The All New Me

Since I last wrote My Favorite Blue Piecean article on my blog, a lot has happened to me physically. In April 19 this year I had a Stroke (Acute Arterial Ischemic Stroke, Vertebrobasilar, Thalamic) and have some annoying numbness in my left hand and mouth as a result. Of course I was hoping to recover feeling in my dominant hand but it didn’t happen yet. I am still praying every day for that miracle to take place. Apparently I was blessed that this is the only problem I have since fatalities are common when someone suffers such a stroke. My whole world was shaken with this unfortunate event which happened coincidently the same day my youngest sister Agnes attempted suicide. We are all grateful she survived this ordeal after two weeks in a coma and is basically healthy and getting better, as I am. What brought on the stroke was inactivity from my broken foot that took 6 long months to heal. I don’t want to be ranting about how difficult life is, but want to let you know why I have been so quiet. Life has been quite overwhelming with MRI’s and many doctors and chiropractor appointments which didn’t help much.

In July I started having horrible Migraine Headaches which actually are still present I am sorry to say. They were triggered by the stroke. Any kind of stress triggers them. I have a hard time tolerating any medicine that is not natural, so all the medications for headaches gave me terrible side effects and I had to stop. One wonderful woman told me about Medical Marijuana (or Cannabis) which is about to be legal here in Maine where I live. Honestly I wasn’t thinking that would even be an option for me. When I heard that there are Cannabis Tinctures that are not dope but actually used for pain for people with autoimmune diseases, cancer and other sicknesses, the light went on. I have been using this for now maybe a couple months and the greatest thing is that it helps my sleep as well.  So I am slowly getting my life back.

Hand Knotting a Blue Pearl Necklace

In spite of all these intense hurdles, I never closed my Etsy Store. I continue to make new designs and love what I do. Most of my fingers are numb on my left hand but I still can feel them, so I am able to wire wrap and solder and do most of everything I like to make… but with more effort and sometime frustration though!

I bought some gorgeous High Quality Freshwater Pearls from my two favorite suppliers in the Greater Boston area a few months ago. I made for the holidays a lot of new Single Pearl, Double and 3 Strand Pearl Necklaces and Pearl Earrings with these amazing pearls. I have also removed from my store the custom orders because that takes too much of my time and brings on stress. I love what I do and put all of myself in it. I am happy to say that all my efforts haven’t been in vain and this past month of November was my best month ever in my almost 7 years on Etsy.

Please take a look at my New Designs if you get a chance,

Happy Holidays to you and a Merry Christmas

merry-christmas-tree-red-patricia-awapara

The Story Behind My Blessings Necklace

This Necklace – one of my latest designs – looks like something insignificant but it’s not, and it took a long time to put together. I had this Design on the back of my mind for a good while before I actually put the necklace together which happens a lot in my business.

IMG_0331The first thing is that I wanted the necklace to have a blessing. I thought of the high priests in the Biblical Old Testament who wore on the breastplate of their garment 12 stones representing the 12 tribes of Israel. I research this issue.  There has been a lot of analysis on this topic and different people say different things about colors and content of these gemstones. I just didn’t want to deceive my customers.

I tried making this necklace with 12 stones after having decided from the information I gathered what the colors might be and it just didn’t look right, it was too many stones for the design. What was I to do with this dilemma? I love the number 7 as it is the number of perfection in Biblical terms. I have studied Bible Symbolism and Biblical Dreams and really wanted people to be able to wear something that has a lot of significance.

So I picked these beautiful simple and significant Semi Precious Gemstones and this is the final result after changing quite a few colors to make this a happy and go with everything necklace to would bring a lot of blessings to the person wearing it.

The Stone Necklace is s full of Biblical Symbolism with 7 Color Semi Precious Stones. Number 7 being the number of Perfection.
* Pink – Love, Wisdom (Cherry Quartz)
* Purple – Royalty and Intercession (Amethyst)
* Red – Wisdom, Anointing (Red Jasper)
* Blue – Revelation, Communion (Blue Jade)
* Green – Growth, Prosperity (Green Aventurine)
* Orange – Perseverance (Orange Chalcedony)
* White – Holiness, Purity (Mother of Pearl)

Throughout history, in every civilization, gemstones have been highly prized and sought after. The Bible makes numerous references to jewels and precious stones. To name a few passages, In Exodus 28:21 the Lord ordains precious stones to be used in the making of the breastplate of the High Priests’ garments. Zechariah 9:16 says that the Lord’s people will be like jewels in a crown. In Revelation 21:19-20, John names twelve stones that adorn the foundation of the New Jerusalem.

Update on Etsy the venue where I sell my jewelry – About a year ago Etsy decided to add wholesale shops and it seems like this had drowned the handmade arts and crafts original idea they started with. Jewelry is a very saturated business everywhere but specially Etsy. I started almost 5 years ago and have learned so much. I have had months even this year where I did remarkably well and I was getting all excited. Everyone on Etsy has been complaining about loss of sales, whether it’s because of the general economy or just an Etsy issue, nobody is really too sure. I try to keep my prices very fair as I work alone and do everything from A-Z. I see P1110096Freshwater Pearl,Sterling Silver or Gold Filled Jewelry on Etsy that is made in China mostly and sells for under $20.00!I couldn’t even buy the supplies for that price most of the time. This kind of issue makes my business really difficult and discouraging. Many people will buy a product like that but it might be silver plated or gold plated and will not last because it’s made in mass production.

I turned 65 this year and am dealing with physical issues that some days like today make it really hard to do anything. Today is computer day, I have no energy to make any stock to prepare for the holidays. I have a form of Fibromyalgia, tiredness and sleeplessness is one of the major symptoms. This is one of the reasons I do not keep up with this website.

I wish you all a wonderful fall (for those living on this part of the planet). Here in Maine it has been the most beautiful fall I have ever seen since I moved to the USA from France in 1975.

 

Artistic Origins

I received the most praise growing up for the way I painted, that was my gift! I had found something that would get my parents attention. Being one of 8 children It was hard to get your parents attention. My mother grew up surrounded by the art world. Her parents were antique dealers in Cannes, France and had a good reputation in their field. They were both self-taught and learned everything from books. My grandmother was an avid reader and learner and that is something I definitely inherited from her.

I wasn’t a good student in school. I had a terrible time memorizing things, my mind was always wandering and trying to figure things out…I couldn’t concentrate…it still is hard for me! When I met my husband, he loved to read, which was a difficult thing for me, but eventually I got into it. In my early 20’s I started reading books that I missed reading when I was a child. For example I read every one of Jules Verne’s books. The only books I would read before that were books about Prisons and War. I believe I was so hurt inside and so isolated, I just identified with these people’s pain. My husband on the other end would read submarine books. He did that for years…now he still reads a lot about boats, but they don’t have to be submarines. I believe it had to do with all the bottled up feelings he kept inside as well. What a pair! Eventually when I found the Lord, I got really hungry to learn all I could about Him and I just couldn’t get enough. Now my house is filled with books just like my grandmother’s house. This is part of my inheritance!

Family Outing with my siblings and Dad. I am 2nd left.
Family Outing with my siblings and Dad. I am 2nd left.

So when I grew up, I was surrounded with antiques and the art world was just a really big part of my life. It was kind of hard to stay in the present moment as we were surrounded with old things and always talking about them. They were like live idols living among us. They definitely took a lot of time and space. I wasn’t that interested in them. My Mom was an amazing artist, she had gone to the French Art School “Les Beaux Arts”. She was catholic and found the Lord painting Icons like Greek and Russian Icons in her later years after my dad died. It was her way to communicate with God. In my family it was an honor to be an artist. So I went to art school and found great relief in expressing myself through drawing, painting, pottery and such, but mostly through color. I couldn’t express myself in words but color was my tool. When I was 12, we had an art class at school and I had a couple of assignments to do at home. I did two paintings one of “Guignol” a famous French puppet that we had at the house and one of a clown. When I turned in the paintings to the teacher, she didn’t believe I had done them myself and I was rebuked and got a bad grade for it. I didn’t have parents who would have defended me for such a small matter…so I thought and I didn’t say anything at home. I was totally devastated. How could she have done that? I resented that teacher for the rest of the year. This is how I dealt with resentments: don’t tell anyone and let them fester forever! It didn’t work! Fear ran my life and left me paralyzed, with no hope for help. If my parents didn’t think it was important, then it wasn’t! The other side of this story is that if my teacher really wouldn’t believe I had done the paintings, then it must have been pretty good and it really was a compliment, but I couldn’t see it that way.

smoking a cigaret in a tobacco field near Paris
smoking a cigaret in a tobacco field near Paris

Since I could hold a pencil or a brush, I loved drawing or painting. I painted the garden, the house, little fantasy outside scenes etc…it was also something that Mom and Dad approved of, so it led me to do more. After barely finishing high school, I entered Art School while still living at home and these were some of my most exciting years. I became a teacher in a center for children from 4 to 12 and they all called me Mom, which made me feel good. I taught them to do hand-built pottery and painting. I got really attached to them as they loved me unconditionally and filled some of the void inside of me. I graduated from that school with honors having learned all kinds of crafts – my favorite ones being pottery and painting. When school was over I moved to Biot, a little village in the South of France where I worked hard for a silversmith. Denis was Iranian and a fun guy who had a problem with lust but never laid a finger on me, he jokingly called me his slave…I made pennies while he often went sailing on the Mediterranean Sea. I was the only apprentice there. He taught me the craft and was a very good and patient teacher. I was a good worker, very productive and learned the craft fast. At the time I was 21 and had left home with the idea of never going back there to live. I wanted my freedom and I did get that! I shared a little apartment with my oldest sister Jacqueline. I was still under the authority of my older siblings but we were all in rebellion so we rebelled together. My oldest sister who was always difficult with us when Mom and Dad would go away and leave us with her, changed drastically in Biot. One day she brought home maybe 20 or 25 hippies who had no place to spend the night. Our apartment was very small, just a studio, and we had people all over our floor…they slept there. We never did drugs in those days and I believe our Mom’s prayers had a lot to do with it. In the beginning of my second year in Biot, I met my husband David. We lived together for 5 years in the south of France, Italy and then Paris. We had the moving bug and never settled any place for very long. Then we thought we would go to the USA and see if he could sell his artwork. We thought we were leaving for 2 months but we never returned to Europe to live. We have now been in the USA for 38 years!

My sister who lived with me then, worked for a talented artist who did exquisite Leather work. My brother who lived in the same town had his own business restoring very intricate antique French furniture, his specialty being Louis XIV Brass and Tortoise Shell inlaid wood work. I worked for him for some time too. So we continued the family legacy.

Now I am back to working with Sterling Silver and using every bit of advice I learned from Denis, my teacher who died a few years back. I still absolutely love creating jewelry and am so grateful I can do something I love and have people wear it. My next phase in jewelry starting very soon is to include soldering and extend my creating possibilities. It will open a new perspective and I am looking forward to seeing what comes of it.

What is the hobby or activity that helps you tap into the creativity God has given you?