|Keith Lo Bue|
First, Happy Holidays to one and all! Can’t quite believe it is almost Christmas, and almost the end of 2013. I hope you are all celebrating like mad. Enjoy every moment you can, and get ready to welcome in the NEW YEAR! This post was originally planned as an artist interview with the extraordinary Keith Lo Bue. BUT, because I know we are all spread a little thin right now what with all the ho-ho-hoing , jingling, and mistletoeing, I let him off the hook until after Christmas. I’ll keep you posted, and until then visit his website and prepare to be amazed. I’m really looking forward to that interview!
Many of us have been in a creative frenzy since October, preparing new designs for the holidays. I hope you have taken the time to visit the shops linked here, and have supported handmade and independent artists for holiday gift giving. I have had a very nice season, and have created a few designs that I really enjoyed because the designs were born of collaboration and celebration. Custom designs can be a complete crap-shoot, and I am often hesitant to agree to them. Sometime collaboration with a client is a joy, sometimes not so much. We’ve all been there—amiright?? This year, I had two specific custom collaborations that I just loved.
First, I was asked to create a bracelet for a woman celebrating a milestone birthday. The gift was to be given by her sisters. They contacted me and asked for a bracelet that would be made up of stones representing elements of her personality. They gave me a list including things like “love of family”, “love of music“, “powerful”, etc. I hit the Google machine and researched gemstones and their meaning. This was so cool, because prior to this my understanding of gemstone representations was very minimal. I learned quite a bit, and loved the process. I am fascinated with folklore and mythology, which feature gems quite a bit, plus I learned more about the healing properties associated with certain stones and the role they play in holistic medicine. Super cool! The resulting bracelet is pictured here. Each stone represents a specific aspect of the wearer’s personality. The clasp is one of my handmade favorites, a “hidden” clasp created using two enamel copper discs (BTW, MaryAnn, I am almost out. Time for another order!!!), and a kinetic gold hoop. So many little details in the overall design, from the individual stones to the tiny tag I made that has the sisters initials on one side and a musical note on the other (she is a musician). Every component in the finished bracelet has meaning. I really enjoyed every moment of the design process, and also deeply appreciate the glimpse into these girls’ lives that I was allowed. I hope she loves wearing this!
Next, I recently began creating a series of cuff bracelets that feature a single, meaningful word. The first that I made was a “Hope” cuff. I used a ½ inch aluminum band, hand textured and stamped, accented with a tiny, hand cut heart. Simple, lightweight, and very wearable. I posted the pic on my Facebook page, and was quickly contacted by some very, very special folks.
As you may know, I am a conservation biologist in “real life”. Through my work I meet and collaborate with groups and individuals who have dedicated their lives to saving what remains of nature. This may sound romantic and exciting, but the truth is what we do can be extremely frustrating and depressing. There is a war against nature raging on our planet, and often we are forced to simply watch and record the wholesale destruction. Romantic it ‘aint.
Back to the story of the “Hope” cuff. I got an email from some folks that are on the front lines of this war. Turns out, they have been hand rearing an Indian rhinoceros that was abandoned by its mother. The rhinos in this program are part of a captive breeding effort to save this critically endangered species. I’m sure you have seen the press coverage about the horrific global wholesale slaughter of elephant and rhino for their horn and tusk. I could go on and on about how disgusting and unbelievable the situation is, but I won’t. Simply put, if the poaching of these species isn’t stopped immediately we will lose these magnificent creatures within the next decade. ANYWAYS, the baby rhino’s name is….wait for it…HOPE! I was asked to create cuffs for the two girls within the team that have been working around the clock to save this baby. They spend nearly 24 hours a day with her, and if it wasn’t for this dedication and intensive care, the baby would not have survived. This is a small, dedicated group of people who have sacrificed so much…needless to say I was THRILLED. I made one for myself as well, and wear it every day. That simple word, “Hope”, represents so very, very much.
Jewelry—the art of personal adornment—can be an extremely powerful means to convey a heartfelt message. I try, with every design I create, to tell a story or impart a feeling. I think I have succeeded with the designs featured here, and in doing so I hope I have created something truly special that is more than just a pretty “thing”. I often include a note with my work that says “From my Hands and my Heart”. I mean that.
Happy Holidays to you all, I wish you Peace, Joy and most of all….Hope.