Eye of the Hunter

20170128_154424I’ve always been fascinated with arrowheads. I grew up on the high plains of southern Colorado, and as a child I spent countless hours exploring those plains on horseback. Occasionally, I was lucky enough to find a genuine arrowhead–a tiny relic of a forgotten time when those same plains, now subdivided by barbed wire, were dominated by herds of bison that roamed freely and the Native American tribes that depended upon the bison for subsistence.

Genuine arrowheads are very difficult to find these days, but they continue to have a certain mystique in the American West. I’m clearly not the only one who finds them fascinating because modern replica arrowheads can now be found in pretty much every rock shop in the west. That’s precisely where I found the Fancy Jasper arrowhead I chose for this necklace–in a charming little rock shop in Virginia City, NV.

I never know exactly what I’m going to do with some of the pieces I pick up while I’m traveling, but I’ve learned to pay attention to what is now a familiar sort of magnetic pull of certain stones. I can’t help but pick them up, and those are the pieces that I’ll buy. Even when I can’t possibly imagine what I’ll do with it in that moment, I’ve learned that inspiration will inevitably flow. The seemingly random stone that I picked up along the way will eventually let me know what it wants to say. And so it is with this piece, which I’ve named Eye of the Hunter.

Turn on your TV or open an Internet browser these days, and you will almost certainly be convinced that the world is descending into complete chaos. Our country is more deeply divided politically than perhaps at any time in American history. Millions of Americans are marching and chanting and demanding rights they already possess while millions more trudge off to work every day, quietly hoping that they can manage to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads for another day or week or month. Those people dare not look further than a month into the future because they’ve learned over the past decade that the rug can be pulled out from under them at any moment.

Given the instability constantly portrayed on the news, it’s easy to believe that things are only going to get worse for us. But if you step outside and look around, you’re likely to find that everything is exactly as it should be. The balance and order we’re all desperately seeking is as close as our neighborhood park or greenbelt.

Growing up in a rural community, I was fortunate to spend the vast majority of my childhood outdoors. I had unfettered access to 20,000 acres of pristine land, which I explored on horseback as often as I possibly could. The countless hours I spent roaming that land, listening to the distinctive sounds of the high plains prairie and surveying wide open spaces as far as my eyes could see, left me with a deep and indelible connection to the natural world.

20170128_154152Whenever things start to feel out of balance in my life, I look to reconnect with nature. And the moment I step onto unpaved ground, I’m reminded again that the connection was never broken. I just believed I had lost it because I was focusing on the chaos instead of the order.

There is a natural order to our world, and no matter how much man claims to be above that order or in control of it, the truth is that we’re as much a piece of it as any rock, tree, or animal. We are intrinsically bound to this planet in much the same way that we are bound to our parents and our children.

The Native American Indians who once hunted these lands upon which my family now lives in a second floor apartment on the western edge of a sprawling Colorado town understood that basic truth. They knew that they were as much a part of their world as the bison that sustained them and the stones from which they honed their weapons. That understanding was central to their very survival, so they never lost sight of the common bond between themselves and the bison. Their focus was always on order rather than chaos.

Today, in a world where our food comes neatly packaged in tidy little boxes and we spend more time staring at screens than gazing out of windows, we’ve lost that focus. We’re so easily distracted by the chaos we see on the Internet and TV, and it’s easy to believe that the chaotic world portrayed on the screens that we’re so addicted to is the real world; but it’s not. The world in which we live is as ordered as it ever was. All we need to do is turn our focus to that order.

Eye of the Hunter is a reminder to turn our focus away from the chaos of politics and back to nature because it is there that we will find our way back to peace and order. What we focus on is what we foster. If you want peace, focus on peaceful things. If you want abundance, focus on those areas where your life is brimming with abundance. We all have some form of abundance in our lives for which we can be grateful. If it’s joy that you seek, focus on the squirrels chasing each other around the tree in your front yard or on the birdsong that wakes you at dawn.

Animals–particularly small woodland creatures–are inherently joyful. It’s no accident that nearly every Disney film includes scenes of a pretty girl singing joyously while surrounded by helpful woodland creatures joining in her song. Nature calls upon us to acknowledge our connection to it. I feel that call daily. Do you? Do you answer it?

20170128_153235All forms of Jasper are considered to be nurturing stones, and we’re all in need of more nurturing these days. It is my hope that this necklace will help at least one lovely woman reconnect with nature so she can restore the balance of strength and softness that is inherent to all women. The world needs more balanced feminine energy, and I can think of no better way to restore that balance than to bring as many women as I can possibly touch back to nature.

Eye of the Hunter consists of a Fancy Jasper replica arrowhead that has been intricately wrapped in handwoven copper wire and embellished with a Red Creek Jasper “eye”. The back of the pendant is finished in a pretty filigree of scrolls, so this piece can also be worn reversed. The pendant, which measures about 3 inches long by 1-1/4 inches wide, is strung on five strands of waxed nylon jewelry cord. Each cord is hand knotted with an array of natural copper and colorful Red Creek Jasper beads. Finished with an adjustable slide knot, this one-of-a-kind necklace can be adjusted from 24-40 inches long. It is currently available for sale exclusively at door44jewelry.com.

 

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Fly With Me

fly-with-meWhen it comes to jewelry, there are two kinds of people. There are those who see jewelry strictly as fashion accessories, and then there are those who see jewelry as deeply personal pieces of personal expression. I find that most of my customers tend to fall into the latter group, which is extremely fortunate for me because I learn so much from their stories and from working with them to create something that is uniquely their own.

Every now and then, I get a custom request that reminds me that I am ultimately in the business of helping people, and “Fly With Me” began with one such request. On December 3rd, I received an inquiry for a custom piece from a guy who is clearly head-over-heels in love with his girlfriend. He explained that his girlfriend lost her horse suddenly eight months ago, and she’s been grieving ever since.

I’ve had a life-long love affair with horses myself, and I’ve had some mystical experiences with them through the years. So, I completely understand the depth of the bonds that form between horses and the women who love them. The story broke my heart, but at first I declined the request because I’m unfamiliar with horsehair as an art medium. I referred the customer to a company that specializes in horse hair jewelry, but sadly, the lock of hair his girlfriend managed to keep from her horse was too short for that company to use. They’d already been turned away from there. At that point, I realized that I needed to take this commission, if for no other reason than to give a grieving young woman some peace.

Once I agreed to the commission, the design came together almost effortlessly. “Fly With Me” is one of those rare pieces that allowed me to get into that elusive flow that every artist lives for. Anyone who has ever galloped freely across an open field on the back of a beloved horse knows very well the sensation of flying just above the ground, and the horses we’ve loved and lost remain forever in our hearts. They’re angels with hooves. Wings seemed like the perfect theme for this piece, and I love the way the wings turned out. They’re subtle, and they frame the focal piece—a tassel, which is made with a lock of a beloved horse’s mane—perfectly.

Since this is the first time I’ve ever worked with horsehair, making the tassel was a bit nerve-wracking. The client provided precious little hair, so there was absolutely no room for error. Once I finally worked up the courage to give it a go, however, even that part of the process flowed effortlessly. “Fly With Me” is just one of those pieces that was meant to be, and I’m so grateful to have been a part of it!

“Fly With Me” consists of .999 fine silver wings which frame a horsehair tassel capped in silver plated pewter and sterling silver wire. The pendant, which is approximately two inches wide by three inches long, is suspended from a patterned sterling silver chain. The chain is accented with pretty little gray and aqua blue Amazonite beads and finished with a hand forged sterling silver clasp.

Amazonite is a healing stone that is believed to help soothe emotional trauma, and I can think of few things more emotionally traumatic than suddenly losing a beloved horse. They’re such powerful creatures, yet their lives are startlingly fragile. That, of course, makes them all the more precious to those of us who know and love them.

If you’d like a special horse remembrance necklace of your own, please email your request. I plan to make this design, along with one or two other concepts currently in the works, available in my shop in 2017 as made-to-order semi-custom designs.

 

Six Weeks of Gratitude: Week Six

November is, for many of us I think, a time to be thankful. As I’ve grown older, I’ve found that I naturally tend to retreat inward around the winter holidays. I don’t retreat from the outside world so much because I want to escape, but more because I feel a strong internal pull toward introspection.
 
This is the time of year that I tend to take stock of my life. I review the previous ten months and consider whether I am pleased with the direction I am going, or if perhaps I need to adjust my course a bit. Or maybe a lot, as has often been the case in previous years.
 
This year as November rolled around and I felt that familiar pull to examine my life, I was pleased to discover that all is right in my world. It’s a wonderful thing to internally examine your life and find that everything is exactly as it should be.
 
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that my life is perfect. It’s far from perfection, as a matter of fact. It’s just that I feel for once that I am right where I need to be and that no major course corrections are necessary to get me back on the right track.
 
As I’m sure you can imagine, Door 44 Jewelry is a very big part of my life. Launching a business and taking the leap into self-employment is daunting, to say the least, but this has been an amazing year. So much so, that I wanted to express my gratitude to the many people—friends, family, fans, and customers—who helped make 2016 such a remarkable first year for me.
 
I am so grateful for the support of every person who has contributed to what has been a very successful first year in business, and there have been a lot of people involved. I’ve sold over 100 pieces of jewelry to customers all over the US, and just today I shipped my first international order. One of my wildly popular Trumpet Vine pendants, pictured below, is on its way to France as I type.
 
 
I realize that I can’t do what I do without the customers who buy what I create, so I decided to give away six pieces of jewelry over a period of six weeks to show my customers how much I appreciate them.
 
I’ve already shipped five of those pieces—the fifth one, a gorgeous Lepidolite Egyptian Moon pendant pictured below, went out today along with the order I shipped to France. So, I only have one piece left to gift to a member of the Door 44 community.
 
 
I’ll be giving a limited-edition silver and blue Winter Icicle pendant to one lucky winner on Saturday, December 17th. If you’d like to have your name thrown in the hat from which my husband will blindly pull one name next Saturday, just ‘like’ and share this Facebook post.
 
Follow Door 44 Jewelry while you’re there for exclusive savings and the latest news about what’s happening on my workbench. And if I haven’t already said it to you before, welcome to Door 44 Jewelry and thank you for shopping. Please come back again!
 
Have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

Back in the Creative Groove

The original intent of this blog was to share my jewelry, my creative process, and the ways in which my life influences my jewelry and vice versa. My plan at the beginning of 2013 was to step my life-long jewelry hobby up to a business, but I got married that year instead.

I thought I’d try again to launch the jewelry business in 2014, but instead I became a full-time mom when my stepdaughter came to live with her father and me. The first half of 2015 was an absolute whirlwind with job changes and lawyers and school and cello lessons and moving to a new city, but things are starting to settle down now, and I’m finally finding the time to get back to my personal goals.

Having been out of the daily habit of making jewelry for a very long time, I decided to get back into the groove by honing my metalworking skills and experimenting with some new wire-wrapping techniques. The following images are the results of some of my first focused attempts at wire work in… well… a very long time.

Nicole Hanna of Nicole Hanna Jewelry has long been an inspiration for me. Where she finds the time and energy to do all that she does is beyond me, but besides making gorgeous jewelry and writing fabulous tutorials for aspiring wire wrappers, she also runs a great page on Facebook that’s become a sort of gathering place where artists help artists by sharing tips, techniques, and tutorials. The page is relatively new, but I’m amazed by how quickly its membership has exploded, and that’s largely because Nicole has a huge following in the wire wrapped jewelry world. Seriously, if you’ve never heard of her, it must be because you’re not a wire worker. Or a hand crafted jewelry lover.

Anyway, long story short, Nicole has this way of getting people to step out of their comfort zone and create stuff they might not ordinarily attempt. This month she issued a challenge for group members to create something with a leaf theme using only wire, a single bead, and no tools besides wire cutters and a single pair of jewelry pliers.

Sounds simple, right? Well, it’s not. Particularly if you’ve taken a couple of years away from wire work in order to focus one some huge life changes. Add to that the fact that I love tools. I generally work with a minimum of three different sets of pliers, so committing to using a single pair for this challenge was almost physically painful for me. This piece fought me every inch of the way. I scrapped my first attempt and restarted the design. I broke several wires. Nothing flowed properly or ended up looking quite the way I saw it in my mind, but I finally ended up with a piece I liked enough to submit for the contest. And then I broke the bead while I was doing the final polish. Ugh! Another repair (and more wire added to my scrap bin), another round of the whole clean/patina/clean/polish routine (my least favorite part of the whole process); and this is the result of all that wire and frustration (not to mention some pretty colorful language):

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Dew-laden Aspen Leaf – design inspired by Nicole Hanna of Nicole Hanna Jewelry.

It’s my interpretation of a dew-laden Aspen leaf in the fall. The colors are peaking here in Colorado this week, so it’s a timely tribute to my favorite season. The design is also a nod to Nicole Hanna’s style, which I adore even though I’ve never quite been able to do her designs justice.

As a jewelry artist, I don’t wear a lot of jewelry that I didn’t make myself, but I make an exception for Nicole’s work. I own three Nicole Hanna originals, and I gush about her work like a proud parent whenever someone compliments me on one of those pieces.

The second big challenge I took on this week was a pair of earrings designed by another jewelry rock star whose work I shamelessly worship. I mentioned Sarah Thompson in  a previous post after I’d taken her online course through Craftsy.com. I first discovered Sarah’s work a couple of years ago while I was looking for wire wrapped inspiration on Etsy. It was there that I first saw her Scorpio earrings, and I fell in love with her work the moment I laid eyes on them. As luck would have it, Sarah included that particular earring design in her new book, Fine Art Wire Weaving.

Here’s my first attempt at that design:

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Scorpio Earrings – Design by Sara Thompson

Fricken fabulous, aren’t they? I can’t begin to explain how inspiring her work is, so go check it our yourself at Sarah-n-Dippity! And tell her I said hello. Cuz that’s not creepy at all.

Now that I’m finally back to focusing on jewelry, this blog might start to have fewer words and more pictures. Probably not a bad thing, given my tendency to ramble.

Oh, one more thing… Welcome to all the new followers I’ve picked up over the past few weeks. Thank you for taking the time to read and share my blog.

Now, go make something beautiful!

What’s Behind Door 44?

The number 44 has become something of a special totem for me. For the past several years, I’ve noticed that this number crops up frequently in my life. I see it on clocks, purchase receipts, license plates–it’s pretty much everywhere I look. And when something repeats that persistently in my life, I pay attention.

I turned 44 last August. I’ve known for a while now that this would prove to be a significant year, so I was definitely looking forward to it. Yet, even while anticipating a monumental year, I’ve been surprised by some of the amazing things that have happened in the past nine months. By the end of October 2013, I’d quit my job, sold my house, and moved to Denver (a city I’d resisted for many years). My husband, Matt, and I got married on October 29, 2013 in what must seem like an incredibly impulsive act to the friends and family who have known me to be generally cautious and methodical when it comes to major life decisions.

I finally completed the college degree program I started years ago–a BSIT with an accounting specialization–in March. My degree was conferred on May 4th, but after nearly twenty years of working in the corporate world, I don’t have a burning desire to re-immerse myself in that world. The older I get, the clearer it becomes that I’m not cut out to be a corporate drone; and for the first time in my adult life, I am completely free to choose what to do with my time and energy. My husband has very generously given me the freedom to return to work or launch the jewelry business I’ve dreamed of starting for years or to volunteer my time to whatever cause captures my attention. My challenge is to figure out which, if any, of those paths to choose.

More than a year ago I was so certain that I would be making jewelry that I commissioned this logo from my friend and graphic artist, Cindy Shew:Door44-finished

So much has changed since I settled on this logo for my jewelry business, not the least of which is my name. I hardly remember who Wendi Givigliano was anymore, so it seems strange to see that name on my logo. That version of myself has faded to sort of an abstract image of a woman bound by circumstances to a lonely existence and a life path that was continually directed toward the needs of the people and organizations that consumed my time and attention. I didn’t have a lot of spare time or energy to pursue my own interests, so I selfishly guarded my down time so I could make jewelry. It was through that solitary creative process, which I immersed myself in nightly, that I was able to restore my energy reserves so I could face another day at work.

It dawned on me recently that the act of making jewelry back then was my life line, in a sense. It’s what kept me balanced and sane after dealing with the insanity of emotionally imbalanced coworkers jockeying for position in a dysfunctional corporate organization day after day. The simple act of creating jewelry gave me a concrete sense of accomplishment, and the creative process became my chosen means of meditation and stress release.

That was then. Wendi Givigliano, as I remember that version of myself, was operating in survival mode. I dreamed of the day that I might evolve from surviving to thriving, but I had no concrete ideas about how to get there. In a desperate attempt to redirect my course toward a more fulfilling existence, I chose making jewelry as one potential means to that end. The logo above was the ultimate expression of that desire. I imagined that starting a jewelry business would open the door to fulfillment for me. Little did I know that the door would open on its own accord, and that it would turn my whole world view upside down in the process.

Ironically, I was working with Cindy on the design of my logo at the exact same time that my husband came back into my life after a two-year hiatus. I first met Matt in the spring of 2009. We were coworkers at the time. I was a project manager at a small manufacturing company in Trinidad, Colorado back then. Matt, a software developer, was hired to work on a specific project for that company. Our paths didn’t cross frequently at the office, and we never worked directly with one another, so I never got an opportunity to really get to know him. Still, I felt a strong connection to him. So when he left after working there for less than a year, I wondered if I’d somehow missed an important opportunity.

I got a chance to explore that opportunity a second time in 2010 when Matt and I connected via Facebook. Once we finally started talking, we discovered that we have an awful lot in common. Facebook messaging lead to text messaging and email correspondence, which in turn lead to phone conversations that would last for hours. That’s the only time either of us ever exceeded the minutes on our respective cell phone plans. As luck would have it, though, we still didn’t manage to get together back then.

Our lives spun off in different directions that summer, and we lost all contact until January, 2013 when the simple gesture of a LinkedIn endorsement from Matt brought the wheel of fortune back around for us a third time. We immediately picked up right where we left off two years prior, and while I finalized the logo for my jewelry business, the act of making jewelry was pushed to the back burner while Matt and I dated.

We lived 120 miles apart at that time, so we split our weekends between his home and mine. On weeknights, I was talking with him on the phone instead of making jewelry. And now I am Wendi Reamy. This new version of myself is clearly a wife and stepmother. Whether or not I am still a jewelry artisan remains to be seen. My priorities have changed. My focus has changed dramatically. I still feel the drive to create, but that drive seems to be flow more naturally into domestic activities like cooking than artistic expression.

I am far more inclined to scour the internet for interesting recipes today than I am to pick up my wire and tools. I miss making jewelry, and I hope to get back to it at some point. For now, though, my sense is that I should probably just go with the flow. The wheel of fortune brought Matt around to me three times, and it was on that third rotation that we were finally able to make what was clearly an inevitable connection. Making jewelry has been a significant part of my life at two very specific points now. Perhaps, as with my husband, the jewelry craft will finally stick if it comes back around on the wheel a third time.

Until then, this blog, which was originally intended to be focused on my jewelry business, will more likely be a place where I sort out my thoughts about life, love, relationships, and the many connections I make to those things through artistic expression–either my own or that of other artists whose work moves me.

If you are interested in discovering with me what’s behind Door 44, I welcome you to join me on this journey. In the meantime, remember this: life is short, so do something you love.