Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My Kingdom for a Really Old Dummy

I've been at it again. Trying to capture assemblage necklaces in a realistic neck-like way on an old coat hanger...well, at least I've finally figured out that I can use old hat pins to pin the necklace on to the hanger to give it a more neck-like appearance, but then I'm thinkin' it might just look like a pinned up lab specimen...? I have been searching for the right mannequin for the looooongest time, but to no avail. I've found plenty that I love, but they are all just way out of my price range, but a girl can dream can't she? These are the stuff of my dreams these days. Kinda funny huh? I keep hoping that one day, the perfect one will appear to me, accompanied by the perfect price tag.
This one offered by FrenchbyDesign is one thing I dream of...oh yeah.....it's quite perfect. And if the number on it is the actual size, then the size is right too.

Oh, but then there's this one offered at TopsyDesign...This is the stuff of my dearest dreams people...I so have plans for this gal. In my dreams I festoon her with tiny lights and bits of old tattered lace and Victorian slips. She would display my necklaces so perfectly in the corner of the room by the southern-ish window where the light is perfect and she is always waiting. No more begging, bargaining with and urging my busy teen-age daughters to change their top and sit still while they model my assemblage necklaces! Now I just need about a grand and she can be mine forever. I love the stand and the casters and everything. Pretty nifty eh?
Ah well. We all need something to reach for right? Something to hope for. Sometimes I wonder if I would be as happy if I could afford everything my heart desired...though I really don't desire many material things much anymore. I'm pretty happy with my stacks of old suitcases and the occasional antique ironstone indulgence. I'm really very fortunate in that the things I adore are usually found in dumpsters or are so shabby no one else wants them so I get them for a dollar.
Anyway, this is what I've been doing these days for a pseudo mannequin. Pins and an old hanger.Today was cloudy more than not, so not a good day for photographing things on my favorite white door on my favorite old hanger pretty close to my favorite southern-ish facing window. But not quite close enough or light enough to really get a very high quality shot. (I don't think it helps that I don't use a tripod, though. Better think about that one too.)
(assemblage locket necklace taken on the door after lots of sharpening and tweaking and lightening. still not a very good shot and not good enough for listing in the shop yet.)
(vintage assemblage red glass earrings taken by southern-ish window today when the clouds broke away from the sun. These are ready to list.)

(vintage assemblage crystal earrings photo taken by the same southern-ish facing window today. These are ready to list too.)
I spent some time taking a bunch of really poor quality photos today! I have several necklaces made and ready, but I'll have to do a picture retake tomorrow if the light is good. Thank you for sharing a little of the whole process with me...and a little of the old stuffed stuff I dream of!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Two Hands

Fundraising efforts were not in vain, though somehow I feel like I've failed. Where did I go wrong? Only four people left comments. Did no one want to donate? Did no one want earrings? Was that a dumb idea? Did I not spread the word enough? Who do I think I am?! These questions flow through my mind as I write today. I don't mean to sound ungrateful. I was able to raise almost $70.00, which is better than nothing, but less than I expected. I guess I just really wanted the response to be more.  I am hoping  that folks donated something and just didn't want to leave a comment about it. I am hoping that at least people are more aware of the water and aids crisis in Africa. There are thousands of orphaned children because their parents died from Aids. Young children raising their own siblings, and with a water crisis heaped on top of that. That doesn't happen here in America. These people are people just like you and I. They don't feel any less or need any less of the basic necessities.

I want to thank those who donated and left a comment, and those who even bought some of my work, knowing that some of their money would help a child in need. Because I am so grateful, all of those who helped me in my effort will receive a free pair of beautiful earrings! (So, those of you who left a comment, please contact me with your metal and color choices!) It brings me such joy to be able to do this!

Because donations will be matched  for the next ten or so days, Our contribution will grow to 140.00...that is a nice chunk of change eh? So if you haven't donated and you are reading this today, there is still time to double your efforts! Just click on the image next to this post and it will take you to the site.
I leave you with a video by "Jars of Clay" who work tirelessly for this cause...using their gifts to make a difference in so many lives not only in Africa, but all over the world.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Something as Simple as Water

I've been following Blood: Water Mission for quite some time now. It is a project that has a hold of my heart. Of all the things we take for granted in this world, would water be in the top three? Number one?
For the next two weeks only, any donations you make to Blood: Water Mission will be matched dollar for dollar. I am willing to donate 50% of the proceeds from the sale of any of my jewelry from this day, Wednesday October 20th until midnight on Saturday, October 23rd to a cause I hold very dear. Something as simple as clean water can change the lives of millions...a well, a water tank, or a simple water filtration container can drastically decrease disease and help communities and children to thrive. Children walk for miles each day to fetch water for their families instead of going to school. Imagine what having water nearby can do for countless communities across Africa. Water is a luxury we in America have all been born with. This precious resource has always been just a few steps away for us....just as far away as the kitchen sink. We take showers in it and bathe in it. We water our grass with it. We wash our cars with it. Please help give it to others who were not so fortunate to be born into having clean water within immediate reach...with the simple turn of a faucet handle.
I will have a special posting on Sunday about the donation I made that morning, in your honor, to Blood:Water Mission. All participants who leave a comment and make any kind of donation (even without buying any jewelry from my shop!) will be entered for a drawing for a pair of free custom vintage assemblage earrings made by me, just for you. In the color of your choice. You must leave a comment and say that you made a small donation to be entered into the drawing.
Today, do something beautiful...give the gift of water to a child today. Then in just a few days, you will find something beautiful in your mail box  to remind you of those you have helped. My shop is right here:

Blessings to You and to Yours,
Jennifer Valentine of Sacred Cake

Cyanika Sector, Rwanda from Blood:Water Mission on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

On the Old Rotary Phone with God Again

Hi God, It's me.
Hey listen, I've been told that I should not talk about my illness because somehow it will manifest itself more fully if given a voice...that I should not ever speak of it...especially not on my blog. And it brings folks down. My blog is supposed to project an image that people want to be a part of. I am selling a fantasy that goes a long with my work. People don't want to read about negative things such as being sick and diseases. What's your take on that?

Well, but then I have also been told that my story needs to be told. Tell your story; I read so often how important ones story is and how healing it is to tell it. Is that more true than what I just said before? I'm a little confused. Which one should I choose?

I have been told that it is ok not to be a Pollyanna all the time and to find the brighter side of everything...to just be angry for awhile at You for the hand I've been dealt. I kinda like that idea, but it just isn't me. Then there is the guilt though. The guilt I feel for even complaining when so many have it so much worse, God. I know you know.
I am aware of this.
I am aware of how good I really do have it. I am. I am even acutely aware each time I walk to my kitchen faucet to fill up my cup with clean fresh water for my tea...each time I take a shower or a bath...
I donate part of my earnings to Blood: Water Mission just for that reason. But you already know that, right? You know I try to make a difference any way I can......yeah........
But you know God, being aware of the struggle that others have does not make my daily physical life better. I wake up so much more grateful for the day you have given, though I can barely move. I am acutely aware of the gift of each day...the beauty which I revel in...the joy I find in living in the moment; though each day there is a moment that I hold a bottle of narcotic pain killer in my hand and decide if the pain is bad enough today to take it, because I am terrified of becoming addicted to the only thing that makes me somewhat comfortable.
You see me. I know.
and uuuuuuummmmmmm, soooooo
my thoughts are almost always positive and good and I try to live in the moment God, but in the back of my mind, IT is always there, like a heavy appliance on my back. And IT whispers in my ear; will today be the day?.....today?  and IT says, if you are this bad now, imagine what you will be like at 50.
Then then your voice comes to me and says, this will all become clearer to you later on...the reasons for all of this. Isn't that what you believe? Don't you believe in me? And you put your hand on my shoulder. I like it when you do that....I like that a lot, you know. It comforts me.
I feel your presence. Even when days are difficult. I feel you in the laughter of my children...in the color of the fall leaves...in the gentle touch of my husbands hand...in the words and gifts from friends....and even though I get angry, it melts away soon enough. I still love you and all that you are...I still believe.
I just thought I'd call. Sorry for the long message, but I know your answering machine has no end. Thanks for that.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Retro Treasury Today

I feel so fortunate to be included in all of these amazing treasuries on Etsy! You can see them here.
This one is the most recent, and it includes my Good Night ring. It was created by junkytownvintage...fun!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What I've been up to...

These days I've been feeling good and immersing myself in my work. I enjoy getting just the right photograph...it seems to me to make all the difference to capture the spirit of my work. Lately I've been thinking about weddings and white; Autumn, lockets and leaves and being inspired by the colors I see in my daily life....the color of freshly turned fields and sprouts of Rye grass, huge wooden crates of freshly harvested celery, trees on fire with the richness of Autumn...(and the color combinations in my Boden catalog, which I was inspired to order from my sister!) I suppose that is one of the things I love most about living here. We have four distinct seasons and all so exquisite in their own ways. This year, I am actually looking forward to the feathery flakes falling from the sky this winter.
On a kinda funny note, at times I use antique dictionaries to photograph my work...but beware, all you dictionary jewelry photographers....there may be words in the background you did not intend to be read! Like "lazy" or "lung" as in this lovely photograph:

I guess it could have been worse. I've seen some doozies of mine that have cracked me up! My favorite one, I think was "louse". I'm thinkin' I might just start using antique story books instead...and hope I don't inadvertently capture something really strange.



"Country Fields"

I am really loving my new little "Sacred Cake" tags that I am putting on the necklaces and bracelets I create. My hope is that the jewelry I make will be passed on and loved for more than a lifetime....and maybe long after I am gone, folks might ask; who is "Sacred Cake"? Why that name when she didn't even sell cakes? And the answer will be, because that is what makes it memorable....and every piece tells a story.
A story of love.

(These items are available in my shop right here.)

Saturday, October 09, 2010

The Sweet Spot

On Thursday, I took Christian to his lesson. I inquired as to whether Nikki, his teacher, who was a concert cellist for the Kalamazoo Symphony, would teach an adult the cello....she said yes. And I said yes. I have always loved the cello and always made excuses as to why I could not afford lessons. Now, how can I afford not to?
...and the quiet out there reminds me of a time, long ago in the South, when country life became such a part of me forever....when the sun set right outside my kitchen window and nothing but the sound of the wind in the trees could be heard for miles.... fistfuls of wildflowers and the depth of the night sky,  and sleeping with the door wide open. The little white house we lived in at the end of that dirt road in Florida was a magic place....I still visit it in my dreams. Life was so much simpler then. It had to be.
Being out there at Nikki's little white house each Thursday refreshes my spirit so....this past Thursday I played with puppies. I ate concord grapes right off the vine. I felt the Autumn wind as it blew through my hair and I felt the sun on my face; I walked the expanse of open fields and felt the mesmerizing power of the arms of trees....and always....always.....I think of her.
My best friend back home, who I haven't seen for years. But I can feel her always. Even if we don't talk for months, she is there in everything I do. Everything I see...in the bright colors of glazed pottery and in the stillness of the day. Our imaginary conversations sustain me and I am held up by her spirit when I feel myself stumble.
My Spider Princess...I'm loving you still.
 I love the smell of puppies...
It reminds me of being a little girl again.

I'd love to hear your favorite memory of your best friend or a favorite place. Won't you share it?

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

For Ellie Jane and Her Family

(to use this image on your blog, just right click and cut and paste)
I got permission from a kind and generous stranger, Ella, who was willing to contribute the use of her image (one I fell in love with on Etsy as I searched for photographs of candles) so that I could make this little "button". It seems just perfect for the thought I want to convey and the message I want to send. (thank you Ella, for the most perfect image!)
You see, I've had the pleasure and joy of reading Liz Lamoreux's blog for many years now. She brought light to me during times when my life seemed a little dark. Her words and photography and artwork are uplifting and beautiful.  I want to repay Liz's kindness for touching my life in so many ways, by helping to gather all the love and healing thoughts that I can to send with baby Ellie Jane now, on the day of her surgery, and in the critical days and weeks ahead. I want little Ellie Jane to see her first birthday with a strong heart healed with great skill, and with the love of community. Thoughts are powerful, powerful things. Send thoughts of love and healing out for their little family now, this Friday, and as often as you see this photograph.
I have been given permission from Ella to distribute this image to whomever would like to use it. Please also be sure if possible to include the link to Liz's post when reposting or using on your blog or website. Instead of trying to explain any further, or paraphrase or quote, I will let you read it for yourself  here.

Monday, October 04, 2010

For Lucy, an Assemblage Necklace from Narnia

Dearest Lucy,

I made this for you today...I was twelve, I remember, when I read about you for the first time. So you must be in your late forties by now... I remember holding my breath as you tuned the handle to reveal the wondrous winter landscape that reflected with the surprise in your eyes. I was laying on my stomach in the grass in the Saturday sunshine in an adjacent empty field, and I looked up for a moment while Kelly Rae rode her bike clumsily past me down the street. Funny how we remember such brief moments so clearly isn't it?...but as Pavese said, "We do not remember days, we remember moments." So true.
Well, I have always loved reading, and The Chronicles was the first series that I ever read. The paperback pages were creased and yellowed from age, and I don't even remember where those books came from, but they were so new to me. As new to me as you were...so trusting and wide eyed.
Memories of the childlike wonder of your story came back to me this past sunny Saturday as I carefully chose each shabby vintage glass bead and sparkling old crystal for this simple necklace that echoes the beauty of the winter forest of Narnia that day; and somehow the juxtaposition of the two seems such an accurate reflection of my life as well... I know it seems like just a necklace, but it is the way I communicate these days...it is my voice ...without using words. I am so grateful for the gift of it, this being able to take what was once lost and forgotten and making it anew, but I sometimes wish it had come much sooner to me. It would have given me something to do on those nights while all of the children were asleep and I wandered the house at 2 a.m., looking for something to keep me sane in the stillness and the restlessness of my mid-twenties...
Lucy I have kept your spirit alive inside of me all of these years. You were trusting and young and true and brave. I'm feeling the need for you now, more than ever. This body of mine is broken and at times, I find that it breaks my spirit...
Accept this simple token of my affection and gratitude for coming to me in my gangly girlhood and staying with me for so long. Please stay longer Lucy, and help me to remember to always be wonder-full.

Love Always,

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Window Shopping this Morning...

Friday, October 01, 2010

Religious Assemblage Jewelry, and Being Faithful to the Faithful

Mother of God

What I most like about creating assemblage jewelry with antique religious medallions that most of them (the ones I most like) are so worn by being handled by the faithful for decades of life....for me, there is a lot of power and mystery surrounding such things. I am drawn to the mystery of faith, to the lives of Saints and the lives of those who loved them. My grandfather always wore the medal of St. Christopher around his neck for as long as I can remember, and I think that is where my inspiration and curiosity began. I am forever drawn to the aged silver; the faces rubbed plain from years of prayer and lifetimes of faith. There is no way to replicate that with a new medal. One can rub and age and smooth and darken them (believe me, I've tried), but th antique and vintage medals have a whisper of their own...one that you cannot give to it in a moment or an hour.That is why when I stumble upon antique religious medals in a shop, I feel like I am witnessing a tiny miracle of sorts...that something so small can survive for so many decades of adoration and wear. Religious medals are my most prized jewelry making item for so many reasons.
And so I am faithful to the faithful. I create something else from these medals that can be re-worn, re-cherished, and re-lived in a different way. Hopefully in a way that would give the previous owner some joy that their prayer, their faith and the mystery of Saints is given new light.
And Lo