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."

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... ) 

WEARING IT OUT

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. 

TRIED AND TRUE 

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 MEASURE, YOU CHECK 

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 April 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 

FIRST CAME AGNES

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. 

THEN THE REST

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 match the remaining beads. 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.

Clearly there are no physical similarities between these women - ranging in age from their 20s through our prime years -- and the beads.  While I know all of them, most have never met and I haven't even spoken to some of them in several years.   It's my hope that these small pieces of ceramic from the Jizera Mountains of Bohemia, will honor their gifts.

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.

MY PART IN THIS 

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. 

I have design sketches to introduce new Goddess items monthly and contingency plans with a non-profit to assist with making Goddess Collection items if orders exceed my personal production ability, but otherwise we'll just have to see how things unfold. Whatever we do together will be good. 

YOUR GODDESSES

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... 

Gift Your Goddess  - BUILD THE GODDESS GIFT

Meet the Gifted Goddesses

There wasn't one woman on my hastily scrawled, very long list who didn't have all six of the goddess gifts in spades. These ladies jumped out for their additional "superpowers" in one gift -- and especially for how they have shared them to benefit the rest of us.  I'd put any of them against anything "super" anything Marvel Comics can imagine -- and they'd win. 

Renate (in Czech ceramic) is a passionate purple glass finished with a purple/silver patina.  Because of the small-batch, artisan-made nature of these beads the density and placement of the finish varies from bead to bead,  All of the Goddess beads are one inch (25 mm) high and slightly under a half inch (10mm) at their widest point. 

SHE KNOWS  - RENATA AND EMILY

RENATA was in high school when she came  to her Aunt's home in the United States from Brazil, saw the life she wanted for herself here and got to work. Her exuberant spirit and exotic beauty mask for some people the core strength and determination that define her. She worked as a waitress to put herself through school and is today a gifted photographer, wife, mom and dental hygenist -- who celebrates each role with the same unbridled and infectious enthusiasm. Renata will select the July gift. 

Emily (at least the Artisan Czech Ceramic tribute to her) is  purple glass with purple /green moonstone finish . Because of the small-batch, artisan-made nature of these beads the density and placement of the finish varies from bead to bead. All of the Goddess beads are one inch (25 mm) high and slightly under a half inch (10mm) at their widest point. 

EMILY published her first book -- to awards and acclaim -- in her 40s and recently won a Guggenheim Fellowship in her 60s in support of the significance of her ongoing literary efforts. While some people allow themselves to weighed down with the accumulation of experience, Emily burnishes her brilliance with the patina.  Anyone can call themselves a writer and today nearly everyone does. But for those who toil at Emily's level, it is  grueling, lonely, soul-crushing labor. The percentage who prosper there is infinitesimal -- and the majority of that very small group share little of themselves beyond their writing. But Emily teaches with uncommon generosity -- not just at some of the top university programs in the country -- but for more than 20 consecutive years at a local non-profit program in support of writers and reading. Emily invests in each member of every class - regardless of their skill level -- to elevate their skill and spirit. She will choose the June gift. 

SHE CARES - JENNINE AND CHERYL

The Artisan Czech Glass Jennine bead is an aqua blue translucent opaline glass with a bronze wash. Because of the small batch, artisan-made nature of these beads the density and placement of the finish varies from bead to bead, but the heavy lines are consistent. All of the Goddess beads are one inch (25 mm) high and slightly under a half inch (10mm) at their widest point. 

JENNINE hates getting shots. When she was a child, she would go board-stiff at the sight of a needle. Even when she said nothing, the fear in her eyes was so electric that weaker nurses would hand off the task . Now in her 30s, her reaction to needles is unchanged.  But Jennine would wrestle a pack of porcupines to protect those she loves.   She has an artist's soul, a farmer's work ethic, and will find in herself any skill needed to address the needs of people and animals who can not care for themselves .  Woe to the fool who assumes her soft voice and extra petite package signal weakness. She knows that family isn't simply biology and fiercely loves and support those she calls her own. Jennine picks the beneficiary for March 2018  sales. 

CHERYL has an incomparable gift for celebrating and supporting those she loves. Anyone with a few bucks and a guest list can throw a party, but no one can bring people together to create ritual, tradition and support for everyone in the group as Cheryl does. Her achievements with her own career, newly adult-children and damn-these-two-are-still-great-together marriage are all the direct result of an exhausting level of commitment and hard-work on her part - but she always finds the time and resources to celebrate the things that matter -- and quietly prop up those who need it most.  Her opinions are carefully considered but her resolve is steadfast. She will be the first to say she doesn't belong on the list-- and it will be one of the rare times she is absolutely wrong. Cheryl selects the August gift. 

The Artisan Czech Glass Lenka bead is a woodsy olive green  with flat matte finish. Because of the small-batch, artisan-made nature of these beads the density and placement of the finish varies from bead to bead. All of the Goddess beads are one inch (25 mm) high and slightly under a half inch (10mm) at their widest point. 

SHE CONNECTS- LENKA AND PENNY

LENKA sees herself clearly in the larger whole and draws energy and inspiration from nature in remarkable ways. Although English is not her native tongue, it's a language of spontaneous poetry  when she talks about hiking and exploring the nearby mountains in Washington state or her native Czech Republic.  I've met her once and have only known her for a few months. But Lenka didn't simply discover and import the Goddess beads, she has nurtured their artisan makers for more than a decade, and has become an essential source of guidance and inspiration on this project to me.  Lenka will decide on the October gift. 

The Artisan Czech Glass Penny bead is an opaque turquoise glass with a bronze wash. Because of the small-batch, artisan-made nature of these beads the density and placement of the finish varies from bead to bead, but the heavy lines are consistent. All of the Goddess beads are one inch (25 mm) high and slightly under a half inch (10mm) at their widest point. 

PENNY  is trained as a graphic artist with instinctual and exceptional skills in a variety of media, but dedicates most of her artistic energy to preserving her Seneca cultural heritage by making and teaching others to make black/brown Ash baskets in the Haudenosaunee tradition. Faced with the dual loss of her cousin, Midge Dean Stock,  and the gift she had as one of the last traditional basket makers in the community,  Penny didn't say "someone should" but "I will."  The baskets are beautiful and enduring, so it's easy to get others to try, but it's hard to get them to come back.  Preparing the splints from the hardwood is brutally physical. It tears up the artist's hands and leaves the entire upper body aching.  But this (young) Grandma has renewed the tradition and energizes the spirit of those with whom she works on any project. Penny picks in September. 

SHE CONFOUNDS- CHRIS AND CORY

agnes.JPG

CHRIS  embraces difficult truths and elevates others with unrelenting energy and honesty. We were both the "new kids" in fourth grade and her natural gifts instantly elevated her to hang with the cool kids. But then and now, she's set her own path and never stopped working for the rest of us. Her day job in higher education proves daily that "innovative administrator" is not an oxymoron and her creative spirit  fires the unique perspective of her art.  She doesn't simply ask others to see things with more imagination and understanding  - she rolls up her sleeves and does the work necessary to give them the opportunity. Chris will choose the cause in April 2018. 

goddess carole

CORY was the kind of kid who you knew could accomplish anything. She aimed high, worked hard, focused with precision and achieved everything she went after. Over the years, I watched her check off a fast-track career in a Big-Eight accounting firm and "perfect" home, marriage and first child without apparent exertion.  When the loss of her younger brother forced her to re-examine her own life and then do some difficult , personal work on herself and her priorities.she found such joy and opportunity in letting go of perfection that she left her singular, six-figure career path to become a life coach, specializing in working Moms. Reaction to the news for many who knew her was quiet confusion --- "Cory???" Her practice is blossoming with the combination of her natural gifts with her zeal for joy, forgiveness and self-awareness. Today,hwe can only say "Cory!!!" Her selection will receive November sales 

SHE ACTS- TINA AND ANNE

goddesstina

TINA always worked hard --behind the scenes. She was only too glad to let her outgoing husband Sam be the natural host and promoter of the hospitality businesses they built together. Tina's nurturing nature and relentless work ethic were instrumental in their success, but just making an announcement on in-house PA system petrified her. The loss of her son Vince three days before Christmas in 2011 inverted her world. But she worked her way through the pain and darkness by finding a way to celebrate Vince through helping others. Friends of Vince has already provided so much to children challenged by the limits in their lives.  More than simply giving them things, she also works with young girls teaching entrepreneurial skills and the joy of giving . Today Tina will take any microphone in any place if there is a potential that someone in the audience may help support the larger family and need she has taken as her own. Yes, she's Cory's Mom and my own daughter, Jennine, selected Friends of Vince for her cause. The choices are indeed personal - but no less inspirational. Tina will select in December 2018.

goddessanne

ANNE left  her dream apartment and high-profile advertising career in Paris to pack up her two small children for the United States in support of her husband's art career. She had little confidence in her English and no understanding of the small Coastal Georgia island community where they settled.  Thus she seemed quite reserved when I met her at (of course) a wine group there.  But thanks to Google's translation tool - I quickly discovered a brilliant writer in her blog. She  used the same tool to translate my blog and the distance between us disappeared.  In Paris, words were her livelihood but as worked through the nuance of English mastery, she focused on her graphic skills to open a new door into the work she loves.  Today she is both a fine artist in her own right and an award-winning art director and partner in an agency with national clients -- that is located seventy miles from the nearest major airport. Not because is is French, but because she is Anne, she made it look effortless. Anne picks the February 2018  cause. 

SHE PERSISTS -

goddess ellen

AGNES is my original Goddess, relentlessly frugal and practical in matters of money but generous beyond any measure in making each of her 17 grandchildren feel they were her absolute favorite. If you asked me at 21 I would've designed her as "safe, warm, and uncomplicated" and talked about how she used her constant cooking and baking as emotional nourishment. Today I see more clearly a women of strength, intelligence and ingenuity who made so much of the best of my world possible and continues have a clear and positive influence on the young women in our family -- even those born after we lost her in 1983.  She's our enduring Goddess. And while she can't directly choose the January 2018, she's always had a way of letting me know how to make the right choice. 

Mia goddess

XXX is represented by the only transparent bead, because at two years old her path isn't yet clear. She's smart, funny, strong-willed and enraptured with being able to finally communicate about her daily discoveries and joy in the world around her.  She's Agnes' great, great granddaughter , but already shows the best of Agnes, her great grandparents , her grandparents and her parents. 

XXX would rather take a toy apart than simply play with it and has a perpetual curiosity about what makes everything tick.  Someday she will solve problems the rest of us can't even anticipate at this time. 

And that's the beauty of a  Goddesses-in-Training. From Vestonicka Venusa to XXX there have been global and local threats beyond imagination -- but as long as we keep producing new Goddesses, one way or another , they will figure things out. XXX and her family will pick the 

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. 

3. SHE CONNECTS... 

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

4. SHE CONFOUNDS...

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.  

6. AND NEVERTHELESS , SHE PERSISTS

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

FROM STONE AGE MORAVIA TO JABLONEC TO WASHINGTON TO YOUR MAILBOX 

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. 

A MOM AND POP SHOP IN BOHEMIA

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. 

LENKA'S VIEW 

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. 

MAKING CONNECTIONS

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.  -- 

WHAT WOULD VESTONICKA VENUSE DO?

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...