The Brass Caliper
October 2017 Brass Packs - OH the HORROR!
Enclosed is your October 2017 Brass Pack with the theme "OH the HORROR." Well it is Halloween month after all. Bwa ha ha ha ha. It has been a fairly beautiful October here in Idaho, the last few days in particular. The changing of the leaves and the reminder to put on your sweatshirt when you go outside is in full force. Jennifer Evans has included some organic makeup remover that is all natural--for that green or zombie Halloween makeup that just won't come off no matter how hard you scrub. Shake it up and/or stir it a bit before use though (because of the all-natural ingredients, separation will happen).
This month has been particularly hard on us. We lost our dad (my father in law) Glenn Embree. it was somewhat unexpected, and it was quick. The shock hasn't worn off yet. I was fortunate enough to see him every day. Part of the reason we moved to Rigby Idaho was to be closer to him. He was a geologist and professor and his nick-name was Indiana Jones. This man could do everything--and did. He LIVED life, and LOVED the people in it. I will miss him every day for the rest of my life.
This had led me to think a lot about the mourning process, and it kind of bled over into this month's jewelry making. As I've been thinking about the dead, and particularly family members that have passed on before me, I got to thinking about what most call "Remembrance Jewelry." It's been around as long as we have been wanting to remember our deceased loved ones. In fact, it's one of the reasons we have jewelry in the first place. Some ancient cultures would take teeth from their relative and make rings and pendants--others a lock of hair. The mourning jewelry of today incorporates effects from the person, and maybe sometimes cremains. The jewelry can be as individual as the people they represent, that's what makes it so special.
When most folks think of "Memorial Jewelry," they think of the Victorian Era. After the death of Queen Victoria's husband Prince Albert in 1861, Queen Victoria wore mourning black for the rest of her life. This set the example for the rest of her country. Black jewelry of all types became the fashion--and memorial jewelry in particular became very common-- in part due to the shift toward mass production and less expensive materials. It was during this period that bereavement jewelry expanded beyond rings to include items like lockets, bracelets, necklaces, and cameos. More expensive items were often made out of jet (a form of fossilized coal), pearls, ivory, and jewels. More affordable alternatives included black enamel or glass. (source: Perfect Memorials). Indeed, when you think of Victorian jewelry of any sort, you are thinking of bereavement or memorial jewelry.
After reading everything I could get my hands on about this type of jewelry, I decided to make this the focus of your pieces this month. I want you to know that I spend a LOT of time considering each month's pieces. Sometimes that's why it takes so darned long to get them out to you (being an artist is harder than it looks--I have a LOT of failed attempts before I get something I feel is half way decent).
The first piece is a Steampunk rendition of a Queen Victoria piece. It is "kind of" a historical remake. When I say kind of--I mean "loosely based on a theme by..." The front has the most famous picture of Queen Victoria in mourning clothing. It is made in cameo shape (made popular during that time period). If it were authentic, it would have been a cameo of the Prince in a locket--perhaps inscribed with some comforting words (certainly not a picture of herself). Her mourning jewelry would have included locks of his hair and the color blue (I'm guessing his favorite color?). Yours includes authentic grandfather clock bronze gears (aren't they cool looking?). It is in "choker" style--to be worn so that the cameo covers the spot right above your clavicle where there's a little indent and you can feel your heartbeat (keeping your loved one close to your heartbeat). I know this probably isn't your everyday jewelry, but maybe there will be occasion to wear it during a cosplay event or costume party.
The second piece is what I would have designed for someone today. It is, of course, a lighter, more stylish piece...to be worn with every day fashion. In our culture today, we do tend to wear darker colors at funerals, but we aren't expected to go around wearing black for a certain period of time (certainly not for the rest of our lives). This piece includes two pieces so it makes a sound when you move, reminding you subtly of your loved one, and it has very different "feels" to it. Leather cord instead of chain to wear around your neck, shiny resin on one side of the pendant, rough resin on the other (for rubbing), and a silver charm with the words "I will hold you in my heart until I hold you in heaven" engraved on it (also something you can rub your fingers over in remembrance). The reference to heaven is there to represent the idea that most of us still believe in life after death. The cord is short enough so that it still fits right where the heart beats.
I really hope you like them both.
I am currently designing my remembrance jewelry for dad. In fact, I think I'm going to make a "Dad" piece. I was lucky enough to have the two best fathers in the universe. My biological father (who passed away in 2002), and my father in law (I still am lucky enough to have another father in law--I really did win the family lottery). Anyway, I have flowers from both services. I think I will take a petal from both and put them forever in resin, with the words--"Love Without End, Amen." Wow, now I'm leaking from the eyes again, dangit.
What if we were to design our own "Remembrance Jewelry?" What would it look like? If you could design a piece to give to your posterity, what would be included on it? In it? Would it be a ring or a locket--bracelet or even a key fob?
But maybe that's not the purpose. Perhaps the purpose is for the wearer to decide what it is about the deceased that touched them so much in life that they need to have it memorialized to carry with them always. Was it their role in your life? Their proximity to you? What would you hope their piece would include? What exactly would you want to be remembered and missed for?
Whatever the answer to these questions in your own lives, I am very fortunate to have had a huge jewelry box full of amazing people in my life. Now if that doesn't sound like a Stephen King novel, I don't know what else would. Speaking of Stephen King, I adhere to his mantra on writing and apply it to my life: "People want to know why I write such [scary] stuff. I like to tell them I have the heart of a small boy...and I keep it in a jar on my desk." True words to live by. Unless you're a small boy I suppose. Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha. Ok, I had to bring it all back to the theme "horror." It was a stretch, a big big stretch. Sorry about that.
'Til next time my friends. Stay horrible.
p.s. This letter will be posted online on our website, and on our Facebook pages. PLEASE go online and interact with us. We need to hear from you.
p.p.s. Also included in this month's pack--just in time for Christmas ordering is information about the "Words to Live By" Project. We are so excited about this project, and it is a GREAT Christmas Gift idea that is personal, intimate, and affordable.