If it was the fall of 1981 - then I was 13. We were visiting Boston as a family; my older sister was looking at colleges. We - as good tourists do - went to Harvard Square, and to the Harvard Co-op. This image was on the front of a bin of posters, dorm room decor at its finest. I was stopped dead in my tracks. No one noticed but me - my family walked inside the store... It was that feeling that time was slowed, and all sound and motion around you has ceased to affect you. I was enchanted. I had no idea who William Holman Hunt was, neither had I ever heard of "The Lady of Shalott". My parents bought me the poster. It hang above my fireplace, the same print, to this day with pinholes from all the dorm walls it has faithfully adorned. I peppered my mother with questions in the car - to find that the Lady of Shalott was a poem by Tennyson. That was all she knew, but it was enough. I have included the poem below - it still sends chills down my spine.
My love affair with the Pre-Raphaelites had begun. It was met with a wee bit of snide derision from a college art history professor - herself a Classicist/Rennaissance scholar. It influenced my painting studies as I strove to find my own way of expressing myth/narrative/folklore/history. Yesterday I saw this painting in person and I cried. I am not trying to be dramatic - I was moved to tears both by the painting and the long lived influence it has had on me from the formative years throughout my training and career as an artist. (The painting is owned by the Wadsworth Athaneum in Hartford CT. Not that far... but not that close... Their page on the painting is here.)
This painting as well as many other favorites of mine are on view at the National Gallery in Dc until mid May. Many are old friends I visited weekly after art history class, while studying in London. Some are old friends from the Delaware Art Museum, my local establishment; others were met for the first time. It is a glorious exhibit - if you are interested in the late Victorian, in poetry, myth, medievalism, Decorative arts, Arts and Crafts style.... please dont miss it.
On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And through the field the road runs by
To many-towered Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
The island of Shalott.1
Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Through the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.
Four gray walls, and four gray towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
The Lady of Shalott.
By the margin, willow veiled
Slide the heavy barges trailed
By slow horses; and unhailed
The shallop flitteth silken-sailed
Skimming down to Camelot:
But who hath seen her wave her hand?
Or at the casement seen her stand? 25
Or is she known in all the land,
The Lady of Shalott?
Only reapers, reaping early
In among the bearded barley,
Hear a song that echoes cheerly
From the river winding clearly,
Down to towered Camelot:
And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers "'Tis the fairy
Lady of Shalott."
There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay
To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,
The Lady of Shalott.
And moving through a mirror clear
That hangs before her all the year,
Shadows of the world appear.
There she sees the highway near
Winding down to Camelot: 50
There the river eddy whirls,
And there the curly village-churls,
And the red cloaks of market girls,
Pass onward from Shalott.
Sometimes a troop of damsels glad,
An abbot on an ambling pad,
Sometimes a curly shepherd-lad,
Or long-haired page in crimson clad,
Goes by to towered Camelot;
And sometimes through the mirror blue
The knights come riding two and two:
She hath no loyal knight and true,
The Lady of Shalott.
But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror's magic sights,
For often through the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights
And music, went to Camelot:
Or when the moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed;
"I am half sick of shadows," said
The Lady of Shalott.
A bow-shot from her bower-eaves,
He rode between the barley-sheaves,
The sun came dazzling through the leaves, 75
And flamed upon the brazen greaves
Of bold Sir Lancelot.
A red-cross knight for ever kneeled
To a lady in his shield,
That sparkled on the yellow field,
Beside remote Shalott.
The gemmy bridle glittered free,
Like to some branch of stars we see
Hung in the golden Galaxy.
The bridle bells rang merrily
As he rode down to Camelot:
And from his blazoned baldric slung
A mighty silver bugle hung,
And as he rode his armour rung,
Beside remote Shalott.
All in the blue unclouded weather
Thick-jewelled shone the saddle-leather,
The helmet and the helmet-feather
Burned like one burning flame together,
As he rode down to Camelot.
As often through the purple night,
Below the starry clusters bright,
Some bearded meteor, trailing light,
Moves over still Shalott.
His broad clear brow in sunlight glow'd; 100
On burnished hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flowed
His coal-black curls as on he rode,
As he rode down to Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
He flashed into the crystal mirror,
"Tirra lira," by the river
Sang Sir Lancelot.
She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces through the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She looked down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror cracked from side to side;
"The curse is come upon me," cried
The Lady of Shalott.
In the stormy east-wind straining,
The pale yellow woods were waning,
The broad stream in his banks complaining,
Heavily the low sky raining
Over towered Camelot;
Down she came and found a boat
Beneath a willow left afloat,
And round about the prow she wrote 125
The Lady of Shalott.
And down the river's dim expanse
Like some bold seer in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance —
With a glassy countenance
Did she look to Camelot.
And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
The Lady of Shalott.
Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right —
The leaves upon her falling light —
Through the noises of the night
She floated down to Camelot:
And as the boat-head wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her singing her last song,
The Lady of Shalott.
Heard a carol, mournful, holy,
Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
Till her blood was frozen slowly,
And her eyes were darkened wholly,
Turned to towered Camelot.
For ere she reached upon the tide 150
The first house by the water-side,
Singing in her song she died,
The Lady of Shalott.
Under tower and balcony,
By garden-wall and gallery,
A gleaming shape she floated by,
Dead-pale between the houses high,
Silent into Camelot.
Out upon the wharfs they came,
Knight and burgher, lord and dame,
And round the prow they read her name,
The Lady of Shalott.
Who is this? and what is here?
And in the lighted palace near
Died the sound of royal cheer;
And they crossed themselves for fear,
All the knights at Camelot:
But Lancelot mused a little space;
He said, "She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace,
The Lady of Shalott."
Postscript: There are many glorious paintings of the PRB era inspired by this poem. John William Waterhouse painted numerous version himself, which I adore. If the poem speaks to you, don't miss the song of the same name by Loreena McKennitt.
Welcome to the 2nd Challenge of Music hosted by the creative goddess Erin Prais-Hintz of Tesori Trovati. This year - the challenge: instrumental music. In my opinion, this is much harder, trying to embody a piece of music in a piece of jewelry without the usual cues and visual symbolism we read via the lyrics. But it was also easy, as my favorite instrumental music is composed and performed by Frenchy and the Punk - formerly The Gypsy Nomads.
Their music has been described as "An energetic hybrid of European Folk roots, Punk attitude, World Beat eclecticism and traveling player theatricality."Phil Brucato They are guitar and percussion - hearing them you will find it hard to believe there are only 2 of them. Their energy is infectious. Their music is magical, and addictive, and captivating. The first CD I purchased from them - I honestly described the song as " the one that goes _______" since it was on a loop in my head! They release their own CDs and tour the country from coast to coast probably 11 months of the year, a grueling pace. If you EVER get a chance.... run, dont walk.
The song I selected is Track 1 on this CD "Travelin' band of Gypsy Nomads" and you can hear a clip here. (I am happy to know Scott and Samantha personally. I asked Sam about this song. It may have been the birth of the Gypsy Nomads - Scott, who wrote the instrumental, was performing and Sam decided to jump up on stage, adding dance and percussion.With this collaboration, a new concept, and a duo was formed! ) I know I am influenced by the song title - but also by their lifestyle. Traveling the county and to Europe, instruments in hand, exploring and being inspired... The song conjures up a campfire, flames leaping, as a fiddle is tuned, a guitar strummed. Music freely played, dancers skirts twitching, tamborines jingling... and I see vardos aka Gypsy wagons.
( I know this is a Romanticized version, even a stereotype of Gypsy life. I mean no disrespect to Romani culture. I have started doing research - if you are interested in the Romani people, the British Romanichals or the Irish Travelers there are many articles on the Web. )
The vardo shape was what I kept seeing, and the door. So I set off to make a hinged door pendant. Yes, you read that correctly. The good news: I have 2 that work. The bad news: After making 4 pendants I have no finished necklace for the hop... So here's what took all of my time...
The copper door, Door #1. A friend gave me scraps of 1/4 plexi and I wanted to use that inside to cover the image and add depth. You can see the diagrams I drew, planning hinges. The hinges are parts of the sheet rolled with pliers. The hinge is small tubing with a balled wire inside. The piece is joined with microbolts at the bottom and a tube rivet at top - that will be the bail. Three holes are located below for dangles. The image is an antique postcard, and the door has a curtain of sorts - resined paper circa 1880's. I am currently working on a silver chain and copper pin that will latch the door closed.
I am happy with the piece, a protoype of sorts - and see that hinges will be easier in the future now that I purchased bail making pliers! Its app. 1.75" tall so its not too massive to wear. I am imagining a triple strand - 1 of sari ribbon, 2 of beads ( one seed bead strand, one gems).
While all that was happening so was this:
Teal keyhole shrine - Polymer pieces, built in bail, hand painted. Image under mica. The image is "The Fool" from an Italian Tarot deck of the 1800's. The Fool card means free of burdens, worries; living in the now, setting off to journey, spontaneity... among other things. It seemed to capture some elements of the Gypsy symbolism I was working with ...
Red keyhole shrine: Constructed as the blue shrine, the image will have resin or glaze over. I am thrilled with these results even though there were hours of fiddling to shape and then after curing, carve the door and hinge. I think the shape is also the most clearly derived from the vardos' original inspirarion. The image (seen below) is Mucha's Moon/cresent goddess.
Round porthole window: Thinking on the painted pattern and designs on a Gypsy caravan... you see here (from L to R) the front window shutter, the center image and the back. The cover will have a tube rivet, and the piece will be simply hung on a large jump ring. The image is a Gypsy woman, also from Alfonse Mucha. These are the images I was considering:
(All images by Alfonse Mucha except the Tarot card images. )
So you can see I was inspired! But I still have quite a bit of work to do! I would love to hear your thoughts and preferences from the four... I will do a follow up post when they are completed. I look forward to traveling the blogs to see what my colleagues have created; the list is shown below.Thanks for stopping by!
Ema Kilroy (bowed out)
Evie and Beth McCord
Kay Thomerson (bowed out)
Lynn White (bowed out)
Malin de Koning
Mary K McGraw
Melissa Meman (bowed out)
Michelle Heim (bowed out)
Molly Schaller (bowed out)
Sharon Palac (bowed out)
Tracy Stillman (bowed out)
February - how I missed you. You were gone in a flurry, frenetic, so fast. One thing that was successful, accomplished on time, and simply a positive during February was the Component of the Month over at Art Jewelry Elements! Here is what Francesca sent us:
Aren't they gorgeous? Depth of color. Variations in color. The fine silver accents. The pieces are very subtle, and have detail when seen up close. I didn't want the enamel to get over shadowed by one of my more elaborate mixed media assemblages. (You know how I am...) So I went back to simple, gorgeous gems, to accent this piece and set it off...
Strung with moonstones, pearls, aquamarine, apatite, and silver spacers...
I adore moonstones. I have a lovely strand of tiny faceted rondelles that are drilled too small for any wire but 26 gauge - and I decided this was their chance! It was the silver embedded embelishment that inspired this palette. I wanted accents of color to link to the overall blue/aqua tones, as well as silver.
These elaborate silver beads visually cap off the gem strand as it transitions to chain; the chain is just the last few inches on the back of one's neck.
I love the piece - simple, clean, with a bit of subtlety. I can't wait to see what my fellow AJE team members did - and dont forget the lucky guests who WON a pendant each! You can see it all at the Art Jewelry Elements blog. Thats where I am headed.... But before you go - I would love to hear what yo think....
Monday. So much to do! One task was great fun, and quickly accomplished... Marsha had gifted me with a pair of her new/prototype porcelain shard head pins. We were talking about the use of nichrome wire in jewelry - leave it exposed, cover it... I decided to design a pair of earrings with the wire covered. The nichrome doesnt particularly bother me, I was just being the devil's advocate, you know? (Nichrome aparently is an alloy of nickle. I am guessing it will not darken with time. I know when I use nickel silver sheet - it will not patina with LoS - I use a SHarpie!)
The stages of experimentation: (Clockwise from top left)
1. Cover the nichrome wire with a coil. I used 24 ga Parawire in gunmetal. (Thanks Kerry for the coiling inspiration!)
2. I originally thought a gunmetal link. Seeing it - it was too "the same". The coil texture was lost in the uniform color.
3. White Clover Kiln bead caps. Adorable - but I wanted to not go too floral, and decided to vary the colors a bit more.
4. Testing out a patterned copper chain link, like it! Sadly - these enameled bead caps from Sally Russick were rejected too. Marsha had done some combinations like this and I was striving to be different - not to let that subliminal influence take hold!
The results! I like the simple copper bead cap and the copper link together. These are lightweight, and I like them... but
Option A: dangles of pearl, hematite, and turquoise - the metal's palette as gems.
Option B: One single dangle - a copper pearl.
I want to hear your opinion! Which option do you prefer?
I am not going to use many words here... just pictures. Because you see - my Bead Soup arrived from the lovely Jennifer Cabic - and I want to head to the studio.
Here is what I sent to Jennifer:
Bottom - the ceramic milagro focal, resin clasp with antique postcard, resin focal collaged with vintage stamp. I know I sent a large soup. I have trouble deciding, and well... once I got started....
Here is what I recieved:
Brass focal bead, coral, jasper, lampwork, and the most FAB metal clay clasp of Jennifer's. Oh and that sweet tiny charm, too!
This is a perfect soup. The ingredients are all great quality, and I love that there is a piece by my partner herself. This is not my palette at all - the perfect challenge... and with such nice materials.... I am glad we have a little time to "live with" the treasures, you know - think, fondle, arrange, fondle...
Hi all - Quick post. Have no snow so I have to get to class. Wanted to share these with you...
As much as they love doggy daycare, Zoey always charges me at the door!
Tired, calm and clean. I treated myself to a bath - theirs!!!
Have a good week! Hope to hop after pottery class!
Its time to write the recipe, gather the ingredients, spice it up a bit...
Its Bead Soup time again!
Lori has done it again, bigger, bolde, better? Well, it was great the last two years I participated that's for sure!
I am thrilled to be paired with Jennifer Cabic! Her blog is here. ) She creates wonderful pieces in metal clay and copper, instilled with meanings and memoreies. What a perfect partner!
Her work can be seen in 2 Etsy shops: Impressionisms & Silver Peanut. Those "sealing wax" pieces are to die for! We had a nice email chat and I wish we were closer to share a coffee, or a glass of wine.
But I cant tarry here - I have soup to prepare... Until later -
It may have been a year ago that I started this necklace. And as another turn of the wheel goes by, I am finally finished this necklace. I want to thank my friend, and our hostess - Sally Russick, for the incentive and inspiration to finish this!
I have been working loosely in a series lately - necklaces inspired by goddesses. Trying to embody the concepts of the feminine divinity and also incorporate the attributes of that goddess, in that certain culture, in that mythos. My heritage is Celtic and I am most often drawn to the Goddesses of that culture. This necklace was started with a focal of vintage lace in resin - symbolizing the ice/snow/frost of winter.
"Cailleach" derives from the old Irish caillech, or "the veiled one." The modern word cailleach means "old woman" or "hag" in Gaelic. The Cailleach is a widespread form of Celtic hag Goddess tied to the land and the weather Who has many variants in the British Isles.
The Caillagh ny Groamagh ("Gloomy Old Woman", also called the Caillagh ny Gueshag, "Old Woman of the Spells") of the Isle of Man is a winter and storm spirit whose actions on the 1st of February are said to foretell the year's weather--if it is a nice day, She will come out into the sun, which brings bad luck for the year. The Cailleach Uragaig, of the Isle of Colonsay in Scotland, is also a winter spirit who holds a young woman captive, away from her lover. (Thanks to Thalia Took of "A-musing Grace" )
In Scotland, where she is also known as Beira, Queen of Winter, she is credited with making numerous mountains and large hills, which are said to have been formed when she was striding across the land and accidentally dropped rocks from her apron. In other cases she is said to have built the mountains intentionally, to serve as her stepping stones. She carries a hammer for shaping the hills and valleys, and is said to be the mother of all the goddesses and gods.
The Cailleach displays several traits befitting the personification of Winter: she herds deer, she fights Spring, and her staff freezes the ground. (Wiki)
The snow, the rocks, the ice... the frost patterns on a cottage window; here is my "inspired by winter" necklace -
Spiral charm - K. Totten/Starry Road Studio
Lamwork - Anne Gardanne
materials: moonstone, blue ribbon jasper, chandelier crystal, smoky quartz, mother-of-pearl, river rocks, chain and seed beads.
Thanks to Anne Gardanne for her gorgeous lampwork - they inspired the palette of this piece!
The Cailleach is related to another Celtic Goddess - Bride (or Brigid). Her "day" is February 1, known as Imbolc on the ancient Celtic calendar. I have included a bit of her story, as it is her time of year, and the two goddesses are often seen as associated...
"Bride (or Brigid) is a beloved goddess of the Celts known by many names, Bride being the Scots Gaelic variant. Her names mean "the Exalted One." She tends the triple fires of smithcraft (physical fire), healing (the fire of life within), and poetry (the fire of the spirit). In balance to this She also presides over many healing springs. Cattle are sacred to Her, green is Her color, and, perhaps one of the reasons She is so beloved is that She is said to have invented beer! Her feast day of February 1st is called Imbolc (the Christian Candlemas), when the predictions for the coming spring's weather were made, a remnant of which is seen in the modern Groundhog Day. She is daughter to the Dagda, and invented the first keening when her son Rúadán was killed.
The Cailleach, crone Goddess of winter, is said to imprison Bride in a mountain each winter; She is released on the 1st of February, traditionally the first day of Spring in parts of the British Isles.
Bride the Goddess proved so popular that when Christianity came by, they converted Her to a saint. Called "Mary of the Gaels" by the Irish, St. Brigid is believed to be the midwife to Mary at the birth of Jesus, and so was thought the patroness of childbirth. Her importance is such that She is one of the three patron saints of Ireland, with St. Patrick and St. Columcille. Her nineteen nuns (a solar number) kept an eternal flame burning at Her monastery at St. Kildare." (from Thalia Took at A-musing Grace)
Now - a necklace for Bride? Fire, a woven wire Bride's cross, green gems... that may be next... Thanks for stopping by. Please visit my friends and colleagues also participating on this hop:
January has flown. I always have dreams of hibernating and catching up on the stacks of books that inhabit all rooms of my house. This year I was in the studio every day. Collages (4 new) and mixed media necklaces ( 6 new) for a gallery show that opens tomorrow. When that show was hung, it was with great pleasure that I got to return to this beauty from Karen/Starry Road Studio. I had been thinking on it for weeks, literally, and wanted to make my design become reality...
Playing with pictures - but you can clearly see the colors and textures here. Dimples on the edge, a spiral, and a great earthy green, hints of rusty brown, turquoise... I wanted to do a bracelet - partially because of the size ( app 1") and because it is double sided. I get rather annoyed when a bracelet focal flips over all the time... The irony - in my final design the ceramic focal can't flip over. Ha. Outsmarted myself.
The focal is framed with chunky faceted jasper nuggets. The bracelet is copper, stamped, forged, with patina. The hinge is formed directly from the sheet, and creates the clasp. A pin of wire ( chunky, like 12 ga?) is on a leash of vintage chain.
The spiral and dimple design was intended to reflect the bead's design. I created the dimples with my center punch, punching on wood to get a deeper impression, and alternating sides to have rasied and recessed dots.
Detail of the design, and clasp when worn. The pin is short and smooth, and not too uncomfortable. I would wear this on my non-dominant hand on a normal day, but mousing and writing with it on wasn't very practical. ( I am really focused on the wearability of jewelry. Why design a cool looking piece if it's uncomfortable, or impossible to wear?) But I digress.
I am pleased with the piece, and will wear it myself. I do see experimenting with the design a bit, offsetting the hinge for comfort...Thank you Karen for the challenge and the inspiration! Please see what my AJE teammates have created! The links can be found here. Until later...
*Please allow me to do double duty with this post - and count it as my "Focus on Life" post. I have been in the studio all week finishing new work! Also - there are additional images tagged on Instagram. Thanks!*
As January draws to a close, I wanted to share with you the latest. I have been in a flurry (pun intended) of activity in the studio, preparing for a new show. Betsy Mortenson and I are showing at the Palette and the Page in Elkton, Md. The opening will be Friday February 1st, and the show will be up for the month. Betsy and I have done collaborative work in the past, sharing ideas, and sparking creative thoughts one off the other. This year we discussed animals/totems. While the work isn't paired as directly as Oceana/Detritus of Dreams from last year, we are happy with what is happening...
I am particularly excited to show collages and mixed media necklaces together. Many venues don't allow for such diverse offerings in one show. Let me give you a sample...
As of yet untitled Raven themed collage. Inspired by Celtic goddesses - The Morrigan...
"Thought and Memory" - labradorite, polymer, copper, silver, silk. Inspired by Odin's ravens - Huginn & Muninn ( Thought and Memory).
"Raven's Token" - polymer, copper, hematite, lapis, pearls, onyx, blue goldstone.
Untitled snake collage. Inspired by the Creatan snake goddess/priestess, the Delphic Oracle, and Eve.
"Athena's Owl" - brass, polymer, enamel on copper, gems.
"Lunar Hare" - polymer, enamel on copper, stamped copper, labradorite, pearls, iolite, hematite, blue goldstone.
Not every necklace has a collage partner, and I will be exhibiting ceramic shrines as well. Should be a truly mixed media showing. PLease do stop by if you are in the area. I will post pictures of the opening at a later date!