The big feature this time around is my Earring Wardrobe collection: each set has a pair of sterling silver or brass hoops and five pairs of color-coordinated baubles that can be mixed and matched or worn individually. The perfect thing for the lady on a budget, and fun to play with, too. You can create combinations based on your wardrobe or your mood, and best of all, you can get tons of looks affordably.
This afternoon, I’m looking for commission components this afternoon… I have a couple of interesting requests this month– prayer beads, a menarche gift, and a necklace to mark graduation. Two of my recent commissions have required me to search for high quality gems, and in doing so of course I found something that I needed to have for myself. Well, maybe not for myself to keep, but certainly to work with.
I love labradorite of pretty much all kinds, but sometimes sunset labradorite is stunning like none other. When I saw this piece, I had a synaesthesia moment– walking down the street, home from the library, feeling magic seep from the church walls and the cracks in the sidewalk. Watching the sun go down over the park, the sky pastel and luminous. Hearing Samuel Barber’s “Sure On This Shining Night.”
Sure on this shining night
Of star-made shadows round
Kindness must watch for me
This side the ground
The late year lies down the north,
All is healed, all is health
High summer holds the earth,
Hearts all whole
Sure on this shining night
I weep for wonder
Wandr’ing far alone
Of shadows on the stars.
— James Agee, “Description of Elysium”
I’m sure I’ve posted this before, but this is the closest I’ve come to putting it into words and even it doesn’t capture the full feeling of it. I think that night was the first time I concretely felt what so many people call “faerie,” which isn’t to say literal faeries, so much as the understanding that there is another world, a shimmering world, all about and underneath our own.
When High Summer Comes to South Baltimore
When high summer comes to South Baltimore, the sun stays out until past eight in the evening. Time was, old mothers would gather on their front stoops, chattering over steaming mugs of decaf coffee until the light above faded quietly into hues of hushed rose and blue high above the soft hills of Riverside Park. Nowadays, those mothers are fading as well, their comforting stoops usurped by slick twentysomethings in suits with starched collars who carve up the aging row homes, selling the shells when they’re through. Little children don’t run up and down Henry Street much these days.
But when I was young, the very moment the temperature rose above fifty-five degrees, the sound of Nikes slapping pavement would rise above the ever-present motor-hum of East Fort Avenue, echoing down cement alleyways. I’d be out the door, a short stack of books underarm, with my brother trailing after, just a tiny wisp of a boy with white white hair plainly ignoring his mother’s call not to ruin his new shoes. I remember wishing that my mother would let us cross the narrow streets so I could see the steeple of Saint Mary’s more closely, to explore the diorama garden of the Passion with my eyes and glimpse the lanky teenagers that lazed on the stairs, flashing their tanned legs as they slowly licked cones from the malt shop across the street.
The steeple of Saint Mary’s is a vivid blue, just slightly faded with age and marked by tiny silver grates where the deep tones of the church bell’s Credo could escape and ring out over the city on Sunday mornings. Perched at the top is a bright sapphire star, always the first star in the sky- the star I wished on, my Star Bright.
On humid days, the scent of salt and Old Bay drifts in from the Harbor and mixes with the smell of machinery from Locust point. I would buy the stargazer lilies and inky-blue orchids from the market on Cross Street, where slight Asian men sell the juiciest watermelon you’ve ever tasted- its sweet nectar bursts on your tongue like the fruit of Paradise. I spent those sticky summer days seeking refuge on the second story of my favorite bookstore, reverently fingering the Bible-thin pages of books of Pandora mythology, or afternoons sipping coffee in Mount Vernon, watching as stone fountains splashed crystal water in the shadow of verdigris-spidered cathedrals.
When high summer comes to South Baltimore, the twilight air shimmers with possibility, with anticipation. It reveals all the secrets of the somber alleyways and the bowed oak trees in the parks, showing the intangible magic that hides just beneath the cracking cement. Traversing the labyrinth of familiar streets in graceful reverie, my footsteps would mingle with the rustle of the cherry blossoms and the laughter of the pre-teens on the corners. I would unwrap the mysteries of the living city like the delicate gold foil of a Perugina chocolate, like a precious gift- petal by petal, avenue by avenue, streetlight by streetlight. Some say that you always return to the city you first fall in love with. I have no doubt that this is true- I only hope that it is that same city I left behind, the city I loved sure on that shining night.
That’s what I felt when I saw this piece, so I laid the money down. I don’t know what I am going to do with it quite yet, but it will be special. I have another piece– a smooth, schiller laden sunstone– that is set aside for similar purposes, and it hasn’t finished whispering yet.
On Etsy, one of my favorite sellers is the magnificent Mel of NightBlooming. She specializes in hair accessories– hairsticks, ketylos, pins, barrettes, and even hair washes and salves. I have worked with her more than once on custom designs, and the result has never been anything short of spectacular. The sticks above were one of my commissions, and I still wear them regularly.
Another thing about Mel’s work, other than the fantastic workmanship, is that I felt a kinship with her shop– we often pull from many of the same fantastic and mythological sources in our jewelry. She has an uncanny knack for distilling the essence of a concept or energy into a piece of art.
If you need more convincing, check out the shortlist of some of my favorite pieces that Mel has created:
— D20 hairsticks
—Lucy Westenra ketylo
— Samhain Blessing hairstick
— Dreamscape Crescent Moon hairstick
— The Clock of Life hairsticks
— Seelie and Unseelie hairsticks
— Bound Rose hairsticks
Be sure to check out her Tsavo support items as well— every little bit will go towards an expensive eye surgery for her five month old Bengal kitten.