Tag Archives: symbolism

Elizabeth Ngo: Antique Button Jewelry

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Elizabeth Ngo creates jewelry from historical works of art. Perhaps you yourself own one of these tiny historical pieces, thrown into a jar or the back of a drawer. You might have one or two tucked under your sofa cushion. The button. The simple fastener that fastens material and memories and generations. How many of us remember hours of entertainment sifting through button collections? Enjoying the feel of running our fingers through a pile spilled onto the floor. Marveling at the variety and detail. Turning to our siblings to say, “look at this one!” So often, as I stand with a customer, picking up this piece and that of the Ngo collection, I hear a story tied to memories of our mothers, our grandmothers, our younger selves.

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The simple button carries a sort of sacred quality that transports us to another time. Elizabeth Ngo retains that quality by creating with great respect and attention to detail. With a profound reverence for the historical significance of each piece, she maintains the integrity of the button by leaving the shank in tack. Setting the buttons in finely worked and beautifully detailed sterling silver to create wonderfully balanced rings, bracelets, necklaces and earrings. Adding details of Swarovski crystals and semi-precious stones and the finest findings.

“I work mostly with the Victorian Glass, picturesque French Metals, carved pearls and hand painted enamel buttons from this period. They are all very unique works of art that speak about their time period. Preserving these buttons into unique pieces of jewelry is my way of putting the buttons back on the women.”

These elegant works of art reflect the era of the 1800’s in Europe. Whimsical characters, fleur de lis imagery, knights and battles, created with amazing enameling and intricate carving. Victorian glass, pearls and shells, ornate rhinestones and iridescent glass, all reflecting a time when art and history and handwork were highly revered. ring

The history of buttons goes back at least as far as the Satsumas, highly collectible ceramic buttons from Japan. Named for a historic ceramics center on the southernmost island of Japan, Satsumas were first made in the 17th century by Korean potters. These buttons were often painted in extraordinary detail, depicting miniature scenes from Japanese life and the natural world.

The brass picture buttons, which you’ll find in the Elizabeth Ngo collection, come from the Victorian era and are also highly collectible. Delightful pieces, stamped with charming images inspired by everything from operas to children’s books. Other picture buttons took their cues from nature (flora and fauna), the sciences (stars and moons), or mythology (cupids and fairies). 22-13-02

22-13-35Black glass buttons from the Victorian era came next. Initially, black buttons were made out of jet, a fossilized coal found near Whitby, England. But because of the high cost of jet, black glass was soon used as a replacement.

Some black glass buttons were molded to create reliefs of plants and animals, and detailed pictorials. Some of the buttons have reliefs of fabrics patterns; others have a stunning silver or iridescent luster. You might also find some that have been painted or enameled.

Explore our cases and join in discovering the stories behind these historical pieces. Once your inner sleuth is awoken, you might check out some of these great online resources to further your adventure:

Hammond Turner & Sons online collection: http://www.hammond-turner.com/

Keep Homestead online collection: http://keephomesteadmuseum.org/button.htm

The Victoria and Albert Museum (often abbreviated as the V&A), London, is the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design, housing a permanent collection of over 4.5 million objects. They have an online button collection that you can view at: http://bit.ly/1rXwmIB

Field Guide to Antique Buttons and Vintage Glass http://www.grandmothersbuttons.com/Images/Interior/resources/gran_fieldguide_web2011.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Puppet Alchemy

Despite it’s simplicity, the puppet is one of the most sophisticated transformational tools we can bring to our children’s lives.

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“Puppetry isn’t simply child’s play. While American audiences may be more familiar with hyperactive Sesame Street characters and a “Disneyfied” version of Pinocchio, the puppet in societies across the world has played the role of provocateur, historian, clairvoyant,and keeper of the faith, says Kenneth Gross in a new book, Puppet: An Essay on Uncanny Life (University of Chicago Press, 2011). From re-enacting sacred texts in Balinese shadow puppetry to mocking authority in England’s raucous Punch and Judy shows, puppets are masters of metamorphosis and often, mirrors of ourselves.”

“That part of us that finds life in objects is an aspect of the child’s imagination and instinct that is later hidden or sometimes let go of in adulthood. It’s something children are indeed more adept at, finding life and voice in objects. Puppets awaken that part of us. They bring a part of us back to play.”

http://www.rochester.edu/pr/Review/V74N5/pdf/0304_inrev_puppets.pdf

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Puppets have been used to help children open up about subjects that are difficult to face directly, by creating a simple scenario based on the child’s experience but set in a different context. Puppet therapy can be used to help children work though issues as simple as hurt feelings over a broken toy to losses as great as those experienced around natural disasters. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4416267.stm

“Puppets are one step away from being human and so there’s distance but at the same time we can identify with them.” –Dr Jones, a child psychiatrist with the International Medical Corps (IMC)

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While children will play without our involvement, there are many ways that we can engage. Thank you to www.gogivers.org for the list of the many ways that puppets can be used to work and play with children.

Puppets can…

· Model behaviors that teachers and parents want to promote

· Bring more reticent children out of their shells, and help everyone become more expressive

· Become ‘ambassadors’ as well as friends, introducing children to new topics

· Become a confidant for younger children – they may respond directly to the puppet when they are unwilling to converse with others directly.

· Encourage children who are learning English as a second language to ‘have a go’ if they feel hesitant because they are unsure of certain pronunciations or of exactly how to express themselves

· Support children with special needs, including those with attention deficits and visual and hearing impairments

· Role play strategies for resolving conflict

· Boost self esteem and to bring a sense of unity to the classroom or group of children.

· Provide an excellent way for children to work through their fears and vocalize their feelings

· Help children to settle into a new school

· Act as powerful communication tools. Talking about their ideas helps children clarify their thinking and develops their reasoning skills

· Access a world of imagination and fun for children

This Holiday season, consider a toy that is guaranteed to carry the spirit of the season and to bring joy and wonder to young and old. Come into Seven Sisters Gallery in Morro Bay and let us help you find the perfect puppet to add to or start your collection.

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Rhonda Gauthier: Gifts of Art

Seven Sisters Gallery is currently showing the work of Rhonda Gauthier. A Fine Artist of Oil on Canvas, she describes herself as an American, Romantic, Impressionist Artist. Her oil paintings are primarily of the landscapes of California, Sante Fe, Texas and the South. When I asked her about how she chooses her subject, she explained.

“…actually “THEY” choose me.  Sounds corny but the idea is that something affects a part of that inside being and it wants to make a painting.  Be it a bit of color, a special lighting,  the grandeur of the vista, the agelessness of a Bison.  Within every bit of life and nature there is a certain something that touches each of us.  Poets write, musicians compose music, and artists paint.  We all express and interpret that which we experience.

I remember the day in Fort Worth, Texas. I was standing before a painting by Monet and “hearing” the words ,”This is what you are meant to do with your life.”  About a year later I took my first art lesson with Lynn Murphy and I’ve worked toward the goal of being the best painter I can be. That was almost 20 years ago. I remember all of my teachers and the special gifts of art they each shared with me.  In Giverny France I painted in Monet’s Garden. Walked where the Impressionist painters walked. Thank you to the late Gayle Bennett for your “gifts”. For me, there is no substitute for the euphoric aroma of oil paints. I open a tube of my oil paints and the images flow through my head /heart/hand. It’s magical and mystical …gifts from the Creator.

I am especially attracted to water.  Almost all of my paintings have water of some sort…everything from lakes, oceans, fountains, creeks.  As one painting is titled; water is The Essence Of Life.   The Essence Of LifeThat particular painting, The Essence Of Life was  painted while on an artist getaway to New Mexico.  I absolutely LOVE the red cliffs.  It is truly beautiful how a plain landscape is brought to life with the red colored cliffs.  And come dusk, the shadows created by the setting sun upon the crevices are just pure magic.  I wanted to share the beauty of the sparse land, the red cliffs and the skies which make us pull off the road and stand in awe.  I had my ideas and painted the painting but something was lacking.  Then it came to me like a bolt, water.  Must have water.  So the little creek and pool of water connected the entire paintings and brought everything together.

Another painting from the same area which is very dear to my heart is titled Always Here For You. Always Here For You This scene is an actual scene across from the Echo Amphitheater north of Abiquiu, New Mexico.  This was one time where I did not change anything.  It was painted as it exists in nature.  The two rock formations really do look like a couple standing there side by side.  The moment I saw the scene I knew what the painting would be and what the title would be…the rest was to simply to put the two together.

Rhonda Gauthier will be showing her work at Seven Sisters Gallery, in Morro Bay, California from May 1-May 26, 2013. You can also find her work online at SevenSistersGalleryCA.com

Please leave us comments. We’d love to hear about your experiences with Art. How has it informed your own life?

The Art of KJ Swan

In honor of April as Autism Awareness Month, Seven Sisters Gallery, is proud to be showing the marvelous art of KJ Swan. Growing up in a large family, the youngest of six, KJ struggled with the challenges of an undiagnosed Autism Spectrum Disorder.

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“Mine was not a happy childhood. Not too unusual for a child with undiagnosed Autism Spectrum Disorder. Being the youngest of six for many years, my siblings happily doled out a full range of sibling rivalry antics. “

kjswan_grizzlyA brilliant and talented artist she used her gifts to begin to work through her difficulties. KJ soon began representing her family members as colorful costumed creatures.

“… as an adult, there came a time to address issues and out popped these characters. Like a secret code, each costumed mutt has both obvious and hidden symbols of their character and their clothing. Pretty soon I was having fun with my family in a way that I never had before.

“And so it began…just a few funny critters which quickly blossomed into a full-blown romance with colorful costumed characters representing various members of my rather large family.  It was easy for me to see their personalities being expressed through the animals I chose…

Originally a therapeutic exercise to explore childhood issues, these expressions of acrylic on canvas, wood and paper have grown and taken on a life of their own.

My paintings have taught me that life, for me, is truly a matter of insanity with style.

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Stackable Rings

Throughout history the principal use of gemstones has been for healing and spiritual rituals. While gems were rare and beautiful, the reason they were so valued was due to the power they imparted to their wearers through contact with the body. Many people today still choose stones based in that ancient intuition.

Our new collection, of Marija stackable rings of sterling silver and semiprecious stones, affords you the versatility to create the right combination for your particular daily intentions. To name a few, our selection includes: Citrine, to create optimism and increase self-confidence and the achievement of personal goals; Peridot, to heal hurt feelings and mend damaged relationships; Pearls, to promote sincerity, truth and loyalty and to help calm and focus attention.

stackedrings5 borderAffordable and versatile, stackable rings are a great jewelry essential, fitting together to create a variety of options. Mix and match stones of varied colors, textures and intensities to create the perfect combination for your mood and dress.

The stackable ring allows you to wear a simple wide band pearl one day, turn up the energy another day by adding a gemstone or two, or simply combine them on a beautiful, long chain to wear as a necklace.

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Perhaps you would like to unite a medley of your children’s birthstones, or create the perfect anniversary ring duet of his and her birthstones.

And with June just around the corner, you might want to consider the stackable ring as a timeless alternative to the more typical class ring. Gift your graduating daughter a combination of her birthstone and your own, as a way to symbolize your loving presence in her life as she sets off on her journey. Our line of Marija stackable rings will last generation after generation so that she may one day pass on this meaningful symbol of the lasting love of family, to her own children.

Visit us, or give us a call, at (805)772-9955 or come into our store at Seven Sisters Gallery, 601 Embarcadero # 8, Morro Bay, CA so that we can help you choose the perfect start of this wonderfully collectable accessory. 

Art and the Gifts of Ancient Wisdom

“The boundless profusion of animal symbolism in the religion and art of all times does not merely emphasize the importance of the symbol; it shows how vital it is for men to integrate into their lives the symbol’s psychic content— instinct.”   -Jung, Carl Gustav, Man and His Symbols. Random House, Inc.

Weaving together her love of natural materials, and a fascination with spiritual and mythological art, Zealandia Design’s artisan, Jenny Byrne, has created a unique line of silver, gold fill, and fossilized ivory jewelry rich in archetypal symbolism.

Even the materials Jenny chooses seem infused with the gifts of ancient wisdom to be carried forward to our modern psyches. Jenny combines the natural elements of silver, gold fill, fossilized walrus tusk, ancient mammoth ivory, semi-precious stones, ammonites, mother of pearl, and paua, into jewelry as unique as a fingerprint. Incorporating ancient fossilized ivories with colors ranging from creamy white to a rich black, depending on the minerals it was in contact with and the length of time it was in the ground. Fossilized walrus tusk, which has lain beneath the soil for 500 to 3,000 years, is obtained legally from Eskimo families who excavate it from village sites on St. Lawrence Island, Alaska. With intention, Jenny selects the fossilized ivory, vibrant shells, and semi-precious stones, appropriate for each piece of her handcrafted jewelry.

“The richness of hues developed by the fossilization of ancient ivory makes each piece of our ivory jewelry unique. The idea of using ivory as old as the petroglyphs, and cultures that inspire me, is very exciting as I like my designs to tell stories that honor the wisdom ancient people developed to explain and understand the forces surrounding them. I see early expressions of writing, art and ritual as having an innate power, and incorporate this into my designs as silent incantations or mantra.”   -Jenny Byrne, Zealandia Designs

Beyond the materials is the design. A design informed by Jenny Byrne’s love and respect for the stories and mythology of our ancestors and a deep understanding of the enduring power of archetypal symbolism. Images familiar to all of us, via our dreams and stories and our time in the natural world.

Wearing Zealandia Designs, you can know that you have brought more than a beautiful and timeless piece of jewelry into your life; you have brought the gifts of ancient wisdom.

Zealandia's Dragonfly Rising Pin/Pendant

Please feel free to leave a comment by hitting “leave a reply” at the top of the page. Let us know which symbols, from the natural world, you find personally significant and would like to welcome into your life; or any other thoughts you’d like to share.