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  3. Very amusing thought, well told, just do everything laid out on the shelves:)

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