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. 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Recycled Paper Jewelry

Its now been over a month since we left home and it will be another month until we return. I have to resist the temptation to fret over all the things we'd like to do but might not have time for on this trip. 

I've been getting up early in the morning, when there is less competing for my attention,
to work on some of my own paper jewelry using SHAPE's recycled paper. I don't typically work this early at home but I'm considering starting to try getting into the studio at 5:30 – 6:00am every day. Will I be able to do it or will obligations, distractions and old habits creep back in?

At any I am now. I spread everything across the kitchen table and watch through the open door as the sun comes up over the house and hits the ocean. 

I'll be selling one of the pieces I've created while here with all money going to SHAPE. It will most likely be a necklace but I'm working on some brooches as well. My shops are closed so I'm trying to work out a way the funds will go right to SHAPE's account. Hope to have that sorted by next week.

Happy Monday!

I brought a small box of simple tools with me - a small paper cutter would have been nice too. Maybe next time....

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Jewelry Found in Nature

Saint Helena is inspiration at every turn for me and I'd love to have more time for jewelry in situ, as I call it.
Rocks and lichen on the way back from a rocky coastal walk.

I can't plan it, I can only “expect”. In some situations it has to happen quickly (like today when I was making the banana leaf necklace it had started to rain). For some ridiculous reason I enjoy that sense of urgency. The immediacy feels more like play to me - no fumbling with clasps or worrying about weight - just design in the moment.

Banana leaf trimmings from our garden.

Woodland finds from High Hill

Tumbled rocks from Sandy Bay Beach

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

They say inspiration is everywhere. While I'm sure that is true I seem to find it more some places than others.