Saturday, February 18, 2017

Kick out Negativity and Germs with Cleansing, Saging, Smudging

Yeah, this feather's gonna be beeeeautiful!
I made my first really special smudging/saging feather about 8 years ago. Have been doing the ceremony for years. It feels good and brings excellent results. My feather is still as beautiful as the day I made it, but I've learned a lot and the beading skills have grown.

We can sage our environment from pollutants and bacteria. We can sage our Selves from negativity and stress. 

The ceremony has beautiful origins in many cultures. My favorite is the Native American culture. Here's a great video on how they perform it and what it does for the body.

And there are many links to scholarly articles on the scientific reasons behind why and how burning sage and other materials clean bacteria out of the environment.

So I've always felt it is a very special ceremony. Great that we have backup and knowledge of why it works. Try it. There's nothing more lovely than the sweet fragrance of burning sage - it answers some primal attraction in our systems. It fills us up. It heals. It calms and soothes.

One of the things I love to make, with spirit pouring through me is Saging/Smudging Feathers. 

The photo above shows the one I'm currently working on, which will have a bunch of colors and gorgeous fringe tips. It'll be for sale first through Spirit Junction, and then through Dreamkeeper Creations on Etsy if it doesn't find its forever home at the Spirit Junction get together, but I have a hunch it might find its home pretty quickly. 

It's a bit of a contemporary statement based in ancient tradition. This feather includes badger fur, and badger represents the right use of aggression. Sometimes we need to be able to express this quality, and sometimes we don't. Knowing when it's useful is all about the feather in its relationship with the Talking Stick - which I'll save for another post.

This feather is an "all color" feather, one that is asking me to make it fun. So the patterns will be as crazy as the beads tell me they want it to be. And the colors will encompass the rainbow and more subtle shades in-between.

The handle is becoming.
I've learned something new with my Saging Feathers and that is to make the handle much fatter so that I can attach more fringe tails. You know I'm a fringe fan from the get-go. So this feather has a nice double wrap of soft leather, snugging up to the strip of badger fur. Once I'm done, you won't see the leather anymore, it'll be a gorgeous stretch of spiral peyote stitch - yum!

Update - I'm attaching a few photos of the finished Zig-Zag Rainbow Spiral Saging Feather. Wowzers!

The whole feather
Detail of the handle and the little collar of golden beads
Detail of the fringe tips
Other fringe tips showing
I'll show you my newest finished feather. It's a little beauty for sure. 

Immature hawk feather with cream, gold, and brown.
This is one of the feathers I bought from Robert Wills at Sunrise Trading Post. Robert Wills painted the feathers used in Dances with Wolves, since they couldn't use real ones because endangered species are protected and most of our larger beautiful birds are endangered at this point, though some are making quite a comeback. I love the movie Dances with Wolves, and what a coup for Robert Wills! Very talented guy.

I also get my fur scraps from him. He provides many materials for true Native Americans who attend PowWows and dress traditionally. This requires fur and other natural materials and Robert saves the scraps that are leftover and makes them available to other artists. This is how I get my fluff on my sacred feathers! Thanks Robert, and thanks animals for letting us give new life to what you no longer need.

The feather above has fox fur on it, along with beautiful glass seed beads in brown, cream, and coppery/gold. 

Fringe tips on this beautiful Saging Feather
This feather is very earthy, so it asked for tips that would reflect that. It sports a little gnome, wearing tan clothing and carrying a green sack of goodies, a tiger's eye bear, a pearl Zuni bear, a hand-painted African carved wooden bead, a jasper bead, a tiger's eye bear and round bead, a porcelain bead, and some excellent quality Czech glass beads.

It's sewn with 10 lb FireLine and the fringe is done with 4 lb Fireline, giving it long-lasting strength and resilience. I know you're going to want to touch and fondle the fringe and your fingers will move over the handle a million times, so I make sure to use materials that are top of the line and will last for a long, long time so you can feel comfortable using your feather.

There she is.
Here's a photo of this feather in all her glory. Lovely, earthy, gorgeous.

I'm doing a fair number of commission orders for these. I sell a set which includes the feather, 3 bundles of fragrant sage and cedar, and an abalone shell for $70 - $80. Some people prefer just to get the feather alone if they have the other materials, and the feathers run between $50 and $65 depending on size and materials. Others like to get a Talking Stick to go with their feather, but that's another sweet story, I'll post about it.

Commission Order
Fringe tips on this Saging Feather
When you want a custom feather done, you get to choose the colors and the feather gets to choose the tips. The feather tells me what it wants. This customer got a beautiful coyote for humor, a bear for introspection, some hand carved African beads, agate, amethyst, bamboo coral, a Czech floral bead, and a Czech dagger bead. The gemstone beads carry their energies and contribute a lot to the overall feeling and effects of using the decorated feather, it's very personal to the one who owns it and performs ceremony with it. Sometimes I can feel the energy of the owner as I'm making a feather even if I've never met them!

I feel like if you're going to spend time in sacred, private, sometimes shared with friends and Lovies ceremony, you should have the best quality, most beeeautiful feather to do it with! 

Thanks to all my Lovies who've purchased their sacred feathers. And thanks for all the interest from those who might like to have one!

It takes me about two days to make these feathers. What distinguishes them from others that are less expensive is that they're "finished" properly, as I try to do with all my beadwork. The area at the neck of the handle is decorated and softly transitions between the 11/0 beads to 15/0 beads, to the fur. And there's no fur caught in the beads (ouch)! My feathers are in good shape, not all tattered. And the fringe is an added bonus. You can hold it in your hand as you're saging and it feels good! These little touches of quality add time, but I think it's well worth it. 

Cleansing in all its forms is GOOD. 

Thanks for visiting and reading about Saging/Smudging. Hope you take it on as a little time spent with yourself to clear away the cares of the day and perhaps share your ceremony with your Lovies too. Happy saging!



Friday, February 3, 2017

LGBT Shining On! Story behind my bracelet design.

Spirits Rising LGBT Design by Yours Truly xo
Like champagne bubbles rising, my little seed bead rainbow spirits float against a backdrop of inky blackness - the "void" or "nothingness" from which every single thing arises - it is the playground of our Creative Source, where dreams reside, and thoughts waft along, looking for reality in matter.

I've been wearing this bracelet for a little while since I finished it, and it's always a good sign if I want to wear something I've made. I wish I could capture the way it sparkles in the dim light of evening. I can't help but admire it, and I feel honored that spirit worked through me to create it. As an artist, I consider myself a "tool," or "vehicle."

I might keep this one, which means I need to make another one - and I will also sell the pattern so other beaders can make it for whomever might want one. 

How it started....
The design of this bracelet is based on my very favorite people of our beautiful Earth, the Pomo Indians. I researched their culture when I did a bunch of illustrations for their ancient stories, which include their "prehistorical" migration from Lemuria to California and Hawaii. Note the Hawaiian image on the quarter I chose to show the size of the bracelet in the first photo xo.

I've worked with their designs before in my watercolor borders and found myself completely stumped because they can't be fit into 1/4 inch graph paper. It can't be done. I found myself wondering while I was doing this bracelet - How did they create designs without a chart? How did they figure out which colors went where without a pattern to work from? They must have had genius brains - really. 

Did they work in sunlight? Outside with those tiny beads? Did they work by firelight? Did they work by feel? Sometimes I do. How did they handle interruptions? What did they spread their beads out upon? I have special Chinese porcelain dishes in which I put each color and I've labeled them with a sharpie marker for pattern work, A, B, C, D, E, F, G. How did they do it? I'd love to know. Is there an Elder anywhere who can tell me?

Beads on the loom....
This is how it looks to me while I'm sewing. I'm getting good at it and I think of all the beaders and quilters and anyone who's worked with six feet of thread. The challenges and the teaching of your fingers on where to hold, where to pull, where to tighten, what to watch, what to pick, they are all so much appreciated and respected by me now. Working with long, long thread means you have to pull your right arm out about ten thousand times and ibuprophen is much appreciated. I keep telling myself my muscles will get used to this and I find that the only thing to alleviate the pain is to do it again and loosen it up with use - kind of like exercise.

This is my pattern. I created it with help from above, and follow it diligently. It is like a song to say the letters out loud, which is what I have to do to get it right. It's satisfying and there's much joy in watching the design appear in color before your eyes, under your hands.

One border done, yay!
This bracelet asked me to balance it with beautiful rainbow colors on one side and black on the other. I love the point where it comes off the loom and I get to work up the borders. Aren't they sweet? I call it "polish." It's one of the things that distinguishes my work from other cuff bracelet artists - finesse - a good finish.
Details, details!
I love how the sweet clasp turned out. Six rings to hold it and six rainbow colors to fill them. Adorables!

This bracelet has special meaning for me and I would hazard a guess, for many others. I made it because I am ANGRY at the politics of today and the rampant judgment of others. I have so many people in my life whom I love with all my heart who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender/transvestite - I LOVE them!! 

So with this bracelet I am declaring this and it is my announcement that we do not have the right to judge other people. Earth is a planet of free will and if we are living without harm to others what judgment is there for the love we express? 

AND I will just say that all those who do judge will find themselves in their next lives, yes reincarnation is real, becoming that which they judge so they can learn. HA! Enjoy it folks, hope things are a lot more peaceful when you get to experience it.

Not preaching, just sayin'. It's a fact folks, and not "alternative." Two-thirds of the world knows what we've been hoodwinked to disbelieve. 

Spirits Rising, oh yes.
So here it is. My statement. Elegant. Sparkly. Quality materials. Meaningful design. Some of the very best work I do.

I'm thinking I'll keep it. And make another for you, and make the pattern available at Dreamkeeper Creations, I'm getting good at patterns, yay.

Namaste all,