Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Lady of the Deep Waters

When I was a child, I wanted to grow up to be a marine biologist. I don’t know why. Maybe too many trips to see the dolphins at Sea World. Maybe too many Jacques Cousteau movies shown in my classrooms in elementary school.

Or maybe it’s just that, despite moving all over the place from age 0 to 5, I’ve always lived near the ocean somehow – from Virginia Beach, VA to Oahu, to So Cal. Because of that, I’ve always been fascinated with marine life. I will watch ANYTHING having to do with the ocean in any way from “Shark Week” (y’know, back when it used REALLY be 24 x 7 of everything you ever wanted to know about sharks instead of two shows a night about shark ATTACKS) to old Cousteau movies to “Whale Wars” to a phenomenal series of BBC shows called Blue Planet.

I first started watching “Blue Planet” when Ryan was about three years old. He quickly got interested, too, and I eventually DVR’d the entire series so we could watch them together. His favorite episode, which we have now watched so many times that I think I could replace David Attenborough as the narrator AND do it from memory, is about the organisms of the deepest parts of the ocean.

Or, as three-year-old Ryan named it “The Strange Creatures of the Down Deep.” I just loved that title and we still call it that whenever it comes on (speaking of which, the cable channel called Planet Green is showing the entire series this month as part of their “Blue August” promo – or you can rent it from Netflix if you’re interested).

So, why am I bringing all this up?

It was sort of all playing in the background of my mind when I designed my latest piece.

I’ve done so many necklaces lately that I decided I really wanted to do a bracelet. For me, this usually means grabbing one of my sets of lampwork beads as a starting point:

This lovely set of transparent blue/purple beads with swirls of silvered ivory from Libelula volunteered to play.

From this point, I usually grab accent beads to go with the lampwork, but this time I decided I wanted more of a focal point. Maybe it was all that work with necklaces and pendants, but I ran through my stash and came across my secret hoard of Green Girl Studios pieces. I take them out all the time and act like I’m really going to use them, but then I realize I can’t part with them and put them back.

Hey, I SAID it was a hoard!

This time, however, I managed to pry one piece loose:

This incredible mermaid design, which I had always envisioned as part of a necklace, suddenly made me realize it could look just as good laying across the back of a wrist as a bracelet focal.

So, I’ve got my focal and my lampwork, but what about the supporting cast? Well, I started to think about “The Strange Creatures of the Down Deep” and one of the things I found most fascinating about that deep water world is how there’s no sunlight so organic matter like algae and plankton can’t exist. This means that the water down there is crystal clear – the visibility (aided by the light of a deep water submersible) is incredible.

I suddenly realized that my mermaid, rather than being a creature of the sun-dappled shallows, is a lady of the deep waters. Ruling over a kingdom of clear, cold, darkness. The lampwork beads represent that perfectly with their transparency and cool blue/purple tones.

I grabbed gray oval shell beads, sapphire blue Swarovski crystals, purple pearls, tiny blue and purple Czech glass beads, moonstone (because the moon rules the ocean), a silver toggle, a pewter swirl charm from Mamacita Beadworks, and some icy clear quartz nuggets as accents. Although life in the deeps is quite rare, it does exist so I grabbed a couple of sterling silver sea creature charms as well.

And here she is - my "Lady of the "Deep Waters."

Here's a closeup of that gorgeous mermaid focal. I added a couple of tiny touches of pink pearl to this piece for contrast and because it reminds me of the color inside certain seashells.

A sterling silver fish charm, some faceted hematite and one of the quartz nuggets show clearly here.

I wire-wrapped everything together with 18 gauge sterling silver wire and then added the dangles with wire-wrapped sterling silver headpins.

The swirl charm makes the perfect finishing touch.

Hopefully, I brought the clear, cold and "strange" world of the deep ocean to life (or at least did justice to the wonderful materials I had to play with).

I wonder who I would have to bribe to get a ride on one of those deep water submersibles? Because that would be SOOOOO cool!


EB Bead and Metal Works said...

Oh my goodness that bracelet is to die for! I love how all the elements came together to create your bracelet. Gorgeous!

Lorelei said...

STUNNING! i love it! That mermaid piece and the beads you paired with the lampwork- just perfectly work together. Boy that seems like a real keeper to me.
just sayin!

Kristen said...

Oh KJ~ I can just see us in that submersible together and me wearing that bracelet! You did my sweet ocean proud!


Pretty Things said...

That is fantastic -- and I love your take on the ocean. Most ocean-themed jewelry is lighter and almost frivolous, but yours has mystery. I really, really think you nailed it!

SummersStudio said...

A stunner to be sure. I love the story and feel like this is completely deep water. It's a sort of Atlantis piece.

Copper Diem said...

Love those super fab beads and your pretty design!
Gonna take your advice re the fake-neck necklace form -- been pondering it for photos, but when you mentioned that great idea about doing fit/design checks on it, I'm sold.

Mellisa - Chinook Jewelry said...


Michelle said...

just gorgeous! i really love the deep tones of this...and adding in the pink just gives it that punch of color. Great job!
Bead Happy!

Julianna Cannon said...


I needz it.



Courtney said...

Spectacular bracelet. I love all of it, colors, charms. Wonderful.

TesoriTrovati said...

Goodness but that is gorgeousness at its finest. Bracelets, as you know are terrifically hard for me to do. I appreciate a great work of art when I see one. This is one such work of art. I am so glad you coerced the mermaid into playing with this one. You make me want to wear bracelets!
Swimming with the dolphins would be it for me. Except that I live far away from my favorite creatures and I have an aversion to water, more importantly to getting wet. Enjoy the day, Kelly!

I LOVE color! said...

Thanks for the tour of thr deep. Be Blessed

Tara P. said...

Oh wow. Thanks for taking us through your creative process. Gorgeous bracelet.