Saturday, November 10, 2012


I paint with beads. Discrete droplets, geometric increment of color and texture.

There is no palette where the colors are poured out; imagine a painter scrambling from one drawer to the next for the next stroke. The right size, the perfect color- one of a whole string of beads, or just one unique irreproducible drilled thing.

Each bead, like a token on an abacus, can be an effort to place, and mean so much more than the mere fact of placing it beside the one before it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bridge and Crescent

The centerpiece with Crescent, Saucer and Melon

Two new pieces inspired by fabulous work from Steph of VladtheBat's Attic, Dorcas of WondrousStrange, and Barbara of Basha Beads.

Bridge centerpiece by Steph of VladtheBatsAttic
Primitive, mysterious, intense.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Beauty Prays

I made my first mala yesterday.  Since the word “mala” loosely translated means ‘garland’, I thought of a mala as a necklace rather than the device I created.

 But I was shepherded by my mercy muse, who illustrated the use of the hand mala – by holding the talisman in the palm of the hand and fitting the fingers through the loop of beads at the top.  Then one meditates, or contemplates, or seeks one’s inner peace or a path through outer chaos.  That’s my guess at what I will use mine for.

I don’t know where this configuration originated – I’ve never seen one like this elsewhere.  But like all innovations, it has real purpose.

First, creating an object of contemplation is a journey of humility and understanding to begin with.  The size of the mala, and the number of beads, must be in keeping with the size of one’s hand. I learn not to take on too much or envision with greed.

The stringing must accommodate the use- which is to fold gently over one’s hand.  Jewelry beading requires tightly fit beads on strands with no slack.  The mala is a lesson in permissiveness: there must be room for the beads to move on the strand or the folding and draping cannot happen. You move the mala and feel some easing of tension, like a spine gradually releasing it’s tightness under its own weight.  The fold over the hand allows you to see into the vertebrae of the strand – through the holes in the beads.  There is the filament that binds them into one coherent statement.  It takes up a small portion of the diameter of the ample drill holes. You think how easy it would be to snap it, sending all the beads flying.  Like life, it seems fragile and tenuous, barely enough to bring the beads together, and so insubstantial in the face of their robust materiality.

My mala has a small dangle after the talisman, like a little postlude, or an afterthought. A  little coda after the message of the biggest stone. Staircase wisdom.

Above all, the design process was a mission for me. Each bead seems like adding a step to a path through a place I know I’ll visit again and again.  I want the talisman to be a comfort, and so it is with its creamy polished flat faces. I want calm and continuum in the handle, with the intervention of some unusual spacers.  I want a center of clarity, and that place is filled by a large roundish ice quartz stone.  I want the unexpected -  that comes from a hand painted ceramic bead, from the color pink in this earthy green and grey composition, and from a small rondelles of labradorite.  To remind me that everything is not as it seems.  And that flashes of beauty exist in dark places.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

For the Love of small things

In a few weeks, I'm going to be shepherding a group learning how to make prayer malas - learning, I should say, to envision beauty as beauty was before it was a concept and an ad campaign.

HERE AND BELOW: Faux-tifacts from Steph of

We will be taking personally sacred objects and devising a way to give then a form that will inspire meditative and tactile contemplation.  We will be making these objects in the way beads have been strung together since bones, seeds and stones with fortuitous holes and suggestive shapes were first slipped onto sinew and over the neck.

The class is part of a series of "beauty way days" designed by a spiritual woman who is an angel on earth.

I am incredibly honored and humbled by this opportunity to share my love of beads - of objects and constructs which I take to be full of meaning.  Meaning and beauty are two ideas that mingle in my mind.  Wherever I find one, I imagine the other.

By beauty, I mean something that is whole. Complete. Having self-referential order.
Beauty as ancient languages understood it.  Take the ancient Egyptian word (nefer) for beautiful.
We have speculated why the hieroglyph for this word is the lungs and windpipe of an animal; since there is probably no good scholarly answer in the absence of historical linguistics, we can just suppose that it is the synergistic union of these two organs that allow the breath and spirit to flow in living things, both animal and human.

It is a weakness of mine to attempt to understand every thing by the etymologies of words that we use to describe those things.

Fortunately, my concrete fascination with the odd, the odd, the incunabular ties me to reality.  Recycled treasures that fit into the hand. Holding onto the concreteness of possibility. For me, that's prayer.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What I did with 1.1.12

What did you do to close out the old year? 

Even though it wasn’t a sport that involved risk to life and limb, I can say my New Year's Day adventure led me on a journey that was fascinating and immensely special. 

I read Missficklemedia’s blog from the beginning.

Well, not exactly the beginning. I just kept hitting “older post” links and stepping back in time through this fascinating psychopop novella (albeit PG rated) and finding myself totally absorbed with the transformation in artistic direction of a real person and a pioneer. A pioneer who bravely shared the details of her artistic and personal learning curve.

She's generously given of the secrets she’s discovered, not to mention lots of luscious goodies – the raw components of a designer’s dream.
 More importantly, Missficklemedia has totally changed the way we think of metal components in making art jewelry. Not just neutral silver, copper, brass - , not only brown and white (OK, I’m simplifying here) but all the shades of passion burn in her “drenched metals.” 

I, for one, have never liked shiny.  I have nothing that goes with “shiny” and I can’t design with shiny. What I love is wabi-sabi (it’s a perfect, space-conserving term that implies so much with 4 syllables: look it up!) – something that looks like it was pulled out of a dark corner of a bottom drawer in a long-locked trunk that was buried for centuries. Glistening with wear, with memories of long years of much-loved use. 

Missficklemedia has potions to make that illusion happen.  And a book of spells to show you how.