Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Make it Your Own
One of my earliest memories of my mother’s jewelry is excavating a silver flower-shaped pin from her jewelry box. Back in the 50’s and 60’s, women always wore a pin on the lapel of their coats (see Mad Men for confirmation).

When I was about 3 or 4 years old this pin was one of the most fascinating things in my mother’s wardrobe. The flower was designed like a wheel with spokes and at the end of each “spoke” was a different colored stone. There were layers of these spokes in different lengths overlapping each other in 3D. I remember holding the pin in my hand and feeling all the stones and the metal.
One layer of spokes did not have any stones on it. As I looked at it, I remember thinking that I didn’t like those spokes since they had no color. So, I tried pulling off one of those spokes. To my surprise, it came of easily, in a nice, clean crisp way. I continued around the pin, removing all the spokes without stones.  You couldn’t really see where the spoke had come off because the next layer of spokes hid the stub. My little fingers were able to get in to the center very nimbly. Around the outside were some other adornments in silver. I started snapping those off one by one as well. When I was done, I had a mound of spare parts and a smaller more compact pin bursting with color. My mother came by just then and saw what I was doing. When I noticed her looking at the pin, it only then occurred to me that what I was doing might not be okay.  I saw the look of shock on her face as her eyes moved from the pin, to the spare parts, and then to me. I thought I was done for and began to cry. To my great surprise and disbelief, she smiled and looked at the pin and said, "You know, I like it better that way."  She pinned it to one of her coats and wore it proudly for years.
I give my mother a lot of credit for that moment. I never did anything like that again, but I grew ever more comfortable studying and imagining new possibilities as I looked through her jewelry. I solidified my lifelong love of and interest in jewelry. And it confirmed for me that even if I didn’t know how to make jewelry, I could make any piece better.  I often pull out old pieces that I’m tired of and switch around the stones or turn earrings into pendants, etc.   Look out jewelry designers. I own a pair of needle nose pliers and I’m not afraid to use them!

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