by Barbara Bechtel
Admittedly, I tend to be sort of boring in my selection of jewelry that I wear everyday. I would not describe as a fashionista, preferring instead to find those several comfortable outfits that I think complement my figure enough and require little thought. I stick to comfy shoes over high style designs and I wear things until they are in tatters and I'm forced to get new things.
More often than not, when people discover I make jewelry, their eyes shift immediately to my ears, my neck, or my wrists, and they exclaim, "OH! Did you make that???" More often than not, I sheepishly look down and say, "No, I didn't....but it is handmade." I then launch into a story about how I chose the particular piece that they are admiring, which craft show or handmade boutique, or artist I purchased it from.
It's not that I don't wear the jewelry I make, I think it's more that the pieces I tend to wear, I choose very specifically because they suit my comfortable style. I like the pieces I wear to be almost like talismans. I can tell you what point in my life, I purchased each piece, what I was feeling at that time, or what milestone I was passing through or celebration it marked.
Kathryn Riechert in 2004 at ShopSCAD. It has the phrase "paint masterpieces" stamping onto it. I had recently began selling my work shortly after graduating from college and I purchased this ring as a present for myself with my first check from selling my work. Shortly after I purchased the above ring, I purchased another ring with the verb, Espoir (meaning, To Hope, in French). I wore them stacked on my middle finger, and when I lost, Espoir, after some weight loss and they were too loose. I began wearing this on my right thumb, which is oddly misshapen from a childhood little league injury.
These are my go to necklace wares. The tiny hope necklace was a replacement for the ring I lost above, and has a hand stamped tiny feather and the word hope, also by Kathryn Riechert. The house charm is a Thai amulet with a small hamsa in it that was gifted to me by Shannon LeVart. I wear it tied with a simple red thread around my neck.
Old Money Corp.
Campbell Pottery on a day trip with my siblings while home in PA on a visit. The tiny silver and gold beads move and slide and was called a "worry ring". It's delicate nature represents what I was feeling at that time.
These are my favorite bracelets. The braided silver bangle was pilfered from my mom's jewelry box when I was a teenager. When she saw me wearing it, she told me that she has pilfered it out of a box in my great-grandfather's workshop. He used to keep rental homes and she thought he had likely found it when he was cleaning out an apartment. It is beautiful, rustic, and handmade, likely from the 30's or 40's. The wooden bangle was made by my stepfather, a talented woodworker. As he cuts and stacks firewood for their home, he often keeps and sets aside beautiful and unusual hardwoods he comes across. One year he made a bunch of bangle bracelets with the wood. This one fits perfectly and I wear it often.
What type of jewelry do you wear and find meaningful?