The Birth of a Freeform Peyote Bracelet – Part 4

My bracelet is progressing, slowly but surely. Originally, I was going to add one coin shaped pearl but I loved their shape and color so much that I decided to add 3 of them. You can see how it doesn’t grow in an even way. Just like life where we will focus our attention to certain parts, my bracelet is growing more on one side than the other. As I go with the flow of the beads, I will feel a pull to work on one particular part and help that grow. Then I will notice the gaps in the other parts of the bracelet and move over to those places to seek balance.

As the bracelet grows, I am still working in peyote stitch here and there but find myself adding whole loops of beads to create bridges to other parts of the bracelet. As in life, flexibility is key as you listen to your inner voice to see what the next step should be.

I’ve been read a fascinating book called “The Kaizen Way: One Small Step can Change your Life” by Dr. Robert Maurer. Kaizen is a Japanese technique using small, steady steps to achieve lasting success with a goal. You can read more about it and Dr. Maurer here.

There is a part of our brain, located in the midbrain and called the amygdala, that is crucial to our survival because it controls the fight-or-flight response. This response is a natural alarm that alerts certain parts of our body for action in the face of immediate danger. When the alert happens, other parts of our body are slowed or shut down to allow all of our energy and resources to get us out of the danger. One nonessential (at the time) function that shuts down is our rational and creative thought processes. Even though most of us aren’t in situations where a dangerous animal is charging at us, this response is appropriate and vital in our lives today in emergency situations such as someone breaking into our house or reacting to a driver who has run a red light and threatens to hit our car. Where it can create a problem, however, is when we are faced with a new situation that is not part of our usual, safe day-to-day routine, such as the challenge of finding a new job or quitting a habit such as smoking or overeating. This situation can trigger fear and the fight-or-flight response can be triggered from our fear which will then shut down the thinking part of our brain. Big goals can trigger fear also. So, taking very small steps towards a big goal or new situation can bypass those fears. With each small step, new neural pathways are laid down in our brain and we build new habits, working towards our goals and a new situation in a comfortable way for us.

So, what does this Japanese technique have to do with creating a freeform bracelet, you ask? As I’ve read different comments from my readers about their experience with freeform peyote, I’ve heard that this kind of project might feel overwhelming, especially when it is such a free flowing creation. There really isn’t an exacting set of instructions regarding what to do. So, I suggest to fool that fear response and accomplish this creative task with teeny, tiny steps. Set aside 5 minutes a day to add a couple of beads at a time. Put a little sign next to your growing creation that says something like, “whatever I create is beautiful”. There is no right way or wrong way. Whatever you create is a beautiful expression of you, one tiny bead at a time.

Saturday Morning Tea

There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged

to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.

-Nelson Mandela

Have you ever been in a situation where all of a sudden something happens, you are given a new piece of information and then it’s like something clicks into place inside of you and you’re looking at your world with whole new eyes? Well, it’s been that kind of eye opening week for me that has rocked the very foundation of my psyche. The universe is showing me a whole new direction these days. Maybe that is part of turning 50. So, after my week, this morning I decided on a nice strong cup of tea, a Ceylon black from Homadola estate.

This tea is produced in the Ruhuna district of Sri Lanka, an area located in the southwestern tip of the island, with an elevation between sea level and 2,000 feet. Most Ceylons black teas are produced in a higher elevation which gives them a lighter, brisk flavor. Most people are familiar with Ceylon tea in a teabag.

This low growing district produces very strong, dark teas that are usually accented with silver tips. Their flavor reminds me more of a China black than a Ceylon tea. The aroma is very rich and sweet with a slight hint of cocoa. The leaves are large broken pieces, some uncurling after steeping. I brewed this tea in boiling water for 4 minutes. The liquor is very rich and dark with earthy, cocoa notes. It stands up very well to milk or cream.

This tea reminds us to be strong, fill our lives with richness and be grounded in our connection to the earth.

Studio Wednesday

Recently, a colleague of Dave’s (my S.O.) came back from a trip to New Mexico with a wonderful bead and cabochon stash that she generously shared with me. I couldn’t resist this gorgeous turquoise cabochon. With all of the variegated tan and brown swirls in it, it reminds me of a satellite view of Earth. I was pleased to dig through my own seed bead stash to find a hank of size 11 gold luster caramel colored beads I purchased in Frankenmuth, Michigan last year. I think they frame the cab very nicely.

Originally, I wanted to use this cab for my first journal bracelet but it’s too large for a bracelet. Instead, I chose a glazed porcelain face I purchased at a bead show last spring. In honor of the Fall Equinox this month, I want to create a bracelet of many leaves framing the face cab. I also want to honor the majestic oak and maple trees we had taken down 2 days ago. Unfortunately, they were getting too dangerously close to the house. Even though we will use the wood to warm our house next winter, I still felt very sad to see them come down. My bracelet will remind me of these wonderful tree beings.

I also worked on my freeform peyote bracelet today. I’ll post on my progress tomorrow…

Saturday Morning Tea

Tropical Storm Hanna is reaching out her grasp to the New England coastline this weekend. We felt the touch of her outer edge early this morning when a steady rain began to fall. Even though the local weather forecasters have predicted a lull this afternoon, we will be tightly in her grip by tonight with torrential downpours and gusty winds. It’s a good day to brew up a pot of tea and clean my studio.

My teapot is filled with a China green called Lung Ching, named after a small village in Zhejiang province, meaning “Dragon’s Well”. Legend has it that a Taoist priest in the 3rd century advised the local villagers to pray to the dragon of a local well to bring rain and end their drought. It worked and the well was named after that dragon. The Dragon’s Well monastery still stands in that spot to this day.

The leaves are carefully plucked by hand and then pan fried in large woks to stop oxidation. Special care taken during processing preserves the whole leaf intact and the motion of the pan frying gives it a unique flat shape. The liquor is a pale yellow with a light greenish tinge and a fresh clean aroma.

The taste is also fresh and clean with a flavor note which reminds me of that first bite of a newly harvested ear of corn.

Time to clean my studio and “batten down the hatches”!

Studio Wednesday

Today was devoted to finishing my beaded mokume gane cabochon necklace.

This necklace evolved one step at a time without any sketches or set plan. First, I created the polymer clay cabochon with slices from a mokume gane stack. Then I glued the cabochon to a piece of heavyweight Pellon Peltex 70 and beaded around it. I sat with the pendant for awhile meditating on what kind of necklace would feature it best. I decided on a multi-strand seed bead necklace.

After creating the 6-strand seed bead necklace, I added a beaded bail at the top of the cabochon. The open cones at the end of the strands are made from polymer clay with a copper mica powder rubbed in before baking. I also textured the cone with a piece of coral before rubbing in the powder. My intent with the cones is to make it look like the beads are spilling out of them. A cascade of beads. 16-gauge sterling silver was used to form the hook clasp with jumpring chain extender. I dipped the silver wire in a liver of sulfur solution until the wire was coppery brown.

I spent most of the day in my studio. I was so intent on my work that I never got a chance to go outside and enjoy the beautiful day. Now it’s time for a nice long walk!