Sunday, July 4, 2021

BRIEF PERIOD OF THE SOUL

 

 


The magic collection of memorabilia and gems that forms the focal of this piece has been gathering for years. 

  
 
A beautiful rusticated fauxtique ceramic bead from VladtheBatsCeramics, an old painted Buddhist amulet, a shard of scintillating green kyanite, a carved shell bead, a glint of citrine crystal, a lovely deep blue kyanite polished oval pendant and my favorite antique vaseline bicone African trade bead in a wistful seafoam green. A cairn of three matte prehenite wheels suspends the focal and leads to a necklace composed of rustic aquamarine tubes chased by sparkling citrine. A bath for the psyche! This necklace, like most of my work, is full of hidden surprises and little quirky secrets tucked between the links. It will provide meditation material and create spirited conversations to warm you to your core.

 


 

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Mala of Two Ways

Maybe you already have heard me repeat: the word mala means "garland" or "wreath" - and so does the word "rosary". Originally these items were all for remembrance and reverence, and later came to be used as “prayer” beads, or objects of contemplation. They are not part of any one religion. They are common to all cultures that feel Spirit in the physical world, and are used by all who call energy for inspiration or meditation. These talismans, objects of protective magic and remembrance are used not for decoration, but for contemplation and protection of a space or a person within the space where they hang or are displayed. Three strands emerge from the "bridge bead" - a straight yoke made of earthy clay from Belgium, fashioned like the ancients fashioned their clay, and incised with little toolmarks. Many of my malas start from these bridge beads from my old friend Steph, who teaches and makes sculpture near Brussels, and whose bead shop is called "Vlad the Bat's Attic." This is a garland of choices, of decisions, of two sides. The center strand holds the mala's focal: a two-headed zombie, who stands on the boundary between Death and Life. Above the zombie sits a knucklebone, used in ancient goodness to cast lots that decided the fate of the Inquisitor, then the scarab beetle who generates life out of detritus, then the bead of the tree of life, spun from recycled African glass. An urn bead made by a Welsh bead artist sits at the top of the central strand. On the left, a black cat bead, very old, from Bohemia, sitting on an African bone game piece balanced on a rustic green tribal bead symbolizing the living Earth. Below a fiery sun bead, also Bohemian, rides on the back of a jet Navajo raven, who sees and knows all. On the right strand: first comes a Buddhist prayer bead made by a monk who works the clay by hand and smears it with a touch of gold leaf to symbolize the precious tinge that is part of the most humble of us. Next, a Chinese cat of ivory carved bone keeps his secrets from the spiral bird talisman, a fired porcelain artwork from an artist who lives in Minnesota on land still reserved by Chippewas. At the bottom, a magic eye bead from an artist in Michigan no longer selling her work. All over the world, people have painted "eyes" on objects to protect themselves from the "evil Eye" - bad fortune, fate or jealousy. I've had this bead for many years. Some of the elements of this piece are the product of old manufacturing processes, over a hundred years old (like the pressed glass Cat, the bone carved cat, and the recycled African green glass beads). Others are new, and made by makers I know and love - the woman artists from all over the world who made these beads with their own talented hands are friends and long-time mentors of mine.

Bridging

Since going through a time of separation, I've been comforted by connecting things. These little constructions, which I will call earrings, because that's how they're used, are really reminders of the bridges and bonds we must make to build strength and beauty. These intricate geometries - often a challenge to bring together, are a metaphor for where we are. Far from feeling confined, I love working in this tiny scale. I often wonder whether they could be made into a wall-sized mala-garland. Accretive architecture microsized...

Monday, December 16, 2019

SPIRIT ANIMALS House mala




In the ancient tradition of protecting the home with a garland and amulet on the entryway, my house malas have a message of protection. Each is individual, with beads old and new, works of art by beadmakers known and dancing with gemstones to welcome the good spirits and ward off any evil that may come.
 
Suspended from a beautifully rustic stoneware bar from Belgium are three strands of symbols: starting with the sunburst bead of French clay, we have a glass opal pagoda bead, a South African salmon-patterned bead, a bluebird of happiness (Lori Lochner), and a Mayan jade turtle, who bears the world on his back.

 
On the right is a humble cat, who sees through darkness, an antique Czech faceted green heart bead and a crackled heart. (Two hearts are better than one, and represent the shared beating of those who love you.)

 
On the left, the little chick above a plump faceted old style Czech bead atop a pig (this mala was made in the Year of the Pig, symbolizing prosperity and honesty), a Salmon-patterned sunburst , all ending with a clay flower-bell with a clapper of chalcedony, the stone of transformation.


Wednesday, December 11, 2019

House Protection Mala: THE BULL-MAN



“Mala” means ‘garland’ -  an idea more than 3,000 years old. This little collection of artisan beads, earth stones and artifacts from the natural world is meant to hang on a door or wall, in a very ancient tradition of welcoming the good and warning the evil that may come.

Each element adds symbolic meaning, starting with the one of a kind stoneware clay bar holding the piece together -  it represents the “Pillar of Heaven” holding the vault of Sky above Earth.

In ancient Crete, the Bull-man was the Guardian of all the animals of Earth, Sea and Sky.  The elephant bead represents land animals, the owl stands for the Bird of the Sky and the spiral shell stands for the Sea Creatures.  (Bull man as well as the gorgeous ceramic bar bead are both the work of my friend Steph Brouwers of Vladthebatsceramics).

Antique and modern clay beads from South Africa symbolize the earth fertilized by Rain.

Each of the beads has a meaning: together they tell a story in the order they are strung.  Some are old and have lived in other pieces; some are one of a kind artisan works in a miniature size. Most have traveled far, representing distant lands and ancient truths, and all were carefully chosen to be a part of this talisman.





(The ancient owl bead, reminiscent of ancient Greek imagery, is by Foxpaws; the spiral shell by Petra Carpreau of Scorched Earth in Linton, UK; the lovely cross-patterned bead is from the hands of Lorna Oosthuisen of Capetown, South Africa, whose work can be found at Balelaceramics.)

House Protection Mala: ZOMBIE BOY



“Mala” means ‘garland’ -  an idea more 3,000 years old. This little collection of artisan beads, earth stones and artifacts from the natural world is meant to hang on a door or wall, in a very ancient tradition of welcoming the good and warning the evil that may come.

Each element adds symbolic meaning, starting with the one of a kind stoneware clay bar holding the piece together -  it represents the “Pillar of Heaven” holding the vault of Sky above Earth. The talented artist and fauxtifactician, Steph Brouwer (find her amazing work at Vladthebatsceramics) gathered this wild earth, formed it in the image of ancient artifacts, and fired it; she is also the maker of the Zombie Boy and many other fetish beads in my collection.

The hero of this mala is the Zombie Boy, caught between the Living and the Dead, and thus a perfect protector. His colors: Red, White and Black symbolize his special powers. ‘’On his right, he has a tribal African bead inlaid with silver, a mysterious Cat, a temple bead of black earth, and a shark’s tooth.  On his left, a Maya temple skull and a deep red heart signify his power over the Mysterious and the Mighty.

Each of the beads has a meaning: together they tell a story in the order they are strung.  Some are old and have lived in other pieces; some are one of a kind artisan works in a miniature size. Most have traveled far, representing distant lands and ancient truths, and all were carefully chosen to be a part of this talisman.





Zombie Boy, bar bead and red/green scribble bead from Vladthebatsceramics
Two sided Temple skull bead by Foxpaws.
Shark tooth bead and red heart by Scorched Earth.
Red butterfly-pattern bead and white-dot-perforation bead by  Balelaceramics.
Cube shaped black cassius earth beads by Doters.



House Protection Mala: BLUE RULER


“Mala” means ‘garland’ -  an idea more than 3,000 years old. This little collection of artisan beads, earth stones and artifacts from the natural world is meant to hang on a door or wall, in a very ancient tradition of welcoming the good and warning the evil that may come.

Each element adds symbolic meaning, starting with the one of a kind stoneware clay bar holding the piece together -  it represents the “Pillar of Heaven” holding the vault of Sky above Earth. The talented artist and fauxtifactician, Steph Brouwer (find her amazing work at Vladthebatsceramics) gathered this wild earth, formed it in the image of ancient artifacts, and fired it.

The hero of this mala is the Blue Ruler -  a crowned Blue Boy who has overcome Death and Adversity. He dances below a bead sybolizing rain and water, and He is the Ruler of the Birds of the Sky (see the bird-symbol on the right) and the Creatures of the Land (see the elephant on the left).

The Blue Ruler also employs magic spells: he uses the petroglyphs on the clay oval and the etched Tibetan agate Strong Heart beads on his right, and the pure light of the natural quartz point on his left.

Each of the beads has a meaning: together they tell a story in the order they are strung.  Some are old and have lived in other pieces; some are one of a kind artisan works in a miniature size. Most have traveled far, representing distant lands and ancient truths, and all were carefully chosen to be a part of this talisman.



Bar bead, Blue Ruler and petroglyph beads by Vladthebatsceramics)
Bird symbol bead by Foxpaws