I just came upon the photographs of these few pieces I was especially commissioned to make and thought I’d share. A few clients separately asked that I take their old jewelry and reimagine them into new pieces. I have to say I was delighted, not only did I get to work with wonderful materials but I got to be part of the on-going stories of the pieces.
The silver bird necklace already had quite a history. The lovely charms came from a necklace my client’s father got for her mother instead of an engagement ring. Meanwhile, as my client is originally from Australia, the opulent pearl had already been around the world before it made its way to me here in Paris. I almost lost my life when she later told me that the pearl alone is worth a few hundred euro. Only now will I admit how close it came to being incorporated in another necklace and sold for 30 quid.
Meanwhile Amber is wearking a necklace into which I incorperated a tiny ivory ring that she was given by her boyfriend's mother. The large green necklace and the ivory, ebony and silver necklace came about when a client handed me an enourmous bag of tangled and broken beads and jewelry. She and her parents often traveled in Burma and while the jewelry they bought there was often georgous and made from fantastic stones, the strings were often quite weak and soon broke. However I was in bead Heaven creating these and a number of other pieces.
Meanwhile the amber necklace had been, in its first incarnation, been given to my second collector for her 18th birthday by an aunt. Unfortunately, due to unreliable old clasps, it had spent a number of years tucked away in a drawer before being sent to me. Now I’ve refashioned it not only into an opulent necklace and earrings for my collector, but also into a light and airy necklace for her niece’s 18th birthday.
I rather like the idea of the niece, in years to come, telling her niece how her aunt sent the amber to Paris Dilettante to create a new necklace. They will then laugh gleefully, as at that stage, a vintage piece of personally made Paris Dilettante jewelry will be worth THOUSANDS, especially if still in the original hand decorated box…well I can dream can’t I?
I call this my ‘Woman on the Verge’ shoot, and the story I’m imagining is that of a rich bourgeois housewife, who, trapped in the gilded palace of her 17th arrondissment apartment, has finally cracked under the pressure of her perfect life, and now, is to be found balanced on the balcony.
The colors and the shots pay an ode to the film Vertigo & Hitchcock and my directing style also, I admit, brought out shades of the great master, who was notorious for being tough on his models.In a status update, I joked that no models were harmed in the taking of these photographs. Not strictly true. While I didn’t actually ask Lucy to risk her life, I did ask her to contort herself into the most stomach crunchingly painful positions to give the impression that she was indeed hanging off the side of a building,
In fact instead she had to flounder around the ground of Leandro Erlich’s and Ann Veronica Janssen’s vertigo inducing installation at 104 art Center, where by the life sized façade of a Haussmann building lying on the ground, is then reflected in an enormous vertical mirror. Spiderman isn’t in it as members of the public appear scamper up walls, hang from balconies and totter on the roof tops. Touchingly a group of wheel chair bound people were being escorted onto the installation when we first arrived. From being suddenly wheelchair bound, they were carefully lifted onto the installation where, for the allotted 15 minutes, they appeared to defy gravity.
Myself and Lucy attempted to defy the security guards by overstaying our allotted 15 minutes but to no avail. Luckily our blue bracelets allowed us in again and again, though by the end of numerous sessions, Lucy was herself a wee bit blue for the cold.
I’ve included a few other shots taken around the various installations to be found at 104.
I love being a dilettante in Paris. Martin Luther King jr says Don't ask what the world needs - ask what makes you come alive, and go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." Now I really enjoy sitting in cafés sipping coffee and spending long hours contemplating beads. I have no idea if the world needs more necklaces but I need to make them. Other people meditate, I string Swarovski.
However saying that I am eternally grateful that there are other people whose notion of what makes them come alive has a far more practical and wide reaching impact on the world. Two women I am thinking about in particular are Karen Ward and Sam Pointier, the incredible women behind LOVE SHACK Kenya, an organization set up in Nairobi to send destitute and orphaned Kenyan children to school and hospital. To date they have provided "life saving surgery to a number of children and have enabled many to live their dream of attending higher education through to university level’.
This is only the tip of the iceburg. Take a look at their site www.loveshackkenya.ie
for an idea of the other work they do. I visited the house they had then in Kibera and over the course of a few hours watched dumbfounded as Karen had to deal with a range of issues ranging from whether to let a young girl join their house, to trying to track down the where abouts of a missing child to fire fighting corruption which threatened to the future of the new school she hoped to build. This was not a normal day for Karen, this was just THE MORNING of a normal day! Later I had attending their school’s prize day and was privileged to witness the tangible difference they are making in the lives of children who without them, literally might not have had a future.
More recently I am very excited about Love Shack’s vision of ‘bringing light to Kibera’. Based on an idea inspired by all things, a youtube video, spotted on Facebook, Karen’s team are now in the initial stages of creating a scheme with their university students to bring green cheap and sustainable lighting to homes in the slums. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ziT3XYE2xSA&feature=share
Because I believe in this cause and in the Love Shack, I pledge to tithe 10% after post and packing of every sale from my Paris Dilettante range to support the Love Shack in this initiative. At least this way, as I string my beads, an activity which helps light up my life, it might help also light up the lives of others.
Even though I am supposed to be a writer, just two words came to mind on entering Monet's gardens in Giverny 'lucky bastard'! Well when you'll see them you'll understand the jolt of envy. They are stunning, especially bathed in October Indian summer sunshine. No wonder, after a certain point, he decided pretty much to stay put, I might have been inclined to too, had Giverny just better cinemas and a bead shop.
In the meantime a long day trip from Paris suffices nicely. A train from Gare St Lazare takes only 40 minutes to Vernon, the town with the nearest station. You can grab either a bus or a bike from there to the gardens but I would well recommend a stroll around Vernon, which, with it's many 'half timbered' houses, is well worth a wander.
If you can, cycle to the garden This dilettante is NOT into exercise but it's a really lovely, if slightly bum numbing 5km cycle along a very flat, very lovely cycle path. I think there are a few rental companies but I just picked up at 14 euro for the day from the cafe with the sign 'Here Rent Bikes.' Just be careful not to do as I did the first time I went to Giverny and go out season, (1st April-31st Oct). I was half way to the gardens when my school French kicked in and I remembered the meaning of ferme!
LUCY & CARMELA ON THE RUE DAUPHAIN
I think what I enjoyed most about Lucy & Carmela's performance in a window on Rue Dauphain last night, even more then wondering how Lucy was going to extricate herself from the chair, was watching Carmela's kids watching her. They obviously thought that they had the coolest Mum and they could be right!
BACK TO BLACK
I must be incubating a black and grey piece of jewelry somewhere in the back of my mind as suddenly I seem to be seeing that color combination everywhere. Is it only me or does anyone else find the worn football extremely beautiful and somewhat melancholy? It's obvious given hundreds of hours of pleasure and sport only to be abandoned on the side of a Parisian street. I almost picked it up and took it home...then I copped on to myself. I've been watching too much TOY STORY I think.
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