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The aesthetic appreciation of color is tricky. You can never be sure if you are really seeing the same color as someone else. We all know that there is such a thing as color-blindness but perhaps we fail to consider how subjective color is and how different it can seem to different people.
When I first saw jewelry made with kingfisher feathers, the effect was instantly burned into my memory. More than any color I have ever seen before it makes me wonder how other people perceive it. Is it blue? Is it green? Does it appear solid like a shell or like vapor? I have never seen a blue that has such an impact on everything and every other color around it. It is not just the sheen of the feathers, although that it certainly a part of it. No, it’s the color itself. These feathers are an otherworldly balance of navy, lavender, teal, and lime. The overall color should be turquoise but it’s not — it’s more. Mysteriously, I find that the color manages to avoid all suggestion of the delicate or pastel. Rather, I think that the color has a substance to it — an opacity. But, what do you see?
I’m like a ferret. Dangle a shiny thing in front of me and you have my attention. It could be a button or it could be a diamond. It doesn’t really matter. I have numerous childhood memories of rifling through sewing boxes, old jewelry boxes in attics, or long-forgotten purses under beds. All in search of something that might adorn. Strung on a string or wrapped around a wrist. Anything might be possible. I spent a good deal of time in the care of other people as a kid and letting me search for treasure (read: junk) was the way to engage me. Looking back, engaging me might not have otherwise been the easiest thing to accomplish.
In my personal psychology, the drive for things of adornment might have been about a lot of things. A creative outlet or even a way to bond with women who were not my mother but nonetheless my temporary caregivers. But, I think we all know the desire to create and wear jewelry is not unique to me or our time.
A brief search of Ebay easily bring up items such as these:
While I cannot verify the authenticity of any of these items, I have no reason to doubt it. Of course, there are places all over the world that buy and sell antiquities and, certainly, sometimes those items are jewelry. For me, setting aside the flat-out weirdness of being able to buy, from Ebay, the personal item of someone who died centuries ago, it is interesting to connect with the idea of adornment as simply a human thing that refuses to be defined by time or place. It is just something we do and, seemingly, something we have always done.
For more on this topic, check this out:
The title of this post is the beginning of one of my personal catch phrases. “Life is complicated … (and a beat later) … morally ambiguous.” I am not sure that the second half of that has much to do with my point. Mainly, I am claiming that my absence from this blog is because life is complicated … and busy. Oh, that sounds so lame. But, it’s true. This is not a hyper-personal blog but I will share that the last few months have been a time of adjustment in my life. When I had time, I found that I had little to say about the art and design of jewelry that I love so much.
Out of curiosity, I logged on today to this little blog that contains my little musings. I was so pleased, alarmed, and touched to find that it still, in my absence, receives daily hits. And so, I determined that I should find more to say. It makes me happy and, if others enjoy it, all the better. So, here’s to the future and more to come.
Sometime back, I learned that my identity had been stolen. Ironically, a good deal of mainstream jewelry from national retailers was purchased. The humor in that was not lost on me. I learned from one of the fraud investigators that the woman, with a fake ID with her picture and my (old) information, seemed to know a great deal about me. She talked too much and shared information that either came from this blog or my Etsy profile. I am here to say to that person, should she be reading: life is complicated … and morally ambiguous. I get that.
The Shins very thoughtfully let a little piece of jewelry play a role in this awesome video, thus, giving me the excuse to post it.
Did you see it? It’s in there — a necklace which justifies the video’s presence in this blog. Ha. I just love that video. It seems like it could be a dark episode in the history of the Tenenbaum family.
So, with that clumsy segue, I will engage in a little shameless self-promotion.
As I have alluded to here, in addition to learning to make jewelry, I make artwork in my spare time. Although I haven’t always talked about it, it has been a part of my life for years. Presumably as part of promoting their new album, The Shins are running a contest to design their tour poster. I have submitted a few designs and I’ll share a couple of them here.
This first one is an altered photograph of my assemblage piece called “Empty.” While the original piece wasn’t created for the poster project, the above video for Simple Song called this piece to mind. I am pretty sure that The Shins will not want a random piece of artwork to grace their tour poster. Nevertheless, it was a labor of love to turn it into a poster design as I listen The Shins a lot while doing creative work. If you like, it you can vote for it here.
Then, there is this:
This is a photograph of my dad’s awesome vintage stereo. It is literally bigger than the floor space in my tiny little San Francisco kitchen. It is no joke. Anyway, I digitally toyed around with it and, overall, thought that the image would make a fun poster. If you like it, you can vote for it here.
In my early adulthood, whenever I was sick and had to stay home from work or school or whatever generally occupied my time, I would obsessively watch the movie Fargo. I don’t particularly like that movie but that is a fact that would inevitably escape me when felled by food poisoning or a sinus infection. Go figure. Usually around the third or fourth viewing, I would remember that it was a good movie but it wasn’t that good but, by then, my eyes would be blurry and the remote long since lost and I’d just let it play. Later, it would all seem like a bad dream.
These days I have moved on to another a sick-day entertainment obsession — Jennifer Saunder’s comedic genius in the form of Absolutely Fabulous. I have always been one for British comedy — Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, The Young Ones, etc. I was once told by an Englishman that I was an honorary English person based on my taste in comedy. (On the other hand, that same Englishman also called me white trash.)
In any case, it would only make sense that I would also love the cult classic, Absolutely Fabulous, too. But, for years, it didn’t speak to me. For good or for bad, the characters have now come into focus for me. Actually, now that I am older, I find that all of the women of the show — Patsy, Eddy, Saffy, and even Gran — live in my head. Most days, it’s an all out brawl in there among them. In any case, I get it now and I’ve recently had a sinus infection so I’ve watched a lot of it lately.
For those of you who don’t know, Ab Fab, as it is known, is a show about two drunken women who live on the fringes of the fashion and style industries. To uninitiated, it might not sound like much but it is fun-house mirror reflection what obsesses most of us — whether we’d care to admit it or not. (I write a blog about jewelry for crying out-loud. I’m as guilty as anyone.) The show started in the 90’s and has been resurrected more than once but even the older episodes are all the more relevant for the rise of the Kardashians et al.
It is for all these reasons that this is genius.
Alexis Bittar is the maker of jewelry that is both stylish and wacky — it is grown up exuberance.