Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Reason for the Season by Karen McGovern

Working seasonal. I used to hate to hear those words. So my other jewelry designer friends would contact me and ask, "what are you going to make for (insert holiday here)"? I've never been one to create jewelery designs based on a holiday or event. Its just not my style. While I do love the work created by others for holidays, I just could never wrap my brain around sitting down and creating earrings in an American flag pattern. Or tiny snowman pendants, or Easter Bunny bracelets, or whatever else you could think of for holidays. Although once I did make an epic steampunk-ish Peeps pendant based on a bunny shaped marshmallow Peep. That was pretty cool, and I ended up giving it away in a fun online contest.

Anyways, I guess what I believe is that if you're going to make the piece of jewelry around a specific event, it should be something that you really believe in, celebrate deeply, or find fascinating. For me that has been Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos. I am really interested and inspired by this particular holiday and festival. Ocurring beween October 30th and November 3rd, it is a traditional Mexican festival celebrating loved ones who have died. One of the central elements of the festival are sugar skulls. These are highly stylized, elaborately painted and decorated human skulls. They can be made out of just about anything. I found an shop on Etsy, Sweet Treats by Gwen, that sells the most delicious sugar skull sugar cookies I have ever eaten. I get them every year. This particular form of art is really fascinating inspirational to me. Sugar skulls are gaining popularity in the jewelry market as well. Lots of artist are doing them. Stacy Louise creates a beautiful line of copper clay and metal clay sugar skull pendants. You've got to take a look, they are gorgeous! I myself have started to delve into the sugar skull pendant world, and have created several that I'm very pleased with. My take on a sugar skull is to create a simple skull out of copper, aluminum, or brass sheet. I will etch the brass and copper, and texture the aluminum. From there I embelish with whatever I have handy. Steel flowers, lampwork glass, enamel copper discs, dangles and more. I'm really into sugar skulls at the moment, and I'm very happy to say that I will have one published soon. It's a tutorial, I can't say much about it right now, but I will let you know the moment it's available!
Stacie's GORGEOUS sugar skull necklace
A sugar skull pendant I recently created with a bee theme.
The point I'm trying to make is that here is so much more information about the history of holidays out there than we typically think of off the cuff. Christmas brings to mind snowflakes, Christmas trees and snowmen, but what about the winter solstice? Or even Krampus??? The true folklore and history behind many holidays is far more inspirational to me than what we have commercialized in our culture at this moment. So whenever I think of creating a holiday themed jewelry design, I usually take the time to do a bit of research about the true history and folklore behind the holiday. There's so much history and legend behind many of the holidays we celebrate. Thats were the real inspiration resides!

I know its only mid July, but you can't tell me that you're not already realizing that the holiday season is just around the corner. Especially if you are an artist who actually makes their living making art. We all need to capitalize on this time of year and we also want to create meaningful pieces that will go far beyond just simple gift giving. That's why I encourage all of you to do a little bit more research about holidays, find out some unusual festival or celebration that is now, or was historically held at that time. And then do something really creative with it.
An elaborate sugar skull cuff I created last year.
That being said, every year for Thanksgiving my family holds a hand turkey contest and we all create really amazing crap art! I doubt the finished works will ever hang in the Louvre, but sometimes the front of the fridge makes a far better display than some old museum.
My epic digital hand turkey.  Yes, I used my hand and then added the rest.
I guess what I'm touching on, without getting all preachy, is culture (although I did just post a picture of a giant vampire hand turkey destroying a city...). sometimes I think we forget about culture and history when it comes to holidays. We live in a highly commercialized world and it seems to me that some of the most important holidays have been reduced to really contrived and inelegant elements. Believe it or not, we have a pretty rich history here. It's worth looking into. It's worth transforming and interpreting into some amazing art. I encourage all of you to do it, and I hope to see your holiday art all over the Internets this season.  Do share your interpretations with us!

1 comment:

Carol Dekle said...

I love your post! Great reminder to honor our loved ones who have passed and also celebrate our cultures! My favorite time of year is the fall equinox when the days and nights are similar in length and the leaves start to change colors. I will try to keep in mind "the reason for the season" when creating this fall. Thanks Karen! BEAUTIFUL jewelry designs!

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