Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Nature Jewelry

I'm making my way through the last of my nature jewelry/found jewelry photos from Saint Helena. I'm so thankful for all the positive response I've gotten about these! I've talked to a couple people about next steps I should possible take to show the images (book, exhibit...) but this would all be unchartered territory for me so I'd appreciate all the help I can get.

Any ideas on what I could do next with this work? Would you be interested to see them in book form?

Several pieces of the moss in this necklace were "in place" and I just built around them. The other pieces had already been dislodged. 

Eucalyptus leaves. 


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Home Again, home again.

We've been home for three weeks now and my settling in is going relatively well...meaning...I am sleeping normally and I have not cried in a grocery store. (Admittedly I did feel a little light headed in Trader Joe's over the weekend.) 

But somehow I feel like I'm not totally here.

Looking down into Sandy Bay.

The capital Jamestown, as seen from the deck of the RMS St. Helena.

It struck me that I've grown sufficiently attached to Saint Helena, more appropriately to people on Saint Helena, and I realize I will now live the rest of my life missing someone.  When I'm there I'll miss home and when I'm here, I miss there. (I believe there's an eloquent travel quote that states something similar - do you know it?)

My friend Marcus' valley. Well its not his valley but its the valley where his family homes are.

Recycle paper necklace and skeletal remains of a "leaf". Do you call them leaves? 

St. Pauls Anglican Church

Monday, August 7, 2017

Leaving is the hardest part

Many bittersweet goodbyes to be said this morning. Our six weeks here just flew by and although we'll be happy to see family and friends at home...we don't want to go. 

Wendy won the auction for paper jewelry btw. Thanks so much Wendy - will be in touch soon! 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Paper Jewelry

I managed to fit in some time working on my own jewelry here. I'm sure it wasn't the best to have the kitchen table also serve as my studio but my son and husband never complained. Not once. I let myself daydream a bit about a longer stay here and a full studio and what that would be like. (Might that happen someday?)

Triple wrapped beads.

By and large I just worked through ideas, techniques, sizing, but I did produce a few finished pieces and I'm offering one for auction with all money going to SHAPE.

Being a charity in one of the most remote communities in the world SHAPE is primarily dependent on aid, grants and donations. They are amazingly good at making due but the needs are many. For instances right now, they do not have a nurse staff. They have no medical aids to help with everyday life skills and none are available on island. Beyond they need simple things like a paper cutter, bead storage, school supplies, good crayons – all of these things are either not available, ridiculously expensive or must be ordered from somewhere far away. And for Saint Helena, everywhere is far away which means $$$ (or £££ as the case maybe be).

So I'm doing two things, small things really, right now to help with their needs.

I'm auctioning off this necklace with a reserve bid starting at $25. Its all recycled denim paper on nylon cord and at 32 inches slips right over the head. Incredibly lightweight as you'd imagine. If you are interested, please email me your bids by Friday of this week. Highest bidder is the winner and money will just go through my Paypal (as SHAPE has no means to accept off island donations right now) and I will deliver the full amount in cash before I leave Monday, August 7.

Denim recycled necklace

Also I'm able to offer a few of the recycled bangle bracelets that I designed for them made with one of SHAPE's main raw materials, cereal boxes. They are just $20 USD and that includes shipping from the US. They are 2 5/8 inches (67mm in diameter) which is a medium size bracelet. Again, if you are interested and can let me know by Friday, I can leave your donation in cash for them. 

Cereal box bracelets

 If you have any questions please be sure to let me know. Thanks so much!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Found Jewelry

If I could make a living out of making these found jewelry pieces, I would do it. For me this is total fun. I'm not sure how that would be possible of course. Gallery shows? Coffee table book?

This was one of the fastest ones I've done (made and photographed in under 5 mins.) when we came upon the remains of a campfire while on a walk.

My son Samuel is the ultimate encourager and is perfectly patient with my stops for jewelry making. I think he's actually much more interested in these pieces than he is other "adornments" as he calls them.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Sew fortunate

I am deeply fortunate to have started a friendship with Wanda Isaac on my first trip here in 2008. She was teaching bobbin lace (an island craft tradition in serious danger of dying out) as I was following my husband around as he did documentary photo work for the island's museum.

Wanda is a maker to the core and she and her highly creative, problem solving husband Alton make the perfect pair. By trade she is a seamstress and upholsterer, tackling everything from wedding dresses to mending sails.

Her workshop consists of 3 rooms in the historic building of Forrester's Hall that are connected by a cobblestone courtyard. Last time I was here I jumped into the middle of a flax weaving class and this time she is allowing me to condense one of her 12 week sewing classes, creating several complete pieces and learning the basics along the way. She is calm and patient and somehow she manages to give each student lots of individualized attention. 

She and her husband Alton pick me up in the morning and drop me off in the afternoon so I get to spend a full day bathed in a learning environment...and I love it

Wanda's tried and true Singer. Despite having 6 or 7 machines, she does most of her work on this one.

I made a tunic from Lotta Jonsdotter's Everyday Style sewing book on my first day, we reworked the arms the second day and I made a cross body bag from the scraps. Now I'm onto a second tunic with a v-slit neckline and pockets. Maybe I'll have time for another piece before I go. Maybe.

My first tunic!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Taking SHAPE

SHAPE campus at what was originally Sandy Bay Primary school.

SHAPE, Saint Helena Active Participation in Enterprise, was birthed about 11 years ago, by a couple of Saint Helenians and modeled after the Soltane schools. It was a humble beginning with a few students and directors learning on they go. There is great pride taken, as it should be, that now 20 or so disabled adults and receive education, encouragement, job training and a variety of services three days per week.  In that time fifteen people have “graduated” and moved on to independent employment. 

We're helping in a variety of ways, although I've mainly been in the craft room and Kyle is working on two murals. We research craft methods/patterns, discuss design and help source supplies as getting stuff from the outside world on such a remote island is a task unto itself. We chat and encourage and drink tea. Oh yes, always tea.

Samuel has spent almost all of his time outside helping with the farming – pruning banana trees, planting potatoes, harvesting chow chow – all of which is taken home by students or sold to help support the center. (For a kid who wants to be a farmer this is like tropical, muddy heaven.)

The craft room.

Bangle bracelets that I designed using one of SHAPE's materials of choice, cereal boxes.

Banana and potatoes all in the same garden!
The needs of of students, or trainees as they are called, are varied. While some were born severely neurologically and or physically disabled, others suffered a stroke as an adult or were the victim of incorrect misdiagnosis of disease and subsequent lack of proper medical treatment.

Some people may wonder if this sort of environment is depressing – oh for sure it could be. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed when I fully think about the limitations of the students, what their daily lives must be like, what their families lives must be like. And for the tireless employees who are there 5 days per week no doubt there can be great stress and sadness. 

But day to day, SHAPE is mostly a place of relationship, laughter, amazing kindness and opportunity to find meaning. Daily I am challenged to think differently about how I act and speak and think about myself and my own problems. I hope I am giving to them as much as they are giving to me.

SHAPE's recycled paper, illustrations added by Jeannie, beads rolled by me = teamwork! She and I are really proud of these babies. 

Jeannie can only use one arm but she amazes me by making bracelets and even earrings. Here she's laying out a necklace with beads she and I made together.