Monday, September 22, 2014

Goddess Series: Mama Cocha

The Mama Cocha necklace was made using varous shells, aquamarine, freshwater perals, and glass beads, metal focals, two rhinestone connectors and silver plated chains.  A small treasure 'cannister" rests amidst the shells and stones, allowing the wearer to carry a wish, prayer, or small charm.

Mama Cocha (Mama Qocha, Mama Qucha, Qucha Mama, Cochamama) is the South American goddess of the sea, though she's usually associated with the Incans.  She was revered throughout Peru, Ecuador, Southern Columbia, Northern and Chile.  Her name translates to "Sea Mother."  Coastal dwellers, sailors, and fishermen prayed to her for protection from storms, to calm the seas, and to bless them with the bounty therein (fish).  People who lived more inland saw her as a more menacing being.  She was also associated with Lake Titicaca, which is sometimes still refered to as Mama Cocha.

Mama Cocha was the wife to Viracocha (or Wiraqucha, the supreme god) and she bore two children, Mama Quilla (the moon goddess) and Inti (the sun god).  All water (rivers, streams, irrigation water, rain, and the ocean) was believed to stem from her.  To ensure that children were linked to her, Incans (and other Peruvians) would travel to the ocean to bathe their children in the ocean.  Certain seashells were thought to be "daughters of the sea, the mother of all waters" and were used in sacrifices to Mama Cocha.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Goddess Series: Persephone / Kore

The Persephone / Kore necklace was made to reflect the dual nature of this goddess.  The light green beads represent Kore in the role of life bringer.  The darker blue-black beads hearken to her time as Persephone, Queen of the Underworld and the Dead.  The focal is the pomegranate and the six seeds this goddess ate, which sealed her fate and transformed her into the goddess of Life, Death, and Rebirth.

Persephone, originally named Kore, was the daughter of Demeter and Zeus.  She was young and vibrant, and was considered a goddess of agriculture (much like her mother).  When she was abducted by Hades, Demeter became enraged and withdrew from the land, allowing the plants and animals to die off and refusing to allow new life to grow.  The world was plunged into a lasting Winter.  In order to bring life back to the world, Zeus promised to find and return Kore to her mother with only one condition: Kore could only return if she did not partake of in the offerings of Hade's realm.

During her entrapment in the Underworld, Kore was heartbroken and homesick.  Though she did not know of the condition Zeus set upon her return, she refused all food, gifts, and attentions from Hades.  When he learned of her immenent depature, he made one last attempt to keep her below.  Hades, disguised as an old woman, offered Kore a pomegranate.  The jewel colored seeds tempted her, and she accepted six seeds.  As she ate them, their blood-like juice stained her lips, and thus sealed her fate.  Zeus ruled, as a compromise, that Kore must live in the Underworld for one month per seed she ate.  As such, she would spend half of the year in the world above as Kore, daughter of Demeter, and half of the year as Persephone, Queen of the Underworld, and consort to Hades.  From this, she became the symbol of Life and Death, Destruction and Rebirth.

This goddess in an intricate character, based off beliefs and stories that may even predate the one I mentioned above.  As both the bringer of life and the Queen of the Dead, she carries with her the primordial duality that plagued mankind.  What is life?  What is death?  She also symbolized the duality of femininity: the fresh innocence of girlhood and the wisdom/strength of womanhood.  The death of the girl upon becoming the woman.  The pomegranate could easily represent menses and the end of innocence (and much like the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge in the story of Adam and Eve).

Goddess Series: Grandmother Spider

The Grandmother Spider necklace was created with inpiration from various style of Native American jewelry and the movement of spider webs.  It features a metal web base with a hand-fractured glass gem wireworked into place.  Silver chains and glass beads (aurora borealis and clear), a handmade 3 loop connector, a toggle clasp, and two handmade beaded spiders complete the this beautiful piece.

Grandmother Spider (Na'ashjéii Asdzáá, Spider Grandmother, Spider Woman, Spider Old-Woman) is from the several Native American folklores, including the Navajo, Cherokee, Hopi, and Pueblo tribes.  She was believed to create the stars in the sky, lacing dew onto one of her webs and throwing it into the sky.  From the Sky World, she watched the universe and the living things within it from her web.  She spun the Web of Life with her song, dance and threads.  Every living creature came into being through her song and dance.  She created the stars, planets, light, and thoughts; her web was woven throughout every cycle and part of creation.

Her lesson is that we are not separate beings; we are all part fo the Great Mystery.  We experience an individual awareness through our physical bodies, but all life is inter-connected.  All life is equal within her Web of Life, and each life brings its own gifts and contributions therein.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Goddess Series: Freyja (Freya)

This collar style necklace was inspired by Freyja's Brisingamen (or the Brising Necklace), which was described as golden like the sun.  It features a front toggle clasp with gold rhinestones.  A spearhead hangs from the clasp as a symbol of the Freyja's role as a war goddess and the Valkyries; the women-warriors that Freyja led, gathering the souls of fallen heroes who died in battle.  The hand-fractured glass marbles represent her tears, which turned to gold or amber, depending on whether the landed on land or sea.  The wire-wrapped quartz shards represent wisdom and light (traits that were ascribed to the Freyja's race, the Vanir) and the ice of the cold Nordic regions.

Freyja was the Norse goddess of love, sexuality, beauty, war, and sorcery.  It is believed that she and several other Norse goddesses stem from a single Germanic goddess.  Freyja's name has been found in various Scandinavian, Germanic, and Nordic regions.  (Her name is also spelled as follows: Freya, Frejya, Freyia,Frøya, Frøjya, Freia, Frejsha, and Freja.  Some of her aliases are: Gefn, Hörn, Mardöll, Sýr, Valfreyja, and Vanadís.)

She was greatly drawn to gold and jewels, the story about how she obtained the Brisingamen being based around this trait.  She was a member of the Vanir (along with her brother, father and mother) and was taken hostage or traded to the Aesir (the gods of Valhalla).  Her Valkyries collect half of the souls of slain warriors to dwell in the afterlife fields she rules over, called Fólkvangr; the other half would go to Odin's Hall, Sessrúmnir.  Though she was married to Odur and bore him two children Hnoss and Gersemi), he abandoned her or disappeared for unknown reasons.  One story explains him leaving when he learned of a trade she made with the four dwarves that created the Brisingamen; one night with her for each of the necklace's artisans.  Other stories state that Odur goes on long journeys, which leaves her alone for extended periods of time.  In both stories, she is stated to weep tears of gold and amber, and takes up aliases while in search for her husband.  In his absence, she was stated to take lovers and was sought after as wife by the jötnar (frost giants).

Among her symbols are a feathered cloak, two blue/grey cats, a boar, a spear and chariot, amber, and the Brisingamen necklace.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Goddess Series: Athena

The Athena Necklace features heavy antique gold chain and a delicate gunmetal black chain.  Fringe of copper and black chain creates a scallop affect where they connect, hinting at her weaving and more womanly skills.  Larger antique gold stylized feathers and smaller bright gold spearheads represent the blend of wisdom and battle.  The focal emblem is an owl in flight, seemingly about to attack its prey.  The clasp is an antique gold toggle, in a simple deco style, with small clear rhinestones embedded into the metal.

Though the Greek and Roman deities were oft times so similar that they can be interchangeable, Athena is one of the exceptions.  She is often compared to the Roman goddess Minerva, but there are are enough differences that they are not the same (unlike Aphrodite/Venus or Zeus/Jupiter).  The belief is that the Romans may have divided Athena into two separate deities; Minerva (goddess of wisdom, art, weaving, music, trade/commerce, and defense) and Bellona (goddess of war and can create war-like frenzies).

The generally accepted origin of Athena states that she was born from the union between Zeus (Father of the Gods) and Metis (goddess of wisdom, calculating thoughts, and cunning).  Due to a prophecy that Metis would bear children more powerful than their father, Zeus decided that he should devour her whole in order to maintain his preeminence over all other creatures.  He was too late; she had already conceived and his offspring were growing within him.  As they grew, Zeus began to develop a migraine.  In time, his head eventually cracked open (the cause of which depends on the version of the story is read), and out sprang Athena full grown and armed.  She let out a scream that caused the heavens and earth to tremble.  The symbols that are most commonly shown with her are a combination of: an owl, a shield, a spear, a serpent, and a helmet.

Other myths depict her as the daughter of Cronus, making her a sibling to Zeus and Hera, rather than the daughter to either.  There are other stories in which Triton raises her, and that she was not technically related to the Olympian gods.

Athena is combines the creative with the analytical.  She is associated with strategy, law/justice, tactical warfare (preferably for a reasonable cause or to end a conflict), courage/strength, and mathematics, but also with arts, crafting, weaving, medicine, philosophy, education/intelligence, sexual modesty, and wisdom.  She was one of the virginal goddess, having had no consort or lover, and thereby represented the epitome of the ideal woman, the favored daughter of Zeus.  She was a woman to be seen as an actual being and force unto herself, rather than a creature whose value is partially or mainly to be sexually desired (whether attainable or unattainable). 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Wire-for Art Thou...

I've been trying to figure out bail styles and techniques I like, but so far, I haven't been too satisfied with them.  Looking at the four most recent, perhaps I'm being too hard on myself.  What are your thoughts?

A  more organic, messy style...

Spiral glue-on bail...

More spiral glue-on bails...
These turned out a bit messy due to the adhesive reacting with the enamels...

Friday, October 11, 2013

And then, it was time to paint more...

As seen in the picture above, I've been a busy bee, working on these painted gems.  Only one of the gems in the picture has a wire bail, but the rest may get one soon so I can start giving some as gifts and listing others.

I have so many ideas on things I want to paint on my main gems... and may use some painted mini gems for my Arachne necklace (or jewelry set).  I'm so incredibly excited!