Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Ocean and Melusine

I love jellyfish.  I really, really do.  I became somewhat obsessed with them when I moved last year and I'm not sure why.  Even back then, I wasn't sure.  I do know it started with the illustration plates to the left (which are also hanging in my main bathroom).

I've always loved the ocean.  Most of my life, I lived on the East Coast.  For 7 years, I was only a 15 minute drive from the beach, and then for another 8 years, I was only 5 to 10 minutes away (and could walk to the beach in less than half an hour).  There were only two years that I lived far away from the shore, but was still visiting my mother, so the beach was still not far from me.  I'm not sure how close we were to the beaches in South Korea, where my family lived for 3 years of my youth, but I have a strong suspicion we visited the beaches a decent amount of times.

Admittedly, when I was in my teens and older, I didn't really visit the beach as much as some might think and didn't go often during the summer season, except after hours when the beach was free.  The tourists were a bit overwhelming for the 'beach town' I lived in, or perhaps they were just overwhelming for me.  So I saved my trips to non-prime times, my favorites being in the Autumn and Spring, usually with a boyfriend, a friend, or a couple friends.

I didn't walk in the water too often, but followed the staggered lines further up, where the waves deposited various sea plants and shells.  My head turned down, my eyes scanning this bounty to see what would catch my interest, usually various tiny whole shells that are roughly the size of my pinky nail, or small bits of shells that are riddled with holes, or even tiny whole crabs, crab backs, or pincher claws.  At other beaches, I'd find sand glass and even found a sand dollar once.  I remember seeing the tiny clear masses of jellyfish here and there, but not often at the beach near my home.

In my room, I had baskets full of larger shells I collected in my younger years, small trinket boxes and ceramic bowls with the tiny shells I collected when I was older, jars of seashell pieces and a couple jars with seashells my older sister collected in South Korea and Japan that she brought with her when we moved back to the US.  I had a mermaid Barbie doll that sat on my largest basket and a seagull that hung from my ceiling (the type that you pull the cord on the bottom and the bird's wings flap).  I had fishing nets as curtains with strands I made of tiny shells hanging in rows.  I collected old bottles that looked like they could have been on old ships and had a postcard with a Victorian image of a mermaid on it that I placed in a frame jewelry box.  I even had a small beach scene that I put together using sand, driftwood, shells, dried seaweed, a dried tiny crab shell and so on, all placed in a small aquarium my older sister gave me.  I loved the salty smell of the air, and would lose myself while watching the motions of the sea.

From all of this, you'd think I was obsessed with the sea... but I can't really say I was; more like it was just always a part of my world.  Something I appreciated, but didn't really think about too much.  I didn't notice how much I missed the beach when I lived away from it, but when I returned a few years later, I realized how much I missed it.  I felt safe and complete once again.

A year ago, I moved away again, and at that point, I felt drawn to many more things oceanic.  That's not to say I don't like where I'm living now.  I love living near so many farms while still being in a suburban setting.  I love being able to purchase produce, meat, eggs, dairy, and more directly from the farmers.  I like a lot of things about where I'm living, but at the same time, I hate that the ocean is so far away.

The name of my jewelry line is Melusine's Jewels.  Melusine comes from two myths...

In the first, Melusine is a half fairy who was cursed by her mother; a curse that turned her lower half to the tail of a fish/serpent every saturday.  When a noble met Melusine, he fell in love and asked her to marry him, not knowing about her curse.  She only agreed under one condition; she must have complete privacy every Saturday and he must never ask her about her 'alone time'.   He agree, but after a few years, he became curious.  He snuck into her chamber and found her in her half fish/serpent form.  She heard his gasp, turned into a dragon and flew away, screaming.  She did, however, visit her children every night and watched over them and her descendent from then on.

In the second, the melusine were basically freshwater mermaids, the top half being human and the lower half being fish/serpent.

When I started frying marbles and making my jewelry, I kept thinking of mermaids and Melusine.  I actively tried to create items to which mermaids would be drawn, this being my inspiration.  The phrase, "Mermaids are the magpies of the Sea," also came to me.

My jewelry has ventured in different directions, from jellyfish to birds nests to more, but the ocean still seems to keep me inspired in my designs, keeping me from being too organic or too rigid... I just 'go with the flow' of my ideas and see where they take me.

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