Thursday 1 December 2016

2016 Mini-Retrospective - of Jewellery and Myself

I have been rootling around in my pictures from the past year, partly in preparation for doing a proper retrospective of 2016 at the very end of the year, and partly just for curiosity's sake. I thought I'd share a few here - a bit early for a proper retrospective, but for one reason or another, I kind of feel like most of my 'moving forward' work - the kind of work where you feel like what you are creating is part of a progression; a continuum - was done at the beginning of the year. 

It makes sense when I look back on this year. We are struggling (and have been for 3+) with infertility, and in the summer I was diagnosed - after a real struggle to make myself heard with the medical profession - with pretty extreme polycystic ovary syndrome and as hypo-thyroid.  Although there was a sense of relief with both of these diagnoses, there has also been a sense of unravelling, of life becoming somehow structureless, and the waiting waiting WAITING for my thyroid to finally come under control and to a level where I can go ahead with IVF. It is fair to say if the first half of this year was filled with increasingly-hopeless desperation (not all of which has passed, I freely admit), the second half of this year - post-diagnosis, and especially since it became clear that my thyroid was worse and more unpredictable than initially thought - I've felt scattered and disorganised, and fairly aimless in many ways. 

So that's where I'm at, and I'm sure if you look back at my social media presence - here and on Facebook in particular - that it's been sporadic. It's just me doing it after all, and when I've had a week getting thyroid results moving in the opposite direction to the one in which it's supposed to, and therefore further away from IVF - which is after all, still an unknown quantity - it's been terribly hard to motivate myself beyond that - at times, really impossible. Hope is a flickering candle which does go out at times for me. That's a struggle. Not only to cope without that essential light, but to somehow find a way to re-egnite it for myself. That's what I've been dealing with continually this year - each day I have to heave off the suffocating weight of infertility and childlessness to get up and get on - and some days that's easier than others. I'm sure if you have been through this or something similar, you will know exactly what I mean. You have my heart, you brave and dear and resilient warriors (even when this is the last thing that you feel), who keep on going, even when all you have that day is a thread of smoke leading up from your candle.  

Who knows what 2017 holds, but this strange limbo in which I find myself needs to hold more space for my own creativity. For music - also completely gone from my life since the summer. For creating. These pieces which I'm sharing with you here all date from the first part of this year, but I see that forward-motion within them - that sense of progression that has forsaken me (or perhaps I've forsaken it?) latterly this year. Here's to more of this - not just in 2017, but even to claw some back this last month of the year, some of my own creative normality, would be a huge blessing. It starts with me, I know - it starts with my own intention. I just need to find the space to allow myself that intention - and the light. Always the light. 

Colour Me Purple
This first piece that I'm sharing was I think the first time I used one of Sally Soul Silver's new triangle beads. These, along with her tabs, have been HUGELY inspiring to me this year. I turn to them with most bracelets that I make. The shape is just such a natural connector between a single and double strands - one of my favourite bracelet forms (and you'll see that in so many of my bracelets this year when I do a proper retrospective here later on). I also find that they sit perfectly on one of my own handwoven rondelles - a new shape from me this year - which is terribly satisfying. I'll be interested to count up just how many pieces have had this combination this year! I remember making this piece and thinking 'yes'. This works. This is me. This is something new, somehow. 

(I should say now, I'm not expecting you to necessarily see something 'new' in any of these pieces, or feel that they represent my best work of this year. I just know that they are all little pivots for me - significant cogs in the machine. Tangible signposts when I look back on the year.)

Florida Sunset 
Here's another bracelet which you can definitely draw a direct line from Colour Me Purple to. Another theme with the pieces I consider my best and most significant this year, is the materials I've used. They've contained more of a mix of media than some of the others - handmade beads and Czech glass, yes, but also gemstones, pearls, vintage acrylic and glass, mixed-metals - and here, some fibre-coated copper wire (Wooly Wire) which I'd been hoarding for literally years. Different shapes, textures and colours - all contrasting yet all (to me) harmonising perfectly. In fact, when digging around on FB to find out when I made these I found I had this to say:

'When I'm working with different materials, often individual elements seem to have their own character. Whether it's the colour, texture, shape or a little of everything, they bring their own little personality to the table and it's part of my job - a super-fun part! - to combine these elements together and tell a story with them.'

(Is it bad form to quote one-self?!)

This was about Colour Me Purple specifically, but it holds true to each of these pieces, and more.

Gather Ye Rosebuds
This last piece (for today) contains none of Sally's beads but rather the lampwork glass is all from Helen Chalmers, another lampwork artist whose work I turn to again and again. Her sense of colour is a continual inspiration - I adore colour of course, and love working with it but I find Helen's beads always push me that little bit further.  That little pop of yellow in her Moroccan- or Gaudi- or just Helen-inspired tile design on the lentil, led me to Claire's rose bud which for me, just *makes* this piece. The fragility of the crazed and torn petals, formed in delicate yet hard porcelain. Or is it those spiky, sticky freshwater pearls, another resounding theme from my jewellery this year? They definitely add something key here - organic, rustic, natural; each one unapologetically different from the last. Perhaps the rose is simply the perfect bridge between Helen's glossy, smooth, vibrantly organic beads and the pale nubbliness of the stick pearls. And of course, there's always so much texture and colour saturation in my own handwoven glass. The final touch - two vintage tin hand-formed caps from Lorelei Eurto, around my rose-pink {song}bead. The only spot of cool colour in this piece. Needed, I think.

I'll be back with more a more thorough jewellery retrospective when the year is actually over. But until then, I have my December creative contributions to make! I'm closing this post feeling inspired.


Saraccino said...

I am with you in this... struggling myself to get my thyroid levels stable... (Hashimoto in my case)

This helplessness is so frustrating and nerve-wracking... also all the hopes and more so, all the fears attached...

*at least a virtual hug here*

Kelly said...

I wholeheartedly wish you the best with your health struggles and future IVF treatments. I'll be thinking of you, hoping 2017 proves to be a year full of what you need and want in your life.

Claire Lockwood said...

It seems far too easy to say: i'm sorry it's been such a dreadful year for you. But I am. I truly hope 2017 will bring generally better-ness.

But it's nice to be seeing you and your makes around the place a bit more. Ha - I, today, finally broke into one of the four packs of wooly wire that, it seems, I own; some of which has been owned a whole long time!! Love what you did with it, and the resulting bracelet. Also still loving the last bracelet with the stick pearls and the yellow rose. The combination of colours in just those two elements, I really like. Love those faded shades! Reading your description of it made me want to own it all over again!

puncturedbicycle said...

Sorry to hear you've been unwell Rebecca.
Thyroid issues can be very difficult, not least because they can mess with both your body AND your mind, and it can be very difficult (as you've said) to get doctors to listen.
Don't know if you've been already but the Thyroid UK forum at HealthUnlocked is very helpful and everything I learned there allowed me to get some answers and, crucially, to get away from the bog-standard levothyroxine doctors insist is a one-size-fits-all solution. I highly recommend it if you're struggling:
As they say, it gets better, or it can do if you can manage to take your health in your own hands. Good luck and I hope you get it all sorted. <3

Shai Williams said...

I hope your health issues settle down so you can realize your dreams. Lots of healing energy.


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