January 28, 2016

Turning Point Jewelry

My stash of glass beads my brother made. Always in view on my bench.

Tucked into a corner of my jeweler’s bench is a pile of beads strung on a hemp cord. But, they’re not your run-of-the-mill lampworked beads. These particular beads were made by my brother, David (see my previous post). David died three years ago, and though I’m past my hemp-necklace-wearing days, I keep them on my bench. Yeah, they get in my way sometimes, but it’s important to me that they stay there where I can see them every day.

The original "Turning Point" bracelet with David's beads
It’s that desire to see them/him every day that led me to utilize them in a bracelet I could wear all day, every day, as a way to honor him and keep him with me. Thinking about how life can change in an instant, turning from a set path to an altogether different direction, I designed a bangle with multiple pivot points. These joins allow for movement and flexibility in the bracelet itself, but also serve the purpose of holding David’s beads securely on the segments. The flared ends of each segment lock the beads in place, never to let them (or him) go. I’ve made a number of variations of this style since then (get one for yourself here!) and they’re one of my best selling products. But, the one with David’s beads, that one’s mine.

My mom's necklace with one of David's bead.

I made my mom a similar pendant using one of David’s beads. I like the simplicity of the design. A bead that, to the person out-of-the-know, is simply “pretty.” Suspended on a teardrop-shaped hand-formed and textured sterling silver wire, and topped with an oval bail. It means a lot, yet doesn’t scream out its hidden meaning.

If you’re thinking “Ooh! I’d love something like that!” then stay tuned. Starting soon, I’m going to be offering a custom service for designing your own “Turning Point” jewelry to commemorate a birth, death, big event, adoption, or anything you can think of! I know not everyone has beads they want to memorialize in jewelry form, but I have a wealth of knowledge and experience working with non-traditional materials. What can I do with, say, a scrap of fabric from your grandmother’s quilt, or a piece of cement from the first home you purchased. What about the first baby quilt you ever received? Or the sand from a memorable vacation. The possibilities are endless! Just as it’s important for me to keep a bit of my brother with me, I want to help you keep your memories alive. Make sure to “like” my business page on Facebook, and sign up to follow this blog for the latest news!

January 26, 2016

Celebrating the Pig-head Brooch

Me and David at Fort Pickens, FL in 1994 (one of many RV trips we took with Nana and Paw)
It’s been three years (January 28, 2013) since my younger brother died. It doesn’t get any easier, and I don’t know that it should. I’ve been thinking about him a lot lately. I recently lost my job and the stability that came with it, so I’ve had a lot more time on my hands to let my mind wander. He’s never far from my mind, but not having deadline after deadline to keep me distracted, my thoughts turn toward him often.

David was, like too many who are stolen away by accidents, drugs, alcohol, cancer, or any other terrible part of life, taken too young. He was a kind, gentle, unbelievably smart, argumentative, stubborn, and loving man. But, addiction took over, and ultimately beat him. I can’t explain what it’s like having a brother addicted to drugs and alcohol, and I don’t know how to put into words the utter and complete loss you feel when those bastards take the one life he had. It’s like a piece of you is gone. And you know it will never heal, never scab over, never fully close. Yeah, it becomes white noise sometimes, and most days, I’m okay. But, a sound, a smell, a picture, a meal — anything can cause him to jump right back to the front of my mind. And it’s important that that happens.

The pig-head brooch I made for David
At the end of my hallway, I have a shelf on a bookcase (a coffin-shaped bookcase, incidentally) where I keep mementos from my brother and grandfather’s life. Not reminders of the sadness, but objects that remind me of the good. That help me remember the good. A favorite item I have of my brother's is a pig-head brooch I made him many years ago. He wasn’t a jewelry fan per se, but he loved me and what I was doing. He always told me how good I was and how proud of me he was. I made him this brooch out of a plastic pig and fine- and sterling silver. I think he wore it on one of his hats for a while, and he was distraught when he thought he lost it. After he died and my mom and Mark cleaned out his apartment, they found this brooch. In perfect condition, on a bookshelf. His whole life had been chaos for so many years, yet this brooch, this pig-head I had made for him, was taken care of. I’m not up to wearing it (for fear of losing it), but I now keep it (along with a hawk that I see as David keeping an eye on me) in perfect condition. On my bookshelf. 

The pig-head brooch and David-hawk, standing guard on top of my bookcase


UP NEXT: See how I've turned glass beads, handmade by David, into jewelry for my mom and me. You'll like it ... I promise!