Because this winter has been so difficult and long and depressing, I found myself enjoying crafty projects more than I have been in the past several years. There was a time, all the way back toward the beginnings of this blog, when I used to take my sewing machine out daily, and I used to have a knitting or crochet project started at all times. Now the sewing machine only gets pulled out when I need to adjust or repair something, and I haven’t touched the knitting needles for year. I never make anything from scratch anymore, because I fail to see value in the clothes that I make (I only see the mistakes). However, there are very few additions to my closet that haven’t suffered some sort of adjustment, because when I find something in the thrift store, I tend to see the potential in my head, rather than the reality that’s right there in front of my eyes.
Yes, so this big intro was to say that I haven’t sewn or knitted anything of interest lately, but instead, I have been working on jewelry.
I don’t wear a lot of jewelry. Several bracelets and a pair of earrings are usually it. Only when I dress up I often throw on a knotted, waist-long necklace. And this has worked well for me for a long time. This past summer, however, I bought a short bead necklace from the thrift store and I thought that it went really well with any casual t-shirt or blouse, without feeling fussy at all. I liked it. I am also liking this trend right now of layering delicate necklaces with various pendants. So I looked in my jewelry box for old, unloved pieces that I could work with to make something I’d wear today. For one necklace I repurposed some silver beads from another necklace that I didn’t use anymore, and from a pair of old earrings bought from a Tibetan store in Cambridge I made the lotus pendant. A tie pin that I had bought several years ago from a thrift store in Ogunquit became the pendant for another necklace. The big tube bead is the only thing I bought new from a bead supply website. I am liking my resulting creations quite a bit.
Now of course I don’t wear a necklace quite every day, as I was imagining. Especially since I can’t seem to take off these hanging earrings that I made from an old silver chain and a pair of amber-bead stud earrings that I wasn’t wearing (I don’t like taking my earrings off at night and the studs hurt when I sleep). I often feel that big earrings should not compete with a necklace; it’s too much for me. I wish I could embrace fully the boho aesthetic of layering a hundred and one pieces of jewelry, but I’m always struggling somewhere between baroque and minimalist tendencies.
I also often feel that jewelry doesn’t make sense unless it has meaning for the wearer, and I don’t have many meaningful pieces. I don’t generally allow objects to acquire meaning. There must be something interesting to decode in that behavior, but maybe later. Someday, when I won’t feel this frugal, I’m might get a Cucuteni Goddess pendant, or a Brancusi’s Kiss replica (although I would prefer a Mademoiselle Pogany, if I could find one in silver, not gold). Right now, though, I’m quite content with what I have. It’s already much more than I need, but then jewelry is never a need. Unless it has meaning, symbolism, and magic. But these qualities often come with time and wear, don’t they?
I found on a tutorial for crochet necklaces online (and then another) and I thought this was such a great idea, how come I didn’t think of it, I will make ten of those and you will never see me without one hanging around my neck. I had to start making them right away. You see, I enjoy long strands of beads that reach below the waist. I find them playful and elongating (I like to imagine this last part). Also, I am a bit worried about my necklaces these days when the baby pulls on everything and promptly takes to his mouth, and the crochet method seemed safer–these necklaces don’t look like they will break easily, especially since I decided to make mine with silk thread (the tensile strength of silk is similar to that of steel).
So I made one quickly hoping to wear it the same day. Of course, I was kidding myself, because the first one didn’t work for me. It was OK, but it could have been better (more large beads, less space between them, more space between them, now less large beads–apparently, I am becoming a hopeless perfectionist in my old age). So I modified the necklace about a million times until it reached a form that really pleased me.
This is the problem with things that you make yourself: you feel like there are infinite possibilities of slight adjustments, and I, at least, cannot stop myself from trying every single variation. I modified this necklace until I got sick of it. It also didn’t help that in general when I look at these things that I have made myself, I only see the imperfections, those details that could have been altered with a little more time and patience.
Now I would like to make another necklace, but after making and breaking the first over and over and oooover again, I feel sick just thinking about starting a new one. It’s not going to happen soon, which is okay, I guess, since I haven’t even worn this one enough times to justify the need for another. My glamorous life, you will be shocked to find, does not have much space for dressing up in jewels, even when it is such a modest, “casual” thing, like a crochet necklace. However, I do like very much this one that got made, and even if it will never have a twin, I think I’ll be fine with that. Or maybe I will change my mind and take up the crochet hook again, once I forget what a pain it was to make this first one.
I was thinking of starting a new regular column over here about thrift shopping and style and stuff. Because there is pleasure to be found in stuff, especially when it’s cheap and treasure hunted. Thrift shops make for a thrilling experience, and since beautiful but boring day-to-day life with a baby doesn’t allow for many of those, I appreciate it from the bottom depths of my shallow little heart.
I generally hunt for leather bags and linen or silk or wool, or embroidered, crochet cotton. Lately I have been noticing the jewelry section also, which I used to ignore because of no interest in “costume” jewelry, which for me meant plastic crap. But I have relaxed my ways a bit lately, to allow some excitement at the sight of a long non-precious metal or glass-bead necklace. What’s the harm, after all, right? Metal and glass are still natural materials, after all. Right? Right. (That was not a rhetorical question, and I do need to answer it myself because nobody else reads this blog.)
So, yeah, stuff can be exhilarating (and almost ethical), especially when it’s already used, cheap, well made, and pretty. All must apply, otherwise consumer guilt comes haunting at night, and destruction of the planet from overproduction of crap and creation of garbage becomes terrifying nightmares that don’t really stop in the light of the day either.
Minimalism is of course appealing and clearly the more ethical choice, but it is such a difficult commitment. At least for me. I am not a saint, in spite of the image I might try to create on the Internets. For this moment in my life, thrift shopping gets a lot of love over here, and it will show its pretty face on the blog from time to time, with your permission. (Yes, all right, “you” is just a hypothetical concept on this blog of mine, as “you” very well know. And “we” don’t need to mention it again, OK?)
Copyright 2018 Lori Tiron-Pandit