Wearing it Out - Wearable Art

In many Native American dance competitions the loss of a single bead, stone or sequin from the dancer's regalia during competition is grounds for complete disqualification -- thousands of dollars in prize money, years of practice negated by one snagged stitch or hastened finish. 

It's a standard to which I sincerely aspire, but couldn't possibly achieve. But over the past decade I've learned a few hard lessons that guide all my personal jewelry production. From the simplest pair of one-bead-on-wire earrings to layered and detailed Assemblage multi-strand mega-statements with dozens of components it comes down to the essential division of duties in "wearable art."


If I treat it like it's wearable as I consider the materials and construction, I need for you to consider it art when you wear it.  Depending on the piece , it will always be more one than the other, but if we both own our part, it will work every time. 

I've done enough elegant art shows and farmer's markets  with my work now to keep a straight face person picks up an a necklaces with trailing strands of silk  and asks if it can be worn in the shower or if the $12 earrings made with imported artisan glass have precious metal wires.  I've heard every combination of conditions, reactions and allergies possible (and have a few myself). 

I respect individual needs and try to always stock pieces with no metal, alternative materials to leather, etc.   But because I make everything by hand, there's no factory to call when stocks run low and priority always goes to the items that sell the best. (Or at least I'm working on that part , it still goes to the ones i simply enjoy creating... ) 


I buy my materials wholesale and have been doing this long enough to have built some wonderful relationships with individuals and companies that care about quality. But companies and suppliers change and I'm always finding new materials I want to explore.  Thus, any time I've got a new base component, technique or material I wear the first item I make with it morning, noon and night to test the limits. 

When I first started experimenting with making jewelry I was so excited when someone noticed a piece i was wearing I'd be thrilled to give it to them right there.

These days I offer to sell (it would be embarrassing to admit how many times I've run a credit card through the  PayPal reader on my phone while waiting in a line or shopping).  But i don't think people l believe me when I tell them I can't sell it yet because it's on a test drive.  The couple times I have declined purchase and gave them my business card -- the look on their face told me in advance they'd never call.  

Still , it's what works for me. Patinas, dyes and alcohol inks can add amazing richness to basic metals that looks great on your pendant, but hideous on your silk  blouse. Until I figured out how to effectively seal the pieces to Houston summer humidity level without sacrificing the effect -- they didn't leave the studio and the test t-shirts went to recycle. 

Just last week I was doing (mental) backflips waiting for the delivery of a graceful new bezel and wire combination for my Czech button earrings from a U.S. manufacturer through a long-time wholesale relationship. I had some new buttons prepped and ready for days before the new bezels arrived. 

When I tore open the package they were prettier than the online photo and they sat light and easy in my earlobe.  Waiting for the jeweler's clay to fully set was the adult equivalent of waiting for Santa on Christmas Eve ("Really? I have to go to sleep and not get up until tomorrow or it won't happen?" ) I wore them out to lunch the next day and fell asleep wearing them that night . In the morning the skin behind my earlobe was red and hot. The end of the elongated ear loop was OK to touch , but when pressed had an irritating rough edge. Ouch.

I smoothed it with a cup burr and tried again the next night without incident, but when you see this design online you'll note that it's not a good idea to sleep in them -- not because of the rough edge I found - that's fixed on all my stock now --  but because the bending of the extended wirere that results from the pressure of your head on the will likely shorten the life of the piece. 


Most of my necklace chains, cuffs and earwires are simple pieces bought in bulk from the same places and checked against the last batch. I learned quickly that if I wanted clients to experience Czech buttons and the small batch glass I love , I have to keep prices affordable (while still contributing my share to household utilities).  

I have sterling earwires  and make custom brass and copper wires and clasps for certain designs I  but I stay with what i know works in the findings and have my fun with the Czech glass and other media. 


I'll provide full measurement and materials information, but trust you to read it and make your decisions accordingly. After all, we're in this together. 



Goddess Guidance Revealed

Through AUGUST 2018 I am donating 20 percent of all Goddess sales monthly to a non-profit selected by 12 real world GODDESSES

This project started in anger and frustration. It felt like there were more challenges in the world we share than at any time in my life -- at a time when my physical and financial resources were least able to do anything about it.  

Finding the Goddess bead,  researching  Vestonicka Venuse  and identifying the six similarities between her and today's Goddesses formed the core idea,  but the structure kept evolving. 

 After a couple of months of designing with and dreaming about these beads, I started to understand Gepetto. The more I thought about all the Goddesses in my life -- and the gifts they have and share in abundance --  the less the beads seemed like Artisan Czech glass, color and finish.

My original Goddess on her wedding day in 1919 

My original Goddess on her wedding day in 1919 


Agnes would have never allowed herself to be called a Goddess  -- but she was the first to step forward - solid, strong and unflappable. I could see the cloud of flour as she tossed the egg noodles for her perpetual pot of chicken soup and the warm cinnamon smell of her apple pies every time i picked up the amber glass. 

My father's mother died in 1985, but is always close in my thoughts. Any time I have a hard choice to make, I think about the harder ones she made and try to follow her path.  Her 1919 wedding picture is the focal point of my office.  The feeling of having Grandma Mohn physically close again in that bead shredded what I thought was the final Goddess business plan. 


The Gifted Goddesses of the Goddess Gift

 I deleted that overworked file  -- and started a list of all the amazing Goddesses in my life. Two hours, later I'd filled several pages with 57 years of truly exceptional women.  I felt rich and overwhelmed. Emotionally, it was impossible to pick just 12 to fill the year Everyone of them had abundant gifts and made a difference in my life. 

But when I went back to the six qualities, twelve names popped off the pages.  If my criteria was objective and choices more throughly vetted, perhaps other names would have emerged. But sometimes a girl has to go with her gut. Once the group identified themselves, the idea of allowing them to pick the non-profit to benefit from the monthly donations made perfect sense.

I'll tell you a little more about each as we go along. Their paths are divergent and some of their views and choices quite different than my own. But thinking about what they have done and will continue to do with their gifts brought my Goddess project  from anger and frustration to celebration and empowerment.

I am grateful to each of them for what they have done in my life and others and invigorated by sharing with you and them the opportunity to make a difference together.


As a daughter of Buffalo, New York I'm a practical gal. Value and fairness are important. If I marked up the prices to make the donations that would be not be giving, but marketing. The Goddesses are about giving back.  Prices will only go up if costs go up. 


The beads themselves are versatile gals and not one of the women I selected to represent them are the least bit selfish.  Once you have a Vestonicka Venusa in your hand, i wouldn't be in the least bit surprised if you discover in her an identity more personal to you. 

I'll bet you already have someone in mind... 


Six Signs You Are A Goddess

Regardless of a couple of misinformed millennia when some believed that what she looked like had something to do with it, real Goddesses haven't changed much in the last 30,000 years.   

They are the ones who get things done. 

1. SHE KNOWS ... 

that size and age are arbitrary numbers. Shape is just the package. It’s not about how the package is wrapped, but sharing the gift inside.

2. SHE CARES... 

about those she calls her own with a fierce and unrelenting passion. 


with nature and knows the earth is not ours to deplete but protect for our children's children. 


because what others expect is inconsequential. She listens, learns and trusts her heart.  

5. SHE ACTS... 

even when the action is difficult, because sometimes the cost of inaction is far too great.  


Gift Your Goddess - and Build the Goddess Gift.

The Goddess Journey

I always want to embrace the feminine, because there seems to be lack of it or our of balance feeling. I love ‘Mother Nature’ and see myself going to church, when I am in the woods or anywhere hiking away from man-made world.
So these are part of that symbolism. Fertility, life giving, feminism, loving our bodies as we have babies and as we grow wiser with years.
— Lenka Bindzar, entrepreneur/importer


goddess circle.JPG

Although the shape is constant, the variations in the finish and very human production processes of my Goddesses means small differences in each bead and often larger shifts in color between batches. 

But the Girls are all about individuality anyway.

Experts have spent a great deal of time considering the original Vestonicka Venusa  but we don't know who commissioned and created the original mold for beads or when it was done. 


The mold is owned today by second-generation bead pressers in Jablonec -- a husband and wife team who produce each small batch by traditional methods 

" Pressers are always guys, but the boss in this family is the wife," said Lenka Binder, who has imported the beads for wholesale distribution for more than a decade.  "She takes care of all the ordering and communications and all else that is not pressing glass beads. "

Traditional artisan production in Jablonec "takes a village" with others helping with pressing and stringing during peak production and shops largely shutting down in the heat of the summer.  Lenka has been known to order beads she doesn't exactly need to help prop up the families in this very challenged industry. 


The Goddesses have not yet been a big-seller for Czech-born Lenka -- but have always held a greater meaning to her.

"I always want to embrace the feminine, because there seems to be lack of it or our of balance feeling. I love 'Mother Nature' and see myself going to church, when I am in the woods or anywhere hiking away from man-made world," she explained.  "So these are part of that symbolism. Fertility, life giving, feminism, loving our bodies as we have babies and as we grow wiser with years."

The roots of the original Venuse are also significant to Lenka. "She comes from my fathers region, Moravia," she said. " My parents divorced when I was eight and my Mom always made sure I remember my origins from his side of the family and it stuck with me. "

"The region is the fertile part of my country, where people grow most of our fruit, wine and vegetables. They are known as very generous, optimistic and party people," Lenka added. 


When I read Lenka's email about Moravia - it struck me how much her description of the region sounded so much like my Western New York home, reminding me again of all the layers of connection in these simple glass beads.

Your purchase directly supports:

  • the small family shop run by a woman in Jablonec,
  • a female entrepreneur in Washington state who has built a business of beauty with her passion and pride
  •  me
  •  and, in the largest share, addresses a real world need selected by a real world goddess.  -- 


Although some my question my emotional boundaries at this point , I do understand that the Venus herself is not an individual. Still I can't help see her as a collection of the best of who we are and who we can be together. And in that context, it's a privilege to share her journey. 

No Apologies, No Problem

There are a few wonderful people--  whom I love dearly -- who feel differently about the world we share ,  the challenges we face  as women and what one person could or should do. I don't apologize for my stance or love them any less for theirs. There is no value in fighting each other, but so much good in focusing on the things which continue to unite us. 

And then there are an awful lot of awful people whom I've never met, am not likely to meet and are frankly not welcome in my space. We all have only so much bandwidth -- physically, emotionally and online. Any time dealing with hate and harangue is lost to solutions.

I'm moderating comments on my various platforms to keep the the information flow positive and energies focused on results. I am not blocking access for them to say or do anything they wish in their own space and am glad the First Amendment provides them the same freedoms I have today -- but not the option of soiling my space with hate and vitirol. 

I've planted a small garden with my own investment of time, money and talent in hopes of harvesting community and support for the essential and absurdly challenged work of essential non-profits. 

It only makes sense to put up a small fence to keep the varmints out. 

This guy illustrates an article on farm fencing in Mother Earth News, but seems to work here too... 

This guy illustrates an article on farm fencing in Mother Earth News, but seems to work here too...