Wood, Stone and Water: where my pieces come from
Materials themselves are the inspiration behind my jewelry pieces. They are small echoes and microcosms of immense natural beauty I have been lucky to immerse myself in: all the woods, meadows, mountains, deserts and places where land meets water. Blossoms and berries on branches, water springing out of a mountain side, roots reaching into deep hidden mysteries down below, glistening dew on pine needle tips at sunrise. This beauty cleanses the spirit; the poems in its patterns offer good guidance in the realm of human affairs.
Manzanita means little apple in Spanish because of the small pink-red berries fruiting on the plant in the late spring and summer. I have yet to find the original native names for different varieties of this shrub. West Coast Native American tribes have made extensive use of manzanita: flowers and berries are edible, leaves and bark have medicinal properties, the leaves can be smoked.
The wood is hard, tight-fibered, and resistant to decay. Even the delicate branches are tough. This strength and the hauntingly beautiful shapes of its growth pattern are what makes manzanita my material of choice and inspiration. Sand-blasted, polished branches invoke a host of images: soft skin and sensuous curves of the body, desert-bleached bones, driftwood, water flows.
To protect and cure the wood I use food grade mineral oil enriched with vitamin E. This oil is used to finish cutting boards and wood bowls, thereby making it extra safe for contact with skin. I am in the process of exploring other curing methods to continue deepening my knowledge of working with wood.
Pearls are the only gems born of living creatures. This alone gives them a special meaning. They are children of water—oceans and lakes—and their fluid nature stays embedded in their solid form. Pearls have been called the teardrops of the moon. Their soft purity and depth of light invokes the part of ourselves that sees, hears and understands.
Biologically, pearls are basically a by-product of an adaptive immune system-like function. Almost any shelled mollusk can, by natural processes, produce some kind of ‘pearl’ when an irritating microscopic object becomes trapped within its mantle folds, but the great majority
of these are not valued as gemstones. The iridescence that nacreous pearls display is caused by the overlapping of successive translucent layers, which reflect, refract, and diffract light falling on the surface. The thinner and more numerous the nacre layers in the pearl, the finer the luster.
Mother of pearl, similar to the pearl, appears iridescent because the thickness of the aragonite platelets in each layer is close to the wavelength of visible light. This results in constructive and destructive interference of different wavelengths of light, so the different colors of light are reflected at different viewing angles. Fascinating.
Blue Lace Agate
Blue lace agate is a stone, but the flowing lines within it echo rivers, deepwater canyons, mountain mists, and weather systems. It both transcends and bridges many elements and realms. Instinctively, I feel this stone is about connecting to the deepest sources of truth within oneself and the ability to speak it. The facets add playful glimmers of light—the joy of being in touch!
The soft glow of the tumbled, irregular-shapes stones is easy on the eye and soft to the touch. I think of my favorite green, dew-filled places at sunrise: Point Reyes, Tuolumne Meadows, Mt Tam. This green is the green of life! Those who use stones in healing say it strengthens the life force and generally increases energy, as well as stimulating inner knowing of oneself.
I chose matte finishing for my quarts stones because when lit up by the sun, a soft but bright inner glow appears to emanate from some deep internal spring. To me this conjures up the image of the spirit gently shining forth even in the darkest nights.
Lava is the youngest rock, still close to the very origins of creation. I have found lava fields to be incredibly rejuvenating and vibrant. These rivers of stone possess a magical sculptural quality, and abundant fertility follows this mineral-rich rock as it turns into soil. The pure intensity of porous black lava reminds me of meteorites, conjuring up the whole depth of our universe from most distant to earthly and organic.
Note: the lava rock used to shape the beads did not come from Hawaii, so you will not inure Pele’s curse by wearing my necklaces.
Nylon thread does not stretch or fray. It is used where strength is important, such as activewear, handbags, shoes, leather goods and upholstery. It’s important to me to have solid strength behind the delicate design of my pieces. Reinforcing the inherent toughness of nylon even further, I thread and knot my necklaces at least twice over, which makes four strings total.