Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mother and Daughter necklaces

I made two similar necklaces for one of the Year of Jewelry Challenges at the Australian Beading Forum a while ago, gave one to mum, and kept one for myself. The theme of the challenge was "Scarlet Woman". Not knowing what the phrase really meant, I just made the necklaces based on the colour "scarlet", and tried to incorporate a female shape in the design. I even named them "Scarlet women, mother and daughter necklaces" and referred to mum and myself as the scarlet women team! Anyhow, finally found out the meaning and felt so silly, LOL. The first necklace is the "mother necklace", and the second is the "daughter". The pendants were made with onyx cabochons, Swarovski rivolis and stones, and garnet and sterling silver beads, wrapped with sterling silver wires then patinaed. Used some gorgeous garnet rondelles in the necklaces too. I have since learnt to always google the meaning of phrases I am not familiar with, before I design my pieces.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A doggie named Douglas

And this is the painting I did of Douglas when he was a puppy.
Well, his full name was actually Douglas Fung, but we called him Doug Doug, which in Chinese means either "the cute one" or "yes, shall do". Douglas was our beloved pet maltese, and for quite a while I have been wanting to make a piece in memory of him.

I bought Douglas on impulse from a pet shop quite a few years ago. He was in the shop window with his siblings, and the shop assistant was trying to get one of the other puppies out for a customer. Because he had a dark patch on his ear (which turned out to be just dirt), they didn't pick him and he was pushed back many times. He was very eager to get out and looked so sad when he was left behind, my heart just melted. I asked the assistant to get him out for me, and held him, and I just couldn’t let go. He was 8 weeks old when we got him, and he was so tiny I was constantly worried that something might fall on him or we might step on him and kill him. Anyhow, we took many pictures of him, from one of which I did an oil painting. I took a photo of the painting and turned it into a resin cab for the pendant.

Douglas was an extremely intelligent dog, and very spoilt. He used to sleep in my room (I wasn’t married yet at the time and still living with my parents), either on his little cushion on the floor or on the end of my bed. He was very picky with his food, and would only eat freshly cooked stuff. When my parents cooked casseroles, for example, they would prepare a separate portion for him with all the meat and vegetables but no seasoning, so that he could enjoy his dinner together with us. After I got married, he stayed with my parents during the week, and on the weekends, he would sometimes have sleepover at my place. I used to drop in at my parents every Mon evening on my way home from work, as well as visit them on the weekends, and mum said that Douglas seemed to know the times and days and would wait at the door for me.

When Douglas was a couple of years old, one time he had an attack of gastroenteritis, and afterwards he lost his appetite. Trying to tempt him to eat, we fed him different things and found out that he really loved Chinese stir fried beef with onions, so we kept feeding him that. A few days later, while he was playing in the backyard, he suddenly dropped down and convulsed. It happened to be my birthday that day, and we were supposed to go out for dinner. I was very worried and didn’t want to leave him, so I told everyone to go and I stayed behind. Anyhow, he got worse and we took him to an after hour emergency Vet clinic, and they found out that he had acute haemolytic anaemia, with a haemoglobin level less than half of normal. He was hospitalised and given blood transfusion, and luckily recovered completely. It turned out that he had onion poisoning. We had been very careful with what we fed him from then on.

Douglas gave us 11 years of joy and happiness. The only regret I have is that we had to put him to sleep at the end, because of acute on chronic renal failure. He was very sick and weak and had lost a lot of weight despite treatments, and the vet told us there really was no hope. Douglas had always hated going to the vets, so we decided to have the procedure performed at home. I left work early that day, went to my parents’, and held him for an hour before the vet came. The vet said it would be easier to do it with him on the floor, so we all knelt down beside him and kept patting him when the injection was given. My mum and I cried so much, and we were such a mess, the vet let himself out without asking for his fee. Next morning, we took his body to a pet cemetery, had a little ceremony in their chapel, and cremated him together with his favourite soft toy. His ashes are now in a little urn in my parents’ lounge room.

For several months after he passed away, I used to dream of him every now and then. One night, in the middle of the night, our security alarm for downstairs went off, and DH and I woke up in a panic. Anyhow, we checked all the doors and windows and couldn’t see any reasons for the alarm to go off. As I was walking into the lounge room to double check, a long white hair, just like what Douglas had, fell from the ceiling in front of me. My head told me this was just a coincidence, but my heart would like to think that he visited us that night, and set the alarm off.

If you have read up to here, thank you very much for your patience. I think some people would think I’m too sentimental, but for those of you who are animal lovers, you would understand – they are your loyal friends forever.

I used various stitches to make the necklace. The two main side pendants are Czech buttons, and the smaller ones are Swarovski rivolis and stones. Except for the main pendant, all the smaller pendants have beaded bezels (peyote, right angle weave and Herringbone stitch) without backings. The rope is St Petersburg, and the two elliptical rings are from a pattern in Diane Fitzgerald's book "Shaped Beadword". The main cab has a highly glossy and reflective surface, and was difficult to photograph. You can click on the photos for larger views.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Outback Dreaming

I made this piece some time ago. The inspiration came from a gorgeous Australian boulder opal cabochon which I purchased at a lapidary show in Sydney. I wanted to create something that would reflect the rustic beauty of outback Australia. The main pendant and the four hollow beads were all made with silver clay, and several cubic zirconium stones and two opal cabs were set. A small green lizard was added to one of the beads by enamelling. The bases of the pendant and beads were hand carved to simulate the effect of dry cracked earth in our draught stricken outback, and patches of gold were added by Keum-boo to represent the golden sunshine on this red hot land. The pieces were then patinaed with liver of sulphur, and strung into a necklace with smoky quartz beads. Through this piece, I hope I can share with you a little of my impression of the unique landscape of outback Australia.